When his mentor leaves him behind, Isaac finds himself alone to run the con of all cons. First rule of all cons: Don’t get personal.
Fitting himself in as Isaac Shelley is the perfect setup. Marigold Shelley has been searching for her missing grandson for thirteen years and Isaac just so happens to look just like him. Isaac is not the best of con men, but lucky for him, this one was handpicked for him. The real Isaac went missing thirteen years ago, and this Isaac doesn’t remember his life before thirteen years ago. Doesn’t remember much other than living on the streets and struggling to survive until the day Roman (his mentor) found him. All Isaac has to do now is convince Marigold that he’s her grandson long enough for her to sign over the real Isaac’s trust fund. It should have been easy. Except being with Marigold, having a family for the first time in his life, has him doubting that he wants the con more than he wants the family. Then Cary Talbot walks into his life.
Cary has vetted the perfect con. He’s found the owner of the Nine Sisters (an almost mythical wine collection dating back to George Washington)—Marigold Shelley. Perfection comes in the form of the formerly missing grandson who has popped up and is now the focus of his grandmother’s attention. Even better, it’s obvious Isaac has a thing for Cary. Cary would be an idiot not to use that to his advantage. But then, he never expected he’d have feelings for Marigold either.
Isaac’s appearance at the vineyard doesn’t bring out happy feelings in everybody. And when personal items of Marigold’s come up missing and Cary traces them back to Isaac, he knows it’s time to come clean. But they have bigger problems. Black Mamba—the most notorious con-artist around—has locked sights on Cary. When the perfect con is disrupted by falling in love and a con-artist that gets too close, Cary has a decision to make: walk away or protect the man, and family, he’s falling for.
Love. This. Book!! For real. It’s a story of twists and turns. I think I even made a comment early on about it being one of the best cloak and daggers out there right now. And here’s why. Yes, I get that cloak and dagger usually involves some kind of spy situation. Well, O’Shea completely blew that out of the water here. No spies in this bad boy. This is a story full of career criminals, a seemingly innocent young man, and a vineyard full of secrets. Yet, no one is who or what they seem. Seriously, I am in love with it.
I am head over heels for these guys in so many ways. Isaac… well, Isaac is, as Cary puts it, a wildcard. He’s the innocence and sweetness of this story, no matter how hardened and rough he wants or tries to be. He’s simply precious. I love his confusion in this story. His doubts and fears of being part of Marigold’s family and the way he discovers himself (in all senses of the word) is only part of what makes this story so great. The world that he’s part of hasn’t jaded him yet. Which I think in the end is one of the biggest draws for Cary. I think Cary’s story is my favorite out of the two. He is jaded and raw, but I think there’s a tiny bit of hope left in him too. Maybe he wants to see the good in the world, even if he’s hellbent on corrupting it. But then there’s the protective side of Cary that makes him so damn good, whether he wants to be or not. He refuses to let anything bad happen to Isaac, even when he’s convinced Isaac may be trying to ruin his job. They fit well together—sweet and spicy. It’s very sexy.
This story is one where you’ll have to suspend disbelief for a while, but if you can do that—just like in any good cloak and dagger film or book—I’m pretty sure you’ll find the attractiveness of this book. Above all other things, Corkscrewed is fun. It’s exciting and full of ups and downs. You never know exactly who did what or why until the author chooses to let you know. Now, I’ll be honest here and say that at one point I thought maybe I’d figured it out (and I had), but the author used that against me to make me doubt my own intuitions. It’s all quite clever. And here’s the thing, Cary is okay with who and what he is. This is not the story that changes him into an honest man and has him walking a straight and narrow path. The same goes for Black Mamba. Is there redemption and beauty that comes for the characters? Most definitely. But in the end, the characters remain true to themselves and each other. Which makes the story all the better.[spoiler] Like I said earlier, if you can suspend disbelief for a minute, this is an amazing story. But still I walked away with a couple questions. Who exactly is Kitty? This is a big one for me, because she holds a rather big role in this story and then the shocker of her not being who she says she is, but then we really don’t find out any of her secrets. And then there’s Marigold letting Roman raise Isaac even though she knew who and where he was. It’s explained away and I guess I can sort of get it, but I don’t buy it. A grandmother so desperate to see her grandson waits thirteen years to make contact? I just don’t see it. That being said, I’m not sure how else the author could have gone about explaining that away other than the way she did. So it’s a bit of damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.[/spoiler]
Overall, this is a fabulous story, one that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. Isaac and Cary stole my heart, and this story stole my attention—from everything else. I highly recommend Corkscrewed by M.J. O’Shea.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.