July 8, 2015

Review - Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley

RIDE STEADY by Kristen Ashley 
(June 30, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Chaos #3)

The ride of her life . . . Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy---until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa's pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.

Climb on and hold tight . . . 
In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he's the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa's acting, it's clear she's falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker's secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa---or ride away forever . . .

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“Yo!” I heard Snapper call and I looked to him to see he was looking beyond me. I turned around and saw Tabby was heading toward me and Snapper. “I’m takin’ Carissa out on my bike. You wanna look after her purse or put it in Shy’s room or somethin’?”
At his request, Tabby’s gaze immediately cut to the pool tables. When she took them in, for some reason, her face got hard before she softened it and looked back toward us.
“Not a problem,” she said, stopping at us. “Go. Ride.”
“Never been on a bike,” I told her and her face split in a big smile.
“Then go. Ride.” She leaned in to me. “Beware, wind in your hair, moon on your skin, you’ll fall in love.”
I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. I’d fallen in love with something I couldn’t have, and if I fell in love with the wind in my hair and the moon on my skin, without someone to give that to me, I couldn’t have that either.
But to heck with it.
Maybe this would be the only bike ride I’d  I’d have in my life.
And maybe the kiss Joker gave me was the only fabulous kiss I’d ever get.
And maybe my dream of having a family or the other dream of getting behind the steel guarding Joker’s eyes was lost to me.
But I was still breathing.
So I’d take what I could get.
Tabby put her hand on my purse, which was lying on the bar. “Got this. Have fun.”
“Thanks,” I whispered.
She winked at me.
I looked to Snapper. “Let’s go.”
“Meet you at the end of the bar, babe.”
“Right!” I chirped, jumped off my stool, threw Tabby a smile, nabbed my jacket that I was sitting on and bounced to the end of the bar.
When I got there, Snapper had pulled on his leather jacket. He grabbed my hand and guided me out the door and to his bike. Then he got on his bike before instructing me on how to do the same.
The bike roared, he backed out on an angle, and we glided over the tarmac of Ride.
He pulled out onto Broadway and I got it.
The wind in my hair.
The moon on my skin.
The leather of his jacket in my nostrils.
The solidness of him under my hands at his waist.
We got close to the onramp of I25 and he shouted, “Hold on!”
“Sorry?” I shouted back.
“Hold on!” he yelled, taking one hand off the grip and using it to pull my hand from his waist and around to his stomach.
He put his hand back on the grip and we turned up the ramp, going faster, faster, faster, the wind whipping my hair and biting into my skin. I curved my other arm around him, put my chin to his shoulder, drew in air and leather, and I got it.
That it being why this was the life for a biker.
No encumbrances. You wanted to smoke pot, you smoked it. You wanted to wear a tube top, you wore it. You wanted to drink shots, you drank them. You wanted to make out hot and heavy on a couch in a room filled with people, you did it.
You wanted to live, you lived.
You wanted to be free, you got on your bike and rode in the moonlight.
You did not drink martinis you didn’t like. You did not take a job your motherinlaw thought you should have. You did not take guff from your ex, not ever.
You did what you wanted.
You were free.
In all that was happening to me, all that I was feeling, all the disappointment of that night and the bizarre devastation I felt that the first time this happened, me on the back of a bike, I would have preferred it be with Joker . . . right then, for that moment, I let it all go.
I let it go, held on to Snapper and I let myself feel it.
Feel something rare and beautiful and overwhelming.
Feel something I knew for certain I hadn’t felt in my whole life.

About the author:
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.  And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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Q&A with Kristen Ashley
1. If you were in a motorcycle club, what would your biker name be?

2. What is your secret to staying in love with a series over several books, and what makes you keep coming back to the Chaos series in particular?
If it was up to me, I’d probably live in a series for eternity. I don’t ever really want to say goodbye. I guess this is why I keep spinning off series or having random folks from one series show up in another one, just so I can spend some time with them. Chaos is special to me because Chas reminds me of a particularly awesome time I had with two very close friends and a variety of fast friends (all bikers) that we made at the rally at Sturgis. I always go back there when I’m with the Chaos MC, and it’s a very good place to be.

3. Finish this sentence: My heroine will never…say the f-word.

4. If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you want to be?
You know, no one. This is a very cool question but I’ve been sitting here thinking on this for a while and I cannot come up with a response. I have a good life. I have a wonderful family and fabulous friends. I love my job. I live in an interesting city with many, many interesting people in it (and the weather rocks!). Perhaps I wouldn’t mind trying my hand at being Beth Chapman and going bounty hunting for a day with Dog and Leland, but I’d want Beth to be there too.

5. What are you looking forward to most this summer?
My bestest bestie from England, Helen, is coming to Vegas to marry her beau of many years, James. Elvis is serenading them and my whole family adopted them, which means Helen and James adopted my family right back, so everyone’s invited and it is going to be a blast. I can’t wait! 

My 5 Star Review

In my opinion, MC books are so hard to get right. You want it to be gritty without being over the top, you want romance without the hero being a too soft, and you want suspense and MC drama without it being too unrealistic. Unfortunately, this formula is difficult to follow and writing these books to please the masses is getting harder and harder, obviously Kristen Ashley has the formula perfected! If you thought you loved Chaos before, you had no idea. This third installment in the series was the perfect read. 

Carson and Carissa grew up together, and I say that loosely since they really just grew up in the same town and went to school together. Carissa was the beautiful homecoming queen and cheerleader, while Carson was the boy with an abusive dad and a loner. Despite being complete opposites in their high school caste system they noticed each other, it just wasn’t their time. 

The story picks up years later and Carson has joined Chaos and Carissa a single mother, divorced from her high school boyfriend. 
“Because I don’t like butterflies. They’re beautiful, but they’re delicate, and I don’t got it in me to handle anything with care."

Carissa and Carson are thrown back into each other’s lives when Carson, now Joker, insists on helping her with her car problems. Carissa doesn’t realize Joker is Carson, but she is drawn to him. He is a good, generous man and after everything she has been through, she wants to know that kind of man. Joker isn’t eager to know Carissa again, he still doesn’t believe he deserves that kind of goodness in his life. 

If you know Ashley’s writing you know this little summary I provided in no way tells the full story. This story has so much heart and depth. It was the absolute perfect read. I loved reading about two broken people who together found their place. Ride Steady shows there is more to life than materials and that the people in your life is what makes you wealthy. 
"It’s the best decision I ever made in my life, and I know that in a way I know I’ll feel that until the day I fuckin’ die."

My favorite part of the story is obviously the love story, they get me every time, but I really loved the full circle effect. There are so many characters who had an impact on Carson. I love how their stories played out. I loved seeing how these people helped him in ways they never knew and added value to his life. This story is one of a kind and will truly touch your heart. As I mentioned this is the perfect MC book, so we still have plenty of action to move the story along and hot, steamy, alpha sex. If you are in the mood for a hot romance that will warm heart and have you never wanting the story to end, this is it! 

ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review. 

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