Publisher: Samhain Publish Date: Jan 14th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
In a harsh new world, only she can bring him to life…
Chase Hawthorne is on the run from a ghost. The shooting that took his little sister and scarred Chase’s face and body has left far deeper scars on his brother Tripp’s soul. Driven to pull up stakes and head for the most haunted place in Louisiana, Chase hopes to prove to Tripp there is no ghost of his twin beckoning from the after life.
When he comes upon a young woman fighting off raiders, Chase doesn’t hesitate to help the first female he’s seen in years. And he tries to ignore his instant attraction, hoping Tripp will feel it, too—and emerge from his frightening depression.
Keera has been alone too long, and Chase makes her feel things she never thought she’d feel again. Tripp may be the needier brother, but it’s Chase she wants. Scars and all.
But letting people too close comes with risks. And as they are drawn into the search for a young man’s family, both must accept the possibility that there’s more to life—and love—than simple survival.
Warning: A hero who puts his own needs aside for family. And a woman who’s out to prove there’s no law against a man listening to his body once in a while. This blurb came from the author’s website.
I have been addicted to Worth’s writing since I first discovered her Kithran Regenesis series. When I found out she was starting a new post apocalyptic series I had to give it a try. When I finished reading the first installment, After the Crux, I had to ask if she was going to continue writing in this world. When she said yes, I waited rather impatiently for what would come next. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed by my wait.
Gruesomely scarred Chase was traveling with his younger brother Tripp in search of a deserted city trying desperately to find something that would break through Tripp’s worsening PTSD. Out on a foraging trip he stumbled upon a young woman defending herself against some raiders, individuals who banded together and preyed on anyone weaker, and when more raiders appeared he assisted in the fight. After realizing Chase was not going to make a bad situation even worse, Keera volunteered some replacement clothes and fresh food. She didn’t invite them back to her place but followed Chase to his RV to make sure he wasn’t lying. Chase was hoping that Keera and Tripp would hit it off and give Tripp a reason to continue living while Tripp wanted someone for Chase so he would not be alone. The three agreed to drive as close as possible to the deserted city and meet there for the food and clothing exchange. While stopped in the area by the city, Chase, Tripp, and Keera encountered four individuals from the first installment, Sole Survivors Ross, Dorian, Jenna, and Cadmar who were traveling to Cadmar’s home to rescue his family from the Raiders who had taken over their farm. While trapped at Keera’s place due to bad weather MacKenzie, a woman who lived with the raiders, showed up willing to work with them to help rescue Cadmar’s family and the few other decent people.
Worth provided an amazing sense of connection, caring, and loyalty amongst her protagonists. It was incredibly sweet to watch both Tripp and Chase sing each other’s phrases to Keera. Even when it appeared as if Keera had made her decision, Chase was still concerned about how it would affect Tripp. Thankfully, Tripp developed a best friend, Cadmar, so he was no longer drowning in memories and regrets of loss. Seeing the initial group of seven grow closer together and start to fully trust each other and bring MacKenzie into their group was very interesting. There was some suspicion but knowing that everyone had suffered from the Raiders and were willing to share what they had as well as risk their lives to help Cadmar made a huge difference.
I felt as if Worth explored some of the isolation felt by survivors and what they would consider or be willing to risk for companionship. I loved some of the quiet one-on-one conversations that were remarkably open and yet led to more trust. It was almost as if finding another human you didn’t have to fight or fear was enough to break down what would have been learned barriers. I also loved the backdrop of Chase and Keera’s relationship against Cadmar and Tripp’s friendship and the established triad of Ross, Dorian, and Jenna. The varying levels of intimacy, comfort, and interaction all rounded out the world.
Sole Survivors has left me with answers to questions raised in After the Crux but the rescue attempt/fight has left me with several more new questions from hints Worth provided. I am very curious about what is going to happen next. Who will go back with Ross and the others to their mountain home? Now that Tripp has declared he is a MAN, not a boy in most emphatic fashion, how will that alter his friendship with Cadmar. What is MacKenzie’s back-story and where will she go next? What will happen to the non-Raiders who might decide to stay put? How will the newcomers integrate into Ross’s mountain home? I can’t wait for the next installment!
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: Nov 18th How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
Mathias Robichaud is looking for an alliance. The Defiance motorcycle club is a stronghold in the dangerous world that’s become the new norm and he’s driven to prove he’s tough enough to be sworn in as a full member. But when he sees a beautiful, spirited girl abducted by a rival MC, rescuing her jeopardizes all he’s worked for.
Politician’s daughter Jessa Everson knows what’s expected of her—obedience, loyalty and silence—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t fight when she’s kidnapped by the Lords of Vengeance. Having Mathias save her is like gaining an avenging angel in leather and tattoos. But Defiance is known for brutal justice, and she may have just traded one bad situation for another.
