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Group Review: Riding Dirty by Jill Sorenson

Publisher: HQN
How did you get the book: e-ARC from author
Release date: Out now

He’s her weapon of choice…

riding dirty coverPsychologist Mia Richards wants revenge. Her new client, tattooed Cole “Shank” Shepherd, provides the perfect means. She just has to manipulate the felon-turned-informant into eliminating her husband’s killers—members of Cole’s rival motorcycle club. The first step, seducing Cole, is simple. As for walking away before she falls hard—it’s already too late.…

Dirty Eleven practically raised Cole, and he plans to double-cross the cops rather than sell them out. But smart, sexy Mia is an irresistible distraction. While she’s evaluating his mind, all he can think about is her body until he discovers her true intentions. Walking a fine line between desire and betrayal, they’ll have to outrun her past, his enemies and the law for a love that’s dangerously real.

*blurb taken from goodreads*

Thoughts on heroine

Lou: I really enjoyed the character of Mia, and that’s down to Jill Sorenson’s exceptional writing. Usually when I see a character potentially ruin their career to get involved with a client, my eyes bug out and I get a disapproval look on my face. But Mia understood what she was doing; she knew the risks; and she went full steam ahead knowing that seducing and using Cole for her revenge would not end well for her. I really did like Mia’s character, and I loved that even when she realised that her revenge plot for Cole might end badly for him, she thought through the consequences and came to a conclusion that I thought was the right choice. Mia loved her husband, and I’m so glad there wasn’t any “I loved my husband but you’re my REAL hero” bullshit that sometimes occurs. Mia was devastated after his murder and she doesn’t put him second best to Cole.

MinnChica: While I really liked Mia, the ethical implications of her decision really bugged me. I was a psychology major in college, who went (VERY briefly) into the wide world of counseling. It was a hard job, and I commend the people who can do it day in and day out, but the ethical implications of what Mia did just drove me absolutely bonkers. I’m sure it’s how nurses, lawyers, and firefighters feel when they read books with the hero or heroine in their chosen profession. That being said, looking past my extreme dislike for that whole aspect of Mia’s personality, I did enjoy her determination and strength to continue with her mission.

Has: I also liked Mia and while she did embark on several unethical decisions, with the aim to use her position to set up a trap for her husband’s killers, I did think this brought out an interesting dynamic to the plot. I was also sympathetic to her plight, especially dealing with the aftermath of her attack and the murder of her husband. Mia’s scenes with Cole was also intriguing and I found their scenes together really absorbing because it was full of compelling insights into their characters as well as building up delicious tension. Mia also felt very real to me as a protagonist and I loved how Sorenson builds up her character over the course of the story which was memorable and realistic.

Thoughts on hero

Lou: I enjoyed Cole; yes he was a criminal; yes he was put in jail for the crimes he actually committed. But there was no glorification of the crimes he committed. I did like Cole as he was who he was; he makes no excuses but there is regret for what he believes he can’t achieve in his life because of his past and because of the MC life. Cole is atypical of MC heroes but Sorenson made her MC gang have a code. And the code was there is no violence or attacks on women, which when you think of it is so magnanimous of the club (we all know MC characters in books treat women like shit) but this is my sarcasm coming through about my issues with MC books and has no bearing on Sorenson’s book as I felt respect for women was instilled in this book and I was like YAY. One of my issue with Cole, though, was how he was so open to Mia in the beginning. I find it hard to believe that a criminal biker man who was just released from prison would be so open and forthright with his emotions to a complete stranger, never mind a psychologist.

MinnChica: I adored Cole. Sure, he wasn’t exactly a nice guy, but he had such a good heart. He didn’t wallow in the crimes he committed, but he wasn’t proud of them either. He lived the only life he knew, and did what he could to get by. I respected the fact that he and his brothers had their code about bringing no harm to women and children, and can only hope that their club continues to live up to that standard as the series progresses. I do have to agree with Lou though, Cole being so open toward Mia was a bit surprising, especially since he was required to go see her as a condition of his release.

Has: I agree with you both about Cole, although I could see why he would be so open because Mia because was the kind of character who could see into him as well being very insightful. I also felt that despite Cole’s tough exterior he was pretty vulnerable, which Mia represented because she enabled him to be intimate with her which was something he really needed. I also found it refreshing to see this code with the MC club with their views on women. It was a nice change compared to a lot of books in this genre. However, I actually found this book much more authentic and grittier compared to a lot of MC books which had an element of romanticizing or glorifying the life of an MC member. There were dark issues which Sorenson didn’t shy away, but I liked that there was real repercussions from the mistakes Cole made. Despite his past, I loved that Cole was honorable and loyal, especially towards the people he loved. He had flaws that made him very believable and great hero material for me.

