Exit Strategy: Deadly Lover – Jocelynn Drake
Justin Mallory has years of bad decisions to make up for, starting with agreeing to join the CIA after being recruited out of the Marines. Now he chooses the jobs and he works alone. It’s safer that way, and he can make sure the good guy always wins.
But this job…he can’t do alone. Two pharmaceutical researchers are dead and a dangerous drug is on the cusp of winning FDA approval if he doesn’t track down the culprit behind the lies and murders.
Gabriel Prescott is a well-trained, efficient, and cold-blooded killer. After a brutal betrayal left his lover dead, Gabriel is out only for himself. But when this lucrative contract lands in his lap, he can’t pass it up. Even if it means working with the unpredictable and insane Justin Mallory.
Dodging bullets and secret meetings find them depending on each other. And one hot, frantic night together leads to a hidden sweetness…and questions of whether they could possibly have something more.
A Goodreads friend said it best ( here ):
“It’s a bit thin on the mercenary procedural angle and highish on the OTT scale. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but this could have been much more. Take out some of the sex, some OTT phrases, add in more mystery, more edge, then we would have had a winner. Alas, that was not to be had.”
Deadly Lover introduces us to Justin Mallory and Gabriel Prescott, a mercenary and an assassin with deep secrets and false names, who found themselves partnered against their will. They were drawn to each other despite having opposite personalities.
The story is part mystery, part thriller, more romance. There’s a bit of fake boyfriend thrown in and some forced proximity angle. I wasn’t a particular fan of the writing. It followed a sex-work-sex-work-sex pattern that would have made it predictable and boring. But what it lack for a more solid storyline, it more than made up for the fantastic chemistry between Gabriel and Justin. I had fun listening to their banter and I could easily overlook the weaker parts.
Justin is goofy and laidback while Gabriel is more uptight and tends to overthink. If it weren’t for the fact that their jobs involved hacking and killing, they could have been your favorite neighborhood gay couple. And they did a lot of cute couple things like grocery shopping and cookouts. I loved how Justin brought out Gabriel’s playful side. My favorite part was Gabriel knowing exactly where Justin hid his secret cameras and deliberately trying to provoke him. Also the “he can only speak Russian” gag was fun.
While not exactly a throwaway, the job wasn’t that hard either and the breakthrough was a matter of waiting for a program to finish decrypting the hard drive. Not my favorite way of moving plots forward but it did serve to give the two men more time together and make the development of their relationship more plausible.
The book ends with a kiss and a promise. And I am eagerly rooting for them to see that promise through. The whole premise of the Exit Strategy series is about two hired guns trying to leave the mercenary life behind and live normal lives. I don’t really like my assassins retiring but I also like them alive and would like Gabriel and Justin’s HFN become an HEA, which is only possible if they permanently remove themselves from their very exciting careers. But knowing these two, I’m pretty sure trouble will still find them no matter what.
All in all, not that deadly but still enjoyable. Recommended to those who love to see cold-blooded assassins getting hot and bothered.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love