Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: Riding Wild by Jaci Burton

It has been said by those far wiser than I that " . . . the course of true love never runs smooth." That seems to be the case in a number of Jaci Burton novels of which this is one. Written as the first in her biker series know as the Wild Riders, this novel introduces readers to the undercover governmental agency formed to infiltrate biker clubs and gangs and to be virtually un-noticed as they seek to do their jobs.

Mac Canfield was a lone wolf type of guy who had been well on his way to spending most of his life in prison for grand theft. Approached by Gen. Grange Lee to be a part of this new undercover agency, Mac agreed to do so in exchange for a clean slate legally. Little did he realize that the General would be the father he never really had, give him opportunities educationally, and help him to transform his life and move in a different direction. Now he was a thief, but he was stealing back items and commodities stolen from the government and which weren't able to be retrieved by legitimate means.

Mac's high school sweetheart, Lily West, was from a wealthy home, used to a life of luxury, bent on determining her own direction in life, but having to work constantly against a parent who was equally determined to plan out her life. She is now living in Chicago, working as a private investigator, after several years in law enforcement where even the long arm of her father's influence kept her from doing her duty as she saw it. A robbery at one of Chicago's museums brings Mac and Lily together--Lily's investigations firm had been hired to determine the effectiveness of the museum's security system and staff. Once again she finds Mac stealing, believing that he is just a involved in crime as he was ten years earlier. But in order to keep Lily from finding out what he really does, Mac is instructed to sort of kidnap her, take her on an extended road trip on his Harley, and dump her somewhere out of sight and harm's way. Once again Mac is going to have to abandon the only woman he has ever loved, just as he did 10 years earlier.

It seems to me that the core ideas that drive this story are the inability to trust after having their initial trust broken. Also, this story is about what it means to really believe in someone, looking beyond the externals of one's life situation and recognizing the true nature of someone as intrinsically good, honorable, and caring. Lily has waited all her life for her father to see her as she really was, a grown-up and one that actually possesses a brain. Her father has never seen her as anyone other than an extension of himself and a pawn on life's "chess board" to manipulate and control. Mac realizes belatedly that he has not been much better, as he drove Lily aware 10 years earlier, thinking that she would be better off without him. He even went so far then as to tell her that he didn't love her. Now he had to face her anger and the indifference she used to guard her heart.

This is a very warm and engaging love story, lots of hot loving, but a re-discovery of a love that had never really died but which needed to be claimed by two adults who were now mature and in tune with their inner selves. Ms Burton, as always, writes beautifully, with that realistic touch that puts the reader smack dab in the middle of the story with its nuances, action, and surprises. The plot is not necessarily unique, variants of which have been used by suspense fiction writers for years. But there is something unique about a "bad boy" living right and serving our country in quiet hidden ways that grabs the imagination. In Burton's hands, such a story line blossoms into a beautiful novel.

So grab your leathers and climb on for a wild ride with the Wild Riders. And I know for a fact that all this series will take readers to places they may never have been and give all of us a view of life on the wild side. I give this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5.


Lea said...

You write such excellent reviews Dr. J. I think you know, Jaci's Wild Riders series is my favorite romantic suspense. And I agree the story blossoms in her capable hands.

Thanks for sharing!

Tracy said...

I loved this one! You're so right - there's definitely something about the bad boy working for his country. :)