Read my review of another book in the Virtuous Sinners series, Day of Judgment by Briar Kearney & Aurora Crane.
I have enjoyed “psychopaths finding their person and falling in their version of love” books by a few others authors, but in all of those cases, it was a person without empathy connecting in their own way with someone without psychopathy. Brightly and Gregory up the ante in this book by putting TWO characters with similar psychopathies together and calling it a dark romance.
It’s definitely dark, considering one character actively delights in bloodshed and the other is only slightly more low-key about it. However, because of these character POVs, the darker aspects of this book are not glossed over so much as presented in a different light. The violence is always “deserved,” and the story and characters presented here fit very well in both this particular collection and the authors’ larger shared world in which they’ve set this book.
Ari and Jules share a connection, but I hesitate to call it a romance. It’s a connection on a more visceral level, with like attracting like. A different sort of power exchange accompanies the relationship that develops between them. There’s nothing safe or sane about what these men do together, and the consent exists because either could turn on the other at any time.
But they don’t want to, and they instead actively work toward building a life together. That’s romantic enough for me. I kept waiting for something a bit bigger to happen for a finale, relating to Ari’s actions in the city, his family, or Jules’ profession. Instead, the ending kind of snuck up on me, with them settling into their new normal. I’m curious whether this pair will show up in future New Gothenberg books and how Brightly and Gregory’s other familiar characters deal with it if they ever learn the truth.