Mathias’s urge to protect is too strong to ignore, no matter how much trouble Jessa brings to Defiance’s gates. There’s no room in the post-Chaos world for weakness so if Mathias and Jessa have any chance of surviving, they’ll need to put their full strength behind the MC…and hope that the MC will do the same for them. This blurb came from the author’s website. I read Defiance earlier this year with a few of my fellow Book Pushers and while not perfect I found the idea intriguing, the characters distinctive, and some lingering questions about the events that led to the apocalypse. I was interested in finding out what was going to happen in the next installment since the status quo was significantly altered. I was also very intrigued by the two deserters who were supporting Defiance but had not formally joined. Reading the back cover blurb and finding out that the hero was one of the deserters increased my interest. Tyler answered some of the questions I was wondering and in doing so raised others. While Mathias was the hero in this story, he and Bishop were so intertwined from childhood that he was present in most of the scenes. However, Tyler made a point to demonstrate that Bishop thought of Mathias as a brother and viewed Jessa platonically.
Mathias was on a quest to redeem himself for some of his actions in the past. Even as a young boy he was incapable of walking by when someone needed rescuing. This trait brought him both his best friend, a brother by another mother, and more trouble than he could count. He and Bishop were enjoying time outside during a few of the rare sunlit hours discussing their plans for the future when the peace was broken by a terrified scream. Mathias and Bishop were known for being constantly on the move. Due to their status as deserters and a dislike of those who abused power and therefore innocents, they never remained in one place long enough to put down roots. Their time in Defiance was the longest they had been in one place since deserting the army and they were starting to feel restless. After assessing the situation Mathias insisted on intervening, a decision that changed his life.
Jessa grew up the pampered daughter of a high-ranking politician groomed to make a political marriage and carry on her family’s influence in running the country, or what was left of it. Jessa wasn’t happy in her designated role and when her parents would not listen to her thoughts she rebelled by attempting to kill herself multiple times. After her most recent and most serious attempt she married her childhood acquaintance, the man she was supposed to marry in her father’s political scheme. After trusting him with the politically deadly secrets she overheard, she found herself betrayed by her husband and being sold as a sex slave. Her rescue by Mathias and Bishop was an opportunity to change her life for the better if she was willing to take a chance.
I ended up having mixed feelings about the main characters. I absolutely loved learning more about both Bishop and Mathias. Their story was a mixture of uplifting and sad. The insights into what made them who they were did a lot to explain the decisions each made throughout the story. I really hope their circumstances at the end of this story don’t jeopardize their bond. Jessa, on the other hand, puzzled me. She didn’t fit in her pampered world but also showed far less distress at more primitive living than I would have expected. She also continued to believe her husband even after knowing what he was willing to do. She waffled between trusting and not trusting any of the members of Defiance including Mathias until it was too late. While some of my puzzlement was relieved when I found out her final secret, I still had some issues with her rationale when it came to her husband.
While I thought the world-building and some of the story flow was better, I had a harder time believing in the romance in this installment. I think part of it was my fascination with Mathias and Bishop combined with the difficulty I experienced trying to connect to Jessa. I couldn’t get past thinking the attraction was much more one-sided.
You found out you get to keep living.
He let me digest that for a long moment and then explained, For a lot of people who weren’t in your position, they think it’s about not dying. But when you really think about it, you found out today that you get to keep on living instead. And that’s a whole other ball game.
Mathias was willing to sacrifice an immense amount for Jessa but I never had the feeling that she would be willing to make an equivalent sacrifice. I did really enjoy how Jessa worked to communicate with Mathias without requiring an interpreter. I also thought the way Tyler brought forward the subtleties of body language into Mathias’ interactions a nice way to remind people that entire conversations can occur without a single spoken word.
As I was reading Redemption and catching the expanded pieces of worldbuilding, I found it fascinating to put the pieces together from the opposite perspectives of Mathias and Jessa for the same cataclysmic event. As I filled in the picture I was reminded of an old science fiction duology by Philip Wylie called When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. Only instead of following the lives of the privileged few, the focus was on the non-privileged who dared to make their own living. This helped me visualize the new generation of Defiance and how they were changing the old culture while defending their lifestyle.
I am still curious about what is going to happen next as things look like they are building up to a confrontation of some sort. I have a lot of questions about Mathis and a certain member of Defiance along with wondering about a particular secret. I think I know what it is but I am not exactly sure yet. I also want to see Mathis and Jessa’s relationship grow because I am not exactly comfortable with where this book ended and their HEA.
Publisher: Forever Yours Publish Date: 6 Aug How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
It is the year 2070. Generations ago, the world was annihilated by catastrophic environmental events. The survivors were driven to live in big city centers ruled by the Company. To rebuild the world’s population, the oppressive Company had one rule: all homosexuals must be exterminated.
