Exquisite Innocence (Iron Horse MC #5)

Lyric

I’ve spent my entire life on my parent’s isolated religious compound, sheltered and cut off from the rest of the world. It left me ill prepared to face the evil that invaded my home, and after a horrific encounter with demons masquerading as men, I fled. Some might say that my refuge is even worse than the prison I grew up in, but the men and women of the Iron Horse MC have been better to me than my own family. Unfortunately, the trouble I thought I left behind is still hunting me for reasons I don’t understand. Hustler has been assigned to be my guardian, but to my foolish heart he may be the biggest threat of all. Everything inside of me tells me we belong together, that I’ve been put on this earth to be his, but he insists we’ll never be anything more than friends.

Hustler

For as long as I can remember the Iron Horse MC has been my family. I’ve fought, bled, and sacrificed a piece of my soul for my brothers, but I’ve been set up, labeled a traitor by those I trusted most. My only hope comes in the form of a naive young girl I’ve been tasked with protecting, a woman who’s haunted both my heart and dreams. She’s everything good and beautiful in this world, and while I’ll never allow her to tarnish herself by loving me, I’ll do everything I can to make sure she survives.

(This unconventional MC series is one that SHOULD be read in order, starting with Exquisite Trouble).

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Exquisite Innocence is the fifth book in the Iron Horse MC series by Ann Mayburn. Iron Horse is my second favourite MC series and each of the couples in it has a two book arc. Which means that this book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger and the conclusion to Lyric and Hustler’s story will be released at the end of 2017, according to the author’s social media accounts.

This series is multi-faceted. It covers the outlaw MC world, the mafia world, and brings in the world of religious cults in this novel as well. It occurs in the same universe as the Submissive’s Wish series by Mayburn and there is cross-over between the two, something I happen to love.

Lyric and Hustler are super easy to fall in love with, both as individuals and as a couple. They fit well together and come alive on the page. There was a preview to this in the final scenes of the previous books so the character pairing isn’t a surprise, but I like how to the author expanded upon Lyric’s backstory, and showed Hustler’s more serious and dangerous side, which was previously hidden.

You knew it had to exist because he was an Enforcer for an outlaw motorcycle club, but he seems so goofy, chatty and sex-oriented that you forgot to be afraid, or at least that little bit on guard.

There are two main complaints that I had about Exquisite Innocence: that it wasn’t long enough (this is a short novel at about 55,000 words) which is significantly shorter than the other books in this series. And, it has been painfully obvious to me since book one who the “baddie” is, undermining and betraying his club brothers and trying to kidnap the heroines left right and centre. The author confirms in this book but I was greatly hoping that this “suspense” arc would have resolved by now!

Mayburn’s other main series (that I read at least) is the Submissive’s Wish series about Russian Bratva Doms and their beloved subs, and I feel like that series is much more complicated, well-thought out and fulfilling as a reader. I feel like not as much time went into establishing the series arcing plot points in Iron Horse, because let’s be honest. I’m not THAT perceptive and the majority of readers shouldn’t have been able to figure it out so easily.

EI would have been much more enjoyable if I didn’t feel that the author was stringing the reader along, trying to perpetuate the “Chief betrayal storyline” for several books longer than enjoyable. It also annoyed me when I downloaded my pre-order to find that the book was so short. As I mentioned above, it is significantly shorter than previous books in the same series and publication was delayed by a month. It makes me suspicious that the author had to split the book into two last minute (posting the update this summer on her social media accounts) rather than publishing one complete story. Most romance novels I read are more than 100 000 words, most actually push 130 000, so the length of the first half definitely does not necessitate splitting this book into two for me.

Unfortunately these issues took an otherwise great story and dropped it down to three stars, IMHO. Hopefully the next book makes up for it because Lyric and Hustler are a great couple and I want to see them have their time in the sun. I am also intrigued by several other characters and hope to read romance stories for Hulk, Sledge/Marley, and Tom Sokolov before the series concludes!

