Handled – Romilly King
Serial killers think if it all goes south and they finally get caught that their swan song is a day in court, making the families relive the agony while they get off on that delicious pain, all over again.
Not happening. Not anymore. We’re not making celebrities out of monsters. We’re not giving them a stage to strut on.
Now they get an audience of two.
One to Handle the problem, one to Witness it.
I’m a Witness. I trained for six years to do my duty, to manage my contracted killer, and to watch justice be done.
I knew it would be hard, the first time, to watch the eye for an eye moment.
I expected to feel a lot of things – fear, disgust, guilt.
I didn’t expect to feel turned on.
And I didn’t expect my contracted killer to look quite so pretty with blood on his hands.
HANDLED is a dark gay romance with themes of justice, retribution, and unsuitable love. It is not for the faint of heart and contains graphic scenes intended for an adult audience. Further trigger warnings inside.
So deliciously dark! I love Gray!!!
I’ve read a lot of serial killer mysteries and just when I’m getting the same old same old feels about the genre, Romilly King creates this novel world of Handlers and Witnesses in her riveting new series, Handled. The way I see it, it’s fighting monsters with monsters.
Handled introduces us to a government program where they controlled and trained young psychopaths into Handlers. Basically killers sanctioned to render whatever punishment they see fit on serial killers roaming in the wilds. To make sure these Handlers are doing their jobs properly and within the bounds of the law, they are assigned a Witness each. It goes without saying that Witnessing is a very dangerous job. Attrition rates are extremely high.
The book is a police procedural of sorts. We follow Gray and Nathan as they go about their business of investigating the prime suspect and establishing concrete evidence for their cases. The government requires hard evidence before they are allowed to handle a certain client a.k.a the guilty party.
The world-building here was very well-thought out. It was done without much info-dumping. Everything felt real. I had no problems following the set-up. The jargon was easy to pick up. I got some slight dystopian vibes from it. Especially with the government involved.
It’s Nathan’s first time to Witness and he was assigned the best and most notorious Handler, Gray. Now this Handler doesn’t play well with others. When Gray doesn’t like a somebody, the least you can expect is lose an eye. The rare exception is Nora, his long-time Witness, who is now passing the baton to Nathan.
It was lust at first sight for our young rookie. Like most psychos we loved, Gray exuded that magnetic charisma that had Nathan mesmerized even with the full knowledge of what the man is capable of.
Gray loves pain. All kinds, whether inflicted by him or on him. When he is in a killing mood, the man is intense! That big scene with Nathan and his client at the climax was pretty nasty. But it was glorious!
I wouldn’t put it past her to plant the seeds knowing something might blossom because the wily Nora chose the perfect man as her successor. Nathan was totally green, he made errors that could have been fatal. But Gray sensed he was different.
Nathan was a bit naive but direct. He’s scared but he didn’t give his Handler bullshit. He was respectful of Gray, taking time to ask him about his background instead of simply reading his file. He sassed him back once in a while too.
I love Nathan! As he acclimatized to his grim job, we see him drawing out Gray’s various nuances. The way he complemented Gray’s personality, they just fit so naturally. I appreciated him for considering that Gray could be something more than what the system thinks he should be.
And holy heck, the chemistry!!!
The dynamics between the two was fantastic. They played off each other so well. The interactions were fraught with danger and sexual tension. Any minute Gray could snap. You’d never know if he would kill Nathan or fuck him. Both really.
I am so happy the book is written in dual POV. Not knowing what goes on inside Gray’s head would be totally frustrating. I love that even though we are privy to his thoughts, it didn’t diminish his mystique. He’s still an enigmatic figure you’ll want to know more about. I enjoyed watching him deal with feelings Nathan is making him feel, feelings that are mostly foreign to him.
Handled grabbed me and didn’t let me go. It’s a great balance of blood, gore, sex, and romance with a huge heaping of mystery, suspense and sprinkles of sweet. I didn’t find any of the scenes gratuitous. The plot just worked so well.
I can’t wait to get more of Gray and Nathan as they mete out bloody justice while slowing finding their way to a happy ever after. But for now we are gifted with that super sweet ending.
Please do heed the trigger warnings. I wouldn’t outright recommend this because it gets pretty dark. But if you dare…
“Gray is the book you don’t skip to the last page of to see if your guesses are right. Gray is the book you read slowly and savour.”
Handled is not a standalone novel. Rightly so because you’ll never be satisfied with just one book.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
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