This book was my first introduction to the writing of S.E. Jakes, and the first book in her Hell Or High Water series; immediately I was hooked. And I must say, I downloaded it rather reluctantly because underground cage fighting is just NOT my thing. But, this series has become my crack. As well as the spin-off series, Dirty Deeds.
The character development for the two main characters is what I would call Swiss cheese – blocks of information with some big holes. But, fear not, Jakes fills in the information. Albeit the filling in the holes is slow and spread out over the series, but this way the reader sees the central puzzle slowly filling in. Jakes drops little crumbs of information on the background of her characters in each chapter, leaving the reader hungry for more and more. Presently there are three and a half books in the series, and sadly one left. I still feel like I don’t know all of Tom and Prophet. But that’s okay, I have faith Jakes will explain all by the last book.
Prophet is haunted by his past, literally. He sees his old friend and fell Navy SEAL team member, John Morse. He carries the guilt of Morse’s death on his shoulders and it is slowly overtaking his life. Or, did Morse somehow survive and did Prophet abandon him in torturous captivity? And that guilt is even more crippling in Prophet’s mind. To compound this, Prophet is dealing with a life-altering medical issue. Can he dig to the bottom of the truth of his best friend’s death before his life is forever altered? It’s a race against time.
Tom believes that he is bad luck, and being raised in the Cajun country of Louisiana, bad luck is something he takes very seriously. He had bad luck in his home life, bad luck as an FBI agent and bad luck running for sheriff in the parish where he worked. He has serious anger issues, but that serves to aid him while he and Prophet go undercover in the world of fighting.
The attraction between Prophet and Tom starts to sizzle in the first chapter and keeps building until they have nuclear meltdown sex after Tom’s first fight. Both of them recognize what they have between them is certainly more than being just fuck-buddies, but both of them are dealing with so many personal demons they work quite hard to resist their underlying feelings. It’s hard, harsh, smoldering sex that wrecks both of them, but wrecks them in a good way. Through the violence of them coming together, they both find a level of comfort and peace within each other.
Jakes also introduces us to Cillian and Mal, two people who orbit Prophet’s world and who add excellent layers to the story. Their introduction and recurrence in the other books lay the foundations for her Dirty Deeds series. Cillian and Mal also play pivotal roles in the John Morse mystery. The book ends on a semi-cliff hanger, but there is some satisfaction of the Happy For Now ending, but she does promise the series will definitely end with a Happily Ever After – and that is what keeps readers coming back for more.
Amazon.com book blurb ~
“Everyone knows that Prophet — former Navy SEAL, former CIA spook, full-time pain in the ass — works alone. But his boss at Extreme Escapes, Ltd. has just assigned Proph a new partner and a case haunted by ghosts from Proph’s past. Suddenly, he has to confront both head-on.
Tom Boudreaux — failed FBI agent, failed sheriff, full-time believer in bad luck — is wondering why the head of a private contracting firm has hunted him down to offer him a job. Still, he’s determined to succeed this time, despite being partnered with Prophet, EE’s most successful, lethal, and annoying operative, on a case that resurrects his own painful past.
Together, Prophet and Tom must find a way to take down killers in the dangerous world of underground cage matches while fighting their own dangerous attraction. When they find themselves caught in the crossfire, these two loners must trust each other and work together to escape their ghosts . . . or pay the price.”