Release Day Reviews: Vicious Cycle: Katie Ashley

Vicious Cycle (Vicious Cycle #1)
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Expected June 2, 2015

New York Times bestselling author Katie Ashley revs up the danger and sexual tension in her brand-new Vicious Cycle romance series.
Deacon Malloy’s life is dedicated to the Hells Raiders motorcycle club. Tough, hard, and fast with his fists, he serves the group as sergeant at arms. But his devil-may-care approach to life is thrown for a loop when the five-year-old daughter he never knew existed lands on the club steps.
Alexandra Evans is devoted to all her students—but there’s always been something about Willow Malloy that tugs at her heart. There’s an aura of sadness about her, a girl in need of all the love Alexandra can give. When Willow stops coming to school, Alexandra’s search leads to a clubhouse full of bikers…and a father hell-bent on keeping his daughter always within sight.
The moment Deacon sees Alexandra, he has to have her in his bed—and he’s never met a woman yet who couldn’t be persuaded. No matter how attracted she is to Deacon, Alexandra refuses to be just another conquest. But it’s Deacon himself who could be seduced—into a brighter future for himself, his daughter, and the woman he’s falling for against all odds.

As I entered the door, I took a deep breath to try and still my out-of-control nerves. Smoke hung heavy in the air, stinging my eyes and causing me to cough. Several men in leather biker cuts lounged on stools at the bar, nursing beers. Across from me, a heated pool game was taking place.

I took a few steps inside and then froze. “Are you lost, darlin’?” a big busted woman in a halter top asked.

“Uh…I’m looking for David Malloy,” I said.

Two men at the pool table whirled around. The shorter of the two, a tough but cute looking blond, cocked his head curiously at me. But then the moment my gaze locked on the other man, I knew he was Willow’s father. They had the same dark hair, soulful dark eyes, and heart-shaped face. David, however, had dark scruff covering his face. Although he was Rev’s brother, I didn’t see any resemblance between the two. Although he was shorter and slightly less built, David was just as good-looking as Rev. “Mr. Malloy?” I questioned, as I closed the distance between us.

He tossed the pool stick on the table. Taking a long drag on his cigarette, he then stubbed it out in an ashtray on the table. “What do you want?” he demanded.

Without even glancing around the room, I knew that every eye in the place was on us. “I really need to speak with you for a moment.”

His dark eyes narrowed as they raked over my body. Then the next thing I knew, he leapt at me, knocking me back into the wall. One of his hands came to grip my throat while his body pinned me in place. Fear like I had never known overwhelmed me, sending my heartbeat drumming wildly in my ears. It was so loud it felt like a cannon blast going off around me. “Please,” I murmured.

David glared at me as his thumb pressed harder into my throat. “They’re really falling down on their job at the academy.”

“E-Excuse m-me?” I stammered.

With a smirk, he replied, “Don’t they train you ATF bitches to hide your fear a little better? I mean, you’re practically pissing your pants right now, not to mention your heart is beating ninety to nothing.”

I shook my head slowly back and forth as I tried processing his words. “ATF? I don’t understand.”

He rolled his eyes. “A white-bred piece of ass comes waltzing into my clubhouse wanting to talk to me alone. It doesn’t take a fucking genius to realize you’re a Fed.”

A Fed? It took me a moment to process what he meant. Holy shit, he thought I worked for the government as an agent of some sort. Quickly, I replied, “No, I’m not.”

A voice came from him. “Deacon, man, you’re gonna get your ass jacked up even further for this.”

Glancing over his shoulder, Deacon said to the young, blond haired man, “Stay out of this, Bishop.”

Bishop held up his hands. “Fine. It’s your fucking funeral.”

David’s hand slid down my throat to the buttons on my dress. Glancing over his shoulder at the others, he questioned, “What do you bet she’s wired up under her tits?”

When his hands started to rip open my dress, I couldn’t hold back my scream. “No, stop! I’m not who you think I am. I swear!” I protested.

