by Amo Jones
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: June 20, 2016
(NOTE: Retailers have this read listed under ‘Erotica’, but I found very little erotic about it. The genre category for this review is my own.)
Missed the Connection
The prologue is excellent. The reader gets to witness the brutal circumstances that shaped the two damaged leads – Melissa Hart and Braxton ‘Hella’ Ward – of the story. It’s already obvious that each will end up in a ‘dark’ place, and finding each other will perhaps help them find a little light…and love.
There are glimpses of that story, but it’s buried in far too many side stories and tertiary characters. It’s buried under a love/hate non-relationship between Melissa and Hella that is eventually exhausting. That story in buried in a plot that is never fully explained, and doesn’t seem logical to me in any genre.
I wanted to like Melissa and Hella. My heart broke for all Melissa went through. Being victimized twice (actually, three times with the loss she suffered) left her broken, although I don’t believe irreparably. Hella basically raised himself, and the first person he may have cared about even a little was the homeless Tippy when Hella was a teenager. But it never happened – they both annoyed me to no end. To be fair, again – they each have been through things the average person can’t even fathom. They’re supposed to be hardened and unfeeling, but to me, they came off as caricatures of who they were ‘supposed’ to be. For Melissa, men are just a quick stop to use and cast aside. Hella is even worse in his degrading treatment of women. But I never felt their contempt, disdain, or even indifference. Melissa is a woman in crisis – pure and simple. She has a drinking problem. Nearly every scene where she drinks – and there are many, Melissa ends up drinking from the bottle and passing out. This is all supposed to be “fun and games”, however, I just couldn’t see the humor. It wasn’t cool, kickass or fun. It was sad and pathetic. Seeing as how alcohol was key in Melissa’s earlier problem, one would think she would avoid it. The fact that she doesn’t supports the reasoning that even though she claims to have dealt with her past and moved on, she has not. She’s drinking to numb a pain that nothing can touch. Melissa’s internal thoughts are quite telling as to her motivations, and made it even more difficult to believe she lived a ‘normal’ life and was a successful business owner.
Hella is supposed to be a dark and menacing man who makes his own rules and breaks everyone else’s. He’s killed without thought of consequences and remorse. Hella flashes back to a murder he committed as a teenager and recounts the entire scene in detail. I should have been sickened and repulsed. I should have had to look away or take a break from the story. All I could muster was an intense eye-roll. I didn’t feel danger or malevolence or even a twisted, psychotic rage. The atmosphere also wasn’t there to even make me feel bad for the victim. When Hella goes after retribution for the brutalization of Melissa, the scene with Eddy and his wife should have made me re-think continuing with this story, but all I could do was roll my eyes…again.
Probably my biggest stumbling point in this read is The Army – a “government” undercover organization. This group recruits a teenage Hella off the street – and by recruit, I mean kidnap – and train him to kill. It’s not explained who they kill or why. It’s not explained exactly how long Hella was there, but we do know it’s where he meets Beast, who eventually becomes president of the Devil’s Own motorcycle club. We also know The Army drugs its members so they don’t recall their missions. Um, WHY? And it’s not explained how Hella and Beast got away or why The Army is out for revenge now. Just too much…and not enough.
There is a disclaimer at the beginning of this read that warns the word ‘f*uck’ is used a lot in this story. And it is. But, to be fair, it’s expected when dealing with a group of people like this one is supposed to be. However, to me, it was never realistic or felt like MC culture, but more like a group of tenth graders attempting to act like a crew. Early on, Hella calls Beast his “bromate” – HUH? What callous, hardened biker does that? I’ve read MC stories where just seeing a character’s name had me bracing for the ruthlessness that was about to go down, but that didn’t happen here. Even when the ‘ruthlessness’ and questionable shenanigans of this story DID happen with rival biker MCs, Russians, female bikers and yes…The Army, I was just ready for the book to end.
As I said earlier, for me, there are far too many supporting players here. Some are only mentioned once…maybe twice…with a couple of vague sentences to explain who they are, and then you never hear about them again. I’m not sure who the pivotal characters like Beast, Meadow, Jada and Phoebe were. They drink and swear and love to party, but they just weren’t developed enough. And poor Millie. Melissa’s younger sister shared the same screwed up childhood, and witnessed a shocking incident as a twenty-one-year-old nun, but I didn’t learn enough about WHO she was to care about her predicament.
There IS a great story here. When Melissa and Hella are together…and not trying to violently screw each other silly…It’s perfect. They let their guards down and lose all the smartass comments, and finally get around to admitting to hidden feelings and desires, only to have a jumbled-up side story take the focus off them. They deserved better.
These two cannot heal each other – but they do give each other a peace of mind and calm neither has known before. This is a new beginning they both need. I’m not sure if anything can help Hella, but Melissa is in serious need of psychological help. Her reaction and meltdown to Hella’s visit to Eddy’s is only a small glimpse at what she’s internalizing.
I truly wanted to love this story, but that is not the case, and ending it on a cliffhanger didn’t help. I didn’t read the earlier reviews, but I saw the ratings board and know that I am in the minority. It happens. Readers bring different perspectives to each book they read, but they all must at least have a level of acceptance for the story and trust in the author. The divide comes with the execution of the story line and actions of the H/h. For me, it just didn’t work.