This Chick Read: Smoke and Steel (Wild West MC #2) by Kristen Ashley

Hellen Moynihan has goals. She’s strong, independent, and when her boyfriend isn’t showing her the respect she deserves she cuts him loose. Respect is of utmost importance and when she see’s a friend of hers being taking advantage by a man, she speaks up trying to get her friend to respect herself. Dustin “Hardcore” Cutler is a man who has dished out vengeance and in the past to one person who didn’t deserve the treatment. He and his MC brothers are on the path of redemption trying to make up for this past act. When he is put on Hellen’s detail, watching over her as a favor to her brother-in-law, he knows she is exactly the type of woman he’s attracted to, but because of his past acts he thinks he doesn’t deserve happiness. Yet, he somehow allows Hellen into his life and fells the warmth of that redemption soothe his soul.

I don’t typically read MC novels and in fact probably only read them when written by Kristen Ashley. I prefer hero’s to be “good” men, but I’ll admit there is something about a bad man who makes good that is appealing in a fantasy read. Core was just such a man. He and his brothers portrayed a horrible act, one that as a woman is not easily redeemed in a novel, but the fact that he beat himself up so much about what he did shows that he has that kernel of goodness inside his heart. Of course in real life I wouldn’t be so forgiving but since this is a novel I wanted to see where this story would lead. I really kind of liked it.

Core had that mix of gruff and surly mixed with an old world charm. Right from the start he treated Hellen with the respect that she was looking for, opening doors, holding her hand, helping her put on her coat, etc. He was also looking out for her safety. At times that could be difficult because Hellen was determined to help her friend with a man who was stealing from her. She and her girl gang came up with a scheme that would put her in harms way and Core would magically appear to remove them from harm. Classic KA storytelling a la Rock Chicks, which I do like a lot.

The heat level on this romance is sizzling hot, so if you are looking for a tamer storyline between the sheets this may not be the novel you’re looking for. I’ll admit to skimming the romance time to get back to the story, but luckily there were only a couple of more detailed scenes, so easy to avoid if you’re comfort level needs that.

I enjoyed this second novel in the series. Core and Hellen were opposites who when together made a great couple and their story was fun to read. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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