“Then just who the hell are you?” he demanded.

Before I could answer, a tiny voice came from behind us. “Miss Alex?”

The sound of Willow’s voice caused David to release his hold on my dress, but his body still kept me pinned to the wall. At that same moment, Rev entered the clubhouse. When he saw me, his eyes bulged, and he broke into a run to reach us. Grabbing David’s shoulders, he slung him away from me. “For fuck’s sake, Deacon, what the hell are you doing?”

“I’m giving this undercover ATF bitch what she deserves,” Deacon spat, taking a step back toward me.

“Christ, she’s not ATF,” Rev countered.

“Oh, then who the hell is she?”

“She’s my teacher…and my friend,” Willow answered in a small voice.

David "Deacon" Malloy has led a tough life but has found a place to call home. His life now revolves around his brothers, adopted mother, and duties as Sergeant at Arms of the Hells Raiders MC Club. He is dangerous, tough, and completely alpha. He makes no apologies for who he is or how he acts. He has rules and lives by the code of the club. But he is about to get news that will shake him to the core. One of his old girlfriends has died and he is the father of a young girl named Willow. Willow is traumatized, unsure, and shy. And now she is thrust into a new life with the father she never knew and a group of bikers, and both are out of their element.

But Willow slowly begins to respond to him, his mom, his brothers and to her new kindergarten, teacher Alexandra Evans. But when safety precautions make it necessary for Deacon to keep Willow close to the compound and pull her out of school, her teacher is not satisfied to just let Willow go. Soon she finds herself as their after school tutor and gradually getting deeper into all of their lives.

Deacon is abrasive, damaged, foul-mouthed, and dangerous. But underneath he does have love for his family and brothers. His past has tortured him, loss and grief have strongly marked him, and revenge consumes him.

Alexandra seems to be his opposite: timid, caring, sweet, and good. But she also has a tough streak. She was shaped by her own past and has her own demons and pain. She is strong willed and pushes back when she needs to. And will fight for what she believes in.

I loved the interactions between the brothers Deacon, Rev, and Bishop. Rev is more logical, philosophical, and tender while still managing to be alpha too. Bishop is the flirty, charismatic playboy with a bad boy edge. And Deacon is the crude, rougher, tough as nails one who tries to keep his emotions in check. But the more attached he gets to the new ladies in his life, the more human, protective,and emotional he becomes. His complicated attraction to Alex is hard to resist and control, volatile, passionate, and terrifying. I loved seeing Deacon pushed out of his comfort zone. His journey of trying to learn to be a Dad is funny and heartfelt. Willow was such a doll and I loved her inquisitiveness and sweet personality. She had been through so much darkness, but was still managed to be such a delight.

Underlying the developing personal relationships is the MC Club business which is dirty, dangerous, and causes significant tension and worry. There is a real threat that looming in the background waiting to take out his revenge on Deacon and those close to him. They all have to be on their guard against their revenge bound enemies and it is a fight to keep those they care about safe. It is precarious, unstable, nerve-wracking, and could not only end a relationship before it really has a chance, but it has the potential to end one or both of their lives.

This has the elements that I love from Katie Ashley, but a new side to her writing. There are still intriguing characters with strong connections and humor, and an interesting story line with depth. She gives us both points of view allowing us a window into their thoughts and feelings even when they are not sharing them with each other. But this series is definitely darker and edgier. The heroes are rough alphas who are foul-mouthed, formidable, and not easily tamed. The situations are gritty, dire, and not at all sugar coated. But I found myself totally sucked into their world and relationships and riveted by the story. It was suspenseful, dramatic, tension filled, heartbreaking, and violent. But it was also funny, passionate, and at times even sweet.

