Review: Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde

Review: Devil’s Game by Joanna WyldeDevil’s Game by Joanna Wylde

Series: Reapers MC #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley on June 3, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
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four-half-stars  

Anticipation was high for this one after getting just a whiff of this story in the last book.  Talk about enemies to lovers or opposites attract…The Reapers Princess, Em Hayes and the Devil Jacks’ enforcer Liam ‘Hunter’ Blake cross the lines when he sets up a long play to seduce her and use her against her daddy’s club and ends up kidnapping her then ultimately hurting her in a way that should have ended things irrevocably.  Should have…

The first two books in this series can be read out of order, but this one needs to be read after book two, Reaper’s Legacy, to make some sense because of the overlap and continuation of the story.

There is a prologue opening introducing the two main characters in their younger years setting the stage for who they were to become in the present.  Em is parts worldly wise and stifling innocent growing up in the home of a MC President’s home as the club princess.  It’s the stifling innocent part that has her chafing.  Her dad, Picnic, protects her- like with a gun- so that she misses out on boys and now men.  Her crush on one of the guys in the club is unfulfilled when Painter won’t approach even if she knows he wants her and then he disappoints her so that she is ripe for an escape.  Too bad when she comes of age, her first tumble is with the last person she should be with.

Hunter is known for his cold, ruthless demeanor and that he will do anything for his club, Devil Jacks, and his VP, Burke, who is a father figure to him.  The latest thing he has been called to do is to seduce Em Hayes.  While he studies his prey something unexpected happens.  Seeing her in person has him eager for his assignment.  Drawing her in and having her will be no hardship.  So he tricks her drawing her ever closer to the trap.  Just when he gets her to agree to meet him as ‘Liam’ her friend and soon to be lover, something goes down and he’s forced to kidnap her and another Reaper woman as hostages to get the Reapers to cooperate.

Hunter betrays Em utterly and yet she still is attracted to him.  She knows she has to do what she can to get Sophie out of the situation, but for the sake of peace between the two motor cycle clubs she has to walk along a knife’s edge to keep blood from being spilled particularly Liam’s even if she needs to get far away from that cold-eyed jerk.

Tension, attraction and danger meet when a Mexican drug cartel is pushing in and taking the divide and conquer approach to the established territories of the Devil Jacks and the Reapers, when the Devil Jacks are readying for an internal upheaval and when two people from rival clubs decide to give what they feel a chance against the odds.

Em and Liam’s stormy romance was all that I hoped for.  They split the narration between them and getting it from both perspectives was great.

Em was both a dutiful daughter who wanted to please and be loved, but she was also an independent spitfire and rightful daughter of a biker.  It was nice to get a break from the tension in the other two books caused by the fact that the heroines were from outside the MC world and had to struggle to accept.  Em knows the score on that at least.  She didn’t have a lot of experience outside her town and the club, but she had a strong sense about a person and a situation.  She was duped, but not ultimately.  She was no whining little girl who needed a man to rescue her as evidenced by the way she got herself out of tight situations.  I loved the way she reacted when Liam came to her after his betrayal- what a crack up!  She was a sensual woman who wasn’t afraid to pursue this side of herself.  Yeah, I really liked Em.

Now Liam…he was the lynch pin of this story from my perspective.  I would have been so disappointed if he was just some hot guy who was good in bed and happened to look good in a cut.  I loved that the author allowed Liam to be himself without painting him as ‘misunderstood’ or that things aren’t what they seem.  For this story to work for me, he had to own it all and he did.  He was an enforcer and hadn’t looked back after his first kill.  He took what he wanted and discarded when he was done.  But then he met his match in Em.  He had no idea what to do with what she did to him on the inside and didn’t even know what to call it.

“…I guess my point is this- I’ve spent days(with) women whom I couldn’t even remember if my life depended on it.  But you?  I remember everything about the first time I saw you, even though we didn’t even talk to each other.  That’s when it started, whatever it is between us.  ‘Love’ is a word that doesn’t mean a damned thing to me. ‘Em’ though?  That word means everything.  I’d die for you, babe.  Kill for you, too.  I stood up to my club for you and I don’t regret it, not for a minute.  So you wanted to know how I feel?  I don’t even have a word for what I feel, sweetheart.  I just know it’s really…good.”  p. 272 Liam from Devil’s Game

The other plot thread going on- namely the issues between the two clubs and the cartel- wasn’t exactly strong suspense, but it certainly was dangerous giving the action element that was around and within the romance element. There is the build up to war and these guys play for keeps.  It felt like the two waring families in Romeo and Juliet just as Burke said when it came to Liam and Em’s situation.  It was obvious that someone behind the scenes had an end plan and was pulling the strings on stuff.  This storyline is ongoing even if some threads were tied off in this book.

I have to add that the secondary characters were a great part of this story too.  Whether it was Em’s dad and sister, the other Reapers club members or the Devil Jacks and Liam’s sister, they were all good additions.  I was as fascinated by their story paths as Em and Liam’s.  I would totally go for a story about Deke and Cookie, Picnic, Kit, or Kelsey though I know Picnic is next, yeah!

So, it was another strong addition to the series that kept my full interest all the way through.  I loved the characters, the backdrop and the story path.  It’s probably on the gentler end of the biker romance spectrum, but still cares some heat and violence to justify it.  Those who enjoy biker romance or just hot romance with anti-heroes should pick this series up.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

About Joanna Wylde

Joanna is a freelance writer living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She started writing fiction in 2002, then took a long hiatus to explore other writing opportunities. She returned to fiction in January 2013 with ‘Reaper’s Property’, the first book in the Reapers Motorcycle Club series, and has recently released ‘Reapers Legacy’, the second of the series.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I shy away from MC romances, from the ones that I’ve read, the men are pigs! Objectifying women and then there’s the cheating, misogyny and all that craptastic stuff I can’t stand. It’s like SOA fan fiction! Does this have those?

    • I’ve only read books two and three. In both, the guys are really alpha and they have reputations before the woman is in the picture, but then the other women stop. The clubs definitely are about the guys, but the main guys are about their gals. The gals in this series have a way of knocking their big bruisers down a peg or two though the anti-hero vibe is still there. Hope that helps a bit. I know what you mean even if I’ve never watched SOA and I think there will always be a bit of that stuff in the biker romances though its a milder form in this series like the Kristen Ashley Chaos series.

  • *looking just a little* I still have this one on my review pile. Hopefully next week it’ll happen 🙂

    • I get it. We’ll talk when you post yours. 😉