I’m not going to lie: the “alphahole” and hitman mentioned on the back-cover text are what initially drew me to this book. I scanned a few of the reviews, and many of them also seemed to enjoy Star’s character, so that was another contributing factor to why I chose to read it. Ultimately, Black sold me right away with her intense characters and their dynamic, along with the surprising ways she blew my expectations for this book out of the water.
Usually, the alphahole IS the hitman, so I had a great time trying to identify which category fit Avery and which fit Blaise, and how they expected Star to fit into their relationship. The slow reveal was fascinating, especially colored as it was by Star’s unique outlook on life. My heart broke for her multiple times while reading this, and it was fascinating to see that the same held true for her companions as they learned more about her circumstances, even while still from Star’s narrative perspective. For all that Avery and Blaise have a nontraditional relationship (and that’s putting it mildly), they still understand issues of consent and want Star to have that same freedom. Her later fears got me right in the feels as well, since they were utterly understandable thanks to her skewed viewpoint on how the world works.
I thought I’d be annoyed by not learning more about Avery’s actual “career” after the dark moment of this book, but in the end, none of that matters to the theme and evolution of this story. I am slightly irritated by a reveal in the epilogue, despite zero discussion of it beforehand. However, I’ve come to realize that even the most unique romance novels still might retain holdovers from previous expectations of the genre. Besides that minor blip, I devoured this book quickly and look forward to reading more by this author.