Gator is a killer, hired to terminate the lives of Mia and her shit father by a paranoid low life loser. Evil scum all of them, but the moment Gator sees Mia he knows she is a keeper. A child whore once, pimped out by her parents, she is hiding in her head and following orders more than anything. Still Gator sees something in her that nobody else was able to see until now.
Mia is damaged through a traumatic past, or rather her whole childhood is traumatic, but once Gator and she comes to know eachother she is growing mentally, and accepts that not everything is bad beyond repair. There is love after all. It might be an ugly love but love nevertheless. Still it´s obvious that Mia is struggling even more with her life than Jake. Still, it´s not the usual cliché riddled narrative of a damaged h/possessive alpha male H, but a story of healing together and individually with all the backlashes that comes with the territory. Fighting demons in your life is not an easy task, not when they have taken over every inch of your body, a life lived under their thumps.
Struggling to come to terms that Mia has some serious problems Gator/Jake also takes good care of her. He has taken her into his own world, but is it really a better life? A killer and a whore in an ugly place noone wants to be voluntarily under normal circumstances.
Sex isn´t fun for or in Gator. It´s raw, sometimes painful albeit not all too graphical so the uglier scenes are bearable.
Mia suffered some serious injuries when she was pimped out as a child whore by her shit father. Mia can consent, though, but she is often more compliant than being demanding on her own. She often acts like a confused child, beaten into submission rather than living her life on her own terms.
Gator makes sure she is okay with everything, though. He doesn´t force her until she fully understands that it will change her life. Sex is a way to make her his but also, and that´s important, to take her out of her own private hell Mia is in. Jake is waiting even it drives them both a little nuts at times. Possessive and protective he might not exactly know what to do with her, but once decided Mia is his Jake does everything to make her happy.
In the end Jake kills for Mia especially to get her vengenace for all the injustice that was done to her, until Mia gets Jake his vengenace in return. A low life loser who needs to be killed for all the beatings, abuse and starvings they both suffered in their crappy childhoods. A literal and metaphorical death that is simply needed.
As always in any Bijou Hunter novels there is a feeling of alienation. The characters don´t really belong to the place they populate, they are looking to be someone somewhere. A paradise, a place of their own, so it´s not surprising how Jake describes himself at one point:
"I was the son of a murderer and his victim. I could have been happy to wipe asses and kiss feet. I could have bowed to others and begged for scrapes. I didn´t do that shit because I´m not what my parents made me. I´m what I decide I want to be."
We get mostly Gator´s POV with short interceptions from Mia in between. The double POV makes the story extremly fluid and no real adjustment is needed to the different voices.
The sentences are rather short, they hammer down on the page like machine gun fire, and there is nothing fancy about them. Instead everyone and everything is constantly on the edge. A gritty tale of love, vengeance and healing even Jake and Mia are both beyond redemption. Sure, there is a sort of a HEA and we get a glimpse of a better life they have build for themselves but in the end one can only hope that it will last forever.
Gator is a Natural Born Killers style romance noir novella about two lost, fucked up people in an ugly world where no therapy will fix what´s wrong with them.
(Legal disclaimer: I beta-read "Gator" by Bijou Hunter, as I did with other books by the same author, and read the book in different stages while in the making, as well as the final version. I received a free copy from the author and my review is based on the version for sale, not any previous drafts.)