Rating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel

Travis Smith is in trouble with both the FBI and the Russian mob and now he is on the run. When he is picked up in a bar by Lochlan “Loch” Black, it could be a solution to many of Travis’ problems, or the start of even more trouble. Loch is a CIA agent who, along with his best friend and fellow agent Tarquin “Tar” Simons, has been hunting bad guy Jabez Snow for years. Snow is a former CIA operative turned rogue who has been torturing men to make them assassins and has now disappeared. It turns out that Travis, Loch, and Tar all have past connections to Snow and this may be their chance to finally stop him. But all three men have complicated pasts and a lot of secrets, and the deeper they get into the hunt, the more is revealed. Now they must work together and trust one another in order to catch the man who has haunted all their lives.

Sinners is a story that keeps unwinding in new and unexpected directions the more you read. Things are never quite all they seem and as the story unfolds, there were some really nice twists and turns. I was impressed by the way Jakes crafted this one and it kept me guessing through the whole book. I also think she has created some interesting characters here in Tar, Travis, and Loch. These men each have complex (and I mean COMPLEX) pasts and they are well developed and nicely twisty. Again, there is a lot I didn’t see coming until it is revealed.

Where I struggled here is that I found the storyline so complex that much of the time I had no idea what was going on. I think that with a book that unveils new twists and turns throughout, there is a line between giving away too much information up front and revealing so little that it is hard to follow, and unfortunately, the story fell on the latter end for me. I would say the first third of the book had me so confused I was barely hanging on, and by the 50% mark I still don’t think I could have clearly explained the plot. It isn’t so much that the plot is complicated (though it is). It is also that there is so much happening and information is parsed out in such tiny increments that I never felt like I fully understood a lot of it. For example, side characters are mentioned by name, but they aren’t clearly identified as to who they actually they are or their role. Toward the end of the story, things start getting revealed and I found myself really impressed with how Jakes brought all the individual elements together so cleverly. But I had a hard time really keeping up with what was happening for most of the book.

I’ll also note that is is a pretty “talky” book, and for all the suspenseful tone, most of the time is spent talking and working through issues without a lot of action. I guess I was expecting the story to really focus on hunting the bad guy, or seeing them on the run, or whatever. And those things do happen, but that is not really the main focus. The majority of this book is talking and a lot of sex. By the time the guys are ready to catch up with Snow, the book is basically over (especially because this story ends at the 80% mark with other material for the remainder).

As far as the relationship, we have both a friend-to-lovers thing going on with Tar and Loch, as well as a new partner being introduced in Travis. Jakes does a good job giving each of these pairings a chance to develop, so there feels like balance despite Tar and Loch having a long history. I did feel like the chemistry was a little off for me here. Despite the large amounts of sex, I never really felt a lot of buzz from these guys together.

So overall, I think this was a story that comes together in some interesting ways. There is definitely a pay off at the end as you see how the pieces fit and all the secrets are revealed. That said, I found this one to be overly complex and the chemistry to be a little lacking. Still, if you are up for characters with complicated pasts and some clever reveals, this may be worth checking out.

Note: There are references to past abuse here. Most of it isn’t detailed on page, but be aware if this is a trigger for you as these guys have gone through some major suffering, including some torture and abuse.

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