Book Review: Ruthless by Gillian Archer

I always read the synopsis of a book before I request it, but by the time I open the book, I’ve forgotten what it’s about. I wasn’t expecting this to be a motorcycle club novel (I had billionaires in my head for some reason). But this book didn’t leave me much time to be disappointed, because it started out strong and kept me hooked the entire time.

27960210

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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A biker gets involved with a woman and has to protect her when she unwittingly becomes the target of another biker. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

The Worst Date Ever
Right from the start, I really liked this couple, and I credit that with the damsel-in-distress meet-cute. Jessica is trying to end a really bad blind date when the date starts mauling her. Zag, a member of the True Brothers Motorcycle Club, steps in to pull the handsy guy away. Though he doesn’t plan to stick around, Jessica convinces him to let her buy him a drink as a thank you, and they end up in bed together. Though Jessica is interested from the start, it seems like just another one-night stand for Zag, so she doesn’t try to pursue anything.

My Bike is My Anti-Drug
Zag comes off as the cool guy who just goes with the flow and doesn’t really see the need to get involved. But then after their one night together, he can’t forget about Jessica and ends up contacting her to meet up again. Because cool guy or not, she obviously rocked his world.

tumblr_m1csiavsMi1r99f4t

Zag and True Brothers club in general are fairly straightlaced as far as MCs go. All of the components of the MC are there, but the edgier and darker elements aren’t highlighted. What is highlighted is the fact that Zag will not, nor will he allow the club to, have any involvement with drugs. His youth was pretty jacked up because of a junkie mother, and he refuses to touch the stuff. When Jessica sees a drug deal go down between one of the True Brothers and a rival gang, she misinterprets what’s going on and tries to break it off with Zag, as drugs are a deal breaker. Instead, Zag ends up making her his old lady in order to protect her from the drug dealing brother who wants to silence her before she can testify against him.

Normal, but Not Boring
Zag is a very tame alpha male an a nice guy. Of course he comes across as a little volatile and hard ass when Jessica’s safety is compromised, but that just added to his appeal. As for Jessica, she might be the most normal heroine I’ve ever read. Her problems are pretty standard: an overbearing mother who wants her to get married and have babies; a friend who is in major disapproval of her choice in men; a job that she finds mediocre but brings in a paycheck. She actually has a cool dad (rare), and she’s pretty standard all around. You’d think she’d be boring, but she’s not. Instead, she’s relateable and likeable.

The Romance Factor
Zag is sweet and Jessica’s struggle with dating a bad boy was endearing rather than whiny and annoying. And when Jessica’s life is put in danger, the emotions from Zag were intense and passionate. 4/5

200_s

The Steam Factor
The sexy times are hot, especially when Zag takes control. It never really gets into sub/dom territory, but there’s definitely a subtle aspect of that kind of play. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Jessica’s two friends have fairly important roles in the book. One I liked, one I didn’t, but I read that the next two books are about them, so I’m excited to see what happens (even with the friend who’s kind of a bitch). I enjoyed this book a lot. The writing was solid, the characters felt real, and the drama worked with the story without overshadowing the plot just to highlight how bad ass a biker and his club can be.

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.

25614735

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.

200.gif

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.

giphy.gif

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.

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.