Secondhand Smoke (Dartmoor, #4) by Lauren Gilley
Series: Dartmoor #4
Also in this series: Fearless, Price of Angels, The Skeleton King
Published by HP Press on January 14, 2016
Genres: Biker / MC
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Real life. It isn’t sexy. Isn’t pretty. There are no alpha bad boys. No easy outs. No Hollywood soundtrack. Real life hurts like hell and tastes like the grit between your teeth. And love…love always bears a hefty price. This isn’t a biker romance. This is love and war in the world of the Lean Dogs MC.
Aidan Teague was born into the Lean Dogs Motorcycle Club, a third generation outlaw with big biker boots to fill. A perpetual screw-up and playboy, he’s never taken life seriously. Until now.
If his accident a year ago was a wakeup call, then a jolting revelation from his latest lover is a life-altering shock. It won’t be simple, but it’s high time Aidan came into his own. With the club on the brink of a new war, beset by enemies old and new, Aidan must find the strength to lead, or risk everyone he loves.
Secondhand Smoke is the fourth full-length installment in the Dartmoor Series, and is NOT a standalone. This is a work of literary fiction, so readers should expect lyrical prose and an emphasis on character development and realism.
Look for the first four volumes: Fearless, Price of Angels, Half My Blood (A Dartmoor Novella), and The Skeleton King.
Visit Lauren at hoofprintpress.blogspot.com, facebook.com/Lauren Gilley – Author, @lauren_gilley, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the end of Skeleton King, Aidan’s world was about to come crashing around him and throughout Secondhand Smoke it remained a real possibility. Secondhand Smoke is the fourth and latest book in the Dartmoor Series, this time, it’s Aidan’s story.
Aidan for a 32-year-old still had a lot of growing up to do and there’s nothing like the responsibility of a child to put a damper on a carefree lifestyle. It dawned on Aidan that Tonya was not the woman he thought she was well before he was on the road to fatherhood, it’s a shame he chose to show her how he felt rather than tell her. The luxury of hindsight is a benefit not available to us in the moment of course!
The only bright spot in an otherwise shitfest of a day had been seeing Samantha. And because he’d done everything within his power to ensure his life sucked, her brightness was so far out of reach, it was a kick in the gut to think of her now. To think about what might have been… if he wasn’t so damn stupid…
While Aidan is trying to fathom how he can win over Sam, he puts the dilemma of Tonya on the back-burner…not forgotten, but not being dealt with either. It was the elephant in the room that over time became harder to ignore until he finally has to man up and deal with it. There’s a lot more going on than Aidan’s drama, Secondhand Smoke is a perfect title for this book, with a lot of the issues being secondary to the initial catalyst of each scenario running throughout this book. One of the more moving side stories was Tango’s and I am hoping that his story will be next. The issues he is facing seem insurmountable, it broke my heart watching him keep his life in check.
With Aidan putting the brakes on his lifestyle and his past errors in judgment hovering like secondhand smoke, the threatening fallout didn’t create the heart pounding angst I was anticipating. Patience was the key message coming across, patience dealing with Aidan and Aidan using patience to get him to where he needed to be.
“We’re opposites, you and me. You live life, and I write about it.”
This time, the writing was more sedate than previously, there were threats and it was far from smooth sailing but it was paced a lot slower than previous books. Filled with moments where I had to stop and look up a term which is always an added joy when reading for pleasure. Who would have thought a biker romance would include an impromptu lesson on Iambic pentameter, but there you go!
In Knoxville, it didn’t get much cooler than a Lean Dog. No matter how respectable, composed, and preppy a college boy, there was always that streak of envy when it came to the MC, that curiosity and fascination. What must it be like to be all James Dean and Steve McQueen in your leather and denim? Not giving a damn about anything?
What surprised me was I was taken aback by the club blatantly earning money through illicit means. Now why this concerned me made no sense, in my memory most biker books involve it to some degree. As usual, I was able to overlook this and enjoy Aidan’s journey as he finally grew up. Catching up with Walsh and Emmie was good and Sam and her family added a nice balance to the story. Reading this as a Buddy Read with Spice was an added bonus, always good to do that when we can and I’m booking her in for the next book in the Dartmoor Series, Snow In Texas so we can console, predict (and yes, we worked it out in Secondhand Smoke!) and share our joy of indulging in our favourite past-time discussing what we read 🙂
What I Struggled with:
• The crowded scene the book opened with, it was sad…
• Greg – he gave me the creeps!
