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    REVIEW: Hitman Vs Hitman by Cari Z & L.A. Witt

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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.

    Usually.

    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.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Bullet
    Artist: Riot Child
    Album: Made For Another Time


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Hitman Vs Hitman. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

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    LAST YEAR I WAS READING…(December 23, 2020)

    This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (July 22, 2020)

    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.

    Original Rules

    • 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.
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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: The Rebellion or the Empire?

    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.

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    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.  

    YES!!!

    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.

    CONGRATULATIONS!

    P.S.

    Review of Bad Behavior books here.
    Review of L.A. Witt books here.

    Rating:

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Milk and Black Spiders
    Artist: Foals
    Album: Holy Fire

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36291125-romantic-behavior)

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    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.

    If I thought the last case was tough, this one was heartbreaking! L.A. Witt & Cari Z made the boys go through hell.

    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!

    P.S.

    Review of Risky Behavior here.
    Review of Suspicious Behavior here.
    Review of L.A. Witt books here.

    Rating:

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Afraid of Everyone
    Artist: The National
    Album: High Violet

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35611965-reckless-behavior)

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    Bad Behavior: Suspicious Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    Detective Darren Corliss is hanging by a thread. In between recovering from a near-fatal wound and returning to work at a hostile precinct, he’s struggling to help care for his ailing brother. His partner and boyfriend, Detective Andreas Ruffner, wants to help, but doesn’t know how. And with his own family crises brewing, Andreas is spread almost as thin as Darren.

    For cops, though, life takes a backseat to the job. When a stack of unsolved homicides drops into their laps, Andreas and Darren think they’re unrelated cold cases. But when a connection surfaces, they find themselves on the tail of a prolific serial killer who’s about to strike again.

    Except they’ve got nothing. No leads. No suspects. Just a pile of circumstantial evidence and a whole lot of hunches. Time is running out to stop the next murder—and to pull themselves back from their breaking points.

    Phew! Our boys can’t catch a break. What with the hostility from their peers, Asher’s rapidly worsening Alzheimer’s,  Andreas’ family trouble and a serial killer on the loose.

    Narrator Michael Ferraiuolo continued to impressed me with his delivery. He was not only reading, he was really acting. I love the small but effective touches he added, like the sniffling, the coughing, the little laughs. It gives an extra something to the narration. Really awesome!

    This is another addicting case to follow and I liked L.A. Witt & Cari Z’s take on the serial killer trope. Usually, it takes the entire book to uncover who the serial killer is. In this case, they know who the killer is, they just had a devil of a time proving it. Their evidence were all circumstantial. 

    The case proved to be a very frustrating one. They were sure their main suspect was it but life threw them curve balls and red herrings which nearly broke Darren’s confidence. Ironically, it was Andreas who remained optimistic. Their strategy was out of the box and as was their way, involved bending the rules slightly. It was great to see Andreas and Darrin evolve into a power couple, both personally and as working partners. They have developed a sort of telepathic connection where each of them instinctively knew what the other was thinking. This kind of bond usually takes years to form but Andreas and Darrin just synced really well. 

    The climax was full of suspense and fraught with great danger that was compounded by the fact that the other detectives continued to hold grudges with Andreas and Darrin. Detective Paula Morris, Andreas’ loyal friend and one of the best characters of the series, played a crucial role.

    Although the story was still written in dual POV, I think this was a slightly Darren-centric story. He had to deal with brother’s condition and the possibility that he too might have the gene. He was also the one making major conclusions on who the serial killer is. In addition, we get to know more of Andreas’ background and family life and witness Darren squeeing at Andreas interacting with his four year old daughter, Emily.  

    Suspicious Behavior, the second book of the Bad Behavior series, moved Andreas and Darren’s relationship forward, dealt with the repercussions of their first case and showed that they can handle cases outside narcotics.The workaholic pair were tenacious in their pursuit of case and weren’t afraid to get creative with the rules. It was only when they broke their bones were they forced to have that much needed break.  Overall, the plot was gripping with cleverly written twists and turns and major arc and character developments all around. 

    Love it!

    P.S.

    Review of book 1, Bad Behavior series, Risky Behavior here.

    Rating: 

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Deep Red Bells
    Artist: Neko Case
    Album: Black Listed

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34998102-suspicious-behavior)

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    Bad Behavior: Risky Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.

    Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.

    As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox–and borderline unethical–methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder–is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

    Declaring this week Bad Behavior Week because Andreas and Darren happened…

    I didn’t expect to like Risky Behavior as much as I did. This is also my first listen to Michael Ferraiuolo and boy, did he knock it out of the park!

    Majority of crime stories are solving serial killings, which I enjoy but then again, just how many serial killers are there in the US? On a refreshing note, Risky Behavior is about busting a drug gang whose connections go all the way to the top. Detective Andreas Ruffner thought himself a lone wolf out to take down this corruption. He was saddled with Darren Corliss, a rookie partner aka babysitter because Internal Affairs thinks he has something to hide. 

    Andreas is an asshole to most people. He trusts no-one. He has his reasons. Darren knows he has to earn that trust and though he was the younger of the two, he wasn’t a doormat. He was up for the challenge. The two didn’t get along at first. Both found the other attractive despite being at odds with each other on their first meeting but I love how L.A. WItt & Cari Z handled the development of their relationship. They had both characters playing it cool and most importantly, keeping it professional. Until they noticed the other one noticed. And then it slowly evolved into trust and a partnership, in both sense of the word, in a very convincing manner. It was so good I’m not even bothered by the almost 20 year age-gap.

    The rest of the cast were great characters. Not all of them were likable but the combination of the authors characterization and Michael Ferraiuolo’s delivery made all the characters stand out. It reminded me of the cop shows I used to watch. I could imagine Bad Behavior as a drama series and the supporting cast would be those characters actors who always look familiar but you don’t know the names of.

    Jamie Bamber as Detective Andreas Ruffner

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    Dean Geyer as Detective Darren Corliss

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    The case is one hell of a hook, keeping me glued to the story for hours. For this part alone, I would recommend the book to mystery/crime fiction lovers who might or might not be into MM. The case was complicated and challenging with widespread repercussions for the entire city. No wonder Andreas was willing to do everything to crack the case. Darren earned his stripes by quickly learning to play the game and sticking his neck out. The two men go against Internal Affairs and government authorities, and make unholy alliances with unlikely individuals. Riveting stuff!

    Risky Behavior is a very well-written police procedural story with great characters and cunning twists and turns. Add to that the brilliant narration by Michael Ferraiuolo and you got yourself a winner! 

    P.S.

    Review of L.A. Witt books here.

    Rating:

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Honest Town
    Artist: Simple Minds
    Album: Big Music

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33411778-risky-behavior)