Publisher: Mira Harlequin UK
Publication date: October 5th 2012
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Jasmine "Jazz" Callender is on the downhill slide to ruin. Once a decorated homicide detective, she's lost it all: her former partner's been convicted of murder, she's been cashiered out, and she's drinking away what little self-respect she's got left.
But Jazz has a talent for trouble, and somebody knows it. When a mysterious, sexy stranger comes looking for her with a fateful red envelope in his hand, she's about to make the deal of her life...for good or bad.
The deal requires her to enter into a partnership with a stranger and investigate cases that arrive in special red envelopes...which is odd enough, but gets weirder as she and her new partner Lucia realize that they may be working for someone with supernatural abilities.
And maybe they're not on the side of the angels anymore.
Devil’s Bargain started out as a calm mystery and turned into an enthralling read. There is romance, a touch of paranormal, plot twists, and heart pounding action.
Jazz used to be a decorated homicide detective until her partner was found guilty of murder. No longer on the force and unable to exonerate her partner, she has reached a low point. While schlepping at a dive bar trying to drown out some of the depression, she is approached by James Borden. He’s handsome and completely out of place, but he comes bearing an offer. Take money to start a private investigation service, and be fully backed. The two requirements are that she partners with Lucia Garza, unknown to her, and give priority to cases given by Gabriel, Pike, and Laskins law firm. Jazz feels like there must be some catch and is reluctant to take their offer. So is Lucia, who has received the same offer. Lucia has an impressive resume working in law enforcement in some shape or form.
They partner and the assignments they receive are a bit baffling and seem to be without purpose. They have instructions to observe and photograph people, when nothing seems to happen. Then things change and one of the surveillance jobs Jazz is assigned to ends up murdered. Can these assignments be the product of some type of foreknowledge? Is it possible they’re being sent to prevent crimes? Larger forces are at work and Jazz and Lucia need to figure out what the heck is going on. What exactly did they sign up for?
Like I said, this was a calm mystery to begin with. The first third of the book was relatively uneventful and even though it held my interest, I wasn’t sure what was going on. By the time I got the second half of the book the action kicked in and I was anxiously turning the pages, anxious about what was going to happen next. Both Jazz and Lucia were likable characters, but this book focused more on Jazz. She was one tough cookie, able to kick some major behind, with her precision fighter skills. It’s funny that she seemed tougher than her love interest, James, for most of the book. Yet, he wasn’t threatened, and didn’t take this as a bruise to his ego. I love a confident man, especially one in a well-fitted suit! Even though romance wasn’t the main focus of this story, James manages to get Jazz’s blood pumping whenever he’s around.
He stood up and loomed over her, and for some reason, that felt good. Safe. She let her gaze slide down him and had an instant appreciation for the way the black knit shirt hugged him. She had a sense-memory of soft skin, hard abdominal muscles fluttering under her touch as she’d checked him for broken ribs.
Their relationship starts out slightly antagonistic, with Jazz being difficult and snarky, but there’s no fighting their attraction!
I enjoyed the easy friendship Lucia and Jazz fall into. It’s so nice when female characters actually like each other and has each other’s backs. There are some notable secondary characters, as well: Pansy, the office assistant and Manny the genius independent crime tech. He’s paranoid from a truly horrifying experience, and majorly quirky in an adorable way.
Devil’s Bargain wasn’t a particularly deep read, but it was a lot of fun and quick, just under 200 pages. The next story focuses on Lucia, and I have to say I’m excited to find out what happens next. This was labeled as Urban Fantasy, but I would call it light UF. Not that I’m an expert on UF, mind you, but hey I’m coming along!