Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley #Review

Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley #ReviewRide Steady by Kristen Ashley

Series: #3 Chaos
Genres: Motorcycle Club Romance
Published by Forever on June 30, 2015
Pages: 640
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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four-half-stars  

There are a biker romance series I would describe as addicting. Chaos would be one. There is hard biting danger, raw passion, sweet and tender moments, and above all, an ever increasing feel of family and brotherhood for this motor cycle club, its women, its friends, and its allies.

Each biker heals and finds his way to happiness through the love of a good woman and, in this case, it’s Joker’s turn. With steely eyes and an icy demeanor, nobody knows him well, but they do know he has their back and they have his loyalty, but then they are all in for a big surprise when a pretty, sweet woman from his past cracks through the unemotional distance and Joker comes alive and goes after what he wants with determination.

The books work best read in order particularly because there is a series arc and ongoing storylines for previous characters. Not that it is essential to have read the older series by the author set in Denver, but I did encounter crossover characters from other series. It was fun. Her books tend to assume that the reader has read her older series even if the plots don’t carry over from the other series. For instance, Joker and Carissa’s book has characters from Rock Chick, Dream Man, and Unfinished Hero.

The story starts in the past telling the heartbreaking story of the younger Carson Steele and Carissa Teodoro all from his perspective. Then jumps forward in time to where they are at in their lives now and begins telling the story mostly from their alternating points of view with a few others chiming in now and then. Their younger selves are long gone and in their place are people who have been battered by the world and just need the right chance to find their way together.

Carissa married her high school boyfriend and that led down a road of remorse and misery. She has hit nearly rock bottom as she lives hand to mouth, owes her lawyer as she fights for her parental rights, and is at the mercy of her wealth ex and his powerful family. She lives only for her son, her baby Travis. Her ex cheated on her, belittled her, and finally replaced her. Now she has a flat tire and it will go rough on her if she can’t get Travis to his dad’s for the custody exchange. Frazzled, she is surprised when a tough looking biker is the only one to respond to her breakdown on the side of the road. There is something about him that is familiar, but she doesn’t know anyone from that world. But now that she has met Joker, she wants to and she will start by showing her appreciation for his help and maybe grab his attention.

Carson ‘Joker’ Steele recognized Carissa right away even if she didn’t remember him. And why should she? The beautiful, cheerleader dating the most popular guy in their school was so far out of his league. But now, he can see that his lovely Carissa has fallen on hard times. It is a struggle to hold his distance, but finally, he gives in and decides to see where this thing between them will go.

They face her manipulative ex, the demons from their pasts, vicious drug lord setting up for a turf war against Chaos MC, and the building of something special between them. With the help of friends and the club along with the making of a new family, Joker and Carissa have a real chance if they don’t mess it up or let others break them up.

Like most books by this author, this one was plump and full of all sorts of goodness. I had a few moments toward the end when I got impatient for things to move along, but it was a mild irritant at best. I always have to adjust to the writing style, but once I do, it works for the world she has created.

It’s a blue-collar story and full of blue collar characters that are raw, gritty, and passionate. There is a lot going on in this one and a lot to tease out and tie up neatly at the end. The main issue with the drug gang pushing in and trying to take over Chaos’ territory is still ongoing even though there was some interesting action in this one that may or may not set fire to the situation. I loved seeing the club in action and conducting biker club business so that it feels like a real biker romance and not just in name only. There is lots of interaction at the club and with club characters, too.

The characters are my favorite part of the story. The people make mistakes, have tough lives, but they grow and get past it to have something special. Carissa tended to be impulsive especially when it came to Joker and her leaps made me cringe, but I was tickled to death when she womanned up and set things straight afterward. She also tends to get lost in her head with all the emotional garbage up there and be a self-sacrificing type which can complicate matters. Joker didn’t want her doing any more sacrificing specifically for him when he was in wonder and awe that he finally got the girl of his dreams and a cute little baby boy that would be his family. I liked that she stayed sweet, unselfish, and adorable Carissa even as she gained in confidence. She doesn’t suddenly turn into this bad biker mama.

As to Joker, his transformation once Carissa was in his life was as big as hers. Tack and the guys really had to jerk a knot in him to get his head on right and see the treasure and opportunity he had in front of him. He had such a hard life as that scared, broken abused and lonely kid that seeing him finally get all he wanted and needed was a rush. He could be angry and savage or murderously cold toward enemies, or tender and loving all for those few he let in behind his walls.

