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review 2019-02-10 09:02
Book Review for Safe Rider by Jessica Ames
Safe Rider (A Lost Saxons Novel Book 2) Kindle Edition - Jessica Ames
 
 
 
 
 
Title: Safe Rider
Series: A Lost Saxons Novel #2
Author: Jessica Ames
Genre: Contemporary MC Romance
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Cover Design: Kellie Dennis at Book Cover by Design
Reviewed by Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
5 stars from us
Arc copy provided for honest review
 
 
Rule #1 of getting life back on track: don’t fall for a biker…
 
A new life; a new start—that was what Liv needed after escaping her violent marriage. Moving to Kingsley was a chance to rebuild what was broken and show the world she wasn’t defeated by her past. No part of that plan involved falling in love with a biker.
 
Dean never expected to want the sweet woman living across the street. She’s not his type, yet he can’t stay away from her. When trouble follows Liv, he’s one step behind, ready to defend her because his time in the Lost Saxons Motorcycle Club has taught him two things: how to ride and how to protect what is his. And Liv is his—even if she doesn’t know it yet.
 
Let's start off by saying that this is a new author for us and we throughly enjoyed our first read by them and we really loved the book cover as it was just beautiful.
 
The story was engaging enough an had a serious story line that kept your interest as the story flowed we liked getting to know the characters and I have to say that we found them like-able,engaging and funny.
 
I loved Olivia/Liv and how she had the courage to change her life.We found her to have courage, be loving,giving,ski-dish,independent ,loved how she showed us that she had a backbone and that she was strong and beautiful inside and out.I loved no matter how many reservations she had when it came to Dean and his club she seemed to always draw her own conclusions from the deeds he did and the person he was when he was around her and with her.
 
I loved Dean from the onset of the story as he was just so love-able,patient, kind,giving,protective,possessive in a positive way in which he made Liv feel safe and was sexy as sin.
 
I loved the chemistry this couple had and how their relationship developed slowly and sweetly and how Dean was patient and understanding with her and the struggles Liv had with trust issues.All these things made Dean more endearing to us and more love-able.
 
The story had just enough drama and a sweet love story and character engagement to the keep the story interesting.I normally like a story with a bit more heat and I wish their was a little bit more of the club drama thrown in the mix but, considering the seriousness of the content of the story it was going to take time for Dean to make Liv his I think we new that the story  would concentrate more or the romance aspect then club drama so we weren't that disappointed.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the characters were total opposites yet fit perfectly with one another and I believe Dean being a bit edgy and had a bit mystery to him was just the thing to bring her back into the living again.Dean was someone she trusted and felt safe with and someone totally opposite of the men she had been previously attracted to.
 
The story was emotional and engaged your emotions and we love stories just like that.
 
Our favorite quote from the story
 
"No, I know I offended him. I don’t want to end up on some kind of ‘whack’ list, Hol.”
 
lol
 
 
I would definitely read more in this continuing series.
 
  



