REVIEW: Mr. and Mr. Smith (End of the Line #1) by HelenKay Dimon
Secrets and seduction make for an explosive combination in HelenKay Dimon’s edgy, thrilling new series, which kicks off with a novel about two men who can handle any threat—except the one posed by desire.
Fisher Braun knows how to keep a secret. As a covert paramilitary operative, his job—and his life—depends on it. He’s at the top of his game, ready for action and always in control. No enemy has ever brought him to his knees, but one lover has: Zachary Allen, the man currently sharing his bed. The perfect package of brains and brawn, Zach is someone worth coming home to, and Fisher hates keeping him in the dark about what he does. But the lies keep Zach safe. Until the day Fisher loses everything. . . .
Zachary Allen is no innocent civilian. Although he plays the tech geek, in reality he’s deep undercover for the CIA. In a horrible twist of fate, the criminal enterprise he’s infiltrated has set its sights on the man whose touch drives him wild. Zach would do anything for Fisher—except blow his own cover. Now, in order to save him, Zach must betray him first. And he needs Fisher to trust him with all his heart if they want to make it out alive.
Dear HelenKay Dimon,
I remember Sunita mentioning that she loved your m/f romantic suspense stories, so when I saw that you wrote a long m/m romantic suspense of course I preordered it. I am truly torn about this book. Your writing hit all my happy buttons, but I also thought that your characters, likeable as they were, acted stupid and/or unprofessionally way too many times for me to buy them as badass secret operatives. Hence I was torn.
But let’s start from the beginning, and boy it will be hard for me not to mention spoilers because the plot is what bothered me the most. I also want to mention that I have not watched the movie which inspired the title of this book, so besides both protagonists being spies, I am not sure how similar or different the two stories are.
Fisher thinks that the guy who has smashed through the defenses built around his heart is a civilian computer nerd. Until the day he comes home and finds a kidnapping note which tells Fisher to come to a certain place if he wants to save his boyfriend (paraphrase). The book actually starts when Fisher realizes that Zach has been kidnapped (or so he thinks), and as a consequence he has to share some interesting details about his personal life with his friend and team member Nathan.
So off the two of them go to the place note indicates to save Zach. Only of course it is a set up. Zach has supposedly lured Fisher into this plan on directions from his bosses in a certain terrorist organization. To be honest, though, after being done with the book I am not sure why they wanted Fisher specifically – they are in the business of kidnapping and selling people in general, and Fisher was surely an attractive specimen, but I was not sure whether somebody wanted him as their slave or something. If somebody who has read the book figured out what I missed, I would love to know.
Soon enough (and the first several chapters, and indeed most of the book moved fast and furiously so when I say soon enough I mean very soon), readers can see that something does not compute with the idea of Zach being a bad guy. Actually, when he blows his cover and saves Fisher and Nathan from certain death we can see that Zach is not a bad guy at all, but they still have to bring him in for questioning. Zach has apparently been working for another branch of the CIA and was trying to get into the good graces of this evil organization’s leaders.
Fisher is pissed, even once he realizes and accepts that Zach is CIA too. He feels betrayed; he thinks that he was only a job for Zach and that the man never had any real feelings for him. Still, while they were all waiting for the higher-ups to figure out what to do next and whether to accept Zach’s plan, Fisher could not help himself from going to Zach and having angry sex with him. Several times (I counted two and a half, but it could have been three and a half). And then Fisher would get pissed again.
““I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing.” Fisher couldn’t figure it out. He’d been trained by the best, and none of what happened made sense to him. “The kind where I save your life.” The words bounced right off Fisher. Didn’t mean a damn thing. “Not buying it.” Zach leaned back and balanced his head against the tile. “Is this why you came in here with me? Is this really what you want to talk about?” “Meaning?” “I lied and you’re pissed.” He had the nerve to sound bored. Said the comment with all the emotion of reading a grocery list. Fisher struggled to sound as disconnected. He refused to be the only one in the room who gave a shit. “Pissed doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel.””
“It was. The CIA dicked you over by not cluing you in. No question.” He hadn’t expected such ready agreement. “I was lied to. You were lied to.” Brighton shrugged. “So?” That didn’t make any sense. “How can you…‘So?’ ” “Having to ferret out the truth comes with the job. It’s part of what we do.” Brighton leaned forward with his elbows resting on the edge of his desk. “I think the real point is that when Zach thought you were in danger he wrecked months of work to get to you. That happens to be a violation of every oath he’s taken.” That fact kept picking at Fisher. It didn’t fit with the tale he needed to keep in his head about Zach not caring and being selfish, or at least too devoted to his work to see anything else. Admitting Zach cared meant reopening the door. Fisher fought hard against that desire.”
The last third of the book is taken up with executing Zach’s plan and blowing stuff up when everything goes wrong again. I swear I did not understand the reason for Zach’s plan – the plan assumed that owners of terrorist organization were completely stupid and they knew they were not. I kind of felt that the only reason for the last part of the operation was to make sure Fisher and Zach learned how to work together, but the only thing I could I think about was how stupid their actions were.
Having said that, I still liked these guys – all the FEELZ were there, all the chemistry and the sex was incredibly hot (not the first or second or even third thing I am interested in the story, but it sure does not hurt). As I said in the beginning, it was beautifully written and at the end I decided to think of them as a much better written Ty and Zane and be done with it.