Reaper's Fall by Joanna Wylde
Series: Reapers MC #5
Published by Berkley
Published on November 10th 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
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He never meant to hurt her.
Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.
Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.
Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.
Mixed feelings for this one.
Painter is a member of the Reapers MC, and has appeared in previous books of this series. We met Melanie in the last book –Reaper’s Stand. She was the young girl looked after by Picnic’s old lady, London. She’s an absolute sweetheart, and even in that book she and Painter had a small flirtation going on. I was excited for their story, but the prologue of this book had me nervous from the very beginning.
When we first see the Painter and Melanie, they have been apart for a year. They have this really intense moment, then the story goes back to 5 years previously before they’re actually together – but knowing they’re going to get there only for it all to fall apart is pretty disheartening. I’ve read other books with a similar beginning, but something about this one felt strange, like I wasn’t sure they should be together … but more about that later.
The book officially starts with Painter about to be released from prison after two years for carrying out club business. The whole time he was locked away, he and Melanie exchanged letters and Painter dreamt of nothing but her (in very graphic detail!). Things are difficult when he gets out, he knows he’s not the right guy for Mel and he tries to keep his distance, but their chemistry is too intense and they can’t stay away from each other for too long.
“I need you, Mel. I need you way too much as a friend to risk it. I know I’ve done a truly shitty job trying to communicate with you about this, but if you had any idea how important you are to me…Christ, you’re one of the few things that kept me sane inside. Thinking about you, getting your letters. We gotta find a way, babe. We can’t do this.”
Painter really surprised me. He’s a tough-assed biker, but he has a big heart, and the way he fell for Melanie so quickly, being so keen to progress their relationship was unexpected – but beautifully swoony (and really freaking dirty!). But just as I’d find myself getting swept up in the romance, I’d remember that ominous prologue and it stopped me from getting too invested. So when the break eventually comes, yes, it’s sad, but it didn’t devastate me View Spoiler »though the scene where Melanie visits Painter in prison for the first time did make me tear up a wee bit « Hide Spoiler.
The story shifts a little bit after this, jumping in time and showing us Painter and Melanie apart but still in each other’s lives. It’s a weird dynamic – they are apart, but their chemistry still sizzles, and even though there was the odd scene that broke my heart, most of the time it’s funny, angry banter just waiting for the two of them to get their shit together.
“You ready to go home?” I asked.
“I’ve been ready to go home all night. I still hate you.”
“You need to find new insults. That’s getting old.”
Grinning, I climbed onto my bike. She climbed up behind me, tucking in tight and wrapping her arms around my waist, tits pressed against my back. For the first time in forever things in my world felt right, twisted as that sounds.
She was mine. She’d always be mine.
I admit I had a bit of trouble figuring these two out. Damn, Melanie sure can hold a grudge! There’s no doubt she went through a horrible time, and I could understand why she was angry, but I think it went on way too long.
“Are you ever going to forgive me?” he asked softly, catching my chin, forcing me to look at him. “Sometimes it feels like you hate me out of habit … Why does it always have to be a fight, Mel?”
But the main reason I struggled with this relationship is that I just can’t buy into a second chance romance when the hero is out screwing other women while waiting for the love of his life to come around! I know that he’s a biker, and that’s what bikers do, but come on!!! It’s sort of brushed over that he’s doing it, and strangely enough it wasn’t the reason that Melanie kept pushing him away, but to me it completely undermines the love story and I had a real problem with it.
But even though I had these issues, I still liked Painter and Melanie as characters. Both strong and feisty, they clash a lot, but they are explosive when they are together. Yes, they have their flaws, but I could see both of their points of view about how things were between them, and for that I really liked Wylde’s writing. The story is told in dual POV and I liked the way the book was written as if they are telling us their story – it’s heartfelt but funny as we get right inside of their heads.
By the time we reached town, I was still utterly resolved to keep my hands off her…but Taz was at her place, and I didn’t trust that asshole for shit. That’s why I took her back to my apartment instead…and you can shut right the fuck up about that.
I already know I’m a douche.
Things are also happening with the MC, and there’s a bit of action and some dangerous biker politics going down, and it ties in really well with Painter and Melanie’s story. We also get to see each of the couples that have featured in the series so far, as well as getting an intro to Gage and his story – which looks like it’s going to be really intense.
So yeah, I’m torn on this one. There were parts of it that I liked, but overall I wasn’t as invested as I wanted to be. Still an enjoyable read though.
Advanced Review Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.