Title: Imperial Stout
Series: Trouble Brewing: Book One
Author: Layla Reyne
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 272 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: There were a few little things that I felt either didn’t get wrapped up or were wrapped up too quickly, but I had a ton of fun with this book, and I’m sure lots of loose ends will get tied up in Craft Brew, the next book in the series, which I already can’t wait for!
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: It’s a good thing assistant US attorney Dominic Price co-owns a brewery. He could use a cold one. Nic’s star witness has just been kidnapped, his joint operation with the FBI is in jeopardy, his father’s shady past is catching up with him and the hot new special agent in San Francisco is the kind of distraction best handled with a stiff drink.
Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne has his own ideas about how to handle Nic, but his skills are currently needed elsewhere. The by-the-book FBI agent goes deep undercover as a member of an infamous heist crew in order to save Nic’s witness, break up the crew and close the case before anyone else gets hurt. Nic in particular.
Things heat up when Cam falls for Nic, and the witness falls for Cam. As the crew’s suspicions grow, Cam must decide how far he’s willing to go—and how far into his own dark past he’s willing to dive—to get everyone out alive.
Review: I’ve been waiting for this one, you guys. That cover, amirite?!? Guh. So, so gorgeous and eye-catching. I’ve been stoked to read this spinoff from Layla Reyne’s popular Agents Irish and Whiskey series since I heard it was in the works. If you read my review for Blended Whiskey, an Irish and Whiskey novella, then you saw my confession that I haven’t yet read Aidan and Jamie’s story arc. But, Imperial Stout, the first book in Reyne’s new Trouble Brewing series, was billed as a standalone, so I jumped in. Does the book stand alone? Largely, yes. But I do think I may have enjoyed it even more—mainly to be more familiar with the jobs and everyone’s roles—if I had read the Irish and Whiskey series. Not gonna lie, though…Nic and Cam quickly grabbed ahold of my heart!
Reyne drops us immediately into the action as Cam’s team, with assistant US attorney Dominic Price standing by in the surveillance van, tries to stop a heist and recover Nic’s witness. I must admit that I was a bit confused about the case in the beginning of the story. A heist case was briefly discussed in Blended Whiskey, so I wonder if it maybe began in the last Irish and Whiskey book, causing me to feel a little lost initially here. I did eventually get a good grasp on all the players and what was happening, but even so, the whole art heist plotline was pretty convoluted. Also, Nic’s involvement definitely seemed to go beyond what I would expect from an attorney, even an attorney in the DOJ. As an ex-SEAL, I totally get that he’d be used to being in on the action, so to speak—but, it felt at times like he did more agent-in-the-field type stuff than he did lawyer stuff.
When things go sideways in the case and members of the heist crew get away, taking the DOJ’s informant with them, Cam volunteers to go undercover to get Abby back, and find out who’s really behind the attempted theft. Cam’s past rears its head in the process, though, and while it benefits the undercover op, it brings up a lot of memories and concerns about crossing lines he promised to never cross again. Even though I felt like the case was sort of a mess, I loved getting bits and pieces of Cam, and learning more of his background. He is truly great at his job; such a quick thinker and deserving of every bit of respect he gets, I loved watching Cam in action.
And then we have Dominic Price. Sexy AF ex-SEAL and current assistant US attorney, Nic was my faaaavorite. I loved everything about him. I love that Gravity, the microbrewery he started with his buddy and former SEAL teammate, is his dream for the future, when he leaves the US Attorney’s office. And, I love that he wants to share that future with Cam. I don’t know what is so damn sexy about owning a brewery…but, it somehow did it for me! Ha! And the secondary storyline in the book, which revolves around Nic’s estranged father and the massive debt he’s in, bringing trouble and danger to Nic’s doorstep even though the two haven’t spoken in twenty-seven years, was quite compelling, and looks like it’s going to be one of the main plot points in the next book. We don’t know the whole story yet, but we do know that Curtis is a nasty piece of work. I actually might have whooped out loud and done a mini fist pump after this exchange between Nic and his dad:
His father’s gaze swung back to him. “Hardened up, huh? See, I did do something good for you after all.”
“You didn’t do shit,” Nic said, taking no small amount of satisfaction that Curtis shrank back a step. “I made me the man I am. And I won’t let your mistakes jeopardize everything I’ve worked for.”
So, yeah…Nic is sexy and awesome, and Nic and Cameron together were even better. And, we have so much more to learn about them! Reyne did an excellent job of whetting the readers’ appetite, giving us just enough to reel us in and leave us wanting more.
There were a few little things that I felt either didn’t get wrapped up or were wrapped up too quickly, but I had a ton of fun with this book, and I’m sure lots of loose ends will get tied up in Craft Brew, the next book in the series, which I already can’t wait for!
You can buy Imperial Stout here:
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