by Piper Stone
“Beautiful Devil” is one of the best books I’ve read by author Piper Stone. It’s the 5th book in the ‘Sinners and Saints’ series. You can read and enjoy it as a standalone. However, if you’ve read any of the other books in the series, you’ll recognize the antihero in this one – it’s Kostya, the cunning assassin referred to as the Ghost.
This is a tricky review to write because the book is full of so many twists and turns, and I don’t want to spoil any of them for you. Emily is working after hours at her new job as a waitress in a small diner in New York City and witnesses the assassination of her boss. The killer didn’t expect anyone to be there except his target and forces her to go with him as he flees the scene. Because the story is told from dual points of view, we are made aware of Emily’s thoughts regarding lessons her father taught her about weapons and self-defense. Her father was an undercover DEA agent who was extraordinarily successful at his job … until he got caught and paid the ultimate price. Now his wife and daughter are equally at risk, even though he did what he could to protect them. Emily doesn’t even understand everything her father was involved in, but she does quite clearly understand that she’s being held captive by a cold-blooded, cold-hearted monster of a man who could at any moment decide to kill her. Kostya knows he’s not at all worthy of a woman like Emily, but he can’t seem to resist his feelings for her, no matter how much he tries to do so. He’s a master of self-control – except when it comes to her.
I’d never have expected I could want an unremorseful, paid killer to have a happy conclusion to his story – but somehow, I did! Kostya is a surprisingly deep character whose layers are slowly revealed to us, and to himself. Emily is a capable and resilient woman, simultaneously sweet and strong. Before the book even begins, she’s already had to step away from her chosen profession, deal with heartache and heartbreak, and cope with a lot of pressure and responsibility. Be warned that particularly in the first steamy parts of the book, there are some seriously murky issues of consent; if you’re familiar with the author then it won’t surprise you, and if you’re not, just remember it’s fiction. Even when they’re arguing about something, the heat level between Emily and Kostya is off the charts. Emily’s mother and Kostya’s second-in-command are good secondary characters, as are a special dog, lioness, and lion cub. The ending is fittingly dramatic and satisfying. I’m looking forward to seeing what this author has planned next!