I’ve been back and forth on this review since finishing the book. While the characters were built with solid features that brought them clearly into view, and the drama and angst in this story was coming from the two characters themselves not the outside, there was just something missing.
Perhaps it was the solidity of Lang – an all too typical alpha biker in his protective, demanding nature and his nod to the ‘biker code’: I wanted more depth from him throughout, a moment that would make his actions and his character make sense. But it could have been Lily’s willingness to be pushed about and taken, if not quite for granted, as soft and always forgiving. She was that, without really making it clear that she needed more. I wanted to feel more of the conflict and difficulties Lang had with caring for his siblings and the difficulties with his sister, which has such promise but seems to be forgotten in the relationship between Lang and Lily.
I’ve experienced similar with Ms. Rand’s work – premises that are wonderful but just don’t quite push the edges enough: chances taken (here Lang does not play with the ‘pass-arounds’ –a rarity in this genre) that don’t really build a statement as other behaviors more common to the genre, specifically misogyny, is rampant. Lastly the conclusion. It almost came out of left field without any real hints or conflict in Lang that would have made the scenario even reasonably possible. It just didn’t fit the story that I read.
Not a bad read, but just not as edgy or daring as the premise or the genre would suggest. Rand has the ability to ‘go there’, I just want to see it done. A good starter MC romance for those who don’t know the genre and aren’t sure they want to delve in completely.
Fuck. Lang Anderson stormed out of the Corpus Christi Federal Courthouse and sniffed the air. It reeked of rotten fish from the marina, reminding him of the stench of corruption in the courtroom. The place was full of assholes who didn’t believe in the long-standing tradition of innocent until proven guilty. Including the special prosecutor the feds had imported from Los Angeles. She was a bitch on wheels out for the kill, and unfortunately her prey was Jessie Mansard, the acting president of his club. No doubt it didn’t help that he wore MC patches—the same colors Lang proudly sported every day of his life.
If found guilty, Jess would get the death penalty. Unless he copped a plea, which likely meant a life sentence. Either way, he was going to be wearing stripes instead of his leathers.
A threat every Brother faced eventually for living outside the law. One Lang couldn’t afford, since his parents had been killed in a motorcycle accident outside Houston seven months ago. Their deaths had resulted in his having custody of his three little sisters, whose lives had been shattered, leaving them vulnerable and scared. Even with all his careful attention and unyielding patience, the eldest, Maya, was still acting out and required close supervision.
The loss of his mother and father had sealed Lang’s fate too. It also made him rethink everything in his life and with the club. What if that were him wearing shackles in front of the cameras? The judge presiding over the case had opened his courtroom to the media. And they attacked like rabid dogs, feasting on Jess—portraying him as a psychotic killer.
The end result was that Jess would never taste freedom again. Lang would become the next president, a role he’d never wanted nor dreamed of filling.
He tapped a cigarette out of his pack and lit it, sucking in smoke, then blowing it out, his gaze drifting to the entrance of the courthouse. His paternal grandfather had been a founding father of the club, and, as a third-generation member, Lang held partial deed to the club property and bar. Throughout the years, blood had been shed to ensure the charter’s survival. And now that Lang had control, he needed to surround himself with men who believed in the same things he did. Striving to keep peace with larger clubs was at the top of his priorities list. Several MCs had been dissolved over the last couple of years, either merging with the dominant charter in the area or folding because of financial challenges.
Survival of the fittest meant more than his Brothers realized.
Corpus had its share of cases that made the national news. Mix in an outlaw bike club and the story went viral on social media within fifteen minutes.
And his sisters had access to it and had watched in horror as Uncle Jessie was escorted into court. The questions his youngest sister, Trisha, asked broke his heart. Why is Uncle Jess chained up like an animal? Did he do something bad? Will we ever see him again? Are you going away too?
It was all he could do to hold himself back and not follow the prosecutor to her car and give the bitch a Texas-sized welcome—one she’d never forget. He smoked his Marlboro down to the filter and tossed it on the ground. The status quo didn’t satisfy Lang anymore. He wanted more, or less, depending on what perspective he took. More for his family, less heat from the cops.
Several Brothers had spent the afternoon in court waiting for Jess to be arraigned. Merritt approached, wearing a frown on his bearded face. “He’s fucked,” he commented, shaking his head. “Racketeering, witness tampering, and murder.”
“All true,” Lang confirmed. Why lie out of earshot? “He just got caught.”
“The club can’t afford another shakedown,” Merritt said.
Lang agreed. Time to remind members that representing the club didn’t mean attracting negative publicity. Jess’s lax leadership hadn’t helped. “First line of business,” Lang started. “Fast-tracking Vincent and Merk. Time to patch out.”
“You won’t get any arguments from me—but Patrick, Sampson, and Moco might not agree.”
