Tag Team Review: Olivier (Order of the Black Knights #7) by T.J. Nichols

Olivier Merlo works for a dangerous man. He does what he’s told without asking questions because he needs to protect his sister and niece. When someone gives his boss trouble, Olivier does what he does best. It’s a routine hit—until the victim’s brother starts poking around.

Cody Anders left his family behind a decade ago—along with their wealth and influence—to live on his own terms. Still, he knows his twin didn’t die of a drug overdose, and he’ll do anything to find the truth. What he uncovers is a conspiracy that will topple his family and leave him staring down the barrel of a gun.

Olivier must decide if he’s going to obey orders or free himself from the curse that has guided his hand for centuries. Cody, who challenges Olivier’s notion that no one can love him, holds the key to breaking his chains. But when the truth finally comes out, it might be more than Cody can accept.

SheReadsALot - 2.5 Hearts

The Order of the Black Knights is a collection with a darker tone featuring broken men bent on revenge who swear fealty to a dark wizard. With their promise, these knights get to live many lives, doing dark work, getting their revenge until then get a chance to live a guilt free life if they choose forgiveness. This multi authored collection definitely caught my eye. And when I heard one of my fave new authors was contributing, I was all in.

So in, I didn't even read the blurb.

And now after reading Olivier, I think no one is more disappointed than me.

Olivier Merlo is a man bent on revenge. He's an assassin for a crime lord in this life. Olivier and his older sister Marie are indebted to his boss due to trying to save their ill mother many years ago. His sister prostitutes herself for his boss and in a way so does Olivier. His payment? His soul with every kill he does.

His latest kill weighs on him a little. But it really irks him when his kill's twin brother shows up to town.

The twin brother, Cody, has been dead to his family for many years due to being a gay college dropout. He only comes back to New York to attend his twin's funeral at the behest of his brother's widow.

Here's where the dull start started to pick up some steam but it never reached the full potential the key parts of the plot. I'm trying to pinpoint why this story was a miss for me. I think mainly, the story is told and nothing that is interesting is dug into. This story is begging for angst, character development and magic.

And it stalls and flatlines.

Cody is very annoying and privileged. I liked him the least and that's saying something with his loathsome father. No self preservation, no common sense. And the way he and Olivier get together is not believable, regardless of the curse that entwines both men for who knows how many past lives.

Set in NYC (supposedly), sometimes the story didn't read American. There was an odd phrase or three that threw off the American tone.

I read an unedited ARC so maybe the final product was cleaned up a lot. This story definitely needed it. Dull start that lead to the reader being told about interesting things: a magician MC who practiced no magic, a damaged MC who was so hell bent on revenge that it didn't read as such in any of his past lives (the brief summary that told more than shown) or the weak characters.

There is sex. I liked that it wasn't overly graphic. The suspense was interesting in theory. I'm not too keen on the delivery at the peak. Or the HFN finish. Something read missing, which goes back to the story being told and not having really anything to connect to either main character. All these important events shaped their lives today and no depth, no showing what made them tick. Hell, Olivier's mother was sick and the catalyst into his life of crime in this present life and the reader doesn't even learn what it is.

Either man could have gone on their merry way seperately and it wouldn't have mattered.

The plot was shaky, the execution even shakier. Some parts were smooth, but the majority was disappointing.

Will I read more from this author? Yep. I just don't recommend this being your first taste of T.J. Nichols. There are much stronger stories from this author waiting for the picking: Warlock in Training or The Vampire's Dinner.

Will I read more of this collection? Yes, I'm sure there will be at least one that I find magic in. I just need to go searching for that book.

Cupcake - 2 Hearts

Disappointment thy name is Cupcake. *sad face* My previous experience with this author was a delight so I was eager to see what they could do with a full length novel.

I'm sad to say this was a bust though. The premise for this book is great! Bad boy assassin, a fated couple and a little thriller action. So much potential for me to love it. But... I did not.

My first problem was the relationship development. I let it slide in the short I previously read because of the wartime situation and the length, but I can't do that for a full length novel. Particularly when there was so much page time devoted to minutiae.

Cody and Olivier are stuck in a loop that has spanned centuries. They wend up together in each of these lifetimes but the curse prevents them from having an HEA. I've not read any of the previous books in this series so I could be missing some subtleties of the Order of the Black Knights, but I don't think they're vital. I got the gist.

Now, I LOVE me some fated mates so that hooked me from the beginning. However, for this trope to work I need to see and feel their bond and I didn't. It's something that is taken as a given and no real connection is discernible. There's no heat or passion between them. Were it not for the suspicious death of Cody's twin Connor there would've been no connection at all.

Efforts are made towards characterization but they weren't fully realized; both these characters are two-dimensional at best.

Uncovering the truth about what happened to Connor and what information he has squirreled away is the primary plotline. Since I enjoy whodunnits I really wasn't bothered by this development, but things started to sour when this plotline became dull and repetitive. What's more, it's not engaging. I never felt that pull that draws me into a thriller, keeps me invested and makes me want to figure out the puzzle.

The bouncing back and forth between Cody and Olivier's perspectives oftentimes retelling the same events I found redundant and negatively impacted an already sluggish pace. Secondly, the whole narrative is predicated on finding out what Connor knew and why it's important. It's supposedly important enough that several people are willing to kill for it so I was expecting a phenomenal reveal and what I got was more like...

No specifics. No explanation as to what the Palmerston's stake was or why they were involved. No retribution over Connor's death. Nothing. It just sort of runs out of gas with a tacked on and highly unsatisfactory HFN leaving me feeling at loose ends.

Lastly, I sincerely hope this gets edited prior to its release because aside from the minutiae and overlap, sentences were missing words or had the wrong ones... messy. It was messy.

I'm not giving up on this author but I wouldn't recommend this. Unfortunately.

An ARC was provided.

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