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Blood & Bitcoin: Organized Crime

Criminal Delights, Book 4
Narrated by: Michael Ferraiuolo
Series: Criminal Delights, Book 4
Length: 11 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Summary

Chris Emmett has a talent for screwing up and landing on his feet. As a SEAL, he managed to evade bullets and court-martials alike. As an FBI agent, he dodged danger and disciplinary action - right up until he didn’t.

With his career and freedom hanging in the balance, he’ll do whatever it takes to clean the slate...including an off-the-books deep cover solo mission.

The objective: infiltrate the Hive, a complex crime syndicate operating on the dark web, and find out who’s trying to kill Piker, the organization’s enigmatic and strangely alluring modern day mob boss.

The moment he’s pulled into the Hive, Chris enters a world where no one is what they seem, including the man he’s there to protect. Lines blur between moral and wrong, legal and criminal, ally and foe, and, as Piker’s seductive magnetism draws Chris in, straight and queer.

Chris is running out of time to stop a killer. He has dangerous feelings for a dangerous man, and the deeper he moves into the realms of organized crime, the less he knows and the fewer people he can trust.

And that’s before he learns the truth about Piker’s assassin.

Warning: These books are for adult listeners who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

©2019 L.A. Witt (P)2019 L.A. Witt

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Profile Image for Erryn Barratt
  • Erryn Barratt
  • 11-05-19

Cryptocurrency, Organized Crime, & Two Sexy Men

Over the years, romance heroes have gotten progressively darker. Bikers, cage fighters, damaged alpha billionaires and, finally, members of organized crime. I’ve often wondered when the progression would end but after having read books where the main character has killed people in cold blood and is still a hero, I’ve given up wondering how dark things will get. Criminals deserve their happy endings too…right?

I knew this book was one of L.A. Witt’s Organized Crime books before I picked it up, so I was well-aware of what I was getting into – violence, dubious ethics, and questionable people doing questionable things. Now, I’m able to suspend my disbelief as well as the next reader, but it wasn’t always necessary. Yes, this book is very dark, but there was also something redeemingly satisfying about the story. Yes, there were bad guys. Yes, there were good guys. And, of course, there were the characters who operated in the shadows, relying on the shades of gray to justify their actions, all the while knowing they were skirting the law at best and outright breaking it in some instances.

Do the ends justify the means? It’s a question asked over and over in the book and the answer depended on the circumstances and who was asking it.

In truth, I really liked Chris, the ‘hero’. A former SEAL and disgraced ex-FBI agent, he didn’t have a ton of redeeming qualities – just a desire to see the mission completed, no matter how many rules he had to break to get it done. Put in an untenable situation, he’s forced to make the best of it and try to get out alive. What happens to him once the mission is completed is almost secondary. That recklessness changes when he meets Piker. Piker, an enigmatic CEO of a technology company who is involved in some of those questionable ventures I mentioned earlier. Chris’ job is to keep Piker alive at all costs. He’s dedicated to the mission and once he meets Piker, he falls under the man’s spell.

I loved Piker. A man who doesn’t care what others think and yet has carefully cultivated an image befitting a tech billionaire. A man whose sexual appetites are strong as he devours those around him. He has an odd magnetism and I found I was intrigued. Parts of him are almost effeminate while other elements of his character as definitely very masculine. He confounded me as he did Chris and I liked always being kept on my toes as to what he’d do next. Some parts of his existence were predictable – the legitimate business side. Others were a mystery – the Hive in particular. I’ve heard of the dark web, of course, but I have no real concept of it. And Bitcoin? Totally out of my league. A few friends at work followed it and if they’d bought at a particular time they’d have made money. Fortunately they didn’t because they’d have lost money a few weeks later. The stock market is volatile but at least there are (supposedly) rules. An ethereal currency? Yeah, not so much.

This is a great book. The action was high octane and the sex was off the charts. The ending was also oddly satisfying as the worlds of dark and light crossed leaving those gray shadows I referred to earlier. I was happy and felt my investment in time had been well worth it.

And Michael Ferraiuolo? I don’t think I can say enough good things about his performance. He hit every note accurately and gave Piker the perfect voice. I also appreciated his female voices and it was nice to have some strong female characters to round out the cast of characters. Michael and L.A. make a good pair and I can’t wait to listen to more collaborations. If you like crossing into the dark side, this is the book for you.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • ButtonsMom2003
  • 09-05-19

Fantastic! This deserves more than 5 stars.

I absolutely love Michael Ferraiuolo's audiobook performances; I have listened to several and all of them are excellent. The various voices he does for Blood & Bitcoin fit the characters perfectly. I read the book fairly recently and yet when I listened to the audiobook it was like the story was almost totally new to me. I highly recommend this book. For that matter, any collaboration between L.A. Witt and Michael Ferraiuolo is an auto-buy for me. Below is the review I did for the ebook when it was first released.
* * * *
A year ago, if you'd asked me if I like reading mafia type stories I would have answered with an emphatic "no!" L.A. Witt and narrator Michael Ferraiuolo changed all of that when I listened to If the Seas Catch Fire last August. So, when L.A. offered a review copy of her latest book, Blood & Bitcoin, I couldn't pass it up – especially when I found out that Michael will also be narrating the audiobook (coming soon).

