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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Behind Blue Eyes (Hell's Vipers #2) by Jordan Abbott

The pairing of IR and motorcycle club or MC romance is still fairly new. There are just a handful of them that come to the top of my head and the ones that I've read haven't been all that great in my honest opinion. That said, if you are an IR fan and MC romances are your thing, then Jordan Abbott is at the top of the game. Before I start this review, I need to throw a few warnings out there. Behind Blue Eyes isn't for everybody. The sex between the main characters isn't sweet or romantic. Some of the ways that Nuke treats Jasmine may be offensive to female readers (although the heroine of the story definitely isn't complaining!). In fact, the way in which women are treated in general might not sit well with some readers. Honestly, I had a few "hell. no." moments in there myself. The one scene that almost made me put the book down got me thinking... I had to keep it in perspective. This is an MC book. It's supposed to be dangerous and gritty and portray a lifestyle that is different than my own. The author herself warns that this isn't The Notebook style romance. This is why I'm reading the darn thing! So my warning is to start reading this with an open mind. You'll get a great story featuring a couple
that loves each other deeply, but beware! Your sensibilities and personal boundaries of what's acceptable might be tested.

Before reading this book it is best to read You Belong to Me: Hells Vipers, Book One. This will give you background on how Nuke and Jasmine met, their personalities, and on important supporting characters that will hopefully have their own book soon (yes, Jordan Abbott I'm talking about Pipe!). This is a continuation of that first book with Nuke and Jasmine now a married couple. In the story Nuke's estranged brother suddenly appears bringing trouble with him. Nuke has zero relationship with his shifty brother and doesn't trust him. So when he asks for help, Nuke and the rest of his crew know that nothing good can come of it. Another main theme of the story is Nuke's fear that Jasmine will leave him somehow, and his awareness that he won't be able to let her go if she should try. There's also more story about Pipe and Kevin, Nuke's best friends and fellow members of the Hell's Vipers, and the emotional dilemmas that they finds themselves in.

What's Nuke's brother up to and can Nuke stay out of his drama? Will Nuke and Jasmine survive as a couple or will his fears be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The Good: The story! A lot happens here and I don't want to give anything away. I'll just say that there is a lot of well told story and plenty of it can easily transition into future books. I was somewhat neutral about Jasmine in the first book, but I really liked the character that she is in this one. When it comes to Nuke she's ride or die, but she's no dummy. She won't hesitate to put herself first if Nuke should ever forget himself and attempt to hurt her. Jasmine stating what she won't take from Nuke if he acts out in anger was important because of the nature of their relationship and the way that it may come off for some readers. This lets us know without a doubt that what they do sexually is her choice, even though as a reader I just couldn't when it came to some of their sex play and what turns them on.

It was great to see that Nuke really is crazy. I admit, that sounds crazy, but it adds so much more potential to the story. He says he's crazy, everyone around him says it, and as a reader I was able to get a glimpse of it. Yes, he is nuts and not in a sweet, cute way. He's a dangerous sort of nuts and call me crazy but I loved it. It's one of the things that makes him such a great character. He's a rabid dog and Jasmine is his bone. That dog is not about to let anything happen to her. He's not going to lose her. For all of the love that I have for this crazy, imperfect character I'm kind of scared of what he's capable of when it comes to Jasmine. This is a dangerous love that leaves you feeling a bit uncomfortable because it's so obsessive too. Great character!

We also get a lot of what's going on with Pipe. I've got enough love to spread around, so I'm sending some Pipe's way. We get to see a lot more of who he is and we learn that he has a dilemma that he feels does not bode well for anyone. I'm happy that he's a lot more complex than he came off in book one and I'm hoping that he eventually ends up in a relationship with Jasmine's friend who he's already brushed off because of her weight. There is also a great deal of camaraderie between Nuke, Pipe and Kevin (whose dealing with all of the bad feelings about what went down with Cindy in book #1.). These guys are true friends and the author conveys this nicely.

The Bad: The men in this book have very little true respect for women. I get it. This is a MC romance and women in that world have their place in the order of things. That didn't make it comfortable for me as a reader. There are some serious borderline-hate issues going on and the disrespect was just too much in some instances. Again no spoilers, but it's obvious when you read it. I wouldn't be me if I don't point out the fail that is the cover art. When I received my review copy the author pointed this out to me and let me know it wasn't her choice. That said, I hope it is changed as Jasmine is not fairly represented as a black woman on the current cover.

My Final Thoughts
Behind Blue Eyes was a very entertaining book that hooked me from page one. As previously noted, I highly recommend reading the first book in the series because there's a lot going on and there's some history that's important to the Behind Blue Eyes story. Despite my feelings about certain scenes in the book, I did enjoy it a lot and look forward to future books. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good MC romance and who doesn't mind reading a romance where the main sexual relationship is far from vanilla.
This would be a 5 star read for me, but honestly, the one scene between Jasmine and Nuke slapped me out of the story for a minute. I'm giving Behind Blue Eyes a 4 out of 5 rating.

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