Bound for Keeps (Men of Honor #5)

Author: S.E. Jakes
Cover Artist: Angela Waters
Amazon: Bound for Keeps (Men of Honor)

Genre: Contemporary M/M/M, BDSM (light), Military
Length: Novel/224 print pages
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Review Summary: Can a third fit within an established relationship between two men and feel loved? Read Shane’s story and find out.

The Blurb

They can’t deny the attraction…or the danger…

Men of Honor, Book 5

Since losing their beloved third to cancer, Keith Masters and Johnny Lou Reed haven’t thought about filling the void in their lives with anyone else. Until a stormy Christmas Eve, when a half-frozen, newly discharged Army Ranger shows up on their doorstep—with no memory of who he is or how he got there.

The former Marine in Keith is suspicious that he can’t turn up any information about Shane anywhere, not even an address. Direct questioning will have to wait until they’ve gotten the boy well.

Shane knows it’s only a matter of time before Keith and Reed figure out his past. And when they learn the depth and the darkness of the secrets he holds, he could get them all killed.

In the heat of the dark winter nights, the three men discover a passion that heals the gaping wounds in their hearts. And Shane wonders, despite the danger hot on his heels, how he will ever bear to leave…

Warning: Contains secrets, undercover operations and three hot, alpha military men who can set a cold winter night on fire.

The Review

Bound for Keeps is book 5 in the Men of Honor series. Keith Masters and Johnny Lou Reed had been together for 8 years in a committed relationship. Their third Bobby, Keith’s former commanding officer, had been his lover since he was 21 but he passed away a year ago from pancreatic cancer, 14 years into their relationship. Reed had shown up at their door on Christmas Eve 8 years ago and never left.

This year on Christmas Eve, in what seemed like a replay of what happened 8 years ago, Shane stumbled to their door, frozen, suffering from hypothermia, pneumonia, and hurting from either bruised or cracked ribs. Reed was a doctor so he took care of Shane with Keith’s help, but as soon as the guys went to bed he tried to escape despite being very ill, because he didn’t want to lead a murderer to Reed’s and Keith’s home. Of course Keith found him and brought him back to the house, but the additional exposure to the elements made his pneumonia worse and this set his recovery back several more weeks.

Weeks later his past was still a mystery to the men who were beginning to care for him, and it looked like those feelings were mutual. It was only when Shane woke up, screaming, in the middle of the night that Keith and Reed were able to piece together some of his past, but he still wasn’t talking. In the meantime everyone tried to resist their burgeoning attraction for different reasons: Reed and Keith were still getting over Bobby’s passing and also they didn’t trust Shane who knew he was on borrowed time and couldn’t stay.

From my perspective I thought that some parts of the book were more “telling”  than “showing”  For example, I would have liked to see a bit of  Keith’s evolution from 21 years of age to the man he had become at 35 rather than being told about it. I felt there was a need to bring readers up to speed on the history of the various characters in view of the length of Bobby’s and Keith’s relationship and the  threesome with Reed (14 and 8 years respectively), but I thought that their backstories could have been handled differently rather than always as flashbacks.

The plot for Bound for Keeps pits the MCs against a villain who is several steps ahead of them at every turn and they have to use all of their expertise and training to stay alive and outwit him. Shane had made it his #1 priority to hunt down and kill the man who murdered his former lover Kyle in cold blood, but he is cunning and it would take their combined resources to outwit him before he killed again. There was enough plot to keep me interested even though I didn’t feel that the action scenes were as intense as those in the other books.

The characters were well drawn. Keith and Reed were very much in love and comfortable with each other and it showed; in addition, they worked together as mercenaries on dangerous missions which built a lot of trust and cemented their feelings for each other. I thought that Shane showed the most growth and he continued to surprise me. A potential relationship with two men, something he had never imagined, took a lot of time to resolve in his mind as he didn’t want to come between Keith and Reed nor did he want to be a third wheel. As a reader who likes M/M/M romances because I’m interested in how the author resolves the emotional issues in a relationship with three men, especially how the characters deal with anger, hurt, feeling left out, jealousy, etc. I thought that S.E. Jakes did a really good job with the guys’ characterization, which made me believe that they could have a lasting relationship..

Now for the bad news. I have a few criticisms about this book and the main one is a scene between Bobby and Keith which happened 14 years ago while Bobby was Keith’s commanding officer. In this scene Bobby basically kidnapped Keith and had sex with him while he was restrained. I don’t know how you feel about it but I thought this was unprofessional and potentially career suicide so I asked someone who had been in the military for her opinion. Here’s what she said:

“What Bobby did would and SHOULD get him booted out the Marines. It’s called sexual harassment. He kidnaps one of his troops that he is supervising, ties him up and has sex with him. Keith was not able to give consent at first. Plus, Marines are wrapped way too tight to kidnap some Marine they aren’t sure wouldn’t bring him up on charges…. Get caught screwing a subordinate, you are gone. Good-bye career and pension. Throw out the fact both are men, but no officer I served with in a position of power over their soldiers would ever act like this.”

Of course this is fiction and some readers may feel that the scene is smoking hot and don’t care how unrealistic it is, but for me even fiction should give a tip of the hat to the real world. As Tom Clancy said “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense”

A lesser concern, and maybe I’m the only reader who feels this way, is that there’s a sameness to the BDSM scenes in the series, and the spanking, which is a staple of Ms Jakes’ BDSM tricks of the trade, has become old (for me anyway). Also, BDSM as temporary relief for PTSD? Doesn’t make sense to me, but perhaps it’s not supposed to.

Each book in this series can be read as a standalone but if you like hurt/comfort stories and books about men in the military/special ops/the alphabet agencies etc. then you should look into this series. If you don’t read M/M/M you should skip this book and Bound by Law. All of the stories (except for book 6 Bound to Break), were reviewed on this site. Book 1, Bound by Honor was reviewed by Cole here; I reviewed books 2, Bound by Law; and 3, Ties That Bind. and Lasha reviewed book 4. Bound by Danger.