• Ian and his feelings left under-explored to an extent. We knew he was sincere but not how events were impacting on him
• Tonya and her callousness – again, I thought there was more to her story than we were privy to
• Ghost’s judgment call for the greater good…
What I Loved:
• Various mental filing decisions and knowingly owning their systematic compartmentalising
• The quotes
• Recognising intellectual pursuits are not elitist but driven by personal interest and choice
• Crashing the lecture
• The first kiss! And it showed how a scene doesn’t have to be explicit to be smoldering 🙂
• Sam’s mother
• Mercy and Ava – their verbal PDAs are priceless
• Ghost still having to listen and witness with Mercy being his girl’s man
• Maggie – a great mentor and mother to them all
• Brotherhood – and knowing when to buck the rules
• Being inspired to delve beyond the page, look up recipes and literary terms mentioned• Ideas for what to prepare for dinner, yes we had Chicken with Caprese Salad 🙂 – My recipe is at the end of the post.
Lily’s Rating: 4 Stars
The winds of war are blowing through Dartmoor with a vengeance, and the club has more than one possible enemy circling. This book was packed with action, emotion, and uncertainties that had me riveted, but it had parts that I could barely get through. I would find myself so frustrated I would put it down and do laundry or vacuum floors before picking it back up again. It ended up taking me 2 1/2 days to finish which is unusual for me. I have to say my husband greatly appreciated having the laundry caught up two days in a row.
He was, goddamn it. Because before, love had been this nebulous myth he couldn’t define. But now love sat just outside his door, and it had a face, and a name, and tangled ribbons of dark blonde hair that liked to knot together in the breeze.
First, let me talk about what I loved about the book. I adore Lauren Gilley’s writing style. I found myself wanting to strangle Aidan, but then I would come across a sentence or paragraph that made me stop and just smile. Sometimes because of the beauty in the words, sometimes from the absolute grit.
They were making a statement, asserting themselves. Hiking their legs like the dogs they were.
I appreciated time spent with all my favorite couples from previous books. Mercy and his newfound cheerfulness had me grinning from ear to ear at times plus the way he loves his children and Ava melted my heart. Michael and Holly are still trying to figure out how to interact with others but they are making it work. Walsh and Emmie are still new, but they are stumbling along and working things out, although Walsh has a lot to learn. It was interesting seeing how each man handled threats not only against their club but specifically against their family. No one wanted another war, but the question of what cost they were willing to pay to avoid one needed to be answered.
“I’m not worth a damn, and I want you to understand that, before you throw everything away on me.”
What didn’t work for me was Aidan which is unfortunate since this is mainly a book about Aidan’s many issues and screwups. He was the epitome of what I can not stand in a Hero. I cannot describe how frustrated his character made me, not only with his never-ending self-hatred, but from his poor decisions. Because he didn’t believe in himself, I couldn’t bring myself to believe in him. The thing that absolutely drove me round the bend the most was the fact that at times it felt like he never did the right thing until he was backed in a corner and had to. Even with Sam, it seemed he didn’t notice she was the one for him, until it was convenient for her to be the one for him.
Sam at least had some self esteem, but she was basically just background noise to Aidan’s self-pity orchestra. I liked her well enough, but she never resonated with me like the rest of the heroines from the series. I also never understood what she saw in Aidan, other than he was her school girl crush and he was hot. I needed more than that.
Usually having the main characters not work for me makes it tough for me to enjoy a book, but not entirely so with Secondhand Smoke. Even with the problems with Aidan and Sam, there was lots of action, emotion, and grit to keep me invested. The last part of the book blew my mind, and Tango is in dire need of his very own HEA, or at least a HFN, and I can’t wait for his story to come out.
Spice’s Rating: 3.5 “Aidan Drove Me Round The Bend But I Can’t Wait For More” Stars
How Lily make’s Caprese Salad:
A friend always makes the skewer version to bring along to share when we get together and I’ve been making them ever since. The secret is fresh ingredients. The quantities are a guide, I’m not one for measuring, the quantities mentioned here serve approximately 6 adults as a side salad.
A handful of Fresh Basil leaves
200 grams of Baby Tomatoes
200 grams of Bocconcini (I like the milk cherry ones- but any Bocconcini would be fine)
I place tomatoes and Bocconcini in a salad bowl, add freshly torn basil then drizzle over balsamic vinegar to taste.
Alternatively, you can use toothpicks as skewers adding a tomato, basil leaf and a bocconcini cherry (or piece cut down small enough to fit on a toothpick with the tomato), place the prepared mini skewers on a serving platter then drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top. Easy and delicious finger food that goes faster than you can make it 🙂
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