Title: Gun Moll
Author: Bethany-Kris and Erin Ashley Tanner
Page Count: 358
Notable Notables: Can’t think of a single one other than “bad sex”
Recommended Readers: No one, sadly
I don’t know what about this book I’m most insulted by: the fact that it honestly believes it’s a mafia book or that it dares to call itself a romance. I had high hopes for it–I love Italian mafia-related content, and gangster romances are honestly so hard to come by because none of them I’ve read are any good.
And now Gun Moll can be added to that sad little pile of disappointments.
Here’s the quick run-down: Melina’s an escort who gets entangled with the mob. Her life is put in danger basically because Mac, a little mobster soldier, can’t mind his own business. Melina looks suspiciously like an undercover cop as a result, so she and Mac have to pretend to be in a relationship until the heat’s taken off of them. Predictable sex happens, someone tries to kill them, sex happens again (and again and again), and eventually, resolution arrives along with the set-up for the next book, which, no thanks. If the plot sounds vague to you, that’s because there barely is one!
Truth be told, I had problems from the beginning. I actually had to start this book over after putting it down for a long time before I finally buckled down and finished it with grim determination. The writing was awful, both from a grammatical/mechanical standpoint (self-published or no, where was the editor at with all those commas?) and also from a storytelling standpoint. For a book supposedly handling mobsters and explicit sex, the diction, sentence structure, and characters were all juvenile. At no point was I ever able to take anything seriously, especially with the two main characters.
Let’s actually talk about them, shall we? Especially since they’re the only characters that even matter. Everyone else was a caricature. First up is Melina Morgan, who works as an escort to pay off her veteran father’s medical bills but also now his funeral bills. She’s the typical “hard-ass bitch” trope who naturally has no friends or family and who doesn’t open up to anybody because she doesn’t want to get hurt. Oh, also, she’s so good as an escort that she never has to make money by having sex with her clients. Even the ones who push or get handsy with her stop once she gives them her hard, no-bullshit attitude. #SureJan But none of that even matters because once she meets James “Mac” Maccari, most of her so-called grit goes out the window along with the majority of her agency.
But oh, what to say about Mac… First of all, you almost couldn’t have picked a less sexy name to call him, but I understand that the stereotypical Italian names (Luca, Anthony, Enzo, Guido, etc.) were already taken by other characters who barely mattered. But I guess it’s a moot point because there was nothing attractive about Mac at all. His arrogance was the kind that is just annoying to read. From the moment he spent two pages mansplaining to Melina why him calling her “doll” wasn’t degrading despite all the evidence otherwise, I was done with him. (And what really sucks is, I love degrading pet names. I love “doll,” but this book’s treatment of it and its severe overuse just put me to sleep).
Otherwise, Mac was completely boring. He’s not a made man in the mafia yet, but of course, we never see him doing anything mafia-related. We hear about it a lot, we kinda see the business he runs for his boss on the fringes, but nothing about the jobs themselves are focused on. There are no details. Mac never does anything inherently “bad” or gets his hands dirty, which tells me all I need to know about the two writers of this book and their grasp of what it means to be in the mafia. They don’t understand it beyond Google, they don’t want to harp on what Mac actually does to bring any kind of conflict to this apparently perfect relationship they’re contriving between their two leads, and they definitely don’t want Mac to be a bad guy.
Using the mafia as the backdrop of the story was literally just that: a poorly-painted backdrop to give Mac whatever bad boy and dangerous angle they could without any kind of substance behind it. He’s just a sort-of dom and a dirty-talker in the bedroom, and that’s it.
So sadly, I couldn’t root for either of our would-be leads. Neither Melina nor Mac did anything for me. Every time they were on the page together, which was almost the entire book, was agonizing to read because their banter was so bad. Nothing about their dialogue was interesting or compelling. There was no mystery behind their feelings or actions because everything was out in the open all the time, which isn’t how people work. Their romance happened because the writers were hellbent and determined for it to happen, not because it was natural. Their insta-lust turned into insta-love, and there was no spark or intrigue surrounding it. There was never any doubt for me how this would go, and that kind of predictability in a romance book is a complete mood killer.
And the sex scenes were far, far too many with no impact or appeal to them at all, and they were usually incredibly poorly timed. I seriously felt like I was reading a Sarah J. Maas book at times, and that is not a compliment. I guess if you like reading explicitly-detailed sex a lá “his cock filled her, and he felt the walls of her sex contract around him, and she was so beautiful. The sight of his dick inside her sex drove him crazy,” then, yeah, you might get something out of this.
As for me, sensuality goes a much longer way, and there was nothing sensual about the sex scenes in both actions and writing language. In fact, the amount of times Mac just jack-hammered into Melina made me think the authors must’ve watched a lot of porn before writing this book, thinking that’s what good sex is. Listen, rough sex is great and all, but there’s more to it than that.
The best way I can describe my overall issue with this book, from the characters, to the plot, to the romance is that it’s all shallow. I don’t have a good time with books like that in general, but again, if it’s mafia-related, then I expect there to be depth and grit, not…whatever this was.