Holed Up by Hank Edwards
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.
This story is equal parts romance and mystery, neither of which is wonderful but may be likely to appeal to anyone wanting a fast read. The plot revolves around FBI Agent Pearce who is called in to protect witness Mark. They of course are sent on the run and while hiding out, discover mutual passion before the somewhat corny resolution to the mystery of a terrorist organization trying to kill Mark. While the mystery/action subplot takes up the last third of the book, it’s rather obvious and unfortunately the romance between Mark and Pearce isn’t much more interesting.
Mark supposedly overhears a terrorist group planning an attack and like a good citizen calls the police to report this knowledge. This plunges him into a trip into protective custody that lasts a few days and several attempted murders. He manages to stay calm, collected, and intelligent through most of it while attempting to ignore his growing lust for Pearce. Given Mark’s lack of relationship prowess, his occasional vulnerable side combined with quick wit and sarcastic comebacks give him a bit of depth. His attachment to Pearce after two or three days felt awkward instead of romantic as if that was expected of men involved rather than their true feelings.
Similarly, Pearce is given to expected reactions than believable emotions. The reader is first introduced to him as he pouts over his assignment than picks up a random guy for the night to have some rather self-involved, arrogant sex. This is complete with the classic line “you’ve never been fucked until you’ve been fucked by me.” So clearly Pearce has an attitude and that characteristic is his most obvious one even while he does his best to protect Mark. Unfortunately for an experienced agent Pearce makes mistake after mistake while babysitting Mark, including sleeping with his charge. But Mark and Pearce do admit to an emotional bond with each other that is unusual for them. This romantic declaration is signified by the willingness to swallow each other’s “load”.
So there were a few problems with the romantic nature between the two men just as the action portion took quite a bit of suspension of disbelief to read along. Numerous details and coincidences played into the story and several times you have to simply accept the impossible as fact and move on or the story falls apart. Elements such as assigning an FBI agent from DC to watch a witness for the Michigan Bureau (because all their agents are busy?), surprise fire alarms, the villain just showing up out of the blue and his identity being hilariously unbelievable even to Mark’s ex-boyfriend very conveniently showing up weeks early to help out. All of these nuances were important to the action and resolution of the mystery, but didn’t help the story even if you can just go along without worrying about the plausibility of the story line.
Overall while the writing and dialogue had some ridiculous moments and definite cheesy aspects, the story was simply not very interesting and was difficult to get into. The writing was rather clean without obvious errors to annoy and the characters have some enjoyable and fun dialogue scenes. The story reads incredibly fast so this wasn’t a horrible book by any means but I found my attention drifting frequently as there was very little that held my interest and I didn’t connect to either character or the situation. Even as I let the troubling details slide for the sake of the story, the remaining elements just weren’t interesting together to make the book riveting and exciting, even with the extended action scenes.
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