Commander Caspar Cannon has a stellar military reputation—and a life-threatening secret. When a revolution rips through the territories, Cannon is ordered to escort Company executive Nathaniel Rice to a secure location. For months, the commander has harbored illicit desire for Rice, knowing he cannot act on his attraction. Privileged, polished, and groomed to one day take over the Company, Rice is drawn to the rugged, military man. Yet Rice has his own mysterious agenda, and he knows their love can be as dangerous as the wasteland they must traverse.
Now leaving the besieged city behind, the two men embark on a journey that becomes a minefield of sabotage, betrayal—and forbidden passion. But when danger catches up to them, can Cannon trust the secretive man who holds his heart—and his fate?
This blurb came from the author’s website.
1. Thoughts on the Hero#1 (Cannon)
E: Cannon was a very torn and conflicted person. He was raised in a society that considered his sexual orientation a crime punishable by death. His society placed the highest value on those who reproduced with the only people exempt from this requirement were the ones serving in the military. After the death of his family when Cannon was a teenager, he did the only thing he could do to try to give him both a future “family” and allow him to escape the requirement to breed. This did not mean he was safe from persecution if caught, just that he would not be matched with a suitable young woman and forced to validate their contract marriage through witnessed consummation. His only escape is a few furtive moments in an underground rave/sex party for those whose interests violated the Company policy. Cannon was continually struggling with himself caught between his job as a member of the military and what he felt. The survivor’s guilt after the death of his family, constantly hiding an integral part of himself, living with the knowledge that his society would gladly kill him if they knew, and hearing the endless hatred was killing his soul. During one of his escapes from the Company he had an oft-dreamed of encounter that changed the rest of his life. Initially I had a hard time connecting with Cannon but as I continued reading and Warren let me under his protective shell, he grew on me. In this particular case I was glad for the 1st person point of view because I could see both his internal and eternal dialogue which softened a few of his rough edges. I grew to understand his mistrust, anger, and finally his willingness to give his everything.
Has I felt the same way about connecting to Cannon’s character, I found his POV hard to engage in the beginning too. Although I liked how he had to cope with an authoritarian government, especially how they dictated sexual behaviour and other forms of entertainment with sanctioned rules. I also liked how he had devil may care attitude even though I felt something with his character which I could not relate to.
But I did find some aspect of the world-building didn’t make sense, while I could understand the outlawing of homosexuality and other forms of sexuality which is deemed undesirable due to the re-population agenda. I didn’t get the witnessing of the consummation of a sanctioned marriage. The authorities was set up as corporations which took over the collapse of the world’s governments and carved up different areas amongst themselves. The way they ran their cities/areas felt off because while I understood the whole banning of homosexuality the witnessing of a consummating marriage felt very medieval and voyeuristic and I wished there was more on why these corporations came up with these policies.
2. Thoughts on the Hero#2 (Rice)
E: Rice appeared the more open, less complicated of the two men but he proved to have some unexpected depths. He knew what he wanted and was in a position to patiently maneuver things until he had a chance. What I noticed first about him and continue to find admirable was his extreme patience and tenacity. I didn’t get a chance to know Rice as well based on Cannon’s POV so all I could go off of were his actions. And as contradictory as they seemed at times he was always working towards his ultimate goal. I will let you find out what his goal was. Rice was more verbal than Cannon yet for all of his talking he actually said less which I found fascinating. It took an absence of alternatives for him to open up about what was really behind his actions, which, was a demonstration that even those who grew up among the Company elite learned not to trust anyone. I waffled between like him and being very puzzled by him until the end of the story, which is probably one of the reasons I continued reading.
Has: I totally agree with you about Rice, I think his character was more intriguing than Cannon’s and I almose kind of wished we had some chapters in his POV because he seemed more interesting. I would have loved to see his insights on how he worked with the Company elite and living with the strict rules and restrictions especially in contrast with family which was one of the elements of the story that I liked.
I also loved the twist at the end linked with Rice and that took me by surprised and this is where the narrative starting to began to get more interesting for me. While I found the beginning was action packed and pacey. The lull in the middle really dragged for me.
3. Favorite Scene
E: My favorite scene is towards the beginning with the very first interaction between Cannon and Rice. There they both established that neither was submissive but they were willing to exchange give and take. Each challenged the other and rose to meet that challenge but didn’t cross over the line of ending what could be before it really started. This first encounter set the tone for their entire relationship. Rice making the first move but demanding that Cannon match him. Cannon being forces to interact instead of passively accepting or denying what was offered. Rice doing what he could to make Cannon comfortable and show him what could be while Cannon was always the protector and caring for Rice. Not to mention the very elemental method of their joining.
Has: I think for me, the scene towards the end which is a bit spoilery but since this is a romance and it has a HEA.
