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: The Care and Feeding Of an Alpha Male by Jessica Clare

A few personal notes: I’ve been taking zumba and yoga classes. It feels kind of insane, like I’m not the kind of person who should be taking either (even though I know that’s a fallacy). Either way, I’ve been kind of sore, but I’m definitely getting stronger. However, since my current focus is fitness, my writing time has taken a bit of a hit. I figure everything comes and goes in cycles, so I just need to ride this one out until the next one happens.


One-Sentence Synopsis
A high class woman in a small town falls for one of the guys from the wrong side of the tracks, despite the fact that they previously hated each other. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Better On Her Own
Beth Ann is trying to prove that she can live life on her own terms. She has her own business, she’s no longer with her cheating ex, and despite the fact that the whole population of Bluebonnet (who are honestly a bunch of a-holes) thinks she should get back with the ex, she refuses to lose her independence.


Cabin in the Woods
So when Colt comes to “rescue” her when she’s lost in the woods, her first reaction is to be pissed about it, which in turn, irritates Cole. In fact, because the two don’t like each other in general, it just makes him want to goad her more. This plan puts them together for a weekend under the pretense that the can’t get out of the woods due to the weather flooding the river. Which isn’t true, it’s just Colt’s way of teaching her a lesson…but you can guess what ends up happening.

Sex: The Gateway to Love
It doesn’t take long for the two of them to realize they don’t actually hate each other. Sure, they have a lot of sex, but they actually start an emotional relationship too. Beth Ann doesn’t care that Colt’s family is known as white trash, and Colt is the only one who seems to support Beth Ann’s need for independence. The story isn’t so much about them getting together, it’s about them dealing with the town’s reaction and overcoming their own issues to be together.

Lessons From Carrie Underwood
If you read my review for the first book in the Bluebonnet series, Beth Ann is the one who encouraged her friend to get revenge on the guy who hurt her. At the start of this book, I felt as if she might have been vicariously living through Miranda. Beth Ann, though assertive and independent, is way too nice when it came to her cheating scum of an ex who continues to stalk her and try to get her back. She doesn’t go back, but she shows him moments of kindness, which is way more than he deserves.

Stand By Your Man
I liked Beth Ann, and though I can empathize with her being nicer to the residents than they deserved,  it kind of bothered me that she didn’t always stick up for Colt when someone talked disparagingly about him. She wasn’t trying to hide him, but she failed to say anything in his defense when someone talked about him being white trash or said he wasn’t good enough for her.

The Romance Factor
I loved the romance in this book, especially when it came to Colt. When things get rough and he thinks he’s going to lose her, Colt’s emotions were what really got me. I also loved that he punched her ex. 5/5

The Steam Factor
This one is super spicy and takes it to those places that don’t always make their way into romance novels…in great detail. 6/5


Final Thoughts
The relationship picked up fast, but there was still conflict, so I didn’t mind the lack of “getting together” foreplay. The residents of Bluebonnet are largely a bunch of putzes, but the main characters are great, and to some extent, are all misfits of their small town populations, which makes the series so enjoyable.

Book Review: Risking It All by Christi Barth

Based on the number of emails I received from NetGalley telling me I’d like this because I read -insert title of book here-, I figured I should probably request it. Plus I liked the idea of a man blog. I don’t read any, and I’m sure they’re out there, but in the context of this book’s synopsis, it sounded fun.


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

One-Sentence Synopsis
A man who spends most of his time taking risks meets and falls for a woman who takes as few risks as possible. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Dealing With Trauma
Griffin and Chloe both have traumatic events in their past, but they’ve handled it on opposite ends of the spectrum. Griffin and his fellow soccer players were in a bad bus accident in the middle of nowhere when they were young, and his take charge actions led him to a job with the coast guard, sometimes taking risks to save people. Chloe was the victim of a mass shooting, and though she dreams of traveling, she chooses to stay safe at home in a career as a professional letter writer.

Differences of Opinion
When Griffin is grounded after breaking the rules on a rescue mission, he’s not the happiest of campers. When they first meet, Griffin isn’t much of a Casanova, basically telling Chloe he was bored and she looked interesting (a cure for boredom is something every woman hopes to be, I’m sure). But as they get to know each other, they both seem to develop as characters, something that’s only emphasized by the fact that they continue to experience conflict in their difference in opinions at how their trauma should be handled. Griffin wants Chloe to get out and live her life (something she’s heard way too much from her best friend) and Chloe thinks Griffin should stop taking unnecessary risks.


