Book Review: Full Heat by Carla Swafford

The first book in the Brothers of Mayhem series had a good ending but there was also something of a cliffhanger. This story is about the hot headed brother of the heroine and it brings the same grit and dark themes. Trigger warning for strong references to rape and abuse.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman hires the Brothers of Mayhem to be her bodyguard while she and her business is threatened by a rival gang. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Biker Bodyguards
Mary Jane and her business partner are being threatened and extorted by a local gang. Her business partner suggests she enlist the services of the Brothers of Mayhem. Though the brothers are known for their own violent ways, under their current leadership, they’re offering bodyguard services as a way to go legit. Their leader, Storm Ryder, is reluctant to help Mary Jane for his own personal reasons, but when it becomes apparent her life truly is in danger, he takes her to clubhouse so he can keep watch on her, day and night.


No Touching
Storm doesn’t like to be touched. Ever. After several years in jail being abused and raped by other inmates, he can’t handle physical contact unless he’s initiating it. But he finds himself opening up to Mary Jane and letting her get under his skin. She’s a free spirit, having grown up in a commune, and every time he does something he thinks is going to push her away, she surprises him by welcoming and accepting him for who he is.

Daddy Issues
Personal and club matters are made more complicated by the fact that Storm’s dad is back in town, a man who physically abused him and his sister and killed their mother. Unfortunately, the man who actually raised Storm seems to be siding with his old man, and besides an impending war with the other gang, there’s also a lot of unrest within the Brothers. It’s not until Mary Jane takes him to the commune where she grew up that he realizes there is a place and a person that could actually make him happy.

Emotionally Dark
The motorcycle club is violent and criminal, and yet even with this as a backdrop to the story, there’s still a strong romantic and emotional element. It’s hard sometimes to see Storm as an actual hero because of the alpha male harshness, but once we get into his emotions and how painful his time in jail was for him, it’s easier to understand where some of that violence comes from. The other characters, not so much. Storm’s father is loathesome. I actually liked the rival gang better than I did him, and I hope he ends up with some sort of really painful comeuppance.


The Romance Factor
Mary Jane knows what Storm is like, knows that he pushes her away, and yet she keeps trying to get through and show how much she cares for him. It’s not an easy journey for either of them, but I loved the amount of conflict and emotion they exude in their relationship. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Storm and Mary Jane have a lot of sex. Pretty much every time they’re alone in his room, which is frequent since that’s where she’s hiding out. It’s super spicy! 5/5

Final Thoughts
Motorcycle club books can’t necessarily be marketed as “sweet,” but there were a lot of sweet parts in this one. There’s also an appearance by Cassidy and Thorne from the first book that plays into Storm’s story. Gritty and disturbing, this book still got me in the feels and ended up being a strong read.

Book Review: Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden

This series has been pretty intense, but so fun! While I had a hard time connecting with the hero in the first one (who still comes across as an alpha-hole), this book and the last book have kept me hooked.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A member of a motorcycle club returns to town to find out that not only is he attracted to his best friend from before he left, but that she’s joined up with his club’s biggest rivals and the ones they believe killed their president. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Hail to the King
With a name like Leonidas, the hero was bound to be sexy, right? I dig that name, though not just anyone could pull it off. He’s got that standard biker attitude (at least as they’re portrayed in these books), though he’s nowhere near as intense as Ajax. and when he decides to claim the woman who used to be his best friend and now raises his inner thermostat, he’s pretty dominating about it. Which left me conflicted, because while it was hot, it was also a little scary.

Family Affair
Alice’s priority in life is family, but circumstances have taken that away from her. First she lost the club she’d called a family, including her best friend, and then she lost the chance at having a family of her own. When she joined up with the Deacons’ rivals, she did so out of loneliness and the need belong to. Her reasons are sound…even if the Deacons don’t see it that way. I also liked that she was a mechanic and seemed to be able to hold her own with the clubs.

Friends & Lovers
Leon and Alice were best friends when they were young, and as the story progresses, each one starts to remember how attracted they were to the other one. Since they didn’t think the feelings were mutual and so never acted on them. It makes it that much better when they come together as adults and give in to those feelings.

Where Is This Going?
The overall story arc has gotten intense, and I love how as the reader, I can definitely feel that we’re coming in on a climax (hehehe) to the story. I think that the excellent pacing is even better because of the multiple authors. Talk about team players.


