The series follows the same vein as Necessary Evils, where hired killers go on vigilante missions to right the wrongs. The first book, Bad Habits, set the stage through young hacker, Caspian, who has a bad crush on Jonah, the hitman who rescued and took him in from the streets. After being separated for six years, the two were reunited when a hit was called on Caspian.
The aftermath of the big showdown in Book 1 resulted in a dead pool. Assassins were invited to join. Among them, Jonah’s found family/friends, Madigan, Sadie, Ronan, retired killer Soren, and two other assassins they know by reputation. The rest of the books picked up the thread.
Below is a succinct a.k.a. can’t be arsed review of Book 1, Bad Habits, which can also be found here. I rated it 4-stars.
A sweet and steamy bad boys do right action suspense that made me want to eat pancakes.
This is a full review of the second and third book.
Wages Of Sin: Play Dirty – Onley James & Neve Wilder
“When you talk, chaos follows and I forget who I am.”
Madigan has spent his life indulging in the world’s most hedonistic pursuits, his skills as a sharpshooting killer-for-hire paying his way.
Azrael, an assassin referred to as the angel of death, is a chemist and a loner, his poisons as lethal as they are undetectable.
A chance encounter leads to a passionate night and a heated rivalry that spans years, but after they’re both offered a chance at big money by taking out elite targets on a mysterious hitlist, they find themselves once again in each other’s way. And then in each other’s arms.
Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them, but no matter how far they stray, fate always seems to pull them back together. In a profession where your partner is just as likely to kill you as kiss you, maybe trust is as close to love as they get?
Play Dirty is a steamy, action-packed thrill ride of a romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It features two stubborn rival assassins who can’t seem to stop tempting each other, a bit of knife play, a Die Hard-style Christmas, plenty of dark humor, and true love. Because even assassins deserve their soulmates. This is book 2 in the Wages of Sin series. Each book will follow a new couple.
Play Dirty was the book I was looking forward to the least because I didn’t like Madigan in Book 1. He and Jonah had a friends-with-benefits thing in the past. He’s a sneaky bastard who said mean things to Caspian. He made the young man run away from Jonah for six years. So I was pleasantly surprised that his book turned out to be my favorite.
Madigan and Azrael are bitter rivals. They had an ongoing competition where one tries to take down the other’s mark before the other got to them. Madigan is a sharpshooter, while Azrael specializes in poison and close combat.
The two met at a bar, scoping each other out because they were after the same mark. They went somewhere private, using names both of them knew full well were fakes. Then Madigan woke up the next day with Az gone, all his ammo taken and his mark dead. And that was the start of their little game.
What made this the best book was how CRAZY GOOD Maddie and Az were together. The way their connection formed and deepened was a brilliant execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope. It’s very apt that for a story about a chemist, the chemistry was perfect! Maddie and Az were fire and gasoline! Murder Husbands for the win!!!!!
I loved how the authors blended all the different aspects of the story. While giving us a deliciously intense romance, the plot is equally solid and hella engaging, moving things fast and suspenseful enough to keep the adrenaline pumping.
I’m tickled pink every time Az calls Maddie, “motek“. I plan to give the audiobook another go just to hear it again
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Wages Of Sin: Head Games – Onley James & Neve Wilder
“You’re a vigilante in an argyle sweater.”
Straight-laced psychologist Tobias is an expert in the deviant behavior of others but a novice when it comes to his latest endeavor: serial killer.
After years of high-profile kills and mentoring numerous other assassins, laid-back Soren lives his life in a state of semi-permanent vacation. He comes out of an early retirement to help out a friend, only to set off sparks with the renowned psychologist when they discover they’re hunting the same man.
One shaky truce and a whole lot of blood later, Soren has a new mentee in Tobias.
Soren finds Tobias and his dark impulses fascinating. Tobias finds Soren’s relaxed attitude infuriating. They have nothing in common except their ability to kill and chemistry neither can deny. But a kill list, a rage room, the Irish mob and the ghosts of their past all stand in the way of their happily ever after.
Head Games is a steamy, thrill ride of a romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It features an uptight, sweater-loving psychologist with a taste for blood and a soft spot for his murderous yorkie, the most zen contract killer to ever mosey the earth, plenty of dark humor, and true love. Because even bad dudes deserve their soulmates. This is book 3 in the Wages of Sin series. Each book follows a different couple.
Head Games was the book I was looking forward to the most because I was super intrigued by the premise. Tobias, a psychiatrist specializing in psychopaths, decides to take justice into his own hands by indulging his psychopathic side. That is, try his hand at serial killing his patients. On his first attempt, he crosses paths with veteran killer, Soren, who is immediately drawn to the rookie.
Soren is a retired hitman and mentor of Jonah, Maddie, and Ronan. He comes out of retirement once in a while. He decides to show Toby the ropes and, in the process, proceeds to effortlessly fit himself into Toby’s carefully planned life.
Soren was compared to the main character in The Big Lebowski. And just like the movie where I enjoyed the story but didn’t like the MC, I wasn’t a fan of Soren. I didn’t feel his feelings towards Toby. His character was too one-dimensional. Also, he was described as not too keen on his hygiene which is blech!
I love the idea of Toby as a character. He was compared to Hannibal Lecter. Although, he would have stood out more strongly to me if his character was fully explored. And if his connection with Soren was more convincing.
Overall, I felt this book lacked a certain depth. The plot wasn’t as focused as the other books. It could have been going for an episodic, one kill per character growth thing while the romance develops, but the execution was flat. What kept me going was that I loved the rest of the boys. I only perked up at the appearance of my favorite Murder Husbands and Jonah and Cas.
2.5 Stars – far from hate but not quite a like
Two out of three hits for me so I still recommend this series. You can skip the 3rd book if you like. I’m hoping Ronan gets his own story.
Wages of Sin is best read in order because this found family of hired killers is a package deal. Start by finding out how good deeds turn into bad habits and vice versa, in Book 1, Bad Habits.
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Fall Together by Temper Trap, a song about sworn enemies who kept being drawn together for a book about two rival assassins taking the saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” to heart.
You and me know we’re meant to be
Maybe we’ll never know
You and me are worst enemies
Cause we don’t believe anymore
Shallow dreams will tell me everything
I’ve been listening, but all I heard you
And you’ll do anything to keep me hanging on your every word
Out on the streets
Our colors bleed
Are you the one to speak to me?
Bleed Together by Matt Lange for a book about an uptight psychiatrist venturing into serial killing. He found his perfect match and mentor in a very laidback hitman who breezed his way into his tightly regimented life.
Loved how the lines, “Can you carve your name into my heart” and “Can you cut yourself in symmetry”, resonate with the the MC’s weapon of choice, the knife.
So this is the way
You wove your thread into my fate
Echoes in your eyes and through your hair
Mirror blue and I stare
Entwined in crimson desire
Can you carve your name into my heart
Tear it open, yours for taking
Can you cut yourself in symmetry
Birds of a feather bleed together
This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.