Review: Long Time Gone (Hell or High Water #2) by S.E. Jakes

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When a tornado meets a volcano, nothing is safe.

Long Time Gone coverAfter their last “off the grid” mission was finished, Tom Boudreaux was given a choice of partners,  Cope or Prophet.  Tom chose Cope thinking that he would keep Prophet safe by removing him from Tom’s bad luck.  But now three months later Tom’s decision has brought him nothing but regret.  Regret and a constant anxiety over Prophet’s whereabouts and  safety as Prophet has left EE Ltd and no one is sure of his whereabouts.

When Tom Boudreaux walked away from him and their partnership, Prophet realized two things.  One that he no longer wanted to work alone, and secondly he had just let the man he wanted walk out of his life.  After Tom left, he wrote Prophet emails, including one that asked him for a personal favor, never sure if the man would get them.  He did.  And now Prophet is heading to New Orleans to see Della, Tom’s aunt,  to make sure she stays safe as a hurricane approaches.

Fearing for his aunt’s safety as a hurricane bears down on New Orleans, Tom disobeys his employer’s orders and leaves for his old home town and an explosive reunion with Prophet, a man he hasn’t been able to forget.  The horror that is Tom’s past rises up around them along with the flooding bayou waters bringing alligators, murder, and old enemies to the surface. Tom and Prophet must fight not only to stay together but for their lives as well.

SE Jakes has done it again! Long Time Gone, the 2nd book in the Hell or High Water series, is one sexy, tumultuous, and action-packed roller-coaster of a novel.  A Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Spy Hunt for adults and it couldn’t be more satisfying.  With  Tom Boudreaux and Prophet Drews, Jakes has added to her pantheon of complicated, conflicted Alphas intensely connected by their pasts as well as professions as spies and covert ops.  These are tough, wary, secretive warriors.  So it makes sense to make these men (and us) work hard to establish any sort of realistic relationship, if one is possible.

As Catch A Ghost ended, we saw Tom accept a new partner, walking away from Prophet and their intense relationship.Three months have passed since that event and things can’t be more different for both men.  Tom is bored out of his skull, buried in a job he doesn’t want with a partner who is making him crazy.  He is missing Prophet so deeply that he is writing the man emails he isn’t sure Prophet will ever receive.  Why?  Because the man has disappeared and even those closest to him are unable to find him.  Prophet left EE, Ltd, their agency after a fight with their boss.  And now he wanders the globe on his own dangerous missions that by their varying nature send pointed messages to the security agencies around the world.  These men are coming to a crossroads and it will take a hurricane to set them back on the path together.

The world is familiar with the impact a hurricane can have on the City of New Orleans and it’s surrounding parishes.  So it definitely works to bring the reader immediately into the setting for this novel by bringing this natural disaster back to life in the same place where Katrina left so much devastation and death.  It lays an emotional, knowledgeable base for the actions that follow and the choice of New Orleans, with its fantastic mix of voodoo and beignets, of alligators and corruption, is the perfect stage for a story where “the seventh son of a seventh son”, and a man named Prophet will reunite to deal with Tom’s demons, ones that have haunted him from birth, just as a new hurricane bears down on a town familiar with disasters of every kind, natural and man made.

With the hurricane coming, and New Orleans as the setting, Jakes has all the elements she needs to create a story wide ranging in emotions, explosive in actions and incendiary in the sexual heat generated by  Tom and Prophet, really this story has it all.  Tom and Prophet were enigmas in Catch a Ghost.  Here we start to flesh out their backstories, Tom’s especially.  The angry, out of control agent seen fighting in the first novel is laid bare, his character explained through the bayou, his family and the past events that continue to stain relationship and friendships today.  The bayou and the Cajun culture flourishes here in the touches  and in the metaphors Jakes creates for her two battled scarred men fight nature and others to be together, including their own  doubts and best intentions.  As the lightning flashes and the storm rages outside the house where Tom’s aunt lives, it parallels the passion and emotional chaos occurring within Tom and Prophet as they meet up again under dire circumstances.  It’s scary hot, swirling with anger and longing yet still oddly humorous at the same time.  The water rises along with Tom’s past, bringing up bodies, old enemies seeking revenge and retribution  in a maelstrom of hate, anguish and pain.

