This is going to be a quick review because I’ve got to get to work, but I wanted to put my thoughts down before I headed out. This is a new to me author, but the blurb was so intriguing I couldn’t help but hit the request button when I saw it up for review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.
This romantic suspense starts off with a bang and then is nothing but action and intrigue until the very last page. I never knew what to expect or what was going on. I’m not familiar with Australian military/covert agencies, but this author guides the reader along well enough that I was able to figure out the players and what their roles were pretty easily. I liked how the story was told in alternating time frames. The book starts off a year before, when Jack and Ethan make first contact, with the second chapter featuring Jack in present day. And that continues throughout the entire book, alternating chapters from then and now with Jack being the sole POV. There is a symmetry to how the author laid out the chapters that keeps the readers engaged, while slowly guiding them through the development of the relationship between Jack and Ethan.
Jack makes a wonderful narrator. He’s a tough guy, stuck in the middle of a mission gone wrong, and forced to trust a man he knows very little about other than by brutal, bloody reputation. Ethan is his natural enemy, but he has to stick by his side in order to survive the mess he finds himself in. In the process he gets to know him as more than an emotionless assassin, and that brings about a sort of intimacy that results in an odd, but strangely right for this story, relationship. I wasn’t sure the romance would be believable until around about the 70% mark when certain plot threads fell into place and then I was like… huh, okay, yeah. Ethan remains an enigma until the very end, but it works.
Even though the author did a good job setting up the world-building and letting some of the character’s backstories unfold on the page, I still feel like there is so much more depth that can be explored. I want to know more about where Ethan comes from and about his past as a paid killer with a personal code of conduct. I want to know more about this mysterious group of people he works with. Are they all Sugar Babies? I want to see him and Jack work together for The Office. I feel like this book just wetted my appetite for more from this author. I’m really hoping she decides to release more books featuring these characters.
L.J. Hayward is a new to me author, but I enjoyed this book so much I intend on picking up her backlist. If you are a Cut & Run fangirl like me and miss your adventures with Ty and Zane, I recommend that you give this book and author a try. It had the same addictive, can’t stop reading quality. Final Grade- B
Ethan was so damn tempting, like a deadly sin offered free with a bottle of good bourbon– all but impossible to resist.