REVIEW: Shade’s Lady by Joanna Wylde
Dear Joanna Wylde,
I pre-ordered Shade’s Lady some time ago. When I was on holiday recently I was just in the mood for the kind of book you tend to deliver – something which, like a book by Kylie Scott or Kristen Ashley, I tend to gobble up in huge bites. That’s what I wanted and that’s exactly what I got.
I am a little behind on the series – Reapers & Bastards is still on my TBR and it’s been a while since I read one of your books. I had a vague recollection of Shade, the national president of the Reapers MC and I wasn’t sure where Shade’s Lady sat in the Reapers MC timeline. I wondered if I was forgetting things and perhaps Shade’s Lady was a kind of prequel story but after talking about it on Twitter with a friend, I think it was not. More about that later.
Shade is in Cranston, Idaho to do some presidenting stuff with the local chapter of the Reapers MC. He’s been there a while and was especially taken by a waitress at a bar in nearby Violetta. But she’s got a boyfriend so he’s been biding his time.
Mandy McBride has moved to the small town to help her recently divorced sister, Hannah, with her three young children. She believes (not without good reason) that there is a kind of curse on the McBride women to pick shitty men and for them, unsurprisingly, to actually be shitty. She got out of a bad marriage and has decided she’s done with relationships. After moving to Violetta, Mandy met Rebel a biker from a “weekend warriors” type club with some loose ties to the Reapers and she’s been hooking up with him ever since. She’s fairly clear-eyed about what Rebel is and isn’t.
Rebel might be fun to hang out with, but the guy was never gonna be my soul mate. You don’t have to marry the man to enjoy each other, I reminded myself, mentally adding “find soul mate” to Future Me’s list.
Then I mentally crossed it off, because fuck soul mates.
Rebel, as it happens, is another shitty guy attracted like a magnet to a McBride woman. When he, completely unknown to Mandy (or Shade as it happens), trades Mandy to Shade for one night in part payment of a motorbike, it’s fair to say that things get interesting.
The world of an outlaw MC is very different, with the women being “property” of the men in the club. There’s a certain amount of stuff one has to go along with to enjoy the books and they’re absolutely not for everyone. I have my own limits and while you have occasionally crossed a line, and often taken me right to the edge of it and held me there for a long time, for the most part, I treat these books as a kind of urban fantasy and just run with it. Even so, Shade is not a rapist and, once he understands that Mandy did not consent to Rebel’s “deal”, he is very clear he will not, ever, force himself on Mandy (or any woman). That doesn’t mean he won’t try and persuade her because hell, he’s been into her for a long time and there’s a reason he accepted the (bogus) deal in the first place.
But Mandy will not be part of a bargain for a motorcycle (especially only part payment!) so she holds firm, despite her fierce attraction to Shade.
Mandy knows that Shade is not the kind of guy to have relationships and if she was in any doubt about that, Shade tells her himself very explicitly that he’s not a keeper. But they have scorching chemistry and after not too much time passes, she decides she’s going to have a no-strings, extended one-night stand with Shade with no feelings involved.
I’d blow him off afterward like a gangster, because that’s who I was.
A motherfucking gangster.
Well, more of a gangster/waitress hybrid, with a strong sense of responsibility, but still fairly badass as these things went.
Things take a further turn when Hannah’s ex-husband turns out to be even shittier than first thought and this has the effect of bringing Shade and Mandy even closer. There’s also a sweet secondary romance for Hannah.
I liked Mandy’s snarky POV; she made me laugh and she felt very well-realised as a character. Shade even had a few brief POV scenes which helped me to understand him better as well and moved the story along.
In fact, even with some of the darker aspects of the story (la la la urban fantasy la la la) I pretty much loved it all. Right up until the end. I believed that Mandy and Shade had what it takes to life a beautiful (if somewhat unconventional because MC) HEA but you did such a good job of convincing me that Shade wasn’t a “keeper” that I needed more to be comfortable with the HFN. I wondered if Shade and Mandy turned up together in earlier books and I just hadn’t remembered. Frankly, had that been the case, I’d have been happy with Shade’s Lady as it was. Because then I’d know for sure that Shade and Mandy kept on and that eventually, he did refer to her as his “old lady”. But it doesn’t appear that Shade’s Lady is a prequel kind of book so I will have to wait and hope that Mandy and Shade turn up in future books. As things stand now, the HFN was a little too nebulous. It seemed to me that there was some level of expectation that they would part ways at some point and that put a little downer on my good book buzz.
*If it turns out that Shade and Mandy have appeared in previous books, someone, please let me know and I’ll happily correct the record. But I asked on Twitter and there was Kindle-searching going on and Shade was only referenced therein as the fairly new national president of the Reapers MC.
Shade’s Lady is a novella but it is fairly long, coming in at around 160 pages which is around short category length. It was certainly a good bang for my buck and I happily binged on it, finding excuses to read even on a family holiday (where I typically don’t end up reading much because family).
Apart from that one issue, I really enjoyed this one.