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Dirty Deeds

TITLE: Dirty Deeds (Dirty Deeds, #1)

AUTHOR: S.E. Jakes
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
YEAR: January 2014
GENRE: M/M Contemporary Erotic Romance
HEAT LEVEL: Adults Only, Erotic Content
RATING: 4 out of 5

REVIEW: There’s a phrase I’ll repeat a few times just to keep things on track, because though Dirty Deeds is not a long story, it is an extremely complex one. Ready? This is brilliant writing. Remember that.

As with each book in the larger Extreme Escapes, Ltd. universe, this story is about complex men, some with downright psychotic tendencies, who can’t even begin to have functional relationships until they start to deal with some of the issues from their pasts that have made them the sort of men who can do the jobs that EE, Ltd. pays them to do. These aren’t the sort of guys who can find an HEA, or even much of an HFN, without overcoming decades’ worth of mistrust, betrayals, failed relationships of all sorts, and an understandable reluctance to hand their enemies a ready-made weapon to be used against them (i.e., a loved one).

So the idea that each of their stories must play out over the course of multiple books makes sense. It’s not merely a marketing ploy, as so many serials seem to be lately. S. E. Jakes has no need to resort to such tricks to keep us eagerly, even anxiously, awaiting the next title in the series. And I have to say, even though the relationships remain unresolved for Prophet and Tom, and Blue and Mick, the stories are satisfyingly robust. They leave us with the feeling that, even though things are dicey for them, ultimately they will work through their ghosts (kind of an inside joke, which you’ll understand if you READ THE SERIES) and forge lasting relationships filled with passion and adventure. This is brilliant writing.

Unfortunately, Dirty Deeds fell a bit short of the mark with regards to the ending. I don’t think it has anything to do with the length of the novella. Hence the loss of a star. It’s certainly possible to write a complete, fulfilling story within a short format. Though I don’t know what prompted Jakes to cut things off basically mid-scene (leaving me to pound my fists in useless fury upon my poor desk), I’ve decided to chalk it up to the author trying to give us a clever cliffhanger. I forgive you, Ms. Jakes, and I will continue to be your devoted fan. Even though it’s taken me four days to calm down enough to write anything resembling a coherent review.

But that’s a statement in itself, the fact that I connected with these characters on such a deep level, that I came to CARE so very much about what happens to them. That’s the author’s true talent – no, her gift. In every book I’ve read, the characters are the focus. Sure, there’s action, sometimes enough to stop your heart. There’s also hot, hot sex. Doesn’t matter. It’s all about the characters. This is brilliant writing.

Speaking of sex, several reviewers have criticized the emotional disconnect during sex in this book. My take on it is that it’s intentional. Neither of these men is present in his own life enough to experience true intimacy with another human being. They search for it in clubs where anonymous lovers have almost silent encounters and part without exchanging names. They try to find themselves and each other in virtual sex via IM. Cillian has a history of sexting with Prophet, from the Hell or High Water portion of the EE universe (the EEverse?). His encounters with Mal go miles deeper than he ever did with Prophet, proving that Prophet had the right idea when he bailed on the one attempt Cillian made to take it into real life (Long Time Gone). So the idea that they could open themselves up enough to have a conventional hookup just doesn’t fit the profile of either of these men.

And can we just take a moment to enjoy the name, Cillian? I’m a big fan of Gaelic and Celtic names. Also, it gives me a giggle every time I hear his name in my head – properly pronounced Killian, as the celtic “c” never makes a sybilant “s” sound, but rather a hard “k” sound. Thus Cillian is a-killin’ again. Hm. But I digress.

So, for anyone who has begun their love affair with the men of EE, Ltd., this is a must read. I would, however, recommend that you read Catch a Ghost and Long Time Gone before starting Dirty Deeds. It will make things clearer and more poignant, because there’s a devastating revelation fairly early in the story. Ignore the complaints. Take the warnings with a grain of salt. Read these books. I promise, you’ll be frustrated, enchanted, heartbroken, enraged, aroused and enraptured.

After all, this is brilliant writing. You can quote me on that.