Seven years ago, Zane Black was a rich playboy whose image was splashed around TV and tabolids alike. When the young CEO was arrested and tried for the murder of three people, media coverage reached a frenzy and it only stopped once he was behind bars in a high security prison. When a young psychologist named Quinn turns up at the prison, Zane’s interest is sparked.
All Quinn wants with Greenwood prison is to secure enough subjects to conduct an exploratory study on human psychology. Working with convicted murderers doesn’t faze him…with the exception of the notoriously dangerous Zane Black. Just meeting with Zane has Quinn on edge like none of the other inmates. When Zane starts showing interest in Quinn, Quinn struggles to reconcile the clever, observant man with the hardened criminal he knows Zane to be.
Yet as Quinn’s study progresses, he can’t help but start falling for the devilishly charming Zane—and it leaves Quinn wondering just who he’s getting involved with.
Louise Collins does a bang up job painting Quinn as a rather green professional. We are introduced to Quinn as he makes his first visit to the prison to interview potential study subjects and the man is as nervous as can be—partly because he’s put himself in a position to require dangerous criminals as test subjects and partly because if this study goes tits up, he’ll have wasted the opportunity to get a jump start on his career as a professional. Throughout the book, Quinn is consistently described as being rather milquetoast—he works, he goes home, he hangs out with his cat. Yet he manages to snag the attention of Zane Black.
On the down side, there is a huge “interest” gap between Zane and Quinn. The former is this enigmatic character who charms and fascinates.The latter doesn’t even seem to have a last name or professional ethics. Despite having low-level exasperation at Quinn, the trained psychologist, falling for every trick Zane throws at him, I enjoyed watching these two characters interact. Perhaps it’s because it’s so easy to imagine myself in Quinn’s shoes and be beside myself with secret pleasure that The Hot Guy is interested in me.
Zane is a huge reason I was so attracted to the book. He is in prison for murdering three people and yet Zane has consistently held that he has absolutely zero recollection of the day he killed them. The lack of details surrounding the circumstances of the murder and Zane’s apparent amnesia at the critical moment seem to make him a prime candidate for Quinn’s study. When Zane comes face to face with the young psychologist, we see a playboy toying with a conquest—and it was pretty delicious to watch Zane work Quinn over. It kept me second guessing how genuine Zane’s motives were…was he truly interested in Quinn, or just playing with him because that’s what psychopaths do?
One huge draw for me was the idea that, in our romantic pairing, Zane is both a murderer and stuck in prison, while Quinn is a free man. Even if Zane gets free, there’s still the issue of Quinn falling for a murderer. Watching Collins tease this thread out really made the book exciting for me. The way Quinn and Zane’s interview sessions play out, it seems clear that Quinn is out of his depth and that Zane is the one who is actually in charge. Over several sessions, Zane easily wheedles out tidbits of information and consistently proves he’s able to put pieces of the puzzle together to gain whatever information he’s after…and I’m just waiting for Zane to make a break for it.
Even when I guessed the biggest “surprise” in the book well ahead of the on-page reveal, I found I really enjoyed reading the character-driven action unfold. And by the time the big climax rolls around, I was happy to go along for the ride. One bonus was that by late date in the story, I thought that Quinn finally shifted from just being the object of Zane’s desire to a more dimensional character thanks to how he expresses his doubt about how to move forward after the study ends. All in all, this is a delightful read with one super enigmatic and clever character paired with a down-to-earth guy.