The short story, DARK PARADISE, which is about Javier's evil henchman Esteban, is proof that not every side character needs a story. DIRTY DEEDS is also proof of that, only in longer form. Derek Conway is a character I only vaguely remembered from The Artists and, I think, once or twice in Dirty Angels. He's a fixer for hire, ex-military, kind of boring. So of course he gets a book.
The heroine in this book is one of Javier's remaining sisters, Alana. Alana was actually an all right heroine, until one very stupid decision she made at the very end which I'll get to later. I liked that she had a normal job (flight attendant). I liked that she was sex positive and had a normal group of friends who looked out for her. She's just a good looking and ordinary girl in her early twenties... but since she also happens to be the sister of a crime boss, she's got a major price tag on her head. And Derek, the hero, is the man who's taken the job to kill Alana Bernal for pay.
The enemies-to-lovers or assassins-to-lovers trope is a huge favorite of mine. In fact, it might be one of my top 5 (apart from villainous heroes and morally bankrupt vampire romances). When it's done well, it can really spin out the tension and create a lot of emotionally fraught scenes. The problem here is, Derek decides from the very moment he sees her that he's not going to kill her. In fact, somebody else tries to kill her while he's on the job and he literally abandons his post to hunt the guy down and shoot him in the head.
DIRTY DEEDS feels more like a typical by-the-numbers new adult book about two people who shouldn't be together because of their tragic pasts. It almost feels like it's trying to be cute. DARK PARADISE was like that, too. If you know Esteban and what he does, it doesn't really feel realistic to have him doing meet-cutes in Hawaii. The same goes here. Derek should not be trying to act out 500 Days of Summer with a crime boss's sister. He's stupid about it, too. Lies to her about his identity when the smart move would be to tell her what he is. When she does inevitably find out about it - by accident, because he's a coward - she flounces out and gets captured by the bad guys! Of course.
The first book in this series, DIRTY ANGELS, is the best book by Halle that I have read. It's got crime, drama, forbidden love, and tight pacing. DIRTY DEEDS, on the other hand, has a couple that goes on dates and has lots of boring sex while a few not-so-scary threats keep pouring in, culminating in a chase scene that is resolved way too quickly and neatly, and with a cheesy HEA to boot. I didn't realize HEAs came so cheap. Hopefully DIRTY PROMISES brings this series back full circle, because I'll be upset if it's another BOLD TRICKS fiasco and the ending totally sucks.
2 out of 5 stars
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