by Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: June 30, 2015
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 thought Ride Steady would be your typical high school princess shacking up with the bad-boy from the wrong side of the tracks. However, that’s not what this story was at all. In fact, even though Carissa was little miss popular in school, she gained that status because of who her boyfriend was. She got married to said boyfriend, got pregnant, and then found herself and her child homeless when he kicked her out of his life to make room for his mistress. To say she’s down on her luck is an understatement. Meanwhile, we have Joker who did not grow up in a loving home. His mom left him when he was still a baby, his father beat him profusely, and his only form of escape was to go to one of his two neighbors houses or to go to the town’s motorcycle club’s garage and draw in his sketch book. Except one night he’s had enough of his father’s beatings, fights back, and takes off. Now, almost a decade later, he’s back in town, now part of the brotherhood of the motorcycle club he’d long to be part of, and has a chance encounter with the popular girl who had stolen his attention all those years ago.
I have to be honest, I read the first book in the series and it just wasn’t my thing. I could not get into it for some reason and was unable to connect with the characters. However, Ride Steady had something about it that made me give it a try, and I’m glad I did. This isn’t really a second chance romance. It’s not even a good girl meets bad-boy romance. I mean, Carissa is divorced, fighting tooth and nail to keep her son from her ex-husband who’s using his family’s name to drag Carissa through the mud and take full custody of their son. She’s broke, living in a crappy apartment in a shady neighborhood, and she is just barely scraping by. So, she’s clearly not the clean and crisp good-girl that you imagine when you think of a motorcycle club romance.
Joker had a rough upbringing which has ultimately shaped him into the man he is today. He doesn’t take crap from anyone. No one messes with him because no one knows how lethal he is. He keeps to himself and doesn’t let anyone in. However, when he stops along the interstate to help a mother and her child who are stranded on the side of the highway with a flat tire, things shift. Standing before him is the girl who stole his heart all those years ago, except she doesn’t recognize him. Even when she shows up later at the garage to thank him for his help and to drop her vehicle off to be fixed, he tries to keep her at a distance. But, she manages to weasel her way into his life and pretty soon you start to see some major changes with Joker. He goes from this dark and broody character to a guy who picks up her kid, let’s him tug on his hair and beard, and doesn’t say a word about it. Seeing that change in him really pulls on your heartstrings when you know how much he’s endured in life.
Carissa was a good balance to Joker’s darkness. He nicknames her “Butterfly” due to the outfit she wore when she came by the shop on the first day to thank him. She was all pink, frilly, and girly with butterflies on her outfit. Even though life was clearly knocking her down at the time, she took the time to dress up and do something nice for someone else because they had done something nice for her. She was one of those characters that would give you the shirt off her back. She was very kind and gentle and she was perfect for Joker. Plus, Joker was perfect for her. He didn’t balk at her kid, the fact that her ex-husband was screwing with her head, or that she was clearly not in a stable place in life. Instead, he was her rock through it all. He was always there to lift her up and helped her put everything into perspective so that she could bounce back.
One thing that did bother me a bit was the dialogue. Apparently no one in the book knows what a pronoun is. I can usually read between the lines but there were times that I had to read a sentence a couple times in order to figure out what they were saying. I get that the author was going for a certain feel but it just drove me a little nuts at times.
You know, I wasn’t a fan of the first book in the series, but I definitely enjoyed Ride Steady. Maybe I will go back and revisit Own the Wind and see if my thoughts on it have changed.
“We all fall on hard times,” he said quietly, removing his fist from my chin. “It’s just lucky for you that you fell in the right direction.”