Thursday, March 8, 2018

Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward

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.

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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This book is a complete mindfuck in the best possible way! In a world of spies, assassins, and bad guys with personal armies, Jack Reardon has to use all his SAS skills to survive. But when the assassin meant to kill him ends up saving his life, Jack no longer knows who to trust in his very dangerous world.

The writer flips back and forth between two narratives in this book. Both are told from Jack’s perspective but set exactly one year apart. The first narrative tells the story of Jack and Ethan’s first meeting and harrowing escape while the second narrative tells the story of Jack and Ethan’s second encounter a year later. I love the way the structure made me work to figure out what actually happened in the past and the present while the author never quite let me trust any of the characters.

This is an action-packed thriller. When the former SAS officer and current spy gets together with the famous assassin, there isn’t much that doesn’t get shot or blown up. In the second narrative, Jack relies more on brains than brawn as he chooses his allegiances and carefully plans his actions. It all works perfectly together, and I couldn't put it down.

This is marketed as an m/m romance, but it is definitely more of a spy/action story and while there are a couple of steamy scenes and moments of great chemistry between Ethan and Jack, I’m not sure there is ever any actual romance. And I think the book is better for it.

I loved this. I’m excited to find a new author to love and I hope this turns into a series I can get properly obsessed with.

This is an action-packed story from start to finish – I was so engrossed that I read it in less than a day. Told entirely from Jack’s point of view, the story switches between the past where Jack Reardon and Ethan Blade first meet and the present where, a year later they cross each other’s paths again.

I quite like it when stories switch from the past to the present and the consistency with which it is done here works, as the stories are connected. The more I learned about what happened in the past, the more it shaped how I thought about what was going on in the here and now.

I loved the way the relationship between the two men was written. It wasn’t over the top or rushed. They are temporary allies and even when things between them get physical I wasn’t sure it meant or if it would change anything.

Where Death Meets the Devil was a great action/romance to get lost in. I’m not sure if this book will be a standalone but I for one would like more from this pair.

L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life. Granted, a good deal of them have been of the tall variety, but who’s counting? Parents and teachers notwithstanding, of course. These days, the vast majority of her story telling has been in an honest attempt to create fun and exciting ways of entertaining others (and making money).

As such, she is still a mad (always provoked!) scientist in a dungeon laboratory (it has no windows—seriously, the zombie apocalypse could be going on outside and she’d have nary a clue) who, on the rare occasions she emerges into the light, does so under extreme protest and with the potential hazard of bursting into flames under the Southeast Queensland sun.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward to read and review.

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