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xx

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Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde

Devil’s Game is the third book in the Reapers MC series by Wylde. It tells the story of Em and Hunter that was teased throughout the entire second novel. The first part covers Em’s kidnapping and the fallout, only told from her and Hunter’s perspectives, rather than Sophie’s. As such, it is more detailed. Em and Hunter are a classic Romeo and Juliet story retold from the perspective of contemporary characters who belong to enemy outlaw motorcycle clubs.

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Liam “Hunter” Blake hates the Reapers MC. Born and raised a Devil’s Jack, he knows his duty. He’ll defend his club from their oldest enemies-the Reapers-using whatever weapons he can find. But why use force when the Reapers’ president has a daughter who’s alone and vulnerable? Hunter has wanted her from the minute he saw her, and now he has an excuse to take her.

Em has lived her entire life in the shadow of the Reapers. Her overprotective father, Picnic, is the club’s president. The last time she had a boyfriend, Picnic shot him. Now the men in her life are far more interested in keeping her daddy happy than showing her a good time. Then she meets a handsome stranger-a man who isn’t afraid to treat her like a real woman. One who isn’t afraid of her father. His name is Liam, and he’s The One.

Or so she thinks.

—                         —                          —

I loved this book! I actually had to read it twice to appreciate its glory. The first time I read it was just a few days after the previous book and it was too soon. I didn’t want to recover any of the same material. But after taking a few months before going at it a second time, I am so thankful for the author’s decision to retell the kidnapping from Hunter and Em’s POVs. This decision provides insight into their psyches and lots of  delicious tension. Em is fiery and passionate and makes several escape attempts that were tons of fun to read.

The prologues and a couple of flash backs give excellent background info on both characters It is pretty funny to see some of the things that Em had to deal with growing up as the daughter of the President of an outlaw MC. Despite some of the very difficult periods of her life that she has gone through – or maybe because of them – she understands the value of life and second chances quite clearly and is very forgiving.

A little vengeful too. But that just keeps life interesting.

Devil’s Game opens up the Reaper world just a little bit more. The reader gets to meet Deke further, and see the beginnings of a relationship between him and Cookie develop. I hope they get a story of their own one day …. I would be super excited to read it! We also see the Portland chapter of a Devil’s Jacks MC start up.

Hunter is delicious. Very ignorant of how to conduct himself in a relationship but charming all the same. He may be pretty rough around the edges but he loves his girl and that shines through clearly.

I loved Em and Hunter’s story. The only problem I had with it is that it ends very suddenly. As soon as the main plot point was resolved, the story just drops off with one chapter. I think the ending would have been improved with more of a lead off.

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xx

 

Firestorm by Anne Malcom

Firestorm is the second book in the Sons of Templar series. You can read my blog post about book one here.

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Amy Abrams doesn’t do love. Nor does she do emotional attachments, unless you count the connection she has with designer handbags. She grew up in an Upper East Side penthouse, which had about as much affection within its tastefully decorated walls as Castle Dracula. Her family is the precise reason why she points her red-soled heels firmly in the opposite direction of that dreaded four-letter word.

Then it happens. Love. It comes right out of the blue and knocks her off her six-inch heels. She learns that love comes with pesky side effects such as heartbreak, which seriously messes with the complexion. Amy promises herself that she’ll never open herself to that horrible feeling again. She doesn’t count on an infuriating, albeit drool-worthy biker to roar into her life and ruin the plans she had of locking up her heart. She keeps her distance, wary of the sinfully sexy biker whose tattoos should read Warning – dangerous alpha male, will screw up your life.

Amy may be an Upper East Side princess but she wasn’t looking for Prince Charming. She wouldn’t mind the name of his hair stylist, though. Brock certainly isn’t a knight in shining armour, but he consumes her, body and soul. Drama pulls them apart; danger will bring them back together. When Amy is threatened Brock is there ready to save her life. Her heart is another story.

