Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ride Steady (Chaos #3) by Kristen Ashley: Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


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 . . .

Click to Buy The Chaos Series on Amazon:

Review by Yvette:

Kristen Ashley has created a fair amount of memorable heroes – heroes that are tall, dark, and silent, and heroes that command your full attention with their straight-talking, no-nonsense, larger-than-life personas. So when I say that Carson “Joker” Steele, the male protagonist in her newest release, Ride Steady, is my favorite out of all of her heroes, you have some idea of exactly how much I love his character. While there are a number of reasons that Ride Steady is an unforgettable 6 Star read, the main draw for me is Joker’s character, whose ultimate transformation is heartbreaking yet incredibly beautiful to witness. The fact that Joker is a member of the Chaos Motorcycle Club is an important aspect of his character and, while read MC romances aren’t my typical cup of tea, Kristen Ashley made me not only love Ride Steady, but wish for more of this fictional world built around these characters.

What’s unique about Ride Steady in comparison to other books by Kristen Ashley is its incorporation of the backstories of both of the main characters, intertwining the lives of Joker and fellow protagonist, Carissa Teodoro, from a young age. The authors’ heroes are typically tight-lipped and mysterious, which is why it is so refreshing to be given so much insight into Joker’s mind via alternating perspectives. The fact that we get to see so much of Joker’s and Carissa’s past made me even more invested in their present, especially considering the anguish and turmoil they had to experience individually before meeting again as adults. Ride Steady is a story about second chances, bringing together the unlikely pair of a rough-around-the-edges biker and a former homecoming queen-turned single mom. Joker’s wild-haired, tattooed appearance may have been intimidating, but his gentle and kind-hearted persona is exactly what Carissa needs to regain her confidence build a better life for her and her son.

Kristen Ashley has this magical quality about her writing that always makes me feel as if my heart is full to bursting with a variety of emotions – happiness, despair, hope, fear, and so on and so on. My eyes would mist over one moment and the next I’d be grinning so widely, my cheeks would start to ache. I think the reason Ride Steady was so successful in tugging on my heartstrings was because of the strong connection forged between these characters. Growing up without a complete family unit makes both Joker and Carissa appreciate the one they’ve built for themselves all the more and I loved getting to see the unfiltered moments of vulnerability during which they expressed this appreciation. It might seem strange to describe an MC romance as sweet but that’s exactly what this book is.

Ride Steady is my idea of a perfect book with a captivating storyline, beautiful writing, a heartwarming romance, and characters that come roaring to life in the book's pages. It is perfection from start to finish, with my feelings toward Joker and Carissa varying from friendly affection to the I-can't-take-much-more-of-this-before-my-heart-melts type of love. I tend to make a habit of forging deep emotional connections with Kristen Ashley's protagonists because, in the time it takes me to finish her books, I've laughed with them, cried with them, and rooted for their happy endings. For all of the aforementioned reasons and more, Joker and Carissa are truly memorable additions to not only the Chaos series, but to her entire collection of books. If you're looking for a biker gang book with violence, bloodshed, and guys who think nothing of cheating on their women, you’ll need to check elsewhere. If, however, you're in the mood for a book with the MC feel, with hints of danger and suspense, and a strong familial bond between men who know how to respect the women they love, do yourself a favor and pick up Ride Steady.

*complimentary copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 6 Stars

About Kristen Ashley:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but 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 multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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“What now?” he clipped, planting his hands on his hips.

I watched him do this.

His knuckles were all scabbed. But his fingers were long, not graceful, but handsome. They were a working man’s hands. They’d be rough. I could even see grease stains around the nail beds.

Something about that caused something to happen inside me.

My focus shifted from his hands to his crotch. His jeans were faded. The area around his crotch more faded.

Up I went to a black belt with silver rivets in it that had seen some wear, the length beyond the clasp dangling from a belt loop to the side in a supple way, the leather not close to stiff.

Up his flat belly to his wide chest and broad shoulders and bulging arms.

And up to his long black hair that looked thick, messy, had a lot of wave and brushed his shoulders. His beard wasn’t bushy, it was trimmed, but it was about two days away from being unkempt.

He was tall.

He was annoyed.

I felt the latter because he was the kind of man whose mood altered a room and I understood this because I was right then experiencing it. But I also knew it wasn’t just that or that we were the only ones in the room and having the conversation that was making him annoyed so of course I’d be feeling it.

It was him. He had that kind of power behind his personality.

I shifted my eyes to his.

Steel. A strange flat color that seemed impenetrable.

And suddenly I had a new dream. One that didn’t involve motherhood, cookies, doing laundry, and being a soccer mom.

One that centered around penetrating the impenetrable.

“So? What?” he prompted irately.

At his words, I flew across the room.

He had the chance to go back on a boot but that was all he had before my body slammed into his, my hands went to either side of his head and I lifted up on tiptoe as I yanked him down.

Then I pressed my lips hard against his.

A breath later, something strange happened.

Strange and wondrous.

His arms closed around me, and if I could think of anything, I’d worry about the state of my ribs.

But I couldn’t think of anything because his tongue spiked into my mouth and my world changed.

My entire world.

I didn’t have a dead sister.

I didn’t have a dead mother.

I didn’t have a lonely father looking after his mother, who was addled with Alzheimer’s disease.

I didn’t have an ex‑husband, who I once loved who I thought would cherish and protect me and help me build my dream, but now was making my life a misery and trying to take my son away from me.

I had this.

All of it. All the biker named Joker gave me by holding me so tight it was a pain that hurt so good and who was invading my mouth with his tongue in a way that stated clearly he could do it for a lifetime and never get enough.

My hands left his head so I could curve my arms around his shoulders as I pressed closer.

In return, one of his hands slid up my spine. He pulled out my ponytail holder and drove his fingers into my hair, cupping the back of my head, tilting it one way while he slanted his the other. He deepened the kiss in an intoxicating way while his other hand glided down and cupped one cheek of my behind.

That felt good.

He shuffled me back.

I went with him.

We kept kissing.

Then he turned quickly and we were falling.

Then he turned quickly and we were falling.

He landed on his back on the bed. I landed on him but barely had the opportunity to experience the dizzying beauty of the long length of his hard frame under mine before I was given more beauty when he rolled me and I had the weight of his hard frame pressing mine into the bed.

His hand left my bottom and went up, fingers yanking at my navy LeLane’s polo shirt, pulling it from my khakis, and then I had its heat, skin against skin.

I was right.

His hands were rough.

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