Rough Ride by Kristen Ashley

1001 Dark Nights is in big blue letters, the Chaos MC emblem is pictured in the 00 of 1001, against a mostly black backgroundWhy I read it:  I read it as soon as I could after it came out because of course.

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic abuse/violence to women. The heroine is severely beaten by her then boyfriend (not the hero) and the description is relatively graphic.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Rosalie Holloway put it all on the line for the Chaos Motorcycle Club.

Informing to Chaos on their rival club—her man’s club, Bounty—Rosalie knows the stakes. And she pays them when her man, who she was hoping to scare straight, finds out she’s betrayed him and he delivers her to his brothers to mete out their form of justice.

But really, Rosie has long been denying that, as she drifted away from her Bounty, she’s been falling in love with Everett “Snapper” Kavanagh, a Chaos brother. Snap is the biker-boy-next door with the snowy blue eyes, quiet confidence and sweet disposition who was supposed to keep her safe… and fell down on that job.

For Snapper, it’s always been Rosalie, from the first time he saw her at the Chaos Compound. He’s just been waiting for a clear shot. But he didn’t want to get it after his Rosie was left bleeding, beat down and broken by Bounty on a cement warehouse floor.

With Rosalie a casualty of an ongoing war, Snapper has to guide her to trust him, take a shot with him, build a them…

And fold his woman firmly in the family that is Chaos.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I admit it’s been a while since I read a Chaos MC book (although I did re-read Motorcycle Man over Christmas – as you do – that’s part of the Dream Man series so I’m not counting it). There have been so many books in between Own the Wind and now, I barely remember the plot. I know Tabby and Shy got their HEA but to be honest, I’d forgotten all about Rosalie.

I put it together quickly enough once I started reading Rough Ride. Rosie was the girl Shy had been dating and then he dumped her to take up with Tabby. I’m sure at the time I was all Team Tabby but I am Team Rosalie now. That’s not actually a conflict because they don’t both want the same man and everyone gets a HEA (It’s like Oprah – you get a HEA! and YOU get a HEA, etc).

The book starts off with violence. Rosalie has been severely beaten for ratting out the Bounty MC and she calls Snapper for help. Snapper is the brother who was Rosalie’s main contact to get information about Bounty to Chaos and over the course of the (apparently) months she’d been doing this, she and Snapper had become close. It becomes clear fairly quickly that both Rosie and Snap have feelings for each other but before this, neither had ever acted on them. Rosalie had been with Throttle and she was faithful to him. I didn’t really have a problem with the fact that Rosie developed feelings for Snap before things were broken off for good with Throttle. The reason Rosie was informing on Bounty was because she was trying to extricate her man (Throttle) from some future-limiting crap Bounty were involved in. When Throttle didn’t show any apparent interest, Rosie’s heart turned from him to Snapper but my sense was that, had Throttle stepped up, she’d have stayed with him and been happy about it and the flicker of what could be with Snapper wouldn’t have become anything. It was not the same on Snapper’s side of things. He was all in for Rosie and was “waiting for his shot” and had been ever since they first met, just before Rosalie became a Chaos informant.

“Only thing I know for certain is, so far, I lucked out and made good decisions in my life, and one of them is you. The you that it doesn’t mean shit you got a scar cuttin’ ’cross your brow like it wouldn’t mean shit you put on fifty pounds like it wouldn’t mean shit you aged thirty years. You’re Rosie. And no matter what, you’ll always be beautiful.”

Once Throttle (so-named because bikes not beatings) used his fists on Rosie however there was no going back for her ever.

I loved how open Snapper was with Rosie about how he felt about her both emotionally and physically. I am ever and always a fan of the hero who is 100% gone over his heroine (or hero as the case may be).

“Baby, watched you do your skip-jog to your car yesterday and stood on the steps to a cop shop fighting back a hard-on. Essentially you gotta breathe in my vicinity and I’m struggling with a boner.”

What else? Rosie is worried that Snapper will think she just goes from guy to guy to guy. They talk about it and in context it’s clear that’s not what she’s done and Snapper never thinks of her that way. I’m glad they talked it out though because I suspect some readers may have wondered about that. And speaking of.. I’ve seen a bit of Rosalie-hate on social media and I really don’t know what she ever did to deserve that. She cared about Shy, got dumped, took up with Throttle, informed on Bounty to Chaos’s benefit and go severely beaten for her troubles. Why on earth would she not be deserving of a HEA? Rosie has moved on from Shy and it’s perfectly clear that Rosie is no threat to Tabby. Rosie doesn’t want Shy and Shy only wants Tabby so there’s no conflict there. This is an example where some sections of Romancelandia are way to hard on heroines and have a complete double-standard when applying the same standards to heroes.

Men with scars on their face were considered interesting, like they lived adventurous lives or were tough guys.

Women with them were looked on as pathetic, like some traumatic life event happened to them that they didn’t survive without being marked and because of that were objects of sympathy.

Another discrepancy between the sexes which was absolutely not fair.

There are problems with the story.There’s a bit too much “ra ra second amendment let me have all the guns” for my comfort or liking, particularly given recent events (I was reading mere days after the Parkland shooting). Both gay people and transgender people were used as butts of jokes in what was supposed to be a cute scene between Snapper and Rosie and it was way not cool. (Authors: please don’t do this. Just don’t.) And there was a scene near the beginning where Tack is riding roughshod over Rosalie and telling her where she’s going to live and that Chaos was looking after their own and they’d decided she was one of them. Part of me liked that – when Chaos swings into rescue mode I get all swoony. But Tack was too pushy here and Rosalie didn’t really have a choice. It felt like coercion in an almost stalkerish way and what made it even worse was Tyra taking Rosalie aside and telling her that she had to take what Tack was offering or otherwise his feelings would be hurt. What about Rosalie,Tyra?? Where is the girl-power?

But I did enjoy the romance between Snapper and Rosie so much my grade isn’t really reflective of the real issues which were present. Rosalie won me very quickly and I just wanted all the good things for her. I didn’t even care that she moved into Snapper’s rental house (rent free) without much of a fuss. I just wanted her to be looked after and loved. And Snapper was all about that so I’m calling it good. I’m not blind to the issues and it’s not that I am condoning them. But I am fortunate to be in the position where I can put those issues to one side (not everyone is as lucky as me to be able to) and judge the book aside from those things.

Grade: B+

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