SPOILER--- I loved the wedding scene. I loved the symbolism and the vows they shared. I thought it was very sweet and it when both Cannon and Rice showed a much more softer side in their relationship which I think was missing in the beginning. END SPOILER
4. Dislike about book
E: I had some issues with this story unfortunately. First I felt that the pacing was extremely slow in some sections. While the first part of Cannon and Rice’s journey did serve to build a bond between the two men I didn’t need a day by day account along with the variety of methods/ways/order of their smexy times. I felt as if that could have been shortened and several of their encounters left out. It almost seemed like it was turning into an erotic story when the sex taking over the plot which was not what I was looking for in this particular read. I also felt that the real growth in both their relationship and Cannon started with their enforced travel pause. To me making a distinction between living under the Company’s control and what it was like to live away from the Company would have clarified how far they traveled not just in time and distance but in ideology.
The other thing that bothered me was that this story seemed as if it was broken into different sections. Meet cute with reason to stay physically close together, travel, change in perspective, danger and so on (more would be spoilerish). I wish those transitions were a bit less obvious or that the tension rise was smoother instead of sudden sharp increases and decreases. With each one I kept looking to see if that was the climax of the book so that threw off my reading flow.
Has: Yes! I also found the numerous love scenes were beginning to overshadow the main story and the plot. I found that after they left the city it began to drag with the pace because it was all focused on them having sex, and daily tasks until they met up with danger. And then this would be repeated in the next act of the book. It made it for very disjointed narrative and I also found Cannon’s POV in the first half especially with the love scenes not that sexy because he was pretty crude. I don’t mind dirty talking heroes, but because I couldn’t connect to him as a character I was kind of put off by him. Although later in the book, when he began to fall hard for Rice, his tone changed to something more warmer and sweeter and this is what kept me on reading because I was very close to DNF the book.
5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade
E: I found In His Command a very interesting premise with some flaws in the execution. Despite the flaws, Warren has developed a fascinating world and circumstances being what they are at the end of the book I am intrigued to see what will happen next with a few of the characters. She included several twists and turns a few which appeared to be far-fetched but were enjoyable all the same. I also really enjoyed how both men were strong, and mostly dominate instead of having a set top and bottom although one of them did seem to have slightly more bottom tendencies. I did want a more even distribution with the pacing, smexytimes, and plot but it did serve to highlight the brutality faced by those who had any intention of thinking or being out of step with the Company.
I give In His Command a C.
Has: This is a book I would really love to enjoy but I mostly have meh feelings on it. Yes, this had a great premise and the world-building was very interesting despite the issues I had. But overall, the narrative tone and writing style didn’t draw me in and it was a bit of a struggle to read. Although it definitely got better towards the end and I am glad that I did because I did warm up to Cannon and liked how the romance developed in the end. But I wished the book was much tighter in pace and plot and some of the love scenes in the beginning could have been left out because it felt more erotica than dystopian romance and that definitely bogged down the pace. But there are some promising elements in this world and I may be drawn to the sequel.
BP Note: The Book Pushers are huge fans of Dane, Arend, and Rocha so when we found out they were plotting together for a self-published anthology we couldn’t wait. As they continued to work on their individual projects and started tweeting things about how they were blushing as they typed, how this was potentially the hottest thing they had written to date, and how good the stories from their co-conspirators were the wait seemed endless. It was a great relief to finally get our hands on this anthology and see for ourselves if our anticipation was worth it.
ALL THAT REMAINS
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Dane takes you into a brand new world in ALL THAT REMAINS. Summer Killian falls fast and hard when Charlie arrives in Paradise Village. But the heat turns all the way up when she learns Charlie is also with Hatch – the man she loved three years before. While she’s not sure she’s cut out for a triad, neither man is going to give her up.
Has: Out of the three authors, I’ve only read a handful of books by Lauren Dane. “All That Remains” is the start of a brand new series set in a post apocalyptic world where society has changed drastically. I am a huge fan of post apocalyptic settings, but Dane has approached this premise with a different twist which I liked. It is set a few centuries after a catastrophe and humanity has evolved into different norms and mores, where men far outnumber women due to the calamity. Instead of having a darker edged and tone like The Handmaid’s Tales sort of stories of women being oppressed, it is the other way round where they’re respected and have more agency and power. I really liked how she depicted this new world and the characters who resides in them especially the heroine Summer, who is open and upfront and enjoys and owns her own sexuality.
