Know Me From Smoke by Matt Phillips #bookreview @MRPhill25 @fahrenheitpress @F13Noir #Fahrenbruary

Stella Radney, longtime lounge singer, still has a bullet lodged in her hip from the night when a rain of gunfire killed her husband. That was twenty years ago and it’s a surprise when the unsolved murder is reopened after the district attorney discovers new evidence. 
Royal Atkins is a convicted killer who just got out of prison on a legal technicality. At first, he’s thinking he’ll play it straight. Doesn’t take long before that plan turns to smoke—was it ever really an option?
When Stella and Royal meet one night, they’re drawn to each other. But Royal has a secret. How long before Stella discovers that the man she’s falling for isn’t who he seems?
A noir of gripping suspense and violence, 
Know Me From Smoke is a journey into the shadowy terrain of murder, lost love, and the heart’s lust for vengeance.

(yes I have a rating from 1 to 5 and still there are 6 hearts here, deal with it)

I am gobsmacked… I don’t really know what I expected but it wasn’t this. This. This book that made me laugh, that made me cry, that had me reading entire paragraphs again and again in order to fully absorb them, in order to bask in the beauty of their words. 

On the one hand there’s Stella, sucker punched by life more times than she cares to count, too often knocked down but always getting back up again, one tough bird! On the other hand there’s Royal, fresh out of prison:

Who are you? Royal asked himself. Who the hell are you? I’m an ex-con, a murderer. I’m a bad man with a bad past and I’m trying to make myself into something different. He remembered the prison guard from that morning, how he said the law might not hold you, but you’ll pay for what you did. And Royal knew the guard was right, that there was no escape from everything he was, that his future was already past and that everything now was bonus play. Just luck. Pure and simple luck. And it never hurt to be lucky.

And then Royal and Stella meet. And they see something in each other, feel some butterflies flapping. So yes, this is a love story, but remember this is a Fahrenheit 13 novel and as such:

Love is doing shit you don’t want to do, especially when you don’t want to do it. Yes, Stella – that is what love is. It’s going against your own interests, giving them up, forgetting about yourself to get wrapped and ingested into somebody else. Love means being chewed up. Love means you get digested, churned, ground into paste.

Yeah… If you’re looking for a cheesy lovey-dovey romance, this isn’t it. This is gritty. This is real. This had me rooting for the main characters despite their flaws. This had me on the edge of my seat. When I finished the book, I found myself sitting with my hand clasped over my mouth in shock. I had probably been sitting like that for quite some time and I wasn’t even aware. I won’t lie, that finale won’t be for everyone, but holy crap, it sure worked for me.

Highly recommended.

Do yourself a favour and get Know Me From Smoke straight from the Press here!

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