Professionally, the FBI team of Aidan "Irish" Talley and Jameson "Whiskey" Walker is as good as it gets, closing cases faster than any team at the Bureau. Personally, it’s a different story. Aidan’s feelings for Jamie scare the hell out of him: he won’t risk losing another love no matter how heart-tripping the intimacy between them. And loss is a grim reality with the terrorist Renaud still on their trail, leaving a pile of bodies in his wake.
Going undercover on a new case gets them out of town and off the killer's radar. They're assigned to investigate an identity theft ring involving a college basketball team in Jamie's home state, where Jamie's past makes him perfect for the role of coach. But returning to the court brings more than old memories.
As secrets and shocking betrayals abound, none may be more dangerous than the one Jamie’s been keeping: a secret about the death of Aidan’s husband that could blow his partner's world apart and destroy forever the fragile bonds of trust and love building between them.
Cask Strength is book 2 in the AIW series and it needs to be read in order and actually, if you're anything like me, I suggest starting the series next weekend so you'll be able to pick up Barrel Proof next Monday when it releases. Otherwise, the wait is going to be kind of hellish. Also, please note that if you haven't read Single Malt (and really, why on Earth not, you're so missing out!) this review may contain spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.
Aidan continues to date other men, trying to avoid falling even more for Jamie and since Jamie doesn't want to share, they have a falling out just before going out undercover in a new case. What neither of them expects is that Jamie's past will catch up with them and show him that what could've been is still on the table... if he wants it.
Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, what am I going to do with you? On one hand, I loved him just as much as I did in Single Malt, but on the other, I just want to shake him and make him tell Aidan all he knows regarding Project Angel before it blows up in his face, which I know it's probably coming and I physically dread, my stomach is in knots already and I'm thankful I don't have as many books to review in the coming days, so I can hopefully get to Barrel Proof in the next couple of days. I adored that he simply couldn't stop himself from putting all his cards on the table with Aidan, even if it didn't work like he wanted, at least at first. I loved Aidan more in this book, at least once we got past the whole him dating everyone who looked remotely like Jamie, while keeping Walker at arm's length. The chemistry between Jamie and Aidan just blows me away, they're just so amazing together, complementing each other both in the field and in their personal lives. I love the progression, it's very natural and even if at the same time it can be a tad frustrating, it's understandable considering all Aidan has lost in the last year.
I loved Danny and Cam, although now I'm not too sure how to feel about Mel, especially after she prevented Jamie from sharing what he knows about Gabe to Aidan. I just don't want to even imagine how Aidan will feel about this when he finds out.
It was amazing to see Jamie in his element coaching basketball, even if it was just an undercover job. And while I wasn't overly fond of Derrick, well, he did serve a purpose in this book. I have to say, I so didn't see some of what happened coming and I was as surprised as Jamie and everyone else when one of the major players in the gambling/identity theft ring was revealed.
Overall, I just can't stress enough how fantastic this series is. It's witty, intelligent, well-paced and interesting, it's kept me at the edge of my seat throughout both books both anticipating and dreading what might be coming, but finding myself unable to put it down. Jamie and Aidan just keep surprising me at every turn and I just can't wait to see what Barrel Proof will bring for them.
*** Copy provided to the reviewer by Carina Press via NetGalley for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
Cask Strength is Book 2 in Layla Reyne's Agents Irish and Whiskey and absolutely cannot be read as a standalone. This book starts where the first one left off, so plan on reading this series in the appropriate order.
We met Aidan (Irish) and Jamie (Whiskey) in Book 1 as they became new partners in the FBI. The hardest part of doing this review is that storylines flow from Book 1 to Book 3 and I don't want to give any of that away. There are cases being worked from Aidan and Jamie, a case being worked from just Aidan and a secret case Jamie is working. Aidan is really struggling and refusing to acknowledge how he feels for Jamie. He feels guilty for being alive when his husband is dead and he feels guilty for what he feels for Jamie. Jamie is in love with Aidan. He has no interest in anyone else. He's willing to take whatever Aidan gives him, just so he can be with him. But Jamie isn't escaping the feelings of guilt as he works his secret case that now involves Aiden's husband and partner.
Aidan and Jamie are taking on new cases in this book and though their personal relationship is still developing, their work relationship is strong. They're successful in their cases and making a name for their partnership within the FBI. The case they work in this book involves an identity theft ring within betting on college basketball games. I thought I had all the players figured out, but I did not! The author has done a fantastic job on all the storylines and mysteries in this series! And though the relationship doesn't happen overnight, the reality is, everyone has their hang-ups and sometimes those hang-ups aren't magically fixed overnight.
Before you go into this, be aware that each of the first two books ends in a cliffhanger type of ending. If you hate cliffhangers like I do, this is important for you to know. My recommendation is this: Buy all three books and plan on reading all three books in succession. This is an absolutely fantastic series and there would have been no way that I could have stopped reading after just one of these books. I had to be prodded a little to try this book and I really questioned if I should or not. This author was new to me, I hadn't read the first book so I was unsure if the writing was something I would enjoy. I finally gave in and listened and am so glad I did! When someone recommends you read a book and tell you that you'll love it, listen. I really recommend you read this book, you'll love it ;)
Rating: 5++++ stars!
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