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Vaughn O’Keefe has been part owner of the Hog’s Den for years. Privy to plenty of Disciples of the Road business, he’s never been more ruffled as when a new recruit named “Smoke” walks through the door. Something about the man gets his blood pumping, but he knows to keep his preferences under wraps around the club.
“Smoke” Callahan has done a couple of rehab stints and is finally clean, thanks to help from the Disciples. He’s on the right path and isn’t about to get sidetracked, no matter how much the guy who manages the bar gets beneath his skin. Besides, his last relationship with a man left him scared, alone, and with a nightmare of an addiction.
When the Hog’s Den becomes shorthanded, and Smoke is ordered to help out the one man he can’t have, his longing for the bartender reaches blistering proportions. Vaughn figures a night together should be enough to satisfy their mutual attraction. But neither banks on just how scorching hot it might be.
As Smoke’s past unravels and the one person he hopes never to lay eyes on again messes with all he holds sacred, it’s time to involve the Disciples. Problem is, he’ll have to risk his membership, his heart, and his own hide to keep everyone he cares about safe.
I am, by no means, an expert on motorcycle clubs or books written about them. But…I have read a few. And…I have seen ALL of Sons of Anarchy (holy sh*t!), so I dabble. I figure the ones that feel the most…authentic, in ways…are the ones that have a certain level of darkness to the story. It’s not a pretty life.
For what it’s worth, I feel like The Darkest Flame did a pretty good job of this, but really leaned more towards the lite version of this world. There was grittiness and danger. But it wasn’t overwhelming and it didn’t punch me in the gut over and over again like some other books (anyone read “Undeniable” by Madeline Sheehan? Talk about taking a beating by a book! Relentless in it’s bite.)
This story had a nice slow build between the two characters, Vaughn and Smoke. I liked the hidden looks of longing and stolen moments between the two. And when the finally hook up…HOLY COMBUSTION…it was hot! Vaughn, the bartender and Smoke, the club member with a past. There was a serious chemistry there and I FELT it down to my toes!
I had a couple things that didn’t work for me. There were times that we were in either character’s head and it didn’t read…masculine?…enough. Their thoughts, their words…it lacked the edge that I’d expect from a big, bad motorcycle-ridin’, danger-skimming guy. And I hate saying that. Because these same types of guys can, of course, be sensitive and emotional. But there were times it didn’t quite…fit…the tone. Does that make sense without sounding awful?
The other thing, and I hate bring this point up too…but…there were a LOT of proofing errors. I’ve come to accept that this happens. No book can be perfect all the time. But, there was a string at the 80%+ mark that there were errors almost every paragraph and I had trouble understanding what I was reading. It completely took me out of the story. And it went on for pages…almost like the proofreader gave up by the end of the book. Enough times that I HAVE to mention it.
Anyhooo…the book makes up for it with a climax of danger in the plot that had me glued to my seat! Now THIS had me riveted and damn if I didn’t tear up a bit just wanting everyone and everything to turn out ok.
Yeah, so overall, I did enjoy this book. I would recommend it for a gritty’ish read with some HOT attraction between the MC’s.