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.
Criminal Delights: Assassin: Match Grade – G.B. Gordon
SOME MATCHES SPARK AN INFERNO
Eirik Haldurson is a hitman. Kidnapped at age five and cruelly trained by his captor, he is today one of the most sought-after contract killers alive. Emotional distance from his targets, brutally beaten into him until it became second nature, is now the only way he can function. Lately though, that distance has started to elude him. And when a Colombian drug cartel contracts Eirik to take out ex-soldier-turned-vigilante, Matt Moreno, distance is suddenly as close as heat to fire. And all hell breaks loose.
This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.
Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.
When the series was first released 2019, I swore to read all the Criminal Delights books. There are a couple of misses and so-so stories. But most have been wins.
I finally got my hands on Match Grade and I’m so happy it’s a definite win!
In most of my reviews of the books in the series, my usual comment is that the books are not dark enough. If you give us a warning such as one above, I expect disturbing, morally grey to pitch black material.
If you put a sick, half-starved kitten in the hands of an assassin who couldn’t resist naming it after the Persian emperor in the hopes said kitty would life up to the name AND stop in the middle of an intense fuck+fight scene just to feed it, any claims to darkness are officially cancelled.
Eirik Haldurson is very good at his job. Unfortunately, his mind has other agendas. He experienced blackouts while in the middle of a hit, his brain flashing back to dark memories of him as a child being trained by a sinister individual. He’s tired of this kind of life and wanted out. Until he got a call to take out one, Matteo Moreno for a whopping $5,000,000. His retirement money right there.
Not much is known of Matteo Moreno. He’s ex-military, a member of a hunters group, owns a cabin in the woods. He also has an easy going charm that lights up the room. Eirik tried to maintain a safe distance but is fast finding it hard to follow his number one rule: Do Not Get Close.
The chemistry between the two MCs was fire and gasoline. It’s as insta as you can get but it actually worked well with the plot.
Matt saw the humanity behind the cold-blooded assassin and taught Eirik to see that the cracks in his soul are not weaknesses.
“The cracks are how the light gets in. “
My favorite part was when Eirik was trying to disappear and left his cat, Cyrus, at the shelter earlier. Then Matt popped up and brought the kitten to him.
He held his hands out, and Matt placed Cyrus into his palms. Every sensation was ramped up to max: the soft fur, the rapid heartbeat, the sleepy purr.
When Eirik looked up, Matt was watching him. “You should see your face right now, my beautiful friend. I can see your soul.”
Bless Matt for recognizing a genuine kintsugi treasure and not letting it go.
The assassin and the ex-military then teamed up to take down the Colombian drug cartel. The two had opposite working styles. Eirik was a planner and Matt was a wing it kind of guy. Happily, their styles synced perfectly together.
Everything in this story happened fast from the romance to the fights scenes but makes sense given the kind of lifestyle they have. I also liked how the pacing kept things exciting without sacrificing crucial plot points.
And speaking of excitement, there’s plenty of chaos and mayhem to be had. One complaint was that any suspense the story tried to generate was nullified by the fact that the big takedown was too easy. There was hardly any resistance and I didn’t feel any actual sense of danger. The other fight scenes leading up to the takedown were much more exciting.
I also would have liked Eirik’s and Matt’s past explored further. Enough Information was given to answer some burning questions but I felt they only touched the surface. The ending wrapped up everything nicely but left openings in case the author decided to continue their adventures. If so, I’m definitely here for more Eirik and Matt!
Match Grade might not be the kind of dark I expected but it certainly has a high body count. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed, suspense thriller with a sweet romantic sideplot. Recommended if you like charming vigilantes falling in love with cat-loving assassins who read like a scholar, kiss like a poet and fuck like a god.
Wondering if Criminal Delights is your kind of thrill? Check out reviews of other books in the series here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits