REVIEW: Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J.Hayward
Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.
Dear L.J. Hayward,
I bought this book mostly because I found the blurb intriguing. I have skimmed a couple of reviews and couple of book buddies liked it but I literally bought it couple of days after the book was out. And I was so glad I did, because this was some very entertaining wild ride and I thought it was well written too.
Please note readers that I thought this was first and foremost spy action/adventure story. I guess you can call it a thriller too. I did not think it was a romance even though I believed in the romantic connection between Jack and Ethan, and I believed that if they choose to work on their relationship they may end up being in one in the future. In this story both men were being very VERY busy with spy/assassin investigative stuff and even though they could not escape their attraction towards each other, the relationship stuff took a back seat.
The book begins with Jack being caught by the bad guy (mobster) whose activities Jack was supposed to investigate and did investigate for some time and report to the organization Jack worked for (Australian Meta State). Alas, as the blurb tells you Jack finds himself in torture chair, and Mr. Valadian (the mobster guy who Jack was investigating prior to his cover being broken) is clear that he is going to torture and eventually kill him. In fact Mr. Valadian calls in the man to the room who will allegedly be doing the torturing and killing, and this man’s name is Ethan Blake.
Instead of showing readers what happens, however, the story jumps forward almost a year. Jack is back home, recovering from whatever he endured back in the desert and still not fully back to active duty within his organization, because his director allegedly is still not sure that Jack is ready to go back. Suddenly Ethan shows up in the office of the Meta State. He would only talk to Jack and would only surrender to him, and the situation for Jack just went from bad to worse or did it?
From that point forward, the timeline of the story is divided between NOW and THEN. For example we have the chapter 5 which also labeled NOW and then the chapter 6 is labeled THEN and so forth and so on till the story ends in the present.
As I stated previously I thought the story was a wild ride. Even though half of the chapters were basically one long flashback, it worked perfectly for me as a reader because the writer kept me guessing as to what really occurred between Jack and Ethan a year ago and how it would influence the events in the present. I was glued to my seat and yes, eventually I flipped to the end and looked at the ending because I could not stand all the tension. Although because I looked at the last page only it did not help me much with getting rid of all that tension and it was a good thing.
I really do not think I can tell you much about the action plot because I would have to talk spoilers, however, I can say this. Jack works for a fictional spy agency and the people who work there are supposedly white hats, or at least grey hats. However so many things were not as they seemed to be from the first glance. There were events in the book that I thought were over the top, but they made sense to me in this specific fictional world. It also probably helped that the agency is fictional ( actually I should say I think it is fictional), so I could shrug almost everything off by saying I have no idea how this or that may happen in real life.
I can also tell you that I found both Jack and Ethan to be fascinating characters. As I said in the beginning, I absolutely believed in their connection even though I did not think the integrity of the action plot was compromised. I am not an easy sell on fictional assassins at all, but here the author somehow made me like Ethan which was not a small feat. The beginning of the love story between them ends on the very tentative HFN.