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: 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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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.

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