Justin is an assassin with principles: no hits on children or women. His most recent contract is to merely find out who ordered a hit on two doctors researching a cancer treatment drug. While the payoff is going to be a spectacular twenty-two million dollars, the nature of the work means Justin needs to supplement his skill set with a partner.
Gabriel still reels from the brutal murder of his boyfriend. Knowing even another trained assassin can be so easily removed from his life makes Gabriel gun-shy around relationships…which is damn inconvenient because he’s about to accept a rare partnership with an American assassin named Justin.
Despite both Justin and Gabriel claiming to be more lone-wolf type workers, the form a formidable duo that gets results. And results are key as these two rogues realize their own targets have taken out hits against Gabriel and Justin themselves. They race against the clock to hit paydirt on their targets and hopefully save millions of lives from a bad drug to a common disease. As they work together to solve the mystery of who is forcing a dangerous drug through the FDA approval process, the men discover an affinity for one another that leads to breaking down their emotional walls…but is it enough to get them to give up very lucrative careers as assassins?
Overall, this is a quick, fun read. It’s chock full of drama in the form of enemies-to-lovers Gabriel and Justin. On the one hand, there are some strong elements of instalove, but Drake does a respectable job establishing that both characters are physically into one another. There are also plenty of sex scenes between Gabriel and Justin to boot. The actual mystery of who would want a pair of doctors dead—and by extension, Justin and Gabriel themselves—seems nigh unsolvable until Justin’s hacking skills finally help him hit pay dirt on the company producing the drug. The action is broken up and clearly moves from step to step, but the details about who’s trying to kill Justin and Gabriel are pretty mum. Most of the super-spy/assassin action focuses on things like follow up with the family of the deceased doctors, responding to a counter-hit that was taken out against Justin and Gabriel, and waiting for computers to do the hacking.
Despite the straightforwardness of the suspense plot, I liked our two main characters well enough to go with the flow. Justin acts pretty laid back, content to admire Gabriel from a far lest Justin scare his temporary working partner away. Gabriel, in turn, gives Justin a chilly reception because he’s not over his deceased former lover and because, being from an Eastern European country, Gabriel is wary to make any public showing of his orientation as such things are still strongly rejected in his home country. If you are into enemies to lovers type stories, this will probably “ping” for you. Drake clearly has the characters’ narrative voices indicating their mutual interest, but their strong sense of professionalism and ethics (in the world of assassins) means they don’t act on it right away. At it’s heart, though, this is a get-together love story. Gabriel and Justin have a great on-page rapport and though the conversation tends to focus on their sex lives, they do manage to share enough and as a reader I managed to see enough to agree Gabriel and Justin have a solid relationship.
There were a few issues with the writing. One problem was some inconsistencies in character description. Gabriel, for example, was described as having narrow shoulders early in the book, then he had wide shoulders later. Setting the action in Ohio also stood out, if only because suburban Ohio is not a place I’d peg as having an active assassin market. In one chapter, Drake describes Justin as attending every other suburban neighborhood function (free gossip), but later in the same chapter, Justin states he hasn’t attended any neighborhood functions in a while. I found the lack of consistency about Justin’s interactions a bit confusing. With these few exceptions, however, however, the writing style was perfectly adequate.
If you’re looking for a spy-type book that’s heavy on the romance without it feeling too smarmy, along with plenty of action on page and between the sheets, you’ll probably enjoy Drake’s story very much.