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter Two
 
 
Present day…
 
I'm unloading groceries from my car when I first see him. It's the roar of the engine that draws my attention. It's so obnoxiously loud in the quiet cul-de-sac that I can't stop my eyes from gravitating towards the sound. As I do, the mid-afternoon sunlight catches the chrome pipes, momentarily blinding me before the bike moves into the shadows of the trees lining the road.
I don't know a thing about motorcycles, but I can appreciate the beauty of it. It's a beast of a machine, with an emerald green fuel tank and pearl accents. It's a bike designed to catch attention, and it does. Even if it didn't, the man riding it would. To say he's imposing is an understatement.
With fascination—and a healthy dose of trepidation—I watch as he stops the bike in the driveway opposite my house and pulls off his helmet.
His head is covered in a thin layer of dark fuzz, which is at odds with the amount of hair covering his jaw, and every inch of skin not covered by clothes is inked. I'm more than certain his body is covered in even more artwork than I can see.
He isn’t classically handsome, nor is he the type I would usually find attractive, but there is something about him. Maybe it’s the bad boy vibe, or the confidence of his movements—I'm not sure. He's only wearing plain, boring, black jeans—nothing special—but they do fit him perfectly. The dark denim hangs in a way that accentuates his narrow hips and his tight bum. Beneath his leather vest he has on a loose, dark sweatshirt, the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. Looking at him, it’s like he rolled up out of hell to cause mayhem. Simon could never pull off that look, not in a million years. He is a trousers and button-up shirt kind of guy.
He's also a huge bastard—one that should not be entering my head at all.
My breath catches and all thoughts of Simon vanish as the biker turns and I get a full view of the back of his vest. There are two crossed swords dripping blood onto a skull wearing a helmet. This is macabre enough, but it's finished off with a T-cross piece over the skeletal nose and red, burning coals for eyes. The words 'Lost Saxons' are arced across the top of the garment, 'Kingsley' across the bottom.
He's not just a biker, he’s a biker.
I'm not a native to Kingsley, but I also don’t live under a rock; I know what the Lost Saxons Motorcycle Club is. They're well-known, even outside the former colliery town. If the newspapers are to be believed, they deal in drugs, weapons—anything that will give them a quick payout. They're criminals, a gang of men dedicated to living outside the confines of the law, and from the looks of it, I have one of their members living across the road from me.
And he definitely lives there because he's moving up the path towards the front door with a comfortable ease that only comes from being in your own space.
The bands around my chest loosen a little as he steps inside the house, the front door banging closed behind him, and once again peace and tranquility return.
I’ve been in Kingsley for more than a year, but I’ve only been renting this property for the past three months. It’s the first time I’ve felt truly happy since I left Simon; the therapy, the breathing techniques, the finding something good in each part of the day is working and I finally feel as if I’m moving forward.
But now I have a biker living on my road.
Maybe I can move somewhere else…
Except, I signed a twelve-month tenancy agreement. Why? Because this house has a good square footage, is in a quiet part of Kingsley and was a bargain.
Now, I’m wondering if Mr Biker is the reason why the rent is so cheap.
I shake myself.
Firstly, for being so judgmental; I’m not usually. This is because so many people have judged me over the years and usually they come to the wrong conclusion. Secondly, because in the months I’ve lived here, this is the first time I’ve seen him. Clearly, he’s not a frequent visitor to the house.
I stare at the now-closed door and sigh. Maybe I should worry about my own problems and not who is living across the street from me. But I can’t help but feel concerned. I left my old life behind, reclaiming what was left of the woman I was before I met Simon. Even after all this time, I’m still trying to work out who this version of me is, but I figure she’s the kind of woman who would not care about the biker living across the street. I also figure she is the kind of woman who doesn’t get involved in other people’s business unless it becomes her business.
But he is a problem and he most definitely is my business, because he lives spitting distance from my front door. I don’t need the kind of trouble this man and his Club will bring. I need quiet, and I need safety. I don’t need the police camped on the front lawn.
Feeling irritated—and a little anxious—I reach into the boot of my car, gather up my shopping bags and heave them out with a grunt. Juggling my load, I fumble for the lid of the boot and manage to get it closed without dropping anything. This is a feat in itself, given how heavy these bags are. How much did I buy?
This is something I have struggled to get used to since I set out on my own: shopping for myself. I was so used to getting whatever Simon wanted, not what I wanted or needed that I now have a tendency to overindulge when I’m in the supermarket. I have to remember I’m on a budget and that I can’t afford a hundred pounds a week food bill. But the freedom to do as I please goes to my head more often than I would care to admit—even after all this time.
I barely take two steps before I feel something shift. Then, the weight of the bags changes as the plastic splits from handle to seam. Laden down as I am, I can do nothing but watch in seemingly slow motion as my milk carton hits the concrete at force, spraying white into the air like a geyser while the rest of the contents spill out onto the pavement, my apples rolling to settle in the gutter.
Well, shit.
I move to my car and carefully place the other bags in the boot before turning back to the carnage I have wrought. A white river of milk is free-flowing across the paving slabs and staining the grassy verge.
Shit, shit, shit.
I move to pick up the first fallen item—a ruffled looking lettuce—when a deep, gravelly voice says, "Do you need a hand?"
I jump practically out of my skin; I can't help it. It’s not a normal response and I know this, but I can't stop it. My flight response battles with my fight for dominance as I spin around. And my body, which has been conditioned to react over the years, tries to recoil. It takes everything I have to stand still as I let out a garbled yelp.
"Jesus!" I gasp out as I realize the voice belongs to my neighbor from across the street: the biker.
For a moment a tendril of fear works through me, but it winds back a notch when he doesn’t make any sudden movements. I put a hand to my sternum, trying to control my thrumming heartbeat, then drag in a shuddering breath as my counselors voice sounds in the back of my mind: I am in control; I can keep myself safe.
And I can. I have been doing it for months now quite successfully.
For his part, Mr Biker looks contrite and slightly concerned, as if worried I may keel over. It is a possibility, given how much of a workout my respiratory system is getting, courtesy of him.
"You nearly gave me a coronary,” I snap, which is probably not the best idea, given the present company, but shock makes my mouth engage before my brain. 
"Fuck," he mutters, as a tattooed hand runs over his buzzed head. My eyes of their own volition follow the movement and I have to drag my gaze back to his face. "I didn't mean to scare you."
“It’s okay,” I mutter.
This close up, I can see his eyes are pale, a blue so light it looks gray. He’s also wearing a ring through his left nostril that I shouldn’t like, but find I do. I don’t usually like piercings, nor do I like tattoos, but he pulls both off perfectly. Too perfectly, really. He’s nothing like Simon who was more at home in a suit rather than jeans and never left the house without ensuring his hair was perfectly styled. I doubt this man cares about that kind of thing; he’s dressed for comfort. He’s rough, hard, but there is something about him that I like—and I don’t even want to dissect that.
