Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan

Rough & Tumble by Rhenna MorganI wasn’t sure what to expect with this story, but the blurb made me curious enough to try. What I found was hard people rising above difficult beginnings who choose to join together and make something good of themselves and their world with a strong emphasis on family, loyalty, and finding the right path. That puts it right in my sweet spot, but they are also interesting people with fully fleshed out lives that made me curious and kept me reading. I’m not only talking about Vivienne and Jace, the main characters, either. There’s a full supporting cast that comes to life as well.

The book begins as a story about a man who refuses to fight people’s negative assumptions and a woman who does everything exactly as society expects. Then it becomes a story filled with danger and grudges, and finally adds the thread about starting over and making history into a positive drive to grow instead of letting it control you. That might sound like a lot, but it’s not disjointed. Instead, the story builds layer upon layer, each adding a new complexity and demanding the characters grow along with it. Long after “the boy” has won “the girl,” there’s still a lot going on.

This is a lovely, complex story about trusting yourself and claiming the family you deserve, a thread that runs through all the above layers. There is explicit romance, and the relationship consummates both physically and emotionally early on, but there’s enough story to keep me interested between figuring out the boundaries, finding trust, and uncovering the villain of the piece. The social commentary and shaking of prejudice is well done.

I’m staying deliberately vague because part of the story is a grand mystery, but I enjoyed the robust description of the bikers and the way Jace and Vivienne offered a contrasting look at dealing with your background, Jace owning his and Vivienne hiding from hers. Though I have no direct ties with a biker gang, I pay attention to the good news stories as much as the bad, and to what my friends who are bikers have mentioned. This reads true to both the philosophy of some gangs and the contempt for society’s limitations, especially where justice is involved. It felt real, rather than either sugar-coated, or tarred and feathered.

A lovely, lively, fun read that kept me engaged all the way through.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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