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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a Half Stars
When Jack Francisco returns to his safe house to find a hitman waiting for him, the last thing he expects is that the man won't go ahead with his assignment. Instead the two of them end up on the run together, pursued by killers hired by the men who want Jack dead and other unknown enemies. Against the odds the two of them build a relationship, but what will happen when...
Published on 28 July 2009 by Lesley70

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh...
I'll kick off with the good...

Brilliant story told through very interesting characters, fully fleshed and well developed. The contrast between D, the emotionally shutdown hardman, and Jack, the goodnatured doctor with the heart of gold, was stark. And yet the sparks between them were endearingly bright; their deepening relationship very well executed. I liked...
Published 6 months ago by jedge


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four and a Half Stars, 28 July 2009
This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Paperback)
When Jack Francisco returns to his safe house to find a hitman waiting for him, the last thing he expects is that the man won't go ahead with his assignment. Instead the two of them end up on the run together, pursued by killers hired by the men who want Jack dead and other unknown enemies. Against the odds the two of them build a relationship, but what will happen when the danger is over and they then have to return to their lives?

D is something of an anti-hero, at least at the beginning of the book. He's a man who lives to his own set of rules. One of the things I liked most about this book was that we (as readers) get to meet both of the protagonists before they meet each other. And we also appreciate more (I think) the moment when their lives collide.

I love the banter between them.

"...He sighed. "I'm starting to see words like 'accessory' and 'accomplice' floating around my head."
D barely reacted. "How about 'dead on arrival'? Ya like that better?""

This is a real opposites attract story. Each man fulfills in the other something that is missing in himself. I've read in a couple of places that readers didn't like D, that they found him remote. But one of the things I liked was seeing Jack break through D's reserve. How D changes Jack, but also how Jack changes D.

As regards the epilogue. I appreciate the comments (elsewhere) about multiple endings as I thought there were two places where the story could have ended before it did and that it would have felt resolved. The epilogue itself does feel like an excerpt for the next book, rather than wrapping up this story. However, having said that, I did enjoy the sneak peek into Jack and D's life in the future and I hope we don't have too long to wait for the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thriller, romance, excellent plot - all there. Love it love it, 28 May 2012
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This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Kindle Edition)
Other reviewers have said it all far better than I can, but I had to add my endorsement - what a terrific book!

I was hooked from page 1, but don't be put off by how dark the first few pages are - it's an introduction to the very damaged man known only as 'D'. After that we meet Jack: an ordinary person who witnesses a murder and does the right, and brave, thing by agreeing to testify against the killers. That's how he first meets D, a professional hit-man, who has been blackmailed into assassinating him, but, for various reasons, doesn't. This is the start of D's transformation, redemption, journey back to humanity - whatever is best to call it, he's changed profoundly by his association with and, eventually, his love for, the not-so-ordinary Jack.

I did like that things weren't passively 'accepted' - Jack has a hard time dealing with the facts of D's profession, and doesn't avoid the issue: he wants to understand, even though he doesn't agree with what D has done. He wonders if his feelings for D are genuine, or simply due to their forced circumstances. They argue and bicker, but Jack is intelligent and mature - the way he deals with D's inability to even admit, never mind communicate, his feelings is impressive.

That's not to say it's not also an exciting thriller - car chases, fights, double crosses: there's a great plot in there as well. This was well paced, romantic, thrilling, completely engaging. I enjoyed it so much.

I've devoured the short stories on the website, and am really looking forward to the next book. This is a story about love and hope. I've lost count of how many times I've read it and, every time, it makes me feel better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would triple the rating or this one if I could., 29 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Kindle Edition)
I love it when authors do a ' mix up ' and veer away from the expected. Jane Seville takes an anti hero assassin like D and pairs him with ' Mr normal ' Jack who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and weaves one of the best gay fiction stories around them that I think I will ever read. This book has everything - a proper gutsy, gritty crime backstory that never loses pace or excitement ( edge of the seat stuff ) and one of the best m/ m romances in the genre that starts slowly and ends up packing a real emotional punch. The list of adjectives to describe this story are endless as it has lots of different layers to it. Exciting, sexy, tender, poignant, witty, funny, sensual, surprising.......... and perfectly balanced love scenes ,in amount and description. Bliss!