Boy, do I have bad taste in men? First Simon, now I’m lusting over a criminal. I should become celibate and join a nunnery.
But he is good looking, even under the bad boy appearance.
“Do you have another bag?”
“What?” I pull my attention from scanning the thick scruff of beard covering his jaw. It’s verging on wild and this close to me, I can see it has copper-flecks among the brown.
“A bag: do you have another? To put the food in,” he clarifies, speaking slowly, as if I’m not with it—which I’m not. I’m rattled having him in my space, and not just because my hormones are standing to attention. The man belongs to one of the most notorious biker gangs in the country, and he’s also at least five inches taller than I am. He’s bulky, in an athletic way, rather than a steroid way, but that means nothing; Simon wasn’t built but he could still overpower me. That in itself is enough to make me wary, although I do everything not to show it.
He’s not going to hurt you.
Breathe it out, Olivia.
“Oh. Yeah.” I move back to the car and find a spare shopping tote tucked away. When I turn back to the biker and hand him the bag I do it with a lot more confidence than I feel.
He takes it without a word, opening it up and gestures for me to hold it for him. I do so without question. Why? I don't know. I should run into my house and hide because this man is dangerous. His leather vest with the skull on the back, the tattoos, the swagger: everything about him exudes just how dangerous he is. Except, he's standing on my driveway, helping me to collect the remains of my scattered shopping.
Are bikers supposed to be helpful?
I stand silently as he puts each item into the open tote bag, unsure what to say.
“Your milk is fucked,” he tells me unnecessarily because I can see that, “but the rest should be salvageable.”
I stare at the river of white wending over the concrete. This means another trip to the supermarket, unless I can survive with black coffee for tonight.
“Crap,” I whisper.
He runs a hand over his beard, and I notice his tattoos span down his arms to the backs of his hands as well. His skin is covered with so many different designs that it’s difficult to take it all in, but I see he has the same insignia on the back of his leather vest tattooed on his left forearm. On his right wrist, just above the palm, the word ‘Karma’ is stamped. I don’t even want to think why he has that tattoo. What karma is he dealing out?
Realizing I’m staring—again—I pull my gaze back to his face, but he doesn’t notice my gawking because he’s focused on the milk spillage.
“It’s only milk,” I say. “No use crying over it, right?” 
Then his lips quirk and I forget he’s a dangerous criminal because my mouth is suddenly dry. It softens his entire demeanor and I suddenly want to see him smile every day.
“I guess not. I have some in the house, if you need it.”
I wonder when he was here to bring milk; this is definitely the first time I’ve seen signs of life at the house across the street.
“Do you want me to grab you some?” he continues.
As tempting as that is, I shake my head. “I think I’ll survive one evening without milk, but thank you.”
This is debatable but I’m not keen on being indebted to this man—even if it is only milk. It’s a ridiculous thought but my brain is completely frazzled right now. At least this is the excuse I’m giving myself.
He hands me the newly filled bag and I take it with murmured thanks, trying not to react as his fingers brush over the back of my hand. I can’t deny the way that feels. There is electricity between us—at least on my part, although I swear I see a slight widening of his eyes at our touch. Perhaps I imagined it because it’s gone so fast I can’t be sure it was there in the first place.
He sniffs then clears his throat and my cardiac muscle gets another workout as it beats faster.
“You just moved in?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, about three months ago.”
He blinks and then his brow pulls together. “Shit, really? Three months?”
I nod.
“I need to start coming to the house more.” He jerks a thumb in the direction of the property he disappeared into before. “I own number fifteen, but I spend most of my time at the clubhouse.”
The clubhouse. With the dangerous bikers where he is a member. This sobers me completely and brings me out of my fantasy. It doesn’t matter how nice he’s being, how polite, I need to bring this to an end. I do not need his kind of drama in my already drama-filled life.
“Thank you for your help, but I should get the food inside before it spoils.”
He studies me. Intently. I try not to squirm under that look. “I’ll help.”
“Oh, there’s no need.”
“I’ll help,” he repeats, as if I didn’t protest.
This annoys me, but I don’t have the chance to voice this because without invitation, he plucks the tote from my hands and reaches into the boot. He wraps a fist around the whole lot and pulls it out as if it weighs nothing, and without a word starts up the path to the front door.
My front door.
Crap!
I quickly reach for the boot, pulling the lid down and tug my handbag up my shoulder as I jog after him. His legs are longer than mine though and he eats up the space in a few steps. This means he’s waiting for me outside the porch when I reach him.
He lifts the bags slightly. “These are heavy, darlin’; do you want to open the door, so I can put them inside?”
I really don’t. It’s one thing him carrying my bags from the car to my front door, but him being inside my house... I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that at all. But I don’t want to be rude and I don’t want to upset the potentially dangerous biker with the cute face and overinflated sense of chivalry either.
I hesitate too long because his smile fades and his jaw tightens. I see the anger flash in his eyes as he realises why I’m hesitating. Muscle memory is a powerful thing because my brain doesn’t register it’s not Simon; all it registers is the perceived danger. To my mortification, I recoil back as if he struck me. My life with Simon may feel like a decade ago, but that primal instinct to protect myself is still the first thing to switch on when I meet someone new—someone I don’t yet know is safe.
His eyes narrow further. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and I can do nothing to stop the destruction.
There is a moment of silence that seems to span an era. It’s so quiet all I can hear is my own ragged breathing and his huffing.
Finally, he speaks.
“Christ, you try to fucking help someone and this is how they thank you?” He grinds the words between clenched teeth. Then he snorts and shakes his head. Not too gently, he dumps the bags on the ground and leans into me. I pull away from him, my back hitting the side of the storm porch as he gets into my space, all six-foot-plus of him. I have to raise my chin to meet his gaze, and I wish I didn’t because he looks hurt beneath the anger and for some reason that doesn’t sit right with me.
“For the record, I was just going to take your bags inside for you. I usually leave the raping and murdering for the weekend.”
He gives me the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen, turns on a booted heel and starts back up the path. I let my lungs finally reboot and draw in air when he reaches the end of the drive, and I’m filled with a new emotion. This one is abject embarrassment. He didn’t do anything wrong. All he did was try to be nice and I treated him like crap. Did I really think he was going to come into my house and hurt me?
I don’t know.
Old habits die hard.
Shit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jessica Ames was raised in a small market town in the Midlands, England. She lives with her crazy mongrel terrier and when she’s not writing she’s playing with crochet hooks. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen she created fantastical stories and by the age of 17 had written her first full-length novel: a fantasy story about an exiled boy king. It was a clinched mess, but she realized she could, in fact, write and finish a book!
 
