Ride Steady by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #3
Also in this series: Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 30th 2015
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The ride of her life . . . Once upon a time, Carissa Teodoro believed in happy endings. Money, marriage, motherhood: everything came easy---until she woke up to the ugly truth about her Prince Charming. Now a struggling, single mom and stranded by a flat tire, Carissa's pondering her mistakes when a vaguely familiar knight rides to her rescue on a ton of horsepower.
Climb on and hold tight . . . In high school, Carson Steele was a bad boy loner who put Carissa on a pedestal where she stayed far beyond his reach. Today, he's the hard-bodied biker known only as Joker, and from the way Carissa's acting, it's clear she's falling fast. While catching her is irresistible, knowing what to do with her is a different story. A good girl like Carissa is the least likely fit with the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Too bad holding back is so damned hard. Now, as Joker's secrets are revealed and an outside threat endangers the club, Joker must decide whether to ride steady with Carissa---or ride away forever . . .
Carson “Joker” Steele grew up in a shit home with a shithead, abusive father and no mother. For years he put up with the abuse until just before high school graduation when he couldn’t take it anymore and bolted. The one bright spot in his life was Carissa Deotoro. The head cheerleader and homecoming queen was way out of his league, but she was always kind to him and often took his back. On the day he left, she was the last person he saw and she reached out to him.
The years since have been good to Joker. He’s now a member of the Chaos Motorcycle Club, lead designer for custom builds in their garage and, in general, free to live his life. Sadly the same can’t be said for Carissa.
She married her high school boyfriend and spent a good number of years thinking they were happy. Until she was a few months pregnant with their first kid and he confessed to cheating on her and kicked her to the curb. For months he’s been doing everything he can to make her life miserable, including refusing to pay child support and pushing back their court dates. She’s broke, heartbroken and stuck on the highway with a flat when Joker rides to the rescue.
He recognizes her immediately, but she doesn’t realize it’s him. Still, she’s grateful for his help and bakes him a pie to say thanks. When she shows up at Ride, the Chaos MC’s garage, he avoids her. She doesn’t understand why, and feels hurt, until strange things start happening thanks to the club. Suddenly her car has new tires, a new transmission and runs better than it has in years; she’s got a new, more affordable babysitter; a house in a beautiful, safe neighborhood suddenly comes available at a price she can afford; and best of all, she has the city’s most expensive law firm representing her against her ex . She knows Joker is responsible. What she doesn’t know is why.
Joke wants Carissa to have the beautiful life she once wished on him. To that end, he pushes his brothers to help her in every way they can. In turn, they push him to claim her as his own. He knows he isn’t good enough for her, but eventually he can’t stop himself from going after her anyway. The problem is Carissa is already suspicious of her sudden turn of good fortune, and Joker kind of forgot to confess his real name.
I loved the relationship between Carissa and Joker. They both had some issues from their pasts, Joker felt like he wasn’t good enough and Carissa struggled with her self -esteem and body image, but they worked together and had an open, honest relationship. I especially loved the way Joker was with Carissa’s infant son, Travis. He jumped right in. It was adorable.
My main issue with the story – and I admit it was a minor one – was Joker’s reaction when Carissa finally realized she knew him from high school. He knew he was wrong to keep it from her, something he discussed with others, yet he made her feel bad when she was understandably upset. Her initial reaction may have been over the top, but she was right to be angry and he completely minimized that.
That aside, I really liked Carissa. She started off kind of timid and almost beaten, but she really came into her own. Lost lost her baby sister and her mother before she was 17, so she was desperate to hold on to her family, which meant she ignored a lot of her ex’s bad behavior.
Ashley’s writing can be over-the-top, but the editing here was really well done. It had her signature style and flare, but lacked a lot of the clunky info dumps and unnecessary descriptions. While parts of the story frustrated me, I loved how all the conflicts were resolved by open communication. I also loved how, once they committed, Joke and Carissa were a solid team.
Ashley delivers another engaging, compelling read. I can’t name the indefinably quality her novels possess that make them so readable and enjoyable, but this one has it.
4 out of 5