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    SERIES REVIEW: Exit Strategy Books 2 & 3 by Jocelynn Drake

    Let’s talk about my favoritest mercenary boyfriends, Justin Mallory and his G Love, Gabriel Prescott. The two met in book one, Deadly Lover, when they were partnered for a job. They spent the first month trying not to kill each other until they settled on a truce. G Love and Special Sauce were born. The two quickly fell in love and decided to leave mercenary life behind.

    The series, which is composed of 3 main novels and 1 novella, follows the two as they go on jobs and work on their exit strategy. Will they live long enough to enjoy a happily ever after?

    Justin and Gabriel are on on my top 10 fave couples list because it’s always so much fun to watch the two together, whether they’re taking out a warehouse full of thugs or staking out bad guys or just chilling. Their chemistry is off the charts! I could listen to them banter all day. Heck, I would gladly read more books about them because they play off each other so well. I want more dancing under the stars!

    Justin is a major goofball. He’s always ready with a joke or two. But make no mistake, the man is DEADLY. He’s ex-spec ops, ex-CIA, hacker and assassin. He has his cool assassin name which was later revealed in the third book.

    Gabriel is more serious. He has a privileged but dark upbringing, having been raised as the successor to his father’s intelligence organization. He is a spy and an assassin, better known in their circles as the Reaper.

    Together, they take out the bad guys to help the little guys. They also discuss bathroom remodeling while they’re at it. Multi-tasking like the pros they were.

    This is a review of books 2 and 3. Review of book one, Deadly Lover, here.

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    2. Exit Strategy: Vengeful Lover – Jocelynn Drake

    Every assassin has an exit strategy – their ultimate plan for leaving that dangerous life and disappearing. They just never expect to live long enough to enact it.

    Gabriel Prescott was no different.

    But everything changed when he met fellow mercenary Justin Mallory.

    Now he’s racing across Europe with Justin to put to rest old threats before they can end both their lives.

    Of course, it will also mean coming clean to Justin about exactly who he is and who wants him dead. Gabriel can only hope that Justin will still want him when the truth comes out.

    This is Gabriel’s story.

    It was a game of get them before they get us. G goes after members of his family who wanted him dead. Justin goes with him to protect and support his man. They met an unexpected twist when they came face to face with G’s sister.

    Their mission takes them across Eastern Europe and Russia, right into the heart of the SVA. The CIA and the Russian police were after them. They seek help from Justin’s ex. Can they trust him? Would he come after Justin? Is that G’s jealous face?

    The past lives of the two men were pretty much hush hush in the first book. Vengeful Lover answers questions about Gabriel’s former life. YES!!!

    Between the two, G is more open to revealing details about his past even if he has the more taciturn personality. Meanwhile, Justin threw Gabriel, and us, a crumb by revealing his real name. Come on, Mallory, you can do better than that.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Me and Mine
    Artist: The Brothers Bright
    Album: A Song Treasury

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    3. Exit Strategy: Final Lover – Jocelynn Drake

    Two assassins meet, don’t kill each other, and fall in love.

    It’s happily ever after, right?

    Not so fast.

    Reformed mercenaries Justin Mallory and Gabriel Prescott have taken the big leap of living together. They’re even working together.

    But “one last job” has them taking a falsely accused man and his young son into their home for safe keeping.

    While dodging bullets and fellow hitmen out for the $27 million bounty, Justin and his G Love realize that falling in love was the easy part. Building a life together might be more than they bargained for.

    Join Justin and Gabriel for their final adventure as they protect an innocent man and uncover the missing piece to their forever.

    I thought this would be Justin’s turn to unearth the skeletons from his past. What we got was almost nothing. Well, not really nothing, but it was practically dismissed as trivial so it was a letdown. But after thinking about it for a bit, I thought it was apt afterall. It further reinforces how vastly different their backgrounds were.

    The final book introduces another assassin, Kai a.k.a. Ghost. He was contracted to kill a scientist who was on the run. Justin and Gabriel knew the man, Devlin, was innocent and was also protecting his six year old son. They had to protect them both. Could they convince Kai to change his mind?

    I’ll go ahead and spoil that question by saying I like the little spark going on between Kai and Devlin. There’s a story there!! Make it happen, please!

    Pete and Repeat: genius pet names for their two German Shepherds which I’m totally stealing because my dog just had puppies.

    Justin and G Love’s circle of friends expanded. That is, they now have actual friends. More family members come out of the woodwork. Major decisions were made. Closures were achieved. They now have a real shot at normal life, but, well, one more job?

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: I Love You
    Artist: G. Love & Special Sauce
    Album: G. Love & Special Sauce

    The books are not standalones. It was a delight to be there for Justin and Gabriel from the time they couldn’t stand each other until they couldn’t live without each other. The relationship progression throughout the series was very well-executed. I could really feel the love between the two. They were one of Jocelynn Drake‘s best written couples.

    I have many complaints about book one, chief of which was the predictable alternating pattern of work and sex. The second and third books showed much improvement. It’s still steamy but the sex has better timing, the plots less predictable. There was more focus on the missions and relationship development. The humor and the dialogues were consistently enjoyable. Many scenes were OTT. This is how the author rolls when it comes to the action suspense part. You can roll with it too. G Love and Special Sauce are so worth it!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Deadly Lover by Jocelynn Drake

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    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

    Soundtrack: Next Exit
    Artist: Interpol
    Album: Antics