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Mara McBain

REVIEW:  Club Ties by Mara McBain

REVIEW: Club Ties by Mara McBain

Dear Ms. McBain,

I bought this after reading Club Justice and unfortunately it didn’t leave a very positive taste in behind. While Club Justice was flawed, the interesting storyline and voice powered over those issues. In this book, the very thin plot was beset by misogyny, casual racism, and poor storytelling.

Club Ties Maura McBainMox and his brother, Rhys, are moving out of their parents’ home and into an apartment above the restaurant bar owned by their parents, Zeke and Ginny. They are supposed to be establishing themselves as full fledged members of the Lords 0f Mayhem as well as responsible adults.

Mox finds a waif and decides to adopt her like a stray puppy, only this stray puppy falls in love with him over the course of about 48 hours and jumps into bed with him despite having been kept as a sex slave by a crazy mob boss. Eva ran away from Rocco, an insane mob boss, who has beat her and raped her repeatedly.  Mox takes her to his new apartment that he shares with Rhys and two fall in love and lust immediately.

The intended effect of Eva’s trauma is diminished.  It’s hard to believe that she is a cowed and abused girl who is frightened of Mox’s size when she is giggling over his serious threat that he’ll warm her ass if she scares him again.

“I promise you if I can’t control my temper I will walk away until I can, and then we’ll deal with it.”

“And then what?” she asked. As much as she didn’t want to know the answer to that, the unknown was far more frightening.

Mox sighed, the sound harsh in the quiet room.

“I don’t know. We’ll talk. I’ll warm your ass.

 Spanking is a remedy his brutish father figure teaches him.  Later we are treated to a scene where Zeke spanks Ginny, his wife, after they’ve had sex because she didn’t call him and drove in bad weather.

I wanted to like Mox, a guy portrayed as uncomfortable with his large size and feeling like a sidekick to Rhys, the beautiful son of the “King and Queen” of the Lords of Mayhem.  His portrayal as a socially inept, blushing young man and who was driven crazy with lust by the small delicate young woman he found was convincing.  But this believability was eroded by the insta love  the stereotypical villain storyline.

The plot involving Eva’s ex lurched forward unevenly and while I enjoyed revisiting the members of the Lords of Mayhem, the dual storylines involving the Lords and Eva’s past didn’t gel as well in this book.  The coincidences seemed particularly contrived.  Further the set ups for future books were all too obvious and weren’t well integrated into the existing stories making them stand out as clear sequel bait.  While there were no rapes as there were in the previous book, we are treated to graphic scenes of the bad guy treating women in vile, horrible ways.  I’m still unsure what the purpose of those scenes are.

There were frequent in paragraph head hopping and repetitive storytelling.  The relationship dynamic between Eva and Mox was overly similar to that between Ginny and Zeke only the younger two were pale, less vibrant versions.

As for the casual racism, there is one old lady who is a young, lithe asian woman. In the text she is constantly referred to as a geisha from everyone’s point of view.

* As odd a couple as the menacing Reaper and gentle geisha made, it was obvious she loved him very much. (Eva’s POV)
* Even Reaper and Lee were cuddled together; the gorgeous geisha tucked close so his cut was around her like a blanket. (Rhys’ POV)
* She met Lee’s dark eyes over the rim, and the giggling geisha tilted her margarita (Eva’s POV)
* Ginny noted that his eyes never strayed from the graceful geisha as she skirted through the crowd (Ginny’s POV)

As you can imagine, my knuckles tightened pretty hard around the edges of my iPad while I was reading this. At best this is the laziest form of characterization. Let’s draw on people’s misconceptions about geishas and just have the reader overlay those onto this character so I don’t have to do any work describing her. On the other end of the spectrum it is crude racism.

Later, Zeke, the king of the Lords of Mayhem refers to someone as a “Wop”. He’s a decorated Cleveland police detective so it is particularly encouraging knowing that he has a law enforcement badge over that racist heart of his. It may be that you were trying for gritty realism, but the Lords of Mayhem with its totally clean books, no drugs, no illegal activity, full of happy family sentimentality really does not come off as an underground gang filled with a bunch of derelicts.  Instead, it’s like a club that hangs out on the weekends for cookouts.

