Rating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel

All Eirik Haldurson knows is how to be an assassin. Abducted at a young age, he was trained to be a killer and now his services go for a high price. Eirik never chose to be a killer, but it is all he knows and his captor’s voice still has a strong hold on him. Eirik was taught to keep his targets at a distance and that there is no place for emotion, but after so many kills, Eirik is starting to crack.

His latest contract is for Matt Moreno, ex-soldier and vigilante. Matt has the looks and personality that reel in anyone in his orbit and Eirik is not immune. The heat between the men is sparked at their first glance and grows quickly. But Eirik has already been paid by a drug cartel to take out Matt and Matt is way more than Eirik expected. Eirik and Matt together are combustible and the flames may be too out of control to contain.

Match Grade is part of the Criminal Delights series and the books are written by different authors, but all linked by having a darker theme. This is the first one I have read in the series and it can be read as a standalone. For a series that is billed as being darker, this book wasn’t all that dark for me. Eirik is a hit man and Matt takes the law into his own hands, but this book didn’t come across to me as being overly dark. The characters are morally questionable, sure, but we first meet Eirik when he is already having a crisis of conscience.

The first part of this book had me hooked as we meet Eirik on the job. We then see how the job is wearing on him and then he meets Matt. The men spark at first glance and their first casual touch only heats the flame. The set up is then intriguing as to how these two will get together. There is action and movement and fighting, as well as some inner turmoil and heated exchanges.

The book is a shorter novel and my issues were mostly with the character development. The blurb is the clearest indication of what happened to Eirik at a young age. In the book itself, his abduction is only alluded to and his training is barely discussed. It was then difficult to put all of the pieces together of what made Eirik who he was. We get a little more on Matt, which was interesting since the book is not in his POV, but as far as Eirik, I felt a whole lot was missing in his character development. We do get to see where he is currently and his hesitations with being a hit man, but it lacked that punch since his earlier story was not clear.

The action sequences then move quickly as the men work together to face an opponent. Even though the men are experienced, they have not worked together and it did not come across as though their plan was well thought out for what they were attempting to do.

I liked the idea of this book and the initial set up drew me in, but the overall execution fell short.  It wasn’t nearly as dark as I was led to believe, but I would consider looking into other books in this series.