Book Review – Dead Draw by Layla Reyne

Perfect Play #1
Publisher: Layla Reyne
Pages: 241
Characters: Marsh/Levi
POV: 3rd
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Series

When a marriage of convenience is the only play left…

Special Agent Emmitt Marshall knows how to:
Wear a cowboy hat.
Hack anything.
Win at chess.
Fall in love with emotionally unavailable men.
He even knows the perfect play to catch the terrorists who killed his mentor.

Special Agent Levi Bishop doesn’t know how to:
Move on after his wife’s death.
Help his grieving son.
Pay off his mountain of debt.
Fix the mess some cowboy cyber agent made of his case.
The same cowboy who proposes a marriage of convenience to stop a common enemy.

Marsh is either the answer to Levi’s prayers—or a handsome nightmare in a Stetson.
Levi doesn’t know.
But both men do know their cases and lives are at a dead draw.
There’s only one play left…
I do.

Layla Reyne returns with an all-new m/m romantic suspense series featuring a cocky hacker with a heart of gold, a widowed father who needs so much help, and a plan only a cowboy could cook up. Grab your hat, hold tight to the reins, beware of the cliffs, and enjoy the ride!

Buy Link


I loved the first book in this new series and got hooked on Marsh and Levi’s story immediately. I’m already hanging out for book 2, and the series is on my paperback list. I enjoyed the mix of action, suspense, and great characters. And a marriage of convenience which is already living up to my expectations for that trope.

I liked how both Levi and Marsh are determined not to fall for each other, yet are totally failing at it. Levi’s still in love with his late wife, and I liked how she’s very much not forgotten by either him or David. I loved how the suspense plot drives the story, yet there are wonderful moments between Levi and Marsh too. Levi and Marsh are getting to know each other, which I always enjoy in a romance. I love how they’re both very good at their jobs and how that is shown, not just said.

Levi’s family are wonderful, and I liked the growing friendship between his son, David, and Marsh. Both men have a strong network of friends, and I liked how that factored into the story. I’m looking forward to meeting Marsh’s mothers in book 2. I love how many strong women there are in this story.

I liked the chess theme that starts with the games between Marsh and David, and then grows into the symbol of a dangerous threat. The action scenes are tense and realistic, and I liked how the organisation they’re up against has its hooks into everything, and everyone. The danger feels very real, and I hope everyone survives.

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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