However one day her tranquil existence is turned upside down with the arrival of two men to her village, and they both challenge her in every way. She is reluctant to embark on a long-term relationship. Hatch and Charlie who are both deeply attracted to her as well being in their own relationship see that she is perfect to form a triad relationship and are willing to put down roots down. But Summer finds the dynamic of being involved with a triad relationship difficult, because of her own issues with a past relationship and her sister’s experience in one which left scars. I loved that Dane has created a true menage relationship instead of just focusing on the heroine, the focus of the romance is very much between Charlie and Hatch. Their dynamics in their relationship was interesting because while Charlie was easy-going and relaxed, Hatch was more alpha and demanding, which Summer found at times hard and there were real problems and kinks to work out within their relationship. It definitely heightened the tension in the romance and I liked how it played out. Although I wished we got to see more of the world-building, which didn’t go into much depth or the backdrop of the big catastrophe. Nonetheless, this was a solid introduction to this new world, with hot love scenes.
E: While I haven’t read everything that Dane has published, I have read a lot. She has several series I continue to love so when I saw she was starting a new series, Metamorphosis, set in an entirely new world I was even more curious. As I gathered, well as Dane released, information about her contribution it started looking like her story was going to hit several of my love to read buttons; post apocalyptic, shortage of women, second chance at love, and an overall slower lifestyle. “All That Remains” managed to eek out a standing as my favorite in this anthology.
I loved how Summer had rebuilt herself and created a life full of happiness when the life she planned altered abruptly. She had no shame about enjoying men nor did she depend on them for her quality of life. She felt an instant attraction to Charlie but when she discovered he was with her former love she was ready to end what might have been. Somehow Charlie and Hatch convinced Summer to give them a chance. So many times I thought Hatch was going to ruin it by his apparent unawareness of the multitude of levels his actions as a young man had hurt Summer. Each time Charlie was able to smooth things over but it was up to Hatch to prove he had learned, changed, and was someone Summer could trust to stick around.
As much as this story focused on Hatch and Summer’s second chance Dane provided equal attention on the growing relationship between Charlie and Summer. Yes, Charlie was the peacemaker but Summer valued him for more than that role, she liked him for who he was. Charlie also adored Summer for who she was and what she brought out in Hatch as he consciously matured. I also found that the sexytimes between Charlie, Hatch, and Summer regardless of the combination were extremely intense and hot. There was a balance between one on one and the trio as a whole which made me think the individual connections were just as important as the overall relationship.
Since this was a novella, the supporting characters were not as fleshed out as Dane’s novels but some significant time was spent with Summer’s sister, Dulce who was the catalyst for Summer’s fresh start. She has a tragic backstory and I can’t wait to see her find happiness again. With the depth of emotion and complicated world-building Dane provided I really didn’t miss learning more about the supporting characters. I am sure that information will come as Dane continues to write in this world.
Meka: “All That Remains” is a sizzling story of second chances, owning up to what you’ve done, and taking a chance with the idea that your heart may be torn in two. Dystopian novels are not my theme because they tend to be a little too dark for me, but this setting showed a different take. Paradise Village isn’t the gritty, everybody-for-themselves type of place that it could be, namely because we are also about 300 years beyond the fallout resulting from the apocalypse. The beauty of this story is that it focuses on the here and now and relationships that people have with one another.
Summer and Hatch used to be an item before Hatch left. This resulted in Summer having to hold herself together and continue living life without him even though her heart was broken. Four years later, and we see a very different Summer from the type of person that she used to be. I could likely gush on and on about what happens in this particular novella, but I want to focus on some key points.
Lauren Dane can write relationships, whether it’s a romantic one or friendships. She has always impressed me by pulling in the side characters and not allowing anyone to be a lonely island where their world only revolves around their significant other. This makes her writing layered and nuanced, bringing the characters to life in a way that makes me wish I knew these people for real. I’m so glad that Lauren said there’d be a book about Summer’s sister, because I need this in my life like right now.
By the time we meet these characters, summer has moved on as best she can, and Hatch is now in a relationship with Charlie. For me, the beauty of this story was watching them navigate the treacherous waters of someone being betrayed. Hatch was arrogant and knew what he wanted, Summer was passionate and yet cautious, and Charlie was the one who could soothe the both of them. I really loved that Summer could stand up for herself and refused to be run over roughshod just because Hatch wanted everything. She made certain he understood how much his leaving hurt, and that she wasn’t the same person that she used to be.
None of these characters are perfect, but they are all three worthy of love if they can give it a chance. Summer’s resistance to Hatch was understandable. Hatch’s need to get things back to the way that they used to be could be understood too. Both of them could rub each other the wrong way in any moment, but together as a triad, it really worked. Dane writes these characters in a realistic manner and makes me want to delve more in to this new world that she has created.
Take a ROCKY RIDE with New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Vivian Arend as she leads you back to the Six Pack Ranch. Anna Coleman might be the law around Rocky Mountain House, but bad boy Mitch Thompson knows that under the stiff RCMP uniform is a woman with a passion for speed and pleasure that matches his own, and he’s not giving up until she’s his.
