Review: Hot-Blooded by Kendall Grey

Hot Blooded Cover

5 holy, holy Stars

Darkness is a central theme in a lot of books written these days. Darkness evident in people, the world, our very souls and breaths. There is a lot to be said for stories written about people who confront their darkness and overcome it. For love, for children, for the sake of choosing the light. Everyday people turned warrior, launching themselves into battle with the amorphous shadows lurking in doorways and memories. Amazing stories come from these wars waged; stories that can teach you something about yourself and even sometimes provide a needed catalyst to fire your own first shot.

Hot-Blooded is not about the choice between light and dark. It’s about characters that already embody the dark and relish in it. Own it. Allow it to seep into their pores, straighten their spines and infuse them with an entirely different kind of power. There are no gentle breezes sifting through tendrils of your hair in this book. There are gale force winds grabbing handfuls of your hair by the root, wrenching your head back and forcing you to stare straight into the ancient eyes of raw, all-consuming authority.

Keahilani Alana channels her volcano namesake in everything she does. She is precise and intimidating and always threatening to spew forth destruction. She has power coursing through her very veins and she wields that power with unflinching determination all in order to protect ‘ohana. Family. Ohana is everything. A belief passed from mother to daughter and transformed into a battle cry of deafening proportions.

Blake Morgan is a hired gun for one of the biggest drug lords in the Hawaii islands. Set forth to find the latest upstart threatening his boss’ pipeline, he crashes headlong into Keahilani and in her, finds the true meaning of fire. Once a ruthless killer willing to sleep with any woman who was reasonably clean and willing to spread her legs for him, he finds in Kea more than a mirror, but a lens through which to find focus and meaning where before there was just the daily grind.

Keahilani and Blake’s relationship provides context for a story that erupts with no warning pretty much from the first page. A multi-layered story set at a breakneck pace so punishing that I had to remind myself to breathe several times while reading it. A story rife with such intensity that each chapter may as well have ended with the crack of a whip, splitting and peeling back not only my expectations and foregone conclusions, but my very flesh, exposing me to the thundering heartbeat at the core of this book.

Kendall Grey has written a book that gave me chills in the face of its sheer power and audacity. Her writing style pulls no punches; her characters kidnapped me at knifepoint. And at the end, all I could do was stare back at the words and beg them to never end. To say that I was swept away by this story isn’t entirely true. Because that implies some sort of romance or rose petal lined liaison. This story is brutal and fierce and laced through with a mythology come to life.

Don’t pick up this book expecting to find redemption. Don’t pick up this book expecting some epic battle between wrong and right. Pick up this book because the darkness inherent in this story deserves to be heard. Pick up this book because it’s so incredibly well written you will see the world differently having read it. Pick up this book because you want to be haunted.

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