S.E. JakesBound For Keeps (Men of Honor #5)Samhain Publishing | February 19, 2013 | 222 pages
Author’s website | Goodreads | Buy book here
Since losing their beloved third to cancer, Keith Masters and Johnny Lou Reed haven’t thought about filling the void in their lives with anyone else. Until a stormy Christmas Eve, when a half-frozen, newly discharged Army Ranger shows up on their doorstep—with no memory of who he is or how he got there.
The former Marine in Keith is suspicious that he can’t turn up any information about Shane anywhere, not even an address. Direct questioning will have to wait until they’ve gotten the boy well.
Shane knows it’s only a matter of time before Keith and Reed figure out his past. And when they learn the depth and the darkness of the secrets he holds, he could get them all killed.
In the heat of the dark winter nights, the three men discover a passion that heals the gaping wounds in their hearts. And Shane wonders, despite the danger hot on his heels, how he will ever bear to leave…
Genre & Keywords: Contemporary Romance, M/M/M, Ménage, Men in Uniform, Secrets, Loss, PTSD, Violence, Learning to Trust, Spanking, On the Run, Danger
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Heat level: 2.5 out of 3 flames
Bound for Keeps is only the second book from this author I've read so far, and the first book in this series, but I've quickly become a fan. It's the combination of fast-paced, action-filled plots with incredibly sexy chemistry between unique, unforgettable characters that draws me in fast. The stories are set in a typical hard, gritty and somewhat violent men's world and treat the romance development accordingly, without being too unrecognizable for my female heart. Sex plays an important part in these stories, but there's also room for feelings and emotions.
One of the side characters of the other book by Jakes I read, Free Falling, is a side character in this book as well: Prophet. (He's soon getting his own story with Catch A Ghost, published by Riptide, September 9th). Proph is a former Navy SEAL and CIA agent who runs secret operations in which the main characters of the books I've read so far are involved too.
In this story, Keith is a former Marine and his partner Reed is an ex-Delta Forces doctor, who both go on missions with/for Proph every now and then. I like that we actually see some of the action played out in the book. Their (former) occupations are not only something they've been given as a description for the story's sake, they really make them the men they are. Plus their adventures are exciting to read about.
Keith and Reed are not the only main characters in this story. There’s a third guy, Shane, who is on the run and lands on their porch on Christmas Eve, nearly dead. Shane is a former Army Ranger and he brings secrets with him. While he recovers in the guest room from his almost fatal illness a friendship of sorts starts to build between him and the other men, mainly with Reed at first. There’s also physical attraction between the three of them and Keith and Reed know what it’s like to be part of a ménage, since they’ve been in one for years with the deceased Bobby. It’s almost inevitable that the three main characters will end up in bed together, but the path that takes them there is not without obstacles. They need to tackle a few of them first and even when they take that step, there are still some more of these obstacles to face.
For one, there’s the matter of Shane’s secrets. Being targeted like he has been, losing his lover in the process, makes him rather distrusting and it takes a while before he dares to trust Keith and Reed enough to share pieces of information about his situation.
And than there’s the history of PTSD these men all had to go through that needs to be shared to come to a better mutual understanding. Their pasts are each intense, violent and heart-wrenching and play an important role in the make up of their distinctive personalities.
I really liked it that the author took the time to draw her characters before they jump in bed together. It makes the threesome so much more believable and balanced.
Another aspect I enjoyed is the flexibility of roles the men have when it comes to their sexy times. Keith does have dominant tendencies while Reed likes to submit, but their roles are not written in stone, and neither is Shane’s. He’s versatile, but mostly his actions in the bed room are inspired by what the others need at that moment, and vice versa. It gets intense in those moments as well, when one’s sexual needs become a part of his psychological well-being, for example when right after a mission Reed is about to fall apart mentally and the only thing that keeps him from just that is submitting to a spanking.
The violence in their lives and nightmares from their pasts are something they learned to deal with, as well as with each others nightmares, mainly by being there for each other, without judgment. And Shane is finding his place among all of this quite well. There are plenty of emotions and feelings dealt with in this story, however maybe not in a fluffy romantic way, rather with a healthy dose of testosterone involved.
Apart from the romantic arc Bound For Keeps also has a small suspense arc, which is not as strong as the former. It entails Shane’s secrets and the reason why he was dishonorably discharged from the Army. He’s still being targeted for something he knows and to solve his problems Keith, Reed and Prophet are getting involved. What’s going on exactly is a rather credible predicament. But no matter how clever this suspense plot line is created and built-up, its execution - especially at the end - is somewhat mediocre. The timing is ill-paced, with first nearly no action at all for too many pages and then an explosive climactic conclusion to this arc that consisted of predictable and unbelievable scenes and actions only. It’s a good thing the romantic arc already provided the satisfying enjoyment I look for in my romance reads, or otherwise I would’ve been disappointed.
So, if you’re looking for a credible, intense and romantic ménage with hot alpha characters scorching the pages, look no further. Bound For Keeps will give you just that. If you don’t like testosterone filled action or kinky sex in your romance, you better skip this title. Also when you’re merely looking for a suspense story that’ll take you to the edge of your seat, this won’t bring you that. But what Bound For Keeps definitely will deliver is an engrossing narrative and a set of memorable, engaging heroes with a well done characterization. Shane, Keith and Reed will keep popping up in my mind for a long time, just like Mick and Blue from Free Falling did and still do every now and again.