Title: Single Malt (Agents Irish & Whiskey: Book One)
Author: Layla Reyne
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 194 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: While there were some parts where my investment in this story ebbed and flowed, there is also no doubt that there are some thrilling scenes peppered throughout and that this is an impressive debut.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: The heart’s a resilient beast
Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.
Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.
Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.
Review: FBI agent Aidan Talley is a widower. Eight months prior to the start of Single Malt, readers learn that he lost his husband and his partner in a traffic accident. Back on the job but still in a profound state of mourning, Aidan is assigned a new case and a new partner—and both will cause him no small amount of professional and personal turmoil. The premise of this novel promises a suspenseful and action packed read, and it is, in all the right places.
I have some mad respect for the level of detail that Reyne wrote into this story. There’s a lot of terminology that was either well researched or the author knows firsthand, and the patience it must have taken to plot out this novel, let alone write it, is impressive. The investigative process was delivered in a methodical and what felt like a credible way, as Aidan and Walker dug deeper into their assignment and the threat they uncover, and then must work together to eliminate. I loved the undercurrent of internal intrigue within the FBI, and the suspicion that builds between the different offices and officers. There was only one problem I experienced as the story progressed, in that I felt the amount of detail slowed the pace of the story at times and I did find myself skimming over the tech jargon so I could get from point A to point B and the action. So, while I appreciate an intelligent and well thought out procedural, there were times I just wanted things in layman’s terms, which, of course, is more a personal issue than a storytelling one.
Aiden and Jameson’s backstories are woven into the story and parsed out well, Aidan’s drawing a nice connection to the investigation and the plot he and Walker are working to uncover and thwart. The slow burn of their relationship, which is exactly what this novel needed to be authentic to Aidan’s emotional state, becomes an issue for Aidan as his attraction to Walker provides for some plausible conflict, especially when he finds out Whiskey (their epithets, Irish and Whiskey, are cute and clever) is, in fact, not as straight as Aidan assumed he was. While the slow part of this “slow burn” relationship is portrayed successfully, it’s the burn part that didn’t always translate well for me. I blame much of this on Aidan’s grief and guilt, not that I begrudge him that, but that his equivocation translated to my feeling that he wasn’t at all ready to move on and that his waffling wasn’t necessarily fair to Jameson. But, as we all know, love isn’t always pretty, and this being just the beginning of their story, there’s plenty more to uncover and develop in the next book.
The climax of this story is truly its highlight, and it delivered a fantastic payoff. It was all so well portrayed that it played like a scene from an action film in my imagination. If there’s a metaphor I could use to draw a connection between it and my reaction to it, it would be that the narrative is often like watching a slow speed car chase unfolding. There’s some excitement along the way, some fits and starts before the action accelerates and the suspense finds some traction, and then comes the high intensity climax where the drama and suspense is delivered beautifully and made the wait worthwhile. I loved the tension the author infused in this pivotal scene, and the repercussions that followed for Irish and Whiskey.
Single Malt doesn’t end in a cliffhanger as much as a To Be Continued. The crime that was the focus of this installment of the series is resolved, though we’re introduced to a whole new layer of trouble which will play out in book two and seemingly have far reaching implications in the overall arc. While there were some parts where my investment in this story ebbed and flowed, there is also no doubt that there are some thrilling scenes peppered throughout and that this is an impressive debut.
You can buy Single Malt here:
About Cask Strength ~ Coming 1 May 2017
Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer’s radar. They’re assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie’s home state, where Jamie’s past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner’s world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
About the Author
2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist, Layla Reyne, was raised in North Carolina but now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline fueled suspense and heart pounding romance. When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.
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