Double Trouble: Double Or Nothing – Cari Z & L.A. Witt
Rich Cody joined the U.S. Marshals to hunt down bad guys, not babysit witnesses. Orders are orders, though, and now he’s protecting a hacker with ties to the Albanian and Sicilian mobs. It’s just another exciting day in WITSEC.
Leotrim Nicolosi was born into a world of crime and bloodshed. When that bloodshed hits too close to home, taking down Leo’s boyfriend—the son of a notorious mob boss—Leo is determined to destroy the Grimaldi family. He’s got evidence that will send every last Grimaldi to prison, he’s got the family’s wealth in an electronic chokehold, and he’s got a vendetta that can only be settled with the blood of the man who killed his lover.
When a routine transfer to a safehouse goes horribly wrong, Rich and Leo narrowly escape with their lives. With the Marshals compromised and Leo being framed for murder, he and Rich are on the run from criminals and law enforcement alike. They have no one to trust except each other, and nowhere to go that their enemies can’t reach.
And the only way out might mean making a deal with the Devil.
This novel is approximately 77,000 words.
How far will you go to keep a witness safe?
Rich Cody found out exactly how far the hard way when he was assigned Leotrim Nicolosi, a hacker holding information that will bring mafia families down. His transfer to a safehouse went to shit and the Marshal and his witness found themselves on the run from not only the Albanian and Sicilian mob but from several law enforcement agencies as well. There was no one they can trust, not the police nor the US Marshals, nor the FBI. The mob has a long reach.
Double Or Nothing hit the ground running with a shootout that set the fast-paced action/suspense vibe throughout the book. There was no rest for the weary, Rich and Leo were constantly on the move, driving from one point of the American heartland to the opposite end. The only downtime they had was in the missile silo/bunker when they asked Rich’s marine buddy for help.
I loved how the authors kept several levels of tension going. The book was very effective in the giving off that constant sense of danger hanging like the Sword of Damocles over Rich and Leo’s heads. Meanwhile, the sexual tension was a simmering slow burn that went nuclear in the missile silo.
Beyond their romantic connection, there was Rich’s unwavering loyalty to his witness and his duty as a Marshal. I loved his dogged determination to see things through to the end. Grieving the loss of his lover, Leo is equally determined to bring down his killers. The two men took on an entire mob. They didn’t hold anything back.
The book would make a great action movie. There’s a lot of explosions and gunfights and car chases that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There were twists and turns, double crosses and close calls. It was one heck of a mission.
There was one scene at the end, where they both just went through hell and Rich thought he lost Leo. That part where he was hugging him while shaking with shock and exhaustion was one of the most poignant moments. You can really feel his heart exploding with emotions. Mine did just that.
So just how far will you go to keep a witness safe? For US Marshall Rich Cody, all the way.
Double Trouble is a duology and best read when you already have both books in hand. Double Or Nothing ends with a cliffhanger. Rich and Leo’s mission continues in Doubling Down.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Hitman Vs Hitman – Cari Z & L.A. Witt
Ricardo Torralba and August Morrison don’t agree on much besides the fact that they hate each other. According to Ricardo, August is a spoiled brat who really needs to knock off the sass once in a while. August insists that Ricardo needs a sense of humor, a good lay, or a well-placed bullet. Maybe all three.
Fortunately, the assassin’s profession is a solitary one, and they can go about their lives without getting in each other’s way.
When a contracted hit turns out to be a setup for both of them, they narrowly escape with their lives. Now, even if they don’t like it (spoiler: they don’t), August and Ricardo have to work together if they want a shot at survival.
In between firefights and questionable interrogation methods as they hunt down their would-be killer, the cranky assassins discover that under all that mutual loathing is a spark of chemistry they can’t ignore. They want to ignore it, they probably should ignore it, but August can’t help flirting to annoy Ricardo, and Ricardo can think of at least one way to shut him up for a while.
But they need to focus, damn it, and figure out who’s gunning for them and why.
Assuming they don’t kill each other first.
Hitman vs Hitman is a standalone gay romantic suspense featuring two men who’d rather chew glass than fall for each other, a whole lot of inappropriate comments, and some buttons that will need resewing.
L.A. Witt and Cari Z had wowed me with their awesomely co-written series, Bad Behavior. Their latest book, Hitman Vs Hitman is a fun, explosive romp oozing with USTs between two hired guns who were contracted to take on an assignment that was set up to get them both killed.
Hitmen all over the world are ranked in a website called Rate My Hit. It’s where clients post reviews worded as satirical comments.
The #1 hitman according to the website is Ricardo Torralba. He’s a born planner who has a trunk full of props and costumes that lets him slip through security. He’s of Spanish descent but he can change his accent when undercover. He’s a grumpy, taciturn fellow with a drawer filled with burner phones.
And #2 on the chart is August Morrison, an unlikely person for such occupation. He is publicly known as the son of a billionaire. His mansion is built like Bruce Wayne’s. He loves clothes. Wears designer suits to his assignments. And jeeesus, when is he going to shut up?!
This book moved fast, much like the way Ricardo and August were constantly on the run from whoever had them in their crosshairs. They paused long enough to come up with a plan to turn things around. Along the way, their combustible combination finally combusted and they discovered, that despite their very obvious differences, they’re really good together in more ways than they expected.
