I've loved romance novels since...like forever. I read across most subgenres of romance. I also write fantasy/paranormal and new adult romance.
I really like Kele Moon's writing and have read her entire MMA fighters series (Battered Hearts and Untamed Hearts). After reading The Slayer, what hit me was the sense of drama. It reminded me of Shannon McKenna's McCloud series in terms of the action being over the top and intense. Whether a tiny town in Georgia could house a successful MMA training center is debatable, but the idea of those worlds colliding--with guys from NYC and Miami--meeting small-town heroines must be some type of catnip for me because I like it. Oh, and all but one of the guys is connected. Yes, that kind of connected. Very high up.
This book tells the story of secondary characters featured in previous books: Chuito (the new champion and cousin of The Viper) and Alaine (a grown-up preacher's kid who works for Jules). The story is told in flashbacks for several scenes, which worked but is a bit of a different approach. Then, the couple take a trip--separately--to Miami because Chu's actions from the previous book are catching up to him. You could read this as a standalone, but the relationships are going to make way more sense if you've read the first few books.
The main conflict between Chu and Alaine is that Chu is the former head of a Miami gang and he doesn't want to taint her with his badness. That pretty much only attracts her more to him as Alaine only sees the good. Very, very hot sexytimes ensue.
To save his cousin, Chu made a deal with the Italian mafia, and that, of course, means the Morettis are heavily featured in this story. Yay!! They are ridiculously funny. The action centers around politics between these groups and a group of Russian mobsters. I have no idea if Moon's research is accurate, but it is consistent, entertaining, and creates some scary scenes. Her final chapters address terminology among the Puerto Rican gang Los Corredores and the Morettis. They are not to be missed. Hilarious and detailed, so I'm guessing that Moon's gang dynamics is research-based.
Trigger warning for threatened rape. A character was traumatized by this. The scenes involving this are incredibly intense.
I thought the ending was unexpected and I liked that. It worked for the story and sets up the next book (Tino's story, hopefully) in an exciting way. While The Slayer is told in both Alaine and Chuito's POVs, in many ways, it's Chu's story, his struggle. This was okay since he had plenty to work with and was an interesting character--also a POC. Yay! But, I would have liked a little more with Alaine. She didn't have much depth, although I appreciated her guts and compassion.
I highly recommend this series. It has been addictive from the start.