May 13, 2015

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: A Dirty Shame (J.J. Graves #2)

A Dirty Shame (J.J. Graves #2), by Liliana Hart
Publish Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Createspace
Format: audiobook, purchased from Audible
Genre: adult crime/mystery romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) J.J. Graves is back in Bloody Mary, but she's a long way from feeling at home. Between her bodily scars from being the target of a murderer and the emotional scars left by her parents, she doesn't know who she can trust. But death doesn't stop for anyone.

The first murder is grisly. The second even more so. And though things are shaky between them, she and her best friend, Jack, have no choice but to join forces and find the killer. Because the life of someone they love dearly hangs in the balance.

I swear, this series gets better and better. J.J. Graves is such a complex character, especially now. The events of book 1 profoundly affected her, and we get to see exactly how much in A Dirty Shame.

J.J. has returned to Bloody Mary after a four month sabbatical following her near murder. She has barely crossed the town limits when she encounters a murder. And, just like that, she's thrust right back into a role she's not sure she's ready for yet. Jack is happy to see her and not willing to let any more time go by before he tells her how he really feels about her. You know - not to complicate things any further. 

I love that Liliana Hart has made J.J. so flawed. She was nearly strangled to death in her own house. That will absolutely mess with your head in life-changing ways. Her voice is permanently damaged. She's jumpy and carries a gun everywhere now. She doesn't like being touched, even by those she has known and loved her whole life. She can't step foot in the house she grew up in. She can't sleep more than an hour or so at a time. J.J. is forever changed and she doesn't know how to move forward. 

The decision is taken out of her hands when she comes across an apparent hate crime on her way back into town. She's the first person on the scene, and her old instincts kick in. As in book 1, I really enjoyed the scenes where J.J. gets to don her many caps. In Bloody Mary, she's the medical examiner, the coroner and the mortician. She's like the dead whisperer, and it appears that her new phobias haven't hindered her ability to do her job. With each new dead body that shows up in this new case, J.J. cuts each one open with ease to determine how, when at with what he or she was killed. 

Jack, J.J.'s BFF since grade school, is very happy to see her back in town. We got an inkling of Jack's true feelings for her at the end of book 1, and in A Dirty Shame, Jack lays it all out for her. His way of dealing with J.J. is uniquely perfect. Jack knows she's been through a lot, and because of his time on both the SWAT team and the local police force, I think Jack has had some opportunity to deal with sensitive situations. It's like he knew just what to do and say to J.J. to make her comfortable at least around him. Jack was infinitely patient and sweet. And yet, he never coddled her. He let her be afraid, but also let her know he was there for her and he was never leaving. It was exactly what she needed. 

The romance between Jack and J.J. was perfectly paced. Given J.J.'s new hang-ups, it didn't happen too soon. Jack definitely had to get her used to the idea that he's in love with her and has been for years. How he did that was so completely and utterly perfect. The other thing I loved about this book is, even after Jack declares his feelings, the snarky banter that is hallmark for these two doesn't stop. Yes J.J. has been through something awful and the nature of the crimes in this book is pretty heinous. But, Liliana Hart writes in these perfect one-line zingers, and creates these colorful side characters that bring much needed levity and hilarity to an otherwise dark and foreboding book. 
Liliana Hart is a master at weaving a complex web. Just when you think you know who did it, that person is ruled out. There are twists and turns and moments that had me biting my nails. It was awesome and exciting. And the bomb that is dropped at the very end will leave you begging for more right away. 

Once again, I listened to the audio version of A Dirty Shame. Laura Faye Smith narrates this series perfectly. She really captures Jack and J.J. exactly how I picture them. 

If you love crime and mystery dramas with a hint of romance, this series is one you should definitely check out.  

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