Hitman Vs Hitman – Cari Z & L.A. Witt
Ricardo Torralba and August Morrison don’t agree on much besides the fact that they hate each other. According to Ricardo, August is a spoiled brat who really needs to knock off the sass once in a while. August insists that Ricardo needs a sense of humor, a good lay, or a well-placed bullet. Maybe all three.
Fortunately, the assassin’s profession is a solitary one, and they can go about their lives without getting in each other’s way.
When a contracted hit turns out to be a setup for both of them, they narrowly escape with their lives. Now, even if they don’t like it (spoiler: they don’t), August and Ricardo have to work together if they want a shot at survival.
In between firefights and questionable interrogation methods as they hunt down their would-be killer, the cranky assassins discover that under all that mutual loathing is a spark of chemistry they can’t ignore. They want to ignore it, they probably should ignore it, but August can’t help flirting to annoy Ricardo, and Ricardo can think of at least one way to shut him up for a while.
But they need to focus, damn it, and figure out who’s gunning for them and why.
Assuming they don’t kill each other first.
Hitman vs Hitman is a standalone gay romantic suspense featuring two men who’d rather chew glass than fall for each other, a whole lot of inappropriate comments, and some buttons that will need resewing.
L.A. Witt and Cari Z had wowed me with their awesomely co-written series, Bad Behavior. Their latest book, Hitman Vs Hitman is a fun, explosive romp oozing with USTs between two hired guns who were contracted to take on an assignment that was set up to get them both killed.
Hitmen all over the world are ranked in a website called Rate My Hit. It’s where clients post reviews worded as satirical comments.
The #1 hitman according to the website is Ricardo Torralba. He’s a born planner who has a trunk full of props and costumes that lets him slip through security. He’s of Spanish descent but he can change his accent when undercover. He’s a grumpy, taciturn fellow with a drawer filled with burner phones.
And #2 on the chart is August Morrison, an unlikely person for such occupation. He is publicly known as the son of a billionaire. His mansion is built like Bruce Wayne’s. He loves clothes. Wears designer suits to his assignments. And jeeesus, when is he going to shut up?!
This book moved fast, much like the way Ricardo and August were constantly on the run from whoever had them in their crosshairs. They paused long enough to come up with a plan to turn things around. Along the way, their combustible combination finally combusted and they discovered, that despite their very obvious differences, they’re really good together in more ways than they expected.
The chemistry is off the charts! The sexual tension adding piquancy to the already strained interactions of two men on edge. I love the way these two threw off fireworks while constantly bickering. And that they took time before jumping each other’s bones.
I do think the way their backstories were presented could have been stronger. While we get a good picture of Ricardo’s and August’s personalities, I felt their pasts could have been explored further. We learn more about August and his quirks. Also him with his famous billionaire face, going about his secret missions sans disguise and not recognized is stretching it.
Majority of the book is spent uncovering the identity of the person who set them up. The mystery wasn’t hardcore mindboggling and you can kind of expect who the bad guy was. Still, it was an intriguing enough plotline.
We get an HFN that left some things open in case the authors decide to give us a sequel. I wish they would because that conclusion certainly felt like the start of events that will shake up the charts. I liked that Ricardo and August did not retire as is usually the case when assassins are given their happy endings.
Overall, Hitman Vs Hitman is light, humorous, suspenseful with OTT stunts and a lot of ridiculousness, mostly from August. It might not be a bullseye but it still hit its target.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
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Prime Time: Headlines by Ella Frank
USA TODAY bestselling author Ella Frank concludes the story of Sean Bailey and Alexander “Xander” Thorne in Headlines.
If I had to describe Sean Bailey, it would be as the sexy, caring, wonderful man I’ve gone and fallen in love with. I never could’ve imagined a world where he was my everything. But with each passing day, the connection between us grows stronger, and the idea of a world without him is something I can’t imagine.
But Sean’s love doesn’t come without complications. As the older brother of my lifelong best friend, this new love has caused relationships to break down and communication to become stilted, and the one question that remains is: am I willing to give up the love and friendship of one for the chance of love and forever with another?
I didn’t mean to fall in love with Alexander Thorne, my brother’s ex and the number one prime-time news anchor in the country. I mean, no one could’ve seen that coming—least of all me. But that’s exactly what happened over these past couple of months: I fell in love.
That’d be complicated enough, I suppose, but Xander? Well, he fell in love with me too, and while it’s caused some major upset in the dynamics around here, I have to believe that a love this real can only lead to somewhere amazing.
This thing between us started out as a job, a friend helping out a friend. But after playing the role of Xander’s boyfriend, I find myself wanting the job full-time, because neither of us are playing anymore.
Headlines is the final book of the Prime Time Series and should only be read after book one, Inside Affair, and book two, Breaking News.
I was drawn to Prime Time because of its spectacular premise about an out and proud news anchor and his surly, straight detective bodyguard who’s also the big brother of his ex boyfriend cum best friend. It’s a fabulous setup that grabbed me immediately with its enemies to lovers, opposites attract, gay for you scenario.
And the first book, Inside Affair held true to it’s promise. I was extremely wowed! However, the author tends to end her books with cliffhangers. This would have been okay had the succeeding books offer substantial plots to merit a separate volume.
The second installment, Breaking News, moved the romance forward several notches. The rest of the book were non-events that weren’t adding anything to the story. It also ended with a cliffhanger.
