The BookLikes companion to The Romance Evangelist (mharvey816.mh2.org).
Reviewer for Seductive Musings, Night Owl Reviews, and Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance.
I live for the HEA/HFN and am decidedly pro-epilogue.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.
Thanks to the success of television shows like Sons of Anarchy, one of the big new trends in romance is the Motorcycle Club romantic suspense novel. In these books, the MC provides the structure and context for whatever sort of havoc may occur as the hero (usually a member of the club) and heroine (who may or may not be an innocent civilian) find true love. I’ve only read a few of these books so far, but unfortunately VIPERS RUN was only a so-so read for reasons almost entirely unrelated to this particular trope.
The book begins with an introduction to Calla, who has always felt split between two worlds without being a full member of either one. Her father is an extremely rich and powerful man, but her mother forced him to stay away, preferring the company of low-lifes who only brought pain. It was only after Calla had suffered her own victimization by a man she should not have trusted that her father entered her life, but now eight years later, Calla is still barely scraping by as receptionist to a slightly shady but kindly private investigator. When her boss leaves behind his cell phone one fateful morning, the call that comes in is one she’ll never forget. And when that call forces Calla’s journey to the doorstep of a man she’s never met, what happens next will change her life forever.
Cage is the voice on the phone and the man who will soon claim Calla as his own. He went rogue on the Vipers six months back and now that impulsive act has left him dying on the floor of a parking garage. But it’s Calla who keeps him talking on the phone when all he wants to do is curl up and die, and it’s Calla who will eventually redirect him away from suicidal revenge against the evil Heathens MC trying to destroy Skulls Creek. But can Calla and Cage really live happily ever after in the face of all that threatens them?
As you can see from what I’ve written here so far, there is a whole lot going on in VIPERS RUN even without the additional need to set up the world for this new series. What made reading this book difficult for me, in spite of a hero and heroine that I genuinely liked, were all the machinations required to get from the nearly implausible start to the somewhat improbable finish, not the least of which was how the romance part of the story begins. I tend to take a charitable view of “insta-lust” and “insta-love” in romances, but I simply could not wrap my head around the notion of two people falling in love from a single telephone call, albeit one as emotionally charged as theirs was. Another plot maneuver involved characters who had previously remained off-screen suddenly appearing in ways that were clearly meant to serve the predetermined outcome, if not its actual credibility. Then when the final two major conflicts played out within the last few pages of the story, each was resolved far too easily with actions that were told, rather than shown.
There were a few other continuing issues I had with VIPERS RUN as I struggled to get to its end. Although Calla and Cage move quickly to a sexual relationship, there is never any reference, not even in passing, to their use of any protection against unintended pregnancy or STDs. This notable absence grated on me even more when Cage made a point of sneering at the other evil MC for heedlessly “breeding” their women. There was also an excessive amount of switching between Calla’s first person POV, Cage’s third person POV, and a late addition of yet another character’s third person POV. All that head-hopping, including an occasional slip from third to first person in mid-paragraph, often made it difficult to keep track of who was telling the story and where.
So if I had all these problems with VIPERS RUN, then why am I giving it 3 stars? Because as I mentioned before, the hero and heroine were a couple I really did like, in spite of how they’d found each other. Calla never veered into Too Stupid To Live territory, and Cage was able to balance his need to claim her with the reality of how his chosen life would impact hers. And what I got to see of the Vipers’ world, I found interesting and convincing. But in the end, VIPERS RUN was simply not the right book for me, and I’ll likely pass on the rest of the Skulls Creek series.
Sensuality level: 3.5