What becomes of the Russian spy who lands himself in the crosshairs of a rogue British agent?
Grigory Antipov’s work within the intelligence community is exemplary, but attracting too much attention is against his interests as a spy—a lesson painfully learned the night he is abducted off the streets of Rome. Captivity is a dangerous thing and Grigory already operates under a cloud of suspicion given his predilection for male company. Luckily, his stint in British custody is short-lived, a mere flex of muscle from Agent Karim Awad.
Karim’s objective is obvious. Lure Grigory into Section’s clutches and turn him against his own people. Expose him to the wrath of Moscow if he refuses. His mission brief may not specify the methods to be used, but Grigory soon discovers that Karim is a man of many talents. With powerful interests at play and the threat of deadly force in the air, Grigory faces an impossible choice—surrender to his fate or sacrifice the only man whose touch makes him feel alive after so many years.
Have you ever turned on a movie, realizing it’s half way through but sit and watch it anyway hoping you can catch up to understand because it looks really good? Well that’s how I felt through most of this book.
You get dropped off during an intense convo not really knowing what’s going on or who the players are, and it never really clears up. Just too many players, too many plots, subplots for this novella to really have time to sort it all out.
Grigory, is a unique character for sure. A Russian spy, being caught so easily by the enemy is not going to set well with his handlers. This knowledge and the fact that he has been hiding his sexual preference just may sway him.
Karim was sent to convince Grigory anyway possible to help with the swaying, what neither were expecting was the chemistry and even though the story line was still a little murky, I thoroughly enjoyed watching (reading) these two way through it. The fact they both know about each other, know the game, the stakes and still go at it was entertaining.
I just wish we had few less players or more time to build on everything.
What Makes a Good Series?
They’re everywhere, from bookshelves to cinemas, and many are those who bemoan the lack of so-called new ideas in entertainment. The word sequel itself conjures sighs as it implies a first step which, unless crossed, means you can’t fully enjoy a particular piece of media. I’m definitely guilty of doing the snobbish thing and dismissing opinions based on whether or not someone has followed a canon from A to Z. But, as a writer, I’ve also been nervous about trying my hand at writing something serialized.
Series are hard. They imply a time commitment I dread and they’re a lot less forgiving of flying by the seat of your pants as far as outlining. Yet here I am, promoting Best Kept Lies, my latest title and the first in a six-novel series called Shadowplay. And, somehow, I’m still standing.
Best Kept Lies is in many ways the glue that sticks the whole series together. In a nutshell, the plot pits two rival spies against each other only to have them form an unexpected liaison and turn on their former masters. The two agents, both men, are not the focus of the subsequent novels, but loiter in the background, stirring up trouble while trying to stay one step ahead of their new enemies.
Perhaps it’s only right, then, that I wrote Best Kept Lies last even though it is chronologically the first in the overarching story. Where we go from here is both worse—in that the number of killings and maimings increases—and better—in that the seeds of Grigory and Karim’s mutiny slowly begin to bear fruit.
The goal remains the same—freedom from the shadowy organizations that would keep their operatives and assets shackled—but the characters who keep pushing the ball forward change with every title. There’s Ulysses, a reporter delving into a story much larger than he can possibly imagine, and Manuel, whose only hope of survival is to put himself at the mercy of those who would torture him for information. There is William, a soon-to-be-retired operative whose last mission forces him to renew ties with a local gangster, and Elijah, an ex-con who knows too much. Their choices throw them into the path of transsexual rogue agents, dangerous hitmen, and spies just struggling to stay alive. None of them are alike, but all want the same thing at the end of the day.
While I still believe some sequels are unnecessary and merely open the door to grating continuity errors, I have to admit that no single novel could have given me the chance to get to know all these interesting men or explore their stories through so many twists and turns. Will I embark on another series anytime soon? Well, let’s just say to be continued…
“Twenty minutes of staring into Fontana del Moro and you didn’t even make a wish…”
The click of a tongue echoed dangerously close to Grigory’s ear. He stiffened, dread rippling over his flesh as he recognized the man’s voice.
Fifty thousand volts had burned its exact pitch and tone into memory.
“Nice of you to wait until I had a drink,” Grigory shot back, curling his fingers around his brandy.
His companion smiled. “You’re very welcome.”
As frustrating as it was to discover that he’d been watched since he arrived in the square, he was more annoyed by the cheery note in the other man’s voice.
“What do I call you?” he wondered, bypassing the entire matter of who shot whom with a Taser and why.
“Damn, I had a bet with myself that you’d say Bond.”
The smile broadened, Karim’s eyes sucking up the glimmer of every electric candle in the bar. He glanced away in search of the bartender. “How’s the Courvoisier?”
He pronounced it better than Grigory had when he’d placed his order. It grated on the nerves.
“I’ll have what he’s having,” Karim told the bartender.
He wasn’t as big as Grigory’s hazy memory reported. The span of his shoulders was no wider than Zorin’s. He wore a similar brand of dress shirt—stiff and wrinkle-free, the top two buttons rakishly undone. The similarities ended there. Where Zorin was pale and graceful, hips like the gentle curves of an hourglass, Karim was angular, blue-green veins visible beneath the tan skin of his neck.
He’d draped a distressed leather jacket over the bar beside him when he’d come in. To Grigory, it seemed like a gesture he’d picked up from an American movie.
“You’re staring,” Karim observed, resting his chin on a folded fist. His nails were neatly trimmed, not a hint of red around the edges.
No doubt he wore gloves for wet work.
Grigory raised his eyebrows. So? “I didn’t get a very good look at you last night—on account of the black bag over my head.”
“Ah. Yes… It wasn’t my call.”
The bartender slid a snifter onto the counter, cognac clinging to the glass.
“Orders,” Karim added.
A hefty sort of silence settled as they preoccupied themselves with their drinks. The warmth that spread from Grigory’s stomach to his extremities would have been pleasant on a slightly less muggy evening, in slightly better company.
The English had an expression about beggars and choosers that applied.
“You made the right call,” Karim said, at length.
Helena Maeve has always been a globe trotter with a fondness for adventure, but only recently has she started putting to paper the many stories she’s collected in her excursions. When she isn’t writing erotic romance novels, she can usually be found in an airport or on a plane, furiously penning in her trusty little notebook.
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