I couldn't put this book down once I started it but I made the mistake of starting to read it too late one night so the need for sleep forced me to put is aside for a few hours. The story grabbed me right from the start. While this is a mafia-type story, with lines between right and wrong a bit blurred, I felt that the main characters were much more good guys than bad.

The blurb is pretty long and tells you everything you need to know about the story line. What it can't convey is how heart-pounding the action is. I was on the edge of my seat throughout most of the book. My words in this review can't possibly do justice to the story so I'm not even going to try. The many twists and turns kept me guessing and when something major was revealed I didn't see it coming. The hot-as-fire sexy time in the book wasn't bad either. 😊

While I'm probably never going to be a big fan of mafia type stories, one thing is certain: if L.A. Witt writes it, I will read it. And I can't wait to listen to the audiobook!

***Reviewed for Xtreme-Delusions dot com***

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for 2kasmom
  • 2kasmom
  • 27-05-19

Dark

Chris is an FBI agent who's job it is to infiltrate a criminal organization known as the Hive. He is just the guy for the job, as he has a very dark mind. Only problem once he is accepted in is that he falls for his boss.

Piker is supposed to be a well known and heavily guarded secret. Right away with meeting Chris he has several problems. First, his cover is blown. Second, the attraction is almost too intense. What does he do now?

This was such a fast paced and incredible story. I could not put it down. The main characters are so sexy and their sparks are seriously flying all over! The story itself is intense and even though its dark, extremely compelling. I really enjoyed the heck out of these characters and hope we see them again in further installments of this new Criminal Delights series.

The narrator, Michael Ferraiuolo, was a joy to listen to. He had good voice changes for a womans voice, was easy to tell when others were talking, and was a pleasant listen. I enjoyed the book and he made me glad I listened to the audio version.



***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for A T
  • A T
  • 17-05-19

A great story made better by a fantastic narration

Blood and Bitcoin hones in on what makes an audiobook special- taking an engaging, unique story filled with twists and suspense and making it even better with a terrific narrator. Though many of the books from the Criminal Delights series feature various authors delivering dark suspense stories, this title is more about suspense and the gray areas of the law enforcement and organized crime worlds and less sinister and twisted…making it right up my alley.

I loved the mystery of Piker, who kept me guessing with each new side of his personality or revelation about his past. His character steadily grew on me and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about him over the course of the story. I also really liked Emmett, particularly the way he developed throughout the book as he navigated unexpected feelings, alliances, and enemies. There’s a lot going on individually with each hero, which made for interesting stories on their own, let alone when you factored them together as a couple, but I loved the partnership and trust that steadily built between Emmett and Piker. Their chemistry was undeniable and although I hadn’t expected Blood and Bitcoin to contain a gay-for-you romance, it worked well within the parameters of the story. Then there’s the plot. There were a lot of details to work out in this novel, so the pace is a little slower at the start as all the pieces slot into place, particularly with the romance. However, the story was incredibly interesting and original, paying attention to all the little nuances that went into running a highly effective organized crime syndicate and creating something that captured and held my attention without fail.

And yet, as good as the cryptic characters, snappy dialogue, sexy romance, twists, and action scenes were, the narrator’s performance elevated them that much more and I found myself eager to slip away and listen to just a little more. If you are looking for a good romantic suspense and great audiobook that’s not too gory and dark, Blood and Bitcoin is exactly that.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • t
  • 13-05-19

Do not miss this book

You know, it is far more difficult to leave a raving review than a critical one.

This book is quite simply amazing. Witt wrote an engaging story with incredibly drawn characters. While I guessed at the bad guy the moment I met them, that didn't bother me. I always spot the bad guy 99.9% of the time. However, it did not take away from the story. Because Witt added on twists and turns. Witt also switched up the ending to make it incredibly unique. It was an amazing twist that brought a HUGE grin to my face.

The narrator, as always, is exceptional. Not only did he have different voices for each of the characters, he even gave Trent and Piker different voices. It took me a few times hearing Trent's voice before I figured that out. That was an amazing point of genius. (And Piker's voice? A total yum.)

I loved the twist on good vs bad in this story. That people earmarked as 'bad' had their own unique moral compass as to what that would pertain too. That the people earmarked as 'good' had their compass with a few bullet holes in it. Loved that. Because nobody is all good or all bad.

I haven't read or listened to any of the other Criminal Delights books, but this one will be a definite relisten.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Serenepw
  • Serenepw
  • 20-08-19

Excellent Read!

The story of Chris and Piker was so sensual. It was suspenseful , thriller, mystery, and more. The chemistry between these two was HOT! L.A. Witt did an excellent job. And Michael Ferraiuolo narration was off the chain. The differential between the characters' voices was amazing. He did an excellent job telling an excellent story. I highly recommend this story. Another part of a very, and I do mean very, entertaining series. ENJOY!