The chemistry is off the charts! The sexual tension adding piquancy to the already strained interactions of two men on edge. I love the way these two threw off fireworks while constantly bickering. And that they took time before jumping each other’s bones.
I do think the way their backstories were presented could have been stronger. While we get a good picture of Ricardo’s and August’s personalities, I felt their pasts could have been explored further. We learn more about August and his quirks. Also him with his famous billionaire face, going about his secret missions sans disguise and not recognized is stretching it.
Majority of the book is spent uncovering the identity of the person who set them up. The mystery wasn’t hardcore mindboggling and you can kind of expect who the bad guy was. Still, it was an intriguing enough plotline.
We get an HFN that left some things open in case the authors decide to give us a sequel. I wish they would because that conclusion certainly felt like the start of events that will shake up the charts. I liked that Ricardo and August did not retire as is usually the case when assassins are given their happy endings.
Overall, Hitman Vs Hitman is light, humorous, suspenseful with OTT stunts and a lot of ridiculousness, mostly from August. It might not be a bullseye but it still hit its target.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.
- Find a book published 10+ years ago.
- Find a book that will be published THIS year.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT year.
Some slight revision of the rules:
- Find a book published 10+ years ago
- Find a book that will be published THIS month.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.0
“First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons“
I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.0
Bad Behavior: Romantic Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z
Detective Andreas Ruffner is no fool—he’s found a man who loves him, puts up with him, and has stuck with him through hell and back, and it’s time to put a ring on it. Darren Corliss is the love of his life, and he wants the whole world to know it.
Now the fun part—the wedding!
Well, after the not-so-fun part of planning the wedding in between dealing with overbearing and impossible-to-please family members. With future mothers-in-law driving them both up a wall, the guest list growing out of control, and the wedding getting ever more complicated, Darren and Andreas have to wonder if they’re in over their heads.
But they’re going to make it to the altar if it kills them … and at this rate, it just might.
Andreas finally found the nerve to put a ring on it but the process of getting through the preparations was as tough as one of their cases. As long as it ended up with him and Darren being married to each other, neither of them tried to complain. Everybody is happy for the couple and Emily is excited to be the flower girl but Andreas’ mother is another story.
I am ecstatic they’re making it official! After what L.A. Witt & Cari Z put them through last time, I would riot if this doesn’t end happily. Luckily Romantic Behavior gave the boys their much deserved happy ending.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away0
Bad Behavior: Reckless Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z
After too many years of putting his job first, Detective Andreas Ruffner is getting his priorities straight. He’s ready to spend some quality time with his adult kids, not to mention come clean about some things he should’ve told them a long time ago. And introduce them to his partner and boyfriend, Darren Corliss.
But in a heartbeat, a family dinner turns into Andreas’s worst nightmare. When the dust settles, one of his kids is hurt, and the other three have been abducted.
Andreas is going to find his kids, and nothing, not even a broken ankle, is going to stop him. Thank God for his sharp, level-headed partner … who has a crisis of his own pulling him away when Andreas needs him the most. As both men try to support—and lean on—each other, they get no closer to finding the kids. And the longer the children are missing, the less likely it is they’ll ever be found.
It started with Andreas and Darren having dinner with Andreas’ kids, Erin, Ben, Casey and Emily with Andreas introducing Darren as his boyfriend and dropping the HIV bomb. Ben took it well but Casey needed more time to process it. After dinner, the girls went for a bathroom break and Ben and Casey went to their car. Next thing Andreas heard were gunshots and a car crash, then his ex-girlfriend Lisa was panicking because the girls were missing.
From then on, the story went on a relentless pace that had me feeling exhausted for both Andreas and Darren. Andreas was still nursing the broken ankle he got from the previous case and he can barely walk. It didn’t stop him from taking the lead in the investigation because heaven help anyone who gets in his way.
This abduction case took all they got. Andreas and Darren barely had any sleep. The boys were pushed to their limits but even as tragedy struck they kept pushing back. Andreas would have probably lost it but Darren was his rock. The case highlighted how much they have come to mean to each other and how solid their relationship is. I love the Han Solo shoutout!
One good thing that came out of this was that their fellow cops rallied behind them albeit somewhat grudgingly since Andreas and Darren were still on their blacklist. Even Internal Affairs was moved.
Family bonds is a key theme in the book and even though the case was a nightmare, there remains a strong feeling of love, care, devotion and dry humor to lighten things up. Andreas’s family remained close and Andreas is friends with both his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend who in turn were both supportive of his relationship with Darren. Andreas kids were amazing and tough, especially Erin who, despite Andreas’ reputation, has endeared herself to everyone at the police station when she started working there as an intern. She gave them a much needed break on the case. I hope she follows her dad’s footsteps because she makes a good cop. Darren’s mom and stepdad also gave much needed support to everyone even though they themselves have to deal with grief. The main antagonist himself was motivated by familial ties.
Both Risky Behavior and Suspicious Behavior were awesome reads but Reckless Behavior stood out as being the most personally case the Andreas and Darren had dealt with. The boys suffered dead ends, setbacks and personal tragedies but throughout all these they remained strong. The execution of the plot was practically flawless, the characterization and writing were on point. Michael Ferraiuolo expertly wrung out every emotion from every word.The hopes and frustration, exhaustion and pain, the terror and suspense and finally the relief and peace. It was beautiful!
5 Stars – absolutely perfect0