Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Sean Rush is a mess and he knows it. Born from a union between a sociopathic killer and a mother hooked on drugs and sex, Sean escaped his violent home life with his two best friends and their mutual love of cars. Too bad that included stealing cars and street racing them. Hauled before a judge atfter being caught, Sean and his friends chose the Army over jail and went to war. But that just piled more bad issues on top of a heap of bone deep problems Sean carries within him.
Now out of the Army, Sean’s energies are looking for an outlet and finds it at Bertha’s, a Havoc MC hangout. Trouble finds Sean in the form of Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant, a bad boy among bad boys. A gorgeous hot man, Ryker represents everything Sean wants and should stay away from. And not only does Sean want Ryker but Ryker wants him as well. Bad enough to break into Sean’s apartment night after night for 8 months for the best sex of Sean’s life. The problem is that Sean is starting to want more from Ryker and Sean doesn’t do relationships even if Ryker does. This leaves Sean feeling scared, edgy and more stressed out than ever.
Then his best friend Noah calls. Noah’s in bad trouble and needs Sean’s help to steal an expensive car to save Noah’s hide. Things go from bad to disastrous almost immediately. It’s Ryker who saves Sean but that act puts the Havoc MC and Ryker in danger. Cracks and crevices are appearing everywhere on the road ahead for Sean and happiness, including a relationship and love with Ryker. But first Sean has to save Noah, outrun the thugs after them, steal a few cars and maybe, just maybe save himself along the way.
Just the name S.E. Jakes is enough for me to buy a book. Jake’s stable of bruised, and damaged men always make for a memorable read and absorbing tale as her characters fight for love and a future for themselves and their lovers. You can count on their journey being a hard one, full of illegalities, covert operations and bloody fights. Running Wild, the first in Jakes new Havoc series, falls definitely along those standards for an S.E. Jakes action romance, starting with her main character and story narrator, Sean Rush.
What a perfect name for a character on the run from his past, his pain, and his desires. Sean is in a rush to get somewhere if only he knew where he was going. Sean’s is a voice of a man in constant pain and confusion. He fights against his impulses to steal and the adrenaline rush it provides. He fights against a need for love and stability, falling back on his old friends whose decision making processes are no better than his. Really, Sean is just one pretty mess of a man in need of help and more. The choice of making Sean Rush the “voice” of her story is a risky one. If you love Sean or can at least commiserate with a man haunted by his abusive background and how it impacted his teenage/adult years, then you are going to love this story. On the flip side, if you find that unapologetic thieves that keep making the same mistake over and over unappealing, then Running Wild will make you want to run the other way.
Much like Sean, I think it will be a love him or leave him attitude here for all readers. For me, I remain a little ambivalent about the character of Sean. Every part of Sean’s life is a sinkhole of problems. A father in jail for murder, guilt and PTSD over his Army experiences, a compulsion to steal that lies close to the surface, and a loyalty to a few who keep pulling him back into the world of thugs and car thefts. Sean is a realistically crafted character that you will want to shake some sense into at least every five minutes or so. He is that person you care about but are not sure you want to let him into your home. A little of him goes a long way and when he is the narrator of the story that becomes an impossibility. What saves Sean and the reader is the arrival of Ryker, a Havoc Motorcycle Club lieutenant who falls hard for Sean perhaps to the club’s detriment and his own.
Ryker is tender, brutal, and unwaveringly loyal to a club that took him in and raised him. Ryker made the story for me and he made Sean palatable. I have to admit that I would have loved viewing this story through Ryker’s eyes instead of Sean’s. Both came from turbulent, abusive backgrounds. Ryker was saved and Sean was not. That fact dictated the manner in which each boy developed, again another realistic plot choice from Jakes. But Sean’s voice is so out of control, so wild that he needs Ryker to rein him in narratively speaking and we don’t get enough of that control here. But what we get of Ryker, the Havoc MC family and his tenuous relationship with Sean smoothes out the clatter enough to make this a really enjoyable story.
Noah is a terrific side character as is Sweet, Casey, Jethro and others. Many, many others as there are two motorcycle clubs in town to deal with here. The love and rush of stealing and racing cars comes across perfectly. I totally got the appreciation of a finely crafted machine and the need to take it to its limits on the road (I am a fan of Top Gear British Edition after all). That element is telegraphed in scenes and descriptions that pulls in the reader and makes them understand the nature of Sean and Noah’s obsession with cars. Loved that about Running Wild!
Aside from Noah, I think my other real issue with Running Wild is that S.E. Jakes had a huge list of elements she wanted to include in this story in order to set the stage for her series. By trying to tie in numerous plot points, multiple complications from the characters pasts, side storylines that vied for top billing with the main plot…after a while it just felt a tad too ambitious and a little overwhelming for this story and characters. They have a lot thrown at them while already dealing with a plethora of pain and problems that would drown a superhero. At one point, I wanted to wave a flag to slow the action down and sort out the who, what and where. No matter, S.E. Jakes pulls it all together at the end for a resounding ending with a touch of the supernatural thrown in. I did say there were a ton of elements here didn’t I? That includes a supernatural or haunted hill with a mind of its own.
So. Running Wild and the Havoc MC series. Do I recommend it? Yes. It’s exciting, fast paced, and gripping. It may drive you a little nuts at times as will Sean. But stick with the story, finish the race with them and enjoy the outcome and the winner’s lap. See what I did there? Blame Top Gear!
Aside from Ryker and Sean, there are a number of characters I want to see get their HEA or at least HFN. So I will be waiting for the next Havoc story to arrive, along with new installments from the other S.E. Jakes series I am hooked on. If bad boys on bikes and sexy, angsty tales of love are your thing, grab up a copy of Running Wild and start reading. Let me know what you think of Sean and Ryker. Happy Trails!
Cover art by L.C. Chase. Love the cover and the motorcycle. Feel the need for a little Steppenwolf coming on…”like smoke and lightnin’,Heavy metal thunder,Racing in the wind, And the feeling that I’m under…”*
ebook, 280 pages
Published June 28th 2014 by Riptide Publishing