Let’s Get Real
The interactions between Griffin and Chloe were relatable, and while there was angst, it was believable, normal angst. Not only did I like most of their interactions, I liked being able to see their separate lives, especially Griffin’s friendship with the other guys who were part of the bus accident and their different personalities.

Weird Hang-Ups
I enjoyed the opposites attract aspect of these two characters, and I liked that most of their interactions felt real. However, there was one aspect that drove me nuts, and that was the way Griffin reacted to Chloe being a virgin.  Maybe I just haven’t been around people who thought it was a big deal, but Griffin was kind of a douche about the whole thing, basically insulting Chloe for having not had sex already because it made him uncomfortable.


The Romance Factor
Once we got past Griffin’s weird virgin freak out, the romance fell into place. It wasn’t as heart rending as some romances, but is nice and sweet, and as I mentioned before, it felt real. 3/5

The Steam Factor
There’s a lot of buildup and very little sex, but when Griffin and Chloe do finally rock out, it’s on the high side of hot. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Once I got past Griffin being a jerk about the virginity issue, I was able to enjoy this for the cute romance it was. I feel that based on the glimpses of the other characters in this one, I’m probably going to like the other guys more, so I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

Movie Review: Take Me Home

Guys, I’m getting a little overwhelmed with my reading life right now. I have a full list of NetGalley books because I can’t seem to stop requesting them. I have the new Jim Butcher book that has limited time in my house and it’s long and I have no idea when I’m going to get to it. Pair that with limited reading time over the next few weeks and Nanowrimo in November, and I have some serious time management that needs to happen. But with all that, I still have time to watch the occasional romance movie, because sometimes, it has to be all about Netflix.

Take me Home

One-Sentence Synopsis
After a woman receives news that her father is in the hospital, she convinces a cabbie to take her from New York to California, not realizing that he’s not a real cabbie. For a full synopsis, see this movie’s IMDB page.

The Good Stuff
Considering how unlikable the main characters are, this movie was surprisingly entertaining, and is one of the few that actually pushed my emotional buttons the way most books do. Claire is already on the verge of a meltdown from finding her husband with another woman in their house (not actually doing anything, but leaving enough room for doubt), so when she finds out her estranged father had a heart attack, she kind of loses her mind. And it’s kind of riveting how crazy she goes, like she knows she’s losing her grip but she can’t help it.

Thom is a hot mess himself. He’s not a real cabbie, but a down on his luck photographer who pretends to be a cabbie when he needs extra money. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s not exactly honest either. So when Claire tells him to just drive, he does just that, figuring he’ll make a few extra bucks. $5,000 of them to be exact.


But then things take a turn of the unfortunate, and the road trip turns out be a comedy of errors. This is the perfect hate-to-love trope, starting with two people who literally have a physical fight in the front seat of the cab. It was a funny scene, but honestly, who can’t relate to being so drained and stressed that you just need to attack someone?

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
There are two different times where the characters fall asleep at the wheel, which isn’t surprising since they never stop. They can’t get a hotel, for reasons, but seriously…hasn’t anyone ever heard of a rest stop? For all intents and purposes, Claire isn’t really on a timetable, and the money she offers at the beginning of the trip, while somewhat moot at one point, doesn’t really seem worth the possibility of an accident due to lack of sleep.

The Romance Factor
Here’s the funny thing about this romance: there are no blatant romantic scenes. By that I mean, there’s no sex, there’s very little kissing, and there is little dialog about how either one of them feels. But the dialog that does happen is effective, and the actors are really good at conveying things with their expressions and body language. At one point, Thom makes an apology to Claire and tells her a whole mass of truth about himself, sliding in a very subtle note about wanting to sleep in with her (it really was just sleeping though), and it caught me off guard and then kind of melted my little romantic heart. 5/5


The Steam Factor
If you’re talking the type of steam that comes from anger, then there was some of that here, but as for sexy times…nope. The movie was great without them, and I actually think a steamy scene would have ruined the simple romance of the film. 1/5

Final Thoughts
While some mainstream romance is good, I find the most gems in the indy romance genre. This was a great film with an interesting premise, some beautiful landscape, and two people who I found myself rooting for, not just to end up together, but to find some sense of happiness in the gloomy lives they were leading.