Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin

Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he's ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission - even if he is one of the boss' top men. Plus, someone's placed a hit on him. And then there's that feisty little bartender who's going to cause him even more trouble.

Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies' man like Lucas - even if she can't keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she's forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are of getting hurt in more ways than one.

Series: Sons of Steel Row Series #1| Publisher: Tantor Audio | Narrators: Guy Locke , Monique Makena  | Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Won | Ratings: 4.5 Cups

Challenge Read For: Bad Boys of Romance

This has to be one of the best books that I’ve read/listened to for a while. It was such a rollercoaster ride and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Here’s what’s going on. Even though Lucas is out of prison, he knows—unless the boss man lets him go, which doesn’t look likely since his stint in prison earned him a promotion—he’ll never be a free man. He belongs to the Sons of Steel Row. Although things are starting to get complicated now that someone has put a price on his head. And to make matters worse, he’s now stuck with Heidi, the woman he rescued. The woman who makes him want to live a normal life. Even though Lucas keeps telling her he isn’t a hero, Heidi can see he’s a good man. A man she’s starting to fall for. But she knows there’s a chance that neither of the men will make it out alive unless she convinces Lucas to run.
I’m always up for a gritty bad boy romance, so I was delighted when I won audiobooks of the first two books in the Sons of Steel Row series. While I was expecting something dark and dangerous, I really wasn’t expecting everything this book threw at me, especially what happened at the end yet I found myself enjoying this one.
Lucas joined the Sons more or less out of necessity to provide for his mother and brother. For him, it was survival but he wants out, he wants to live a normal life. There’s a part where he’s watching normal people walk down the Freedom Trail and wants to be one of them. He wants to be a normal man with a wife and family but he knows that he belongs to the Sons of Steel Row and he knows that being that ‘normal man’ isn’t an option for him and, oh my goodness, there was so many feels in that scene. Lucas is also coming to terms with the feelings he has for Heidi. Even though he can feel himself falling in love with her, he’s fighting it because he feels as though his black soul is too dirty for her and he knows if he lets someone in, they become his weakness and he won’t be able to protect her. Then to make matters worse, it seems that Scotty, his brother—the boy he raised—is out to kill him. And Lucas know, if Scotty forces his hand, to protect Heidi, Lucas will have to kill his own his brother.
There’s a lot of emotional turmoil roiling around in Lucas and I felt every bit of it. And even though he had done some questionable things, he’s a good man and I was rooting for him to live the normal life he wanted.
I liked Heidi, but her story just didn’t grip me like Lucas’s. She grew up bouncing around from one foster home to another then ended up living on the streets until a bar owner showed her kindness and took her in. She cares about Lucas and sees him for the man he is rather than just one of the Sons. While I liked Heidi, she has a bit of a problem following orders and thinking things through before she does them. There was a few times she was bordering on being one of those TSTL characters, but I don’t think she was doing things because she didn’t realize something would happen to her, I think she was doing things because she grew up on the streets of Boston and that caused her to look at things differently.
The romance was okay. I liked watching Lucas and Heidi learn how to trust each other and let each other in, but the constant use of snarky remarks volleying back and forth between them started to grow a bit old. It was like watching a verbal sparring match. Yet, in a way, I understood why they were doing it. Heidi grew up pretty much relying only on herself and in Lucas’s world he knows that when you care about someone they become a target. So I do get why they put up the sparring match rather than just allow themselves to give into their feelings but I’m just not a fan of that constantly popping up because it gets annoying.
I found myself just as interested and invested in the secondary characters and I enjoy it when a book makes me want to know more about them.
So, there were a few twists along the way. MAJOR TWISTS. While I had an inkling about certain aspects I was never one-hundred percent certain, so when the big reveal came, it was enough to having me shouting a few curse words and a ‘say it isn’t so.  
This book truly brings that criminal underbelly to life not only with the edgy grittiness but with the mentality and actions of the characters. There’s a believability to the book that hooked me from the start.
This is the second book I’ve listened to with dual narration and I have to say I’m am really enjoying them. They add an extra depth to the book. While I was excited to start this one, I was a bit hesitant when I heard Guy Locke’s Southie accent. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to listen to half a book narrated with it, but I ended up loving it. It truly brought Lucas to like and after the first thirty minutes, I was starting to find it rather sext. Monique Makena’s narration of Heidi was a bit stale and robotic. I didn’t feel as though she connected with the character but rather was just reading words for the book.
This one was so close to being a 5-cup review. The only thing that brought it down was the fact there was so much snarky banter between Heidi and Lucas when they were fighting their feelings for each other.
Overall, I enjoyed this one. The reveal at the end left me more than a little growly and slightly hesitant yet eager to start the next book in the series.
Series Alert: While you could read each book as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend it. To get the full effect of the series, it needs to be read in order.

Sons of Steel Row Series

Dare to Lie


No comments: