March 02, 2015

Review: You Only Love Twice by Lexi Blake

A woman on a mission

Phoebe Graham is a specialist in deep cover espionage, infiltrating the enemy, observing their practices, and when necessary eliminating the threat. Her latest assignment is McKay-Taggart Security Services, staffed with former military and intelligence operatives. They routinely perform clandestine operations all over the world but it isn’t until Jesse Murdoch joins the team that her radar starts spinning. Unfortunately so does her head. He’s gorgeous and sweet and her instincts tell her to trust him but she’s been burned before, so he’ll stay where he belongs—squarely in her sights.

A man on the run

Since the moment his Army unit was captured by jihadists, Jesse’s life has been a nightmare. Forced to watch as those monsters tortured and killed his friends and the woman he loved, something inside him snapped. When he’s finally rescued, everyone has the same question—why did he alone survive? Clouded in accusations and haunted by the faces of those he failed, Jesse struggles in civilian life until McKay-Taggart takes him in. Spending time with Phoebe, the shy and beautiful accountant, makes him feel human for the first time in forever. If someone so innocent and sweet could accept him, maybe he could truly be redeemed.

A love they never expected

When Phoebe receives the order to eliminate Jesse, she must choose between the job she’s dedicated her life to and the man who’s stolen her heart. Choosing Jesse would mean abandoning everything she believes in, and it might mean sharing his fate because a shadowy killer is dedicated to finishing the job started in Iraq.

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You Only Love Twice by Lexi Blake
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 comfy mayhem STARS

“You played me. You played me hard and well. You had me panting after you and then you pointed a bullet straight at my fucking heart. Do you see the irony, Phoebe? I was falling for you and you were there to kill me.”

I have this almost irrational love for Ian Taggart and his group of carefully selected misfits and every time I pick up a new book in the Masters & Mercenaries series I fall in love all over again. This time around Lexi Blake tells the story of troubled former soldier and Dom in training - Jesse and McKay-Taggart's accountant who turned out to be anything but an accountant - Phoebe.

“You're a selfless man, Jesse. It's a unique trait, one that I believe you were born with. Oftentimes a certain goodness comes from nurture, from having a loving family around you. But I believe some people are simply born good, selfless. They're the universe's way of making sure there are always heroes among us.”

Let's start with Jesse Murdoch, one of the most interesting and unknown employees of McKay-Taggart. I've been waiting a long time to see what really happened in his past and how his future will look like. Let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed.

Dear Jesse has a bit of a messed up back-story. Raised by his grandfather, he escaped into the service the moment he was old enough. Unfortunately an ambush on his army unit lead to his captivity. Over the course of his imprisonment he witnessed the death of all of his team mates, was drugged and tortured constantly and had to undergo rigorous psychological conditioning.

So, when he was rescued and came home the only surviving member, poor Jesse had to endure a lot of suspicion and mistrust from his government and especially the general public. But when Big Tag took him into his fold life got a lot more interesting and some might say worth living. Especially one woman made him think there was more to life after all.

“It occurred to her that she'd been stopping far too often. She'd been screaming a safe word at the universe for years, and she wasn't safer or happier for it. She was just lonely and afraid.”

Phoebe Graham is the silent, timid and Harry Potter obsessed accountant at McKay-Taggart. Well, or so everyone thought. During the last instalment in the series it became clear that there is more to her than meets the eye.

In fact, little sweet Phoebe is a plant to spy on Taggart and his team. Her most important mark is non other than Jesse Murdoch himself and she did her job real close over the last few months and now she just got the order to take the shot. Literally take the shot!

I'm really not going to give anything more away at this point. Let me just tell you that her past is so freaking perfect and tied in with another person we already know. For fans of the series this is one big fat present with a huge read bow on top.

Just know...someone wants Jesse dead. But who could it be and why?

“He was devastating when he was sweet, but she could hold him off. When he was sweet and alpha male, it was a combination guaranteed to ruin her common sense.”

Ms. Blake has this highly imaginative mind to spin a great spy story, with suspense, heartbreak and really well developed characters. But this time around she outdid herself by putting the bits and pieces we already knew from the past books together and making them run into a completely different direction.

I usually get into these books thinking about a character one way and somewhere round half-time I'm completely changed in my mindset. Jesse initially came over as less than smart, impulsive and adorably green. But once you get to know him and learn about all he experienced and spent some time in his head you see what a warm, caring and good person he is. A good person with a domineering alpha male inside and a penchant for sweet and girly long-drinks with an umbrella on top, that is.

Phoebe on the other hand starts out rough in the eye of the reader...I mean pointing a gun at sweet messed up Jesse does that to you, but once you learn why she acted that way and what her fears and demons are there is no other way than to fall in love with her as well.

And don't even get me started once they actually meet in the middle, work together and fall into the Sanctum approved Dom/sub mode. Holy freaking shit! HAWT!!

Before I wrap this up, there is one thing I have to get off my chest. Ian Taggart is still the best thing that ever happened to my bookshelf and just seeing this man handling his guys, caring for his woman while being grumpy and sarcastic is reason enough to pick up this series.

The supporting cast and reoccurring characters are what makes this not only a good but a great read. Ms. Blake has the ability to use a lot of characters and she still manages to make you care about each and every one of them and actually remember who they are and how they play into the story. Well, maybe that's just me re-reading the series again and again, but still...FABULOUS CAST ALERT! Period!

“Sanctum is a place where I can just be me and no one judges me. They accept me. Big Tag brings us all here because this place, this life, binds us together. It makes us a family.”

Oh, and BIG -slightly dysfunctional- but HAPPY FAMILY ALERT as well. ;D
Yes, I very much loved this book and I'm in love with this series. That's all!

Oh no, it's not all. Ten? better run and hide, BigTag is going to have so much fun with this...situation. I'm already laughing my head off just thinking about it. ;D Is it August yet?

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