Knowing she needed to make money, she found work in the publishing world. Over the next decade, she honed her skills and worked hard to learn everything she could about writing. In January 2018, in a moment of insanity, she quit her job in magazine publishing to write books full time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2019-02-10 08:53
Book Review for Snared Rider by Jessica Ames
Snared Rider (A Lost Saxons Novel Book 1) Kindle Edition - Jessica Ames
 
 
 

Product details

 
  • File Size: 4750 KB
  • Print Length: 458 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: June 8, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B07D5KR38C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  •  
  • Reviewed by Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
  • Arc copy provided for honest review
  • 4 stars from us
  •  
  •  
 
 
Let's start off by saying that this is a new author for us and we enjoyed our first read by them and we really loved the book cover as it was Hot!
I have to say that I have mixed feeling about this story as I really liked the characters and the plot itself as It had just enough suspense and drama for it to be a good read.My problem with the story is this , Beth became to annoying with her hatred and drawn out feud she had with Logan over dumping her 10 years ago.She went on and on with sniping at him and we are already 63% of the story before they hashed out things between them and why he dumped her in the first place.Thank god for the other characters as they were engaging and funny and interesting and broke up that monotony.
 
Logan-“I’m getting a little tired of this avoidance game, love.”
 
I really loved Logan though as he kept taking Beth's  crap for sometime before he blew.I have to be impressed with Logan's patience because he lasted way longer than I would have . LOL I found him to be protective, patient,had a sense of humor,loyal, dangerous had a sensitive side to him but, most of all I loved how he wore his heart on his sleeve when I came to Beth.I loved the fact that he loved her and only her after all these years even  after letting her go all those years ago.
 
Beth's secret thoughts of Logan
 
"He’s perfect. He’s so beautiful with those long eyelashes and rugged good looks. Like all the Harlow men, Logan inherited a strong jawline, and he has webbed laughter lines around his eyes."
 
"This is probably why the Club made him Sergeant at Arms . He’s intimidating . He’s also beautiful and everything below my naval tingles as I stare at him."
 
I really loved Dean he made me laugh time and time again.
 
I really liked Beth once she got her crap together.I liked that she was finally standing up for herself when It came to her life choices.I have to say that Beth's character was a bit of a mystery to me and the fact the women she had become so different from the women she once was to the point she did a 180 turn around when it came to he life.I realize her career choice had something to do with it and also Logan's betrayal but, not to the point she basically left all those who were important to her and her club life behind without a second thought and its not like she hated the life as she planned to live that life with Logan before he broke her heart.I am wondering if there is more of a story there? Hum.....It was almost like she became one of those Stepford wives .lol
 
 
I have to say we like the new improve Beth and that once she was her old shelf again she made the perfect Old Lady for Logan and they were just perfect for one another as beneath all the hate and hurt Beth never let go of her love for Logan either.Soul Mates perhaps?I also will say that Beth impressed me with the fact that she was taking all these horrible mishaps to her in stride without complaint perhaps we were seeing the old Beth reemerge before our eyes and wake up call some would say.
 
Some favorite quotes
 
"The bonds of family are fluid in the Lost Saxons’ world. Brotherhood is the foundation of the Club, so because Dean is Club, as am I, that makes us family."
 
Overall I enjoyed the characters and the story itself, I just wished it didn't take so long for things to start heating up because once it did things heated up fast and kept us engrossed in the pages to the very end. 
 
I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters in this new MC series as most of them were a lot of fun to connect with.I would definitely continue reading the series as I can't wait to see what's to come.
 
A personal note: Without realizing what I was doing I read this series out of order and in my opinion for those new to the series  and just starting the books should be read in order and that is because Dean's troubles started in book one but lasted all the way to the end of book 2 and you have more of an understanding of what going on with the club drama.
 
 
4 stars from us
 
 
 
 
Jessica Ames was raised in a small market town in the Midlands, England. She lives with her crazy mongrel terrier and when she’s not writing she’s playing with crochet hooks. From the moment she was old enough to hold a pen she created fantastical stories and by the age of 17 had written her first full-length novel: a fantasy story about an exiled boy king. It was a clinched mess, but she realized she could, in fact, write and finish a book!
 
Knowing she needed to make money, she found work in the publishing world. Over the next decade, she honed her skills and worked hard to learn everything she could about writing. In January 2018, in a moment of insanity, she quit her job in magazine publishing to write books full time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Title: Safe Rider
Series: A Lost Saxons Novel #2
Author: Jessica Ames
Genre: Contemporary MC Romance
Release Date: November 9, 2018
Cover Design: Kellie Dennis at Book Cover by Design
Reviewed by Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
5 stars from us
Arc copy provided for honest review
 
 
Rule #1 of getting life back on track: don’t fall for a biker…
 
A new life; a new start—that was what Liv needed after escaping her violent marriage. Moving to Kingsley was a chance to rebuild what was broken and show the world she wasn’t defeated by her past. No part of that plan involved falling in love with a biker.
 
Dean never expected to want the sweet woman living across the street. She’s not his type, yet he can’t stay away from her. When trouble follows Liv, he’s one step behind, ready to defend her because his time in the Lost Saxons Motorcycle Club has taught him two things: how to ride and how to protect what is his. And Liv is his—even if she doesn’t know it yet.
 
Let's start off by saying that this is a new author for us and we throughly enjoyed our first read by them and we really loved the book cover as it was just beautiful.
 
The story was engaging enough an had a serious story line that kept your interest as the story flowed we liked getting to know the characters and I have to say that we found them like-able,engaging and funny.
 
I loved Olivia/Liv and how she had the courage to change her life.We found her to have courage, be loving,giving,ski-dish,independent ,loved how she showed us that she had a backbone and that she was strong and beautiful inside and out.I loved no matter how many reservations she had when it came to Dean and his club she seemed to always draw her own conclusions from the deeds he did and the person he was when he was around her and with her.
 
I loved Dean from the onset of the story as he was just so love-able,patient, kind,giving,protective,possessive in a positive way in which he made Liv feel safe and was sexy as sin.
 
