A tour de force novel that has everything Kristen Ashley’s fans have come to expect from this remarkable storyteller, this latest instalment in the Chaos series is everything I hoped it would be, and so much more. A tale of unrequited love, of an enduring love, a steadfast love, a selfless love—Hound and Keely’s story begs to be read more than once—each page loaded with detail and depth, and each character searing and beautiful. Kristen Ashley has a knack for writing complex emotions and making us feel every single one of them as she pulls us into her stories with words, imagery and compelling plot lines that play our heartstrings like a fiddle. But the true beauty of her stories lies in the way they stay with us long after we’ve read them, each passing recollection of them luring us into revisiting them time and time again, while their overwhelming effect on us never loses charge. Every time I finish reading a new Chaos novel, I have a new favourite, but Hound and Keely’s love story had me at the first line.
Over the years Hound did his best and didn’t think on it. He lived his life. He had his fun. He covered his Club. He took care of Keely. He looked after the boys. But fuck him, he’d given himself to a woman who he not only could not have, but who would never have him. What the fuck was he doing?
Shepherd ‘Hound’ Ironside has spent most of his adult life pining for a woman he knew could never be his. As wife and then widow of a man he considered a brother, Hound has only ever loved Keely Black, but knowing he’d always have to hide his true feelings, he has spent the past seventeen years showing her his love in ways that mattered the most—by being a man she could always count on, by helping her raise her two sons, and by being a much needed father-figure to them both. So when Keely suddenly takes their relationship from friends to something more by offering him a taste of everything he’s dreamed of for so long, Hound is incapable of resisting her, savouring every morsel of her in his arms and relishing their every moment together, because he believes their affair would be short-lived and that the heart of the woman he loves would forever belong to another.
“Fuck you. I’ll never forgive you for what you thought of me, what you did to us. Fuck you for not being the man I thought you were. Fuck you for not being the man I needed you to be.”
But the day Keely Black bared her body and soul before her best friend and thus changed their relationship forever had been seventeen years in the making, and from the moment they touched, she knew to whom her heart belonged. We watch them fight for their right to love each other, against a shared past that will never change, and against a brotherhood of men whose unwavering loyalty to one another runs thicker than blood, but through it all, we also watch a family finally come together and embrace the roles they’ve played in each other’s lives for almost two decades.
I stared at him in those jeans and that tank with those tats and his badass hair and his amazing eyes and that look on his handsome face, and for the first time in the years of us being together when we were not and in the past months of us being together in a way we actually were, it was only then I felt the true fullness of the decades of love he’d given me.
There are so many breathtaking moments in this story that keep replaying in my mind, each one of them more beautiful than the next, and all of them truly unforgettable. Kristen Ashley delivers a story full of complex, interesting, loveable characters that sink their hooks into our hearts, and for every heartwarming moment between them, there’s an equally heartbreaking one, too. And with a persistent streak of suspense running all the way through, this is the kind of book you find yourself reading in one enraptured sitting.
“That’s us, baby. Wild like the wind. Can’t rein that shit in.”
He was so right.
Why would we?
She whirled on him, planted her hands on her slim hips and announced, “So you’re alive.”
He felt his mouth get tight and threw the door shut, but that was all he got in before she came at him, both hands up, and shoved him so hard at his chest, his entire torso rocked back.
That was when he felt his whole face get hard.
She didn’t hesitate to get up in that face and fuck him, fuck him, he felt her tits brush his chest, she was that close.
“You big jerk!” she shouted. “You scared the shitout of me.”
“Stand down, woman,” he growled.
“You haven’t dropped my check in two months, Hound.”
He couldn’t stop it.
He blinked at her and did it slow.
“You might miss a month but you never miss two,” she informed him of something he knew but thought she had not ever noticed.
“As you can see, I’m still standing,” he told her.
“I can see that. What I hearis that Chaos has got whatever trouble they’ve got with whoever took Millie and now they’re rubbing up against Bounty.”
Bounty was another MC in Denver.
They’d never had any problem with Bounty.
Now they did.
“Think you made it clear last time I saw you that you’re outta it with Chaos, so not sure how that’s your issue,” he stated.
“Uh, were you notthere when the boys voted in Dutch as a recruit a month ago?”
Actually, he was on maneuvers so he had not been.
Though, since he sponsored Dutch, along with every man who’d had his patch when Black died, his official vote wasn’t really necessary.
He decided not to answer.
“I thought something had happened to you,” she said it like it was an accusation.
He put both arms up at his sides, which he thought pretty much said it all.
It did, but she was clearly not happy about the way he did it and he knew that with the way her face screwed up, all pissed.
“You drop my checks,” she declared heatedly.
“Gonna leave that duty to another man,” he told her.
“Why?” she rapped out.
“’Cause I got other shit I need to be doin’,” he replied, not the entire truth, not a full lie either.
“It’s because I was a bitch to you,” she said it, straight out.
“You didn’t say anything that wasn’t true,” he returned, and that wasn’t a lie at all.
What he left unsaid was that her saying what she’d said sucked dick.
“I was upset,” she explained herself.
“That didn’t go unnoticed,” he shared.
“Don’t be an asshole, Hound,” she snapped, and his brows went up as his temper caught.
“How’s that bein’ an asshole?” he asked.
“You’re bein’ flippant,” she told him.
He leaned toward her. “Woman, I don’t even know what ‘flippant’ means.”
“Then you need to spend more time reading books and less time doing Chaos’s wet work,” she shot back.
He leaned away and slowly drew a very long breath into his nose.
She glared at him.
When he had no verbal reaction to her remark, she looked around then back at him.
“For God’s sake, Hound, you live in a sty,” she declared.
“Got no woman to keep the place nice for, baby,” he drawled. “As you pointed out. And men don’t mind they live in a sty. It’s only women who give a fuck about that shit.”
Her eyes got squinty. “Why don’t you have a woman?”
He was not discussing this with her.
“That’s none of your fuckin’ business,” he returned.
She threw up an arm in front of her to indicate him. “You’re hot.”
He did another slow blink.
“It’s a waste,” she decreed.
She’d know about waste, all of what was her going without a man for seventeen years.
“You’re worried I don’t get my wick wet enough, Keely, you can mark that off your list of things you shouldn’t stick your nose into in the first place. I get what I need. I just don’t keep it.”
“Why not?” she asked.
“You obviously won’t feel this way, but you don’t know me so I’ll educate you that for a guy like me, you give it enough time to get time in, snatch becomes a drag and no man needs anything draggin’ on him.”
“You did not just say that to me,” she bit out.
“Jesus, woman,” he boomed, looked side to side and back to her. “You’re the one stormed in here, gettin’ up in my face and my space, puttin’ your hands on me, stickin’ your nose in shit that’s not yours to have. What’s your problem?”
“You bring me my checks,” she declared.
“Not anymore,” he fired back.
“You bring me my checks,” she demanded.
He leaned again toward her.
“Not anymore,” he snarled.
And then, Jesus, fuck…
She was on him.
She was all over him.
Plastered down his front, hands clenched hard in his hair yanking his head down to hers, she had her mouth to his and her tongue in his mouth.
He ripped his mouth from hers, planted a hand in her chest and shoved her back a lot harder than he’d ever touch any woman (or any woman who had not done Chaos wrong) so she reeled away five paces.
He couldn’t apologize.
He needed to draw a line.
For her boys.