Reviewed by Tori
Lang Anderson may be the new leader of the Sons of Odin motorcycle club, but his personal life is in shreds. He’s struggling to take care of his three young sisters in the wake of tragedy, while rumors of drug dealing within his ranks jeopardize everything he’s built. The last thing he needs is another distraction—like a bar brawl over a woman—but Lang is a sucker for a damsel in distress. And this one gets him roaring like a finely tuned engine.
High school guidance counselor Lily Gallo is no fender bunny. So why can’t she get Lang off her mind? Lily’s head says the rugged, rough-and-tumble biker who came to her aid is bad news. Her body begs to differ. But when Lang’s troubled kid sister walks into her office, Lily’s determined to help, even if it puts her in the crossfire of a gang war. On a crash course with danger and desire, Lily partners up with Lang to fight for his family—and for love. (Goodreads)
Persuasion is the first in Violetta Rand’s new Sons of Odin series; a romantic contemporary between the newly elected president of the Sons of Odin motorcycle club and a high school guidance counselor. Heavily character driven, Rand focuses mainly on building her opposites attract romance while feeding it a small subplot involving the MC.
Most MC romances have a tried and true premise that many authors try not to deviate from. The hero is a hard man whose loyalty to the club and his brothers remains his prime objective. He’s single because his need to be free leaves him willing to engage in one night stands or only date women who know there is no future with a man like him. Usually an attractive alpha male, it’s only when he finds “the one” does he begin to change and become a one woman man focuses on protecting what is his. Of course, his heroine will be a “good” girl who is completely ignorant of the MC culture. She will be beautiful, intelligent, educated, spirited, and need to be taught her place in his world.
This book starts out familiar yet Rand paints a different hero that is not quite the norm. Lang Anderson is shown in a different light right off the bat. While he is the poster boy for the typical MC biker, he has a sense of responsibility and respectability to him that is not often present. He is single-handedly raising his three younger sisters and wants to take his club into the future with legitimate business deals-forsaking the gun and drug running the former president was involved in. The heroine, Lilly Gallo is far more predictably written. A high school guidance counselor who works with high-risk teens in Philadelphia, she isn’t hesitant to speak her mind or stick up for herself but is extremely weary and a bit naive when it comes to men. Her parents recent break-up has left her with a bad taste in her mouth and a dim view of men in general. She has had some ill-fated romances though we aren’t really given reasons why.
Rand does an admirable job of attempting to develop Lang and Lilly in the beginning. Both have full lives and they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Lang has a certain way of doing things and Lilly disrupts his routine. She doesn’t cower before him yet doesn’t actively dislike him either. Their relationship starts out a little antagonistic but hints at some serious chemistry and smexy times to come. Engaging dialogue fuels this path but they seem to hit a plateau and never evolve fully. They are the perfect characters. They say, do, and feel what we expect them to. Rand injects scenes of conflict in order to draw them out (Lang’s control issues and Lilly’s rush to judgement) but I was never able to connect to them because Rand only goes so far before she backs off and rushes to smooth over their relationship. It’s very low angst. Even the sexually explicit scenes with some frank dirty talk can’t overcome the impression there is no real passion in here. And that is the entire book in a nutshell.
The story has all the elements needed to be an action packed sensual romance that falls short of it’s goals. It reads fast and methodical; both in plot and character dynamics. There are a few plot lines that begged to be further explored, but Rand brushes them aside to concentrate fully on the romance. In the romance, she pushed hard to bring Lilly into Lang’s world so they can have their HEA with giving us all the necessary steps needed to make it a believable conclusion. There was an assembly line feel to it as if Rand had a checklist to follow. When each point is made, we move on to the next one. This particular style didn’t allow for the expected grit and unpredictability that most MC romances thrive upon. There is no anticipation. No excitement to see what will happen next because we already know what’s going to happen. I was also put off by the terminology used. I know different regions use different terms, but I’m almost positive the average reader isn’t going to know the ones used in here and it jolted me out of the story a few times.
Various secondary characters help to plump up the story without really adding anything to it. Everyone does what they are intended to do without Rand having to make a firm commitment to their individuality. Lilly has a fun relationship with her best friend with lots of snark but as her relationship to Lang develops, we see less of them together. Lang’s sisters are properly adorable little girls, the oldest used as a catalyst to help facilitate Lang and Lilly’s romance and cement Lilly’s place in their lives. We meet various other MC members; each one nothing more than a place setting to show the internal struggle Lang is having with the MC and his personal life. Again, it’s all very straightforward. There are none of the expected shades of gray to be seen.
The ending is a rush to clean up the loose ends to ensure Lang and Lilly are happy with themselves and each other. I was left with feeling rather indifferent. I think there is potential here, I’m just not sure I have the patience to wait for it to happen. Fans of MC romances that embrace less reality and more of a fairytale quality are sure to enjoy. For me, this is a very lightweight romance that came out like a lion and ended like a lamb.