Title ~ The Merchant of Death (Playing the Fool #2)
Authors ~ Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock
Publishers ~ Riptide Publishing
Due for Release ~ 2nd February 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Crime
All’s fair in love and war.
There’s something rotten in the state of Indiana. When con man Henry Page takes it upon himself to investigate the death of an elderly patient at a care facility, he does so in true Shakespearean tradition: dressed as a girl.
FBI Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness has more to worry about than Henry’s latest crazy idea. Someone is trying to send him a message—via a corpse with a couple of bullets in it. He needs to figure out who’s trying to set him up before he gets arrested, and he really doesn’t have time for Henry’s shenanigans. Then again, he’d probably be able to focus better if Henry didn’t look so damn distracting in a babydoll dress and a wig.
But when Mac discovers that Henry has been keeping a secret that connects the cases, he has to find a way to live on the right side of the law when he just might be in love with the wrong sort of man.
It's times like this when I just love being a reviewer. A couple of weeks ago I met con man Henry Page aka Sebastian and his grumpy federal agent Mac, when I read, reviewed and absolutely loved The Two Men of Altona: book one in the trilogy. I fell hard for the two of them in that story, loving the snark and humour, which just happens to be exactly the sort that pushes my laugh out loud buttons and tickles my fancy. But there was also a really good background crime/murder mystery which was enhanced even more by the dynamics between Henry and Mac, and that made it book heaven for me. The only GRRR moment was purely selfish because the ending was a cliffy...Damn!... I ended it wanting book two...YESTERDAY! So when I found out it was due in February but I could get to read it early it was a WHOOP! WOOHOO! and a massive YAY! moment.
It sets off pretty much at the exact moment the last one ends, and the story moves into high gear fairly quickly when Henry gets a call and does a bunk (again) to sort out some pressing business involving someone extremely close to him. Despite the fact that he and Mac are just starting to gel in the romance stakes, and he's still needed to testify in the trial of a mob boss they took down, he's determined to get to the bottom of what's happening in a certain care facility that’s important to him because of who is living there. It looks like dirty dealings are afoot at this particular facility and the only way he can investigate is to go in undercover as a girl. Something only Henry could probably pull off...or not?
At the same time FBI agent Ryan 'Mac' McGuiness is suddenly put under extra pressures of his own when somebody tries to frame him in a recent murder, relating to an older case of his. One that made the headlines, and a name for Mac, as it involved a well known, extremely bad guy who had been on the FBI most wanted for a while until he and Mac’s then partner (now his boss) Val finally brought him to justice. Unfortunately, not known for having a 'softly softly' approach when it comes to his arrests, he finds himself in the sights of the OPR: The Office of Professional Responsibility… where his professional career is put under a microscope and they want his blood!
But Mac can't stop thinking about Henry, plus now he needs him to corroborate certain events that took place while they were holed up in a cabin in Altona, so he takes off after him and before you know it, he's teamed up again with the guy who drives him potty in more ways than one; juggling both his own, and Henry's, case as well as trying to sort out their unconventional love life. Seeing how sexy Henry looks in a dress isn't helping either.
This is still a funny book but there's also a little more of a serious side to it, as we get a closer look into Henry's past and learn more about the poignant event that pushed him towards a life in crime and why he's carrying a truck load of guilt around with him because of it. as much as I found myself physically laughing at his interactions with Mac and some of his antics in the care home, I was also extremely touched by certain sides of his persona too. He's one of those endearing characters who can evoke different emotions and because of that he’s a real charmer. The same with Mac, who in his own way is just as lovable. As a couple of MC's they've really worked their way into becoming one of my most favourite couples ever. There's something about them that just does it for me and I find myself lapping up their times on page together; some great tension happening and some hot encounters this time as well.
He's not a split personality per se, but there is a dual nature to Henry. As Sebastian, he wants nothing more than a life with Mac, but in Henry mode he shies away from the Fed, as he just cant see them making it as a couple. Mainly because his inbuilt survival instinct is always to run when he feels out of control! And being around Mac really tests his restraint. Mac knows that getting involved in a relationship with a known criminal isn't the smartest thing he could do, especially with what's hanging over his head professionally, but the two of them are totally drawn to each other and can't seem to escape the pull of the attraction that appears to be growing into something more serious the more they're in each other's company.
The Shakespeare references are still there, there's more insight into the 'Court of Miracles', and the other grifter’s, including Stacey and Remy, who Henry is close to. I laughed and giggled again at Henry's antics, and Macs inner dialogues when trying to convince himself that he can step away from this exasperating, sexy guy. One of my favourite scenes this time is with Mac in his car, internalising his feelings about Henry while belting out 'Eye of the Tiger'...haha, I'm giggling now just thinking about it. These are two guys who I can't help wanting to see make it as a couple whatever crap is thrown at them and I'm rooting so hard for them to get there. They just have to get a HEA. On the crime side, It's not hard to work out the 'who dunnit ' in Henry's investigation, but I don't think it's supposed to be that complex. That's not the key mystery here, its a great addition to the story but it's just a sub plot to help further drive their relationship and on going storyline, which over the course of the series is subtly and cleverly coming together. It’s becoming clear that somewhere down the line Mac and Henry have a lot more linking them than they know and we’re being fed that information in bits and pieces, which makes their story all the more addictive and I can't wait to find out where it's all going to lead, especially as Mac's predicament is really snowballing now. Which brings me too this ending? GAH!...they've done it again!!! I need book three and I need it NOW!
I think it's essential to start from the beginning to really get the best from it all but that's definitely not a hardship, I promise you. Hopefully everything will get wrapped up next time in what I'm pretty sure is the last book (I'm pretty certain it's a trilogy) but if it's not and there's more "Mac and Cheese" (haha...another Henry-ism) then that would be good too because I'd be very happy to have extra helpings of them in the future. If not I'll be revisiting this series a lot.
Another great read from Lisa and JA, whose amazing sense of humour is once again showcased. They just compliment each other and this makes for a seamless co-writing team. I'm loving this so much! Highly recommend this up to now guys!
Pre-order it here
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF ALTONA (PLAYING THE FOOL #1)
Meet the Authors
Lisa Henry lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.
She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.
J. A Rock
J.A. Rock has worked as a dog groomer, knife seller, haunted house zombie, standardized patient, cashier, census taker, state fair quilt hanger, and, for one less-than-magical evening, a server—and would much rather be writing about those jobs than doing them. J.A. lives mostly in West Virginia, and always with a beloved dog, Professor Anne.
Don’t forget to Join us at Sinfully on Monday 2nd of February for the blog tour of The Merchant of Death.