Title: Barrel Proof (Agents Irish and Whiskey #3)
Author: Layla Reyne
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: August 7, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Mystery/Suspense
Page Count: 205
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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.
Barrel Proof hits the ground running from the very first page, with a mad race to Cuba via speedboat and an almost cinematic escape from a firestorm resulting in Jamie breaking his leg. (And that’s just the first 30 pages …). Throughout the series, Jamie has hesitated giving Aidan full intel until he can discover how the terrorist Renaud and Aidan’s dead husband Gabe are linked, but now that moment is finally at hand:
His husband and his partner. They’d both lied to him. And his current partner had too. For months. The man he’d risked his heart to love again had kept the truth from him, had lied to him for virtually all of their partnership.
All of the time they’d been sleeping together.
Aidan can’t get past his anger and decides to go back undercover in a case involving low-level financial crimes and regulatory compliance while Jamie heals back at the Cyber Division cave. Aidan and Jamie’s sexual chemistry is still hot and steamy, but their relationship needs a reset, a break:
“Because as much as I love you, I’m angry as hell. At you, at Mel, at Gabe. I need to get away from everything for a while.”
Jamie realized he’d voiced the sentiment when Aidan framed his face in both hands. “Because I want to be able to come home to you,” he said. “If I stay, my anger will ruin this.”
As the story continues, the answers slowly unfold in a flurry of data encryption, market manipulation and destabilization, financial fraud and treason with a dash of betrayal and kidnapping and the author does a wonderful job of immersing us into the details while still making it all work together (and having it make sense!) And the ending ties everything together into a hard-won HEA for Jamie and Aidan.
I have avidly read and enjoyed the entire Agents Irish and Whiskey series, but Barrel Proof is not my favorite of the series and I give it 4 stars. The first two books involve other cases (bioterrorism and gambling) while Barrel Proof focuses almost exclusively on the larger Renaud case which is dramatic and kinda exhausting. I realize it’s the nature of a series, but I missed the relationship dynamics between Aidan and Jamie that were more front-and-center in the first two books. But having said that, it could just be me! I would definitely recommend the entire series and hope Layla Reyne writes a fourth (or fifth) book.
Agents Irish and Whiskey