Duke held the body of his lover in his arms and made two promises: To take Peter’s daughter somewhere safe and raise her as his own … and to find whoever it was who called for Peter’s murder and make them pay. In a new state across the country, with a new name and a teenage daughter, Duke has settled into fatherhood with the same discipline that, by night, he uses to erase his targets. Because Duke is the last in the line of the Button Men, hired killers known for their ruthlessness, their thoroughness, and their viciousness.
When an old friend of his father’s asks Duke to take care of an FBI informant, Duke sees nothing wrong with breaking his usual routine. Normally, it’s his handler — someone he’s never met or even spoken to — who arranges his jobs, giving him all the details he needs, and cleaning up after he’s done. Not that that’s an issue; Duke’s been a Button Man for a very, very long time. But when his target turns out to be his handler, Duke realizes something is wrong. Very, very wrong.
Kelly knew his curiosity would one day get him into trouble, but he didn’t think ferreting out some strange coincidences between some random inconsistencies would put him in danger, and even if he had, having his own partner be the one with the gun to his head? Well, if he has to die, at least Kelly knows it’s at the hand of one of the best. But, before he’ll let the Button Man kill him, Kelly has some questions. And it turns out the answers might just save his life.
This story is a fairly benign hitman romance with lots of violence, a growling alpha hero, and a hacker of very dubious morality. However, there’s an element of this book that soured me on the whole thing. Duke’s teenage daughter, Everleigh, has a friend, Felix, who has a crush on her. When Felix asks Ever out on a date, she tells him she doesn’t really see him that way. To which the men of her family — her father, her grandfather, and most notably, Kelly — obviously, blatantly, and loudly let her know how cruel she’s being to friendzone Felix. That she should be considerate of his feelings; that she’s probably broken his heart. And this absolutely didn’t work for me.
No one should have to agree to go on a date with someone to spare their feelings. No one should force themselves into a relationship so someone else doesn’t feel bad. And no person owes anyone a yes just because they have feelings and you don’t. In today’s world, real people have been and are being attacked, threatened, and even killed for saying no to someone who feels entitled to a date. To imply that Everleigh is in the wrong for not feeling anything more than friendship for someone and that she should be the bigger person and accept the date? No, no thank you. This message further capped off by a line in the epilogue about how Felix is good for her; note that it’s not that Everleigh grew to love him or even like him as a boyfriend, but it seems to suggest the boy simply deserves her because he’s such a nice guy.
I’m sorry, but this whole thing turned me off of the book completely and I couldn’t get past it. That aside, the writing is simple and straightforward. The violence and brutality of Duke’s life, the moral grayness of Kelly’s lifestyle — seeing nothing wrong with arranging for the murders of random people for money, for all that he does his best to make certain they’re neither women, children, nor likely to be innocent parties — was decently done. The slow unraveling of mob politics and the twist reveal were good. The big confrontation between Duke and Peter’s killer was rushed and strangely tepid considering how cruelly he tortured some random thief earlier in the book.
All in all, I do not recommend this book for the reason mentioned above. However, if you do decide you’re interested in the story, I hope you enjoy it.