Friday, February 27, 2015
Review: Give it All (Desert Dogs #2) by Cara McKenna
Keep your friends close—and your enemies closer….
Bar owner Raina Harper can’t say for sure what Duncan Welch is to her. With her small Nevada town under siege by a ruthless casino development and still reeling from a spate of murders, she knows that trusting the public face of the corporate invaders is risky to say the least. Though, damn, it’s one fine-looking face.…
Duncan may be a mercenary when it comes to getting the job done, but he’s no villain. In fact, the calculating fixer soon finds himself in the bad guys’ crosshairs, framed and facing professional ruin. To clear his name, he’ll need help from Raina and her roughneck motorcycle club, the Desert Dogs. Gaining their trust won’t be easy, and the molten sexual tension between Raina and Duncan only makes things more complicated—especially since Miah Church, Raina’s friend and ex-lover, would sooner strangle Duncan than shake his hand.
One thing’s certain, though: If they don’t deal with their incendiary attraction soon, the whole damn town might go up in flames.…
Goodreads | Source: Purchased
Cara McKenna is a must read author for me, although I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy the first book in her new Desert Dogs series, Lay it Down. One of the reasons for that was how much the secondary characters overpowered the leading couple. Duncan and Raina (the couple in this book) lept off the page and stole every scene they were in. So despite not loving Lay it Down. I knew I was going to give book #2 a shot because it was their story.
I absolutely loved Raina and Duncan as individuals and their initial mating dance was hot as hell. Duncan is probably one of McKenna’s most f*cked up characters – and that’s saying something. But once you see past his snobbish, OCD, pill popping, elitist lawyer personality, he is one of the sweetest too. He’s not a typical romance hero and not nearly as dirty as McKenna’s previous heroes. He does have a kink but I’m betting you would never in a million years guess what it is.
Raina is awesome too. I loved how she has a tough exterior but she’s also refreshingly honest about her wants and desires. We learn more about her past, her relationships with her father and Miah – her friend and former lover – who’s still very much hung up on her and her hopes for the future.
I like how Raina and Duncan’s relationship slowly developed and they both saw past each others icy exteriors. But somewhere along the line it kind of fell apart for me. She an Duncan share a near combustible attraction and it turns to something more sweet and intimate but they had so many hang ups and issues that the resolution felt rushed. I wished I could have seen them outside of the bedroom more so I could see how they functioned outside of a sexual relationship.
Duncan is working to clear his name of bribery charges and goes way outside his $3000 suit, Mercedes driving comfort zone looking for clues in the Fortuity dessert but he mostly does this with every other character from the book except Raina. Don’t get me wrong – I loved those interactions – of Duncan bonding with Casey,Vince, John Dancer and even Miah. They were actually my favorite part of Give it All but he and Raina mostly come together for sex. Again, I want to point out that this isn’t your typical kinky, sex solves all kind of thing. What they have is something more – waaaay more intimate but it doesn’t seem to extend outside of the bedroom.
For example, Duncan gets arrested or brought in for questioning several times. While Raina is worried, she never goes down there to check on him. She also repeatedly accuses Duncan of trying to change her but she’s never really called out on how she is with Duncan. Part of the attraction to him is her desire to break him down and make him unravel under her control. She also likes the fact that he needs her. It’s a super interesting dynamic but by the end it feels really one sided and unfair to Duncan. He’s making all the compromises and gestures. Taking all the risks. I love how it’s all wrapped up. Very gratifying and balance is restored. I guess I feel like the steps in between are missing.
The mystery of the bones continues form the first book and I found that more interesting this time around as well. Especially with Duncan doing all that dirty work, working through his discomfort and panic. He was really fascinating to read about.
Final thoughts: Overall this was a much stronger book than Lay it Down and I thought it was headed for a 5 star read but then the story kind of got messy for me. The romance and the mystery felt like two separate entities – both interesting but choppy in their transition from one to the other. There's crime solving Duncan and then here's relationship Duncan and Raina but the two don't mix.
Even so, I had a lot of fun reading this one and would still highly recommend it. I guess the romance part could be read as a stand alone but I think it’s better if you read the books in order. There is a bigger story and characters that carry over from each book.