Rome’s Chance (Reaper’s MC #6.6)

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Rome McGuire knew he was in trouble the first time he saw her.

She was sweet and pretty and just about perfect in every way. She was also too young and innocent for the Reapers Motorcycle Club. He did the right thing, and walked away.

The second time, he couldn’t resist tasting her.

Gorgeous and smart, fun and full of wonder, she jumped on his bike and would’ve followed him anywhere. Still, she deserved a shot at happiness somewhere bigger and better than a town like Hallies Falls. Walking away wasn’t so easy that time, but her family needed her and he had a job to do.

When she came around a third time, he’d had enough. Randi Whittaker had been given two chances to escape, and now it was time for Rome to take his.

This time, the only way Randi would be leaving Hallies Falls was on the back of Rome’s bike.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

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Rome’s Chance is the first book to be released in this series in more than a year and I am so thankful Ms. Wylde is back!! Both the heroine and hero were initially introduced as secondary characters in Reaper’s Fire although the timeline has skipped forward several years since then.

I haven’t compared the word counts but this book felt so much shorter than the previous novella, Shade’s Lady. I have no idea why that is because I enjoyed both books, but this one just felt much shorter!

I will warn you, this book was drawing out my tears more than any other I have read in months! I was sick while reading it and perhaps a little more emotional than usual, but there are still some sad moments that you should prepare yourself for.

There is much less sense of the MC in this Rome’s Chance. To me, it read more like a contemporary romance with a hero who just happened to ride a bike, than a typical Reapers MC book. There is no visit to the clubhouse, no discussion of club business, and the only other Reaper who is even named in the book is Gage. And he still doesn’t have a single line. Also, there is less sex than normal for this author, but considering the shorter word count of a novella, that is obvious. I just felt like they had a less physical relationship that I was expecting.

I am glad that this author is back and hope that we get another book before summer is over. I will read anything she writes!

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Judgement Road (Torpedo Ink #1) – Christine Feehan

I was lucky enough to receive an arc from the publisher for Judgement Road, in return for an honest review. This book will be released on January 30th, 2018 and I highly recommend it!

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An outlaw motorcycle club sets up shop next door to Sea Haven in the dangerously sexy new series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.

As the enforcer of the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club, Reaper lives for riding and fighting. He’s a stone-cold killer who turns his wrath on those who deserve it. Feelings are a weakness he can’t afford–until a gorgeous bartender gets under his skin…

Near Sea Haven, the small town of Caspar has given Anya Rafferty a new lease on life. And she’s desperate to hold on to her job at the biker bar, even if the scariest member of the club seems to have it out for her. But Reaper’s imposing presence and smoldering looks just ratchet up the heat.

Anya’s touch is everything Reaper doesn’t want–and it brands him to the bone. But when her secrets catch up to her, Reaper will have to choose between Anya and his club–his heart and his soul.

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Judgement Road is the first official book in the Torpedo Ink MC series by Christine Feehan. It builds on the world first introduced in the Sea Haven novels (Drake Sisters and the Sisters of the Heart), but could be read as a standalone if you are not familiar with those series.

Judgement Road is everything Feehanistas have come to expect from the Queen of paranormal romance. There is a wonderful balance of main couple / background characters, action, sex, intrigue and sexy alpha bad boys.

The paranormal aspect of this book was toned way down in comparison to the Drakes and Sisters of the heart, to my surprise. This isn’t a criticism, I just expected more knowing that all of the MC members have “extra gifts”. There is some, but the book reads much more like romantic suspense novel than paranormal romance.

Other reviewers have pointed out that Reaper does something really stupid … like REALLY stupid … and that Anya forgives him too easily. I partially agree. I definitely would have liked for him to have to work harder to earn forgiveness. Ms. Feehan has a habit of letting her tortured heroes reveal their sob-story when they are in deep doodoo with the heroine, playing on her emotions to get themselves out of trouble which borders on emotional abuse in some situations. It definitely isn’t playing fair.

However, one of the strongest attributes these heroines share is their compassion and ability to forgive. If those personality traits weren’t at the forefront of their characters, these women could never take on such a damaged hero in the first place, so I am completely willing to let this point go for now, as long as it doesn’t reoccur in every book going forward.

The sex in this book isn’t overly explicit IMHO. There is definitely steam but I felt that the heat was solidly romance-level rather than erotica.