I loved the chemistry this couple had and how their relationship developed slowly and sweetly and how Dean was patient and understanding with her and the struggles Liv had with trust issues.All these things made Dean more endearing to us and more love-able.
 
The story had just enough drama and a sweet love story and character engagement to the keep the story interesting.I normally like a story with a bit more heat and I wish their was a little bit more of the club drama thrown in the mix but, considering the seriousness of the content of the story it was going to take time for Dean to make Liv his I think we new that the story  would concentrate more or the romance aspect then club drama so we weren't that disappointed.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the characters were total opposites yet fit perfectly with one another and I believe Dean being a bit edgy and had a bit mystery to him was just the thing to bring her back into the living again.Dean was someone she trusted and felt safe with and someone totally opposite of the men she had been previously attracted to.
 
The story was emotional and engaged your emotions and we love stories just like that.
 
Our favorite quote from the story
 
"No, I know I offended him. I don’t want to end up on some kind of ‘whack’ list, Hol.”
 
lol
 
 
I would definitely read more in this continuing series.
 
  



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Safe Rider-
 
 
 
 
 
 
Chapter Two
 
 
Present day…
 
I'm unloading groceries from my car when I first see him. It's the roar of the engine that draws my attention. It's so obnoxiously loud in the quiet cul-de-sac that I can't stop my eyes from gravitating towards the sound. As I do, the mid-afternoon sunlight catches the chrome pipes, momentarily blinding me before the bike moves into the shadows of the trees lining the road.
I don't know a thing about motorcycles, but I can appreciate the beauty of it. It's a beast of a machine, with an emerald green fuel tank and pearl accents. It's a bike designed to catch attention, and it does. Even if it didn't, the man riding it would. To say he's imposing is an understatement.
With fascination—and a healthy dose of trepidation—I watch as he stops the bike in the driveway opposite my house and pulls off his helmet.
His head is covered in a thin layer of dark fuzz, which is at odds with the amount of hair covering his jaw, and every inch of skin not covered by clothes is inked. I'm more than certain his body is covered in even more artwork than I can see.
He isn’t classically handsome, nor is he the type I would usually find attractive, but there is something about him. Maybe it’s the bad boy vibe, or the confidence of his movements—I'm not sure. He's only wearing plain, boring, black jeans—nothing special—but they do fit him perfectly. The dark denim hangs in a way that accentuates his narrow hips and his tight bum. Beneath his leather vest he has on a loose, dark sweatshirt, the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. Looking at him, it’s like he rolled up out of hell to cause mayhem. Simon could never pull off that look, not in a million years. He is a trousers and button-up shirt kind of guy.
He's also a huge bastard—one that should not be entering my head at all.
My breath catches and all thoughts of Simon vanish as the biker turns and I get a full view of the back of his vest. There are two crossed swords dripping blood onto a skull wearing a helmet. This is macabre enough, but it's finished off with a T-cross piece over the skeletal nose and red, burning coals for eyes. The words 'Lost Saxons' are arced across the top of the garment, 'Kingsley' across the bottom.
He's not just a biker, he’s a biker.
I'm not a native to Kingsley, but I also don’t live under a rock; I know what the Lost Saxons Motorcycle Club is. They're well-known, even outside the former colliery town. If the newspapers are to be believed, they deal in drugs, weapons—anything that will give them a quick payout. They're criminals, a gang of men dedicated to living outside the confines of the law, and from the looks of it, I have one of their members living across the road from me.
And he definitely lives there because he's moving up the path towards the front door with a comfortable ease that only comes from being in your own space.
The bands around my chest loosen a little as he steps inside the house, the front door banging closed behind him, and once again peace and tranquility return.
I’ve been in Kingsley for more than a year, but I’ve only been renting this property for the past three months. It’s the first time I’ve felt truly happy since I left Simon; the therapy, the breathing techniques, the finding something good in each part of the day is working and I finally feel as if I’m moving forward.
But now I have a biker living on my road.
Maybe I can move somewhere else…
Except, I signed a twelve-month tenancy agreement. Why? Because this house has a good square footage, is in a quiet part of Kingsley and was a bargain.
Now, I’m wondering if Mr Biker is the reason why the rent is so cheap.
I shake myself.
Firstly, for being so judgmental; I’m not usually. This is because so many people have judged me over the years and usually they come to the wrong conclusion. Secondly, because in the months I’ve lived here, this is the first time I’ve seen him. Clearly, he’s not a frequent visitor to the house.
I stare at the now-closed door and sigh. Maybe I should worry about my own problems and not who is living across the street from me. But I can’t help but feel concerned. I left my old life behind, reclaiming what was left of the woman I was before I met Simon. Even after all this time, I’m still trying to work out who this version of me is, but I figure she’s the kind of woman who would not care about the biker living across the street. I also figure she is the kind of woman who doesn’t get involved in other people’s business unless it becomes her business.
But he is a problem and he most definitely is my business, because he lives spitting distance from my front door. I don’t need the kind of trouble this man and his Club will bring. I need quiet, and I need safety. I don’t need the police camped on the front lawn.
Feeling irritated—and a little anxious—I reach into the boot of my car, gather up my shopping bags and heave them out with a grunt. Juggling my load, I fumble for the lid of the boot and manage to get it closed without dropping anything. This is a feat in itself, given how heavy these bags are. How much did I buy?
This is something I have struggled to get used to since I set out on my own: shopping for myself. I was so used to getting whatever Simon wanted, not what I wanted or needed that I now have a tendency to overindulge when I’m in the supermarket. I have to remember I’m on a budget and that I can’t afford a hundred pounds a week food bill. But the freedom to do as I please goes to my head more often than I would care to admit—even after all this time.
I barely take two steps before I feel something shift. Then, the weight of the bags changes as the plastic splits from handle to seam. Laden down as I am, I can do nothing but watch in seemingly slow motion as my milk carton hits the concrete at force, spraying white into the air like a geyser while the rest of the contents spill out onto the pavement, my apples rolling to settle in the gutter.
Well, shit.
I move to my car and carefully place the other bags in the boot before turning back to the carnage I have wrought. A white river of milk is free-flowing across the paving slabs and staining the grassy verge.
Shit, shit, shit.
I move to pick up the first fallen item—a ruffled looking lettuce—when a deep, gravelly voice says, "Do you need a hand?"
I jump practically out of my skin; I can't help it. It’s not a normal response and I know this, but I can't stop it. My flight response battles with my fight for dominance as I spin around. And my body, which has been conditioned to react over the years, tries to recoil. It takes everything I have to stand still as I let out a garbled yelp.
"Jesus!" I gasp out as I realize the voice belongs to my neighbor from across the street: the biker.
For a moment a tendril of fear works through me, but it winds back a notch when he doesn’t make any sudden movements. I put a hand to my sternum, trying to control my thrumming heartbeat, then drag in a shuddering breath as my counselors voice sounds in the back of my mind: I am in control; I can keep myself safe.
And I can. I have been doing it for months now quite successfully.
For his part, Mr Biker looks contrite and slightly concerned, as if worried I may keel over. It is a possibility, given how much of a workout my respiratory system is getting, courtesy of him.
