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.

—                           —                            —

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.

* * * * 

xx

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Out of the Ashes – Anne Malcom

Out of the Ashes is the third novel in the Sons of Templar series. Although this series can be read out of order (and honestly, I mistakenly did this), I’d read it in order if I could do it over again.

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Living a life in darkness causes the soul to char to ash. Battling demons by turning himself into a monster is the only way he can survive…the only way he can keep a grip on sanity. That grip is precarious at best, every day is a silent battle with demons that threaten to yank him into the truest form of darkness, the abyss he’ll never escape. Then it happens. Light shines through the cracks.

Happiness. Mia Spencer’s life is full of it. She has an amazing new job, friends, family, and the light of her life – her daughter Lexie. Running from the demons of the past, escaping a hell that she vowed Lexie would never know about, she worked through hardship and near poverty to create something she was proud of. Buried deep inside, underneath the swell of love she had for her only daughter, were the fractured pieces of her. Pieces that were smashed and battered when she was young and vulnerable.

Then she meets Bull, who seems to hate her on sight. He screams danger, from his huge physique, to his beautiful ink, to the motorcycle club he belongs to. He is silent, his glares threaten to burn her into flames, yet she finds herself falling for him. Finds this broken man slowly fixing the pieces she thought would stay shattered forever.

—                —              —

Out of the Ashes is my favourite book in this series so far! Mia and Lexie are adorable together. It is overwhelmingly obvious that the author is a fan of Gilmore Girls, as Mia and Lexie share more than a passing resemblance to the main characters on the show. They wittily banter back and forth non-stop, and are both addicted to coffee. They have the sweetest mother-daughter relationship and similar backgrounds.

Unlike in the show, Mia was born into trailer park trash, but she finds herself a mother and alone at 16 and raises her baby on her own, by starting out as a maid in a hotel working for room and board and rising to hotel manager. Lexie, just like Rory Gilmore, is a super smart, super kind, eclectic and not at all teenagerish teenager who is destined for great things.

 

Here is an example of some of the more refreshing banter between Mia and Lexie:

“Okay, I’m giving the coffee a hundred and twelve and the pancakes a solid nine and a half. I deducted half because I feel like they could be improved by adding chocolate chips to them,” I declared, leaning back in my seat.

Lexie nodded at me. “I’m seconding the coffee, and I’m hugely impressed a town this small has embraced acai bowls. I must say this one is hells good.”

I rolled my eyes. “I fail to believe that any acai bowl could be “hells good.” It’s a crime to breakfast foods everywhere that that can be considered appropriate as a meal. It’s a smoothie poured into a bowl. It’s like cold soup,” I said, my nose curled in distaste.

Lexie folded her arms. “Acai is a super food and it does wonders for your immune system. It’s full of antioxidants and is a much better way to start the day than with processed sugars and bleached flour,” she told me in a scolding tone.

“The only way, other than coffee, to start a day is with sugar. That’s the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning,” I argued. “That and the possibility Jensen Ackles will finally realize he’s in love with me,” I added dreamily.

Lexie sighed. “I don’t know how you’ve stayed this skinny, Mom. You should need a crane to get you out of the house,” she said, scrunching her nose at me while she looked me up and down.

“I don’t know how my daughter learned about acai and freaking quinoa when such things are sacrilege in my mind,” I countered.

“A little thing called the internet,” she replied.

Malcom, Anne. Out of the Ashes (The Sons of Templar MC Book 3) (Kindle Locations 158-171). Kindle Edition.

With a teenage daughter in tow, Mia is the most reluctant of all the leading ladies so far to pursue a relationship with an outlaw biker. She is painfully aware that building a relationship with the club could place her daughter at risk and while she is more than willing to risk herself for love, no way is she going to do the same to Lexie.

Leading guy Bull feels the same way. He lost his first wife due to a war with another club and has been in the throes of depression ever since. The optimism and zany banter that Lexie and Mia bring to town starts to draw him out, but Bull remains the quietest, grumpiest and most taciturn biker of the group. Even his club brothers seem to be removed from him and nervous of his control at times. I get the feeling that the only people completely safe from Bull (when he loses it) are Lexie and Mia.

I’m impressed with Mia’s forgiving patience because I would have given up on him long before, but I guess that is just the animal magnetism at work. Bull and Mia also have the kinkiest relationship to date. He is definitely dominant in bed and likes to call the shots outside of it as well. Mia keeps him on his toes and is absolutely alpha when it parenting Lexie, but she loves Bull’s wild and possessive personality and is totally on board with bangin’ against the wall. I wish we had seen more of this unrestrained passion.

