Review: Layla Reine – Barrel Proof (Agents Irish and Whiskey #3)

barrel proofAuthor: Layla Reine
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: MM Thriller

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: FBI agents Aidan “Irish” Talley and Jameson “Whiskey” Walker can’t get a moment’s peace. Their hunt for the terrorist Renaud seems to be nearing an end, until a fire allows him to slip through their fingers—and puts Jamie’s life in danger. When Jamie is nearly killed, Aidan learns how many forms loss can take.

Aidan says I love you just moments before learning that Jamie’s been keeping a devastating secret about Aidan’s late husband. How quickly trust and love can go up in flames. When Aidan requests a solo undercover assignment, Jamie hopes Aidan will find a way to forgive him.

But the explosions are far from over. Aidan’s cover lands him in the heart of the terrorist’s conspiracy, and Jamie will have to put his life, his career and his freedom on the line to save the man who has become his entire world. Partners, always is a promise he intends to keep.

Review: I suppose I need to start this by saying that I have not read the two books that come before this one. Did it work as a stand alone? Yes. Was there backstory I wasn’t privy to? (Nic, Derrick). Yes but honestly I didn’t feel like I was lost in the story. I also have to admit I was completely wrong about the nature of Gabe’s (Aidan’s dead husband) betrayal.

The two MC here, Aidan and Jamie (Irish and Whiskey) are FBI agents and they do spend a portion of the book apart. The reasoning makes sense and the betrayal Aidan felt is very real. What do you do when basically everyone you trusted has betrayed that trust? Coming literally just minutes after Aidan has told Jamie he loves him, it’s too much. Aidan asks for a solo undercover mission to try to keep from hating people.

Add in that his boss, Mel, is not only a good friend but was the sister of Gabe and is the girlfriend of Aidan’s brother, Danny. That was all a little complicated. We are introduced to Lauren Hill, an FBI agent who is tiny and perfect. They are all after Renaud, the villain in this scenario who actually wasn’t a super-villain or a caricature. Renaud’s reason for his evil was one of those moments where you see how a good man can go bad. It made him human.

There is an emphasis here on the action and the thriller as opposed to romance, though that is definitely present. When Aidan comes to Jamie right after, it was heart wrenching. “It was slow, devouring and tinged with the unmistakable taste of goodbye.” I understood Jamie’s reasoning, “I didn’t want to break your heart until I knew the whole story”, but he had to know it was going to be a mess. I had sympathy for all of them, including Gabe, but mostly for Aidan. His husband is dead – he can’t right any wrongs and the anger Aidan feels for Gab has no outlet.

Mel, boss at the FBI, plays a big role here, as does Danny. We get to see Nic, a former flame of Aidan’s and he’s a great character. There were parts of this where I knew what was coming next but more where I didn’t. The writing was smooth and kept me on the edge of my seat at times to see what was going to happen.

My final admission, I suppose, is to say that I never read thrillers! This was the first in years and it’s made me reconsider my thriller ban. I would recommend this series, but perhaps start with the first one instead of the finale for maximum enjoyment.

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