Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 (should be 4.99 as it is so close to perfection)
British black op Cillian is deep undercover, his assignment so complicated, so twisted that not even Cillian is sure what the real purpose of his mission is. Working for Special Branch 20 has meant doing whatever it takes to move his investigation forward. It has also meant being totally out on his own without any support from his employers, alone for years. Cillian has made a tenuous connection with the agent in the floor above him, Prophet Drews of EE, Ltd, for investigative purposes and a little pleasure too. But now there is someone else on Cillian’s radar. Someone who likes his sex rough and silent. Cillian knows he should leave it at that. But this new man is driving him wild and Cillian can’t seem to keep from pursuing him even though it might compromise his mission.
Former Navy Seal Mal is an operative for EE, Ltd. Wanted in several states and countries, Mal is also considered crazy and dangerous by most of the people he works with. He is also a friend of Prophet’s. His current assignment? Tracking Cillian to try and find out exactly what and who the British agent is after. But the mission has already turned personal for both Mal and Cillian through intimate encounters that should have stayed anonymous. Soon the dangers are mounting as well as the body count. But neither man is prepared for the pain and betrayal yet to come when a devastating secret is exposed.
How can just 94 pages be so explosive? The emotions and events of this story just seem to erupt like a geyser that has been building up pressure until it cannot be contained. That’s what the men are like that SE Jakes has created for her Dirty Deeds story and series. Mal and Cillian are titanium tough loners, made that way through their tortured pasts that include abuse and death, seasoned through brutal training as well as a variety of missions both successful and failed until it has all solidified into the dangerous, intelligent men they are today.
SE Jakes brings her characters vividly to life through descriptions and events guaranteed to have you hanging on by your fingernails. Both Cillian and Mal have made appearances before in the Hell or High Water series, especially Cillian as he occupied the condo below Prophet Drews, an EE operative. Now these men are the focus of their own action-packed, suspense-filled storyline,the characters who teased us unmercifully in the previous books are fleshed out with convoluted histories and traumatic events that are still only hinted at. Mal and Cillian are playing with each other psychologically as well as electronically, each jockeying for the upper position in their investigations and surveillance of each other. That each man’s methods include a playbook made up of mental games and sexual ones just serves to deepen a portrait of complicated men so sure of themselves and their methodology that they can risk their bodies without question. It also includes some of the most combustible sex written. I’m talking incendiary hot, so hot and explosive that it starts to melt away the formidable walls each man has erected around their hearts and souls.
Mal and Cillian are men who have killed, perhaps tortured, schemed to reach their many goals. And its to the author’s credit, that we care immensely for these men as we watch them teeter on the brink of a relationship with each other, against all odds and their own proclivities. Because as hardened as these men are, deep underneath they still retain the ability to be hurt by the right person and events from their pasts.
Jakes keeps us and her characters guessing at every step in the storyline. We are never sure who are the bad guys or when they will pop up to deliver a death blow and derail an investigation. The phrase “pins and needles” was surely meant to be used in reference to the Dirty Deeds men and their stories. There are so many twists here I stopped counting halfway through the story. There are twists in their missions, surprises in their backgrounds, mind blowing revelations and one huge whopper of an ending that I never saw coming. God, I love books like this.
Jakes keeps her narrative flowing rapidly along, like a river about to rise out of its banks at flood time. It pulls in everything around it, sweeping it along a merciless path. You are transfixed by the scene in front of you,unable to look away. It’s dramatic, its mind boggling and its hold on you is magnetic. Most of you will want to howl at the ending. So howl away. What a revelation! What a great way to end this story! Only a small lack of context kept this from a perfect five but oh how close it came. Pick it up and run to the nearest place and start reading. Make sure you are comfortable because you will be there a while. Consider this story,Dirty Deeds, and its connected series, Hell or High Water, highly recommended.
Cover art by LC Chase. Once again the artist has created a cover that is perfect for the story and its characters. Just terrific.