For Feehan aficionados, I am happy to report that the first chapter of Covert Game (her next book) is in the end of Judgement Road!

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Exquisite Innocence (Iron Horse MC #5)

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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.

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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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Reaper’s Fire by Joanna Wylde

Reaper’s Fire is the 6th book in the Reaper’s MC universe … aka the best MC romance series going!  This book is great but I definitely do not suggest reading it as a stand-a-lone.

Also, trigger warning. I do NOT consider the hero (Gage) to be a cheater but some others would. Gage is undercover and “dating” this (incredibly unlikeable) girl as his “in” with an out-of-control MC when he meets his one true love. He becomes friends with the heroine and they like each other but he keeps sleeping with the other chick. The hero and heroine do not have intimate relations with one another until he breaks it off and can commit to his one true love. He eventually comes clean but if you are super sensitive about cheating, this may not be the book for you.

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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.

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I really liked Reaper’s Fire and would still recommend it to anyone who reads romance. But it was my least favourite novel in my very favourite series so please forgive me if this novel comes across as highly critical.  When you are as passionate as I am, it can be easy to focus on the things you didn’t like so much. I’ll try to be brief.

As Gage is undercover on the other side of the state from the rest of the cast of characters who comprise the Reapers MC, there is a markedly smaller amount of page time for those characters. Which is fine. I guess. Except that the interactions between all the different family members is what makes these books so great. I dislike series that focus exclusively on the hero/ine instead of building on this world that the author is attempting to create. If you are making a set of standalones, don’t market them as a series, right?! And this author, Joanna Wylde, is usually so So SO good at balancing the couple’s story with the bigger world they inhabit.

Now, you do see a few familiar faces. A remarkable number really considering that CDA is several hours drive from the setting in Reaper’s Fire. But it still made me grumble.

The time line falls back several years from where the previous book left off. It makes sense why that happened and I expected it, but definitely read these books in order. Even if you skip the earlier ones in the series (although why in the HELL you would do that I don’t know), make sure to read Reaper’s Fall before Fire.

As I explained at the top in the trigger warning, Tinker and Gage start their relationship off as employer and employee, and then as friends. So the sex inevitably comes much later in the book than readers would probably expect. This didn’t bother me and I am glad that Gage did not sleep with Tinker and the crazy chick at the same time, but it felt like there was this huge long build-up – BAM he comes clean – insert wild action scene and then book over. I needed more of a cool down period. I would have liked to see some of the earlier pages cut and more of the length of the book in the back-end of the story.

Gage and Tinker are bother older than the typical couple in a romance series. They are in their very late 30s to mid 40s. This doesn’t really make a difference to me but if you are looking for a slightly older couple in your romance, here’s your couple. It does reflect in their behaviours at times, where you can see they are just slightly more mature than certain individuals in previous novels.

I do want to make one note about this series that I have been pondering for the last few books. I think I am itching for Wylde to go darker. She usually has at least one dark scene per book, but her series is lighter than some of the others that I read. And the material is right there. Outlaw biker badasses. Let’s get dark.

The series began with a pretty dark premise when Horse essentially kidnapped the woman he liked and made her his house mouse to punish her brother for crossing the club. Usually a series gets a little darker as it goes on, and I would love to read just one really dark book with an almost unredeemable hero. Gage, being the Club’s Enforcer, could have been this character but hopefully it will be someone else down the line.

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Reaper’s Fall by Joanna Wylde

Can I just start by saying that I can’t believe I never wrote this blog?! I must had read this book six times over now, but I just noticed it still sitting on my “Currently Reading” shelf on goodreads. Huh. Guess I get the joy of reviewing this and the next in the series this week then 🙂

Reaper’s Fall is the fifth book in the Reapers MC series by Joanna Wylde. And although there is some fierce competition because I read a lot of MC romance, the Reapers are by far my favourite world to jump into.

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He never meant to hurt her.

Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.

Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.

Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.

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Painter and Mel’s book starts way back in the same time period as the previous book, before Painter’s year long prison sentence. This means it also takes place before Silver Bastard. It is nice because you get to “see” Painter and Mel meet and start to fall for each other from their own perspectives, although nothing serious happens until after Painter goes through that year in a California prison. But if you are a regular reader of the series, you are taking a step back in terms of the timeline.

