Book Review: Hidden Heat by Carla Swafford

It’s been awhile since I’d read a motorcycle club novel. For some reason I’d been thinking this was going to be a baseball romance, so I was pleasantly surprised when the story kicks off with the heroine going into a biker bar with a baseball bat. Good times, right? This opening definitely hooked me into what turned out to be an enjoyable read with a hero who is much less alpha than most of the MC heroes I’ve read.

Trigger warning: There are themes of sex and abuse that, while not blatantly rape, ride the line very closely.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman trying to save her brother puts her trust in a member of the motorcycle club she swore she’d never trust. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Talk First, Think Later
Cassidy is a firecracker, and while she’s not always smart about it, I really liked her no fear attitude. Of course, it has repercussions, especially when she mouths off to the president of the motorcycle club that has her brother under their thumb. Thorn is the bartender and MC member who ends up protecting her from the president’s dirty inclinations. What Cassidy doesn’t know at first is that Thorn has a secret of his own, and that there’s more to him than just a member of a sketchy club.

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For Her Own Good
Thorn and Cassidy have a lot of chemistry from the beginning, and that alone is enough to up the conflict level. Cassidy’s father was a big name in the motorcycle club, and after he killed her mother, she swore she’d never be anyone’s old lady. Unfortunately, after she fails to use her filter when yelling at the current president (who makes no secret that he wants to know her carnally), the only way Thorn can keep her safe is to brand her as his.

Family Dynamics
There is a ton of drama in this novel. For me, it was like a mix of Sons of Anarchy and a soap opera I watched when I was a kid (partly because of the names of some of the characters, like Thorn, Wolf, and Storm). Besides the gritty MC stuff, there’s also alot of twists and turns involving the families of Cassidy and Thorn, because even though Thorn is a “good guy,” he comes from a family of criminals. And they’re proud to be criminals.

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Who to Trust
While most of the side characters were horrible, they were also perfect in the context of the story and gave the plot its intrigue and adrenaline. There are also those who were questionable, and I liked having that factor of not knowing if they were a good guy or a bad guy.

The Romance Factor
I loved the romance between Cassidy and Thorn. Thorn is so not a super-alpha male, but he’s still strong and protective. Cassidy resists him initially, but realizes quickly that he’s different, and though once in awhile she doubts his intentions, she lets herself trust him. Also, the fact that they both know their time together is limited (for reasons), makes those times even sweeter and more intense. 5/5

The Steam Factor
This one is spicy, with several detailed and we’ll paced sex scenes, including one where they only pretend to have sex. Granted, the context of that scene is a little disturbing, but the scene itself was definitely hot. 5/5

Final Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book and was pleasantly surprised at the fun and disturbing mix of the plot. It had good characters, an entertaining story, and comeuppance for some of the villains while still leaving it open and not fully resolved so we can have more of this world in future books. I hope this author brings it with the next ones in the series as well.

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