Friday, 5 February 2016

Review - Dare to Run by Jen McLaughlin

Title: Dare to Run
Series: The Sons of Steel Row #1
Author: Jen McLaughlin
Release Date: February 2, 2016

The New York Times bestselling author of the Out of Line Novels takes readers to Boston, where one gang of criminals knows how being bad can be so good...

She knows what he’s like on Boston’s mean streets. Now she’s going to find out if he’s got some heart.

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’s 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 for getting hurt in more ways than one. 

“Run with me. If you run with me… I’ll go.”

Lucas Donahue and Heidi Greene call South Boston their home. Warts and all, they are comfortable here even if it is not the easiest life. Lucas was used to working the streets as a high ranking gang member, even if dealing guns was easier than dealing with people, especially women. 

Heidi knew firsthand what those streets were like but was satisfied working the pub she called her own now, her home. When the aftermath of a violent attack brings the two in close quarters, they come together to fight a common enemy but end up fighting the attraction they have for each other even more.

“Your halo may be tarnished, yet you still saved me. That means more than if you were the hero type.”

I loved the two main characters in this suspenseful romance that gives a stark peek into the violent world of gang life. Lucas was an ex-con but still loyal to his family—both gang and blood alike. He loves his brothers but has never fallen for a woman. Until now… Heidi is a breath of beautiful fresh air in his life that is all about darkness. She is strong and capable with a caring and compassionate nature that he can’t help but be drawn to though he fights it tooth and nail.

“I might not be willing to let her get too close to me, or to trust her… But damned if I didn’t want to.”

Lucas’ appeal is no less compelling.

“You might not be a nice guy, or someone I should like, but tough s**t. I do like you. I like you a lot…”

He doesn’t want to fall for her and she knows she shouldn’t fall for them. Watching them dance back and forth though as love grabs hold is funny, sexy and all-around wildly hot and entertaining. Lucas, for all his tough guy demeanor—and he is tough, no question—is also capable of deep emotions and caring. The way he protects those he loves is done with casual confidence and, no matter what corner he is boxed into, he continues to fight. Strong and confident—yah, that isn’t attractive at all… Oh wait, hell yes, it is!

Heidi is equally strong and willing to do what she has to, to protect the ones she loves as well. When rare, true love is at stake, anything is possible! And she does it with style, even if she can’t stand the sight of blood!

This story was everything I’d hoped it would be—and more! I can’t wait to read more of the Sons! 
~ Review by Diane

Lucas Donahue is a criminal. A killer. A gangster. He just got out of prison and he’s quickly rising through the ranks of his gang—earning respect for being cold, calculating, and fearless. Now, there’s a bounty on his head and a beautiful feisty bartender who doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of trouble. Lucas has kept his heart locked away, but when he saves Heidi Greene from an attack in an alley outside her bar, he doesn’t realize that he’s just entangled himself with the one woman who has the key to unlocking that heart. It’s dangerous, and sexy, and a little bit heartbreaking—but ever so slowly these two chip away at each other’s walls and discover the family they’ve been looking for all along.

Holy buckets, this was an incredibly engrossing read. I was completely hooked almost immediately and—even when I thought I had everything figured out pretty early on—I still found myself biting my nails in suspense as everything unfolded. I loved Lucas and Heidi—both super strong characters exploring feelings they’ve never encountered before. Lucas may be the typical alpha gangster, but Heidi is no push-over—she won’t go down without a fight, and she’s not afraid to stand up to anyone trying to push her around. This, of course, lands her in heaps of trouble, but I admire her pluck. I don’t think she does it in a stupid way. She’s just a fighter. She’s not going to let anyone take her fate out of her own hands. 

The push/pull in this book was incredibly sexy. Lucas, the alpha, is constantly trying to gain control over Heidi in order to keep her safe. She’s constantly rebelling against that control on principle, because that’s not who she is—she’s not a woman who bends to someone else’s will. This creates a lot of sexy stand-offs and heated banter that I found completely irresistible.

Gritty and sexy with sprinkles of emotion laced throughout the story, I really enjoyed this story. I loved how it painted a sort of unforgiving picture of gang life, while keeping the story from drifting into really dark territory. I felt like the ending maybe wrapped up a little too neatly and conveniently, but it definitely left me curious about where the series is going to go from here. If you’re looking for something with a sexy alpha edge to it, this one will definitely satisfy! 
~ Review by Shelly

Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous books including the Out of Line Novels and Dare to Run, the debut novel in the Sons of Steel Row series. She has also written under the name Diane Alberts.

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