bad bishop coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel


Special Agents Levi Bishop and Emmitt Marshall are determined to take down a group of human traffickers and terrorists, even if that means faking a marriage so they can work together off the books. The men were getting close to answers when a series of attacks shook up their case and left them in danger. Levi and Marsh have now made a strategic retreat to Marsh’s family ranch to regroup and figure out their next steps. They also know they need to protect Levi’s son, David. All of that means bringing in some extra help, both in the form of some mom love from Marsh’s mothers, as well as the hard core kind from their various friends on both sides of the law.

While things with their investigation are a bit wobbly, the relationship between Marsh and Levi has grown surprisingly strong. While it has only been a few weeks since their fictional relationship began, it has already turned into something real for both of them. Levi is finding a happiness he never thought he would have again after his wife died. Not only is Marsh perfect for him, he is a great fit in Levi’s family with David as well. And after so many times where Marsh was overlooked or his feelings were not returned, he is finding a real connection with Levi. That doesn’t stop Marsh from worrying that things can’t last between them once the case is over, however, but Levi is determined to keep his man and show Marsh just how much he wants him in his life for good.

Before that can happen, however, the men have more work to do on their case. The investigation takes them across the ocean as they delve more into the bombing that killed Marsh’s boss, get more information from contacts on the ground, and find their way closer to key suspects. It is a tricky game, as they are dealing with players who have money, influence, and no scruples about hurting the innocent. But Marsh and Levi are determined to bring the bad guys to justice, and find their way back home with each other in the end.

Bad Bishop is the second book in Layla Reyne’s Perfect Play series and this book builds directly upon the first, Dead Draw, so they definitely need to be read in order. As with many of Reyne’s books, this story takes place in her “Whiskeyverse” and we see characters from some of her other stories, including supporting roles for Brax and Holt from Silent Knight and Sean from What We May Be, plus a lot of other cameos. While you don’t need to have read those other books, being familiar with some of the characters will be a help here. I will say that even having read just about everything Reyne has written, I did struggle a bit keeping track of everyone, both people we met in book one of this series, as well as remembering which books other characters were from (and how they all know each other). I think a little more recap of the characters and the ending of the first book would have helped me here. Even reading back my notes on book one, it took me a little time to really remember how we left things. That said, for the most part I was able to just sort of put the details aside and jump into this story, and I really enjoyed it.

Reyne is so good at romantic suspense and this story is no exception. We spend some time setting the stage here, as the men are regrouping and figuring out their next moves. So this one isn’t quite as high intensity early on as some of Reyne’s other books, but I think it worked to get the foundation for the next phase of things. And as the book moves forward, more pieces come together. And of course, it sets things up for the next book in a really exciting way. Reyne does such a great job pacing the series arc out and building from one book to the next and we leave things at a really interesting place.

While the case takes a little bit of a slower approach early on, we get more focus on Marsh and Levi’s relationship, which works really nicely. In the first book, these guys were hot for each other, but still really figuring out what they wanted from their relationship. Here, things are a lot more solid between them and we get much more on the romantic and sexual end for these guys. They are falling hard for each other and realizing that while they started this as a fake relationship for work purposes, both want to stay together and make it work when it is all over. They start thinking of one another as real partners with a future as a family. I particularly appreciate the care they take with David, both in making sure he understands where they are in their relationship, but also letting him weigh in on the risks they need to take for the case. Both Levi and Marsh realize David can’t lose another parent and they give due consideration to his feelings before Levi puts himself at risk.

Overall, I found this to be another nice installment in this series. I just love Marsh and Levi together and am enjoying the case. Sometimes things get a little overly complex for me, particularly with so many characters in play. But I think the overall series arc is coming together really nicely and I am really excited to see how it all plays out.

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