So this one has been a long time coming. I was introduced to the wonders of the Spotless series by a woman I used to work with. We both have pretty similar tastes when it comes to books but I won’t lie I was a little sceptical about starting this series. It just didn’t seem like something I would be into and a little out of my comfort zone. What a misjudgement that was!
I’m forever rereading this series switching between book, ebook and audiobook depending on where I am and what I’m doing. It has become one of those series that has found a special place in my heart and I drift back to it every few months when I need some Island and March in my life.
Honestly, this series is the only series that I can say that I 100% enjoy the audiobooks more than reading the books. That isn’t to criticise Camilla Monk because she is a fantastic author and I love her. This is for one simple reason; March’s accent in the audiobooks is perfect. The audiobooks have all been narrated by Amy McFadden who worked really closely with Camilla Monk to create the wonders that are the audiobooks. Camilla’s work with Amy’s narration is really just perfect.
Island Chaptal is a relatively normal, if not socially reclusive, 25-year-old IT engineer working for the world-renowned EMT. Her life is seemingly uninteresting and she lives through trashy romance novels that would make even the most romantic of hearts cringe (honestly they’re horrifying) and dating on YayCupid. That is until she comes home one night to find that her apartment had been cleaned.
Enter March, a hitman with OCD who will not tolerate mixed laundry any more than he would tolerate mixed skittles. He is tasked with finding a rather large diamond which he believes Island’s late mother stole from his employer and, since she is dead, believes that Island is aware of its whereabouts.
Spoiler alert: Island has no idea what March is talking about.
Coming home to find March in her apartment and no sign of her flatmate, Joy, Island soon realises that he is not another of her eccentric flatmate’s conquests and the reality of the situation soon begins to set in. There is a hit man in her living room and yes, he has a gun. March isn’t going to kill her yet but she is forced to help him recover the diamond and uncover the truth of her mother’s mysterious life with it. It’s hard to come to terms with a childhood based on a trove of lies.
The book follows Island Chaptal and March as the two set off to track down the Ghost Cullinan and this marks the start of a series of their ongoing adventures together. The two are soon travelling from Paris to Tokyo following clues from her mother’s will and Island is quickly (and roughly) introduced to the world of criminal organisations and it’s counterparts who shoot first and ask questions later. But with March beside her, she knows she’ll be in perfectly capable hands until the diamond is recovered- Mr Clean doesn’t mess about on the job.
However, trusting a hitman comes with its occupational hazards and falling for one… Well, there isn’t a scenario in any of her books that can prepare her for that bullet.
He had me feeling like I was standing in front of a two-hundred-foot-tall onion with nothing but a table knife to work my way through all those layers, and I feared there might be tears. Lots of them.
Island is a little bit of a riot of a character. Growing up travelling constantly with her mother has left a rather large dent in her social skills and a vast knowledge for peculiar facts (that’s what happens when you leave a kid to their own education). Having gone on a string of failed dates from YayCupid, Island is no closer to losing her v-card and as a 25-year-old the idea is becoming less and less likely. Buried in trashy romance books, she has a warped sense of what is good and acceptable in a man, with many of her stories following rather precarious courses if seduction. However, that being said, March isn’t the worst guy she could fall for. It seems like any relationship could be perceived in an abusive manner however, March never takes advantage, he’s only there to get the job done. Basically what I’m saying is March is gold and I refuse to push presumptuous labels onto his character.
March is my favourite thing about the book and that says a lot as there are loads of things I love about this book. March is a hitman working for the Board, a criminal organisation run by the Queen (a nice lady who reads Elle). He’s a complex character in the sense that there is a lot of psychological baggage that comes with him. After a troubling youth, he is taken in by the Lions, another criminal organisation operating out of South Africa, he is trained and turned into a valued disciple of the Lion’s Vice Commander. March believes that he owes the Vice Commander for pulling him out of the gutters and making him into what he is but he sees himself as little more than a weapon. The OCD plays a huge role in his life and makes sure he works in a particular manner in every aspect. It is a constant struggle to control an unpredictable world and even harder to control a loose cannon like Island. Despite it all though, he’s really a sweetheart as we learn when we meet Callahari, an ex-girlfriend. We learn of his past loves and the pain he endured for that love.
His smile finally returned, as a small airport came in view. “Do you think I’m crazy?”
“March, you are the single most damaged person I’ve ever met, and I include myself in that statement.”
“You’re not damaged, Island.”
“I’m making small talk with a hit man.”
The Lions are another criminal organisation operating out of South Africa. They are ancient and currently run by the Commander and the Vice Commander, the latter of whom we meet in the first book. The Lions are built on loyalty to the brotherhood, each of the brothers agreeing to give up all ties to their previous lives to join. They are each ‘carved’, where their backs are carved with a lion. Dries is the one who gives MArch his scarification. Dries is the Vice Commander of the Lions and as we soon learn is the man that Island remembers from Pretoria. She remembers that he was her mother’s lover but would only appear in the shadows, never meeting Island. He is a brute of a character when we first meet him, one who seems to stop at nothing to recover the diamond that Leia had stolen so the Lions can use it to bring themselves into a higher power, no longer wishing to prey on the carcasses of other beasts. Dries is a dreamer, one who wishes for glory for his brothers and we see the lengths he will go to achieve that dream. However, despite the rough exterior, we see that there are still certain weaknesses that even the toughest of killers can’t block out. Sometimes love can cut through it all. There are certain lines even a man such as Dries wouldn’t cross.
Phyllis (honourable mention) is March’s PA who, even with very little screen time, works miracles for March and Island throughout their adventure. Phyllis help’s March to filter through contracts for hire that are brought to him through his website (contracts usually to kill people). She is the logistics behind the operation but really she’s March’s friend and really the only family he’s got.
The book is filled with adventure, bad romance novel quotes, and a flair for the overdramatic. It is perfect if you are looking for some light-hearted reading from the point of view of a socially recluse 25-year-old virgin. Island and MArch’s adventures are not to be missed (and truthfully you couldn’t make up this story yourself if you tried. You’ll constantly be surprised by the turn of events, page after page).
Next up, Beating Ruby!
Butterfly in Amber
Island Chaptal and the Ancient Alien’s Treasure
Spotless by Camille Monk