The Hard Riders Anthology offers three stories of hard core motorcycle clubs and the riders that support them. All of the men are strong characters and if you like hot bikers putting themselves in danger for their men, read on.
Clear Blue Sky by Jenna Byrnes
Rating: 3.25 stars
Sky is new to Colorado after finally leaving Kansas and his abusive boyfriend. His cousin, Billy, offers Sky a place to live and a job at a bike shop. While out for a ride with Billy’s motorcycle club, Sky meets Task and the attraction is instant. Although Task is a tough biker, he is respectful of Sky and treats him well when they hook up hours after they meet.
Sky’s ex, Duke, comes looking for Sky and does not take kindly to being told no. A rival motorcycle club backs Duke in his quest to get Sky back, no matter the cost. Sky is caught in the middle and just wants to take off to protect Task and the other riders. Task has found something good with Sky and has no intention of letting Sky leave or letting Duke get to him. As the night heats up, a peaceful conclusion seems unlikely.
The first story in the anthology introduces us to Sky and Task. Both are likable guys with interesting stories to tell. Within hours of meeting each other the guys are spending the night together. The physical part comes easy for them, the emotional sharing, not so much. After their first night together, there is insta-everything going on here, including insta-moving in together and insta-love. We do not get to see the guys grow as a couple at all as we are not invited in to that portion of their relationship. So, when they are declaring their love for each other, it is harder to connect with.
The story has a bit of a predictable angle as the guys are in bed quickly, move in together, fall in love, and then there is the confrontation with Sky’s ex. Duke is a somewhat stereotypical character coming back to claim what is his. There were a few things that did not add up. When Duke breaks into the bike shop, no one takes a look at how he got in so that maybe he won’t be able to do it again. Also, we only get a glimpse of Task’s background, but he is dealing with some significant issues that are discussed in just a few sentences. The confrontation adds excitement, but the story ends abruptly and the guys are quoting a line from a 1970s classic TV show ,which does not seem to fit in with the characters or the story we are shown.
Sky and Task do have an engaging story to tell, but we only get to see a small portion of it. Although it is a short story, there is not enough time devoted to developing their relationship and then the ending is rushed. Even though I liked the characters, this story overall was a bit of a miss for me.
Mantrap by L.M. Somerton
Rating: 3.75 stars
Rogue is the head guy in the Wyverns Motorcycle Club. The club is known for its dragon emblem, fierce reputation, and members with pasts in the military or police. The club with members who respond to the orders of the mysterious Trap who recruited them all. Rogue has just received his latest assignment, which is the kidnapping of the son of a dangerous drug lord. One look at the photo of their target, Orlando, and Rogue’s interest is piqued in more ways than one.
While visiting his favorite BDSM club, Orlando takes an instant liking to Rogue, only to realize too late that Rogue is not what he seems. Being held captive at the motorcycle compound, Orlando is scared, angry, frustrated, and turned on all at the same time. Rogue sees right away that the only way to handle Orlando is to be the Dom that Orlando is desperately seeking. But Orlando’s father has a far reach and The Wyverns are in for a full on battle.
This story offers two really great characters that were intriguing from the first word. We have the tough Rogue, who was in police enforcement and after issues with his temper now works for Trap, who he has never met. He does not question his orders and gets the job done with the help of the guys in the club who have his back. Orlando is on his own as he is trying to break free from his father. Orlando, in his tight pink T-shirt, is a really fun character with a bit of attitude. He is not even sure what he looking for at the club and his search for a Dom leads to men taking advantage of him somewhat. It is at the club that Rogue tracks Orlando and makes all of his moves.
The story of Orlando and Rogue together is a great story and the guys are not only hot together, but are different from each other and create a really interesting dynamic. The story line tries to balance out the beginning of their relationship with the story of Orlando’s family and his kidnapping. Being that it is a short story, both sides of the plot were unfinished for me. There is not enough time to develop their relationship, which has loads of potential, or to fully understand Orlando’s father’s motivations. The confrontation is fast paced and Rogue’s guys take out 12 cartel members fairly easily with only a few scratches between them. There is not enough known about the skills of either side to know if this is a real possibility. The guys are able to decompress from the violence quickly and then the ending moves fast and Orlando and Rogue’s wrap up is tied together quickly. There are a couple issues of typos, and in just a few places, the dialog did not flow as naturally. There is a lot going on for a shorter story and more of Orlando and Rogue would have made this a much stronger story for me as again, they were great together and had a potentially great story to tell.
Biking Bad by Morticia Knight
Rating: 3.75 stars
Working one of his first cases for his start up PI business, twenty-two year old Dylan gets a lead that takes him to the Road Rage Bar, the exclusive club of the Mojave Sidewinders Motorcycle Club. The Sidewinders, the largest gay motorcycle club in the area, has a reputation for trouble and danger. Dylan thinks he can handle himself as he has been on his own since he was a teen. When Dylan starts asking questions and is then about to take a beating from club member Grim, Luc “Zero” Villarojas steps up for him.
Zero has been a member of the Sidewinders ever since the president of the club took him in and out of the foster care system. He’s now thirty-four, has the motorcycle club, his tattoo parlor, and plenty of one time hookups. There is something about cute Dylan that draws Zero in, which is not at all the way Zero operates. Dylan is immediately attracted to the older, stronger Zero, even if Zero can be kinda scary, and oh yeah, Dylan is a virgin. After one quick hook-up together, Zero is out the door, but Dylan has gotten under his skin. Dylan suspects that Zero has information regarding the missing boy that he is investigating, but Zero closes down and refuses to talk about it. When Dylan keeps watch outside of the bar for leads, he may just be way over his head in danger.
The story opens with Dylan literally being tossed at Zero’s feet by a member of the club. Not all of the club members get along, Zero has had issues with Grim in the past, and a fight breaks out over Zero protecting Dylan. Zero is all kinds of confused after meeting Dylan. He thinks Dylan is just so cute and is contemplating what color his hair would be in the daylight and it is freaking him out. Dylan is great as he tries to show no fear, but Zero is at once intimidating and arousing to him. And, since Dylan is now on Grim’s radar, it puts Dylan in a dangerous place.
The characters of Dylan and Zero have a great story to tell together. Knight is able to draw the characters well and their story has heat and so many possibilities. On the outside, the way more experienced Zero is completely different from Dylan, but they have more in common than they realize. The story line tries to achieve a lot with their relationship, the missing person case Dylan is working on, and the tension in the motorcycle club. For a short story, the focus was split in many directions. The characters are intriguing, and the intimate scenes are well written. As the story ends, all of the areas are somewhat rushed between tying up the missing person case, the fallout in the motorcycle club, and Zero and Dylan’s relationship. But, I do enjoy Knight’s characters and writing and will continue to look for her stories in the future.
All three stories have different and likable characters with interesting stories to tell. The stories do have a similar formula with an alpha male lead, hot sexual encounters that are featured early in the story, a confrontation with a burst of violence, and a HFN. The stories offer the beginnings of relationships in the hardcore world of motorcycle riders who are intriguing and have just a touch of a soft side for that special someone