This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Motorcycle Club Romance
Published by Berkley
Released on October 7, 2014
Picnic’s Story…In a way, I feel like I could end the review there and that would be enough to send Reapers MC series fans dashing to the stores–but I won’t. Reese ‘Picnic’ Hayes feared and respected president of the Reapers MC has been a larger than life recurring character since book one. In a sense, his story has been developing that long as pieces from each book, particularly Devil’s Game, have added up to introduce and establish who and what he is. And with this slow, but sure build up came both anticipation and fear for when I actually read a book devoted entirely to Picnic and his lady who would have to be something special.
Yeppers, that means that I strongly recommend that readers not jump right in to Picnic’s story without at the very least having read the previous book. And this would be not just because of Picnic’s character development, but the drug cartel story arc continues here too.
London Armstrong hasn’t had an easy life growing up with a wild and wrong-headed cousin, losing her husband when she took in said cousin’s baby with health and behavioral complications due to FAS and now dealing with Jessica as a nearly grown woman while juggling her cleaning business. Things are looking up since she garnered the Reapers MC account for a couple of their business. They pay top dollar as they need discretion along with clean toilets and carpets. London has kept her distance particularly from the disconcerting Reaper President, Reese Hayes, until one night when Jessica’s antics force her to enter the Reaper Club House and front and center before their President begging for help with Jessie.
Reese has been lost and broken since his wife and old lady, Heather, passed due to cancer. She wanted him to go on with his life and be happy, but watching her die was devastating and he has no desire to let a woman inside his heart ever again. So ignoring the disapproval of his two grown daughters, he has lived fast and free with younger, shallow women who won’t temp him for more. All his distancing doesn’t do him any good once he sets eyes on London Armstrong though he continues to hold out the best he can. It helps that the woman seems to want distance from him and the club too which is right since she doesn’t seem the type to blend into his world. He would have fired her to protect himself from the attraction, but his club brothers would be up in arms now that the club had a cleaning company that did their job well with no hassle. But all bets are off when she presents herself in his office needing his help.
While Reese and London circle each other warily with him pushing her to get something going between them, the drug cartel ups the ante and forces the regional clubs to band together and make a plan for a final stand to protect their territories and their freedom. London’s troubles eventually are revealed to be connected putting her in the crosshairs between cartel and MC. Betrayal is something neither Reese Hayes nor his club will forgive, but that is exactly what London faces to protect her family.
After the astonishing prologue, I couldn’t have not finished this one and actually read it in three sittings. Picnic Hayes was what drew me before I even cracked the cover and continued to be a draw through his turn at narration, but meeting London and getting to know her through her first person narrative left no room for disappointment. The pacing and plot development was right on track. The series backdrop and ongoing story held strong even as the new romance developed in the forefront.
What a romance it was too! Attempted murder that led to a need for retribution just felt like an auspicious beginning for these two worthy romance characters. London was Picnic’s match. Whew! I was so worried that Picnic’s love interest wouldn’t pair him well and ruin the story. No worries once I got to know London. She had inner strength and fire that made them equals and her drive to do what needed to be done made them partners. London was vulnerable which allowed Reese to bring out and dust off his protective and possessive instincts. She made some mistakes, but honestly, considering what sort of pressure she was under, it would have been a miracle if she had been thinking straight. Those scenes after all of it comes out into the open were some of the most riveting I have ever read. And Picnic…sigh. I felt so bad for him that he was wasting himself on cheap one-time moments just so he could stay disengaged after all the pain of losing a good woman and mother to his children was tough in the last book and beginning of this one. His personal life was a mess even if he had it together as a strong leader of his club. Seeing him come back to life and really engage since Heather’s death was a special strength to this story. London had to take a chance and finally do something that was strictly for herself since she had devoted most of her life to caring for her family needs.
[quote]”Listen. To. Me,” he said, his face growing colder, which I wouldn’t have considered possible ten seconds earlier. “I’ll admit it- I’ve slept around since Heather died. Slept around a lot, but none of them ever felt real to me. There’s something about you, London, something that’s real in a way that I can’t even begin to explain. I like it and I want it and you dumped your boyfriend and came to me when you were hurting. Guess that means you want it, too. So far as I figure, that means you’re mine.” p. 147 Reese ‘Picnic’ Hayes from Reaper’s Stand[/quote]
It was interesting that there were a couple of side stories brewing in the background too for Painter, Bolt and the new intriguing biker, Puck. They were present, but thin so didn’t push aside the main romance which worked well.
Besides the romance, I really enjoyed the family angle too. Not just the club family scenes though those are good, but also Reese and London with their girls. Seeing a tough biker interact with his own daughters and then with London and her girls, I just loved it.
My only real niggle about this story- and its really not a big deal- is that I would have loved to have gotten more of Picnic’s background like how he came to be called Picnic and how he got involved with the club and made the rank of president. This isn’t necessary to the story, but just something that I’m still left curious about.
Oh and on a side note, I enjoyed the epilogue and tantalizing bonus material in the end. I have no idea where the series is going next particularly with who gets their story and I don’t really care just so that the series continues on.
Fantastic addition to the series. Breathless latter half of the book. Smoldering passion. Nice balance between romance and biker worldbuilding. Those who enjoy Contemporary Biker Romance that falls more on the milder end of the Biker Romance spectrum, but still gives an impactive story should grab up this series.
My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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