My first introduction to this series was the spin off to the Bent Zealots MC, and the brief look at the P & E Chapter in that title. So, reading this story I was prepared for the raunchy, raw, occasionally violent gritty story, dripping with testosterone and tension. And in Playing with Monsters, Layla Wolfe did not let me down.
Playing With Monsters
Told in dual points of view, neither Roman nor Gudrun has had an idyllic life, and both bring anger and resentment with them in huge Pullman cars full of baggage. Connected by their very real relationships with ex-cartel lawyer now council for the club Slushy McGill, these two are thrust into the story with a bang.
Roman was in a rock band for many years, when he decided he wanted off the hamster wheel to avenge his father’s murder. Looking at things logically, he felt that a 1% club would be his best way to accomplish his quest. His ex-girlfriend, on the other hand, was unwilling to give up the fame and fortune that came with his rock m roll, and protested: loudly, publicly and dramatically, breaking Roman’s heart and shattering what little ability to trust he had. His mother’s current husband, Slushy McGill, introduced Roman to the Bare Bones club, then he had disappeared. We enter the story as Roman is moving from Prospect to Full Member, and getting his first job for the club.
Slushy’s is the father (although absent) of Gudrun. After he left her mother, Gudrun’s life was one filled with her mother’s boyfriends: a series of drug-dealers, want to be cholos and other low-lifes who were abusive, dangerous and often crossed boundaries with her. Leaving for her ‘own thing’ at a young age, Gudrun was modeling for her money, although casting couches, dubious situations and people had her jaded and angry very young. Rescued from the never-ending cycle of manipulation and abuse by Vince, she was happily married, going to nursing school and enjoying life. But a car accident left Vince dead, Gudrun in chronic pain from a massive hip injury and limited her options. Now, doing what needs be done to get the next painkiller, she’s in a bad way: angry, addicted, hating men and suffering.
On a night out with her friends Tracy and Shannon, an invite to an after-party where ‘treats’ are promised, the girls head into the seedy side of Tuscon, and the story takes off at breakneck speed.
Multiple sub-plots are in play here: Gudrun’s story, Roman’s story, their story together, as well as Slushy’s determination to do well for the daughter he abandoned, and the return of Riker. The off the chain former club member who has caused chaos and grief for many. Aside from the connections to cartels and the various drugs, the addition of human trafficking and a triad gang pulling strings, this story doesn’t lack in new threats or dangers, and the violence that accompanies it.
Gudrun is so broken and beaten with little to no hope: her esteem is low, her possibilities few and she trusts no one, not even herself. Meeting Roman, she discovers that there is a solidity there, she realizes there is a spark between them, but boyfriend or one night stand: she wants no part. For his part, Roman has vowed celibacy, all the better for his focus on his one goal, revenge. Women aren’t worth the hassle or heartache, not that any would touch his heart after the one who ripped his to shreds. But, for the first time in a very long time, Gudrun excites him, allows him to think of possibilities, if only they weren’t step-siblings. Blood related they are not, but Slushy is pushing that connection to play on Roman’s sense of honor and the code of the club – protect family with all that you are and all that you have.
The dynamic between Roman and Gudrun is playful but tentative – neither is willing to admit that their connection is deeper than just a spark. Until it becomes apparent to everyone, even them, the draw between them is a delicious push-pull with both ending up hopeful, frustrated, satiated and confused.
With opportunities to check in with other members I had met in Bent Zealots, the chapters of the Club all band together to bring order out of chaos and remove the threat to Gudrun and her friends. Raw, smattered with violence, foul language and exhibiting the very real dangers of drugs and those who peddle them, this is not a story for those easily offended in their fiction, but a wonderful story for those who enjoy their stories with a bit of grime and testosterone, and is most certainly a story meant for adults. I haven’t read any of the earlier books in this series, but it worked well alone, and fueled my desire to go back and see the earlier books in the series.
Title: Playing with Monsters
Author: Layla Wolfe
Series: The Bare Bones MC #4
Also in this series: Have Gun, Will Travel, Shelter From The Storm
Genre: Contemporary Motorcycle Romance - Adult
Published by: Quicksilver Books
Published on: 20 April, 2015
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon
Roman Serpico has abandoned a thriving rock star career to prospect for The Bare Bones MC. His goal: revenge on the cartel for his father’s murder. His black soul is a writhing mass of venom and rage, and joining the club fuels his ability to wreak havoc. His stepfather, the club’s lawyer Slushy, calls on him to save a stepsister Roman barely knows. Nurse’s assistant Gudrun McGill has fallen in with a bad crowd and needs an emergency extrication…now.
Roman believes he’s killed Gudrun’s assailant, but the loathsome, murderous fugitive Riker has nine lives. He lives to traffic in human flesh another day, and Roman is hell-bent on tracking the bastard down. But The Bare Bones votes to place Gudrun into custody with her stepbrother as her bodyguard. Things heat up between them when they hide in plain sight in the ghost town that surrounds The Citadel, their clubhouse.
Roman has vowed celibacy to fixate on vengeance. Gudrun wants nothing to do with men after losing her husband in a horrific car crash.
The terror of their situation brings them too close for comfort. Walls must come down. Barriers must be broken. Taking risks is in the nature of their new MC family. Roman has to roll the dice, to hit fast against Riker and the Chinese cartel. To preserve his newfound family, he has to roll like thunder and be gone like smoke.
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A copy of this title was provided via Author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.