Rating: 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4 stars out of 5
When your past closes in, running isn’t always an option.
Cole Jacobs left behind his old life on the streets to make a name for himself rebuilding high-end vintage cars and bikes. That life had almost cost him his soul, even now Cole’s not sure that he can heal the damage done by selling himself to stay alive. He’s just happy to be out of the lifestyle and have a job he does well and enjoys. But Cole’s feeling of safety and contentment is short lived when he’s slipped a piece of paper at work that threatens him and all he has worked for.
A stalker has come to town looking for Cole and now he has found him. And Cole doesn’t know where to turn for help.
Ex soldier, ex CIA agent Marcus Lowry now works for Phoenix, Inc. Investigations. The owners are ex agents like himself and the cases are normally quick and easy. Plus they don’t give him the nightmares his days as a CIA operative did. Until Marcus is given Cole’s case and Cole as a client. Cole pushes many of his issues of trust and betrayal as well as raising feelings of attraction and possibly love that Marcus has tamped down.
Cole sees in Marcus the same type of man that used to buy him on the street and the clashes of temperaments and emotions come quick and fast, as fast as their lust for each other.
Then the first attempt on Cole’s life almost kills them both and its time for all the secrets to come out and issues to be dealt with if Marcus is to stop a killer as well trained as himself.
I love SE Jakes and her pantheon of hardcore, damaged, sometimes lethal men. No Boundaries is the first in her new series, Phoenix, Inc, a private investigative service run by three lovers, Styx, Law and Paulo whose story is told in SE Jakes’ Men of Honor series.
No Boundaries introduces us to Marcus Lowry, a new agent and ex CIA op. Marcus is a bundle of issues, including PSTD. He has nightmares over his last tour, his usually spot on ability to detect those lying to him or cons isn’t working and the stress is burning him out. So his bosses figure what he needs is to take on Cole Jacobs, another damaged man, as a client, who just might kickstart Marcus back to life.
Law, Styx and Paulo know Cole as the mechanic who fixes their bikes and cars but Styx also recognizes in Cole someone who carries the same pain and scars as two of them. Jakes writes damaged men especially well. It doesn’t seem to matter what age her characters are or what injury has been done to them, each of them (whether its 24 years old Cole or seasoned vet 35 year old Marcus) comes off as a real, albeit troubled, person.
Law, Styx, and Paulo also come across as fully realized, although it certainly helps to know their backstory as I do. For this series to completely work as a standalone series (outside of the Men of Honor, Hell or High Water and other interrelated series), more of their history needs to be included for the reader coming in without any prior knowledge.
Cole and Marcus’ shift into a relationship is hot, fast, and always on shaky ground. Each man has so many secrets and issues that make a firm foundation for any relationship close to impossible or believable. Both spend an inordinate amount of time either running or wanting to run away as much as they want to run towards each other. Their heated arguments go hand in hand (snicker) with their sexual hookups. I bought into their relationship completely…up until the end. That was the only segment that didn’t feel real considering everything that went before.
The only other issue I had here, outside of the unrealistic ending, was what happened with the stalker. I loved the tension and suspense that SE Jakes brought to the whole stalking situation. She easily made her case that this person posed a deadly threat to them all, and she kept us on our toes as we waited for the stalker to make the next move, one that was always unanticipated. Until the end. Then the story rushes to a quick resolution and then onward to an ending that felt more tacked on then part of the story I just read. Had this ended more as a HFN, that would have been more in character than the HEA it seemed to be. Some readers will be overjoyed at this ending and wondering what I am going on about, but these damaged men can’t be smoothed out that easily and remain authentic, at least to me.
Those issues aside, this is one hot, sexy story. And its full of hardcore, experienced men who have had more than their share of pain, regret, and loss. When they find the one or ones that fulfill them, you can help but get on board and share in the joy, love, and yes, lots of hot sex. I can’t wait for the next book in the series and see what happens next. I do know that it will be explosive, sexy and full of compelling men. That’ll keep me coming back for more and more and more.
Cover Artist Angelique Anderson. The cover is hot, although that torso is more in keeping with Marcus then Cole.
Sales Links: Samhain Publishing All Romance (ARe) Amazon Buy It Here
ebook, 187 pages
Published November 4th 2014 by Samhain Publishing
original titleNo Boundaries
seriesPhoenix, Inc. #1
charactersCloe Jacobs, Marcus Lowry