One thing that separates this book from others in the universe is timeline. Most of the Reapers books take place in a fairly compressed period of time, a few months at most. Reaper’s Fall stretches out over 6 years or so, beginning with their first meeting, then mostly skipping past Painter’s year in prison, to the eventual conception of Mel and Painter’s daughter several months later, and up until she is about four years old.

I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and develop over a longer period of time. It makes it seem much more realistic than most romance novel relationships however I wish that the book was a little longer. The first two thirds of the novel are our love birds falling in love, but their reconciliation has lots of “two years later” gaps in time. Those gaps occurred too frequently towards the end of Reaper’s Fall, so I wish the author had added an extra 50 pages length to fill some in.

One of my favourite scenes was between Painter’s best friend Puck, and Mel. I love that Puck took Mel and her baby across the country to see Painter when he was in prison. I would have loved this scene to also be expanded because it humanizes both bikers from their normal badass personas and shows the sense of family that is at the core of the MC world. There are times Mel comes across as a raging bitch, and given her situation she has more than enough reasons to act that way, but her trip with Puck – a virtual unknown to her at the time – also shows how much love she has for both Painter and their daughter, and demonstrates that she wants them to have a great relationship.

This book had all the tension, romance, sex and passion that I have come to expect from Joanna Wylde. I am eagerly awaiting more additions to this universe and will write a review for Reaper’s Fire ASAP!

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Dauntless – a Sons of Templar MC novel

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From Goodreads:

This isn’t a fairy tale. I’ll save you the trouble by telling you that now.

This is the tale of a girl who spent her life bouncing around foster homes, who had her innocence stolen in the darkness before she knew it was something that could be lost. Her demons followed her everywhere, after that night. They chased her to the medical school she dropped out of, to the strip club she sold herself in, and finally caught her in a river of sin where they tried to drown her.

My name is Bex and this is my story.

I’m paddling, barely keeping my head above water. And even though I’m submerged, I’ll never be clean. The layer of dirt that has clung to me since birth is a tattoo I’ll wear for life.
He can’t see it, though.
Even when I’m torn and tattered, and left in pieces, he wades into the filth to try to put those pieces back together.
He doesn’t seem to understand there’s nothing left to repair. To love. Just sullied fragments of a damned soul.
He’s willing to damn himself in order to exact revenge on those who sent me to the pit.
Problem is, my name is at the top of that list, since I not only damned my own soul, but his too.

*Contains dark subject matter and potential triggers
**Can be read as a standalone

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Okay, yes this can be read as a standalone. But I REALLY would not recommend it. The Sons of Templar MC is stellar and you would get so much more from the book if you read the others first. At least read Beyond the Horizon, which is the fourth book in the series and the one where Bex and Lucky meet.

Also, if you have read the series, note that this one is the darkest yet, IMHO. Trigger warnings include child abuse (in the heroine’s backstory), drug use, rape and mental illness. The heroine feels like she is worthless trash due to her experiences. Please note that none of the violence and abuse occurs between the hero and heroine.

Now we have that established…

I absolutely loved Dauntless. It totally made up for my last (disappointing) review. Bex and Lucky have a dark and twisted love story and I love that Bex is not your typical helpless heroine, waiting for the boys to come rescue her and help her deal emotionally. She is a kickass, strong, mentally-tough woman.

But she’s not perfect. The author, Anne Malcom, wrote a strong female lead who struggles with mental illness and with addiction. She has a horrific upbringing, from being dumped into the system at birth and being “raised” in a series of shitty foster homes, to her rape by one of those so-called “Dads” when she was just 12 years old. Those experiences have left some pretty extensive emotional scarring.

The story picks up when Bex is 23, a college dropout stripping to try to make rent every month and using drugs to cope with the she life she’s been handed. I love that Malcom doesn’t pretend a person who is mentally strong does not have any issues. Sometimes, the strongest have the most horrific life experiences. THAT is what makes them so strong.

Lucky and Bex appear to have been made for each other. The amount of patience and self-discipline Lucky demonstrates while waiting for Bex to pull herself together is incredible. I truly don’t think that I would have been able to do that for anyone. He knows that she is the one for him and is willing to do whatever, wait however long, in order to be with her and respect her boundaries. Repeatedly he steps back and lets her do things he doesn’t approve of because he understand her, understands that need to control her body and her life after control was taken from her so brutally in the past.

He also takes a lot of emotional abuse, understanding that the bitchiness is protecting a soft, extremely delicate core that cannot handle any more abuse. Lucky has always been the funny guy of the group, always with a joke and a smile. You sure see another side of him in Dauntless, but there is also a lot of humour and banter between him and Bex that helps to counter the dark content.