I think my one regret in this novel is that Bull and Mia spent so much time working through his (totally justified) hangups to establish themselves as a couple, and then overcoming Mia’s reluctance to associate with people who could be a danger to Lexie, that we don’t actually see them together as much as the other couples. I would love to read another book about them in the future, even if it is a novella, and also to see more of the parent/friend relationship that develops between Bull and Lexie.

There is a super sweet and heart-warming romantic sub-plot between Lexie and bad boy Killian who has been raised by the club and I can see that the author has also published a novel about them, so I am exited to read that one soon.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book. As I said, it was the first one that I read, although I held on to my review so I could release them in series order. I’m thankful that taking a chance on this new-to-me author paid off and cannot wait to read more of her works!

* * * * *

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.

—              —               —

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.

* * * *

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.

* * * * *

xx

Making the Cut by Anne Malcom

Okay, so Making the Cut is the first book in a Cali-based outlaw motorcycle club romance series (the series is called Sons of Templar). It is more “pop-culture” than the other MC books I have been reading so it is a good choice if you prefer less explicit romances that still have sex and bad boys.

Malcom’s books have an interesting dynamic, because she is a New Zealander, as is her main character Gwen in Making the Cut. Most of the authors flooding this market are American, and whether it is because of her nationality or her writing style, Malcom’s are different from anything else I have read in a while.

I blitzed through the entire series in a week and these books are awesome! Here are the deets on the first novel in the series.

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Gwen Alexandra does not need a man in her life. Especially not a man who looks like Chris Hemsworth and Joe Manganiello’s love child. One wearing leather, riding a Harley, and covered in tattoos.

Gwen can bet every pair of her Manolos that Cade Fletcher is trouble. From the moment she meets him, the attraction sizzles between them. Gwen has a problem when it comes to attractive men in motorcycle clubs. The last one she got involved with almost killed her.

After healing physically, Gwen decides to get a new start in a small town, half a country away from the man who nearly cost her her life. She isn’t in town five minutes when she runs into Cade, a man that is too sexy and dangerous for his own good.

She tries to keep away from him, to ignore the attraction between them. But the biker has other ideas, soon she is in way over her head. Her heart, and her life are in danger once again.

—                    —                    —

Have you read the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella? The start of Sons of Templar reminds me of that because the first two books feature Manhattanite fashionistas who have a serious eye for clothing. I don’t really care about clothing much at all, so I skimmed over their outfit details, but that is a point that would add a lot of detail to the book for some ladies out there. In any sense, I didn’t feel like it took me away from the story at all.

For example …

“Don’t you think we’re a bit too dressed up?” I questioned Amy, looking down at my outfit self-consciously. I had a tight printed Prada skirt on with a white blouse that showed way too much cleavage and Amy’s black strappy Manolos.

“Bite your tongue, Gwen Alexandra,” Amy scolded. “There is no such thing as being overdressed. Ever. You are not changing who you are just because we’re not on our little island anymore, now let’s go.”

She swatted my bum, strutting past me to the door. Her outfit made me look like a nun. Her little black Gucci dress, a halter neck displaying her ample assets, was skin tight and had an open back which dipped almost to her butt. With red lipstick, red shoes and her red hair tumbling past her shoulders, she looked amazing. If I swung that way I would totally hit that. Alas, my taste appeared to be sexy sociopaths.

Malcom, Anne. Making the Cut (The Sons of Templar MC Book 1) (Kindle Locations 461-469). Kindle Edition.

The dudes in Making the Cut are smokin’ hot examples of sex on a stick. Throughout the book, we are introduced fairly extensively to Gwen’s circle and somewhat into Cade’s. With Cade’s belonging to an MC, there are a lot of “cast members” to write in, and Malcom decided to focus on a handful instead of someone new popping up in every chapter. This gives the reader a chance to get to know these background characters in-depth and forge an emotional connection to them, without taking away from the focus of the story, which is Gwen and Cade.

One of the best things about these books are their length! (they are super long, compared to a lot of romances). This is how the author is able to take the pages necessary to involve the supporting characters in a meaningful way, and invoke emotion so easily in her audience. While the main action happens over the course of about four months, I figure the book covers the timespan of about a year. For me, it is easier to buy the reality of Gwen and Cade like this, because it isn’t such a contrived work of fiction, fitting an epic romance into an unrealistically short time-frame. It flows naturally.

