Why do I do this to myself? I was pretty sure, going in, that motorcycle club romances weren’t for me. Nonetheless, I bought Joanna Wylde’s Reaper’s Property on the strength of the Dear Author review. Also on the strength of the fact that the hero is named Horse. For obvious reasons.
Here’s the blurb:
Marie doesn’t need a complication like Horse. The massive, tattooed, badass biker who shows up at her brother’s house one afternoon doesn’t agree. He wants Marie on his bike and in his bed. Now.
But Marie just left her abusive jerk of an ex-husband and she’s not looking for a new man. Especially one like Horse—she doesn’t know his real name or where he lives, she’s ninety percent certain he’s a criminal and that the “business” he talks with her brother isn’t website design. She needs him out of her life, which would be a snap if he’d just stop giving her mind-blowing orgasms.
Horse is part of the Reapers Motorcycle Club, and when he wants something, he takes it. What he wants is Marie, but she’s not interested in becoming “property of”.
Then her brother steals from the club. Marie can save him by giving Horse what he wants—at home, in public, on his bike… If she’s a very, very good girl, she’ll get lots more of those orgasms only he can offer, and he’ll let her brother live.
For the first nine chapters, I found the story extremely compelling. I thought Marie’s narrative voice was authentic, and it was fun to read about a heroine who isn’t nobly poor–she’s had a rough life, but mostly because she was born into poverty and didn’t exactly have stellar parents. In someways, Marie brought up some thoughts for me about my own class privilege, and if a book makes me think, so much the better.
Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with Horse. I think maybe I could have finished the book, quietly disapproving of Marie’s life choices, if the author hadn’t abruptly switched from Marie’s first-person point of view to Horse’s third-person perspective. Horse worked better as a mysterious and slightly sinister presence, and when his narration reveals that he is basically just a douchebag and, yes, a criminal, I lost what respect I had. I don’t mind antiheroes, but it seemed clear this was going to end up one of those books where all the changing has to be done by the heroines. I need for my romances to have both characters changing, or I can’t buy an HEA, and I didn’t get the sense Horse wanted to be redeemed.
The last straw, however, was the portrayal of the meeting of the motorcycle club, in which there was a scene involving one of the club members going on a rant about how they were Reapers, and therefore not pussies. Maybe men in motorcycle clubs really talk that way. I don’t know, but the scene didn’t feel like genuine dialogue the characters would say. It felt like a nod to the female readership of the books: “Don’t worry, girls. This isn’t going to be one of those awful politically correct romances.” They were working so hard to be manly that I kind of expected them to burst into song.
(Possibly this says way more about me than it does the book, though.)
What I’ve learned from this experience: Next time I need someone to talk me off the buying ledge when I get tempted by something so clearly not for me. I wish readers who like motorcycle club romances joy of them. Me, I’m off to read something with a less douchey hero.