I felt that Dauntless was a more balanced story between the hero and the heroine than previous books in the series. It is still told almost entirely from Bex’s POV, but we learn a lot more of Lucky’s viewpoint and backstory than we did for previous male leads. This is a huge improvement in my opinion. I also loved that Malcom wrote them as an inter-racial couple and it was so not a big deal that I almost missed that point. This is how it should be! I’m tired of reading books where the author describes the hero/ine’s skin tone as chocolate or coffee a million and one times.

The earlier books in this series also had a slightly different pacing and style. Partially, I think the author is adapting her writing style, but also, her changes really fit with the dark tone of this book. There is a lot less jumping around in timeline – Dauntless mostly reads chronologically – and the supporting cast have far less importance and “page-time” than in other books, except for Rosie… who I seriously hope is the star of book six!

Malcom has started two other series, one a spin-off from the Sons of Templar MC and another completely separate, so I am guessing the books are not going to be coming as swiftly as I am used to. Too bad because I am very interested in reading all about Rosie and Luke, the hunky deputy!

I absolutely recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t mind a little dark in their romance!

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xx

 

Outside the Lines review

Outside the lines is a novella in the Sons of Templar series. It should be read in between books two and three. It is about the New Mexico chapter that the Cali boys visited in Firestorm, so we get to see the sexy doc Hansen fall in love with club girl Macy.

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My life’s not easy. I’ll tell you that now. It’s not neat. I don’t fit into society the way most people expect me to and I don’t color studiously between the lines, outside the lines is where I reside. The fringes of society is where I found my place, with the Sons of Templar MC. The life they lived gave me everything I wanted, and everything I needed. Most importantly, it gave me something I’d been lacking for over a decade—family. A place to belong.

Club girl—that was my title. There were other words for what I was, but I preferred the less derogatory version. Sure, I’d love to be an Old Lady. It’s the dream. But, as someone who escaped into fantasy worlds when life got too much, I knew the difference between dreams and reality. I had resigned myself to the fact, I’d always belong to the club. It didn’t mean I didn’t crave one man in particular to claim me. To put me on the back of his bike and ride off into the sunset with the man who’d captured my heart the first day I saw him—Hansen. The dream where he’d finally see me and make me his, existed strictly in Macy’s world of wonder. Until now. Until somehow my fantasy world and reality world collided and he looks at me in the way I’d dreamt of for a year.

Fairy tales usually had neat and happy endings once the hero and heroine got together. This wasn’t a fairy tale. Hansen wasn’t your traditional hero and I was the furthest you could get from a heroine. I feared my past might dictate my future. That my world outside the lines would go from messy to complete disaster.

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This book is very different from the previous ones in so many ways! I like when an author doesn’t just replicate a winning formula over and over, instead choosing to grow as a writer and take chances with the direction she takers her audience. Outside the lines is a novella, so it is much shorter and less detailed than the first two in the series, but there was still that sense of “club”, or community, despite having fewer pages devoted to establishing those background characters and relationships.

Macy is also the exact opposite of earlier heroines. Instead of a wealthy, sophisticated fashionista, Macy is a complete nerd who quotes LOTR all the time. She doesn’t do her hair in the morning, is perfectly happy in jeans and a tee and has no problem with her status as a club girl. She is the epitome of a quirky, fun-loving, low key geek and I love her! It was nice to have the change after Gwen and Amy who were so alike.

I do think that it would have been nice to read a full length novel about these characters, and to expand upon Hansen’s military career and medical training, but I still loved this sweet, short story. Unlike the Amber chapter, which has gone legit by this point, the New Mexico chapter is still happily outlaw and that does present a slightly different tone to the novel. Not all the characters are as sweet to women as we have seen previously, but still, abuse isn’t tolerated. It is also a unique aspect to witness Macy’s transition from club girl to Old Lady. She has trouble overcoming her previous status as a whore (her words, not mine) and this is an ongoing issue in her and Hansen’s relationship.

Normally, I don’t give too much though to titles, but this one is especially apt. Hansen and Macy live completely outside the lines of what society has deemed acceptable and she is also way outside the lives of what we have so far established to the the norm for an Old Lady. She transcended the barriers between the women who belong to the club as a whole, and the women who belong to the club because they belong to a patched member.

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