**** (4 stars) A hard ride in more ways than one!
Katie is the owner of a body shop, Hard Ride, specializing in muscle cars. She is very independent and determined, and she has to be – she is trying to make a name for herself and also prove that unlike her father, she can run an honest business. Katie believes she doesn’t need anyone in her life to help her, let alone a man, and she needs to prove she can do everything on her own. Ms. Pierce does a wonderful job showing how independent (and stubborn) Katie can be; however, there are allusions to “Daddy issues” that have made her who she is and I felt there was something missing from these details of her backstory.
I enjoyed the balancing acts and conflicts between Katie and Houston, who has been working for her the last few years. Katie and Houston have both been trying to fight the attraction they have for each other and hide their feelings. They finally give in to their mutual attraction, and the fireworks begin in more ways than one.
Houston is a hot, sexy, and dominant alpha male with a desire to protect and do everything he can to take care of the woman in his life. Katie has a fairly dominant personality herself, and feels that Houston is at times stifling her and being over-protective. Both characters struggle with admitting the depth of their feelings to themselves and each other, as well as learning how to compromise and balance their personalities. Ms. Pierce did a beautiful job showing the dominant and independent traits of both characters and how they were able to work things out, even if it was a hard ride at times.
Unfortunately for Katie, she has made some enemies. She dismantled her father’s businesses, and there are those in town who see her as a woman trying to be a man in a man’s business. Odd things start happening to Katie and her business, and when Katie gets hurt, Houston’s protective instincts fire up. The mystery deepens with each new discovery, and readers are left wondering what exactly is going on, and who is behind it all. I had theories about who was behind it all, but Ms. Pierce had some tricks up her sleeve and that made me question my theories.
Overall, Hard Ride is a great debut. The characters were fairly well-developed and meshed well together. I enjoyed Ms. Pierce’s writing style of combining suspense and romance, and there were definitely some hot and steamy scenes between Katie and Houston. This would have been a 5-star read for me if there was some more detail to the backstory of both characters which I felt were reasons to explain their personalities and conflicts.