I will admit that sometimes I have a hard time liking MC club heroes, but it was not the case with this one. Even though Deacon could be an ass and had strong opinions and actions, I still was not repulsed by him. I liked him even when he was a jerk, and even more as I saw under his layers a bit. I think part of it was his underlying sense of humor. But he was also still as treacherous and unyielding as he needed to be due to his business and circumstances. And the side characters especially his brothers, Rev and Bishop are equally interesting, magnetic, and likable despite their rough exteriors. I am looking forward to more from them in this series.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

David “Deacon” Malloy grew up rough, but found a home with the Hell’s Raiders MC and his adopted family. He is unapologetic, brash, and alpha to the core. But he quickly must find a softer side of himself when he learns he is a father, and his former love is dead.

Alex knows loss and lives her life grateful for the people she loves and the opportunity she has. As a kindergarten teacher, she watches out for her students and is immediately drawn to quiet, intelligent Willow.

When Willow’s absences from class begin to worry Alex, she makes a home visit to check up on her favorite student and finds herself quickly pulled in to tutor Willow at home.

Deacon and Alex spend much of the book traveling new territory for each of them. Alex has never spent time in or around a motorcycle club, and Deacon has not been in a relationship in a very long time, nor has he ever tried to parent. The battle of wills they often find themselves fighting did a great job of showing the differences of their personalities while giving them a chance to learn compromise and teamwork.

I loved the bridge that Willow became between Deacon and Alex. While Alex had an instant connection to the traumatized child, Deacon was overwhelmed and out of his league when it came to caring for his daughter. Willow’s prologue drew me into the story faster than I would have imagined, and waiting for events foreshadowed so early to take place made for great tension.

Vicious Cycle was a great balance between a rough MC and something softer. It is definitely a gritty MC book, with danger, rivalries, and a brash lifestyle. But there is also a sweetness brought by Willow’s healing, Alex’s influence, and Mama Beth.

This was a great intro to a new series. It is a departure from Katie Ashley’s norm, but hits many of the aspects I expect from her books: great, dynamic characters, a great humorous bits. There is enough of the side characters that I’m tied in for future books, but not too much to distract from the focal point of this story. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Vicious Cycle is not for the faint of heart. There are no pretty hearts and rainbows in this story. I would even venture to say this might just be Katie’s grittiest book to date. What I can say is that if you are looking for a cocky, non-filtered MC hero look no further then David "Deacon" Malloy. 

I am a seasoned reader of Katie’s so when I tell you this book is gritty for her, I mean it can get downright raw and descriptive. I was so not expecting the story I got from Katie. I am used to either her softer, sweet stories that pull at your heartstrings with their angst, or the ones that have you swooning over hot rockers. Therefore, when I opened to the prologue I was blown away. Katie had my attention focused on her characters, and by the end of the first chapter, my blood was also boiling. I found myself completely and utterly hooked. Line and sinker. 

Deacon is our resident bad boy, and we’re going to start with him since he is the main player in this wild game of love and hate. I honestly did not know what in the world to think of him at first. Hate/love…these lines had a way of blurring. And boy did they blur. Katie introduces us to the hero with one hell of an alarming scene. A scene that left my mouth hanging open and my friend assuring me that David wasn’t the biggest d**k I had ever met. 

I’d like to say, I was immediately soothed by this; however, it took me a bit to warm up to this poignant and threatening man. I just could not wrap my mind around him. And even less so when he meets Willow (his daughter). I think because he was so different from what Katie normally writes that it was hard to picture her writing someone so…I don’t even know how to properly describe him. Over time, I began to adjust to his dominating and crude ways. Underneath all of his foul mouth remarks and abrasive behavior was a hardcore man who honored loyalty and showed a softer side to those he considered his. This takes a bit to discover, but once you do, it doesn’t take long for Deacon to become a worthy hero. 

Now, I am not saying he loses any of his abrasiveness; you just come to see it for what it is. He’s still Deacon—a cocky, foul mouthed, deadly MCer I wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley way. 

Next up is Deacon’s beautiful little girl. She snagged my heart immediately! I loved everything this little five-year-old. Katie has an amazing way of bring children to life in her books. She portrays them with such realism. You can’t help but fall in love with them on the spot. Willow was the shining star of Vicious Cycle. I hope we see more of her in her uncles books!! 

