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.
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Wages of Sin. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.
Criminal Delights: Serial Killers: Only The Devil Know – Katze Snow & Tiegan Clyne
My name is Max, but people call me The London Whipper. I’ve been silent for many years. Now I’m ready to make my final move.
Only The Devil Knows follows the people trapped within my web of lies:
Nathaniel Harris, a psychologist who works with the criminally insane.
Genevieve Knight, the Chief Inspector determined to find me once and for all.
Wyatt Pearson, the beautiful boy who believes I’m a hero instead of a cold-blooded murderer.
Each of these people has one thing in common—they all want me. But what happens when my whip tangles around them and distorts everything they believe to be true?
I’ve kept my identity under wraps… until now. It’s time to show the public what I’ve been working on. After all, what’s a serial killer if he doesn’t have some artistic flair and his favourite boy at his side?
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.
As far as the Criminal Delights series goes, the first two books, Wrong Way Home and Devil Next Door, still lean towards the ‘light’ part of the spectrum. The third book, Only The Devil Knows is DARK AS FUCK, it’s happy end reserved only for the our beloved sickos who used it to bring their game to the next level. The rest of humanity will have to settle for cringing like mangy dogs waiting for that crack of the whip.
There are four POVs and I totally love diving into the heads of Max, Wyatt, Gen and Nathaniel. The alternating POVs were very effective in creating that suspenseful build-up to the big twist. There were major hints dropped here and there and the moment when it came was (pun intended) insanely delicious.
Max, the Master and Wyatt’s beloved Sir. He is an artist at heart, creating beautiful paintings from the blood of his victims. He is brutal, sadistic and completely in control. With that mysterious charisma all serial killers seem to have, you will find yourself drawn to him against your better judgement.
Wyatt, Max’s Boy, is a pure masochist, reveling in the Master’s dominance of him. He is super loyal and willing to play any game The Whipper comes up with. And as he proudly announced, his crazy matches the Master’s crazy.
Gen is the chief inspector who has been frustratingly investigating The London Whipper case for 20 year with hardly any leads. In any other book, she would have come out the hero and I wanted her to be so but then this is not that book. I felt really sorry for her. Bring back up next time, Gen.
Nathaniel is the very prim and proper psychiatrist working in a mental health institution. He has a troubled childhood and a domineering father who constantly tells him he is no good. As a result, he keeps his attraction to his fellow colleague under wraps because he was too cowardly to ask him out. He was completely shaken when he found himself responding to Wyatt, who propositioned him. He tried really hard to stay in control but it was a losing battle really.
Monstrous and bloodthirsty as they are, I found myself rooting for Max and Wyatt. The Nathaniel+Wyatt angle was equally compelling too but I think that would leave Wyatt unsatisfied. Nathaniel is too nice. I like him though so Wyatt could go either way or both.
Those who love the more extreme side of sex will find BDSM elements in full play alongside real torture, death and art. It is as graphic and disturbing as it can get, nobody was spared. I spared myself the full impact of these depravities by skimming the scenes. Chicken shit, I know.
First, the book was set in London so I wished it had a more British feel to it. I hardly felt the place, it could have been anywhere in the US. Also,the writing had a more American/international English feel to it, I would have preferred more slangs and colloquialism. Maybe somewhere along the lines of the Constable Peter Grant novels. But that’s just me.
Felter’s part was unecessary. It gave an extra dose of horror to the proceedings but then his part could have been done by either Wyatt or Max.
Max is really not as careful as the book made him out to be. How is he not caught already? But do we want him caught?
Obviously, these niggles hardly matter because Only The Devil Knows was as good as advertised. This is a fun book that I recommend for those into fucked-up stories about fucked up people.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away