Katrina Jackson is so good. She is so good I’m thinking about taking up smoking just so I can have a cigarette in bed after I finish one of her books. Everything I’ve read of hers is funny, emotional, and scorching hot. I really need more of you to jump on the Katrina Jackson bandwagon with me.
At the end of Beautiful + Dirty, Shae is grappling with her memories of Salvatore as she gets ready for her cousin Zahra’s wedding. The Hitman opens with Zahra watching an entertainment journalist talk on tv about her fiancé slipping into a hotel with a stripper/reality star, and Zahra’s best friend for what appears to be a night before the wedding threesome. Still in her wedding dress, Zahra confronts her (ex-)fiancé and (ex-)best friend (the stripper/reality star has already left). Shae helps by stealing his wallet and sending Zahra on her honeymoon in Italy alone. Salvatore’s lieutenant, Giulio, is going on his very first vacation, lying low after a job at the same resort. Zahra wants to drink, cry, and hide. Giulio wants to sleep, have as much sex as he can, and hide. I don’t want to get into the plot, because you do need to read it.
As a rule, I don’t like mafia romances. Katrina Jackson is an exceptional writer and I like HER mafia romances. The Hitman does have on and off page violence and murder, but it isn’t the violence that’s sexy. The explicitly consensual sex is what’s sexy. Giulio is careful with Zahra in all the ways that matter, but his caretaking never takes away Zahra’s choices. As always, Jackson centers the feelings, desires, safety and agency of the Black women in her books.
I am tempted to make the rest of this review a bunch of quotes and passages. Jackson’s writing is so visual I’ll forget I’m reading words and then I’ll slam up against a phrase or sentence so good I have to stop and reread it before I can move on. I’ll stick to just one quote. After this you have to go get the book and read it yourself. Yes, you should read Beautiful + Dirty first. They are both short and excellent.
If someone had asked me to explain why I was apparently willing to upend my entire already mess of a life for this hairy, cocky jackass, I honestly might have had a hard time explaining myself. I know. That sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen.
Of course not every book is for every reader. In addition to the on and off page violence (no torture in this one), the sex is graphic.