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Review: Skin Dive

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Dear Readers: Please help me welcome my friend Vampbard, who brings you today’s review of…

Skin Dive
Author: Ava Gray 
Release Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
The Skin Novels #4
ISBN: #978-0425242148
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Format(s): Paperback (304 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher 

About the book:
She can’t remember what home is like…
Gillie is a fugitive. She has the scars to prove her long-term incarceration, but the story would land her in a padded cell if she presented it to the authorities. Now that she’ s free, she’ s determined never to be bound again. But her extraordinary healing is too valuable to let go, and her former captors intend to retrieve her—by any means necessary. Which doesn’t bode well for her dream of a normal life.
He can’t remember wanting anything more.
Taye can’t remember much about his past, but he knows he’s not worthy to give Gillie her happily-ever-after, so he’s determined to preserve her innocence, though she tempts him more than any woman he’s ever known. With the clock ticking and a bounty hunter hounding them, he faces the most important task of his life—assuring her safety from the Foundation. No matter the pain of his own deferred desires.
Gillie doesn’t understand how he can resist the charge between them. And if Taye has his way, she’ll never know the sacrifice he’s making to keep her alive…
What Vampbard is talking about:
Let me preclude my review by stating that I haven’t read the first three books in this series by Ava Gray, and I feel that some of my hesitation to rate the book higher stemmed from feeling a bit ‘left out of the loop’ for the first third of the book.  I’m guessing that if I’d read the first three, Skin Dive would have received a 4 or 4.5.  On with the review… 🙂
I really ended up enjoying SKIN DIVE! For the first book I’ve read by Gray, I can honestly say that I think I’ll go look up the first two books in the series and figure out what I missed. The book was (over-all) well-written, and didn’t send up the ‘get thyself to a competent editor’ flags. Because I felt as though I ‘missed out’ on some stuff, I’d suggest that if you’re interested in reading Gray, start with the first book of the series, Skin Game, and then read second and third books before Skin Dive… I’m guessing that would fill-in the blanks that I had at the beginning. If you don’t mind feeling a bit left out at the beginning of a book, you’d be OK to read Skin Dive as a stand-alone novel.
I have to say that I fell in love with the heroine of this book, Gillie Flynn. She’s spunky, and even though she’s been in a terrible situation that would have had anyone rocking on their heels and eating paste, she’s a trouper! At the beginning, she was held against her will in a facility held by the Foundation (the bad guys). In this facility, they were tapping into the ‘special talents’ of the individuals forced to endure a battery of medical procedures and other various testing. Gillie, however, was special – she had her own ‘apartment’ because her ‘talent’ was too valuable to have her living in the squalor the bulk of the other residents of the facility were residing. She was watched via camera in her apartment, and never had any choices in her life – from the time she was a child and abducted, choices were made for her. Still, she managed to wrap up her will in a tiny package and suppress it until it was time for her to become the woman she was destined to be… and then that free will package? It completely EXPLODED! In the fallout, her fierce will to have what she wanted in life totally won out. Vague? Yup. Ya gotta read it to actually feel the effect of Gillie’s drive in various aspects of her life. She’s a great role model!
Taye, our hero, came off as a bit cocky and overly self-assured in the beginning. Personally? I thought he was a jerk. He has a powerful talent, and I’m sure that’s why the Foundation wanted him on their side. However, Taye was a bit different from Gillie – he had no memory of his past. That’s one hiccup in his persona that seemed to shape his character from the beginning. Taye manipulated the facility director, Rowan, so he could visit Gillie in her little apartment. While he initially did it to tick-off Rowan, something blossomed between Gillie and Taye – and it continued to grow throughout the book, as did Taye’s true personality. At the end, I really liked Taye – and the author’s description of him… well, let me just say: HOT HOT HOT!!! I sort-of think that Gillie was the major focus in the book, and that Taye supported her coming into her own. Yay for strong females!
As far as the supporting characters go, I hope to see more of Tan in subsequent books. She looks like she’s going to need her HEA, and I’m pretty sure that either Gray has a twist up her sleeve for that one, or it’s likely to make faithful readers of her series wary initially. I want to see more about Hawk and his girlfriend, too. I’d actually like to see Kestral revived somehow, and get her own HEA…but that’d be God-playing, and I’m not sure how well that would go over with faithful readers of the series.
By the time you reach the end of the book, you’re going to wonder whether Gillie & Taye will get their HEA, as dictated by the ‘formula’ used for romance novels… and that, dear reader, will be left for you to discover on your own during your reading of Skin Dive. I certainly hope to see more of them in subsequent books in the series! They’re great characters.
Vampbards Rating:
Liked it a lot – recommend (B+)

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