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Profile Image for Jovan
  • Jovan
  • 08-07-19

Not very dark, but a good story

3.75 stars

Chris Emmett, former SEAL and disgraced FBI agent, has one shot at freedom: infiltrate the Hive and figure out who is trying to kill Piker, the head of the organization. This means doing whatever it takes to get close to the enigmatic, distrustful, and cautious man. When Piker is confronted with a raving trespasser with too much knowledge about who he is and the recent threats to his criminal identity as Piker and his civilian identity as playboy Trent Worley, he is hesitant to kill him outright, but too cautious to do more than have him watched and vetted.

Given that Piker’s success in both his criminal and legitimate businesses is built on an overabundance of precaution, it’s a no-brainer that Piker and his best friend/consigliere, Natalie, want to surveil Chris within an inch of his life after he comes out of nowhere with declarations of wanting to help and protect Piker out of the goodness of his heart. But for Chris, time is not an option and making opportunities to earn enough of Piker’s trust, first get him into the Hive and then onto Piker’s personal security team, becomes his only option. However, once on the team, not only is Chris no closer to finding out who is behind the assassination attempts, but the more answers he gets, the more questions he finds. The biggest questions: who is he and who can he trust?

Overall, Blood & Bitcoin is an entertaining and enjoyable story. I really liked Piker and Chris. Piker is brilliant, mysterious, strong, funny, vindictive, tantalizing, and full of hidden depths that the story coyly hints at. Chris, however, seems like a hot mess of contradictions. On the one hand, he has the will, discipline, and focus not only to make it in the military, but to make it successfully through to become a SEAL. However, he can be almost fatally impulsive in the name of his “the ends justify the means” mentality. Impatience is definitely his Achilles’s heel, so it’s a good thing he can take an a$$-whooping. However, he’s also a loyal, brave smartass.

The first half of the book is Chris trying desperately to get Piker to trust him, while not being able to be honest with him, so of course, Piker is slow to trust. The next half deals with Chris trying to find out who put the hit on Piker, struggling with his attraction to Piker, dealing with the ramifications of some of his earlier actions, and uncovering more mysteries for every handful of answers he finds until he gets the ultimate “oh sh!t” answer with it’s inevitable fallout.

My major problem with the story is the pacing. To me, there are just one too many times where phrases, elements, or themes are repeated that seemed like filler or unnecessary repetition, slowing down the pace. Other times, particularly in the case of Piker/the Hive, it felt like it was meant to convey a menace that kept being undercut by their textual actions. For all the “coldness” and “believability” in Piker’s eyes when it comes to Chris’ belief that he will murder him, Piker’s behavior after the times he catches Chris in a lie/compromising action strains even suspension of disbelief after a while, especially given all the textual buildup to Piker’s ruthlessness/distrust. I know it’s supposed to indicate Chris’ “specialness,” but there needed to be a reckoning at least once before Chris came clean, in my opinion. To me, this is just one additional incident that the book didn’t need or might not have felt unnecessary if the pacing/editing had been tighter.

However, the narration by Michael Ferraiuolo is great. Frankly, his voice work for Chris is subtly hilarious. Chris has had this lifeline dangled in front of him only to discover once he’s on it that it’s attached to a dead, rotted tree, hanging off a cliff face, over a pit of baby vipers, and Ferraiuolo nails all the fear and frustration his FUBAR situation provokes. Piker/Trent (in my head canon “bitcoin batman”) is also great with his fabulous, airy voice to portray the carefree, party boy Trent and the seductively, danger-laced voice for Piker. Beyond his great voice work for the MCs, Ferraiuolo takes the time to make each secondary character a unique and important individual. With Witt populating her book with an array of people, like in the real world, Ferraiuolo’s talent takes it to another level; even when there are no textual “markers” per se, Ferraiuolo chooses voices that make each character easy to remember and recognizable. So even if I hadn’t heard from that character for hours, I could easily place who they were, which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially in a book this long.

Overall, I really did like the story, but pacing (especially in longer stories) just happens to be one of my pet peeves. For instance, I like slow burns and I like cat and mouse. I also don’t mind exposition heavy/info dumpy sections, but all are crucial elements of pacing and depending on how much they play a role in the plot development, they can combine to create a decent stumbling block to my overall enjoyment.

I haven’t read any of the other Criminal Delights collection of books, but it seems like a series based on ambiguity and blurred lines, and as far as reader appeal, Blood & Bitcoin will fit right in. For me, I recommend the book and I definitely recommend the audio. However, my recommendation comes with the following caveats: How morally ambiguous do you like your MCs? If you’re looking for the “twisted” of side of the Criminal Delights books, Blood & Bitcoin may not be for you unless you think a bit of voyeurism is twisted or that Chris and Piker are twisted for being thrill junkies who get off on danger. Additionally, Piker is more a grey hat than black hat if you like your MCs a bit darker. How slow do you like your burn, and do you like your heat coming from the MCs having sex with other people, including women? Can you deal with there being way less blood in your criminal delight and more corporate espionage/market manipulation, etc.?

Overall, I’m not sure how “dark” this book is, but I think it’s a very good story that a lot of people will enjoy reading and many more will love hearing.