Holed Up/Shacked Up (Up to Trouble, Bks 1 and 2) by Hank Edwards ~ Book Review by Queue

HankTitle: Holed Up/Shacked Up (Up to Trouble, Bks 1 & 2)

Author: Hank Edwards

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Startled Monkeys Media

Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars

Publication Date: 08/02/2015

Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)

Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Crime Fiction, M/M Romance, Mystery, Thriller

Blurb:

Holed Up: FBI Special Agent Aaron Pearce, tall, muscular, a lone wolf with an attitude, is assigned to protect Mark Beecher, a witness to the plans for a terrorist attack. The discovery of an unknown informant within the FBI’s ranks, however, forces the two men to hole up in a loft apartment with only one another for company.

After long conversations and their shared attempt to unravel the puzzle of the terrorist group’s next target, Pearce and Mark find they cannot deny their mutual attraction. Pearce gives in to his passion, sleeping with the man he’s sworn to protect and going against his training as he risks heartbreak once again.

When the informant reveals himself to Pearce and takes him hostage, Mark finds he cannot run and leave Pearce to die. Instead, their roles have been reversed and now he is the only person who can save Special Agent Pearce.

Shacked Up: FBI Special Agent Aaron Pearce is recovering from his injuries suffered while on assignment in Detroit, stuck in the offices of the FBI running database searches for agents in the field. He is bored and edgy, and takes it out on those closest to him, including Mark Beecher, who lives with him.

While Mark cannot deny the heat between them, he struggles to find his place in Washington, DC, and in Pearce’s apartment. He notices a car following him back and forth to work and panics, certain it’s the terrorist mole Robert Morgan who escaped them in Detroit.

As Mark and Pearce try to identify the driver, Pearce is drawn into an investigation concerning the disappearance of data discs from government employees. During research, he discovers the catering company where Mark works may be at the root of the thefts, and, when the company is booked to cater a prestigious party, Pearce realizes it is the perfect setup for an undercover operation. He doesn’t think twice about disobeying orders to stay out of the field, and risks not only his career, but his life as well, to join Mark in an undercover operation that will change their lives forever.

My View:

I first read both these books years ago when they were first published and my opinion of them hasn’t changed. I loved them just as much this time as I did last time. Being that I’m a tougher reader now than I was then that isn’t always a given.

Hank Edwards wrote a tight plot with unforgettable characters. Aaron Pearce and Mark Beecher are realistically flawed characters who belong together even if their happily ever after won’t be easily obtained. Which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed their story so very, very much.

The basic plot isn’t all that different from other novels, but what sets it apart are the characters and how they react to the situations around them. In fact, the trope (agent protects witness) is one of my favorites and one I’ve ready probably a dozen times, but this story sits far and above most others thanks to Edwards’ stellar skills.

In book one Mark is a witness in a matter of national security and it’s Pearce’s job to protect him, possibly from someone in the FBI. Things go wrong right away and the two go into hiding. It’s while they’re in hiding that the attraction they feel for each other can’t be ignored. I liked the fact that they didn’t dance around their feelings for too long and instead went for the fun stuff, i.e. hot and heavy sex.

And let me tell you, their relationship is scorching. Complete with one of my favorite things—dirty talk.

“Oh that’s it,” Pearce said. “Pull my nuts. Yeah, just like that. Oh, fuck, Mark, you’re just starving for cock, aren’t you?”

Considering their professional relationship it may not have been the wisest move for them sleep together, I believe it was necessary for the plot. It allowed the two to open in a way neither one was used to and because of that when the shit hit the fan again, Mark knew what do and where to go. Although he didn’t do exactly what Pearce ordered him to do and instead risks his own life to save Pearce.

Action scenes are something that not every author can write well, but Edwards did a phenomenal job. Every movement, every battle I was able to visualize in my mind. I was literally holding my breath and could not put the book down.

As soon as I was done with book one I had to dive right into book two, Shacked Up, which picks up soon after Holed Up. Pearce and Mark are living together, hence the title, but it isn’t exactly happily ever after. One of the things I liked from the first one is that even though the men are in love its obvious it will not be all hearts and roses.

In this book the drama comes from someone following Mark and Pearce’s inability to deal with working desk duty. I definitely don’t want to ruin any of the surprises here but I loved how the stories interconnected together as well as involved something from the first book as well.

There are so many things that happen in these two books that make me love these guys it’s hard to pinpoint just one or two. Pearce and Mark are men that I could easily imagine running into them in real life. One item that does stand out in my mind is that they actually talk to each other when they have an argument. Yes, unlike in so many other books they address the issue head-on rather than letting it fester. Even Pearce, the big, tough FBI agent can admit his faults.

“You’re upset. I fucked up. I get it. Can we talk about this?”

Both are truly amazing stories and Shacked Up could be read as a stand-alone but it works so much better as a companion piece to Holed Up. Since both are novellas they can be read back-to-back easily.

Links

Holed Up/Shacked Up (Up to Trouble, Bks 1 & 2) on Goodreads

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
All Romance eBooks

I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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