Author: S. E. Jakes
As a fan of the Hell or High Water series, I was very excited to hear about this short story featuring two of the most intriguing secondary characters in that series, Cillian and Mal. Since these two were so closely tied to the other stories I have come to love, I was very anxious to find out how their story might unfold in relation to the universe as a whole. After finishing Dirty Deeds, I found that it wasn’t what I expected—it was better.
Like Prophet and Tommy, Cillian and Mal are impressively complicated characters, both certainly jaded and absolutely determined. As is true of the other operatives in these stories, they are damaged in a way that is beautiful, not because of what has happened to them, but because they continue to survive it. Ms. Jakes writes survivors well, the initial pain that has shaped Mal and Cillian seeming more like a notation in a list, one facet among many. Or, maybe that’s what they need to believe, anyway. Regardless, it is a necessary skill if they are to live through the narrative.
Although the other stories I’ve read by Ms. Jakes have dark elements to them, this is especially true of Dirty Deeds. This darkness fits both Mal and Cillian well, however, and their respective histories and the resulting dispositions have a such a feeling of veracity about them that I cannot imagine either character being any other way. Both men operate in a world of half-truths and disbelief, neither having room in their lives for sentimentality, each determined to succeed ahead of, and better than, the other. They both have the advantage in different ways, Cillian because he knows for certain something Mal, Prophet, and their team only strongly suspect, and Mal because Cillian has no idea just how great a part Mal is playing in his overall predicament. They somehow manage to punish and console each other at the same time, usually through sex, and with someone else, if not each other.
Sex plays an enormous role in the game that Mal and Cillian are engaged in. Rough and to the point, sex between them is both disturbing and mesmerizing, the importance of adhering to the strategy they’ve implemented, and the desperation-fueled, yet willing, lapses in it playing out in a treacherous dance. Still, a dangerous connection is made, and as the stakes get higher, each realizes that their paths could be irrevocably altered by their actions, the unrelenting need they both have to continue overriding their better judgement.
Dirty Deeds is a wonderful, unexpectedly intricate story, and Ms. Jakes has easily become one of my favorite authors. As has been the case so far, Mal and his teammates are afforded the respect they deserve as former SEALS, their skills never appearing cartoonish, but rather, hard-earned through blood and loss. While there weren’t any particularly sweet moments between Mal and Cillian, the effect they have on one another is undeniable. Similarly, the mystery that unravels over the course of Dirty Deeds is both clever and surprising. From the very beginning, Cillian and Mal’s story takes off like a shot and doesn’t slow down for a minute. Filled with complex characters and plenty of suspense to keep the audience guessing, Dirty Deeds has proved itself to be a marvelous beginning, and I don’t mind saying I’m hooked.
Two seasoned operatives finally meet their match: each other.
Cillian works for the mysterious Special Branch 20: an organization that runs black ops commissioned by the British government. His specialty is deep undercover assignments with virtually no support. He’s been alone for so long that he no longer knows anything else.
Mal’s also used to being alone. Wanted in several states and even more countries, he’s not allowed in the vicinity of any of his former Navy SEAL teammates. And his current assignment is to track Cillian in order to discover the spook’s endgame. Except he’s no longer sure which one of them is getting played.
Cillian isn’t about to let the mission that’s consumed him for the past several years crumble because an outsider is poking around where he doesn’t belong. But Mal forces his way through Cillian’s defenses—and into his heart—exposing a devastating betrayal that could destroy them both.
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Dirty Deeds #1
Genre: M/M Erotic Fiction, Military/Police, Suspense, GLBT
Book Source: Publisher
Dirty Deeds (Dirty Deeds #1)
Reviews in the (related) Series:
Catch a Ghost by S.E. Jakes (Hell or High Water #1)