Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novella

 

All members of the Elementalist Motorcycle Chapter live adjacent to the roughest part of town. The area is so notoriously bad, not even the postal service has been able to keep someone on their delivery route. It’s inconvenient, but Rawley Thames doesn’t mind. His clients will bring their crotch rockets to his shop regardless, and since most of them are also his motorcycle brothers, they understand. Which is why it’s mystifying when his doorbell rings at way-too-early-in-the-morning-o’clock. Grumpy as hell, Rawley is about to rearrange the unfortunate visitor’s internal organs when he comes face to face with the most stunning pair of blue eyes he’s ever seen clad in…yes, a mail carrier’s uniform.

Reign is taking charge of his life after a miraculously successful experimental treatment that saved his life and those of Leif, Ashe, and Skye. He doesn’t mind living in the roughest part of town because it means living. Even better, his first day on the job as a mail carrier sends him straight into the arms of an attractive elementalist named Rawley. The two seemingly have a lot in common: both have the four major elemental sprites—water, air, fire, and earth—under their skin and can use the sprites’ powers for themselves. But Reign has a secret and it’s one that has made him a target for a powerful, wealthy man named Ted Ganes. Ganes is determined to get Reign and his friends under his thumb at all costs, even if it means going up against the police and the whole of Rawley’s motorcycle club. What’s more, the secret puts a significantly different spin on the budding attraction growing between Reign and Rawley.

Elemental Ride is a near-future semi-dystopian novella from Mell Eight. Although it’s a shorter work, Eight works in multiple threads to pique a reader’s interest. Of course, there is the insta-attraction between Rawley and Reign and that shifts into a variation on the classic love triangle when Leif also catches Rawley’s eye. Much later in the book, when more of the dynamic and backstory for Reign, Leif, Ashe, and Skye gets addressed, it opens up into a potential polyamory situation. While the romance drama is building and unfolding, Rawley and his gang are trying to figure out a more permanent housing situation that won’t end up disenfranchising their less-well-to-do members.

The story is told in third person omniscient from Rawley’s perspective. This works well for some aspects of the world building—like how Rawley can compare his layman’s experience of getting sprites injected under one’s skin to harness their magical power to Reign’s different experience. The downside for me is how much of the detail feels perfunctory, simply serving as a means to an end, and some details feel entirely superfluous. This concept of sprites is one example. Sprites seem to be conscious entities unto themselves, but they require a human host if they are to survive adolescence. So they get injected into a host and the two share a symbiotic relationship for a contracted 10 years. Why would a human want or need elemental powers? Water is the most powerful sprite, but the powers of a water sprite never really manifest on page. Different elemental sprites have wildly different reactions when their human host masturbates…what that is meant to add to the story or characters, I have no idea.

Being a shorter story, I was not wild about Eight dividing the action between Rawley and Reign’s budding romance (and that between Rawley and Leif, and Ashe and maybe Skye) and Rawley’s motorcycle club having to relocate. Both offer plenty of drama and I did think both were sufficiently handled in the space of the book. That said, I just wasn’t very invested in the relocation thread. It felt like delving deeper into what happened to Reign and his friends and the fact that Rawley had never entertained a polyamorous romance before were sacrificed to show Rawley interacting with his club. It felt like a big ask to watch Rawley be confused over why he’s attracted to Reign and Leif to him suddenly trying to woo Ashe and thinking about if he can (or even wants to) impress Skye.

Overall, I thought this was a just-better-than-average story. I liked the concept of our MC grappling with entering into a polyamory romance, but felt the story didn’t really explore that aspect as much as I would have liked. While I felt the story lacked solid, thoughtful world building, the various elements in the plot all work in harmony to make a story that is still fairly satisfying. Readers who enjoy all manner of motorcycle club depictions or characters that are possibly neurodivergent will probably find things to enjoy here. The hottest scene in the book is Rawley jerking off to the memory of Reign’s eyes, so that leaves the actual romance at a slow burn…one that is delightfully stoked by Rawley’s realization he is into more than one man.

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