Leigh´s father was working for an arms corporation with some real shaddy dealings on the site. When Leigh (and her former boyfriend) were involved in a fatal car accident her father rescues her life with a serum, developed by the company, which they didn´t like all that much. So her dad was on the run and hides Leigh in a small town where she sort of pretends to be your average girl next door. The serum makes her basically undie-able, but with some badass assassin on her ass (that is alot of ass here) it´s just a question of time before she get caught.
Griffin was part of the shadow part of the company as an assassin but broke free with the help of Leigh´s dad, and now plays Leigh´s bodyguard - or rather her nanny - since he feels obliged to save her life since he couldn´t save her dad.
Griffin is of course drop dead gorgeous, how can he not be?, but he is the damaged, broken inside guy with trust issues. After been tried as an adult for an armed robbery when he was 16 his life in prison was surely no fluffy bunnies and unicorns, even that part isn´t really spilled out.
Leigh makes some poor choices, not because she is dumb, but because she is stubborn, and too much cocaine and marshmellowed flavored vodka don´t work exactly in her favor. The drugs are an opt-out to make her feel alive, to feel anything at all. Not that she doesn´t value her life, but since she got injected the serum she seems kinda lost. It is probably/most likely a burden to know that the only way to die is if someone cuts your spinal chord. Someone shoots a bullet in your chest? Nevermind. You feel a bit iffy for a bit but that´s all there is.
There is a sci-fi/techno thriller part in the story but it´s really a contemporary romance with some mash up genre bits and pieces to spice it up. It´s about love, really, but it´s a dark, messy, realistic love with issues like drug abuse, sort of a trainwreck in slow motion. Still very, very enjoyable since Leigh & Griffin are such a perfect couple it hurts to see them. A little jealous I am for sure. I like especially how they dance around eachother to find out more about their lives even they cannot really talk about it. There is always the question who is this person really? What does he/she like? What made him/her that way?
While the insta-love trope is sort of used, and consciously so, there is alot more to it since the relationship develops in stages with ups and downs, and backing off when either Leigh or Griffin notices they have gone too far. However, I am not against insta-love since either there are *some* feelings right from the start or there are none, so that doesn´t bother me. Leigh & Griffin circle around eachother in a real sensitive and sensual way while trying to figure the other out. What I love about it is that it does not really run on full speed adrenaline, but that it´s kinda slow, at the beginning anyway, before the story itself pushes harder and faster. It´s really hardcore to fall in love when some nearly indestructible super soldiers are chasing your butts 24/7.
Valerie Chambers doesn´t really define her writing connected to a certain genre but via her deeply flawed, and messed up anti-hero/ines. There is too much of a genre mash up to be really one or the other, but that makes it the most interesting for me. There is romance, there is mystery, there is suspense but in the end it´s all about love. It´s her writing, her characters and her love for dialogue that makes her books an exciting read. Did I mention that Valerie loves her dialogues? Oh yes, she does. The dialogues seems to be juicy part of the story, and the story around a little bit like a filler to have an excuse to write what she really loves: dialogues. I mean, I did mention that she loves her dialogues, right?
Also ´Slow Burn´ has the sexiest sex scene without the characters actually having sex with eachother. Chapter Seven, I am looking at you. It doesn´t need much. A camping trip, a tent and two sleeping bags to describe the steamiest non-sex scene. Whenever I need foreplay I know what I will read to... okay, not going into further details now. ;-) The best part while reading the steamy scenes was that I didn´t feel emotionally manipulated, as I have often the feeling I am. It is simply natural, very true to something real, so I could connect better to the characters as in other books. There is nothing far fetched about their being together, nothing that feels off or "wrong" to me. Those are vulnerable people, and there are consequences to their actions, broken but not fixed, still trying to change for the better. Or at least trying to figure things out and accept them as a part of their lives.
While ´Slow Burn´ definitely can be read as a stand alone novel since everything´s tied up quite nicely, it would be foolish to do so. As a V.J. Chambers fangurl I am really looking forward to dive further into the ´Assassins´ series and read the other books as well, and pretty much everything she has ever written. Valerie is just my kind of girl.