REVIEW: Devil’s Bargain (Red Letter Days #1) by Rachel Caine

Release Date: 2005 (US Market); 2012 (UK Market).
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Goodreads Summary:

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.

Beverage: A Salty Frenchman (Tassimo skinny decaf latte with sugar free French vanilla and salted caramel syrup).

Music: fun. Some Nights

I’ve had mixed results with Rachel Caine’s writing in the past – I like some of her stuff, but some I found dull. I think I got about 8 books into the Morganville Vampire series before I got bored with it. Also, I’ve been ‘reading’ Two Weeks Notice since August. I quite liked Working Stiff (the first novel in the Revivalist series), but the follow up is leaving me less than impressed.

Still, when I saw this galley available, I thought the concept was really good so I decided to go for it. It’s not straight up fantasy/science fiction like her other titles that I’ve read. Those elements are quite deeply buried. Instead, this reads more like a classic thriller – you’re missing pieces of the puzzle and suspecting everyone of not being what they seem until the big reveal.

This book really worked for me. I read it in about 3.5 hours because it hooked me and kept me hooked. The pacing and the characters were great. Out of everything of Caine’s that I’ve read, this is my favourite. It’s not her most original and unique work — that would be the Revivalist series — but it’s definitely her most engaging.

And don’t be scared away by the Harlequin imprint. Harlequin is publishing some amazing work lately (Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers and Shifters series, for example) that isn’t what you would think of as typical Harlequin fare. This is not a paranormal romance or a romantic suspense novel. Yes, there’s a little sexual tension and flirting in there, but probably less than you might find in similar novels from other publishers.

I’ve already started the sequel — sadly, it looks like this series tapped out at 2 books and a short story — and it’s maintaining the energy from the first book really nicely while switching to a different focal point. Look for that review in the next few days.

[Review copy generously provided by Harlequin UK – MIRA]

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One thought on “REVIEW: Devil’s Bargain (Red Letter Days #1) by Rachel Caine

  1. […] I read Devil’s Bargain, the first book in this duology (you can find my review of that book here). The two books are very much two halves of one complete story so they’re difficult to […]

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