RIDE STEADY by Kristen Ashley (June 30, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Chaos #3)
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 . . .
I could read only Kristen Ashley books and be very happy. RIDE STEADY is another slam-dunk winner from the Queen of Alphas, with a story that ripped my heart out and characters that I won’t soon forget. Joker might be one Ms. Ashley’s most unforgettable Alphas ever, a man who rose from a painful and loveless childhood to become a patched-in Brother of the Chaos MC. Chaos became his family, and the MC recognized the fire burning in Joker that would serve the club well.
“He was at the shop window, empty pockets, face pressed to the glass, starin’ at what he wanted but couldn’t have. I’ll wager, to survive, he’s banked that fire. We gotta help him direct it and make sure if it flares bright, it doesn’t burn him out.”
Carissa Teodoro’s life becomes entwined with Joker’s, as the two former high school classmates meet again years later. Let me just say that this book is so incredibly gripping and heartbreaking and sexy, that I am tempted to re-read it to experience these feelings all over again! She was once the golden girl who had it all, and he was the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Their story spans years and that is what I love about Ms. Ashley’s writing: there is no Insta-love here, instead, our hero and heroine have a shared history that adds a depth and richness to this book.
“Yeah, Carrie,” he answered. “It’s you. It’s always been you. It’ll always be you. Fuckin’ always.”
Joker is a sexy, bad-ass Alpha biker that has zero interest in relationships, or in real friendships for that matter, since he has a hard time opening up to anyone about his feelings or his past. That is what makes his relationship with Carrie so poignant: this is a man who is so closed off and afraid of emotional bonds that he has been alone (and lonely) most of his life.
Carrie draws his out just by being herself. She is going through a messy and painful divorce, has a baby, is struggling to make ends meet and has a ton of emotional baggage. She is not perfect but she is open to love and gives her heart unconditionally to Joker.
“Rule,” he stated instantaneously.
His strange word made me blink at the lockers. “Sorry?”
“Rule. You can’t be like that on the phone. You can only be like that when I can kiss you.”
I lifted a hand and pressed it to the cold steel of my locker, leaning into it because my knees suddenly wouldn’t support me.
“You hear me?” he asked. “Yes, Joker.”
OH. EM. GEE!! *SWOON* I can’t say enough about Ride Steady. Plus some of my favorite bad-ass Alphas from Ms. Ashley’s other books make appearances here! Dead. There is also a sneak peek at the next Chaos book at the end of Ride Steady and it sounds amazing. Joker and Carissa’s story is beautiful, thrilling and passionate. Ride Steady is a must-read!
“Butterfly, you’re cute all the time, cuter some times more than others, and it’s fucked up because right now you’re bein’ a pain in the ass and this is one of those times that you’re cuter. But you gotta get this so you can get over it. My old man doesn’t exist for me. I left him and that life behind, and I don’t want it back in any way it can come back.”
“We are who cares about us.”
(ARC provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.)
“Yo!” I heard Snapper call and I looked to him to see he was looking beyond me. I turned around and saw Tabby was heading toward me and Snapper. “I’m takin’ Carissa out on my bike. You wanna look after her purse or put it in Shy’s room or somethin’?”
At his request, Tabby’s gaze immediately cut to the pool tables. When she took them in, for some reason, her face got hard before she softened it and looked back toward us.
“Not a problem,” she said, stopping at us. “Go. Ride.”
“Never been on a bike,” I told her and her face split in a big smile.
“Then go. Ride.” She leaned in to me. “Beware, wind in your hair, moon on your skin, you’ll fall in love.”
I wasn’t sure that was a good thing. I’d fallen in love with something I couldn’t have, and if I fell in love with the wind in my hair and the moon on my skin, without someone to give that to me, I couldn’t have that either.
But to heck with it.
Maybe this would be the only bike ride I’d I’d have in my life.
And maybe the kiss Joker gave me was the only fabulous kiss I’d ever get.
And maybe my dream of having a family or the other dream of getting behind the steel guarding Joker’s eyes was lost to me.
But I was still breathing.
So I’d take what I could get.
Tabby put her hand on my purse, which was lying on the bar. “Got this. Have fun.”
“Thanks,” I whispered.
She winked at me.
I looked to Snapper. “Let’s go.”
“Meet you at the end of the bar, babe.”
“Right!” I chirped, jumped off my stool, threw Tabby a smile, nabbed my jacket that I was sitting on and bounced to the end of the bar.
When I got there, Snapper had pulled on his leather jacket. He grabbed my hand and guided me out the door and to his bike. Then he got on his bike before instructing me on how to do the same.
The bike roared, he backed out on an angle, and we glided over the tarmac of Ride.
He pulled out onto Broadway and I got it.
The wind in my hair.
The moon on my skin.
The leather of his jacket in my nostrils.
The solidness of him under my hands at his waist.
We got close to the onramp of I‑25 and he shouted, “Hold on!”
“Sorry?” I shouted back.
“Hold on!” he yelled, taking one hand off the grip and using it to pull my hand from his waist and around to his stomach.
He put his hand back on the grip and we turned up the ramp, going faster, faster, faster, the wind whipping my hair and biting into my skin. I curved my other arm around him, put my chin to his shoulder, drew in air and leather, and I got it.
That it being why this was the life for a biker.
No encumbrances. You wanted to smoke pot, you smoked it. You wanted to wear a tube top, you wore it. You wanted to drink shots, you drank them. You wanted to make out hot and heavy on a couch in a room filled with people, you did it.
You wanted to live, you lived.
You wanted to be free, you got on your bike and rode in the moonlight.
You did not drink martinis you didn’t like. You did not take a job your mother‑in‑law thought you should have. You did not take guff from your ex, not ever.
You did what you wanted.
You were free.
In all that was happening to me, all that I was feeling, all the disappointment of that night and the bizarre devastation I felt that the first time this happened, me on the back of a bike, I would have preferred it be with Joker . . . right then, for that moment, I let it all go.
I let it go, held on to Snapper and I let myself feel it.
Feel something rare and beautiful and overwhelming.
Feel something I knew for certain I hadn’t felt in my whole life.
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About Kristen Ashley:
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.
Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.
And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.