It’s also not just Tom’s past that is dealt with, Prophet brings his own share of torment as well.  The thunder and lightning flashes mimic the sounds of guns and warfare throwing Prophet into paralyzing states of PTSD and flashbacks.  One man’s horror combines with another’s man terrifying upbringing but salvation or success is never a given.  Not with these two, the most they can ask for is time and hope.

I suppose this is the best time to bring up alligator kink.  I now have one thanks to SE Jakes and her boys.  I never saw that coming. I admit that when someone mentions alligator ‘rastling’ in the past, it conjured up images of good old boy poachers ,bootleg tanners and hokey sideshow venues in the south or any show on TLC.  No more.  Now I think of Tom and Prophet and New Orleans. It’s a wild scene as they roll passionately about Aunt Della’s kitchen floor, as well as a cabin in the swamp.  It’s sexy and funny and yes, satisfying as the boys reunite after 3 months of separation. All those wet, naked rolling bodies is further later detailed as Tom puts on a show as he wrestles and rolls an alligator into submission.  It opens a new sexual kink for Prophet, one that plays out in a white hot moment to come.

So much lovely, lusty sex here, which works on many different levels.  Sex is the number one choice of communication between Tom and Prophet.  They use it to defer those “we have to talk” situations while saying so much to each other by their touches,caresses, and telling strokes.  Because these boys have forgotten how to talk, how to open themselves up to another person, if they ever knew how to begin with. So when Jakes’ plot forces them to share parts of their past with each other, its realistically painful and monosyllabic.  It also makes us (and the person on the receiving end of said pertinent data) so appreciative of the information that we do get while making us a little frustrated at how much more there is to know and understand about the complicated men before us.

To continue the metaphor, Jakes’ narrative is a pitching deck on hurricane waters.  If the story feels a little choppy in places, its because that format works to keep every one off balance, as the waves throw one thing after another at our couple.  Sometimes it looks like they are going to drown in their past other times they crest towards the surface and safety.  I love that we are never sure what the next page and scene will bring us.  The suspense is wonderful and agonizing for us as well as Tom and Prophet.

Tom Boudreaux and Prophet Drews are the real deal, that addictive couple that snares us at the beginning of a potential relationship and never lets us go.  Each stumble forward, every tentative gain made towards a lasting relationship is met with a realistic picture of just how fragile and momentary those new stages in their relationship are.  Just one phone call, one appearance by the wrong person and all could be lost.  Such an overview paints a veneer of uncertainty and suspense over all the events and actions that occur within the story.  Tom and Prophet are together again but for long how?  Where is the next enemy coming from?  Their present or their past?  Jakes keeps us teetering on the edge of our emotions along with Tom and Prophet as they navigate the rough waters ahead.  I can’t wait to see how they will handle what this fine author has to throw at them (and us).  It is guaranteed to be chilling, unexpected and downright sexy.  I was always one for the E Ticket rides and this is that in spades.  I just hope we all survive the journey.

Long Time Gone and the Hell or High Water series are highly recommended to all.

LC Chase has again supplied us with an outstanding cover, perfect for the man and  his story inside.

Books in the Hell or High Water series in the order they should be read:

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

Associated Series: Men of Honor and Dirty Deeds:

Dirty Deeds (DirtyDeeds #1)

Book Details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published October 28th 2013 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 27th 2013)
ISBN139781626490604
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/long-time-gone
seriesHell or High Water #2

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

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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

It’s Here! Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for Touch & Geaux!

