Author: SE Jakes
I’ve become a huge fan of many of Ms. Jakes’ other series, including some written under her other pen names, so I was very eager to read the first of the Phoenix, Inc. stories, as well. No Boundaries introduces us to two intriguing and volatile characters, Cole Jacobs and Marcus Lowry, both of whom have pasts that they’d rather not revisit—ever. Unfortunately, the past is never so acquiescent, and, in Cole’s case, it is sometimes deadly.
Ms. Jakes never fails to write relatable, compelling characters, and I immediately liked Cole a great deal. He is young, resilient, and beautiful, but the self-assured exterior he presents to everyone around him masks a vulnerability that defies the image he tries so hard to project. He is wary and more than a little jaded, and although he knows exactly what he is, he has no concept of his own potential. Fortunately, that changes over the course of the story, and Cole eventually realizes that what he wants most is both noble and good, and that even someone “like himself” deserves to be loved.
Marcus, on the other hand, needs an entirely different kind of saving. After his last, disastrous operation for the CIA, the snarly, burned-out private investigator has been limiting himself to “boring,” safe cases that aren’t fulfilling, but don’t put anyone at risk, either. Having been betrayed by his ex-boyfriend as well, he’s about as cynical as they come, and his immediate distrust of his new charge reveals more of his own issues than Cole’s. The one thing he can’t deny is that Cole makes him absolutely crazy on several levels, which just might be exactly what they both need after all.
No Boundaries is a suspenseful, well-written tale of vengeance and redemption that easily kept me guessing right along with the characters. With such an adept and highly dangerous stalker in play, I couldn’t help but be nervous for all the men involved, and wanted him brought down just as badly as they did. There were quite a few close calls that worried me a great deal, combined with the stress caused by Marcus’ continual attempts at romantic self-sabotage. None of which I could possibly resist. This story moves quickly and hits hard, making the characters’ much deserved moments of intimacy all the more appreciated.
The relationship between Cole and Marcus doesn’t begin gently, but rather, with an explosion of distrust and physical longing that makes anything healthy and lasting seem impossible. These two have some very heavy pasts to carry, but neither has been able to trust anyone else enough to share their respective burdens. The first part of No Boundaries is spent with both men in a circular battle of wills, which, luckily for the reader, creates a relentless crescendo of sexual tension that can’t be put to rest in a single scene. Although each of them has destructive histories to come to terms with, Cole is my favorite, as he consistently withstands Marcus’ judgment and finds worthiness in himself even if others are too blind to see it.
No Boundaries is an all-around solid beginning, with a perfect amount of suspense in all the right places and characters that are just as likable as they are frustrating. While it isn’t their tale, the protagonists from one of Ms. Jakes’ Men of Honor stories (Bound by Law) are heavily involved in No Boundaries, and I have to say that the scenes involving Paulo, Styx, and Law really are spectacular and add a great deal to the narrative overall. This is a dark, sexy read filled with near misses and redemption, and I was fully absorbed in what was happening from the first chapter on. With an introduction like Cole and Marcus’ story, the Phoenix, Inc. series is off to a wonderful start, and I am hopeful that there will be plenty more in the series yet to come.
When your past closes in, running isn’t always an option.
The jobs Marcus Lowry works for at Phoenix, Inc. Investigations are quick and easy, and they don’t give him the nightmares his days as a CIA operative did. That is, until he gets involved in a case that grabs him by the throat and won’t let go.
Cole Jacobs left behind his old life on the streets to make a name for himself rebuilding high-end and vintage cars and bikes. But when a stalker threatens to kill him—and to hurt anyone who stands in his way—his past closes in on him, and he’s not sure where to turn.
The last thing Marcus wants to do is take on a charity case, and to say that he and Cole don’t see eye to eye at first is putting things mildly. But when the first attempt on Cole’s life nearly kills them both, Marcus realizes that Cole is in real danger, and Cole is forced to reveal everything. Almost everything. Because Cole’s deepest secrets could destroy them both.
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Series: Phoenix, Inc. #1
Genre: Suspense, Military/Law Enforcement, Erotic Romance, LGBTQ, m/m
Book Source: NetGalley
No Boundaries (Phoenix, Inc. #1)