President Douchcanoe
While I enjoyed this book and had fun reading it, I was also conflicted about several things. First, if I disliked Ajax in the first book, I loathed him in this one. He’s such a complete douche who sees things in black and white, and it gets really old after awhile. The thing is, the books were written by different authors, and this highlights how different writers of the series see these characters. While I don’t like him as a character, I like the difference viewpoints that come across from the different people writing the books.

The Question of Consent
I liked Leon/Blue, I really did. And I wanted him and Alice to be together because I bought that they really did love each other. But there’s a whole scene where she’s basically telling him she doesn’t want him to touch her and he’s doing it anyway. But I’m a firm believer in “no means no,” so I had a really hard time with that. Sure, it might have been appropriate in the context of the book, but it still drove me nuts.


The Romance Factor
Despite the whole ownership thing (which went from being sweet in the last book to a little scary in this one), I loved the way the characters realized how much they loved the other one, especially Leon when he realized that he’d been kind of an ass. The fact that Alice was part of the rival club brought a lot of conflict, so there was a tension through the whole book that played into how fun it was to read. 4/5

The Steam Factor
Oh man. The sexy times between these two are hot, even more so when they happen in a public area with the possibility of anyone walking in on them. 5/5

Final Thoughts
Not only am I excited to see the final story, which is about the club member that nobody really seems to like, but I also can’t wait to see how the story turns out, as it took a bit of a twist in this one. I’ll be sad to end this series, but it’s given me some new authors to read. I also can’t decide if it’s primed me to enjoy MC novels or if it’s ruined me for others I try to read in the future that just don’t live up.

Fire Me Up (Deacons of Bourbon Street #2) by Rachael Johns

So I realize that the first Deacons of Bourbon Street book was a little off-putting at times for me. But since then, I’ve given a couple other motorcycle club books a try, and I think I’m finding my footing with them. So when NetGalley offered me up the next book in the Deacons series, I went for it.

Fire Me Up

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
When a member of the Deacons motorcycle club goes to stay at the old clubhouse, he finds that the place has an art gallery and a sexy Bohemian tenant who he can’t seem to keep his hands off. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
I have to admit, I liked this book better than I liked the first one. Travis is grouchy, but nowhere near as rough and possessive as Ajax was. He has a moments, but for the most part, I thought he was respectful. I liked his backstory, and I especially like that his past issues didn’t actually resolve. Not that I didn’t want him to have a HEA, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense when really harsh realities resolve in a gift wrapped package. Yay for ongoing conflict.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I thought this book posed a really interesting question about women as property, and I’m probably attuned to that because of how powerful Mad Max: Fury Road was. Generally speaking, women are not and should not be property. But the idea of this in a motorcycle club is prevalent in media (I’m assuming this is an actual thing as well, but if anyone has knowledge of MCs, please feel free to correct/inform me).

Immortan Joe

The shift I had to make from my knee jerk reaction is to the mindset that when Travis and the other brothers of the gang see their woman as property, it’s not that they own them and can do with them what they want. It’s that they need to protect them and to give them a place to be, a family, and a support system. It’s interesting, because this isn’t really a negative, and Billie maintains her independence. I find it interesting that just the meaning and intent of one word can change a whole idea.

The Romance Factor
I’m not a huge fan of insta-love, but I bought into the insta-lust of this story, and because the characters were so strong, I wasn’t jarred by their quick fall into love. There was a good amount of chemistry between them, and I got the heart feels when conflict kept them apart. Angst for the win! 4/5.

The Steam Factor
The sexy times were many and detailed and delightful! Definitely some R ratings going on there. If I’ve learned one thing from these novels, bikers like it intense. 4/5

Scrubs - So Hot

Final Thoughts
I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m now hooked into the series and will have to make sure I read the other two books. This one was by Rachael Johns. I haven’t read anything else by her, but I liked her style and will be seeking out some of her other work.

Goodreads Review: Make You Burn by Megan Crane

Over Memorial Day weekend, I finished 3 books and this was one of them. Since this was my first motorcycle club read, I pictured all of the Sons of Anarchy characters in the story. While this book was harsh, it wasn’t in the same realm of SoA at all, but it was definitely a little more than I usually enjoy. Just a warning: the hero, in my opinion, doesn’t treat the heroine very well. In fact, he very much treats her like a piece of property, and while I get that that’s part of the culture, it’s not something that sits with me as romantic. Having said that, I know other readers who would find this to be their catnip. 

