Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review by Jodi: Running Wild by S.E. Jakes

Author: SE Jakes
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 5/5 Smooches


Embrace the danger…

Sean Rush is an adrenaline junkie. That’s why he was in the Army, why he steals and races classic muscle cars . . . and why he can’t stay away from bad boy Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant. Fortunately, Ryker can’t seem to stay away from Sean—he’s spent the last eight months breaking into Sean’s apartment and stealing into his bed, leaving Sean physically satisfied but increasingly restless.

Sean has always avoided relationships. He likes to come and go without being controlled. And Ryker is possibly the most controlling man he’s ever known. Still, he finds that he wants more from Ryker than their silent nighttime encounters.

Then one of Sean’s thefts goes bad, and Ryker’s protective instincts kick into overdrive. He takes Sean to the Havoc compound, determined to keep him safe. But Sean’s past threatens the safety of Havoc—and everything Ryker holds dear. Worse, Ryker’s hiding secrets of his own. Soon it’s obvious that the adrenaline rush can’t keep them together anymore. But maybe love can.


“He pushed all my limits. Had from day one but this . . . this was new. Exciting. And scary as hell.
--Sean Rush

Caution: Reading this book may make readers fall in love with outlaw, badass bikers and adrenaline junkie car thieves. There are no two ways about it. This book is hot: steam coming from the pages hot. The characters are captivating, the plot is intense and the interactions between the characters are engaging and mind boggling. In other words, this is a typical SE Jakes book.

To make this book more intriguing, Running Wild is narrated by main character Sean Rush, so the reader is fixed to the facts from Sean’s point of view. This tactic gives the book an added dimension as Sean tries to come to grips to what is happening in his life as he tries to work through his thoughts, feelings and observations. In other words, reality is relative to what Sean perceives it to be.

It has been a long time since Sean Rush felt anything. The man is a bit of an enigma: Army veteran, tough guy, car thief, brawler, adrenaline junkie, loyal friend and, surprisingly, a romantic. Sean appears to be a crossroads. His recent release from the Army has him looking for his place in the world. He, along with his two best friends and fellow car thieves, Noah and Billy, joined the Army and wound up in Afghanistan to avoid going to jail. Only Noah and Sean make it out of the desert alive.

Sean likes to push boundaries, and he and Noah like to get into trouble. For Sean, stealing cars and drag racing fulfills an inherent need. It is all about the thrill. Both Sean and Noah suffer from PTSD, and Noah turns back to stealing cars, while Sean, without realizing it, gets what he needs from starting fights and from having hot, mind blowing, exhausting sex. That is until he starts stealing cars again.

Sean has fallen into a “relationship” with a member of the local motorcycle club, Havoc. Ryker is sexy, powerful and mysterious, and he has been breaking into Sean’s house on a regular basis for the last eight months.

Every single time he broke into my house, I had to convince myself it wasn’t a dream. I never knew when he’d show, couldn’t plan for the times he’d yank the sheet off me before the mattress shifted under his weight. His hands were big and rough on my bare back, and when he flipped me over and skimmed between my legs, that heated rough on my cock was heaven.

So was the big, hot body on mine.

I didn’t know if I should be stopping it. But why would I? Hot sex, no commitment. Hell, no talking. Most of the time just a soundtrack of classic rock, punctuated mostly by the Grateful Dead, which made the whole thing so goddamned hot. It was the perfect nonrelationship for a guy like me, since my lifestyle was completely nonconducive to relationships.

But this guy wasn’t just any guy. No one in my twenty-four years had ever had the balls to pull this kind of break-and-enter shit with me. I was impressed. Fascinated.

He was a shadow. I was used to moving through places unnoticed, but even though he had it down to an art form, he definitely wanted to be noticed when he came into my bed. And he was strong. Stronger than I was, which was no easy feat.

He was tattooed. Always bore a couple of bite marks after we finished. I couldn’t help myself—I liked the idea of leaving my mark, but then, I was always hoarse the mornings after he visited, so I guess we were even.

He liked to study me in that brief space of time postsex before I crashed. I could see the appreciation in his dark eyes, and it made me squirm. He’d notice that I was somewhere between embarrassed and enjoyment, and he’d chuckle, low and husky, and that made my cock hard. Again.

I wanted to ask him why the hell he kept breaking in, but I didn’t. It was obvious to me—he wanted to fuck. And I was acquiescing when I normally wouldn’t have. I liked control, all types, all the time. But during these visits, it didn’t matter.

He made me dizzy. Pliant. Incoherent.

I could tell he liked me that way. Expected it.

Jakes is a master of grabbing the reader by the throat and not letting go, and she has done it again with Running Wild. This is the first book in a new series, and readers are left wanting more about these eclectic characters: Sean, Ryker, Casey, Jethro, Linc and Sweet. There is a thin line between good guys and bad guys in this book. Jakes likes to keep readers on the edge of their seats as she slowly reveals the facts and deepens the characters through expert development and plot manipulation.