—                —                —

Firestorm is the ultimate love triangle book. Amy previously fell in love with her best friend’s Spec Ops brother Ian- the first love of her life – but he broke it off to return to the theatre of war, not believing it was fair to keep her waiting. A year later she moves to Amber and starts falling in love with Brock, only to discover that Ian is leaving the military and coming home with the intentions of settling down with her.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

Please note that there is no cheating in this novel, for anyone who is concerned.

One of the biggest differences in Firestorm, compared to the first in the series, is that the book bounces around a lot in the timeline. Because the relationship between Ian and Amy began before the series, their story is told in flashbacks. So is much of Amy’s back-story with Brock; Malcom recaps the goings-on between Amy and Brock in the first book, giving an insider look to issues that were only hinted at in Making the Cut. At the same time, obviously there is a present day, where Amy is try to dealing with the fallout of book 1.

MAJOR spoiler alert for book 1

Ian dies in book one, remember. He was killed in action and Amy feels a lot of grief and guilt around his death and her life going forward. It would have been much easier I think, for her to accept a second love in Brock and make a new life if she had met him after Ian’s death. But she didn’t, and can’t allow herself to be happy for the longest time.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Sons of Templar novel without some drama and kidnapping : )

I love the longer style of book Malcom has perfected and that we get updates on Cade and Gwen and their baby girl. The pacing of the story is a little different since the author doesn’t need to spend a lot of time introducing the characters and the world to the reader. I did find that the jumpy timeline slowed down my reading a little bit. Sometimes I needed a moment to reset myself after a jump, to remember where we had last left off. As long as you’ve read the first novel though you already know at least some of what is transpiring, so it helps to not be trying to learn who the characters are as well.

I loved learning about how absolutely shitty Amy’s family members are. It would have been neat to also learn more about Brock though. I find that 99% of the books are about the women and their history. Considering each is written from the perspective of the heroine, this partially makes sense, but I still wish we had gotten more backstory on the hero.

One of my favourite parts of Amy is her forced optimism, bravery and sheer mouthiness. Happiness doesn’t shine from her soul, she has to work for it and sometimes gets dealt a pretty shitty hand, but she perseveres through humour, which is a valuable quality to have. She inspired me to try to remember to use humour more frequently through the bad times. My go-to is to try not to acknowledge a lot of the bad, because I figure the world is dark enough and I don’t need to invite more into my life, but sometimes there is no helping it, and then, humour can be invaluable.

I highly recommend you pick up Firestorm asap. This is one where you probably need to read book one first to enjoy it though.

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xx

Cover Reveal: Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde

reaper's fire

Are you ready for Gage and Tinker’s story?!

Coming June 28th, 2016

Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Joanna Wylde returns to the “wild and raw” world of the Reapers MC with the story of Gage and Tinker…

 

The club comes first.

I’ve lived by those words my whole life—assumed I’d die by them, too, and I never had a problem with that. My Reaper brothers took my back and I took theirs and it was enough. Then I met her. Tinker Garrett. She’s beautiful, she’s loyal, and she works so damned hard it scares me sometimes . . . She deserves a good man—one better than me. I can’t take her yet because the club still needs me. There’s another woman, another job, another fight just ahead.

Now she’ll learn I’ve been lying to her all along. None of it’s real. Not my name, not my job, not even the clothes I wear. She thinks I’m nice. She pretends we’re just friends, that I’ve still got a soul . . . Mine’s been dead for years. Now I’m on fire for this woman, and a man can only burn for so long before he destroys everything around him.

I’m coming for you, Tinker.

Soon.

 

Available for Pre-order at the following retailers.