The romance builds as they get to know the adult versions of themselves. They have several barriers and I was impressed the way they handled it mostly with good communication and understanding. They team up and face all the hard stuff together and they share some sweet daily life stuff along with lots of hot sexy times. Joker is all male and rough around the edges, but he is also a gentleman knight for his lady. Carissa has been taught by her jerk of an ex that she is boring and isn’t good enough. Joker takes on the job of restoring her confidence and unleashing her passion. They were a lusty couple and got their wild on quite a bit. Good times…

All in all, this was a bit of everything good. I love the series and can’t wait to see what comes next or, should I say, who comes next. If you’re looking for biker romance with a story full of raw action, passionate romance and characters who are strong and just a little wild, give these a try.

My thanks to Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Romance Roundabout #234 CR

Cliché Klatch #144 ‘threw back his shot’

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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.
  • This sounds like a really good book and series. I like seeing a guy wearing leather and riding a bike. lol

    • Oh me, too, Mary! Brings back memories since I grew up around bikes.

  • Dang it, Sophia. My TBR pile is too long! A lusty couple, huh? Gah I must read faster.

    • Haha! I’d apologize, but seriously, these are great so its worth it to have them on the pile. 🙂

  • I LOVE a book about awesome, passionate characters that take you in an adventure because it makes you just LOVE IT even more so I’m glad you loved this one.♡

    • Absolutely, Keionda! That’s an apt description. These stories are like an adventure.

  • I adore Blue Collar romances…its so different from anything else. I own the first book, and I do need to read that soon, especially since I love me some sexy biker romances. Glad to see how much you ended up liking this one. Just makes me want to get to this author even faster!! Hope you have a lovely day.

    • You definitely want to read these, Renee. Just so you know, Motorcycle Man from the Dream Man series introduces this spin-off series and I enjoyed this one better after getting that one first.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I loved Ride Steady too, and agree that it was a very addicting read! My favorite aspect of the story is the characters as well. I love how Tack and the other MC members got Joker to open his eyes as well. Awesome Review Sophia 🙂

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • Yay, a fellow Chaos fan. Tack is still a huge favorite for me, but with each new story I love the rest of the guys, too. I can’t wait for High’s story this fall.

  • I don’t think I have ever read a biker romance series so far, for soem reason the biker topic doens’t really appela to me, but an urban fantasy I read lately had a biker characters and I didn’t mind. So who knows I might have to give a biker romance a try ne day, to see what i think of that. This one sure sounds like an addicting series. I love ongoing storylines for previous characters. It’s why I prefer reading a series in order. I like how realistic the characters sound, I like it when characters realise they made a mistake and make up for it. Great review!

    • I didn’t think I would like biker stories, either, Lola, but I read her Motorcycle Man from another series and just kept going with this spin-off series. The characters always carry over and I love the sense of family and friendship it gives.

      • I decided I am going to give this series a try as you liked it even though you didn’t except to at first. I added it to my to-read list on Goodreads. Is it better to start with the series before this? Or can I start with the first Chaos book?

        • It’s a good series to try out biker romance to see if it’s your thing. I read the four books in the Dream Man series and then went on to this one. I think getting Motorcycle Man which is Dream Man #4 would be a good place to start since it introduces the characters and the motor cycle club. Fair warning, her writing style is very different and takes a bit to adjust to when you’re reading. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Glad you enjoyed this one, your definitely becoming the biker bookchick!

    • Haha! And that is funny b/c a year ago I had barely read any. I’ve read enough to get picky.

  • That’s cool with the characters crossing over like that.

    • That is definitely a fun aspect. She does it in a way that it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the other series, but if you have, then it is a treat to meet a favorite character again.

  • That’s good to know that this series should be read in order. I like when there’s a series arc. Looks like my pile just got longer!

    • LOL! My pile gets bigger almost daily, Grace.

      Yes, this is a great series and could be read out of order, but I think it is so much better when its in order.

  • Thanks for the mention of reading in order and why. This looks like it has more depth then the few MC books I have run across, and you have me curious about the transformation of these characters. Lovely review, I can tell how much you enjoy this series.

    • You’re welcome! I like to know that sort of thing about series books so I’m glad to share it with other.

      Kristen Ashley has a unique writing style no matter what type of characters she is writing about and her books are huge b/c they are so full of character development and an approach to the story that is all-encompassing. I think she really brings the everyday to her stories and that helps keep her biker romances some of the best.

  • I loved this one! Joker and Carissa made such a cute couple.

    • Totally agree, Angela! So many people are in a sweat for this guy or that one, but I was glad for this particular couple. They are so good together.