January 30, 2014

REVIEW: Reaper's Legacy (Reaper's MC #2)

Reaper's Legacy (Reaper's MC #2), by Joanna Wylde
Published January 28, 2014
Berkley Romance
trade paperback, provided by the publisher
adult contemporary romance/contemporary erotic romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  4.5 STARS

(From Goodreads)
Eight years ago, Sophie gave her heart—and her virginity—to Zach Barrett on a night that couldn’t have been less romantic or more embarrassing. Zach’s step-brother, a steely-muscled, tattooed biker named Ruger, caught them in the act, getting a peep show of Sophie he’s never forgotten.

She may have lost her dignity that fateful night, but Sophie also gained something precious—her son Noah. Unfortunately, Zach’s a deadbeat dad, leaving Ruger to be Noah’s only male role model. When he discovers Sophie and his nephew living in near poverty, Ruger takes matters into his own hands—with the help of the Reapers Motorcycle Club—to give them a better life.

Living with outlaw bikers wasn’t Sophie’s plan for her son, but Ruger isn’t giving her a choice. He’ll be there for Noah, whether she wants him or not. But Sophie does want him, has always wanted him. Now she’ll learn that taking a biker to bed can get a girl dirty in every way…

Perhaps it was my recent exposure to the super cool show that is Sons of Anarchy (thank you, Netflix), but I have to say, I really enjoyed Reaper's Legacy much more than the first book in the Reaper's MC series, Reaper's Property. 

Or, maybe it's just that, after the first book, I might have gotten used to girls being called "old ladies" and "sweetbutts" and "property." Or, perhaps it was all in Ruger's delivery. I mean, this guy is just as rough around the edges as Horse was from Reaper's Property. But, for some reason, when Ruger practiced his extreme alpha male assertiveness, it seemed much more endearing. In any case, I think I'm now solidly in the MC fangirl club. 

Ruger decides to move his nephew and his nephew's mother to his house after it's made clear to him that they are living in less than ideal conditions. It's a difficult situation for everyone except for 7-year-old Noah, who adores his uncle. Sophie has been in love with Ruger for years, and Ruger's been attracted for Sophie for just as long. Yet, they both resolved to never act upon their feelings. But, now that they're living under the same roof, that's becoming infinitely more difficult. 

I really felt for Sophie. She's been trying to make a good life for her son, but his dad is a total deadbeat and her waitressing job can only go so far toward providing for them. She's trying to be a good mom, yet still maintain a shred of dignity. Ruger does not make that easy, either. 

In the beginning, there were several times when I was really pissed at him for railing on her about her choices. Things don't always work out the way we want them to, but in Sophie's case, it certainly wasn't for lack of trying. I think part of the reason Ruger was so hard on her was that, even in the beginning, he was fighting his feelings for her, and that was the only way he knew how. I guess I can't entirely fault him for that, but he was pretty harsh sometimes. I'm not quite sure how Sophie tolerated being called a bitch so many times by him. 

Sophie's other problem with living with Ruger has to do with her feelings about the Reapers. In her mind, motorcycle clubs are comprised of thugs that engage in illegal activities and hang out in dens of iniquity. Although that might be true to a much lesser extent than what she's created in her mind, there's an entirely other side to it that she's never experienced - the family. 

I have to admit, I'd probably be scared witless to hang out with a motorcycle club. But, the family aspect as described wonderfully by Joanna Wylde, sounds wonderful. It sounds like growing up a part of such an environment ensures that you're constantly surrounded by people who will love and protect you. You will always have friends and others to play with and hang out with. Girls that will stick with you closer than a sister will always be available to help when you need it or lend a shoulder to cry on. 

For a long time, Sophie has a hard time reconciling these two sides of the same coin in her mind. There's the community, which she loves and could see herself a part of. But, then there's the seedy and scary parts - the bikers who are less than trustworthy, the dangerous situations they sometimes get themselves into and the man whoring that always seems to go on at the clubhouse. Sophie has a son to think about. Does she give Ruger her heart knowing that both the best and the worst parts of the club go along with it? She struggles with that decision for the majority of the book, and I can understand why. 

Biker politics play a major part in Reaper's Legacy, and they result in some sticky and dangerous situations in which Sophie finds herself toward the end of the book. They shake her to the core and threaten to destroy all the positive feelings she had developed for Ruger and the female members of the club. It's only when Ruger, Horse, Picnic and others come through for her in ways that no one else could've that she starts to see things in a different light. 

The Reapers MC series is not a romantic story. I'm sorry, but it's not. These boys don't have pretty words and grand gestures like you're used to seeing in romance novels. They're gritty and dirty and rough around the edges. You'd never see Ruger standing outside Sophie's window holding a boom box over his head. But, you know what? That's okay. Because the club members have other ways to woo the women they love. They fix things, they fight bad guys for them, they protect them with their lives. It might not be sweet in the traditional sense, but I dare any woman to not swoon and fall completely in love with hot alpha males who would die for them. 

It took me a little while to get fully on board, but I'm there now. Ruger sold the MC for me, and I'm now fully along for the ride.

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