Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
For the past eight months, and particularly the last three since he left the military, someone has been breaking into Sean Rush’s home and into his bed. His name is Ryker, a member of the Havoc motorcycle club, and a man Sean met a bar months before. Ever since then Ryker shows up periodically, breaking in and giving Sean the best sex of his life. Sean knows he is crazy to let this happen. Despite being an adrenaline junkie who can’t help but find trouble, Sean also likes to have control and being with Ryker means giving in completely to the man. And Sean loves every minute of it.
Sean has been a car thief for years, and after getting caught he enlisted in the Army rather than getting jail time. He wants to keep on the straight and narrow now that he is back, working at a garage with his best friend (and fellow thief/veteran) Noah. But the thrill of stealing is too big a temptation, especially as Noah gets dragged in with a bad crowd. Sean is determined to be there for Noah, but that just means putting himself in danger as well. Ryker has no intention of letting Sean get hurt, and suddenly goes from his random, nocturnal visits to determined to take care of Sean whether he wants it or not.
Sean suddenly is introduced to the world of the Havoc, being taken in by Ryker when things get too hot with the thefts. But Sean has never had a commitment with anyone, never even wanted one. And Ryker is not just looking for commitment; he wants Sean to be fully his. Despite himself, Sean finds he wants that too. But as things heat up with the car thefts, and some of Ryker’s secrets come out, the two men must figure out if this strange connection between them is enough to keep their relationship going.
Running Wild is the first book in the new Havoc series by S.E. Jakes. Although the story has a larger plot related to the car thefts and the motorcycle club, what makes this story really stand out is the fascinating relationship between Sean and Ryker. First off, for so long their relationship consists of nothing but these sexual encounters. We see Sean confused by his feelings, wondering why he is letting this go on, but at the same time knowing there is no way he can stop. He lusts for Ryker, but needs him in a strange way too, even as he barely knows the man. But as the story goes on, we realize he actually does know Ryker. That their nighttime exploits were Ryker’s way of wooing Sean, and that in fact, he has grown to know and care for him.
This unusual start is just part of their interesting relationship dynamic. Ryker is such an intense presence, sexy and brooding and tough. He wants Sean, wants to own him. And it makes Sean super hot. There is just this possessive vibe about Ryker that could have been creepy, but instead just comes across as this deep need to protect. As we learn more about Ryker’s history, it becomes clearer why he is such a caretaker. There is a lot of growly “mine” going on here, and I think it works as a reader because it works for Sean. It makes him so freaking hot he can hardly stand it. So even though this much possessiveness isn’t always my thing, it worked for me here.
The other major element of their partnership is that both of these guys are criminals. Sean is an unapologetic car thief. He loves to steal and he does it for the rush and doesn’t feel bad about it. While Havoc has primarily legal ventures, they also venture into the illegal, so Ryker isn’t exactly clean either. So you need to be ok here with the idea that your two MCs aren’t exactly squeaky clean citizens. And honestly, neither one really has any interest in being one. So if you like your bad boys, you can definitely find them here.
Outside of the relationship, the plot focuses on the car theft ring in town, and Sean and Noah’s involvement. Sean feels allegiance to Noah, and when Noah gets in over his head, Sean doesn’t hesitate to help him out, even at risk to himself. There are a variety of players, including garage owner Edmund, Ryker’s motorcycle club, the neighboring club, and an ATF agent in the middle of it all. All of these folks have a variety of agendas that are unveiled a bit at a time. So there is a slow suspense element here as we are figuring out all the pieces and who is doing what. I will admit there were times when I was a little lost here. There wasn’t as much clarity as I wanted and at some points I just didn’t totally follow the ins and outs of the players and the plot. But overall I think Jakes does a really nice job of creating this world of the motorcycle clubs and I found it very interesting. I am really looking forward to seeing where she takes the series from here.
So yep, I liked this one and am looking forward to more. The strength of this story for me really lies in these two very complex men and their unusual relationship. I especially loved seeing how Sean slowly allows himself to have what he wants in Ryker. It takes time for him to get past his brain and focus on his heart and I really enjoyed his journey. I am definitely excited for more.
Cover: This one is just gorgeous. I love the color and imagery and it fits so nicely with the story.