It also allows for the comedic breaks – usually Gwen and Amy’s banter – and a plot lasting months rather than days or weeks.

Gwen, I think I may like it here. I just went to grab us coffees from next door,” she said, gesturing with the two takeaway cups in her hands, “and there was the most fuckable looking men sitting having coffee. I swear I almost came. What I would do to be those coffee cups…” She trailed off, sounding breathy.

“I’m glad there’s something in this town that is to your liking, Amy,” I stated sarcastically.

Malcom, Anne. Making the Cut (The Sons of Templar MC Book 1) (Kindle Locations 451-454). . Kindle Edition.

There were many points in the second half of the novel where we reached the pinnacle of a big moment the author had been building up to and I thought to myself, ‘okay, this is where it probably ends’. Except there were always more pages still to go. I usually feel that authors end their books prematurely; you know the type, a chapter or two after the big climatic moment and the whole show is over. I like to have more book to ease me down from the emotional high so I loved how Malcom finished hers off.

Malcom’s stories have a HEA. But there are gut-wrenching moments of agony along the way. I will warn you now, Making the Cut had me bawling my eyes out at some points. The violence wasn’t difficult to read about, it doesn’t go into too graphic of details, but not all the supporting characters will achieve the happily-ever-after that the main couple does and Malcom’s writing is certainly strong enough to make you suffer loss alongside her characters.

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xx

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!

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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.**

—                   —                  —

** 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!

* * *

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.

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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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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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Reaper’s Fall Release Tour Day Two

This is day two of the Reaper’s Fall Release Tour. The link to day one is a little further down, by the excerpt. I cannot wait until this comes out Tuesday. Squee!reaper's teaser 5

Isn’t that a hot beginning to a post! *fanning self*

Blurb:

The New York Times bestselling author of Reaper’s Stand is back in her “uber-alpha rough world of MCs”* as one woman’s future is rocked by the man whose hardcore past could destroy her…

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.

reapers fall

Excerpt #2 (see yesterday’s post for the 1st excerpt)

“You’re not going back to the party.”

She cocked her head, and I saw the confusion in her alcohol- glazed eyes as she wrinkled her nose at me. All cute, like a rabbit.

“You look like a bunny.”

“You look like an ax murder,” she said, frowning. “And I thought London was looking for me. Aren’t we going the wrong way?”

“I lied. I do that a lot,” I told her, staring at her lips. I reached out, catching her chin in my hand, running my thumb across her lips. Our eyes locked, and I don’t know if her pulse started to rise but mine sure as fuck did. What the hell had I been thinking, writing to this girl? She was so pretty and perfect and had this amazing, magical life just waiting for her and all I could think about was dragging her down into the dirt and shoving my cock into every hole she had.

She’d scream while I did it, too, the same sweet screams that played in my head every night while I jacked off.

I hated myself.

“Why did you lie?” she asked, her voice a whisper.

“To get you away from Taz. It’s not safe with him.”

Mel’s forehead creased in confusion, her brain moving so slowly I could practically see the wheels turning behind her eyes. She might be smart as fuck most of the time, but she’d transitioned to drunker than fuck tonight. Kit. Kit and Em. They’d done this to her.  

I leaned in closer, catching her scent. For an instant I swayed, so tempted . . .

“They told me all about you,” she whispered.

“Who?”

“The other girls. Kit, Em. Jessica. I know how you operate,” she continued. One of her hands rose, touching my chest. Fire burst through me, because if I’d wanted her before I was desperate for her now. She was so soft, so sweet . . . so perfect.

Then her words sank in.

“What did you just say?”

“They told me all about you,” she said, eyes dropping to stare at  my lips. “They told me you have a Madonna-whore complex.” I froze.

“A what?”

“A Madonna-whore complex,” she repeated, her voice earnest. “You like to screw dirty girls and you put clean girls on pedestals, where they can stay perfect and pure. That’s pretty messed up, Painter. There’s no such thing as Madonnas and whores. We’re all just people.”

The words stunned me. What the hell was she talking about? Just because I didn’t want her dragged down in the drama and bullshit of this life didn’t mean I had some sort of fucking complex. And who the hell were the Hayes sisters to have an opinion? I couldn’t tell what pissed me off more—the fact that they’d talked to Mel about me or that they hadn’t done a better job of scaring her off.

She wasn’t supposed to be here.

“Kit and Em are crazy, and that friend of yours—Jessica? She’s like a car crash. You don’t belong here, Mel.”

“And where do I belong?”