The love that grows between the MC's makes this book the success it is and for me is the true heart of the novel. It was a privilege to be on the outskirts watching it unfold and it will NEVER leave my Kindle library. I first read this a couple of years ago and constantly watch out to see if Jane Seville has produced anything else, but as yet no joy, so for now I'll just have to keep coming back to Jack and D for my fix - No hardship!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zero to the bone.., 25 April 2009
This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Paperback)
This was a fantastic read. It was full of action from the go, with hand to hand combat, gun fights, car chases, (which usually aren't my thing) and a very romantic story at the centre of it all. I wasn't sure what to expect because I hadn't read anything by this author before, but the story holds together very well and keeps you intrigued to the very last page.

The relationship between 'D' and Jack is tender and down right harrowing in some parts, made so by the situations they are faced with (fights, car chases etc) but despite that the interactions between them felt so genuine and heartfelt - which keeps it from feeling farfetched or ridiculous.

Jack is a surgeon forced to relocate after witnessing a murder. And 'D' is the hit man blackmailed to kill him. However, when they meet, 'D' is unable proceed, and so they take off. From there they just try to keep safe until Jack is able to stand trial. During this time a relationship grows and so does their respect and understanding of one another. I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil the story for anyone else, but I loved these two characters. Jack is your Joe blogs but far more brave. 'D' is a man who had given up - too damaged by his past, but reveals himself to be a bit of a gentle giant (where Jack is concerned anyway). I was also delighted to find that the author continues with these characters on her website.

Anyway. Loved it. Recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It draws you in, 21 Jun. 2010
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K. Rush "book fiend" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Paperback)
An excellent read. The characters are believable, their situation a little less realistic but their motivations are real.
Would a hitman really spare his target and even fall in love with him? Yes, if he isn't just a hitman! But that's part of the plot, which is laid bare gradually and intriguingly - it's multilayered and satisfyingly complex.
There's plenty of angst, hurt and comfort, determination and redemption on both sides before Jack and the mysterious D reach a happy ending.
It also inspired me to go and read Emily Dickinson - that's where the very apt title comes from.
This is a book you will enjoy reading many times.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meh..., 17 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Kindle Edition)
I'll kick off with the good...

Brilliant story told through very interesting characters, fully fleshed and well developed. The contrast between D, the emotionally shutdown hardman, and Jack, the goodnatured doctor with the heart of gold, was stark. And yet the sparks between them were endearingly bright; their deepening relationship very well executed. I liked that, although both characters certainly grew through their trials, neither changed beyond recognition for the sake of the other.

Now the, um, not-so-good...

My beef with this was that it’s rambly. Really, really rambly. I could only pull off short reading stints of it cos I just kept getting bored, irritated and frustrated.

My main peeves being:

The crazy-heavy use of metaphors and similes. Pick any page at random and, guaranteed, you’d find at least one. *Elaborate and excessive… like a pink satin ball gown embellished with lace and ruffles and bows and sparkles*. Prettiful and well-fitting, may well be, but kinda OTT.

The copious splurges of inner dialogue. There’d be a significant look/ action, and it’d be followed by, like, a page of angsty analysis of exactly what that look/ action was meant to convey.

(For me, both the above points acted to stilt the narrative flow, diminishing the sense of urgency in action scenes and the passion in intimate scenes. Also caused much eyerolling. Some implementation of the less-is-more approach woulda done absolute wonders here.)

The neverending ending. OMAG, it just went on and on and on. For every page beyond the very obvious ideal finish point, my enjoyment of reading it dropped another notch (and, yep, it fell an awfully substantial distance).

Condoms. Or- more specifically- lack thereof. Come on guys, seriously? Jack’s both a doctor and a healthy living enthusiast, yet he lacks all concern for the practise of safe sex? Hmm, that just aint right, man.

So, yeah, MEH is as good as it gets from me. Shame.
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3.0 out of 5 stars People seem to love it. There are tons of raving reviews out ..., 6 Aug. 2014
By 
This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Kindle Edition)
3.5
I'll admit I expected a lot from this book. People seem to love it. There are tons of raving reviews out there. Plus, well, it claims it name from a poem by Emily Dickinson, for crypes sake. I mean, that's got to count for something, right?

