Book Review – The Long Game by Anna Martin

Publisher: Indie
Pages: 233
Characters: Calvin/AJ
POV: 3rd
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense

After spending six years deep undercover, special agent Calvin Purnell has a new mission: stay alive until his dangerous ex is apprehended. Survival means going off the grid and staying radio silent, totally disconnected from his old life. He’s scraping to get by in a nowhere town, isolated and alone… until he meets AJ.

As a high school counsellor, AJ Morris is used to piecing people back together, and experience tells him Calvin’s nothing but trouble. AJ already bears too many scars from his difficult adolescence to fall for a man who might leave at any time. But attraction isn’t rational, and the risk seems worth it, right up until loving Calvin turns into a threat to AJ’s own life.

As the past catches up with him, Calvin must return to where his nightmare started in a race against the clock to rescue AJ. But he quickly learns that he’s not the only one playing the long game.

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I love Anna Martin’s books, and this one was no exception. I got pulled into the story immediately by the setup, and the description of Calvin’s emotional state. I quickly became invested in his and AJ’s story, and was on the edge of my seat as the tension ramped up, trusting in the author to get them both through safely and give them their HEA.

The contrast between AJ and Calvin’s worlds is nicely done, although AJ has had his share of grief too, and lives with the aftermath of it in the form of an injury. I liked how AJ makes Calvin feel safe, and the realism in his moments of panic when he thinks he recognises someone. The op that Calvin was involved in that went bad sounds horrific, and his mark comes across disturbingly well as someone very unhinged and dangerous. I thought it was realistic that AJ and Calvin take it slow, and although they’re sleeping together, take their time to admit and realise that they’re in love.

I liked the supporting cast in this one too. In particular Max, AJ’s friend, and also how AJ’s family make Calvin feel welcome. Cal’s handler and friend Rafe is a good guy too. I thought the revelation of who the mole inside the FBI was well done, especially with the red herrings that had me looking completely in the wrong place.

The action/drama part of the plot is tense and exciting, and I stayed up late reading as I had to make sure both AJ and Calvin survived. I thought the lead up to the ending was realistic, and the final pages very satisfying. I’d love a glimpse of these guys a few years on.

5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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