Ride Steady, by Kristen Ashley

3 Stars

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KA is my go-to escapist romance author. Her books are delightfully predictable, because in 50 characters, she replicates the same five personalities. While definitely romance, these books usually have an engaging plot to keep them out of the erotica category… until recently.

I’m not sure if KA’s fall is due to having a publisher or if she’s cranking out the books too quickly, but her books have grown shorter and both the sex and plot scarcer. It’s as if her last five to ten titles have been long novellas, where we meet some new characters, revisit some old ones, and see the resolution of a minor conflict. Since every book in the Chaos series has flopped, I checked Ride Steady out from the library, expecting disappointment… and ultimately setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised.

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Ride Steady tells the typical KA tale of love gone awry until boy saves girl some odd years later. While there were a couple of forced crossovers, unlike many of her latest titles, this one didn’t focus too heavily on cameos from other books. The characters were true KA characters, both quite likable, and the sex scenes were limited, yet explicit and normal. The plot was no Mystery Man, still being a bit sparse, but it was present and it was interesting. I’d have liked to have seen it developed more. The resolution was happy, as always. Overall, while the old KA isn’t back in full force, I think I see her on the horizon.

Review Word Count: 250

Chaos Series Order (sans novellas)

  1. Own the Wind
  2. Fire Inside
  3. Ride Steady
  4. Walk Through Fire
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Beautiful series (Travis and Abby), by Jamie McGuire

2 Stars

Meh. That about sums it up.

I was surprised, and admittedly disappointed, that there is zero sex in Beautiful Disaster. It’s not that I can’t enjoy something without smut, but for this kind of romance, I expect some sexy times. Instead, I got an abusive relationship between once-friends, Travis and Abby. If you’ve read my reviews, you know I love a good alpha male. Travis wasn’t alpha, though. He was irrationally angry, a lot. After deciding that he and Abby, can’t possibly be just friends, he acts like a raving lunatic with the smallest provocation, by smashing up his apartment, beating the crap out of his cousin, and generally stalking Abby. It’s not fantasy sexy like Kristen Ashley. It’s scary and there aren’t even erotic scenes to make up for it. The “plot” is distractingly far-fetched in its conclusion, taking the reader right out of the pages for a good eye roll. 1 Star

Walking Disaster was surprisingly much more readable. Travis’s point-of-view comes off as less violent than Abby’s perception of the same events. The plot flaws are still present, however. I just couldn’t get past them. 2 Stars

Beautiful Wedding was wonderful, if only because we got to see an author respond productively to criticism. I’m not the only one who found Travis to be too much (which is saying something in the genre) and one year later, we see a realistically toned-down version in Beautiful Wedding. This wasn’t just a happy ending, but a healthy one to an unhealthy romance. 3 Stars

Review Word Count (sans star ratings): 249

Silver Bastard (Silver Valley 1), by Joanna Wylde

3 Stars

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I’ll admit, after book 4 of the Reapers MC, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one. More often than not, once an unknown author has lost her mojo, it’s because she’s gotten a publisher and a time crunch and you’ll never read anything good by her ever again. However, I was still binge watching Sons of Anarchy and I am forever the obsessive 12-year-old who, at one time, regularly watched the week’s new episode of Roswell on repeat for seven days. I figured I’d get the MC craze out of my system and what better way to do that than with a book called Silver Bastard, from a one hit wonder?

If the 3 stars didn’t already give it away, I was wrong. Unlike Reaper’s Stand, Silver Bastard had enjoyable characters engaged in a gritty and intriguing plot. Wylde also managed not to overdo the alpha role, which has been one of her struggles in the past. Puck’s just arrogant enough to keep me from rolling my eyes over hearts and flowers, but not enough to earn genuine dislike. Becca was a little bland and inconsistent, virginal at times and an old pro at this slutty biker chick gig at others. Her decisions made enough sense, even when they were frustrating. It didn’t seem like Wylde was just trying to make the story happen and fill her word count. The climax did not disappoint, nor did the epilogue. I’ll reread the next time I’m in the mood, I’m sure.

Review Word Count: 246

Reaper’s MC, by Joanna Wylde

3 Stars

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Motorcycle club romances have become increasingly popular since Sons of Anarchy and few writers have pulled them off. They definitely need plot with the sex and Wylde accomplishes that… mostly. I tend to exhaust a genre before moving on, so I’m going to review this series as a whole, since I read them all in four days.

Reaper’s Property
The romance felt genuine and the plot, while a touch predictable, wasn’t lazy or tiresome. It worked and could’ve easily failed. Horse was a bit of a jerk, but he’s well redeemed in the end. Marie was too judgmental and took the mistrust too far. 3 stars.

Reaper’s Legacy
Ruger delved into alphahole territory. Sophie was too hormonally impulsive and made bad decisions. They both did, so the relationship had too many highs and lows. The plot wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly anti-climactic. 3 stars.

Devil’s Game
It wasn’t intentional, as it says in the author’s note, but this is clearly new adult. It’s not bad new adult, but you can’t switch genres in the middle of a series, so it made for a frustrating read. Futhermore, the first 40% heavily overlaps with Reaper’s Legacy, so it drags. The plot is… fine, I guess? Nothing about this one was especially engaging. 2 stars.

Reaper’s Stand
DNF: 50%. This one just… sucked. Picnic was vastly different and London was about as interesting as a tape dispenser. The chemistry wasn’t there and the plot was painfully obvious. It read like fanfic and based on the reviews, the ending is completely unrealistic, even in this Felons Be Hawt universe. I couldn’t do it. 1 star

Review Word Count (no ratings or titles): 249

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street 1), by Samantha Young

4 Stars

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This is a terrific angsty read. It has all the elements of a good plot-light, strictly romance story: rich alpha male repairs emotionally damaged girl with his luuuuuv.

While this is the beginning of a series, and not a bad series at that, Young definitely got things right the first time. Braden comes off as a real world alpha, with none of Kristen Ashely’s fireman holds or Christine Feehan’s puppeteering. He’s just the right mix of possessive, protective, and rich. He has his asshole moments, but Young never takes it so far as to completely turn off the reader. Jocelyn is a believably broken heroine. Her story never becomes so complicated as to induce eye rolling, as is common in the genre. She’s just sassy enough to counteract Braden’s overly domineering moments, but not enough to earn the title of bitch. Most importantly, I never felt like Young was reaching for excuses to keep the couple apart in this story. It ended when it needed to end and the romance wasn’t too cheesy, which is more than I can say for her series as a whole.

My only complaint, while trivial, is that Jocelyn/Joss has a confusingly similar name to Johanna/Jo in the sequel, Down London Road. I found myself thinking “EVERYONE IS NAMED JO!

Series Reading Order (sans novellas)
1. On Dublin Street
2. Down London Road
3. Before Jamaica Lane
4. Fall from India Place
5. Echoes of Scotland Street

Review Word Count: 216