by Layla Reyne
Series: Perfect Play #2
Also in this series: Dead Draw, King Hunt
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
Source: Valentine PR
I received this book for free from Valentine PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
When a marriage of convenience becomes more than either husband bargained for…
Special Agent Levi Bishop needs to:
Keep his son and family safe.
Prove his boss was framed for a crime she didn’t commit.
Convince his selfless cowboy husband that his needs matter too.
Make a bold play before love slips through his fingers.
Special Agent Emmitt Marshall needs to:
Protect his husband and stepson.
End the nightmare that’s haunted him since his mentor’s murder.
Hack through layers of deception to identify the real threat.
Stop hoping someone will choose him.
Marsh is determined to go it alone, to guard his family and his heart.
But Levi’s life and heart are on the line too.
Cornered, Levi will chance any play to save the marriage and man he needs.
Rings were exchanged and promises made.
Marsh kept up his end of the bargain.
Now it’s Levi’s turn.
I’ve been a fan of Layla Reyne’s romantic suspense since the start of her Whiskeyverse universe. They’re ridiculously fun m/m romances with plenty of twisty suspense. In this case it even includes marriage of convenience and single dad tropes! This is the second in the series and can’t be read as a standalone, and this review will contain spoilers for the first book.
After the events of the last book, Marsh, Levi, and his teen son David need a safe place to lie low, and the safest place Marsh can think of is his mothers’ ranch. Marsh believes it’s his fault that Levi and David were in danger, so in his guilt-stricken conscience the only solution is to leave Levi safe at the ranch and go chase down a new lead himself. Levi, however, disagrees. When new information reveals just how little they know, can Marsh and Levi’s partnership – and burgeoning romance – survive what their enemies will throw their way?
“You delivered on everything you promised. Stability, my case solved, a partner at work and home. Now it’s my turn to do the same.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to.”
This book takes Marsh back to his life in Vienna – his life before Levi. The stark contrast between the two prompts even Marsh to realize exactly how deep his feelings for his husband are. While they built a solid partnership from their marriage of convenience in the last book, both Marsh and Levi are forced to confront the changes in their relationship. Even so, Marsh can’t quite believe that after everything is said and done, Levi will still choose him. After all, he’s used to being the one left behind. Levi however is determined to prove it to him, especially after Marsh shows again and again that he’s willing to prioritize David’s feelings and needs when making decisions. He’s a rock of stability for both Levi and David even in the midst of the case they’re embroiled in.
“I will have your back, however I can do that, however you need me to, and I will give you a home and heart to return to. I promise I won’t leave you.”
While working through all of that, Marsh and Levi are also following leads through Europe. With the leak in the department still not found, trusting even Marsh’s oldest friends is fraught with danger. The plot moves along at a brisk pace until it culminates in an explosive ending, one that made me wish the final book in the trilogy was out already.
My only quibble? The book starts up immediately (literally a few hours) from where the last left off, with very little in the way of recap. There’s also quite a number of cameos from previous Whiskeyverse books including major parts by Sean (from What We May Be). At times I honestly felt like I needed a list of characters and their associated series because they just kept popping up out of the woodwork! The ones I remembered though? It was nice to see them again.
Overall, a thrilling and suspenseful middle entry to this series, and one that definitely made me hungry for more!