Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen books by S.E. Jakes popping up on my friends’ bookshelves and status updates like crazy. Most of their comments and reviews have been very enthusiastic, the books have all earned high star ratings, and – let’s be real – those covers are enough to make just about any woman drool. So when I picked up my first ever S.E. Jakes book, Catch a Ghost
(the first in her Hell or High Water series), I expected to love it. Instead, I found it… adequate.
I know that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. It’s weird, really, since on the surface this book ticked a whole lot of “my favourite things” boxes:
- Young, hot (former) soldier whose time as a POW has left him claustrophobic with a fear of being held down? Check.
- Handsome, slightly older (former) FBI agent who drives a motorcycle? Check.
- Difficult, violent back stories for each of the MCs? Check.
- Two men reluctantly thrown together as partners who have insane sexual chemistry? Check.
- Use of nautical stars and all they symbolize? Check.
- Snarky banter and adorable name calling? Check and check.
Hmm… All of these elements are starting to sound awfully
familiar. In fact, I’m about one more item away from calling this an outright Cut & Run fan fiction
(I wouldn’t blame you, Ms. Jakes; Ty and Zane are amazeballs!). Unfortunately, in any comparison between Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux’s Cut & Run series and Jakes’ Hell or High Water series, Jakes isn’t going to come out on top. Ever.
I guess I was just hoping for something far more original from this author/series than what I got.
I found that the author’s writing style took a little getting used to (but I don’t mean that as a criticism of Jakes, only as an observation). The last few novels I’ve read have included rich descriptive passages that enabled me to visualize the novel’s settings, characters, etc. In contrast, Jakes’ style is significantly shorter and more to the point – she never used ten words when two will do. Though this more sparse style meant that I sometimes had to read a paragraph or page a second time to work out who was doing what and where, I think that it also helped the novel’s pacing and kept the plot driving towards the climax pretty effectively.
One thing I’ll say for this novel is that it started out strong enough for me to become invested in the characters and their relationship (both professionally and personally). I appreciated Prophet’s layers of complexity and his tendency to rely on himself rather than others, and I liked that Tom’s gruff exterior hid a surprising amount of insightfulness and dedication to his partners (even when he didn’t want them). For me, their relationship lagged a little in the middle of the story – not because they weren’t getting it on plenty (they were!), but because there was just SO MUCH else happening in the plot that I felt like a thousand other things were pulling my focus. By the end of the book, however, Jakes lured me back around to caring for them again. I was just sorry to see that not only did the two men not get a happily ever after, they didn’t even get a happily for now.
What self-respecting romance novel doesn’t have one or the other?!
Verdict: Not a bad
book, but it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. If you're a die-hard Jakes fan, though, you'll probably enjoy it.