Title: The Devil’s Ride
Author: K.A. Merikan
Pages/Word Count: 370 Pages
At a Glance: Fast paced, a couple I loved, and drama of the escapist variety
Blurb: — You don’t fuck with the club president’s son. —
Tooth. Vice President of the Coffin Nails Motorcycle Club. On a neverending quest for vengeance. The last thing he needs is becoming a permanent babysitter for a male hooker.
Lucifer. Fallen. Lost. Alone.
After a childhood filled with neglect and abuse, followed by his mother’s suicide, Lucifer set out into the world alone. There was nothing for him out there other than taking it one day at a time. As the bastard son of the Coffin Nails club president, Lucifer never got much fatherly love. So when the Nails show up at the strip joint Lucifer works in, the last thing he expects is to be put in the custody of Tooth, the Nails Vice President famous for his gruesome interrogation techniques. The man proves to be the sexiest beast Lucifer has ever met. He’s also older, straight, and an itch Luci can’t ever scratch.
Tooth’s life came to a halt twelve years ago. His lover got brutally murdered, police never found the perpetrators, and all leads were dead ends. To find peace and his own justice, Tooth joined the Coffin Nails, but years on, he’s gotten nowhere with the case, yet still lives on with the burning fire for revenge.
Babysitting a deeply scarred teenager with a talent for disappearing is the last thing on his bucket list. He promised himself to never get attached to someone like him again. To make sure the openly gay boy is safe in the clubhouse, Tooth is stuck keeping an eye on him. The big, blue, attention seeking gaze is drawing Tooth in, but fucking the president’s son is a complete no-go, even when both their feelings go beyond lust.
What Tooth doesn’t know is that Lucifer might hold the key to the closure Tooth so desperately needs.
WARNING: Contains adult content: a gritty storyline, sex, explicit language, violence and abuse. Inappropriate use of dental tools and milk.
Review: When this book opens and the authors introduce Tooth as a burly and bearded biker, and the vice president of the motorcycle club the Coffin Nails, I have to admit the first thing I thought was that this guy is not at the top, or even at the bottom—he’s not even within spitting distance—of a list of men I’d find attractive. Shallow? Probably. Full-bearded just doesn’t do it for me, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t end up falling for him, and falling hard, before the end of this book.
The Devil’s Ride is K.A. Merikan’s second installment in the Sex & Mayhem series, but while it takes place within the motorcycle club setting, it is a standalone novel that has no connection whatsoever to The Road of No Return. I must say I found The Devil’s Ride not only to be far superior to the first in this series but is a book that, in spite of there still being issues with the copyediting, returns this writing duo to the unique and compelling team that brought me Stung, one of their best collaborations to date.
The characterizations of Tooth and Luci are what power this novel. While the authors may rely on the reliable trope of the older alpha dominant and the younger twink submissive, it works. Tooth’s and Lucifer’s pasts have brought them little but pain and heartbreak, so they’ve become adults that don’t trust easily. They hide their vulnerabilities behind a facade of bravado, or, in Tooth’s case, menace, but they work so well together because the authors didn’t define them by how soon and often they had sex. They took the time to build a bond and a friendship between Tooth and Luci first, and that time in exposition paid off both in terms of its realism as well as in the emotional connection to the characters. The sex, when it does happen, though, is well worth the wait.
Tooth’s brutality is never a question throughout the book. The saying an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is one he takes literally as the man who becomes confessor, judge and jury to anyone who crosses the Coffin Nails, or, for that matter, crosses him. He joined the Nails for one reason only—to avenge a dead lover who was the victim of a heinous crime (one I won’t be revealing here because it gives away too much of the storyline), but it’s his cold-blooded methodology and his dominant nature that both contrast and complement his relationship with Lucifer. Tooth has been in the closet for the more than ten years he’s been with the Nails, not by conscious choice but rather because no one has ever asked if he’s gay. He’s a great character and I loved watching him evolve with Luci, from friend and protector to lover and protector.
Lucifer is somewhat of a stereotype but one that works well juxtaposed with Tooth. Luci has been the victim, the runaway, the neglected son, the rentboy, but he is above all a survivor. He’s starved for family, craving positive attention, any attention, from Priest, his father, but Priest doesn’t know what to do with or how to behave around his beautiful, slightly androgynous gay son. When Luci falls under Tooth’s protection on Priest’s orders, he’s ready for the discipline and the security Tooth gives him. When Tooth opens up to Luci about his past, and, in turn, Luci opens up to Tooth about his own pain, the reader gets a very clear picture of how far Tooth will go to not only protect Luci but to bring justice in death to the man from the past who got none in life.
There’s a sort of Satanic overtone to the book that’s neither fleshed out nor taken seriously. Priest’s wife Dolly is a character that serves as a plot device. Though meant to intimidate, she merely comes off as the archetypical bitch, jealous and manipulative, used for little more than to play Luci’s foil and to emasculate Priest, but the meat of this story is the black market crime. Tooth is determined to find those involved and exact his own brand of punishment. Luci’s life happens to intersect with Tooth’s pursuit of revenge, and it was a great vehicle to drive the action in the plot and to bring Lucifer’s and Tooth’s lives together to a satisfying end.
Fast paced, a couple I loved, and drama of the escapist variety that kept the pages turning from start to finish makes The Devil’s Ride a book I’d recommend to those who enjoy an unconventional romance of the slightly twisted variety.
You can buy The Devil’s Ride here: