Review: Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water #1) by S.E. Jakes

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Catch a Ghost coverTom Boudreaux, ex- FBI agent,  and full time Cajun trouble maker, is wondering why Phil Butler of Extreme Escapes, LTD is offering him a job.  Tom has nothing but failures in his past, including 2 ex partners and agencies that never want to see him again.  But when Phil and EE, Inc. offers him one last chance at redemption he takes it, hoping that his bad luck has come to an end. Then he meet his new partner, Prophet Drews, and realizes it is only beginning.

Prophet Drews, former Navy Seal, former CIA agent and all around genius at chaos, has just been assigned another partner yet again. Then he meets Tom, and recognizes that the Cajun represents all kinds of trouble for him.  Tom is sexy, tough, scarred, and psychic.  He is new to the type of  field work EE requires still Prophet agrees if only for a short time. Why?  Because Tom is fighting some powerful personal demons and that’s something Prophet knows everything about as he has armies of his own to fight, as well as PTSD and a medical diagnosis that can’t be changed.

When a person close to Prophet is killed in underground cage match, Tom and Prophet infiltrate the illegal world of cage fighting to find the killers and the reason behind his friend’s murder.  But the investigation is far more complicated than anyone anticipated, putting not just Prophet and Tom’s lives in danger but their partnership as well.  The most difficult obstacle for both is the fighting the combustable attraction they feel for each other.  But when the investigation pulls them in to a dangerous trap , can Tom and Prophet  fight past their inner demons and learn to trust each other enough to save themselves?

Catch a Ghost is one hell of a wild ride!  SE Jakes creates her own espionage agency, ExtremeEscapes LTD and fills it with damaged, alluring men unable to fight their own demons let alone the attraction they feel for their partners within the agency.  In Catch a Ghost, agent Prophet Drews is matched up with newly hired Tom Boudreaux, an angry, damaged Cajun with two dead partners and two law enforcement jobs behind him.  Neither man is good at relationships, thinking their damaged history and inner demons put them out of bounds for anything other than a quick sexual encounter.

Now I am going to admit I am new to SE Jakes.  I found this author through her latest release Dirty Deeds and am now working my way back through her stories and the Hell or High Water universe.  But between Catch a Ghost and Dirty Deeds, I am a fully hooked fan.  SE Jakes gets it exactly right with her gripping stories of the secretive world of spies and the spied upon, the hunted and the hunters.

Each genre has its own special pitfalls that an author must overcome to achieve a textured, multidimensional story.  In historical fiction,(in my opinion, the hardest genre to write well), its accuracy about the time period the story is set in, attention to detail from clothes to laws, dialog and atmosphere.  With  espionage and action/spy stories, it’s the ability to maintain a certain level of tension as well as creating anxiety concerning  the main character(s) well being, a complex, and intelligent plot that keeps the reader guessing about, well, everything, and a credibility that extends through the operatives and the agencies they are working for as well as the villains of the storyline.  The author has to get the guns, explosives, tech talk, vehicles, and even torture methods accurate in order for us to find the story plausible as well as spellbinding. And then with a solid framework established, the author needs to create memorable characters and a mission to build the plot around.  SE Jakes achieves all of that here.

Starting with Prophet Drews, and his partner, Tom Boudreaux, Jakes makes both men equal yet separate in personal demons that haunt them and abusive family backgrounds.  With chaos swirling around them at all times, some of it self induced, these men need to be able to understand each other intimately in order for their attraction to be something other than just the rut of the moment.

Throughout the story, the author feeds small morsels of information about each man and their past to the readers as well as the characters themselves.  Like the tiny food trails of Hansel and Gretel, these tasty tidbits lead us to a more complete portrait of each person, filling in their history in order to make their present state of mind understandable and something we can relate to.  It’s done through their scars (acquired on the job and by their family), its accomplished through Tom’s tats and piercings as well as Prophet’s reoccurring nightmares and flashbacks.  Jakes descriptions of Prophet in the throes of a hellish flashback are vivid and emotionally devastating.  We are there in as Prophet battles his past and his inability to tell whether he is in a dream hell or reality.  It’s scary and it feels real.  Tom and Prophet are incredible characters, ones that make the reader invest emotionally in their safety and sanity.

What an adrenaline high Jakes puts us and her characters through.    The plot moves along swiftly, dipping and twisting through multiple curves and unforeseen dangers.  Jakes writing is both stylish and dynamic. Each scene is gripping, full of life, whether the men are wrestling each other in a sexual frenzy or pounding a enemy while mentally lost in the past.  Catch a Ghost is a real old fashioned page turner and it ends as it should, in doubt and uncertainty. This may not please everyone but it works here.

Is this a romance?  Not really.  The men, their past, and the plot are far too complex for that designation.  There is an attraction, a sexual pull between Tom and Prophet that might turn into something more if given a chance.  But this story is about the past, theirs, and the agency that they work for.  It also starts each man along a path of self discovery. The author is setting the stage for the next in the series Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water, #2).  That said, this is still a completely realized novel.  To have ended this story in any other manner would have been a negation of all the author has created, including the main characters.  The men have a lot of issues to work through, not the least of which is trust.  Plus there are layers to every operation and a past mission whose disastrous outcome continues to reverberate through the present events and Prophet’s actions.  This story is packed full of great things.  Pick it up, enjoy the wild ride while we wait for the next book to appear.  Consider this highly recommended.

Cover art by LC Chase.  This cover is strong, dramatic and intriguing.  You just have to know more about the person and the story behind that tat.  A winner in every aspect.

Books in the Hell or High Water series in the order they were written and should be read to fully understand the characters and events:

Catch a Ghost (Hell or High Water #1)
Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water, #2)

Related series:

Dirty Deeds (Dirty Deeds #1)

Book Details:

Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 13th 2013 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 7th 2013)
original title Catch A Ghost
ISBN 1626490392 (ISBN13: 9781626490390)
edition language English

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