Amazon US:  http://amzn.to/1mD6Sma

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1IOuRJI

iBooks: http://apple.co/1JUbzxl

Nook: http://bit.ly/1mzrJaD

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1Uu6bXu

Google Play:  http://bit.ly/1SxRDaQ

About the Author:

joanna wylde

Joanna Wylde is a New York Times bestselling author and creator of the Reapers Motorcycle Club series. She currently lives in Idaho.
Stalk Her: Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Goodreads

Exquisite Redemption – a review

Exquisite Redemption is the third book in Ann Mayburn’s Iron Horse MC series. They feature a Texas-based 1% motorcycle club and the hardcore bombshells the members fall for… and they fall hard.

I’m not sure if this will continue throughout the series, but the first couple introduced have two books to tell their stories and the current couple are also in a two-parter. Beach and Sarah’s story begins in Exquisite Redemption and concludes in Exquisite Karma, which will probably be out around February 2016. I was lucky enough to score an e-arc from one of my fave authors, so here is my review!

redemption

Blurb:

Sarah

In my wild, reckless past Carlos ‘Beach’ Rodriguez would have been my ideal man. He’s handsome, experienced, rich, kind, and in complete control of his destiny. Unfortunately he’s also a criminal, the President of an outlaw motorcycle club, and I’ve sworn off bad boys in my efforts to live my dream of being normal. It would be so much easier to resist him if he hadn’t saved my life more than once and didn’t treat me like his queen.

Beach

Gorgeous, smart, and deadly, Sarah is my ideal woman, even if she is almost young enough to be my daughter. On the surface she’s one of the toughest females I’ve ever met, but underneath all that hard beauty and menace lies an incredibly tender heart that’s been damaged in the past. Winning her love is gonna be a challenge, but I’m determined to have her as my old lady and I’ll do whatever I have to in order to make that happen. That would be a hell of a lot easier to do if people weren’t trying to kill us all the time.

**Author’s note- This is part ONE of TWO for Beach and Sarah’s story and ends on a Happy For Now. Book TWO of Beach and Sarah’s story will be available February 4th, 2016.**

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** Side-note: Although this book is the third in the series, it is a pre-quel. It takes place about two years before book one. If you’ve read the series, you know why. If you haven’t I don’t think it really matters which way you start, but book four will take place in current time so either read them as they were written (1, 2, 3, 4) or chronologically (3, 1, 2, 4). That is all. **

It was really interesting to see things from Sarah and Beachs’ points of view. You meet both characters in the first two novels but see very little of either so you form an impression based off of other characters’ takes on who they are, which turn out to be rather narrow. Not inaccurate mind you, but the reader definitely gets to see more of the real person behind the facade with “Redemption”.

I liked the book and seeing more characters from other perspectives (Smoke is a prick before he meets the love of his life!) is cool, but Exquisite Redemption wasn’t a hit for me. Too much of the story was repetitive and followed the exact same path as Trouble and Danger did. The driving motivation behind the plot is the machinations of the “unknown” traitor within the IH MC and if you have read the earlier (later?) books, you know who it is. Personally, I hate when the reader knows and the characters don’t because it is so frustrating and I always feel like the characters are the biggest idiots in the world for not putting it together…. kinda takes away from the badassery of a 1%er outlaw.

I wish that we had gotten more time with these characters and been able to see them interact with each other and the people surrounding them a little bit more. They are such interesting individuals and so much more could have been developed! We barely scraped the surface of the daddy/lg relationship  that forms between Beach and Sarah, which would have been fascinating to see (I trust the author can do it in a totally non-incesty way). It seemed like Beach and Sarah went from one plot point to another with guns blazing, but there was so much action that there wasn’t any character development, and relationships don’t build as much as I would have wanted.

I also want to learn more about Sledge, the club VP and Beach’s best friend. Three books in and we have had one scene with him. Based off of the author’s pinterest account he sounds really fun and yummy, I hope he has more scenes in Karma!

Overall this book felt rushed to me. I believe it is shorter than the first two books in the series and was originally intended to be one novel, but it became too large for the romance genre as one novel, so the author was encouraged to split it up into two. That’s so trendy these days. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough meat on the bones of this book.