Headlines picked up on the aftermath of Sean’s younger brother Bailey finding out about his best friend and big brother. Bailey felt hurt and betrayed that the two important people in his life did not tell him about their relationship.
Personally, I think this Bailey issue was dragged out for too long. I understand why he reacted that way but story-wise, I think this could have been resolved sooner.
There’s not much I can say about Headlines because, again, there’s not much going on. There was a mini thread where Sean and Xander were splashed on the tabloids. I appreciated that the author did not make it into a coming out issue.
However, it was also kind of blah because Xander immediately realized who leaked the story to the press. That it was a person he worked closely with and trusted should have been a bigger deal but it was treated as a non-event.
I am of the opinion that the entire series could have been done as one book. Removing the fillers, all the essential plot points combined could have made it into a delicious, suspenseful slow-burn story bursting with USTs, snarky banter and first time gay revelations. Sadly, this third offering did not quite capture the magic of that wonderful opener.
On the upside, Sean and Xander were really good together. There was an almost break up courtesy of Sean’s self-sacrificing nature but Xander kept his head. They remained solid throughout the Bailey debacle. The way they went from strength to strength as a couple and me rooting for their HEA was what kept me reading.
The part that brought Headlines up to a 3-star rating was the epilogue. It was a lovely tribute and I think it was the perfect way to end the series.
So do I recommend Prime Time?
Yes, if you want to witness Sean and Xander’s beautiful romance. This was what made it worth sticking with them until the end.
No, if you hate cliffhangers or are looking for a trilogy with solid sequels.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it
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Four Bears Construction: Screwed – K.M. Neuhold
I’ve had my fair share of less than proud relationship moments, but waking up married to my brother-in-law’s best friend is a new low.
A drunken wedding to a man who already rejected me once? Check. A hefty bet about how long it will last? Check. My feisty new husband, determined to make our friends pay up? Double check.
I’ve never managed to make a real relationship last nearly a year, there’s no way Daniel will stick around long enough to win this bet. The only problem is the longer he stays, the more the lines blur between what’s real and what’s for show. Does he feel it too or am I totally screwed?
***Screwed is a woke up married, faking it to their friends but also totally hooking up, sweet, STEAMY love story that happens to be the fourth book in the Four Bears Construction series. There are no bear shifters in this series, only the OTHER kind of bears.
We finally get to Ollie’s story!
We know Ollie as that hopeless romantic teddy Bear who’s too sweet for his own good. He’s always falling for the wrong man. I’ve been rooting for him since book one, Caulky, because you couldn’t help but feel for the poor guy as he watched his friends find their Mr. Right one by one while he’s saddled with one bad boyfriend after another. Fed up with it all, he made a decision to give up dating entirely.
K.M. Neuhold did a great job setting up Ollie and Daniel’s story since the previous books. Here and there, we get mentions of interest from Ollie or Daniel sticking up for him when his best friends were teasing him about his pathetic love life.
Screwed starts with Ren and Cole’s bachelor party in Vegas. All the Bears and their boyfriends as well as their apprentice, West and his date, Sawyer, and Daniel were there. I wasn’t that engaged with this part of the story yet but things started to pick up after Ollie and Daniel woke up married.
The way the author brought them together, through a drunken Vegas wedding, was perfect. It was such an Ollie situation. And I am dying to know how drunk Ollie convinced drunk Daniel to tie the knot.
They could have gotten it annulled right away but Daniel’s tendency to defend Ollie was what started their crazy marriage life. The guys were making fun of Ollie for yet another wedding. They started making bets on how long it would last. Daniel’s very determined to stick it to the guys. So he and Ollie challenged the Bears that they would make it past Ollie’s record of 8 months. Later, they both agreed to divorce after the time was up.
The Bears were being assholes here, going as far as talking their new employee, Miller, into hitting on Daniel knowing he and Ollie were already married. There’s still a lot of silly pranks and razzing. Almost everyone got their page time except for Ev and Watson. I wished they had more appearances.
I wouldn’t have picked Daniel as the guy for Ollie. He’s not a relationship guy, preferring to hook up with different men and never staying long enough to get attached. He’s very cynical about love. He thinks sappy rom-coms have brainwashed people into believing in true love. I was skeptical at first but K.M Neuhold totally made it work! I was left with no doubts Daniel was the man for Ollie.
They slow-burned their way through months of undeniable chemistry just bursting with sexual tension. Both are acutely aware this is best relationship they ever have and it’s not even real. The romantic development was executed really well here. It was paced just right and flowed smoothly. It gave time for Ollie and Daniel to form a real connection.
You could clearly see how they fit into each other’s life seamlessly. They helped each other grow. There’s Ollie realizing he doesn’t need another person to complete him, especially after seeing how confident Daniel is on his own. Daniel, almost 40, finally had the courage to start school again and pursue his dream job after Ollie’s encouragement and support.
I liked that they were able to establish a solid friendship while developing romantic feelings for each other. The way they fell in love happened naturally. It was sweet and low-angst. It felt comfortable yet exciting.
It took a string of bad relationships, three failed marriages, years of bad jokes, one too many tequila bottles, a Vegas wedding he couldn’t even recall, a hefty bet and one feisty fake husband realizing his true feelings but at long last, our Ollie got what he deserved. If there’s ever a Bear worthy of grand gestures and rom-com-perfect HEAs, it’s him!
Screwed might not be the last book in this series. We still have West and his hopeless crush on Sawyer, the bartender. Miller is also a promising new character. I want their stories too.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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