You Had One Job, Cari Z and L A Witt
Rating: 4 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Mob/Bratva, Age Gap, Some Violence. CW/TW: On Page Drug Use/Addiction
Length: 250 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
It was supposed to be a simple job—tail the Italian for an evening, see if he was up to anything shady, and report back to the Bratva.
But I didn’t expect him to go into gay bars. Is someone trying to out me to the Bratva? Am I being set up?
And what the hell do I do now that my mark knows I’m following him?
It’s insulting, really. My organization wants to do business with the Russians, but they’re putting tails on me? That’s just bad manners.
But when that tail get a beating from his own for failing to tell them everything he knows about me, I know something is up.
Now we’re both in way over our heads. Our only hope is working together.
And even then, I’m not so sure we’re getting out of this.
CW: On-page drug use, active addiction, graphic violence, suicidal ideation, domestic abuse.
This is a quirky story. It has a tag of mob/crime syndicate because that is the backdrop. Nikita works for Bratva and Lorenzo for the Mafia, sure, but they aren’t hitmen or assassins or bodyguards or thugs. They’re more white collar workers within organised crime. Nikita is tech savvy, a hacker for Bratva who lives in California, which is where this book is set. He’s the ex boyfriend of Yakov, the Pakhan’s 2IC, who hooked up with Nikita and then charmed him into being part of Bratva a decade ago – when Nikita was nineteen and ‘in love’. He hates working for them, has a difficult relationship with Yakov, and uses drugs to smother his feelings of anger and loathing at being stuck within a criminal organisation, that Yakov holds his family over his head to keep him in. Nikita, being an addict, might have been disposable years ago but Yakov has a toxic, proprietary idea of love and sex around Nikita. That does help keep Nikita alive. Plus Nikita has evidence that Yakov is gay. That’s his own life insurance policy that he’s taken out to keep Yakov on his toes.
The more mature Lorenzo is a Suit, the charming business-savvy face of a Mafia family based in New York. He’s been sent by his Family to broker a deal with Bratva and to make sure the business adds up, that they will be the ones working the West Coast with the Russians, not the their competition. Lorenzo’s nephew convinces him to go to a few gay bars one night and have a good time while he’s there. Somehow Yakov seems to have intel that Lorenzo is gay, which will give him leverage in any dealings, and, for reasons, who better to tail him than Nikita? Things get a bit skew-whiff when Lorenzo pretty quickly ‘makes’ the inept tail that is Nikita and, of course, hello! they quick-fuck in the men’s room. Nikita spins a yarn to Lorenzo that he saw him at one bar, fancied him, and followed him to the next. Lorenzo buys it initially… then doesn’t, and that’s when the fun and games really begin.
I enjoyed You Had One Job. It has it’s flaws. There is a degree of repetition around being gay in organised crime, especially in the beginning. If you give one deep thought as to why these MCs fall pretty quickly for one another, well, it’s pretty thin on the ground. But a few things helped me –
I was in the middle of a lot of busyness when I started (and continued) reading this book, and it was entertaining and pretty calming reading throughout. I appreciated that.
I actually really liked both of the MCs. Lorenzo was protective and caring. It was interesting for him (for Nikita too) finding another gay man in an organised crime family who wasn’t the violent type. Nikita had believed the shitty press that Yakov had spun for sometime and self-image issues were apparent. He was in a bad cycle and I really felt for him. Lorenzo coming along was good for them both.
What else worked for me was that Nikita’s an addict, predominantly coke, and he used throughout. It didn’t just go away because of a sudden miracle or a ‘magic dick‘. I liked Lorenzo’s tolerance and understanding in regards to Nikita’s addiction. It’s nice not reading characters looking down their nose at addiction, or holding unrealistic expectations that it will suddenly all disappear. Pragmatism ruled. Nikita was in a tight spot? No good withdrawing during that time when coke could get him through and withdrawal wouldn’t. Lorenzo got that. He also didn’t judge. He offered assistance if it was wanted. Nikita was bamboozled at first as to why someone would care, especially after a decade of seeing no one care at all. Then he dared hope. So I liked the overall dynamic.
Cari Z and L A Witt write well together and when I see they have a co-write I’m all over it. If you’re looking for a decent gay romance set within a mob-light story, one with a HEA, and you have no triggers around addiction, then You Had One Job could be the e-book you’re looking for. 4 Stars!