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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: Wish You Were Here

    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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    My Top 10 Reads of 2018

    1. Death and the Devil Series – L.J. Hayward

    Explosive, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrills. Sizzling unconventional romance. Yes, the entire series is the best thing to come out this year. Everything’s a solid 5

    Reviews here.

    2. The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto

    The ace romance story of my dreams

    Review here.

    3. Green Greek: Ravensong – T.J. Klune

    dirt and leaves and rain. packwitchmateheart

    Review here.

    4. On Davis Row – N.R. Walker

    So emotional and emotionally satisfying I got goosebumps.

    Review here.

    5.  Captive Prince: The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – C.S. Pacat

    We’ll make another kind of empire.  

    Review here.

    6. The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe – Charlie Cochet

    A sqee-tastic, tension filled, delicious slow burn dance of the young and impetuous.

    Review here.

    7. Bureau: Creature – Kim Fielding

    Because love means loving him, even though. The best Bureau story so far.

    Review here.

    8. Bad Behavior: Reckless Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    A police procedural story that went above and beyond. Perfect combination of flawless writing and heartfelt narration.

    Review here.

    9. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson 

    Powerful poetic stuff!

    Review here.

    10. Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk

    The best W&G book yet! Whetting our appetites for the final magnificent showdown.

    Review here.

    Bonus:

    A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss

    Attack of the super cute!

    Review here.

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    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.

    P.S.

    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.

    Rating: 
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect 

    Soundtrack: Move Together
    Artist: James Bay
    Album: Chaos and the Calm

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42289935-devil-in-the-details)

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    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.

    Rating:

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Ride
    Artist: The Vines
    Album: Winning Days

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41167040-when-the-devil-drives)

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    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!!

    Rating: 
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: The New
    Artist: Interpol
    Album: Turn On the Bright Lights

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40602970-bargaining-with-the-devil)

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    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!!!

    P.S.

    image

    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.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Black Heart
    Artist: Stone Temple Pilots & Chester Bennington
    Album: High Rise

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37647452-where-death-meets-the-devil)