Has: I think “Rocky Ride” was my favourite story of the anthology, although the other stories were great, but I was really engrossed with Anna and Mitch’s romance which was sweet but very very sexy. The opening chapters were beyond scorching and the chemistry between Anna and Mitch was on fire. Anna is a RCMP officer while Mitch is a mechanic/biker and even though they’re jobs and roles are poles apart, their attraction has driven them to go on a red hot affair. Mitch soon realises this is much more than great sex and goes on a mission to woo Anna that they could have something more permanent. Although things don’t go smoothly with Anna’s boss, Nick who disapproves of their relationship and her own reluctance to open up.
But I loved that Mitch managed to get Anna to explore more of her wild side, and to break out her inhibitions because of her job and her own reserved nature. It was fun to see her break out of her walls and that was really part of the charm of the romance, also the sexual chemistry was smoking hot which added another layer to the story which I enjoyed immensely. While this story was a spin-off from Arend’s Six Pack series, it was also cool to see some cameos and scenes featuring some of those characters.
Overall, I was left very satisfied with this novella, because even though it was a short-length, the romance, the love scenes and the introduction of series was just perfect. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series because this was a wonderful and sexy start.
E: Arend is another of my auto-buy authors. “Rocky Ride” is the first of her Thompson & Sons series which is a spin-off of the Six Pack Ranch series. I was very excited at the possibility of starting this new series because the area around the Six Pack Ranch is packed full interesting characters. The inhabitants do not shy away from enjoying each other and when they find love, they hold onto it regardless of public opinion. However, Anna as a member of the RCMP did need to maintain a certain level of public decorum and getting involved with one of the crazy Thompsons certainly didn’t seem to match that expectation. So as the story opens Anna and Mitch have an arrangement. They meet, have an extremely enjoyable time, then Anna leaves, and they act like nothing has ever happened but Mitch wants more. He was tired of being Anna’s dirty little secret so he created a plan that would result in everything he hoped for or the end of an enjoyable interlude and a broken heart.
I loved watching Mitch and Anna take things outside of secluded meetings. Anna did have some valid reasons for wanting to keep her relationship quiet because Mitch had a well earned reputation. She was supposed to uphold the law and Mitch had a habit of stretching if not breaking the law. It took Mitch a little bit to realize how to walk the line between coaxing Anna out of her shell and indulging in activities that pushed her away. While Anna was struggling mentally she also had to deal with a partner who seemed determined to make Anna doubt her own judgment. If that didn’t work he was completely willing to use other techniques to keep her doing exactly what he wanted, which was not happy with Mitch Thompson. It was a lot of fun to watch Anna and Mitch worth through their issues both within their relationship and with outside interferences. I think my favorite scene here was a certain nighttime dirt bike race. That scene said so much about Anna’s personality when she wasn’t dealing with fears about her professional future and Mitch’s enjoyment of life. “Rocky Ride” was a great introduction to the Thompson & Sons series and I can’t wait for the next installment.
Meka: I have not read this series yet, but it was not difficult for me to keep track of what was happening. I feel curious about the characters that I have been missing out on and plan to read their stories, because after this one, I am totally hooked.
This novella is not just about a good girl falling for a bad boy, but the vulnerabilities that they both share, and the biases and judgment calls that we make every day about other people. Anna is portrayed as a woman who likes to live on the wild side but is often too afraid to really let that side of her out. When Mitch, the man that she’s been having a fling with, decides to push her a little harder because he’d like more, Anna is nervous but is more than ready for the challenge.
Watching this story unfold was such a treat. Being able to see Anna, a constable and someone who works really hard at what she does, take chances and defend what she wanted was incredibly special. Watching her own up to how she’d been unfairly stereotyping Mitch was even better. Seeing her pal around with his family, go biking, and just totally be with Mitch and give him more of her heart was totally sweet.
Can I keep Mitch? He only wanted the best for Anna and longed to see her shed her inhibitions and just fly. He wanted to take their relationship to the next level, but was also full of vulnerability that we got to see. Oh, and let us not forget absolutely sexy. He was ready to take Anna anywhere she wanted to go fantasy-wise and Vivian Arend pulled no punches in that department.
As they learned to navigate the waters of what they wanted, we got to see a couple truly worthy of their HEA. Anna truly blossomed once she was able to simply let go, and Mitch learned that he had someone in Anna that he could depend on and trust. Even after Mitch did a bone-headed move, I was still cheering for things to work out. And the last surprise that Anna had for Mitch wrapped that story up with a nice little bow.
Kit Rocha returns to Sector Four in BEYOND TEMPTATION. A promise to a dying friend backfires when Noah Lennox finds that the girl he was supposed to rescue is all grown up–and wearing O’Kane ink. He wants to protect her from the secrets of their past, but she wants him. And an O’Kane woman always gets what she wants.
