Thursday, May 22, 2014

TBR Review: Motorcycle Man (Dream Man #4) by Kristen Ashley

I had problems with WiFi and internet access in my area yesterday, and couldn't post my TBR review -- but decided not to give up and I'm posting it today. May's theme for the TBR Challenge is: more than one book by an author in your TBR. I have a few books by Kristen Ashley and decided to read and review her much lauded Motorcycle Man, a book that has been sitting and gathering dust in my Kindle for a long time.

I think I will always remember Motorcycle Man as one of the most cringe worthy romance reads ever. Yet, I read it in its entirety. There is something to it, that's for sure, but I don't even know where to begin explaining what it is. I'm stumped.

The characters in this romance live an alternative lifestyle that takes place, for the most part, within the narrow confines of a motorcycle club and the homes of its members. Tyra falls into this world after quitting her job and finding one at a body shop owned by the Chaos Motorcycle Club. The Saturday before she starts her job, she parties with the Club members and ends the night by having sex with Tack, the president of the MC. During the aftermath, Tyra daydreams that Tack is 'her dream man' but is quickly disabused when he dismisses her from his bed. On her first day at work these are Tack's words to her:
"I do not work with bitches who've had my dick in their mouth," [...]
Because she's desperate for a job at this point, she stays and the sexual harassment begins. They go back and forth;
"I am not going to warm your bed!" I fired back.
"Oh yeah you are," Tack returned.
"You don't even know my name," I retorted
"Nope, and I didn't before when you sucked my cock, I ate you, you fucked me hard and I fucked you harder. Didn't bother you then."
"I thought you knew my name?"
Tyra fights back and continues to feel a combination of deep attraction and fear for hawt, scary biker dude Tack as they play his game until she succumbs and becomes his biker-babe  -- because he colors her world.
"I like everything about you, honey. Everything. Lived in black and white seems like all my life. Never noticed. Not until you colored my world."
He finds her irresistible:
"Every day, somethin' new. Will I ever get to the heart of you?"
There's are kidnappings, screeching fights with a disgusting ex-wife who must be the worst mother ever, a battle with the Russian mob, blood, and lots and lots of hot, sex, love, misunderstandings, and well... more sex and love. And they live happily ever after:
"Sometimes it happens in weird ways that included fights, blood, drunkenness, kidnappings and pregnancies. But dreams came true." Tyra
In Ashley's MC world, women fall into categories: "babes," "bitches," "the Club's whores," and wives/girlfriends="old ladies." These women are not supposed to worry their gorgeous little heads about their men's business in the club or the danger they may be exposed to (after all their men are taking care of it and keeping them safe), and for the most part they accept it all without question.

The men are an uber-alpha variety of scary biker dudes who "claim" women when they are interested, and have a problem communicating in full sentences. Some of them are married and cheat while others are monogamous, and while some are portrayed as having soft hearts, all have that extra bit of over-the-top alpha DNA that doesn't always sit right because the balance of power in relationships and respect are severely lacking.

So here is where I go back and forth: As you see from the quotes above and my summary, Tyra and Tack fall in love. While lust and sex remain the central focus that drive intimacy, this is a romance and Ashley works hard to make it work. Because, despite all those cringe-worthy moments and objectionable language, Ashley also includes touching if rough-edged romantic moments between Tack and Tyra. The evolution of Tack as a romantic protagonist is rough because he learns how to treat Tyra so she won't leave him, but the all-around lack of respect for other women is highly questionable. Tyra's ultimate acceptance of her "place" as a woman in Tack's world (because although she "fights" it, she also accepts it), made this a tough read. I know Ashley is portraying an "alternative lifestyle," I'm just not sure how accurate it is, and it's not one that it's easy to relate to -- at least not for me, not if I get to be called someone's "bitch." It can't be denied, however, that even as this is a grating, button-pusher type of romance, Ashley has a way of keeping the reader going.

I'm glad that I finally read Motorcycle Man because every time a book by Ashley releases, fans compare it to this book. I wanted to know what that was all about. Personally, and going against the tide, I'm really happy that my first book by Ashley was The Will.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Dream Man
Grade: C = Because Ashley really works the romance in this book and I finished it even as my comfort zones were severely challenged.


  1. I think we've all read books like this where it's horrible, you know it's horrible - and yet you can't stop reading. I read a Lucy Monroe single title like that once. I really hated darn near every minute of it, but damn if she didn't keep me reading it.

