Review: Running on Empty by S.E. Jakes

Posted May 10, 2019 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 18 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Running on Empty by S.E. Jakes
Running on Empty

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Havoc #3
Genres: M/M Romance, Motorcycle Club Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Riptide
Released on April 29, 2019
Pages: 226
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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The Delight

When the going gets tough and there’s a hollow feeling behind your breast bone and you’re doing your level best to breath through the panic, running is easy, but staying and fighting for love and something to fill that hollow spot?  Well… Linc and Mercy are about to find out.  After the events and reveals of the last book, I was strapped in for this one to start rough and stay rough for some time.  It was dramatic, dirty, and drove me wild.  In a good way.


Running on Empty is the third of the Havoc Motorcycle Club series and doesn’t standalone.  It follows directly on the heels of the events in book two.

I don’t want to spoiler the series so let’s just say Linc went through the wringer in a horrible capture-torture scenario that Mercy, his lover, feels responsible for.  Both had secrets that brought it all on and now both have some serious guilt and anger flying as they see if there is something worth saving in the after math.

Meanwhile, old enemies and new ones ally together and seek to move in on Havoc’s town with drugs, guns, and human trafficking.  The ATF, the FBI, and others are operating against them and Linc is still part of that even if he was recovering.  Havoc and the government agencies are trying to do the same job, but need to work together because of the strength of those ranged against them.   It’s Linc who can be the connector if he’s willing to finally stop running and stand with Mercy for what he wants and needs.

I was prepared for a lot of angst after what was revealed about Linc and Mercy in Linc’s brother, Bram’s book.  Good thing, too, because it was exactly that.  Most of the book was Linc finding his way after extreme torture and Mercy’s careful hands off presence that was doing a number on Linc.  It shook him up, shook him out of his habits, and forced him to confront a lot of things while he healed.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary.

Mercy had his fair share of issues to get on top of and he made mistakes, but, of everyone, Mercy saw Linc crystal-clear and always had.  Unlike the others of their friends and family who thought Mercy should be glued to Linc’s side and giving him gentle touches and reassurances, I thought Mercy’s approach was the right one since Linc needed to get past blame, recriminations, anger, self-loathing, and all sorts of dark and ugly thinking before it was healthy for them to have anything physical or resembling a relationship.
See, Linc keeps his emotional walls up and he does it by manipulating situations while doing wild and crazy antics that keep people off balance.  I thought it took more strength to wait quietly and take all Linc’s shenanigans than it would have if Mercy had charged in and taken control right away.  Linc’s been in the habit of having it both ways for a long time.

Linc acted out a lot in this story.  To be frank, he was a brat just like Rush in the first book.  That was actually part of the sexual dynamics that have a wisp of D/s going with a Daddy/Bear type and his ‘boy’.  It’s mild, but there.  I’m not really drawn to brattiness so I tolerate it because I enjoy everything else about this series.  There was a serious quantity of dirty, sweaty, kinky sex going on once Mercy took a more hands on approach after waiting Linc out, but it was in keeping with the plot.

The combustible romance was the main event of this book and it took the stage front and center for most of the book, but I liked how that conflict over turf finally culminated with Linc proving to himself that he was back and capable after the torture nearly broke him.  He needed to have a big part in the mission and he did.  I like where things are at for him and Mercy and the Havoc MC in this one.  I am so curious about Vann and a certain undercover ATF agent after that teaser reveal Vann gave about their past.

So, this one was the adrenaline rush that all this author’s books are.  Hot and dirty sex, dark and edgy suspense, and rough characters who live on the dark side of the line, but do it with honor and their own brand of duty.  If that’s what you enjoy in your m/m romances, pick up the first in the series and let these guys rev you up.

My thanks to Riptide via Net Galley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met

New Release #59
Books N Tunes #27 Eagle’s Take It Easy


About S.E. Jakes

SE Jakes writes m/m romance. She believes in happy endings and fighting for what you want.

You can contact her the following ways:

You can email her at

You can post to her Facebook page:

You can Twitter her:

You can post on her Goodreads Group: Ask SE Jakes

You can follow her on Tumblr:

You can ask her a question as part of the Ask The Author program on Goodreads:…

Truth be told, the best way to contact her is by email or in blog comments. She spends most of her time writing but she loves to hear from readers.

SE Jakes is the pen-name of New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Tyler (and half of Sydney Croft!)

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Angie Elle
3 years ago

So…this book sounds kind of fantastic. I love the tortured past – can’t help it. LOL And I LOVE that cover that is peek-a-boo in an untraditional way, over his shoulder like that. Yum. LOL

Great review, Sophia.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Angie Elle

I loved the Viper’s Run series under her Stephanie Tyler name and then skipped right into these three Havoc MC books. Her biker world is as great as her special ops ones.

That cover is the best of the three Havoc ones for sure.

3 years ago

I wonder if it would be for me but maybe I should try to see

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Melliane

If you do go for it, start with book one. 🙂

Tracy Terry
3 years ago

Not my usual kind of read I admit but attracted by the cover, yep, I’d certainly keep these books in mind.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Tracy Terry

Yeah, that is one sensational cover. 🙂

Rachel @Waves of Fiction

This does sound intense and gritty, and wow that cover! Yum. I hate torture scenes, so if it’s something that was drawn out I don’t think I’d be able to read it. Not without skimming. I’ll have to investigate a little more. Lovely review, Sophia Rose! 🙂

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

The torture happened prior to this book and wasn’t detailed out in the present in either book. The reader knows what he endured, but didn’t get a front-row seat for it. Hope that helps, Rachel. 🙂

3 years ago

I get it, I’m not much for brattiness either in romances

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Lily

Yeah, I just wanted to shake him until his teeth rattled. 🙂

Lover Of Romance
3 years ago

ooh this book just sounds so lovely and love hot dirty sex in M/M romance especially. Definitely going to be adding this one for sure. Great review darling.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

Definitely get them in order, Renee. And, also read the Viper’s Run ones under her Stephanie Tyler name, too. 🙂

Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)

This whole series sounds like a real emotional rollercoaster for the characters and their readers!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

It sure is. Some times, too emotional and I have the urge to back away from the drama. 🙂

Carole Rae
3 years ago

Been a hot min since I read a good M/M romance.

Sophia Rose
3 years ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I sprinkle a few in each month. This one was a must after the way things left off in the last book.

Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

I’m adding this series to my TBR! I’ve been wanting to find another awesome M.C. series, an dthis sounds like exactly what I am looking for. I like that’s full of angst, suspense, rough characters, and such a hot romance! Excellent Review Sophia!

Sophia Rose
3 years ago

Woohoo! Glad it looks good to you, Lindy! And, just to double the pleasure, there is a companion series that’s m/f called Viper’s Run under her Stephanie Tyler pen name. 🙂