Death and the Devil: Why the Devil Stalks Death – L.J. Hayward
Jack Reardon uncovers secrets for a living, and the Meta-State spy is pretty good at it. Or rather he thought so until he met Ethan Blade—assassin, warrior, enigma. The unlikely pair have decided to give living together a shot, but Jack’s not entirely certain what he’s gotten himself into—or exactly who he’s in it with.
Jack’s worries are compounded when he’s assigned to a police strike force hunting a serial killer. With each new puzzle piece, Jack considers the true nature of a serial killer—and how similar it is to an assassin. To one particular assassin who’s having trouble adjusting to retirement. Jack’s unsure how to help Ethan—or if he even can.
When the killer strikes close to home, Jack must race against the clock to stop another murder, despite the price someone has put on his head. Could the matters be connected? Is a certain assassin at the centre of both? Surrounded by killers, the only one Jack wants near disappears, leaving Jack drowning in secrets. He’ll have to do what he does best—unravel the secrets, including Ethan’s—to stop the killer and save the life he and Ethan have only just begun to build.
Child abuse and child sexual abuse in a character’s history and not depicted directly on the page.
Back in 2018, the Death and the Devil series exploded in the MM romance scene in the most epic way, bringing us one of the most beloved characters of the genre. The cinnamon roll assassin, Ethan Blade.
I love his character so much. I vowed to name my firstborn after him. I even got goosebumps just anticipating the next installments’ releases. I also promised myself to patiently wait for the audiobooks no matter how long it took just for the sheer pleasure of hearing his character speak.
And here we are, finally, with the complete audiobooks!!!
With a magnificent opener in Where Death Meets the Devil, my expectations of Why the Devil Stalks Death were sky-high, so the last thing I expected was to be…bored. Because it pains me greatly to admit it wasn’t the riveting one-sitter I wanted it to be.
This is because of how the story was written. In keeping with the 1st book’s style, the chapters alternated between past and present events, labeled “Before” and “After”. It made things pretty convoluted instead of suspenseful. The serial killer plot is better served by linear storytelling, which should trim down some of the more drawn-out drama.
But our boys are still their gloriously flawed selves, navigating a fragile relationship built on a connection that managed to be both tenuous and deep. Jack, from whom most of the story is told so far, is human enough to be affected by an ex-hookup-turned-co-worker’s incessant flirting but remains staunchly loyal to a difficult and all-too-frequently absent boyfriend.
Just like in the first book, Ethan comes and goes. His appearances are marked by mysterious bruises he refuses to tell Jack where he got them. The man has always been an enigma to all. Most of the things Jack, and us readers, know about the assassin are gathered from meager crumbs thrown our way. So I’m thrilled to see major reveals on his past here. I’m also sad, but not surprised, to learn it involved child abuse and bullying.
Ethan’s character development comes from his involvement with Jack. While I speak of Jack being human as him being vulnerable and hurting (being an ass, really), cold and deadly Ethan being human is him being this completely endearing child-like creature who adores animals, reads action thrillers, wears socks to bed, names his cars after women and goes to zen mode when driving at ridiculously fast speeds. Ethan being human is a bomb detonating inside Jack’s chest. I was blown into smithereens right there with him!
Why the Devil Stalks Death brought Jack and Ethan closer in more ways than one in a complicated web of secrets, sex, serial murders, espionage and siblings. The storytelling might be confusing but the book packed enough intrigue, sizzle, and danger to carry me over this hurdle into that spectacular third arc! It’s all bullets, knives, car stunts, edge-of-your seat assassin vs. assassin action in a fucked up family reunion of killers. I live for every death-defying moment of it!
And our boys are at a happier place. For now. We’ll see what havoc the 3rd book brings. And I stand by this, Death and the Devil is the next mega-blockbuster action franchise, if only Hollywood has the balls to bring it to screen!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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“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.
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.
Death and the Devil: Devil in the Details – L.J. Hayward
If there’s one thing assassin Ethan Blade knows, it’s how to plan a job. How to study a target, find the weak spot, and strike. He keeps his guns clean, his knives sharp, and his heart sealed away behind more locks than his precious cars. Alone but safe. Until Jack Reardon burrowed his way into Ethan’s life, his car, and his heart. This may just be the deadliest mess he can’t plan his way out of.
Jack wasn’t sure he’d see Ethan again—not after the less-than-stellar ends to their previous hookups. Even finding the assassin skulking about his apartment isn’t as reassuring as it should be, especially when he works out Ethan’s motive for being there might not be personal. That said, Jack will take any chance he can to salvage their relationship, assuming he survives whatever plan Ethan is cooking up.
Ethan and Jack had a bargain, but the parameters changed and neither are certain how to move forward—together or apart. But before they can start to renegotiate, lives, trust, and hearts are endangered by ghosts from the past. Even if they dodge their enemies’ bullets, there’s a risk of friendly fire, and when you let someone get too close, even small knives can cut deep.
Today is also the release date of Devil in the Details which is another excuse to celebrate.
I adore the Death and the Devil series ever since the first novel came out and Devil in the Details, the third novella, certainly gave us some of what we ask for and things to look forward to on the next book.