Speaking of uncles, I have to be totally honest here—I am in love with Rev. That’s the real reason David couldn’t steal my heart. It already belonged to his brother. Rev made my heart sigh with his sweet self. I just wanted to wrap him up in a big hug and distract him with lots of wicked things. His character was off the charts for me. Katie wrapped up his past, perfectly outfitted with intrigue and mystery. So much so, I want to unwrap every single layer. Rev is an enigma waiting to be discovered. 

Ok, last, but not least, Alex. She was actually my least favorite character. I can’t tell you exactly what it was about her that made it so I couldn’t connect with her. She started out all kind and warm-hearted; a character you would think would snag your heart instantly with her sweetness, but somewhere along the way, her allure rather dissipated for me. There wasn’t really one thing to narrow down my dislike and for that I am sorry. I hate not being able to give a specific reason why I disliked a character. 

As far as an MC book goes I would say that Katie provided us with some grit, some uncomfortable gory scenes, and underneath all of that she provided us with a love story that featured two total opposites. Deacon and Alex were interesting characters to say the least. I loved that they both found a way to mesh their personalities together to form a solid, loving couple for Willow. 

As you can tell, Vicious Cycle and I had a strong love hate relationship going on. It became wicked intense at times. I struggled with the main characters something fierce, and if I am to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would ever come to like who they were. The main protagonists had me second-guessing myself and losing my way here and there. 

With that said, each character definitely found their niche and grew on me. I would most definitely move on to Rev’s book!

Thank you, PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW, for a complimentary copy of Vicious Cycle. 

Redemption Road (Vicious Cycle #2)
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Expected October 6, 2015

New York Times bestselling author Katie Ashley plunges readers into a world of danger and desire in her Vicious Cycle motorcycle club romance series.

Looking for a walk on the wild side, Annabel Percy, the daughter of a powerful politician, becomes involved with a biker she knows is completely wrong for her. But she finds herself living a nightmare when she’s kidnapped and transported into a hell on earth she never could have imagined.

Born and bred into the Hell’s Raiders MC, Nathaniel “Reverend” Malloy lives and dies for his brothers. But when he becomes the unlikely savior of a rival club’s captive, Rev makes it his personal mission to nurse Annabel back to health—and to shelter her from the nightmares that torment her.

Once Annabel heals, she’s stunned to realize she is falling for the seductive man who saved her. Faced with their impossible attraction, can she accept the life he leads, or will Rev walk away from the only life he’s ever known for the women he was never supposed to love?

Last Mile 
(Vicious Cycle #3)
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Expected Feb. 2, 2016

Katie Ashley, the New York Times bestselling author ofRedemption Road and Vicious Cycle, returns to the dangerous and seductive world of the Hells Raiders motorcycle club…

After her father was murdered in the line of duty, ATF agent Samantha Vargas is determined to take down the scumbags of the drug trade. When her partner takes on a case to infiltrate the Hells Raiders MC, Samantha agrees to go undercover as his old lady but is surprised to find herself drawn to the very man she is investigating.

Benjamin “Bishop” Malloy has worked hard to carve a place for himself both in and out of the MC world. Working days as a mechanic, he spends his nights rebuilding motorcycles with the hope of one day owning his own shop. After taking one of the club’s new hang-arounds under his wing, Bishop is conflicted over his growing attraction for the man’s girlfriend.

Even though she’s determined to bring down the Raiders, Samantha discovers their world isn’t as black-and-white as she thought. And as the stakes grow higher, she’s in danger of losing more than her heart


Katie Ashley is the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author of The Proposition Series, Runaway Train Series, as well as several New Adult and Young Adult titles. Her latest series, Vicious Cycle, has been picked up for publication by Penguin Books. 

She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her two very spoiled dogs. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Downton Abbey, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.

With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in English Education, she spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.

She is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. 


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