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.

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.