Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “If she’s the girl and you’re it for her…then you’ll ride steady.”
Carissa Teodoro thought she had it all. A good husband, a nice home, and a baby on the way. Then she caught her husband cheating on her. Now she and her son live in a run down apartment complex with no support coming in and a car that’s on it’s last legs. When a sexy biker stops to help her fix a flat, Carissa has no idea that her past is staring her in the face. And if she plays her cards right, everything she ever wanted in life is her’s for the taking.
Carson Steele was in love with Carissa in high school. He knew the sexy cheerleader and homecoming queen would never look at him twice so he never tried. An abusive childhood forces Carson to grow up early and an incident with his father sends him running towards freedom. Now years later, Carson is now known as Joker and a brother in the Chaos Motorcycle Club. A talented mechanic and artist, Joker’s life seems perfect. Until he stops to help a young woman in distress.
Ride Steady is Joker’s story. We’ve seen Joker throughout the Chaos series though his action has been extremely low-key. Ashley purposely kept Joker’s story in the background because after reading Ride Steady, I realized he deserved an entire book devoted to him. Ashley seems to be channeling her earlier books while building this romance and I for one was very happy. Joker is the quintessential Ashley hero. Alpha to the core, this strong, gruff, silent, and very sexy man lives his life thinking he doesn’t need to settle down but when the right woman comes along, he falls hard.
“She means everything to me. You gotta drag her down, that’ll suck, but I’ll pick her back up. You gotta rip her apart, I’ll fuckin’ hate watchin’ it, but I’ll put her back together. Do what you gotta do to make you feel like you got the bigger dick. But know this, in the end, it’s gonna be her and me.”
I loved this story. Carissa and Joker are a great couple. Both are intelligent, good looking, loyal, and hard working. Though Joker is as alpha as his fellow biker bros, he’s more laid back. Rather like Shy. Not to say he won’t drop hell on anyone who threatens those he loves, but he’s not unreasonable. He never tries to control Carissa. He listens to her and ‘guides’ her into a better life with him. Rather like Tack and the rest of Chaos, he recognizes the gift he has found and will do anything to see his ‘butterfly’ spread her wings.
Carissa is adorable. Sweet and kind, she has an inner strength that is belied by her seemingly fragile looks. She’s been given quite a few hard punches in life but rather than give up, she keeps working hard to provide for her baby boy. Not one for TSTL moments, she knows when to give and when to stand toe to toe with someone. She does have issues that has Joker going overboard at times to show her she is worthy of good things in her life but he does it all out of love and it’s very sweet to watch. And she gives it back to him ten fold.
I let myself feel it.
Feel something rare and beautiful and overwhelming.
Feel something I knew for certain I hadn’t felt in my whole life.
Though not a true dual POV, Ashley does give us insight into both the protagonists minds-letting us see what they are feeling and how they are dealing with it. Plenty of humor and silly but fun banter keeps the story moving along at a steady pace. The chemistry between them is hawt and just a touch raunchy but in a good way with some very nicely detailed love scenes. Though it seems they fall together rather quickly, we learn in the beginning that these two people have been halfway in love with one another for years-it just wasn’t their time yet. I love how Ashley creates a new romance while dealing with a jerk ex husband, an adorable baby, and a crowd of family and friends who are never shy about giving their two cents worth. It’s not just Joker and Carissa falling in love in here…it’s Joker, Carissa, Travis, all of Chaos, their old ladies, and various other friends.
Fun outrageous secondary characters bring even more life and drama to the story. Elvira continues to steal the show as she lets Joker know that if he can’t handle “the business” then she will bring in Hawk. Big Petey is an absolute doll and so glad we got more of his backstory. Tara, Tab, Gwen, and Tess all come to Carissa when she needs them and prove to her that it’s not always blood that makes a family. Cameos are made by new and former characters-the Nightingale brothers, Indy, Brock, Mitch, even Knight. Whaaaaa? I love that Ashley bridges the multiple series together, letting us see what all our favorite couples are up to at any given time.
“She brought him pie,”
“Does Joker even like pie?”
Ride Steady is exactly what I have been missing lately from Ashley and MC romances in general. So much time is spent getting past all the roadblocks that prohibits the romance that by the time we jump those hurdles, we never spend much time experiencing the romance. Ashley engages the reader; bringing back the over the top behavior and situations in here. Emotions are thoroughly explored. Objections are addressed and resolved. Issues are given the seriousness they deserve. Part of the appeal of Ashley’s books is she makes her stories about average people. Cops, bakers, hairdressers, construction workers, ect…everyone has a compelling story to tell and everyone is worthy of a fairytale romance no matter their position in life. I find most times it’s much easier for me to relate to this style of romance than the multibillionaires or 20 something heiresses. I love Ashley best when she goes balls to the wall with the drama and seemingly inconsequential aspects that personalize the story-giving it character and appeal. It’s so very easy to get invested in her characters lives and share in their triumphs and disappointments.
The ending comes at us fast and hard with an action packed finale that resolves the main conflict, ties up the various sub plots, and ushers us into book four, Walk Through Fire-which is High’s story and set to release October 27, 2015.