Genres: Contemporary Romance, Motorcycle Club Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on November 10, 2015
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Levi “Painter” Brooks, oh how I have disliked thee with a vengeance through this series. I never thought you were a bad human, just a man without a heart the way you treated Em. But the love wasn’t there for her. You wanted to be Picnic’s son in a way, but not enough to really love Em. You thought in time you would settle down with Em, but when she moved on, you were relieved in away not to be expected to be her old man. Now Picnic has you watching Melanie in his own story after London did something wrong. And you fell hard even though you won’t admit it.
Painter ends up in jail shortly after Picnic and London’s story. Just unfortunate he and Puck got caught, but they kept their mouths shut, served their time and became best friends that like to give each other shit. Silver Bastard was Puck’s story and you see Painter and Melanie interact in that story, but now you get their side instead of Pucks. That’s jumping ahead. Puck loans Melanie his car while he is in jail and she writes him letters. Letters he jacks off to in his bunk each night. He wants her and it’s not to talk.
The real story starts up after he is released on parole and gets embroiled back with the club and avoids seeing Melanie because he knows she is too sweet and good for him. Wonder where Painter got his name? Well, he is an artist that paints the most incredible images. So Painter is trying to avoid Melanie and Melanie knows it is for the best, but can’t stop craving the bad boy. Unfortunately, Painter takes on jobs at the club to keep the married members from getting into trouble because, well, he doesn’t feel he has anyone and needs to still prove his loyalty to the club. That nabs him in the ass literally as he is doing Melanie.[quote]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.
-a letter Painter was writing to Mel, but never sent[/quote]
There is a completely sensual part of the book involving face paint. OMG I wanted to be Painter’s canvas as I read this section. This scene was worth the price of this book alone. *sigh – runs for a cold shower*
So he is back in jail, but his time with Melanie was fruitful in the fact she gets pregnant. This isn’t a secret if you have read Silver Bastard as you know these two created a child together. This is where the years start to get choppy and speed by in the book.
There’s a lot to tell, but a lot I don’t want to say either. You watch their love over the course of almost a decade as it ebbs and flows. It’s not an instant love romance, but more an instant lust and craving they both have for each other. Painter’s actions cause some bad rifts in their romance that Melanie isn’t willing to forgive or forget. While she was pregnant she was also in nursing school and you get brief glimpses that life was really hard on her as she tried to raise a child while also providing for that child.
Nothing is easy. Painter fucks up, but he also does a lot right, but always after the fuck up. Can’t say he doesn’t learn.
Melanie is a tough cookie. She goes from deep innocence to overnight having to grow up and mature.
[quote]“They’re all going to want to thank you—you’re a hero, Mel.”
I offered him a weak smile, then shook my head. “Nope, I’m just a nurse. But remember tonight the next time we have a fight, okay? Because I know about a hundred different ways to kill you in your sleep, bring you back, and then do it all over again.”[/quote]
The two grow up together and apart in equal degrees. Both have their faults. In the end, I didn’t care because this book did it for me in so many ways, I just wanted more. More Painter. More Melanie. More body painting. More sex. More. More. More.
Who else to we see in this story? Jessica, London’s niece and Mel’s best friend. She is trying to go straight after the scare of the last book, but she does fall off that cart. She keeps it kind of sane for the most part. I kind of want her story now. There is London and Picnic acting as grandparents…and Picnic still can’t control the women in his life. Horse brings his usual humor, but Gage gets most of the story time as he and Painter have a special mission.
This is full of it usual brand of MC business and bringing down the people who threaten their way of life. It isn’t pretty nor is it safe. That adds just the right amount of spice to all.
I can’t say how much I loved this story. Just the right amount of angst, sexual tension and other tensions with a side of worry for the future, but also a confidence that Painter won’t fuck up forever. This is one of few favorite stories for this year. But do go on notice that you probably need to read the last book in the series to really understand the beginning of Painter and Mel. This can be a stand alone, but knowing makes it all better.
Sophia Rose’s Review
Painter, Painter, Painter, the biker that had me wincing each time he really stepped in it. This guy really needed some tough girl loving. I couldn’t wait to pop open his story and see him fumble his way toward love. And not far in, it was indeed, a mess, but I had to see it through because I knew it would be worth it to see Painter and Mel get it all ironed out. But also, once again, spend time at the Armory with the Reapers as they once again took to the road for their brand of biker excitement.
So yes, this is part of a series and I would definitely recommend getting them in order (though between us, I started at book two, shush). Painter and Mel were both strong secondary characters in the previous book and Painter has been around as a background character for a few back books.
