Cody Anders is wearing the face of a dead man. And Olivier Merlo should know since he killed the man himself.
Cody’s twin, Connor, was their father’s favorite and his sudden death by overdose doesn’t ring true. He and Connor weren’t close since Cody moved to Vegas, but they were still brothers and something about Connor’s death just feels wrong. Cody’s suspicions are confirmed when Connor’s widow gives him a message and a mystery to unravel.
Olivier doesn’t like his work, but a curse and his family’s desperation have left enslaved to a man that doesn’t take no for an answer. Olivier is used to killing his mark and not asking questions. At least until he meets Cody. Suddenly a life of blood and death are harder to bear. He wants out, wants his family safe and to make a life with Cody. But there are secrets and lies between them and Cody has gotten himself involved with something that can only get him killed. Now each man must confront the past in order to fight for the future.
This is my third review from a book in the Order of the Black Knights collection and it is probably the strongest I’ve read. They can be read independently and share only the common theme of a man burdened by a curse and doomed to live and die over and over until he can forgive an enemy. Yeah, that thread hasn’t ever made much sense and doesn’t play any critical piece of importance to the plots. Olivier is no different and the idea of the Order of the Black Knights is as useless here as it is in the other books. But once you prize that unnecessary piece from the puzzle, the story itself is fairly strong. There’s lots of action, drama, and tension to spare. There aren’t easy choices here either and innocent people die violently. Given the nature of Olivier’s job, this violence feels like a necessary evil and never gratuitous. There is an edge to this book that works on multiple levels and the author has done a good job of creating a palpable tension that bleeds through the page.
Olivier and Cody fail to work as a couple. There isn’t really a romance here and I credit the author for not forcing one in. Cody and Olivier are obviously attracted to one another and act on that attraction, but they don’t really feel believable together. Olivier did kill Cody’s brother and the idea they could ever build a happily ever after on that seems flimsy at best. Neither character really jumps off the page and they feel rather ordinary. Olivier is a bit more defined than Cody and each has enough of a backstory to flesh them out, but they just don’t click. Had either character been different, their connection could have been a great deal stronger.
Olivier is, so far, the best written of the Order of the Black Knights series I’ve read and the author does a good job of setting up a taunt, edgy plot that drew me in. Unfortunately, the characters never quite connect and they don’t manage a believable relationship. Despite this, the book is still a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys a strong criminal bent to his or her good guys.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.