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Happy Monday everyone!  Today Scattered Thoughts is participating in Riptide Publishing’s Web Hunt for Abigail Roux’s book Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run #7), one of Scattered Thoughts Best Series of…well you name the year and this series will still be at the top of my list.  Scattered Thoughts will be joining the party along with many of your favorite book blogs by posting about the book and including one of my favorite quotes (so hard) from any book in the Cut & Run series. Readers who collect each quote and submit their findings to marketing@riptidepublishing.com will be eligible to win one of two runner-up prizes and one grand prize.  And oh, what a prize it is!!!  But I’m not telling, at least not yet!

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Also on the agenda for today, is Riptide Publishing’s first ever  live chat, with Abi Roux, happening at 12pm EST on April 10, with the RSVP link https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/107747069078430869043/events/crbhmnugf1hbokmj86anv4vaesc?authkey=CLPsidKGwKnvBQ.  I love Abigail Roux (although I will admit I am currently hunting her down with a nerf bat with Ty and Zane’s names on it).  Abigail Roux is a meticulous researcher for her novels, master of memorable dialog, and currently holder of the Evil Queen title, mostly due to Touch & Geaux. Grab the book, read the reviews (yeah, yeah, I know, reverse order but it works for Touch & Geaux), pick up your pitch forks and torches and join me in Scattered Thoughts own hunt.  Those of you who have read the book will understand totally, a toss up between lobbing jewels at Roux’s head or cow plops.  Don’t be left out of the know, you need this book and here is  your chance for prizes too!

For those of you on the hunt, here is the quote I chose:

“Cameron found himself smiling as he thought about the two tough, acerbic FBI agents. “It’s so cute. They’re in love.”
“It’s like watching two kittens fight with machetes,” Julian muttered.
“Julian.”
“What? Its weird!”
“No its not. They’re perfect for each other. Poor Zane though,” Cameron murmured. “In love with Ty Grady.” He couldn’t imagine how frustrating that would be. Then Julian inhaled, and Cameron chuckled slightly. Yeah, he could actually.”
― Abigail RouxArmed & Dangerous

The thing about the Cut & Run series is that there are literally hundreds of quotes that I could have chosen.  Choosing one is like asking which is your favorite child, almost impossible to do.  I did go with funny because to choose the ones where Ty and Zane are emotionally vulnerable is just too close at the moment, more about that later.  I will say that Touch & Geaux is the best of a quality series that keeps improving with each new release.  How that is possible is due to Abigail Roux.  Has she sold her soul?  I know many are wondering…..hmmmmm…how tiny can those horns be?

Later today I wlll blogging about some of my favorite moments from Cut & Run.  Moments that made me laugh like in Fish & Chips (Cut & Run #3) when Ty Grady had to impersonate arm candy Del Porter.  When Ty stepped out after being waxed and bleached, well, my sides hurt just thinking about it. And then there are the moments that had me in tears…so many moments…..starting from the beginning in Cut & Run (book 1) when  we first meet the two men that I have come to care for and follow through tumultuous event in their lives in every book that has been released since.  Touch & Geaux is a milestone among milestones in this series.

Tomorrow I will be posting my review of Touch & Geaux.  You can also find  reviews for the all books in the series included in the links providedCut & Run Book 8 in the review or just look them up. All the books can be found here.

And now for even better news.  You can preorder Cut & Run #8 now at Riptide Publishing.  Here is what Riptide Publishing has to say:

The as-yet-untitled Book 8 of the Cut & Run series, availabe to pre-order for 25% off in ebook and paperback or 30% off in print and ebook combo for one week only as our thank-you to the fans for taking Stars & Stripes into the DABWAHA finals!

Please note that the release date is approximate and subject to change.

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, this page will be taken down. When it returns again in late 2013 or early 2014 for new pre-orders, the ebook will be full price again, so take advantage now of our special DABWAHA celebratory sale!

So those are the details, now let’s get hunting!!!   Touch & Geaux is a “must read, must have” for Scattered Thoughts and you don’t want to be left out in the cold.  Read my review tomorrow and stay tuned for Scattered Thoughts Most Fav Cut & Run moments…..who knew Monday could be so fun?

Here is the buy link for Touch & Geaux http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/touch-geaux ???????????????????????????????????????

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