"You nearly gave me a coronary,” I snap, which is probably not the best idea, given the present company, but shock makes my mouth engage before my brain. 
"Fuck," he mutters, as a tattooed hand runs over his buzzed head. My eyes of their own volition follow the movement and I have to drag my gaze back to his face. "I didn't mean to scare you."
“It’s okay,” I mutter.
This close up, I can see his eyes are pale, a blue so light it looks gray. He’s also wearing a ring through his left nostril that I shouldn’t like, but find I do. I don’t usually like piercings, nor do I like tattoos, but he pulls both off perfectly. Too perfectly, really. He’s nothing like Simon who was more at home in a suit rather than jeans and never left the house without ensuring his hair was perfectly styled. I doubt this man cares about that kind of thing; he’s dressed for comfort. He’s rough, hard, but there is something about him that I like—and I don’t even want to dissect that.
Boy, do I have bad taste in men? First Simon, now I’m lusting over a criminal. I should become celibate and join a nunnery.
But he is good looking, even under the bad boy appearance.
“Do you have another bag?”
“What?” I pull my attention from scanning the thick scruff of beard covering his jaw. It’s verging on wild and this close to me, I can see it has copper-flecks among the brown.
“A bag: do you have another? To put the food in,” he clarifies, speaking slowly, as if I’m not with it—which I’m not. I’m rattled having him in my space, and not just because my hormones are standing to attention. The man belongs to one of the most notorious biker gangs in the country, and he’s also at least five inches taller than I am. He’s bulky, in an athletic way, rather than a steroid way, but that means nothing; Simon wasn’t built but he could still overpower me. That in itself is enough to make me wary, although I do everything not to show it.
He’s not going to hurt you.
Breathe it out, Olivia.
“Oh. Yeah.” I move back to the car and find a spare shopping tote tucked away. When I turn back to the biker and hand him the bag I do it with a lot more confidence than I feel.
He takes it without a word, opening it up and gestures for me to hold it for him. I do so without question. Why? I don't know. I should run into my house and hide because this man is dangerous. His leather vest with the skull on the back, the tattoos, the swagger: everything about him exudes just how dangerous he is. Except, he's standing on my driveway, helping me to collect the remains of my scattered shopping.
Are bikers supposed to be helpful?
I stand silently as he puts each item into the open tote bag, unsure what to say.
“Your milk is fucked,” he tells me unnecessarily because I can see that, “but the rest should be salvageable.”
I stare at the river of white wending over the concrete. This means another trip to the supermarket, unless I can survive with black coffee for tonight.
“Crap,” I whisper.
He runs a hand over his beard, and I notice his tattoos span down his arms to the backs of his hands as well. His skin is covered with so many different designs that it’s difficult to take it all in, but I see he has the same insignia on the back of his leather vest tattooed on his left forearm. On his right wrist, just above the palm, the word ‘Karma’ is stamped. I don’t even want to think why he has that tattoo. What karma is he dealing out?
Realizing I’m staring—again—I pull my gaze back to his face, but he doesn’t notice my gawking because he’s focused on the milk spillage.
“It’s only milk,” I say. “No use crying over it, right?” 
Then his lips quirk and I forget he’s a dangerous criminal because my mouth is suddenly dry. It softens his entire demeanor and I suddenly want to see him smile every day.
“I guess not. I have some in the house, if you need it.”
I wonder when he was here to bring milk; this is definitely the first time I’ve seen signs of life at the house across the street.
“Do you want me to grab you some?” he continues.
As tempting as that is, I shake my head. “I think I’ll survive one evening without milk, but thank you.”
This is debatable but I’m not keen on being indebted to this man—even if it is only milk. It’s a ridiculous thought but my brain is completely frazzled right now. At least this is the excuse I’m giving myself.
He hands me the newly filled bag and I take it with murmured thanks, trying not to react as his fingers brush over the back of my hand. I can’t deny the way that feels. There is electricity between us—at least on my part, although I swear I see a slight widening of his eyes at our touch. Perhaps I imagined it because it’s gone so fast I can’t be sure it was there in the first place.
He sniffs then clears his throat and my cardiac muscle gets another workout as it beats faster.
“You just moved in?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, about three months ago.”
He blinks and then his brow pulls together. “Shit, really? Three months?”
I nod.
“I need to start coming to the house more.” He jerks a thumb in the direction of the property he disappeared into before. “I own number fifteen, but I spend most of my time at the clubhouse.”
The clubhouse. With the dangerous bikers where he is a member. This sobers me completely and brings me out of my fantasy. It doesn’t matter how nice he’s being, how polite, I need to bring this to an end. I do not need his kind of drama in my already drama-filled life.
“Thank you for your help, but I should get the food inside before it spoils.”
He studies me. Intently. I try not to squirm under that look. “I’ll help.”
“Oh, there’s no need.”
“I’ll help,” he repeats, as if I didn’t protest.
This annoys me, but I don’t have the chance to voice this because without invitation, he plucks the tote from my hands and reaches into the boot. He wraps a fist around the whole lot and pulls it out as if it weighs nothing, and without a word starts up the path to the front door.
My front door.
Crap!
I quickly reach for the boot, pulling the lid down and tug my handbag up my shoulder as I jog after him. His legs are longer than mine though and he eats up the space in a few steps. This means he’s waiting for me outside the porch when I reach him.
He lifts the bags slightly. “These are heavy, darlin’; do you want to open the door, so I can put them inside?”
I really don’t. It’s one thing him carrying my bags from the car to my front door, but him being inside my house... I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that at all. But I don’t want to be rude and I don’t want to upset the potentially dangerous biker with the cute face and overinflated sense of chivalry either.
I hesitate too long because his smile fades and his jaw tightens. I see the anger flash in his eyes as he realises why I’m hesitating. Muscle memory is a powerful thing because my brain doesn’t register it’s not Simon; all it registers is the perceived danger. To my mortification, I recoil back as if he struck me. My life with Simon may feel like a decade ago, but that primal instinct to protect myself is still the first thing to switch on when I meet someone new—someone I don’t yet know is safe.
His eyes narrow further. It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and I can do nothing to stop the destruction.
There is a moment of silence that seems to span an era. It’s so quiet all I can hear is my own ragged breathing and his huffing.
Finally, he speaks.
“Christ, you try to fucking help someone and this is how they thank you?” He grinds the words between clenched teeth. Then he snorts and shakes his head. Not too gently, he dumps the bags on the ground and leans into me. I pull away from him, my back hitting the side of the storm porch as he gets into my space, all six-foot-plus of him. I have to raise my chin to meet his gaze, and I wish I didn’t because he looks hurt beneath the anger and for some reason that doesn’t sit right with me.
“For the record, I was just going to take your bags inside for you. I usually leave the raping and murdering for the weekend.”
He gives me the dirtiest look I’ve ever seen, turns on a booted heel and starts back up the path. I let my lungs finally reboot and draw in air when he reaches the end of the drive, and I’m filled with a new emotion. This one is abject embarrassment. He didn’t do anything wrong. All he did was try to be nice and I treated him like crap. Did I really think he was going to come into my house and hurt me?
I don’t know.
Old habits die hard.
Shit.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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review 2018-01-07 19:17
Godwine Kingmaker Book Review
Godwine Kingmaker: Part One of The Last Great Saxon Earls - Mercedes Rochelle

