I read the first one in this series and was on the fence about a few things, but overall, I liked it. And here I am again, about to say the same thing even though my like is a few degrees less since this is the second time I feel this way. Sexy bad boy biker guys with dangerous entanglements involving their gals? All to the good. But… Yes there is a but and I’ll get to that.
This is the second book in the series. It can standalone in the sense that the main plot thread involves a new story and new main characters. However, I hesitate to say that it’s fine to read it out of order because there is spoilerish info in this one for the first story plus there is an assumption that many of the biker club characters, the police detective, and the volatile situation of the area are already familiar territory.
This story opens when Maddie Wells pulls the plug on her empty and lonely life that she built for herself when she left her old home. She went after her career with a vengeance, married the ‘perfect’ guy, and on paper it all looks good. Instead, she’s a workaholic with no personal life and her husband is running around on her. She wants to blame the fail all on him, but he reminds her that she never engaged in their marriage or put the time in there either. Maddie packs up her Mustang and heads home to Skulls Creek ready to face her past and hope for a second chance though she knows that Tals Garrity probably hates the very sight of her and will want nothing to do with her after what she pulled and then left town.
Tals is a wild son and living free doing what he likes whether it is the illegal street racing or backing his brothers in the Vipers MC. He once raised his sights to the unattainable perfect girl and she walked away without a backward glance. Now here he is fixing her flat tire on the road and fighting off her version of a courtship. Maddie wants a do-over and he’s just not sure he has it in him to open up and let her trample on his heart before she runs again because that’s what she’s good at when stuff gets real. They come from the opposite sides of the tracks and he knows she’ll never see him or his biker brethren as anything, but low lifes.
Right when Tals and Maddie both are on the verge of ending their reunion before it gets started someone tries to kill Maddie. Tals goes into protective mode as does the rest of his brothers. His own twin, Tenn, and many of the brothers who remember the bad stuff with Maddie from before are leery of her, but they pull together and help especially when the hard-nosed police detective jonesing for a chance to take them down gets wind of the situation. Things are getting pretty tense when they learn of the mob involvement, Preach and Holly blow up, and Tals puts it all on the line for Maddie to see if things have really changed or if its more of the same.
Alright, so this one jumps right in. It alternates perspectives and jumps back and forth between the past and the present. It basically felt all over the place much of the time and I felt like a pinball bouncing off stuff while I tried to keep up. There are no transitions or introductions. It just dives right in. There was also a sense that the story was going through the motions without really going for depth. There was so much potential for more whether it was the overall plot, the romance or the characters. For the most part, I was detached in the beginning and pretty much stayed that way. The end left me scratching my head. There was a lot of drama, but when the danger element was right there, the story pulled back and went passive voice and summarized. There was telling and not showing. I wanted something more visceral especially in a biker romance.
This is true of the romance, too. Maddie was a disappointment. She seemed shallow. I felt like she was playing games and wishy-washy. In one chapter, she went back and forth three times with what she wanted with Tals. She was dinking around with someone’s feelings and I really got tired of it. He was this great guy. He protected her and rescued her so many times. He was honest with what he felt and what he wanted. I asked myself many times what he saw in her. The book kept telling me that they were alike and understood each other, but nope, not alike at all.
Anyway, I wasn’t really impressed. There are some nice bones to this story and big opportunity, but it didn’t follow through on it. It was a fast read and I was intrigued enough by several bits including the Preacher and Holly romance as well as the Rocco and his fiery police detective. I’m on the fence whether I’ll keep going with the series since two in a row left me with similar reactions. It’s a mild biker romance so those who enjoy that type of story might want to give it a try, but I recommend it with reservations.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this story in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #238 CR
Cliché Klatch #147 ‘You can never go home’
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