Title: Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water #1)
Author: SE Jakes
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: Victoria Colotta
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller
Length: Novel (65 kWords, 250 pdf pages)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary: A whirlwindish, gritty, intense, and deeply passionate hell of a story.
Warning: Contains graphic violence
The Blurb: Everyone knows that Prophet Drews—former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass—works alone and thinks only about the trouble he can cause. But his boss, Phil Butler of Extreme Escapes, LTD., has just assigned Proph not only a new partner but also a case haunted by ghosts from Proph’s past. Suddenly, he’s got to confront them both head on.
Tom Boudreaux—failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full time believer in bad luck—is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job. Still he’s determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE’s most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, and even though the case is also resurrecting his own painful past.
Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches, while fighting their own dangerous attraction. And when they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners are forced to trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.
The Review: This book is the first in a series centered around EE (Extreme Escapes, Ltd.), a mercenary agency that specializes in black-op-type missions, and let me say in advance, wow, what a furious start.
(There’s another book out that’s set in the same universe, the self-published Free Falling (reviewed here) which was actually more of a spin-off than a prequel to Catch a Ghost, and the “Hell and High Water”- Series is also loosely connected to this author’s “Men of Honor” series.) But enough of the preamble-ramble now.
Ah, Prophet and Tommy. Even though I’ve only just met them, I wouldn’t hesitate to mention them in the same breath with other, longer-known famous “I-hate-you-but-I-love-you” warrior pairings like Ty and Zane, Vadim and Dan, Lucky and Bo…. However, Prophet and Tommy are second to none of them, not regarding their complexity, nor their hauntedness, vulnerability, cruelty, determination, what have you. And did I mention they’re both sexy as hell? And yet, they’re unique.
Definitely high addictiveness here.
Both Prophet and Tommy don’t want a partner. Prophet already has one–kind of, as he keeps seing his former lover and partner’s ghost. Who, unfortunately, is rather mouthy and never shy to share his opinion. Besides, Prophet doesn’t need a partner by principle, he’s strong enough to handle anything on his own. Or so he thinks. His boss at EE, Phil, thinks differently, which is why Prophet finds himself assigned to work with EE newbie Tom Boudreaux of Cajun stock, who has the audacity to not only be irresistibly attractive, pierced and inked, but also manages to prove himself worthy of Proph’s respect. Professionally, they make a great match despite their constant squabbling. And once they cross the line from fighting to fucking, Prophet has to realize that in bed, they fit even better. From professional communion and physical closeness grows something that at some point far exceeds erotic attraction, and Prophet, to his terror, finds himself falling for his partner. But he can’t get attached, for a variety of reasons, not the last of which is that he can barely handle himself. Imposing all his baggage on a partner who has already enough of a cross to bear would destroy both of them in the end, wouldn’t it? All the more reason to run for the hills.
Tommy’s reasons for not wanting a partner are different from Proph’s, but no less strong. All his life, Tommy has been considered bad luck, and has had the proof of this matter handed to him many times over. He carries the guilt of feeling responsible for his former partner’s death and the weight of rejection which he experienced so often in the past. The demons Tommy has to deal with are not only inside his head, he is literally cursed, and he firmly believes in the latter. Not only because he has some kind of sixth sense that makes him able to predict problems, and not only because he is prone to losing his temper-and in a deadly spectacular way to booth. The more he finds himself caring for Prophet, the more he fears for him, until he feels that the only way to keep Prophet safe is leaving him. Or is it?
Those two seem so different, but they’re more alike than they realize. It’s clear that they need each other to heal, that in fact they are the only ones who can do that for each other, but of course they’re both too stubborn to see that. What I loved best with this story was the fact that it wasn’t the miscommunication thing at work here–these two talk. Granted, not so much about their feelings, but enough to know what the other one’s deal is. Of course, the romance has some of the old “he’s better off without me, I need to leave him because I love him” to it, but this is amazingly done here, so well in fact, that I barely realized it. It’s inevitable; the outcome is fimly rooted in both men’s personalities.
The actual plot, a mix of spy thriller and action movie with a bit of crime novel thrown in, was fast paced and page-turningly thrilling, if frayed all over the place with loose ends everywhere. Forgiveable, though, since this is the beginning of a series. As for the characterizations, there are so many hints at more secrets and hidden truths with both Tommy and Prophet, not to mention the introduction of Prophet’s sort-of friend, mysterious Cillian. Those two (and Cilian) aren’t done, not by a long shot, there’s a lot of story left to tell, and I can barely wait for the series to continue.
As far as I’m concerned, this is the best SE Jakes has ever written and a must-read for fans of the author. For anyone else, if you’re a fan of deeply wounded heroes; strong, sexy, hard-headed manly men (there’s LOTS of HOT sex in this book!); action and fighting and shit blowing up–then go for this book, you can’t go wrong.
Though, if you mind stories breaking off in the middle and leaving you high and dry as much as I do, you might want to wait until the second book comes out.
Catch a Ghost will release from Riptide Publishing on September 9, 2013.
(The sequel, Long time Gone, will be out on October 28, 2013)