Thursday, August 31, 2017

Vipers Run - Stephanie Tyler (Signet - July 2014)

Series: Skulls Creek (Book 1)

The Vipers Motorcycle Club has strict rules for their brotherhood and the women who enter it. Now one Viper is about to find out how much trouble one woman can be...

Former Army Ranger Christian Cage Owens joined the Vipers Motorcycle Club for its sense of brotherhood. In return, he pledged to live outside the law, protecting club members and their families, as well as keeping other MCs out of Skulls Creek. But when Cage discovers that a rival MC -- one Cage has an all too familiar past with -- plans to push meth into his town, he calls an old Army buddy turned private investigator who’s helped the Vipers in the past. By doing so, Cage endangers both his friend and Calla Benson, a woman who works in the PI’s office. Now he’s made it his mission to track Calla down and do whatever it takes to protect her.

Thanks to the phone call with Cage, Calla knows she’s formed a deep connection to a dangerous man. She quickly discovers that although he may live by a different set of rules, Cage is an honorable man who wants to be more than her protector -- if only she can accept his dangerous lifestyle. But Calla comes to Skulls Creek with her own set of secrets...secrets that threaten to tear her and Cage -- and the Vipers MC -- apart. As they put their newfound love to the ultimate test, Cage will risk everything he cares about to save her...

Okay book with plenty of action and suspense and a romance that was a bit of a stretch. It opens with Calla, who works for a PI, taking a phone call from a dying man. Their conversation touches something deep inside her, and she mourns for the man. He had also given her some information that ends up putting her in the crosshairs of danger. Her boss sends her away just in time to save her life, counting on an Army buddy to keep her safe. She's stunned when the man on the other end of the phone shows up alive and determined to protect her. Cage is in the midst of a quest to take down another motorcycle club. He had been close to death when he called his friend and got Calla instead. Talking to her gave him the will to hang on until help arrived. Now he's determined to protect her from the danger he caused for her.

I understood Calla's need to mourn the man on the other end of the phone. The conversation they'd had was short but intense. I thought that her conviction that she loved him was a little far-fetched. However, I completely understood her anger when he showed up alive, and no one had bothered to let her know. Cage is slightly apologetic but adamant that he'd done the right thing. Now he's determined to take her to a place where he can ensure her safety - the home of the Vipers motorcycle club.

There was plenty of action as the Vipers are determined to keep a rival club from moving in a selling drugs in their territory. Cage has an even more personal stake in the fight, as the other club is run by his father and brother. They are determined to take Cage down for having the audacity to leave their club when he was younger. Blaming them for his mother and sister's deaths, Cage has acquired evidence that will send them to prison. Cage has also taken on the role of protector and avenger for Calla, who was assaulted as a teenager and is still being threatened by the man who did it. There are twists and turns and a surprising connection between the two missions. There are several satisfying confrontations before the final resolution. The final confrontation was intense as Calla was taken captive. I did rather like the immediate justice that was meted out to the kidnapper.

The relationship between Calla and Cage was an intense one. I felt that it began more with lust than with love, but the feelings between them did grow to be more. In spite of her assault when she was younger, Calla feels safe with Cage. She's a little leery at first, being thrown into the MC environment, but she adapts pretty well. Cage is stunned by the speed with which he develops feelings for Calla. I liked that they were able to share so much of their pasts and fears with each other, and it was that which made their romance more believable. I did like the ending, as they were honest with each other about their expectations moving forward.

I enjoyed the other characters, mostly members of the MC. Preach was especially fascinating and I liked the control he had over the club and their actions. He's also much more caring than the tough guy exterior would indicate, which really showed after the tattoo shop incident. The scene with Calla, Rocco and the cop had me laughing out loud.

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