Godwine has risen from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful men in England, but with power comes jealousy. 
Godwine finds a wandering Dane in the woods and taking him back to his house, they feed the man. Come to find out he is a Jarl for the Danes. Godwine ends up leaving with the Jarl, taking him back to his own ships, and then sailing away with them. As he watches England fade into the distance he wonders where his future will lead. 
Coming into manhood in the service of the Danish king, he grows into positions of power. Serving through the kingdoms of FOUR kings, he incurs the wrath of Edward. Fleeing England, he waits for the correct timing to return, and make his position clear. He is hoping to regain his lost earldom, correct the wrongdoings in the nation, and rid the nation of the unwanted Norman advisors which are turning the king down the wrong path. 

I really enjoyed this read, it was fantastic and kept me hooked from start to finish. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series! 

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review 2017-12-19 22:16
This is bona fide angst
Grendel - John Gardner

I have to assume that a large majority of you studied the epic poem, Beowulf, when you were in high school. If you recall, this is often cited as the oldest example of an epic poem in Old English and it tells the story of the hero, Beowulf, who comes to aid a king who is plagued by a monster known as Grendel. It goes on to discuss Beowulf's homecoming and his continuing adventures (with a dragon no less). All I remember of the poem was a fight in a cave. (Clearly I was unimpressed with this work's historical lineage.) So it might come as a surprise that when I saw Grendel by John Gardner I was intrigued by discovering that it was a kind of retelling of the poem in narrative format...from Grendel's point of view. Straight out of the gate, this was an absolutely bizarre piece of literature. I came away from it thinking that it was too cerebral for me (Farewell hubris!) because there were many times I felt like I had absolutely no clue what was going on. I think part of this lies with the narrative style which mixed Old English language (like the original) with contemporary phraseology (curses galore, ya'll). I was nearly tempted to reread Beowulf for reference. (Spoiler alert: I didn't.) This is a philosophical novel that ponders the nature of existence and what it actually means to be 'good' or 'evil' because for something to be truly 'good' there needs to be a corresponding 'evil' to balance it...right? Grendel is a classic example of an antihero but boy does he jaw on and on and on about his place in the universe. I found him bitter and whiny but I don't know if that's due to characterization or if it's the author's 'voice' projected onto the character. I guess I'll have to decide if I want to read more of Gardner's works to find out the answer. It's hard for me to sum up my feelings on this one other than to say it wasn't an especially enjoyable time and I don't know who I'd recommend this one too because it's very niche. It's a 3/10 for me.

