Review: Single Malt by Layla Reyne (Agents Irish and Whiskey #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Carina Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"No promises, Whiskey. We have fun, we enjoy each other, we keep it casual and quiet," Aidan whispered, voice low and seductive. He punctuated his proposal with a kiss just below Jamie's ear, his tongue darting out to tease the skin ever so briefly. Jamie's body shuddered, hard. "Can you do that?"
"Yeah," he gasped breathlessly. "I can do that."
Aidan grinned against his neck and relaxed into his side, his breaths evening out in sleep. Jamie struggled to do the same, his body on board with slumber but his mind and heart disobliging. This didn't feel casual, this didn't feel unattached. This felt like something a whole lot more. Closing his eyes, his stomach knotted, his chest clenched, and he couldn't help but wonder if he'd told Aidan a lie.

I make no secret of the fact that there were two M/M series that started my whole obsession with the genre. One was romantic suspense series entitled Cut & Run, with four of the first four novels co-written by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban before the latter went into retirement and the former went on to take over the rest of the series solo until its conclusion (SOB!) two years ago and the first five books being published under one publisher before Roux moved to another. These books hold a special place in my heart, and it's probably the one series that I'm most attached to. This was romance and suspense and everything good in between. It's difficult to strike that delicate balance because, admittedly, I look for more of the suspense, not wanting it to be all sappy sweetness. I've never been actively searching for books that have, at the very least, the potential of coming close to those from Cut & Run, so imagine my delighted surprise to have stumbled upon it in the form of not just a debut release, but an actual series starter from new author Layla Reyne. Single Malt has left me impressed...and wanting much more.

FBI Special Agent Aidan Talley may have been cleared to return to work, but he's still mourning the deaths of his husband and his partner. The guilt weighs on him, having been the one behind the wheel of the car, but there's something about the accident that has nagged at him since it happened eight months ago. When his sister-in-law, who also happens to be his boss, informs Aidan that she has her own suspicions regarding what happened, she believes pairing him up with thirty-year-old Special Agent Jameson Walker, nicknamed Whiskey and an expert when it comes to computers and technology, will help them find answers. With Jamie being twelve years younger, unfairly easy on the eyes, bestowing the moniker "Irish" on his new partner, and, as all evidence has shown, very much straight, Aidan's strong reaction to him is something he hasn't felt since he first met his late husband a decade ago. A security threat at biocontainment facility is what they need to stay focused on, but when clues begin to point to something far more sinister, they'll have to trust all their instincts--and each other--to survive together.

This was a slow burn romance with that constant thrumming of suspense present. Pulling off a slow burner is difficult because you don't want it to be so slow that you bore your readers into oblivion. This one? Goodness, it was the kind that built the anticipation--you can see that things are developing and evolving but you know that rushing through it would kill the story so you watch and wait and then? Then you're richly rewarded for your patience. Layla Reyne has weaved several story lines together and while the possibility that one would trip the others up may have existed in the beginning, what with this being her first foray into writing a book and getting it published, but I everything simply worked like a well-oiled piece of machinery, making me wonder why Reyne has never written anything before! You've got the professional and personal relationships between Aidan and Jamie, and it's, of course, intertwined with Aidan's loss and Jamie's own past relationship--which I suspect we'll learn more about in book two--plus the hacking and terrorist threats and what happened to Aidan eight months before.

Now, I know what I've said in the past regarding cliffhangers and how damn evil they are (there's simply no denying it), and yes, indeed, this series starter does end on a cliffhanger of sorts. However, I'm a tad more forgiving this time around, thanks in large part to my having the advanced reader copy for book two, Cask Strength, already waiting for me on my e-reader. But now, I'm torn. If I read it now, I'll just end up frustrated because book three isn't coming out till August AND the ARC for it isn't available for request yet on NetGalley. Argh! So, I may choose to go with the whole "delayed gratification" route, so I may wait till closer to the May 1 release date for the second book before reading it...or maybe just until I can request for the galley of book three, Barrel Proof. Suffice it to say, I've become an immediate fan of both the series and its author. My biggest regret is that I didn't read book one sooner because this series starter was everything I didn't realize I had been looking for ever since Cut & Run ended in 2015. So yes, my expectations are high, but that's what happens when I read a five-plus-star book like Single Malt. ♥

Date Read: 09 March 2017 

Learn more about Layla Reyne.

Purchase Single Malt on Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo.


  1. Thanks so much, Jen, for the lovely review. I hope you and your readers continue to enjoy Agents Irish and Whiskey <3


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