Squees reach unprecedented levels as Jack and Ethan go on a holiday in Vietnam. Both Ethan and Jack had their fair share of insecurities and major miscommunications issues but their chemistry remains off the charts. I was right there cheering them on to please, talk for fuck’s sake and was ridiculously happy when Jack finally blurted it out. Ethan, the poor thing, was waiting for it for the longest time.
Prior to that, death flags flew high as Jack and his second, Harry, deal with a bomb threat and declare BFF status. Explosive gunfights and cool fight scenes happen as bad guys tried to get our operative and our favorite assassin out of the picture. There were also somber and highly emotional moments when tragedy struck.
And,oh hell yeah! The thing I’ve been waiting for! That teeny tiny peek inside Ethan’s head!!!
Devil in the Details is full of edge-of-your-seat thrills, death-defying action scenes, sizzling unconventional romance and adorable characters.
It’s a high-octane emotional roller coaster and I love every moment of it.
Make this a movie, please!
More glowing commentary on Death and the Devil books here.
Thank you to the author, L.J. Hayward, for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Death and the Devil: When the Devil Drives – L.J. Hayward
Work-life balance for a spy may be an oxymoron, but Jack Reardon likes a good challenge. And he’s almost bested this one. He’s settled into his Meta-State promotion as a field leader and into his new team with a second he can trust. Shop in order, he can take a day or two off when Ethan blows into town, their bargain finally starting to paying off.
Assassin Ethan Blade has few pleasures in his life—a decent cup of tea, a job well done, racing his fleet of supercars, and Jack. With plans to combine the last two into one thrilling weekend, Ethan’s attempt at having a normal, happy life may deliver everything he’s ever desired—or backfire spectacularly.
Jack and Ethan made a bargain, but the deal is thrown into jeopardy when the expectations and identities of the dealmakers shift—stoking the fires of doubt and jealously. Not to mention a contract killer out for revenge and an illness that threatens to reveal closely guarded secrets. Rewards are on the table for both men, maybe bigger than they even realize, if only they can renegotiate—and survive.
Hah! Jack is in trouble:
“You made him more … human.”
That pesky, secondary charge on the grenade went off under his ribs, a warm rush from the mini explosion rolling through him
Going at this ’relationship thing’ really sloooow. Which I love but also excruciating because just come out and say it, Jack!
Ethan allows Jack to drive his baby, Victoria the Vanquish. The man is smitten, alright. Tell him, Ethan!
Jack comes down with that infamous fever where he deliriously blurts out stupid embarrassing things. Ethan patiently plays the nurse then disappears again. Great.
You guys, TALK.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Death and the Devil: Bargaining with the Devil – L.J. Hayward
Meta-State spy Jack Reardon believes it’s all been taken care of. He has his verbal agreement with his boss to “keep Blade happy,” and Jack is more than willing to do his best in that regard. He also has his bargain with Ethan, to keep seeing each other whenever they cross paths. Small victories, interspersed with exploding bombs, smashed cars and miffed co-workers, all while consorting with an international assassin.
Contract killer Ethan Blade values his security, and Jack’s the first time he’s found that with another person. Wiring a warehouse or outback shelter for safety, no problem. Keeping safe a prickly ex-soldier-turned-spy who’s a magnet for trouble, not so easy. Instead of faceless, nameless jobs, he’s poking his fingers into Jack’s cases—a car bomb gone awry, a Hen party gone wild—much to Jack’s mounting dismay.
They have a deal; neither one of them can seem to stick to it. It’s Jack versus Ethan as the two men learn to navigate their ever-evolving not-a-relationship without losing the benefit of the bargain.
I needed my Death and the Devil fix so I was ridiculously excited for this novella.
Rarely do I get giddy just waiting in excitement for the next book in the series and this novella just amped up that anticipation. Obviously, the Jack Reardon + Ethan Blade tandem is a super major bias so I will go ahead and declare the Death and the Devil series as one of the best things to come out in 2018.
5 explosive, death-defying stars across the board!!
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Death and the Devil: Where Death Meets the Devil – 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.
This is how you do non-stop, over the top action!
This is how you take readers for a wild ride across the Australian desert!
This is how you go about a police procedural story!
This is how you write a government agent/assassin romance!
This is how you create a truly intriguing, genuinely bad-ass assassin!
This is how you build tension you can cut with knife!
This is how you keep readers at the edge of their seats!
This is how you plot twists and turns that catches the readers off guard!
This is how you produce a book made for movies!
I adore everything about Where Death Meets the Devil but for the love of everything queer and gay, please give us Ethan’s POV, L.J. Hayward!!!
Death and the Devil: Where Death Meets the Devil: Coda – L.J. Hayward
Jack Reardon’s homecoming isn’t quite as peaceful as he hoped it would be …
Ten hours ago, Jack Reardon completed the messiest case of his career. Lucky to get through it with his life and a promotion, all he wants to do is catch up on missed sleep. Which won’t happen thanks to a bothersome house-invasion from assassin extraordinaire, Ethan Blade—who is also the reason he almost lost his life and job …
This Coda for “Where Death Meets the Devil” follows immediately after the ending of the novel and is best read afterwards as it does contain spoilers.
This is how you resolve it and leave things open for more Jack and Ethan to come.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect