Single Malt, by Layla Reyne
Series: Agents Irish and Whiskey, Book One
Published by: Carina Press
Release Date: February 27, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I love workplace romances. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office, a restaurant, at a school, or driving a Mack truck – if you give me a couple of co-workers and a forbidden relationship (forbidden by HR, anyway) I’m all in.
Good thing then, that Single Malt, is the story of FBI agent Aiden ‘Irish’ Talley and his new partner, Jameson ‘Whiskey’ Walker. Aiden ends up partnered with Jamie when he is cleared to return to work after recovering from injuries he sustained in a car accident eight months earlier. That same accident claimed the life of his husband, Gabe and his agent partner, Tom and Aiden has been dealing with his unwarranted guilt over the crash and the gut feeling that it was no accident – despite the case being closed as one. At the encouragement of his boss (and sister in law), Aiden unofficially enlists Jamie’s help to determine if the accident really was just that – an accident.
While the two men have been aware of each other over the past couple of years, Aiden’s status as a married man kept him firmly in the “look but don’t touch camp.” However, things are different this time.
And while Aiden isn’t completely ready to move on, he is attracted to Jamie, and Jamie makes it perfectly clear that he is attracted to Aiden.
“Whoa, there.” Walker rushed toward him, arm outstretched. “You okay, Irish?”
Aiden skirted out of reach, cursing himself for betraying his husband in a moment of weakness, for taking comfort in the arms of another man in the place that had been theirs. It hadn’t been long enough. He wasn’t ready to move on, no matter what his sisters or anyone else said. Gabe was the love of his life. There was no moving on from that.
When the two men become involved in a case of cyber hacking (Jamie’s expertise), the action and the tension ratchets up a notch. This is where I began to get more involved with the story and was able to see more of the attraction between the two men. I would have appreciated being shown rather than told that Aiden feels guilty over his feelings for Jamie (and almost rated this a 3.5 star read because of it) but his conflicting emotions are put into perspective when a near-disaster occurs:
“Because you saved us. Because we were alive. Because I needed to remember what that felt like.” He’d been dead inside for months. Actually being near death had brought that fact into startling focus.
Walker pulled him back into his arms, cheek to cheek. “Understandable.”
“I need…” The corner of his mouth brushed Walker’s jaw.
“What do you need?” Walker angled his face in, more than a mere brush, noses nudging each other, mouths inches apart.
Life –big, beautiful life – and an end to the emptiness was right there for the taking.
“I need to feel alive again.”
(Just as an aside, following this scene, the two guys get pretty hot and heavy. However, this came on the heels of an accident that caused some injuries and put one of them in the hospital – albeit, briefly – with a head injury. Not sure if *I* would be feeling very sexy at that particular moment but these guys are clearly superheroes).
As all this is going on, there is an actual plot in play, and it’s pretty good. The hacking of the laboratory leads to some interesting information about in-house spies, FBI moles and some unpleasantness that may have to do with Gabe’s death. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, but one that made me very interested to see where this story is going to go. So yeah, I’m all in for book two.
Overall, I found this to be a fast-paced story with a decent storyline and interesting characters. I think it has the potential to be a strong series if the author can pump up our emotions in the next book and show us more of Aiden’s internal conflict over his growing attachment of Jamie, and how the bombshell dropped on Jamie at the end of the book will impact their relationship, both personally and professionally.
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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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.