wicked coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Hawke grew up in an abusive home, until ultimately he killed in order to protect his brother. That left Hawke in jail and when he got into a conflict with the wrong person, he was beaten to nearly an inch of his life. Weeks spent in the hospital mostly healed his body, but Hawke’s brain no longer works with his voice, and speaking is almost impossible. Still, he’s found his home with the Broken Chains motorcycle club working as a tattoo artist and the muscle for the club.

Jax had a happy life living with his grandmother until he was 12. At that point, his father, the president of a motorcycle club, came to take Jax away from the only life he knew, and brought Jax to live with him. Jax is now the vice president of the club, but he knows it’s in name only and that he and his father will never see eye to eye. When Hawke comes along with another representative from the Broken Chains to talk to Jax’s club about a possible alliance against Hydra, Jax knows it is futile. His father is never going to take sides and has been leading his club in the wrong direction for years. The one positive is that Jax and Hawke have a hot night together, but Jax knows that’s likely to be the only thing to come of the meeting. 

Still, Jax is determined to continue to try to form some sort of alliance with the Chains, as he knows that Hydra is too big a threat to ignore. However, when he reconnects with the Chains and heads back with Hawke to River Crest, they are attacked along the way, leaving both Jax and Hawke injured. While they recover, Jax stays with Hawke and the tentative connection between the two of them continues to grow. Both are hard men and while they live in a difficult world, they somehow find a way to connect with one another.

Jax and Hawke are interested in developing something more between them, but there is a lot that stands in their way. The leaders of the Broken Chains still don’t fully trust Jax, given that he comes from another club. He also still needs to separate himself from his father and his own club. Not to mention that Hydra continues to be a threat and danger seems to be around every corner. But Jax and Hawke have found something special together, something neither man thought that they could ever have, and they are determined to find a way to make it all work.

Wicked is the fourth book in E.M. Lindsey’s Broken Chains series. While each book features a different couple, the series has an overarching arc with regards to the threat from Hydra. The story also has a slightly overlapping timeline with the previous book, as we learn about the attack on Jax and Hawke in the epilogue of Broken Wings. So while the story can stand alone from romantic end and there is background given on past events, overall I think the series is richer if you read all the books in order, as the characters do appear within each other’s books and the overarching storyline continues from one book to the next.

This story definitely has a darker and more intense tone than the first three in the series. I think this is in part because it’s the first to feature two members of motorcycle clubs as the heroes, and in part because of the type of men that Jax and Hawke are. In the prior books, civilians are being brought into the MC world and there was a sense of softening that came from the motorcycle club members opening themselves up to someone so different from them and who is new to this world. In this case, both Hawke and Jax know the brutal realities of motorcycle club life. For Hawke in particular, he is often the muscle, the one who’s called in to hurt when needed, and part of him thrives in that role. Hawke has a lot of internal anger and is much stronger and more brutal than he first appears and the story makes no secret of that anger and that brutality. We see it come into play particularly at the end of the book and so this is definitely a story that’s unapologetic about the violence within the life of the motorcycle club and even the violence within the particular characters. Jax and Hawke also have an intense sexual connection that involves pain and dominance and the need to really feel. I really enjoyed these guys together. I feel like they’re both such hard men and the story allows them to be soft with each other in a way that feels very unexpected when we first meet them. They can be tough and angry and intense, but also find, even if not a physical tenderness, an emotional tenderness with each other and I think that’s what really rounds out the story.

In terms of the big picture series, this is a little bit slower moving forward than some of the other ones. Hydra continues to be a threat and we are clearly leading to an ultimate showdown, but for now the focus is more on a smaller scale interaction between Jax and Hawke’s clubs. We also see resurgence of Rat as a threat, and that plot line does tie up here, so there’s definitely forward movement. But I do feel like the first part of the book is much more internal and doesn’t quite have the same intensity as some of the other books do in terms of the events that are coming to a head. Still, I thought this was a really good installment, and while it is somewhat of a transition book, I do think we’re setting the stage here for the big showdown, which looks to be coming in the next book.

Overall, I’m really enjoying this series and if you like your motorcycle club stories, then I think that this book in particular will be appealing. I really liked the connection between Jax and Hawke and I like the way that we were able to bring out a softness and tenderness into very hard men as they find their love and happiness with each other. It looks like Rory’s story is up next and I’m super excited for this one, as he been such an intriguing character all along, so I’m definitely looking forward to continue with the series and seeing how things are coming together.

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