Title: Conversation Hearts
Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 31 Pages
At a Glance: Conversation Hearts is yummy—just like the candy!—because it dares to be a little different.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: It’s Valentine’s Day, and grad student—and male escort—Levi Barron expects to spend his evening with a client who’s paying him for his services in bed… not an assassin who needs to borrow the view from his hotel room in the morning.
With nothing to do but endure the company of his unwanted guest, Levi and the assassin, Sinjin, spend some time bonding over HGTV, minibar beverages, Flannery O’Connor short stories, terrible Valentine’s candy, and the necessity of lying about their jobs.
Their evening takes an unexpected turn when they decide to indulge in their mutual attraction, and in the morning Levi doesn’t know if he’s spent the night with a hired killer or a hydraulic engineer with a very specific fantasy. Either way, the two have enough chemistry—in and out of bed—that Levi isn’t sure one night with Sinjin will be enough.
And a message left in candy suggests the feeling is mutual.
Review: There are more than a few things I think there aren’t enough of in the M/M genre: horror, steampunk, assassins… definitely assassins. Some of my fave M/M heroes/anti-heroes have been of the murder-for-profit sort, so I speak from the ::ahem:: heart here because, theoretically speaking, assassins are kinda sexy, yeah? They’re in a cold and lonely profession; are atypically apathetic toward most, if not all of humanity; are cunning, methodical, disciplined, emotionally detached sociopaths who stick to their own set of moral codes. They hold the power of life and death in their hands, but are absolved of the decision of who lives or dies because they’re so detached—it’s a job they’ve been hired to do, no more, no less, no questions, no investments.
Which is what makes it so gratifying to watch them fall in love (or, at least in like) in spite of the fact it goes against the rational laws of probability. But, fiction, so yeah. I love watching a killer-for-hire meet his match, becoming reacquainted with his own humanity in the proceess, and all because he finds someone worth revealing himself to and sometimes even changing himself for. It’s the ultimate sort of risk and reward story, without question.
And this is why I loved Levi and Sinjin. Or, is it…?
What could be better than an assassin finding someone who gets him, who treats him like a man rather than a madman? Having Valentine’s Day as the backdrop? Yes, please. The answer to that is a definite yes, especially when you pair the assassin with a rent boy like Avon Gale’s done in Conversation Hearts. This is such a delightful and sexy little story (even though I totally disagree that they’re icky candy) about a couple of “for hire” workers—one just happens to barter sex, the other, death. I loved the way Levi and Sinjin interacted with each other in this vignette, and that even in this short story, they both ended up proving they were more than just their jobs. They both come to see each other’s humanity. Some great dialogue went a long way toward revealing how they saw themselves and how they saw each other. And, I loved that in some ways they were on completely even ground because there was not much room for judging each other’s chosen line of work.
All the way to the sweet ending, I was rooting for Levi and Sinjin to discover that common ground in each other. Did they? It’s hard to say for sure, because this story is such a tease. Do we really, truly know who and/or what Sinjin is? This story feels like prequel material to me, like Levi and Sinjin have so much more to reveal. If the great banter and undeniable chemistry between these guys is anything to go by, they’re in need of way more storyline ASAP. At least, I’m in need of more Levi and Sinjin storyline, please.
Conversation Hearts is yummy—just like the candy!—because it dares to be a little different.
You can buy Conversation Hearts here: