Ethan thought he finally had the life he never expected, nor deserved. He and Jack are together, Jack loves him, and Ethan has put life as an assassin for the Cabal behind him. But while he may be done with his former organization, they are not done with him. And when the Cabal threatens the lives of Jack’s family, Ethan knows he hasn’t escaped their clutches after all. The only way to protect Jack and his family, and for Jack and Ethan to have their life together, is for the Cabal to be destroyed. And the only person who can do that is Ethan.
Jack is used to Ethan disappearing on him, but this time Jack is really scared. Not only is Jack’s family in danger, but as Jack follows Ethan’s path across the world, it is clear he is hunting the Cabal. Jack knows Ethan will do anything to see the organization destroyed, but Jack is not willing to lose the man he loves in the process. Now, Jack and Ethan must work together to take down the Cabal once and for all, and to finally find their happy ending.
When Death Frees the Devil is the third story in L.J. Hayward’s incredible Death and the Devil series (fourth if you count the novella Dealing in Death). This series easily makes my top handful of favorite suspense reads and I can’t recommend it highly enough for fans of thrilling stories and fabulous romance. As with the other novels in the series, When Death Frees the Devil is told in multiple timelines, but in a less complex way than the others. In this case, the story opens with Ethan being held captive. We don’t know where he is or what has led up to his capture. The story then brings us back to three months prior, just after the ending of the last book. We see Ethan is contacted by the Cabal and forced into action to help save Jack’s family (thus bringing him back into the Cabal’s orbit). The story then stays mostly in this timeline as we follow Ethan and Jack’s journey leading up to Ethan’s eventual capture. The setup makes the story incredibly exciting as we know from the start that Ethan is in grave danger, but we don’t know anything else about the situation. So I loved watching things slowly unfold as we trace their paths over the past three months and learn what has been happening. As always, Hayward manages to write twisty, complex plots and pair them with high-octane excitement. This is a very long story and I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated every minute and was thrilled to see how things all came together. When the timelines finally converged, it was so exciting to see the pieces all fall into place. Truly, I can’t say enough about how well Hayward writes suspense and this one had me frantically turning pages the whole time.
While the suspense is what keeps these books so breathless, the heart of them is really Jack and Ethan. I have loved watching these men grow, both individually and together as a couple. Ethan, in particular, has come so far, finally reaching a place where he might be happy, only to have it potentially snatched away again. As with the other books, we learn more about Ethan’s past and, as always, it is heart wrenching. The abuse he and his “siblings” suffered is stomach churning and the more we learn, the more we can understand him. I just love these men together and the happiness they bring to each other’s lives. Ethan notes several times that Jack really sees him, sees Ethan the person and not Ethan Blade the assassin. It gives Ethan so much strength and joy to be able to imagine himself as someone living a normal happy life, and that is all I wanted for him as a reader. While the men do spend a good deal of time apart here, there is still plenty of time for romance and to see just how much they truly love one another. The way this book comes together at the end gave me all the romantic feelings and I just adore this couple.
This book essentially wraps up the series arc that started in Where Death Meets the Devil, but Hayward has suggested that there may be more books to come. This story does give us a nice ending, both for the suspense plot with the Cabal, as well as for the relationship between Jack and Ethan. I absolutely adored this book and it was a perfect ending for this part of the series. As I said, I can’t recommend this books highly enough.