“I think there’s a pretty good chance that’s what happened. Just like I think there is little chance of him sticking to that kind of deal. Whatever happens to Eva, Mox isn’t safe as long as the slippery Wop is out there,” Zeke said.

I’m probably done with this series for now. I like the big family idea that you get from these Motorcycle Clubs and the idea of sisterhood between the old ladies but the poor writing, thin plotting, and non stop reference to an Asian woman as a geisha made reading this a sore trial. D

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Club Justice by Mara McBain

REVIEW: Club Justice by Mara McBain

Dear Ms. McBain:

I have heard it number of varying opinions about these books but someone gifted me a copy and once it was on my Kindle I couldn’t resist. The most intriguing part of this book is that it surrounds an established couple who have been married for over 20 years.

Club Justice (Trinity Falls #1) by Mara McBain
After Zeke Brawer got out of the Marines he returned to his small town, joined the Cleveland Police Department, and started up a motorcycle club with a few other Marines with whom he had served. When he shoots pedophile during the course of investigation, he comes under scrutiny of internal affairs. There is one specific officer, Kramer,  in internal affairs who dislikes Brawer quite a bit and wants to see Brawer taken down.

Kramer from IA begins to apply pressure at every point in Brawer’s life. His books are audited.  Warrants are served at the Lord of Mayhem club house.  The state health inspector does a surprise visit to the bar and restaurant Brawer owns with his wife. And everyone associated with the motorcycle club begins to suffer petty harassments from government officials.

Fortunately the club is clean but each pressure point strains the relationships that Brawer has, not only with his wife and his children, but his associates in the club.  Worse, his wife becomes a target for physical danger.

There are a lot of surprising things that happen in this book a couple of them very shocking. I do question the author’s decisions as a relates to the explicitness of some of the scenes that were included. The opening scene, for instance is a very explicit sex scene between a pedophile and his young victim as he is violating her (ball gag and restraints are used). Strangely this forced sex scene and a later one is almost  more explicit than the love scenes between the two main protagonists.  I felt the first one, in particular, was quite gratuitous because while there were dark things that occurred, those dark moments were quickly glossed over.  For instance, Zeke does not suffer any emotional repercussions from seeing the rape.  In later scenes following other dark moments, the emotional fallout seems limited to a few words.  The easy compensation of the emotional conflicts serve to do two things.  First, they make the conflicts seem gratuitous and second, they diminish those moments and lessen the impact.

While the story does deal with Zeke and Ginny’s marriage, the story is more about the larger family created by the Lords of Mayhem and their bonds and loyalty.  Moriah Jovan equated motorcycle clubs with werewolves.  You can really see the dynamic that she’s referring to in this particular story where you have a family outside of the family created by these bonds within the club. The story is definitely about the king and queen of the Lords even go so far as to refer to them both affectionately and disparagingly in those terms.

One of the weakest parts is Zeke because he acts so foolishly throughout much of the book. He does not view the internal affairs person as much of a danger despite how this individual is able to an act all sorts of problems in Zeke’s life. He also knows that he helped create animosity between himself and the internal affairs individual.  His inattention to this person led to some very terrible consequences and you really didn’t see suffer emotionally in the way that you would expect that someone in his position to have done.

“Simply put, I made his life a living hell,” Zeke said, eyes narrowing defensively. “I took every opportunity to best or humiliate him, to show him that I was every bit as good as he was, if not better.”

How Zeke could not recognize that in return Kramer would want to do everything to bring down Zeke seemed quite odd.  And, given how Zeke was willing to circumvent the law in the beginning, his determination to let the law run its course later on seemed odd.  But I loved watching Zeke and Ginny interact even though their roles are largely traditional ones.

One of the most interesting characters is Mox, their son’s best friend and a boy that they took in at the age of 12. His storyline has a big impact in the story and I found his character to be so interesting at times that he dwarfed the hero.  The storytelling voice is strong and if a reader is interested in reading about family dynamics, motorcycle clubs, and established marriages surviving some of the worst occurrences, this is worth picking up.  But it’s a flawed story.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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