Also, I continue to follow authors on social media to be able to get chances like this, to review an e-arc and help publicize their work, but it means you get little tidbits and teasers of their works in progress as well. It is great at the time but you start to form an impression of what you think the book will be like and when that impression is completely off, it throws you. For example, Ann posted several times that the way in which Sarah and Beach met was super dark compared to the watered down version they tell Sarah’s twin in book one, but it wasn’t dark at all. I think that Smoke and Swan have a much darker beginning. I beg to differ with the claim that “Beach practically kidnaps her [Sarah]” but I was expecting this book to be really dark and sinister at times and I didn’t find that it happened at all! To me, it was actually more light-hearted than either of the two previous novels which was disappointing to me, personally.

I hope I still get the chance to review Exquisite Karma in February and that it is more fulfilling to me. Dark and sinister and full of evil things happening to a certain traitor!

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xx

Exquisite Danger – a review

Exquisite Danger is the second part of Smoke and Swan’s story and the second book in the Iron Horse MC series. As such, it cannot be read as a stand-a-lone. For my review of book one, click here.

smoke 2

 

Blurb:

For the first time in my life I know what it’s like to be completely and truly adored by a man who loves me for exactly who I am, a high functioning autistic with more personality quirks than there are stars in the Texas Hill Country night sky.

Some people think my boyfriend, Smoke, is a total biker psycho, a natural born killer who will destroy anyone who threatens what he considers his. They wouldn’t be wrong, but he’s so much more than that. He’s my dark salvation, my beloved fallen angel who is trying with all of his wicked heart to save me from what seems like an entire world bent on either killing me or a fate worse than death.

We’re headed to the Denver, Colorado chapter of the Iron Horse MC, chasing after my narcissistic, junkie mother who decided to steal from some very bad men leaving her two daughters behind to pay the price for her betrayal. My twin sister, Sarah, old lady to the Iron Horse MC president, is looking for my mother as well, but Sarah’s gone rogue and has no one to guard her back which worries me deeply. To further complicate matters, there are traitors in the Iron Horse MC who are working with my mother, not only helping her to escape but also informing my enemies of my every move.

The odds are stacked against me, but I will do whatever is necessary to protect those I love, and with Smoke at my side, I just might make it out of this mess alive.

—                     —                   —

Oh man. I loved some things about this book. Getting to see more of Smoke’s POV is awesome. I think it gives the book more balance and I really liked getting both leads’ perspectives throughout the story. In this book particularly, Smoke’s very complicated psyche needed some exploration and I thought his generally steadier thought processes helped to balance out Swan’s frenetic, jumpy POV. It was also fun for Smoke’s scarier side to come out to play. I love how gentle he is with Swan – she is incredibly fragile and insecure in some ways – but the last thing a writer wants is her audience doubting whether the badass Master at Arms biker is really all that intimidating…. he definitely is! Do not get on Smoke’s bad-side.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think the plot was as strong as the first novel. Most of “ED” was about the identity of the Iron Horse traitor but to the reader, it is painfully obvious who is at fault. This is one of my biggest turnoffs in any type of entertainment and unfortunately it is persistent in this series. I almost wonder if the author is playing some sort of end game, because on her social media sites there is a pretty clear consensus on which secondary character is the traitor but she is is continuing to play dumb and carry over the “ruse”. It annoys me and I hope she ends it soon, and gets back to the good stuff.

The second point that drew me away from the story is the overly dramatic nature of some scenes. I felt that the characters just went from one super dramatic situation to another, to the point that these actions scenes felt like fluff.

This meant that IMHO, there was less deep content than there was in Trouble, when I had been hoping Mayburn would build on it instead. The scene between all the different factions (MCs and mafias and bratvas) in particularly was so overdone that it lost all meaning, for me at least. These men are all supposed to be so terrifying that you can’t help but laugh and shake your head. They just cancelled each other out whereas if it had just been the Boldin Bratva, I would have probably been shaking in my boots.

