Speak No Evil
Author: J.R. Gray
What I’m Talking About:
I was originally drawn to Speak No Evil by what is undoubtedly one of the more interesting premises I’ve ever heard. That, combined with the fact that it was written by an author I’ve been eager to read for quite a while, made me jump at the chance to review it. Though I liked the idea of the story, there were simply too many things that interfered with my ability to stay with the narrative to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
Even with the difficulties I encountered, Speak No Evil has a good deal to recommend it. As a recently-divorced hitman who’s been cursed by his ex-wife, Ava, with the inability to lie, Weston Ames is in a fairly horrible position, in general. Deceit is a key weapon in his line of work, and his new deficiency is something of a problem. Additionally, the vast majority of his family and other connections have all sided with Ava, leaving Weston paranoid and isolated. Falling for his mark is about the worst thing he could possibly do, so, of course, he can’t help himself. Unsurprisingly, I found this to be a terrific setup, and liked the first few chapters a lot.
I also found Weston and Eli to be likable characters, if a bit hazy in places. Despite the fact that his profession involves killing people (but not “the innocent ones”), Weston is pretty endearing. He is bitter, fatalistic, unsure, lonely, nervous, protective, and—my favorite—inadvertently funny. Eli, in contrast, saves people for a living as a rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard. His determination to do the right thing is what puts him in danger in the first place, so his acceptance of Weston’s shadier actions and comments made him especially interesting. Their dynamic is certainly unique, and I was absolutely pulling for them both all the way through the narrative.
Regrettably, the above factors weren’t enough to completely alleviate my other concerns about Speak No Evil. Even taking into consideration the fact that I received an uncorrected ARC for review, there were several issues I couldn’t get past. In addition to quite a few grammar and continuity problems, there were POV shifts that required me to reread sections in order to sort them out. Remainders of earlier rephrasings were also evident in places, although I have every reason to assume these will not be present in the final version of the story.
In addition to these, there were concerns that seemed more significant. One particular flashback, for example, was told from the perspective of a character who was completely absent in the accompanying “in-the-present” scene. And, while initially funny, the notably implausible romp through the hospital for Weston’s guns was eventually a bit much by the end. As were the bedroom acrobatics that simply weren’t feasible given Weston’s injuries. Finally, I felt that the number of inopportune hard-ons became untenable at some point, as well.
Even with a problem or two, I really liked Weston and Eli. Speak No Evil has plenty of suspense and lots of flirty banter sprinkled throughout its pages, and I couldn’t help hoping that the whole story isn’t done just yet for these guys. As many good things as I keep hearing about this author, I’d love to continue to explore whatever he might have in the works down the road.
My Rating: C+ Liked It, but I had issues
About the Book:
Weston doesn’t believe in voodoo but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t believe in him. His life and family were steeped in the stuff and it was fine, until voodoo took everything from him, ripped his life from his grasp. And when it swallowed whole the person he loved most he had to escape.
But there were consequences. His voodoo goddess wasn’t going to let go of him so easily, and her revenge was the pinnacle of evil. He could have dealt with something like impotence or boils, but this was purely depraved. She came for him and hit him where it hurts. She might as well have taken his guns.
Weston found himself unable to lie. A hitman who can’t lie. What a joke.
When his handler throws him a bone, a job that requires no interaction only observation, Weston takes it. He should be able to do this in his sleep, but he’s off his game. He gets way too close. Nothing is as it seems, and someone else, maybe someone worse than him, is stalking his mark. But he can’t leave the kid high and dry. Not when Eli is all he can think about.
Release Date: March 28, 2019
Publisher: Gray Books
Genre: Romantic Suspense, LGBTQ, m/m
Format(s): paperback (290 pages), e-book
Book Source: Publicist Firm