Has: I always look forward to a Beyond book by Kit Rocha, and I was definitely eagerly waiting for Emma and Noah’s story which was touched briefly on in the last book by setting up their story. Noah has finally tracked down Emma who he has lost track of the past few years but is surprised and happy that she’s safe and made a real home with the O’Kanes. Emma is happy to be reunited with Noah and their feelings for each other are instantly rekindled although the secrets of their past threatens their tentative new relationship.
I think with each new installment, the Beyond series gets better and better. I love the world-building and the cast of characters which all share an amazing chemistry with each other. In “Beyond Temptation” establishes another tantalizing plot thread which will intertwine with the ongoing arc that was set up in the previous book. But the real focus is on the romance between Emma and Noah which develops beautifully. I was really happy how Kit Rocha maintained the tension between them and their sex scenes were beyond blazing hot which ratcheted their sexual chemistry.
While I loved the romance, I found the plot-line that connects Emma and Noah’s past to the current issues the O’Kane clan will face left me wanting. In a lot of ways this felt like a mini-episode of a huge saga that is playing out and I wanted to see more of this plot being expanded because it was more like a teaser rather than a sub-plot involving them. However I am definitely looking forward to the next installment which promises to be explosive in so many levels.
E: “Beyond Temptation” took two supporting characters with a complicated past and gave them a chance to smooth it out. Emma, now an O’Kane, who was Ace’s apprentice and a generally sweet girl had been in love with her brother’s best friend almost her entire life. When he practically disappeared from her life she never quite felt the same way about anyone else. She had a home with the O’Kanes, and while she shared their love of pleasure, she never paired off with anyone. Then she discovered Noah was still alive. Noah thought Emma was safely away from the sectors and happily married until he received a note saying she needed him. When he found out she was an O’Kane he knew that he needed to get revenge on the woman who lied to him and to see if Emma needed rescuing. He was not prepared to see grown-up Emma who was no longer sweet and innocent. He was also not prepared for the depths of his feelings towards Emma and what more he would do to keep her safe.
I loved how Emma had to push to get Noah to open up to her and prove to him what love meant. She also had to prove she was grown and didn’t need someone to make her decisions for her. Noah had to learn to open up and to trust that Dallas and Lex really did care about the O’Kanes. But when their mutual past resurfaced Noah had to make a hard decision. This was another fun read but it felt more like the installment of a serial instead of a complete story. There was a conclusion but I am hoping more of their story shows up as the series continues because there is a lot hanging on the results of Noah’s decision.
Meka: I could not read this story straight through. At first I thought it was because of the raw sensuality of this dark and gritty world, but now I realize that might not be entirely accurate. It was because we see the stark reality of these characters and practically every scene is intense. We get to feel their emotions, their desperation, their simply trying to live and make a life for themselves. So I had to read this one in fits and spurts, because such stark depictions were hard for me to swallow at once.
I have not read all of the books in this series (a normal occurrence if you know anything about my reading quirks), but I did read Beyond Shame which I loved. In this novella, Emma is an O’Kane and has been inked. It’s four years since she found herself in their territory and she’s a different woman than she was when she lost her brother with no word from his best friend. In the meantime, Noah, her brother’s best friend, is fighting guilt over his death and nursing a need for revenge that has left him room for precious little else.
What he gets is a different Emma, one who is confident with herself and her life. She’s a fighter, someone who can be straightforward and give him everything he wants while demanding her own needs and the truth.
Emma’s life of practically everything and then the return of Noah made this a heart-wrenching story to read. Watching her come to terms with Noah, and then the truth of a secret that he’d been hiding was both devastating and wonderful.
Watching Noah’s reactions to the new Emma through his eyes was a treat. We got to see him slowly open up to her and come to terms with his guilt that life hadn’t gone the way that he had expected it to for Emma. His grief, his anger, his need for revenge were all real things.
Let’s not skip the sex, either. This novella was filthy and I loved every sordid detail. If the Apocalypse happens, I’m finding a Sector Four.
All in all, I cheered for these characters and the ones that I remembered from book one. It was great to see how far they all had come.
Publisher: Carina Press Publish Date: June 10th How we got this book: ARC from the publisher
Rebelling against her legacy as the MC’s princess, Tru Tennyson escaped the ruthless, male-dominated culture of the Defiance motorcycle club. Three years later, her newfound freedom is ripped away, thanks to a massive hybrid storm that killed millions. Now, in the post-Chaos world of semi-darkness and near-total anarchy where gangs rule, she discovers the dangerous world of Defiance may be the one thing that can keep her safe.
Tru is at the MC’s mercy when she’s dragged back to her former home … and to the only man she’s ever pictured a future with. Caspar is the bastard son of the club’s leader, her safe haven when life got rough — and her onetime lover the night she left. When Tru refuses to trade sex for power and be claimed by a rival club leader, she also dares to announce she wants Caspar instead, throwing the MC into turmoil.
