Still Standing (Wild West MC #1) by Kristen Ashley
1st in a new Contemporary Romance MC series. Stands alone.
I haven’t been able to read a book since the beginning of December. I was tempted to wait for the audiobook of Still Standing, but when a Kristen Ashley ARC lands on my Kindle, I can’t hold back. This is a long book, and I spent the entire weekend completely engrossed in another amazing Kristen Ashley romance. I’m so glad I got my reading mojo back. I can always count on KA.
If you liked Motorcycle Man you will love Still Standing. Though we have a completely new MC, Aces High, like Chaos, has a legit business open to the public, and Buck, our hero, is President of the MC with two teenage kids. Since Motorcycle Man is one of my all time favorite books, and I love older characters, I certainly didn’t mind the similarities.
Let me start with a warning. There may be a moment (or two or three) where Buck does something completely unacceptable for any romance novel hero. Yet somehow, Kristen Ashley brings you to a place of forgiveness—I think she is the only author who could do that. So make sure you hang in there. It’s SO worth the ride.
Clara has lived a rough life. Growing up in the foster system, she only counted on her best friend Tia. Her ex-husband cheated and is in prison, and she is flat broke. She’s learned one hard lesson:
“That in my life… The best I ever had never lasted.”
In order to keep her friend safe, Clara had a job to do: deliver a message to the President of the Aces High MC, West “Buck” Hardy. Buck had other ideas for Clara, and he staked his claim immediately.
Clara was a bit naive when it comes to MC culture, and Buck didn’t do a great job of educating her. The other old ladies were right there to help out though, reinforcing the ‘MC is family’ culture. And family is something Clara never had.
“Because with West “Buck” Hardy, as good as I could get was beginning to feel like the best I ever had. And whenever something like that happened, you held on for dear life.”
My favorite scenes were almost all with Buck’s kids. While reading this, I realized that almost every one of my favorite Kristen Ashley books has older kids, she has a knack for writing these difficult relationships and transitions that get you in the feels every time.
“I claimed you and I’m keeping hold.”
Still Standing is the first in a new MC series, and even though there are some mentions and a cameo or two, I really love that you can start fresh in Pheonix with Aces High. After so many crossover books in Denver, I was having trouble keeping the characters straight.
I highlighted so many quotes in Still Standing, but this one is just everything:
“Let me deal with the cloud. You need to know, I’ll tell you. Until then, darlin’, my meaning in life is, you live in the sunshine.”
Oy, I get verklempt every time I read it.
Both Buck and Clara have had rough lives. I loved seeing them find their way to happiness.
Though Buck did a few things that were unacceptable in my book, I had to look at it from a different POV. This is an MC. They live by different rules. And people do make mistakes, especially under extreme situations. Forgiveness was a key theme in this book, and I forgave.
“We can’t do anything about those pages that were already written, baby. But we’re past those. Now we’re writing it new. You with me?”
- It pulled out every single emotion. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I got scared and I swooned my ass off.
- Clara was strong but naive. Sassy but scrappy. I loved her.
- The start of a new series where we don’t have to keep track of previous characters.
- Vintage KA feel—similar to Motorcycle Man but different enough for me to love it as much.
- Somehow Kristen was able to get me over something that I’m not sure another author could have.
- Sigh….the nose kisses.
- It made me think on the deeper meanings of loyalty, forgiveness and love.
- Older characters who have lived and been married before.
- The teenage kids. Kristen writes great teenagers, and the moments between them and Clara, even the bad ones, were my favorite.
- The MC girl posse.
- It was long, which is great because I didn’t want it to end.
- Though there was a lot of outside influences and drama, the focus was much more on the relationship and less about club business.
- One scene went a little too far for me and took too long to turn around.
- “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John has been stuck in my head for WEEKS!
The Down & Dirty:
I tried to make this a brief review, but HA! No chance. I have too many thoughts! Still Standing is vintage Kristen Ashley. Admittedly it follows a formula—alpha man stakes claim immediately, woman is in danger, and man has her moved in within a week. Yet there was a new world being built. A new club, in a new city with all new characters. It’s similar to Motorcycle Man which is by no means a complaint, since that’s one of my favorite books ever. I ran through the gamut of feelings reading Still Standing, and despite a difficult moment or two, I pushed through and ended up absolutely LOVING Still Standing.
Rating: 4.5 Stars, 4 Heat
Purchase Still Standing (Wild West MC Book #1) by Kristen Ashley
(Erin Mallon narrates! I will be re-reading via audible very soon!)