Make You Burn (The Deacons of Bourbon Street, #1)Make You Burn by Megan Crane

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

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

Ajax returns to the home of his motorcycle club, the Deacons of Bourbon Street, after the president of the club and his father figure, Priest, dies in a motorcycle accident. What he finds his Priest’s daughter, grown up and running her dad’s bar. Sophie is torn between loving and hating the motorcycle club life, but she misses her father and struggles with both her loss and her feelings towards Ajax, who she also has mixed feelings for: a long held attraction to him and anger at him for leaving ten years prior, even though her father was the one who sent him and three others away.

This book is the first in a set of four (different authors), and I have to guess that this one was intended to offer back story and set up for an overarching mystery. After hearing a lot about motorcycle club novels and thinking I’d really enjoy them, I’m a little torn on how to feel about this one. The writing is good, but I wasn’t expecting the level of grittiness and the hard edge of the hero. You’d think after watching Sons of Anarchy, I’d know what to expect, but I never thought of SoA as a romance, and I think I might like my romances a little softer.

Sophie was great as the heroine who was both strong and vulnerable and dealing with all of her feelings surrounding her father’s death. I did feel she was a little quick to jump into bed with Ajax, but she also had some history with him, and I guess if you take her independence into account, she can sleep with who she wants, when she wants. What made the book hard to read for me was Ajax. While I think he was probably true to character, I just couldn’t get into the ultra-alpha male thing he had going on. He wasn’t just rough around the edges, he was like a sheet of sandpaper. Though Sophie stood her ground, male characters who dominate with harsh words and berating and “putting a woman in her place” dialogue just don’t do it for me.

Though I suppose there is a hard won romance between the 2 characters, I just wasn’t feeling it, so for me, the Romance Factor is only a 2/5, and that’s because towards the end I finally got some of the emotion and felt like Ajax might actually love Sophie instead of viewing her as property. The Sex Factor, on the other hand, is a solid 5/5. Readers who like it steamy shouldn’t be disappointed. There are many sexy times in this book, made only steamier by the fact that they’re sometimes in public places.

I know there’s a niche for MC romances, and as an objective reviewer, I think this was a good book. However, for my own tastes, I either wasn’t in the mood to read something so gritty or I’m just not geared for this type of romance. I’d be open to trying a few more, probably even in this series because I’d like to see how things pan out, but I’m not sure if this will every be a go-to genre for me.

View all my reviews

Wicked Fall by Sawyer Bennett

It’s safe to say that Sawyer Bennett does not shy away from all things sex. In fact, this book is all about sex. A secret sex club, in fact, with a country western bar as front. Talk about a fun read…but definitely a steamy one, so proceed with caution should you want to read this in public.

Wicked Fall

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
The owner of a secret sex club likes to play it loose and dirty until his high school friend’s sister, who he had a thing for, comes back to town after breaking up with her fiance. The full synopsis can be found at this book’s Goodreads page.

The Good Stuff
There is a good balance between sex and romance in this book, even though I think the book was about 80% sexy times, and ones meant to push the envelope on steaminess. This book is definitely contemporary erotica, and it’s very sex positive. Woolf allows Callie to explore her curiosities without pushing her or making her uncomfortable, and taking the time to talk to her about things after a particularly exploratory scene involving Woolf’s best friend.

Blanche aroused

Also, the general theme of the story is safe, consensual, fun sex, even if it’s kinky, and I really liked that in this world, there were couples who engaged in these activities and were comfortable doing so, the experimentation helping to strengthen their own relationship. Yay for sex positivity!

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
The only issue I took with Woolf’s attitude towards Callie was that he “knew” this lifestyle wasn’t for her. He’s definitely an alpha male, so I guess it was to be expected. It didn’t detract from his character, as it was part of who he was, and overall, I really liked him as the hero. But part of me wanted Callie to be like, “Let’s do that again!”


The Romance Factor
While only slightly angsty, I really loved the way Woolf handled Callie when showing her his world, and though most of their interactions were hot and dirty, there were some very sweet moments, too. 4/5 RF

The Steam Factor
I don’t know if I’ve done this before, but this book is getting a major 6/5 on the SF scale. The world this is set in explores all sorts of kinks and the author doesn’t hold back the detail, using all of the senses to let the reader know what’s going on. If you’re not used to a high level of sex in books, you might want to work up to this one.

Final Thoughts
I think Bennett is going to deliver another hot and fun series, and I can’t wait to read the next book, which is introduced in the epilogue of this one in a scene that I found to be strangely hilarious and enticing.