Book Review: Hard Rider by Lydia Pax

It’s rare that I find humor in a motorcycle club novel with corruption and a hardcore alpha male. But I did in this one. The author balances dark themes and conflict with good dialogue to make an enjoyable story.

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
The bad boy of a motorcycle club and the good girl daughter of the local sheriff fake a relationship to benefit themselves in different ways, finding quickly that despite their opposite worlds, they truly care for each other. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Engagement of Convenience
Like most alpha males, Ram is doing just what he wants at the start of this book, getting handsy in public with two bike bunnies from his rival MC, starting a fight and establishing just how hardcore he is. Which was why it was especially funny to me that when he finds out his crew is on the verge of kicking him out of the club, he decides to play the fake “this is my old lady” ploy to get his crew mates to realize he’s not a loose cannon.

What he doesn’t realize when he starts the ball rolling on this plan is that the woman he chooses is the daughter of the county sheriff, a man who hates bikers. It doesn’t help that Ram and his club hate cops, and Ram blames them for the death of his mother.

Finding Her Wild Side
June is a good girl but she has rebellious side. She left home several years before because of her overbearing father, and returning home hasn’t changed anything. Her father is determined to marry her off to the mayor’s son and control her life based on what he wants. So for June, the faked relationship with Ram is a way to stop this and prove to her parents she’s her own person. But she soon discovers that her rebellion is a symptom of a wild side that she’s kept hidden, and Ram’s lifestyle starts to appeal to her, as does Ram himself.

Humanity is Not Black & White
I like that the author writes in grays, meaning that characters who seem like the bad guys are given a good side and vice versa. It gives the story and the characters extra dimensions that add to the realism and enjoyment. Having said that, I absolutely hated June’s father. That guy could have walked off bridge and I would have been fine with it.  Having flawed characters makes for a great story dynamic.

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The Mostly Happy Ending
It also made me happy that while the story ends on a high note, not everything in either of their lives is resolved to a high degree of happily-ever-after, which is as it should be. It always strikes me as a little unbelievable when a story with a lot of conflict and dangerous lifestyles ends with everyone getting what they want, and I appreciate that even though some things worked out, there are still things Ram and June are going to have to deal with.

MC or Fraternity
Things seem to escalate pretty seriously between the two rival motorcycle clubs, and it seems like they’re going to just kill each other at some point. But then the final act between them seems to be more of a college prank that a serious motorcycle club war. It was funny, but it seemed a little anti-climactic for what I thought was going to happen.

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The Romance Factor
Ram and June have chemistry right from the start, and their banter and interactions are entertaining. Though they both believe at first they don’t want anything more than a fake engagement, it escalates quickly to the point where they’re treating each other with emotions deeper than friendship. For an alpha male, Ram is surprisingly sweet and passionate when it comes to June, letting her influence on him turn him into a better person, which was what he was hoping to fake to his club at the beginning anyway. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Hot tamales! There’s way more erotic goodness in this one than in the last one I read by the author. I’m okay with this. Dirty sex works well for a motorcycle club novel, and it’s even better when the female involved is supposed to be a good girl. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Though I focused on the more humorous aspects of the book, there are a lot of feels in this book. The story made me happy, angry, sad, and gave me that swoony feeling that I get when reading a really good romance. This is a solid MC story that I think fans of the genre will really enjoy.

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