Tru’s brazen revolt could start a gang war and destroy the club from within. Now both Tru and the MC must wait for Caspar’s response… and the inevitable fallout.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
Lou: When I saw the reveal for this book I was pretty excited as I’m a fan of the MC trope that’s popular at the moment. This also looked different with a dystopian take that looked raw and gritty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book and that’s because of the world building which was quite weak. I also had issues with the gratuitous violence which seemed senseless and over-the-top. And whilst the sex scenes were great, I had a hard time routing for both the hero and the heroine. The heroine had misery heaped upon her time and time again, and after a while it became annoying.
E: I heard a bit about this from buzz on twitter and again at RT so I eagerly leaped at the chance to read it. It was post-apocalyptic, NA, and motorcycle club (MC). I am relatively new to the whole MC trope–having only read one other MC book before, never watched any of the TV shows, or joined in the crack reading of another author. I will admit that for the first book in a series I give some latitude for world-building because it is a difficult balance to strike between the world and the characters. Once I got past my initial worry that the set-up was going to be too close to another series that I absolutely love I fell right into Tyler’s book. I did have a bit of confusion regarding the timeline for the hybrid storm because I failed to read the back cover blurb but overall I really enjoyed reading it.
There was certainly a lot of violence in this book and a significant portion of it was directed towards women but as I continued reading I saw that there was the intent within the club to change the status quo. I did wish that Tru started seeing the underlying politics sooner but given her reasons for leaving and her lack of current insider knowledge a significant portion of ignorance was very understandable.
Lou: The woman were treated as a sub-par species and I the violence and intent towards Tru was awful. It made me a little sick to my stomach and I had a hard time routing for the book because of the world-building. I wish we saw more details and background on the world and the hybrid storms. Instead it was briefly mentioned and it didn’t play a part in the way the novel was shaped which disappointed me. It was all character and no world-building and if you’re gonna have a dystopian setting, it needs to be showcased. I think the romance between Casper and Tru was the strongest point in the book and I enjoyed reading about their relationship and the smexy times. Casper was a very hard-nosed character, and the reasoning for behind the way he acts made sense during the reveal later on in the book.
I mentioned the violence and I had a major problem with how it was played out, especially at the beginning of the book where Casper murders people in brutal way that almost had me DNFing right there.
E: I was more focused on the human dynamic then the hybrid storms. Yes I am hoping that Tyler expands that in future books but I didn’t need them to be the center of this story. I was extremely leery at the beginning when it appeared as if Tru was going to be forced to marry someone she despised and he would determine if she lived or if she died a horrible death. I liked how she gambled on a very old friendship but had to hope and trust that somehow things would work out. Unlike you, Lou, I liked the beginning when Casper decided to eliminate several people. To me they deserved it because of their treatment towards women. We, women, can do a huge amount but in my opinion in some societies we also need men to push for the same changes and that was Casper making a statement towards change. In their particular society, violence is the ultimate argument or emphasis on a verbal statement. After that particular scene I sat back to see how far this change would permeate.
I also enjoyed Casper and Tru’s relationship and their smexytimes. It was fascinating watching them connect the past with the future and try to bridge the gap between them. Both Casper and Tru had their secrets which made me enjoy reading their interactions even more.
Lou: For me, rather than the case of whether or not they deserved it, I thought with the unique setting it would be a change of scene of extreme violence and violence against women. I just felt there was no escape from it. The positive was Casper wanting to make a change in the club and he had to do it inside and by waiting patiently for so many years. I enjoyed the romance but I soon got exasperated by the misery that was heaped on Tru. Her story got worse and worse and by the end it lost authenticity to me because I wanted to see Tru become a strong character without all these horrible events happening to her that heaped upon the sympathy.
E: Interesting perspective. I actually liked seeing how Tru was able to rise above her past and try to manipulate her future by bending the rules. I also liked how she never gave in and accepted “her place” but continued to fight and encourage others to stop tolerating the status quo. Like you, I really enjoyed how Casper waited patiently gathering strength and support so when he made his move to change he would be able to make it stick. I found it fascinating to see the divide between some of the old crew and those who had a different dream for the future. Yes, the old crew kept them alive and gained a place of power but I really didn’t like their methods.
I am also super curious about the two ex-military guys who showed up. Yes Tyler gave us a taste of them but I want more **grin**.
Lou: Despite my criticisms for most of this review, I am looking forward to future characters and hopefully the world-building can be expanded on in future books. Sadly for me, Defiance didn’t work and I had hard time engaging with the characters, despite the romance, and I didn’t like the violence that made me put the book down on several occasions. I give Defiance a C-
E: Overall I enjoyed reading Defiance. There were a few things that bothered me but I was caught up in wondering how Tru was going to survive and if Casper was going to achieve his goals. I do hope that Tyler does provide more attention to the causes of the apocalypse because I think has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing where Tyler goes with her next installment.