The book is solid and if I had read it first, I probably would have rated it higher, but after the stellar start in Exquisite Trouble, “Danger” was a bit of a let-down. I love this author so it was disappointing and surprising. Still looking forward to the series continuation though! And it was great to finally meet Sarah. Her and Beach’s story will be released this winter in another two-parter.

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xx

Exquisite Trouble – a review

In a genre saturated with terrible biker romance/erotica, there are a small handful of authors who stand apart. Ann Mayburn, with her Iron Horse MC series is definitely one of those stand-outs.

The first two novels, Exquisite Trouble and Exquisite Danger, are Mayburn’s debut MC couple, Smoke (hero) and Swan (heroine). I’m going to review the books separately, but because they are about the same hero/heroine, I’ll try to get up my review for the second book this week as well.

smoke 1

Blurb:

Before I met Smoke I’d never been kissed, really kissed, by a man, let alone a biker sex god bent on taking my virginity and my heart.

I got dragged into the deadly world of the Iron Horse MC by my crazy twin sister who is engaged to the club’s President and even crazier mom who only cares about herself. Smoke has been assigned by the club to keep me safe even though he’s everything that I should be afraid of. He’s the kind of man who lives by his own rules and does whatever he wants whenever he wants, but he treats me like I’m something rare and precious, not a socially dysfunctional basket case who has no idea how to love, but needs him more than her next breath.

Not that my feelings matter, because if we don’t find my mother soon, the only thing I’ll have to be worried about is who is going to kill me first.

NOTE- This is Part One of a Two Part book with a ‘Happy for Now’ ending.

—                             —                             —

I loved Exquisite Trouble but I did find it a little bit hard to get into the rhythm of Mayburn’s writing. She wrote first person perspective and it might just be the first time I’ve read this style since highschool. Also, Swan is autistic, so her brain tends to jump around a lot, which means the writing does too. Once I got used to her idiosyncrasies though, I settled in and enjoyed the story.

One of the best things about Ann Mayburn, which I know I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is that she does a phenomenal job of building an entire world in her series. I love that her couples don’t exist in a private bubble; they interact with other characters and it all fits. It flows. Feels natural. This is incredibly difficult to achieve (I’m guessing, considering the huge numbers of authors who fail) but in an MC type story where there are so many secondary characters who are integral to both plot and character development, it is even more important. And this author nails it on the head.

One thing I wish is that there were more scenes from Smoke’s POV. The book finishes from his perspective but the rest of the time we can only see his thoughts from his conversations, or from Swan’s interpretation of Smoke … which is problematic at times. Because of Swan’s autism, she has a difficult time reading people and understanding certain social cues and situations. As a result, there are points in the book when you know she is misunderstanding him.

The second book has many more scenes from Smoke’s POV which is awesome, and he reflects on the mistakes he made with Swan in the beginning. Smoke starts out as the typical egotistical, alpha-male, sexually dominant biker, but changes his way of relating to and understanding Swan as he gets to know her better and realizes the differences in which they communicate.

Swan is a kick-ass, take no names, completely comfortable with violence chica. Raised by a mob assassin mother-figure and mentally unstable Spec Ops superstar father, she curses like a sailor and stands beside her man. But at the same time, due to an isolated childhood and problems relating to other people, especially her peers, she is very vulnerable emotionally. She has limits that absolutely cannot be pushed without her shutting down. Swan is also a virgin, and once Smoke realizes these things about her, he discovers a sweet, gentle side of himself that only comes out for his girl. I wish the reader could have had those chapters from his POV to see these realizations occur, so it is great that the next book has more dual perspective sections.

Smoke and Swan are one of those couples where you can just see that they were made for each other, and their love makes you believe in a higher power.

I do wish that the book was a bit longer, to allow for more interaction between Swan and some of the other characters, particularly Beach, her twin’s fiance and the President of the same MC Smoke belongs to. Other than that, their story is awesome and I highly recommend this series if you need a break from the biker junk littering the romance and erotica genres right now.

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xx