At the beginning of the book, Noah is the only person who Sean truly trusts, but after helping Noah with a job and almost dying in the process, Sean realizes that Noah may not be trustworthy.

As the relationship between Sean and Ryker intensifies, the tension between Sean and Noah increases. Sean is not sure who to trust. Between Billy’s brother, Officer McKibbins, tightening the reigns and Sean learning the truth about what Havoc does, the plot thickens and the tension crescendos. McKibbins blames Sean for his brother’s life of crime and death. And, in true survivor guilt mode, Sean owns some of that guilt.

      Despite Sean’s actions and words, it seems clear that he wants the relationship he has with Ryker to be about more than sex. But, Sean doesn’t do relationships, and he believes the only reason Ryker keeps coming back is for the sex. Ryker always leaves after the sex, until, of course, he doesn’t. Sean isn’t even sure that it all isn’t a dream … accept for the roses.

And, like he knew, the delivery guy grinned when he said, “Flowers for Sean Rush,” because obviously he thought it was great that I’d gotten them. Again.

Noah grabbed the big box—bigger than normal—and pushed me out of the way to put it on the table. I tipped the delivery guy by lifting Noah’s wallet from his back pocket and taking a couple of bucks, then pointed him to the door. It was only fair since Noah was already opening the box, demanding, “Who the fuck’s sending you long-stemmed roses? The chick from last night?”

Thankfully, there was still no card. Hell, I still didn’t need one. Ryker was sending them. They came every morning after he made me come. Anyone might think he was courting me, but I knew better. The fucker had to be making fun of me. Didn’t stop me from letting him into my bed though. “Long story. And fine, Bertha’s tonight.”

“You’re just saying that to get rid of me.” Noah smirked as he turned one of the roses in his fingers—this time there were eight roses instead of the usual single one. He touched a thorn and hissed when it pricked him. “Someone’s into you.”

“Yeah, right,” I muttered, walked to the counter, and started cracking the eggs, badly, because I knew he’d intervene.

He did, putting the rose down in the box with the others. “What do you mean, ‘Yeah, right’? In the real world, red roses mean serious business.”

I wasn’t living in the real world. I was sucked into a dream world where a man too big to move as silently as he did broke into my house, and I did nothing to stop him. I was actively encouraging it with my silence.

Despite the fact that Sean seems enamored with Ryker, Noah doesn’t trust the man or Havoc. Noah seems to care about what happens to Sean, but there is an underlying uncertainty presented to the reader regarding Noah’s true motivations.

Noah’s tone softened. “Rush, come on. I just think you’re putting too much into this. He’s having fun. He liked the chase, but once he caught you . . .”

No more flowers.

Noah continued, “I think you’re confusing sex and love, Rush, and you’re the last person who should be. You’ve never trusted very easily, so why now, with him? I mean, look, you’re talking Havoc here. Even for you, that’s extreme.”

I stared at the open road and, for the first time, fully realized that maybe I couldn’t trust my best friend. I hated him for that, wanted to hate Ryker more for opening my eyes to it, but I couldn’t. He’d been trying to protect me.

But I couldn’t discount what Noah was saying either. “Ryker knows things about me.”

      Ryker holds a prominent position in Havoc, and although the other gang members do not seem to have a problem with Ryker being gay, they are not all thrilled with his relationship with Sean. Sean has a bit of a reputation in the community, and the bikers know all about his stealing cars. Jakes does a fabulous job with her descriptions of Ryker and by using the showing not telling method to unravel his feelings for Sean.

The way he looked at me made the world still. All the noise, the bullshit, stopped cold. He was all I wanted to focus on. Everything else fell away until it was just the beating of my goddamned heart, and he’d snuck in there when I wasn’t looking. When I was being too dense to notice, and he’d known it the entire time. Known and waited, semipatiently, until I’d discovered it.

His hand traveled along my side, the way it always did, slid under my arm, then settled, palm open, fingers splayed over my left side, fitting against the slope of my ribcage. He studied his hand and my skin intently, and now I realized he’d been doing that since our second night together.

His hand seemed to fit there, perfectly. I didn’t question why he did it. It was one of those things where, if I mentioned it, he might stop doing it.

Once his hand settled into its spot, my eyelids got heavy. His arm slung over me. An anchor. I slept, even though I didn’t want to.
When I woke, he was gone.

Jakes likes to blur the lines between good and bad in her books, and she expertly does this in Running Wild. The characters and plot are captivating. Since this is the first book in a series, the HEA is understated.  Jakes uses a grittiness in this book that lends to the realism and intensifies the relationship between these characters and the rawness of the plot. Jakes’ characters are multi-dimensional, strong, vulnerable, and very skillfully flawed. As in her other books, the genuiness of the characters is revealed through subtle character actions and dialogue, which makes this book a great read.

Thank you SE Jakes and Riptide Publishing for providing a review copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

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