    I just....can't even go there with this book though. Maybe I could get through it, but I'm not willing to try at this point because the way all women (including the heroine) are treated in this book (even if they do "accept" it - and man, there's a debate to be had!) would make me want to scratch out the eyes of every guy I saw riding a motorcycle.

    Someone smarter than me needs to look at these types of "button-pushing" romances featuring this particular breed of Alpha male and juxtapose it against the "bodice ripper, rape her until she falls in love" heroes of the 70s/80s. I see some similarities. And I find it interesting that both types of stories moved into the mainstream when we had some pretty egregious language on the part of political figures regarding women's rights (or lack their of). Someone should get on that.....

  2. Wendy, I never took the time to read reviews for this book, but picked it up (along with another book from this series) a while back. Many readers list it as a favorite and like I said above I wanted to know why other Ashley books usually suffer in comparison to Motorcycle Man.

    I. . . just don't know what to say about what happens in this romance. There are more objectionable situations that I had issues with. I don't blame you for not wanting to read a book that won't work for you. I thought I could handle it. I have a high tolerance for alpha males (as long as the females give as good as they get), and I don't go into all romances looking for misogyny, to analyze them from a feminist point of view, or to judge whatever alternative lifestyle the author is trying to portray -- that's not the way I roll. There are plenty of reviewers who do that and do it well. However, we all draw lines in the sand that we don't ever want anyone to cross, and there were too many instances in this romance when my comfort zones were severely challenged.

    As we know abusive behavior is not confined to the physical (rape, "forceful seduction," or non-consensual touching). Chronic disrespect and verbal abuse can be just as psychologically devastating to an individual as the physical. Acceptance by the person on the receiving end doesn't make belittlement right or acceptable. Language is a powerful weapon and in this, and other contemporary romances that are trending at the moment, the type of language and behavior exemplified by the protagonists in Motorcycle Man are used as a device to build romances that in the end are just as questionable as some of the sagas published during the 70's/80's. However, I began reading romances (in English) in the 70's/80's and that's all that was available, and particularly in the 70's we/I as a very young reader didn't recognize what was going on. Now, we have the internet to enlighten and educate, and there are other great choices.

    I agree that someone should take the time to do a comparison, maybe for Heroes and Heartbreakers? Just a suggestion.

    I read The Will by Ashley first, which also has a "rough-edged," alpha male (nothing like this though), and I think it is one of the reasons I finished this book and in paid attention to something other than the "button-pushing" factor.

  3. said you had another book by the author, from this series, are you going to read it anyway after this one?

    I just bought The Gamble by her, because the blurb seems to indicate a story I might enjoy. I'm still wanting to read The Will after your review and eventually I'll try that one.
    It seems, from comments on AAR that the author's writing is addictive and compelling even when people feel the story isn't great. I think the elements readers find disgusting have o work somehow because then how would she still have so many readers instead of her loyal fans only?
    When I finish the two books let's see if I'm under her spell too, it looks like she's hard to resist...

  4. I don't know if I will read Mystery Man, Sonia -- but chances are high that I won't because they are both from the same series. And, I'm definitely not "under a spell." LOL!

    I recommend The Will, and will not dismiss books by Ashley out of hand. After all, I've only read two books by the author. But I will be cautious about which books I pick up and will look hard at reviews (both positive and negative) before I do so.

    I DO wonder if she writes/has written books/other series that are not like her MC/Dream Man series? I will forward to your review of The Gamble.

  5. Interesting. I've been thinking of trying books from this author because everyone seems to love them. Ames particularly :) But I don't think this would be for me. Guess I'd better do like you and start with The Will :P

    Very nice review Hils!

    1. Nath, I know this author seems to be loved by many! It's the reason I had her in my list of authors to try and had a few books by her in my TBR. Try The Will and see what you think.

  6. I read this and one or two others in this series and although it was a jarring kind of reading experience, I did feel that the book was worth the time and effort to read. I found the characters compelling in a very different sort of way and thought that their connection to one another, their loyalty, misplaced though it seemed from time to time, was the strongest aspect that kept me reading from start to finish. The MC culture is so different, the rules so foreign to most of us, the kind of relationships between men and women so contrary to what most women need to feel worth while and an equal part of today's society. Yet there was a winsome quality to their loving each other that was there, although I agree that you had to "dig" to find it. Thanks for the very good review.

    1. Dr J, thank you so much for verbalizing what I could not about the characters and the relationship, and most importantly why this book was a compelling read for you. I'm glad I didn't give up after the first few pages, dug in and finished it.


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