The Animal Under the Fur: E.J. Mellow || Review

"I've killed more people than years I've been alive. And I'm twenty-six."

The Animal Under the Fur By E.J. Mellow

Release Date: March 30th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon // Barnes and Noble
Orphaned on the streets as a baby, Nashville Brown, a.k.a Kill Operative 3, knows better than to rely on anyone. With heightened senses and superhuman strength to survive, she’s been raised as the perfect assassin. The trick to her success? Keeping everyone, even her best friend, at arm’s length. Losing his entire family in the span of a year, Carter Smith left his ability to love buried deep in their graves. His only concerns now are completing his missions and effortlessly charming the next temptress to warm his bed. The key to his accomplishments? Working alone mixed with a Casanova smile. But when a deadly weapon needs to be stopped from falling into the wrong hands, the lone wolves find themselves thrown into an explosive partnership. Can Carter and 3 lower their guns aimed at one another long enough to succeed, or will their unwillingness to compromise end up destroying more than their perfect records? Whatever their differences, both agree on one thing—in the game of lies and deceit, the line between friend and foe is often blurred by blood splatter.

I was so pleasantly surprised with this one! New-Adult books and I don't usually get along, and I tend to stay pretty far away from the genre. But I have such a thing for hate-to-love romances, and when I saw that The Animal Under the Fur featured not only that, but spies (!!) I was willing to give it a shot. It ended up being pretty damn good, and I'm so ecstatic to have found another NA that I like. 

Obviously, the spy part was one of my favorite things about the book. The two leads each work for different agencies, and I was so fascinated not only by the two different companies tactics, but by all the intricate devices and procedures that existed within the story. It's an element I loved in Six of Crows; the intricate plan that you think you know, only until it changes right before your eyes and reveals something far more exciting, daring, and insane because how do people even think of this stuff??? The successes and setbacks in the mission were what made the book so un-put-down-able (I doubt that's a word but let's just roll with it okay). Because it dealt with a lot of spy elements, there was quite a bit of traveling as well, which I adored. The world-building when it came to places like Tokyo, and different regions in South America were so vivid and breath-taking. The descriptions were so poignant and made my heart ache with wanderlust.

The chapters were also fairly short, which made the 400 pages pass in a blur. I thought the writing was terrific-- there wasn't a lot of flowery prose, and yet it was able to pack such an emotional punch in the right moments. The whole thing moved at such a quick (yet nice) pace, and I loved the dual narration between 3 and Carter. The two each had such snark and fire, and I smiled more than a few times at their bickering/jokes. 

3, also known as Nashville, reminded me a bit of Celeana from TOG... except I actually liked 3. She was feisty and badass, and yet her character was balanced perfectly with this softer side of her that she wanted to be more of. She knew how to be emotionless, but she also knew how to switch that off, and her main priority was always looking out for those she pretended not to care for. The author used her given name of Nashville within certain parts of the story to show a shift in that switch of her character, and I really loved that contrasting aspect in the book between the cold-blooded murderer, and the hurt and grieving woman. 

I'll be honest, I didn't really like Carter in the beginning. He was kind of an ass, and not in the form of asshole that I usually like in characters (aka the ones that are actually huge dorks. looking at you josh templeman). But as 3 and Carter opened up to each other, so did their own personal narrative, which quickly made Carter start pulling on my heartstrings. The unfolding of both his past, and 3's, made the two more accessible, and had me rooting harder for them to get together. The emphasis on how they filled in each other's weak points, and were equals in both ability and character, was done so nicely. 

Not to mention, the side characters who were just !! the purest things ever. Akoni was the most adorable little geek ever, and I'm such a sucker for characters that have contrasting qualities, like the fact that he was this gigantic buff dude who could easily break you in half, yet wouldn't hurt a fly and would rather talk Star Wars with you. There was also such a positive female friendship in the book between 3 and her roommate Ceci that was so pure I almost had to put the book down to scream. I would kill for a novel centered just around Ceci and her endeavors tbh. 

The true holy grail when it comes to the book is that it isn't actually a romance. While a large factor in it involves the duo opening up to the prospect of love, the romance aspect of the book didn't even really start kicking off until 70% through. The plot was almost entirely focused around the mission aspect of the novel, and since the characters started off hating each other, love definitely wasn't on their minds for most of the book. This was such a nice change from the other NA books I've read, and I can't flail enough about how much I would love for there to be more books featuring older characters like this, that aren't featured purely around relationships. I WANT MORE SPY BOOKS DAMMIT. That said though, the romance itself was g r e a t, and I enjoyed the progression of 3 and Carter's interactions so much. The tension was through the roof, and so well done, and I'm just going to be over there in the corner screaming about it all. 

My only real complaint with the book was the way 3's heritage was handled. Her family is revealed to be of Mexican heritage on one side of her family... which... made no sense... because her hair was red... and her skin... was white??? I don't even know what reasoning went into that bit, and it seemed like quite the case of white-washing. I'm still confuzzled about it tbh. It definitely cast a bit of a sour note over the last bit of the novel, but besides that, and Carter's characterization at the beginning, I seriously don't have any other things to nit-pick about The Animal Under the Fur

Overall, The Animal Under the Fur was pretty damn terrific. The spy elements were insane, and the fiery characters were a treat to read about. I couldn't read fast enough (especially with school cONSTANTLY IN THE WAY) and the unfolding of the mission + plot was gripping. I'm definitely going to have to check out E.J. Mellow's other series, because this was fantastic. 


*4 out of 5 stars*

LET'S CHAT! How do you feel about New-Adult books? Any favorites from that genre? And have you read any books lately with mind-blowing plots?? TELL ME ALL THE THINGS. 


  1. New Adult tends to be a bit of a toss up for me. Either I've stumbled upon it thinking it's YA and it's really just basically AN EROTICA or the relationships in them are awful and abusive. For that reason, I've kind of been warding off the NA, but this one sounds interesting! Also, SPIES YES. I love spies.

    1. I couldn't have said that any better. It's so hard to find good NA with relationships that aren't abusive, so every time I do, I just have to shriek about them for ages. YES TO SPIES. I WANT ALL THE SPY STUFF OKAY.
      xx a


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