Lang already knew he’d meet with some resistance. Appointing officers was the sole right of the president. What the charter needed most was new blood. Men with a different perspective. Like any business, the club had centralized power. All men weren’t created equal. Respect was given first, then earned, just like the fucking patches on his back. He fully intended to teach his Brothers the difference.
Charter rules were chiseled in stone like the Ten Commandments. And if anyone disagreed, they’d lose their membership, maybe their right to breathe.
Eventually the other Brothers filed out of the building. Lang imagined they looked out of place standing together in the middle of the afternoon wearing leathers and combat boots. Unlike attorneys and their clients shuffling in and out in their Sunday best, the Sons of Odin always wore their cuts whenever they represented the club, regardless of the venue.
The stares and whispers their presence evoked inspired Patrick and Sampson to retaliate. They flipped off a couple in the entryway and then Patrick lit a joint, blowing the acrid smoke in their direction.
“Contact high,” he laughed at them. “Get the fucking corncobs out of your asses.”
“Hey.” Lang tapped his shoulder angrily. This was a perfect example of the juvenile mentality he planned on eradicating. “Not the time or place. We already have a PR nightmare on our hands.”
The Corpus Christi elite wanted clubs like the Sons of Odin dismantled, but average residents were often the beneficiaries of the generosity of the club. It was always the first to donate when disaster struck the city, and even the paper occasionally touted the members as heroes.
Keeping club image in mind, Lang knew when enough was enough. “Let’s go,” he commanded, leading them to the far side of the parking lot, where their Harleys were lined up like tanks.
Unlike his Brothers who preferred the classic Softails or full dressers, Lang rode the sinister Night Rod Special. He chose bikes like he did women—favoring off-the-line explosive handling. Just as he mounted his bike, two news vans screeched into the parking lot, effectively blocking his exit route.
Sandy Fuentes, an investigative reporter the club was well acquainted with, jumped out of the first vehicle, straightened her ass-hugging miniskirt, and snatched a microphone from her cameraman. She scooted across the asphalt, nearly slipping on the gravel in her heels as she stopped in front of him.
“Lang Anderson,” she said, throwing him her best fuck-me pout. “Corpus Christi wants to know . . .” Her tagline. “With your president on a fast track for lethal injection, what’s next for the Sons of Odin?”
She was easy on the eyes, and Lang couldn’t blame her for trying to get an exclusive. Depending on her mood, which shifted with the wind and on whether he’d fucked her right the night before, she might provide her fans with an accurate report. Regardless, he liked her aggressive personality and the way she rode him like a racehorse.
Lang crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against his bike. “Nice to see you too, Sandy.”
She grimaced, always affected by the way he spoke her name. It disarmed her every time. “No sweet-talking your way out of this one, Lang.”
He grinned. “You mean the way you sweet-talked your way into my bed last night?”
His Brothers catcalled and laughed.
Sandy’s face flushed and she spun around, signaling her crewman to kill the camera. “What the hell, Lang? Thought we agreed to keep our association a secret.”
A secret? Her bright yellow Corvette parked overnight in the club lot spoke for itself. He didn’t fuck and tell, she did. “Turn your camera on, Sandy, I’ll give you a statement.”
“Really?” Her hand slipped to her hip. “Why?”
Lang edged closer, leaned in so only she could hear him. “Because you give the best blowjobs.”
The slap stung his face, but he didn’t care. A little pain reminded him of the kind of life he chose to live. “Clubhouse, eleven tonight.”
She inhaled, her pretty face a mixture of emotions. Lang didn’t trust her at all. But she warmed his bed, and he never had to ask twice. Gaze sweeping her hourglass figure a last time, he turned to go.
“Wait,” she said.
Lang didn’t bother looking at her.
“I’m getting tired of our arrangement. I want more.”
So did Lang. More for himself, but most of all, more for Maya, Leigh, and Trisha, his little sisters. The only ones who inspired him to hold back, to contemplate his future, to keep from diving headfirst into a life of violence that could easily swallow you whole. And as for women—he’d never found one worthy of commitment. And if he did, she wouldn’t deserve the life of being a biker’s old lady. Property.
“There’s nothing more to give, Sandy.” He turned, then pounded his chest with his fist. “My family and Brothers are the only things I care about.”
“Is that a quote?” she asked, doing a shitty job of masking her hurt feelings.
“Don’t take it personally,” he advised. “Take it for what it is.”
People considered him many things, all the clichés: dark and dangerous, violent and crude, barbaric even. But never a liar. And with women, he told it like it was. Mutual pleasure, nothing more. And if he really liked someone, she could stay the night in his bed. But when the sun came up, don’t let the door hit you . . . Better not to tie himself down, living the life he did.
He felt the weight of her stare on his back as he climbed on his bike. The Harley roared to life underneath him, louder than a small aircraft. That thunder between his legs always made him smile. He raised his hand, gesturing for his Brothers to follow in formation, arranged by rank. He merged with traffic on North Shoreline Boulevard, wondering what the future held for the Sons of Odin.