The story opens with a huge opening scene. No shocker it was a lulu! Painter is done and he’s going after what’s his, damn the torpedo and full speed ahead! Be still my knocking knees and knickers that man was a force of nature.
But then the story stepped back a few years and started from the beginning setting up how it all evolved. It begins from the point Reaper’s Stand left off with Painter in jail after the big rescue and Melanie back home not understanding what all went down, but drawn to the guy who was good to her in her hour of need. Painter sees Melanie as that beautiful dream girl that if he wasn’t so messed up that he could have, but he is a mess and so doesn’t deserve her. He wants all the right things for her and so stays away when he gets out and comes home.
Mel is not on the same page with Painter. In her mind, he’s everything she wants. Okay, well beside that pesky association he has with his motorcycle club that she wants nothing doing. He would leave it all behind for love, right? And it hurts to see him look right through her when they meet for the first time when he’s there with the other Reapers to help her and Jessica move into their own place. Loni is happy with Reese, but Jessica warns her as does her own instinct that the Reapers can do nice things, but they are hard, dangerous men. Then there is Em and Kit who bust onto her scene and drag her right into the middle of it all and where she secretly admits she wants to be even if Painter is ignoring her.
Painter has to work hard to stay away from Mel, but he can’t just let her go off with another biker while she’s drunk and ignorant of the trouble she can get into. Trouble is Mel doesn’t want his help; she wants him. He gives into the attraction even as danger is drawing tighter for the Reapers when a nearby club shows signs of problems that will affect them all. Painter goes on assignment with Gage to do some undercover recon and the signs don’t half tell the real mess within the other club. Mel begs him to get out and away and be careful or he’ll go back to prison, but he has to stand by his brothers.
Mel is devastated when events turn bad. They all tried to warn her and she wouldn’t listen. Painter is not there in her time of need and he put his club first. What they had together is gone and now her life will never be the same. He wants back in, but there is no way. She will fight that with all her being. First her mother and then Painter. She will do fine on her own even if she can’t get him out of her system.
Alright! This was one rocky, emotional ride. This pair was enough to drive me to question my need for variety in romance because you know, nothing wrong with a light hearts and flowers read, Ha! And there isn’t, but I’ve come to enjoy this author’s tough fought relationships that match the spirit of the setting and character types. And the pay off is so much more rewarding when things aren’t easily won.
Some people sabotage their own happiness and that is this pair. Painter has a gift for screwing up a good thing, no doubt there, but Mel, now she is equally messed even if it doesn’t seem that way at a casual glance. Painter let her down, but then she held it against him with a vengeance because Painter was paying an emotional bill that wasn’t his. Mel’s mom left and it did things to her so when Painter, forgive him for reacting wildly to the shock Mel through at him, didn’t immediately respond well to her surprise, she shut him down, but good. Then held everything even stuff out of his control against him as her anger armor. No forgiveness, no second chance! And Painter, he was so traumatized by his growing up years and his need for his club family that he wasn’t in a place to see that he could have both Mel and his club. It was frustrating particularly in the latter half where I just wanted to wrench Mel’s denial glasses off and give her a swift kick in the direction of her own desires and happiness. Not to worry, Painter was man enough to set his own affairs in order and it was great to see when he emerged a man strong and steady and accepting that he was the guy for Mel. I feel I must warn potential readers: Patience is needed.
Beyond, the stormy relationship between Painter and Mel, there was a solid, tense, and exciting action driven story. I wondered were the story thread would go after the big finale in the last one, but this story line is equally absorbing. Another MC is rotting at the core, may have ties to the drug cartel or even the FBI. The Reapers need to know because they share borders and business. So in go Gage and Painter to infiltrate. Just when I thought it was over and I could loosen up, wham! Loved that late inning twist that was quite the exciting climax to this story. But argh, there was loss, too.
Now, there is that tantalizing bits of Gage’s story that was going on parallel to this one that will tease me until Gage’s book releases.
On a side note, the author gave extras at the back that includes a prequel to this story and a teaser for the next. Yum!
To sum it up, the romance in this one exhausted me, but was also so very good along with all the biker action making it unputdownable. Club life, drama, suspense, passion, action, and bikes on the open road are all bundled into these books. Those who enjoy biker romances and haven’t read this series really need to rectify that and for those looking to give this sub-genre a try, I can highly recommend the series. The biker action is on the mild to moderate end of the spectrum, but has the real feels for all that.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
Romance Roundabout #375
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