Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: John Solo
Length: 6 hours, 53 minutes
Tank spent four years in prison and it wasn’t fun. He knows he was set up by the president of his motorcycle club, and he knows it was for daring to be both gay and the best friend and confidant of the president’s son, which meant he had influence. His opinion carried weight, so they got rid of him. The one bright light in the murky depths of those four years are the letters from his prison pen pal, CJ. The young man (much younger than Tank’s nearly forty years), is cheerful, charming, sweet, and loving. He’s also gay and horny, and as he and Tank have gotten to know one another better, the two of them formed a connection.
Now that he’s finally out, Tank has no desire to continue to serve his president. He doesn’t want to leave the club, as it’s the only family he’s ever known, but he wants to move to a new chapter, a new crew … and a new city that just so happens to be where CJ lives. Even if the new chapter turns him down, at least Tank will still have CJ. So long as he has that, he’ll be fine.
CJ has a common story; he was kicked out too young by parents who didn’t want a gay son, he works hard, keeps his head down (though he doesn’t hide his sexuality, he’s discreet), and is saving up his money to be able to one day go back to school. His letters to Tank were equal parts pouring his heart out and living out a fantasy, because surely no one could be so perfect in person as Tank is in those letters. And for the past few weeks, Tank hasn’t answered a single one. Is it possible something CJ said in his last letter — where he sent Tank a pair of his pink ruffled panties — upset him? Has he lost the one good thing he had going in his life by being too open, too gay?
I listened to the audiobook of Reckless, which is the first book in the Leather & Chrome series, and I’m glad I did. John Solo does his usual excellent work, with Tank’s deeper near-growl of a voice and CJ’s bright, happy voice — sometimes forced, sometimes whiny, but always with so very much personality — and managed to portray the depth of the bond that formed between them, first through letters, and then in person.
Tank grew up with a rough childhood: his mother abandoned him; his father turned to drugs; his father’s friends were also addicts, alcoholics, and abusers; and Tank’s only escape was the motorcycle club. Sure, it was dangerous, but he knew that his friends had his back, that no matter what happened they’d always be there for him. Or so he thought. The betrayal cut deep, Now, with CJ, Tank not only has someone who loves him, but their dynamic is very much one where Tank has the control, has the authority. After much of his life being the one ordered around, it’s nice to be able to have someone to obey him — and to marvel at how quickly, how eagerly, and how lovingly CJ does (more or less) what he’s told.
CJ, too, has trust issues. Abandoned, looked down on, alone, and on his own, it’s nice to have Tank at his side, and not just in bed. Tank wants to take care of him, and there’s a part of CJ that very much longs for someone to hold him — and not just for the amazing sex. To make the big decisions for him, to give him the answers when the questions get too hard, and they easily fall into a daddy/boy dynamic that feels natural and real. CJ came to this relationship a virgin, and he wants to try everything that sounds fun … and this is where Tank truly steps up to be an amazing and wonderful partner for CJ.
Tank won’t fuck him until they’ve talked. The questions of what do you like? What do you not like? How much force do you want me to use, are you okay with this or that? He wants to know the soft limits and the hard, he wants CJ to know that he can have what he wants and he will never be forced into something he doesn’t like. And CJ, flourishing under the attention, is quick to not only let Tank know what he wants, but what he doesn’t want, as well. He wants a Daddy/boy relationship, not a master/slave or Dom/sub relationship. While he wants to try bondage, he wants that as a kink, not a lifestyle … yet.
Through the whole thing, their relationship is very low angst and very high heat, with both of them determined to build one another up. It’s charming, it’s sweet, and Solo nailed both CJ’s earnestness and Tanks determination in equal measure in the narration. There’s also a scene with CJ and Tank inviting another club member in to watch them — though no participation — and a charming lack of care or embarrassment at how open the two of them are being with their relationship in the club house. Everyone around them can see just how sickeningly cute they are as they kiss and cuddle (and hear them at night when they’re being enthusiastic.) It’s very sex positive, and set up for a sequel with another club member (and hints of more club members waiting in the wings for their own time in the limelight.) If you’re in to cheerful, happy, and loving couples who just so happen to ride motorcycles, this is the book for you. I very much enjoyed it, and hope you do, too.