And I'll also say up front that I didn't necessarily dislike it. This is one of those books that I think is designed to make women go weak at the knees; watching a big, tough, emotionally closeted man break down for that one special person and rejoin the human race. This is a theme that really seems to work for a lot of us, my self included. So, it did resonate with me. Don't think otherwise.

I even liked the characters. D was one of those growly, silent types that pushes all my buttons and Jack seemed to be a smart, capable man who I also liked well enough, even if he did become progressively more twink-like as the book progressed, making his character feel a little inconsistent. (Another reviewer likened him to a teenage girl, and while I think this is an exaggeration, there is definitely a degeneration of his adult maleness as the book moves along. The book starts to feel very het-like by the end.)

However, despite being attracted to the basic type of mm romance this is and actually liking the characters themselves, the book wasn't a huge success for me. The main reason is that it felt...it seemed...hm, well let me just compare two rivers for you as an illustration.

On a normal, day a river might flow tight and contained within its banks. It's easy to walk up to the edge and say 'this is where the river starts, that over there is where it ends.' Past which, might be forest or fields, whatever. And within those craggy, debris strewn parameters, the water flows at its natural rate, accommodating whatever boulders or fallen limbs might be under the surface. Fine.

But after a heavy rain, that same river will flow over its banks, spread out into wide marshy swaths of ill-defined wetland. It's hard to know when your foot's going to leave dry soil and become mired in mud. There is no obvious edge, no obvious 'here it starts, there it ends' and everything beyond what you think might be the borders is absorbed into it.

This book is post-flood for me. Its plot seemed to spread and spread and spread. It's not that I didn't like the plot, I just kept waiting for the end, only to be given more. Only to see that bank surpassed and spread to the next copse of literary trees.

What I'm trying to say is that the book was long. I mean really, really long. The internet says that the paperback is only 295 pages, but I have a hard time believing it. It just went on for bloody ever. I thought it might never end, what's more it felt like it wound down about a dozen times, only then to pick up again with yet another swell of action. I like action and all, but it started feeling like 15 epilogues instead of a smooth continuation of the story.

Even though there seems to be a lot of love for this book, there also seem to be a lot of readers that were annoyed (some enraged even) by D's speech pattern. It didn't bother me. Maybe 'cause I grew up in the South, where it wasn't that unusual. What did bother me was that as the book went along, the originally very proper doctor started picking up D's verbal habits, making them harder and harder to tell apart.

I was almost driven to distraction by all the internal dialoguing though. And oddly it is dialogue. Each character seems to have an alter-ego they can converse with. It was nice to know their private thoughts, sure, but there was so much of it that it really broke up the story. Plus, we were often then told that all these lengthy internal feelings were communicated in a look. Really, in a look?

I did appreciate that D and Jack didn't have a fairytale happy ending. It was happy, but they were having to realistically learn to live together, instead of a seamless transition into perfecthood. I also like that there was a little flex in their bedroom play. The two have a lot of sex. It would be unimaginably boring if they never changed things up a bit. (Though I won't credit it with much realism...or even much sexiness.) I loved X and I'd be interested in reading more about D's task force, if the story could stay focused on it.

So, there are things I liked, not least of which was the actual writing. And as a story, I have few complaints about it. As a book however, as a book that doesn't seem to know its own limits and reasonable constraints I was well ready for the silly thing to end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE this book!, 3 April 2012
This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Paperback)
I've tried too many times to read books that fall into the crime/thriller genre and I have always lost interest by page 30. So when someone recommended Zero At The Bone to me, complete with gun-sight plastered over its cover, I knew it was going to be round 100 of the same thing, especially when I found out it had begun life as a Brokeback Mountain fanfic. But how appallingly wrong I was. By page 3 I was gone, sucked in hook, line and sinker until the final page - I started it in the evening, it was daylight when I looked up again.

