PN3448.H4 → Review: Reaper's Legacy by Joanna Wylde

Reaper's legacy / Joanna Wylde
Publishing details: This title was first published in January 2014 by Berkley.
Source: purchased e-book.

Reaper's Legacy review
Synopsis: Eight years ago Sophie gave her heart - and her virginity - to Zach Barrett on a night that couldn't have been less romantic or more embarrassing. Zach's step-brother, a steely-muscled, tattooed biker named Ruger, caught them in the act, getting a peep show of Sophie he's never forgotten. 

She may have lost her dignity that fateful night, but Sophie also gained something precious - her son Noah. Unfortunately, Zach's a deadbeat dad, leaving Ruger to be Noah's only male role model. When he discovers Sophie and his nephew living in near poverty, Ruger takes matters into his own hands - with the help of the Reapers Motorcycle Club - to give them a better life. 

Living with outlaw bikers wasn't Sophie's plan for her son, but Ruger isn't giving her a choice. He'll be there for Noah, whether she wants him or not. But Sophie does want him, has always wanted him. Now she'll learn that taking a biker to bed can get a girl dirty in every way. [Blurb taken from Goodreads]

Submerging oneself into the motorcycle-club world of the Reapers is not for every reader. The idea that the hero of this romance novel is part of a group that engages in criminal activity and is part of a culture that is inherently misogynist can certainly be enough to turn people off. That being said, I had previously read and enjoyed the first book set in this universe, Reaper's Property, and found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Reaper's Legacy as a follow-up. It helps that the author - in both instalments - keeps the criminal aspects to a minimum and a tertiary aspect of the story itself.

Reaper's Legacy focuses on Sophie, a single mother trying to make ends meet, and Ruger, a secondary character from the first novel and member of the titular motorcycle club. While the novel begins with some flashbacks to show the connection between Sophie and Ruger, the majority of the plot takes place in present day. The main part of the story opens with Sophie - struggling to provide for her son, Noah - agreeing to let her neighbour babysit Noah while she is called into work. Noah runs into some trouble though, and after failing to get in contact with his mother he gives his Uncle Ruger a call. It is clear from the outset that Ruger and Noah have a very strong bond, and that despite the history between Ruger and Sophie (which we learn about later in the book), Ruger would do anything for the boy. That includes driving through the night to make sure Noah is okay.

Ruger decides that Noah and Sophie should move back to his place in Couer d'Alene for their own safety and to allow for Sophie to get back on her feet financially and professionally again. Of course, this means close interactions between our hero and heroine and lots of unresolved sexual tension.

The main conflict in this story is Ruger himself, as he flat-out tells Sophie that he doesn't consider himself a one-woman man and therefore wouldn't be faithful even though he would demand the same from her. This can be a difficult conflict to write in romance fiction, but Wylde tackles it well and doesn't allow for Sophie to back down. Indeed, Sophie makes is absolutely clear that while she will always do what's best for Noah - which means continued contact with Ruger - she is by no means interested in a relationship with him on those terms.

As with Marie - the heroine in Reaper's Property - in many cases, Sophie stands in for the reader as she navigates the relatively new world of a motorcycle club. She is forthright about her concerns regarding the potential danger - especially where it concerns Noah - and questions the idea and terminology used in referring to an 'old lady' as 'property.' Another thing I enjoyed was Wylde's portrayal of strong female friendships throughout the novel and the ability to show loyalty and fun within the group with little impact from the male characters.

The book is not without some issues, however. While Wylde's writing and voice has improved greatly between the two novels in this series, there were one or two editing errors that took me out of the story a little bit. I will say, however, that I greatly appreciated and enjoyed the tighter plotting of this novel compared to the last - Legacy has a much better use of flashbacks compared to Property and the alternating perspectives are used much better as well. There are also some issues within the story itself. As previously noted, the cultural backdrop will be problematic for some readers. While the hero is certainly an alpha-male, the heroine always pushes back and gives as good as she gets. I also felt that the resolution to the main conflict was rather quick and a little too well tied-up -- I believed it, as a reader of romance novels I could see it coming a mile away, but I still didn't quite feel as though Sophie was justified in believing him.

Ultimately, this is a book for fantasy and escapism, not something to be read for insight into a culture portrayed realistically. Overall, I enjoyed Reaper's Legacy - I found it to be much better written and tightly plotted than its predecessor and am looking forward to the next one in the series. Rating: 4/5

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