Series: #1 Skulls Creek
Genres: Motorcycle Club Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Signet
Released on July 1, 2014
A woman with a past takes a phone call that connects her with a dying man that leads her to flee into the night toward a new destiny. A man hears a woman’s voice over the phone and it gives him the will to live and claim her as his own even if it means straddling a line between two warring MCs, his past, hers and anything else that comes at them.
This book promised thriller-like excitement, a tough road to love and two people needing only what the other can give. I’m just dipping my toe into the biker romance world, but I felt this one is a good start to a new series. It offered a strong overall series plot thread, exciting book plot threads and twists, engaging characters, well-painted backdrop and a fascinating anti-hero element with its dark, gritty tone.
The story jumps right into the middle of a situation so there is quite a bit of suspense for the heroine, Calla Benson, because this is the point she enters a very dangerous situation that makes no sense to her until much later. For now, she has experienced a brief, but deeply memorable connection over the phone with a dying man looking for her boss’ help. Danger finds her and her boss sends her into the night on a run to reach safety. Safety is with an old army buddy of her boss’ before she finally meets the man on the other end of the phone who insists she is with him now and he will keep her safe from those who are hunting them both. Calla is terrified of how quickly she has fallen for a man particularly a dangerous one from a whole different world.
Christian ‘Cage’ Owens knows the beautiful Calla gave him the will to live the night he nearly died, but he owes her for more than that because it is his past and present activities that put her in the crosshairs of another MC against whom he’s seeking revenge. Cage didn’t realize it was possible to fall in love after only hearing someone’s voice, but he knows its not enough because Calla is not the type of woman to thrive in a biker club. He can’t let her go even if he knows he should. With the other MC coming after both of them and the trouble from her past also closing in, he brings them home to the Vipers and with the backing of his brothers turns around to go on the offensive to protect his woman, his club and his town.
When this one started, I felt totally off kilter and I’m sure it was on purpose to create a feeling of suspense for the reader. I’ve had author’s take that approach before so I knew to be patience and muscle through it until the explanations came later. And they did and I was fine with it though some stuff still felt vague even at the conclusion. There were some things that were brought up that I felt needed more teasing out, but I suppose it’s possible that it will come out in later books in the series.
I enjoyed the atmosphere and action plot created by the war over the rival MC trying to push into Viper territory with their drugs and the murder investigation with the police. I liked the dynamics of Cage returning to the Vipers as the prodigal son and Calla learning about life in the MC.
As to the characters, I struggled to connect with Calla. There is really nothing that I can overtly put my finger on. She has gone through so much. Her mom turned her against her dad, she has a jerk for a brother and she basically got raped and used by a group of guys invited to do it with and by her boyfriend. I totally respect her for picking up and trying to put her life together again so for the life of me I don’t know why I didn’t like her. Her abandonment issues made sense, but her anger and poorly done denying with Cage in the beginning just left me impatient because it felt more like a snit. He said he would come back to her and he did. She didn’t have all the information so she went with what she knew, but her reaction just felt exaggerated particularly the obvious lies. He let her think he was dead while he recovered which was hard, but how was he to know that she connected so deeply with him after a few moments on the phone. Dang the guy was recovering from a murderous attack and had to figure out a lot of stuff that was complicated so he could make a wise move. Fortunately, she moved on from that and things settled down into more genuine reaction/actions from her. Cage was another tough cookie. He grew up fast and hard. It’s amazing that he came out at the end of it with a heart to love and a soul to care about doing right by his own moral code. Cage had amends to make with his Viper brothers and he felt he had to prove himself because of his background. I loved the camaraderie he was part of between the Vipers and his Army buddy.
It took me a while to warm up to the romance. Falling in love with a voice on the phone was a tough sell for me and for that to strengthen because they shared a porn video moment only struck me as hot and not deep. I was enjoying the rest of the story so I went with it. Eventually, I learned more about them as they learned about each other. These two got past their respective barriers and worked hard to be together showing me it was more than mere attraction. I respected the honesty when they both shared and shared what they wanted. In the end, I wanted them together and I was totally into their story as they healed and grew closer together.
To sum up, it took me a while to get into this one, but I was fully engaged in the end. It was gritty, but not as gritty as many biker romances out there which worked for me since I’m still getting used to this anti-hero story backdrop. The combo of suspense and romance was good and well balanced. I look forward to reading more from the series. I would definitely recommend it for those who enjoy biker romances, but also those who enjoy slightly darker romantic suspense.
My thanks to Penguin group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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