Rating: 4.75 stars
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Four years ago Lucky washed up on the shores of South Africa, his only memory being dumped in the water and swimming for his life. Lucky has no idea where the terrible scars across his back and legs have come from, but he is pretty sure he would rather not know what caused that kind of horror. He is content working as a bartender in a beachside bar run by the family who found him and took him in.
But one day Lucky’s worst nightmare happens when he is recognized by someone from his past. The man says that Lucky’s name is really Josh Kent and he is actually a Navy SEAL who was presumed dead after being tortured by terrorists along with the rest of his team. Although Lucky insists he doesn’t remember any of his past, he is still under suspicion, as no one knows how he managed to escape or whether he might have been turned by the terrorists before his release.
Dash is a CIA agent who has been monitoring the other members of Lucky’s SEAL team, and when he stumbles across Lucky not only alive, but living with Dash’s own family, Dash doesn’t know what to believe. He finds himself drawn to Lucky, and there is definitely a connection between the two men. But it is Dash’s job to help figure out what is really going on with Lucky, and if he is just a guy with lost memories, or whether there is something much darker going on.
At the same time, Lucky’s reappearance causes problems for others as well. The rest of his SEAL team is shocked to find him alive, especially his former boyfriend Rex. Rex and the rest of the team feel such relief to know that Lucky is alive, but also guilt that they left him behind in the hands of the terrorists, thinking him dead. Rex and Lucky had been together for four years, but since Lucky’s disappearance, Rex has moved on with a new love, Sawyer. And now Rex and Sawyer must deal with the sudden reappearance of Rex’s old boyfriend and what that means for their relationship.
Complicating things further is that no one really knows whether Lucky was turned by the terrorists, including Lucky himself. What if he agreed to help the bad guys in exchange for letting his team free, and he just doesn’t remember? What if Lucky suddenly gets his memories back, triggering him to act out against Dash’s family and his team? Dash, Rex, and the Navy all work to help Lucky regain his memories, memories from a past he isn’t sure he actually wants to remember. With danger from his past still lurking around, and buried memories that could change his life and his whole sense of who he is, Lucky turns to Dash for support in hopes that they can figure out what is really going on, and hopefully have a future together.
Bound to Break is the sixth book in S.E. Jakes’ fabulous Men of Honor series. This series is full of strong, alpha, military guys and thrilling suspense plots and this one is no exception. There is a ton going on in this book, with two main couples and lots of subplots and it would have been easy for this to become a jumbled mess. But Jakes handles this all so well, keeping multiple threads going at the same time, connecting different story lines together, and always keeping a nice balance to the romance and the suspense.
The main focus of the story is on Lucky and Dash. Lucky has this past that he knows from his scars must have been horrific. And as much as part of him would love to know who he really is and what happened to him, his instincts tell him it is better not to remember. He is content with his life tending bar, living on the beach, and trying to move past whatever horror he faced in the past. Then suddenly he is forced to confront what happened to him when he is recognized out of the blue. And even worse, no one can trust him, not knowing whether he was compromised when he was captured. Lucky can’t even trust himself, which is most frustrating of all.
Dash has been tracking these SEALs for years, trying to figure out what happened when they were captured. Then suddenly the man they all thought was dead appears back to life. And not only that, but living with Dash’s own family. Dash knows he must turn Lucky in, but there is a strong connection between them and he feels protective over the man as well. I loved how these guys forge this immediate sexual and emotional connection, but at the same time have to be wary of each other’s motives. Lucky doesn’t know if he can trust Dash to be on his side, and Dash doesn’t know if Lucky has ulterior motives surrounding his family. But despite that, somehow they manage to connect, to trust each other and fall for one another in the midst of these crazy circumstances.
Rex and Sawyer face difficulties as well when Lucky surfaces. Sawyer, of course, immediately worries that Rex will want to get back together with Lucky. He and Rex have only been together six months compared to Rex and Lucky’s four-year relationship. Although Rex is determined to convince Sawyer he only wants to be with him, Lucky’s reappearance highlights how much both men have been holding themselves back in their relationship. The situation with Lucky makes them both determined that they must be open with each other if they are going to be able to go forward.
Interspersed with these two main conflicts, Jakes gives us lots of other elements that keep the story exciting and well developed. Lucky’s former SEAL team must deal with the guilt of leaving Lucky behind when they were released. Dash must reconcile with his family, from whom he has been keeping his job in the CIA a secret, and who are not too thrilled that he turned Lucky in to the authorities. Everyone is working to try to figure out whether Lucky was turned, and whether there is chance his memories can be recovered. And at the same time, the bad guys haven’t completely disappeared and now that Lucky is back in the open, they are looking to cause trouble again. So as I said, lots of moving parts and Jakes handles them all so well, giving us a story that is exciting and complex without ever buckling under its own weight.
The only place I had some trouble was with the Rex and Sawyer storyline. They are an established couple by the time the story starts, and a lot of their backstory is mentioned in a way that seems like we are already supposed to be familiar with their story. I have read all of the books in the series except one, so maybe some of it was detailed there, but I found myself confused sometimes because things weren’t explained as well as I would have liked. For example, it is mentioned in passing how Sawyer was initially resistant to a relationship with Rex because he was a man, but now he has accepted he is bi. But we get no information or detail, almost like this is something we already know. We also hear how Sawyer and his friend Jace almost died in a cave while on a mission and how this bonded them. But we get no detail at all about this critical event, as if we are already supposed to know about it. This happened multiple time throughout the story and I found myself a little lost at times. I would have just liked more detail on their past if it was going to be brought up again here.
But other than that, this one really worked well for me. I am a huge fan of Jakes’ writing and I really think she pulls off another winner here. The story is exciting, the couples are likable, and the suspense plot is well developed. The book might lean a little more heavily on the thriller end than on the romance side, fwiw, but we do get to spend a lot of time with both of these couples and see their relationships build and develop. I continue to love this series and think this is another great installment. Highly recommended.
P.S. Despite my issues with the Rex/Sawyer situation, I do think this book could stand alone if you haven’t read the rest of the series. However, there are some recurring side characters from other books, and really the series is just excellent, so if you can read them all, I encourage you to pick them up. Here is the series order: