Title: Beautiful Monster
Author: Joely Skye
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Characters: Josh and Kiran (Kir)
Josh Mackay is hired to bring in Kiran Brunner, a Minder with the psychic ability to manipulate and kill. But Kir has been abused by the agency that wants him back and he’ll do anything to escape. Josh’s job is to lure Kiran to a safe house. That part’s easy. The boy-Minder or no-is beautiful and surprisingly naive. Hunted by those who want to harm him, Kir doesn’t recognize Josh’s trap until it is almost too late. Kir gets his hooks in Josh and when his job is done, Josh cannot walk away. Not only because of what Kir is, but because of why the agency wants Kir back. Josh wants above all to protect Kir, but doesn’t know if that’s the right thing to do, or if he’s unknowingly succumbed to the Minder’s control. Kir knows better than to fall hard for a new enemy, but it doesn’t stop him from wanting, needing and loving Josh. However, Kir may not be able to save Josh, and himself, from those who wish them harm. The time will come when Kir is forced to use his powers against the agency to bring Josh back to safety, whether Josh trusts him or not.
Three in one. That’s what this is. Monster, Zombie and Minder. Three shorts written by the author and put into a single volume. As standalones, I can see how they would be frustrating to read but compiled as they are? Great story. Josh is a hired killer hired to bring Kiran to a house where others are waiting on him. Why? Because Kiran, or Kir as he’s called is a Minder, an individual with the ability to manipulate anothers mind and make them do whatever his will desires and the other, completely at a loss as to what happened to them. The agency who raised Kir wants him back and they will take whatever measure to get him. They are afraid of him and they should be. They abused this child from the moment they got their hands on him. He was sexually abused by his handler, and physically restrained more times than he should have been. Kir has the sweetest disposition and from the start I fell in love with him. He’s so sad and alone, he has no one but a sister he can hardly trust. He spends a lot of time on the run in this book because if he gets caught, he’s hurt. Over and over they hurt him.
Josh does get Kir to the house, as he was hired to do, but once he saw the abuse young Kir endured he had to put a stop to it and this is where the story really makes you think. Josh killed Kir’s handler, the so called man who raised Kir and trained him. Josh helped Kir escape. But, did Josh do that on his own? Or, did Kir use his powers to make Josh do his bidding? Once Josh delivers Kir to Kir’s sister, safe and sound, his mind begins to crack simply because once a Minder gets ahold of someone and controls their thoughts, that person’s mind begins to crack. They can be driven crazy and Kir is aware of this and fortunately for Josh, Kir loves him. He tries his best to protect him from the other Minders but with the manipulation Kir did on Josh to get Kir to safety and with the manipulation that Josh undergoes to forget the other Minder’s he met, his mind, as strong as it was, ends up cracked.
The agency finds Josh and ends up housing him in a controlled environment. He’s put to work and really has no life to speak of. He’s unsure, he’s skittish, he’s not Josh. He’s not the sure solid man we meet at the start of the story. As the story continues he meets another Minder who really does a number on him, he is damn near broken for the fun of it. Then Kir steps in and does what he does to try to save Josh.
This is a wonderfully told story that leaves you wondering one thing. Did you think to do that on your own, or did someone else make you think you did?
I hope the author considers doing at least one more story with Kir and Josh, just to give us a look into their lives and their world.
Reviewed By: Michele