 

What's Up Next: The Great Questions of Tomorrow by David Rothkopf

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin (and also Scythe which apparently I'm never going to finish)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-10 21:37
Society, freedom, the Black Death, and secrets
The Last Hours - Minette Walters

Thanks to Atlantic Books, Allen & Unwin and to NetGalley for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Although Minette Walters is a familiar name, I have not read any of her crime fiction, so I can’t really compare this historical novel to her previous work, but after reading this I’ll check them out for sure.

I was intrigued by this novel, partly because of the author, but also because I had recently read a novel set during the period of the Black Death and was curious to read more on the subject.

The author sets the novel in Develish, an estate in Dorsetshire (there is not such a village in present-day Dorset, although there is one called Dewlish that I wonder if it might have been the inspiration for the one in the book), on the brink of the arrival of the plague to England. Sir Richard is away from the estate, trying to arrange the marriage of his daughter, Lady Eleanor, and although he tries to return home when he realises people are dying, it is too late for him. His wife, Lady Anne, who was educated in a convent and knows about healing, herbs, and letters, takes control (she already was managing the estate, although always unofficially, as her husband did not know how to read or write and thought that flogging or whipping his serfs was all that was required) and isolates the estate, moving all the farmers and serfs inside the walls of Sir William’s manor house —set apart from the village houses and the fields by a moat— and ensuring that her sanitation and hygiene rules are followed. Nobody really knows how the disease spread but her measures seem to work, although not everything is well in Develish.

The story is fascinating because of the complexity of the characters, the power struggles (there are clear differences between the Norman lords and the Saxon population, with the Normans being shown as abusive stuck-up individuals whilst the Saxons do all the work, and there is much discussion about taxation, indentured conditions, education…), the social order of the era, and the added difficulties of trying to confine two hundred people in a small space, ensuring the peace is maintained, and keeping their spirits up.

Lady Anne keeps records, with the intention of leaving a written account of what happened in case they all perish, so others might learn from their experiences, but she also keeps a more personal account, and at times it is clear that what she writes is an edited version of the truth, although always for good reasons. Her sensibilities seem very modern. She does not treat people according to their birth but to their actions, her religious ideas are out of keeping with the period (she has no respect for priests and dismisses any attempts of blaming the illness on people’s lack of faith or sinful behaviour) and she does show a great deal of understanding and hindsight of how the spread of the plague will revolutionise the social situation, bringing new opportunities to the skilled workers who survive (as there won’t be enough people to do all the jobs and that scarcity will allow them to negotiate better conditions). She is one of the most interesting and important characters of the novel, together with Thaddeus Thurkell, a young man (only eight years younger than her, as she was married at fourteen) of unknown parentage whom she has taught and protected from childhood and who seems as out of place as she is. At some point in the novel, due to the murder of his half-brother, he leaves the demesne with five young boys and we follow their adventures too, learning about the fate of other estates and villages, and getting more insight into the character of Thaddeus and his young assistants.

Sir William dies early in the story, although he is much talked about through the rest of the novel. He is an evil character with no redeeming features, although we don’t realise quite how bad he really was until close to the end of the novel (but we probably suspected it). Personally, I prefer my baddies greyer rather than all black. Lady Eleanor is another one of the characters that I found problematic. She is her father’s daughter, spoilt and cruel, dismissive of serfs and with a sense of entitlement not based on any personal qualities. Again, there are no redeeming features apparent in the girl, although her behaviour made me consider some psychiatric diagnoses (borderline personality disorder seems likely) and towards the end, I felt sorry for both, her and Lady Anne, as they are boxed into a corner with no easy or satisfactory way out. There are many other secondary characters, although very few of them are given enough individual space for us to get to know them (apart from the priest, Isabella, and Giles) but the author manages to create a realistic sense of a community growing and evolving thanks to an enlightened leader, united by their faith in Lady Anne, and facing together the challenges of their difficult situation.

The story is told in the third person but each chapter or fragment of the story is told from one of the characters’ point of view. This is not confusing and serves the story well, helping give the readers a sense of control (and also increasing the tension, as at times we believe we know the truth because we know more than some of the characters, but we do not realise we are missing important pieces of information). The book recreates the historical period without being too heavy on descriptions. We learn more about how society worked than about every little detail of clothing and food (but there should be enough information for fans of historical fiction to enjoy it, although I am not an expert in the era and not all reviewers agree).There are some funny moments (like when they see a cat for the first time and believe it is a monster), some battles, fights, scary moments, secrets galore, and plenty of intrigues, but it is not a fast page-turner and there is a fair amount of time dedicated to the politics and social mores of the era (that, for me, was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story). I felt the novel progressed at a good pace, but I would not recommend it to readers looking for a story full of action and adventures.

I enjoyed the novel, in particular the historical background, the psychological portrayal of the characters (the bad characters are just bad, while the good characters are fairly complex and not all good, and there is plenty of room for further development) although I did have doubts as to how in keeping with the historical period some of the attitudes and the ideas expressed were, but my main issue was the ending. As many people have commented on their reviews, it is never mentioned that this is book one and not a full-story and then the book ends up with a to be continued. After so many pages, the ending of the novel felt rushed, and although the story stops at an inflection point, there are many questions to be answered and I suspect most readers will feel disappointed.

 An interesting incursion into the historical fiction genre by the author, and one that will make readers wonder about what freedom really means, the nature of power, and how much (or how little) life has changed since.

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