I was expecting the two leads - the good guy Jack and his would-be killer D - to fall into the typical damsel-in-distress and super-badass categories, but that never happened. Yes, Jack is a good guy, but he's also an adorable joke-popping dork, an admirable moralist, and a bit of a badass himself. D most definitely fits the profile of 'damn cool' but he is not a bad guy and in many ways, despite being part of a dark and violent underworld, is far more vulnerable. He is emotionally clumsy and clearly tormented by both the past and this new present he is sharing with Jack, but never falls into the cliché patterns long dictated by the "I love him but I shouldn't" attitude. I was especially glad that it took almost a third of the book for both of them to finally establish the beginnings of a relationship, I admit I was half-dreading the story would submit to the "I'm gay, you're gay, we're stuck together for a while, let's get it on" thing about 40 pages in. Their first night together does glimpse very briefly to it's BBM fanfiction past, but everything surrounding that more than made up for it.

Ms. Seville writes in such an easy-to-read way, it just takes hold of you and pulls you along. The plot of this book has twists and turns and action aplenty but the writing never becomes the irritating mix of choppy sentences and jumping dialogue in order to convey it - I had to pause once and think "Did I just read a car chase scene....and enjoy it??" Seville concentrates on her characters and their emotions and has them dictate where the suspense should truly lie - Jack and D's first kiss is more nerve-wracking than having gunfire come through the back window. Everything is also incredibly well researched, I wouldn't have been surprised to find Seville had former lives as a surgeon, judge, FBI agent and assassin. Never using indulgent descriptions, she allows the reader to really put their own imagery to the characters, nor does she ever make our leads seem anything like two dimensional. Jack and D argue just as much as they don't, they have petty arguments and they have more meaningful ones, they make up, they argue again and they make one of the most convincing couples I've ever read of. Love isn't the perfect never-bickering thing so many books like to portray it as, and it sure isn't that when hired killers are added to the mix.

Perhaps for me, the one scene that MADE this book was Jack's wondering aloud if his feelings for D were just a result of the extraordinary circumstances they found themselves in. I could have kissed Ms. Seville for that, because so often thrillers just throw in a love story that has absolutely no justification save for the fact that they spend a couple of days living on a knife edge, here Ms. Seville had Jack openly admit to their being a chance of adrenaline and fear being mistaken for love, I was so glad she was brave enough to put that doubt there, was confident enough to almost undermine the feelings of her own characters.

The multiple ending thing never really bothered me, even though in the back of my mind I would wonder "that would have been a perfect stop point" I also didn't want to end being part of Jack and D's world, and I understand why Seville felt the need to write a little longer, to establish the future mood of their relationship and tie up all those emotional loose ends. That said, I am a little averse to the idea of the in-progress sequel, thrusting our heroes back into a action-packed emotional rollercoaster just seems plain cruel right now, I think I would probably be too afraid of severe disappointment to read it if and when it was released. But that's no reason at all to shy away from this story, take my word: READ THIS BOOK!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jane Seville, 21 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Zero at the Bone (Kindle Edition)
I found this title by accident and bought it because it sounded interesting. It was the most amazing read, it has left me haunted by the world of D and Jack and hoping that they are still together - I know, how sad is that! This is because the characters are so believable, and the book so well written. Though the relationship is central to the story this is more than a m/m book - it is a really good thriller too. *****spoiler*****
The characters are running for there lives and it was so good that they did not start having sex until they stopped running for their lives, because they were running for their lives! There a growing attraction woven through the early part of the story, I thought the finger holding was charmingly hot in an innocent way, it made the later relationship so much more believable . It is a really gripping story and I can't recomend it highly enough.

The epilogue hints that there will be another book about these characters but I can't find any more books by this writer except for a short story in an anthology about cowboys; though there are three short stories about D and Jack on her website. It would be a terrible shame if this writer was not published again, a really great first book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 16 Oct. 2011
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Wow, amazing book, just couldn't put it down although I had to because - fortunately - it was just too long to read at one go. Sometimes I hesitated to turn the page in case things went wrong for these 2 guys and I had to stop myself several times from going straight to the end to see how things turned out, but I'm glad I didn't. The other reviews tell you what it's all about so no point in repeating that. Just to say, one of the best books I've read in a long time and I read a lot. Just read this again after about 18 months. Not often I read a book twice. The first time I rushed through it to see how it ended, this time I took my time and read it more carefully. It was just as good - if not better. I'm sure it won't be too long before I read it again.
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Zero at the Bone
Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
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