“With some nice kid who’ll treat you like a queen and work his ass off to give you everything perfect for the rest of your life.” The words were practically a growl.

Her eyes widened.

“What if I don’t want perfect?”

“Too fucking bad, because that’s what you’re getting.”

reapers fall bannter

Reaper’s Fall is the newest standalone in the Reaper’s MC Series.  Painter & Melanie’s story will be available on November 10th and is currently up for Pre-order!

Available at the following retailers:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1DsDyRt

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1yYt1Rn

Nook: http://tinyurl.com/pljucpa

iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/pwfxzyj

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

reaper's fall pre-order

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Reaper’s Fall Blog Tour Day 1

I am very excited that Reaper’s Fall (Joanna Wylde) is coming out on November the 10th and have every intention of getting out a review on it forthwith.

I’m have the chance to release an excerpt and some yummy pictures on here, to help promote Joanna’s newest novel, so here it is.

reapers fall

Blurb:
The New York Times bestselling author of Reaper’s Stand is back in her “uber-alpha rough world of MCs”* as one woman’s future is rocked by the man whose hardcore past could destroy her…

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.
— —

Excerpt #1
Mel,

You know, I write these fuckin’ letters to you, but they’re fake. I ask about your friends and your school and whether you’re meeting people. It’s bullshit, Mel.

Here’s my reality.

Yesterday I stabbed someone before he could stab me. Puck and I sold some shit to a bunch of white supremacists and we turned around and sold the same damned thing to some Mexicans. We had pudding with our dinner for dessert.

Then I jacked off three times thinking about you.
Those are the highlights. Like a fairy tale, right? Remembering you keeps me going, which makes no fucking sense at all. I hardly touched you. I still think about what you smelled like when you sat next to me on the couch, though. You were just this little thing and you shivered under my arm. I know you were scared of the movie and I could’ve picked something else, but I wanted the excuse to hold you.

That’s when I started thinking seriously about us fucking.

I had this vision of shoving you into the cushions face- first, then ripping down your jeans and pushing so deep you’d feel it in the back of your throat. That’s the kind of guy I am, Mel, and that’s why you should stay the fuck away from me.

You give me the chance, I’ll pin you down and keep pumping no matter how hard you try to get away. I dream about it every night, I jerk off to it, and today I gave serious thought to killing a man because he has the same fantasies about you as me. That first night, I promised London I wouldn’t touch you, but my cock had already been hard for hours.

Good thing she showed up when she did—saved your ass. How’s that for luck?

When I took you to dinner, I was going to be good. Tried to be good. I know you didn’t understand why I asked you out or what it meant. They needed you out of the way, Mel. That was my job—to keep you busy. And I promised London I wouldn’t pull shit on you but she’d been lying to us all along and I kept wondering if that meant my promise didn’t count anymore.

Pretty damned sure it hasn’t counted for a while now.

You were talking and smiling and blushing. My dick was so stiff it nearly snapped in half when I tried to stand up. Took everything I had not to throw you on my bike and ride off with you . . . I want to tie you up and come in your ass and shove my cock down your throat until you choke. I want your hair in little-girl pigtails so I can hold on tight while I fuck your face. I want you to cry and scream and give me everything. I want to fucking OWN you. How’s that for reality, Mel? You still want my advice about boys?

I’m coming home soon. You should run away while you still can, Mel. I’ll make you dirty, so dirty you’ll never be clean again. I’ll make you pay me back the hard way. You think you’re all grown up, but you’re not. There’s so much I could teach you . . . do to you. Jesus, if you only knew, you’d never write to me again.

You should move to Alaska.
Change your name.
Good luck, though, because I’ll find you and take you and—

Fucking hell.

I dropped my pencil, wondering why I’d thought this was a good idea. I wasn’t going to send it, of course. I’d send her some friendly little note and tell her she should be dating and having fun. But some part of me thought writing my real thoughts out might fix my obsession. Instead my dick was like a rock. Again.

Still.

Always.

Delicious, right? There is a second excerpt that I will post tomorrow.

There is nothing sexier than a man with a beard and tattoos and a reaper's fall teaser 4baby.

reaper's new teaser use 2

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

Reaper’s Fall is the newest standalone in the Reaper’s MC Series.  Painter & Melanie’s story will be available on November 10th and is currently up for Pre-order!

Available at the following retailers:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1DsDyRt

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1yYt1Rn

Nook: http://tinyurl.com/pljucpa

iBooks: http://tinyurl.com/pwfxzyj

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