Favourite scene

Lou: Some of my favourite scenes happen before the halfway of the book, where the sexual tension and anticipation between Cole and Mia was scorching. I loved their interaction, and I loved how Mia started to come alive again with Cole, and sow sexually powerful she became. It was pretty hawt.

MinnChica: This is a tough one for me, because there was so much to like!! I have to agree with Lou though, pretty much the whole first half was a case of sizzling sexual tension between Cole and Mia that was HOT HOT HOT!

Has: Ditto to above! I think Jill Sorenson did a fabulous job in setting up the sexual tension between Cole and Mia which was pretty scorching hot to read. I loved the scene when they finally had their real, little date which led to one of the best love scenes I’ve read in awhile!

Dislike

Lou: This is where a dislike of the book comes in, which saddens me because I adored the first half. The second half of the book Mia I feels loses some of her character, and it didn’t feel like natural part of the story.

Spoiler: Highlight below

 

Mia engages with a threesome with another women with Cole. It was done so trouble would be averted with Cole and the gang member that attacked Mia but instead of finding it sexy, I found the threesome to be unplaced. Mia was high on weed and she was absolutely drunk on cheap boozes. The scene itself wasn’t sexy and it felt like a dirty interlude that Mia would never have done if she wasn’t drunk. I thought to myself if Mia wanted to explore a one night with a woman, why not do it when she’s not off her rocker? Why not do it so it’s not part of an excuse but to really experiment and enjoy herself. Make it sexy. Make it a part of her sexuality that she wants to explore. Cole semi-partook in the threesome but he wasn’t happy afterwards because there was some jealousy afterwards and they promise each other not to share again.

 

End of spoiler.

I also wasn’t keen on the ending. It felt anticlimactic and I thought there was too much exposition about what happens after the events of the incident with Cole’s Uncle, and the other members of their rival gang.

MinnChica: I agree that the ending could have used a little more time to develop. The entire book had a wonderful and intricate mystery plot surrounding Mia’s late husband as well as Cole’s brother’s death. It was suspenseful and Sorenson did an amazing job keeping us at the end of our seats. However, the ending felt a little anti-climatic after all was revealed. I think I needed a few more pages to flush everything out and have the characters get used to the twists and turns that the end provided.

Has: I didn’t have any real issues although I agree with that spoiler scene that Lou highlighted above was a bit out of the blue. However, I did think it was realistic with the way it was set out and the awkward aftermath, but I would have liked a better set up to towards that scene.

Misc thoughts and final grade

Lou: All in all, I think Jill Sorenson has an awesome premise to a MC biker romance series. I was super excited to see Ace and I was like, OMG, that’s the dude from the book I reviewed previously in Badlands. MOAR please. I want moar of him. I also liked the suspense part but I felt it was all rushed in the latter half and I wanted to see what happened with Cole’s Uncle. I think Riding Dirty has echoes of the type of angst that appears in MC books (I did think Cole and what happened with his Aunt was all types of screwed up) and I will definitely pick up the next book in the series. For me, the first half was stronger than the second half, and the romance kinda dwindled in the second half, especially after that scene which I mentioned above in the spoiler.

I give Riding Dirty a C+ for the second half and a solid B for the first.

MinnChica: All in all, I think Sorenson has a great first book to an intriguing new series on her hands. The story line is DARK and gritty, and not her usual style. However, fans of over-the-top MC romance books will absolutely enjoy this one as Sorenson doesn’t hold back any punches. While I had a few problems with this book, overall it was really well executed and left me anxious for MORE!

I give Riding Dirty a C+

Has: I tend to be more picky with MC romance books because there are only a handful of authors who can carry this premise off. But you can add Jill Sorenson to that list of authors because she certainly kickstarted an appealing and fascinating world of characters in this series. I loved the gritty and somber tone of Riding Dirty which was fitting with the subject matter the characters had to experience. I loved the contrast with the romance, which was a beacon of hope and light in a gritty world. I liked that Sorenson covers dark issues with realism and a poignancy that got me sucked into the story. I will certainly pick up the sequel because this book had me at hello!

I give Riding Dirty a B-

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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