Starting off the first book in a new series with a hot and steamy sex scene is a risk. You’re either going to entice readers to want to read more about the two characters in question, or turn them off with the blatant images presented. Ms. Crane seems to be doing her fair share of risk-taking these days, with her Dystopian erotic romance series The Edge paving the way for an audience of readers that are getting used to her new bold style. As it turns out, the prologue that introduces the Devil’s Keepers motorcycle club (DKMC) series did its job in hooking me completely and I was more than ready for the tightly paced and intense second chance romance that revved all my engines and has left me wanting more.
Next time I see you baby, I’m either going to keep you or kill you. No in between. Those words have haunted Merritt Broussard since the day she’d left the stagnant small town of Lagrange, Louisiana, and the man whose bed she’d willingly warmed for the previous three months. A dare from her best friend Lanie to visit a local strip club frequented by members of the DKMC resulted in the brief yet fiery affair with Joseph ‘Greeley’ Shaw. Even visiting home that summer, when she was twenty-two and in between colleges was a mistake, or so she tells herself. It left her with a broken heart when she had to leave Greeley for law school, a plan she wasn’t going to put aside even for him.
But things in New York didn’t work out the way she’d hoped. For five years she’d stayed away from Lagrange and thoughts of Greeley, but after starting her law career, she’d become entangled with a man, her boss, who had become more and more controlling and abusive. Worried about her safety, she thought the only place she might have some peace would be her old home. Her estranged father had passed away three months prior and she hadn’t attended the funeral (an absence that had been noted). Cleaning out the house gives her the excuse she needs to return to Lagrange without having to reveal that she’s on the run. But nothing escapes the notice of the DKMC and when Greeley hears that she’s back in town, he’s on her doorstep, ready to make good on his promises. Greeley has his own problems these days, club concerns that take most of his time, but nothing will keep him from getting Merritt back into his bed. Trouble is coming down on them from both sides. Will they make it through to a happy ending?
I don’t read a lot of motorcycle club series but I’ve read a few, and this one seems to have all the main details down pat. The men have an interesting relationship with the women in their midst. For most, getting laid at the end of the day and avoiding commitment seems par for the course, with the exception of those who have an ‘old lady’ (and even then, faithfulness is not guaranteed). The clubhouse scenes take on the rough, gritty, and sex-laden atmosphere one expects. Things aren’t okay in MC land and it’s clear that there is tension between Greeley and the MC president Digger who is becoming increasingly closed off and secretive. There are a fair number of scenes centered at the clubhouse or at the local strip club, where Meritt’s best friend Lanie still works. In fact, the town of Lagrange is pretty clearly under the protection of the club and everyone has some kind of involvement with it. Merritt’s father was the doctor for the club members for many years and as a result Merritt has got a standing of sorts with the members, not to mention that everyone is aware of her hookup with Greeley before and knows to keep their hands off. I like how the business of running the club is detailed, the politics that runs behind the decisions and how the characters interact with each other.
Greeley appears at first to be a fairly stereotypical biker. He’s hard, he’s rough, he’s all business. He’s also nursing a little bit of a broken heart from when Merritt left him, though he’ll never admit it out loud. Having her back in town pushes him to face those feelings, though he’d rather just imagine that their relationship was only ever about sex. In truth, he’s a very intelligent man who enjoyed the conversations he had with Merritt as much as the sex. Though at first he tries to maintain an emotional distance from her (even as he is ready to re-establish his physical dominance) it’s not long before he is sharing things with her that make Merritt realize how much value she has in his life, and it’s a lot more than she expected. As far as Merritt goes, she’s coming to grips with the fact that she’s never let go of her feelings for Greeley either. She might have put them out of her mind while in New York, but they are very present now. The difficulty is in believing that she could be safe here in Lagrange. She knows her ex won’t stop looking for her, and that she’ll have to move on soon if she’s to keep one step ahead of him. She doesn’t yet trust Greeley enough to spill the details of why she’s really back, and Greeley can sense she’s got one foot out the door again. This time though, he’s not going let it shut on him.
The second half of the story brings the situation Merritt faced in New York right to her doorstep in some intense and exciting scenes. Plus, the club problems take on some new significance. Not all the subplots in this story are resolved, paving the way for an ongoing story arc in the next few books. Merritt and Greeley do admit to their feelings (along the way experiencing some pretty steamy scenes together) and we get a happy for now ending that’s appropriate for the characters and the lifestyle. I hope the next in the series, Devil’s Mark is just as good as this one.