Release Date: May 26, 2015
Publisher & ARC: Harlequin Teen
Having just finished watching the entire Sons of Anarchy series, I felt entirely prepared for the lingo and general plot of McGarry's novel. I even chuckled at the digs at TV shows like Sons for motorcycle clubs that are too violent or illegitimate. I would definitely venture to say that this book is like the CW version of SOA, in a good way.
Emily, 17, loves Florida. She loves her mother and the man she married who adopted Emily before the wedding. She carries no knowledge of her real father's way of life in Kentucky. Her mother doesn't speak of it, and she only sees Eli once a year, out of curiosity.
While her adopted father Jeff tries to encourage Emily to seek happiness beyond Florida's borders, Emily is completely content to stay near the comfort of everything she has known her entire life...for three main reasons. The biggest reason is that Emily fell into a hole when she was eight and spent an entire night with a corpse. Since then, she is incredibly afraid of anything that resembles death. So when Eli's mother dies, and Emily has to go to the wake, her childhood fears flare and anxiety settles in.
Jeff receives an e-mail from Eli stating that his mother died, and Emily's mother decides they should fly to Kentucky to pay their respects. While Emily doesn't want to go, her mother is more hesitant as Kentucky is her home state and represents a past she wants to remain hidden from Emily.
But Emily isn't the only storyteller here. Oz, a future prospect for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, of which Eli is a main member, alternates the narrative with Emily. While Emily is prissy and a goody-two-shoes, Oz is a bad boy and can't wait to become a full member of the club. He was pretty much raised by Emily's grandmother, who died, or actually didn't.
When Emily arrives at the wake, she anxiously find her real father and pays her respects. As she's talking, she notices that her grandmother is slowly moving out of her coffin. As it turns out, she is dying from cancer and would rather enjoy her funeral. So begins a whirlwind adventure that introduces Emily to Oz and the life of being in a motorcycle club. Learning about her biological family's history is a struggle for Emily who wants the comfort of her parents' ideal life in Florida.
McGarry's novel doesn't begin slowly; before you know it, she's right in the middle of a territorial fight between two clubs. Once she meets the "hot" Oz and finds herself being "kidnapped," the action picks up so quickly that you'll soon find yourself halfway through the book in about an hour.
Emily's hidden, feisty nature gradually emerges, and the internal struggle between being "good" or "bad" carries her character through the book. Oz's internal struggle to get close to Emily is just as rivoting as Emily's sections, and watching the dichotomy is fascinating. Learning Emily's family history through both characters is what makes the book so effective. McGarry's prose is a true mixture of brutally real situations and mockingly fictitious ones.
Since this is the first in a Thunder Road series, I cannot wait to read the next book. If you're a fan of motorcycles or of just a really complex romance, you'll love this book. Don't be fooled by the length; you'll reach the end before you know it.