Happy Book Birthday Joanna Wylde! Reaper’s Fall is out today and now available in bookstores and retailers.
[Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reaper’s Fall covers nearly five years and the ups and downs of Painter’s relationship with Melanie Tucker, the mother of this child. This is book #5 of Wylde’s Reaper’s MC series, and the reader finds out in #4 that Painter and Mel have a child together, but we don’t get all the background. That’s what this book is for, to explain all that and get us caught back up in the Reaper’s timeline. I don’t think it’s completely necessary to read the others, since you get filled in a long the way, but they do expand on this world.
Levi “Painter” Brooks is a bad boy. He’s a member of the Reaper’s MC, and he’d do anything for his brothers. He loves the ladies and the ladies love him, but he’s not interested in more than a few nights with anyone. In fact, he passed up the President’s daughter, Emmy, because he thought she’d wait for him to get all his wild days behind him. She didn’t, and Painter is left to wonder if the club will be all he ever has. The thought doesn’t bother him at all.
A random encounter with a eighteen year old Melanie Tucker puts a kink in those plans, and when he finds himself locked up, the only thing he looks forward to is getting Melanie’s letters, and maybe, one day, getting out and claiming her as his. That’s just a dream, though. She’s too good for him or so he thinks.
Melanie Tucker is a straight shooter. She follows all the rules and gets good grades. Her mother left a few years before, and her father is a drunk, so she’s sorta adopted by her best friend Jessica’s Aunt, London. London is involved with Picnic Hayes, President of the Reapers MC, and that’s how Melanie meets a disarmingly handsome man named Painter. She doesn’t know why, but she writes him letters while he’s in prison, and she even puts her dating life on hold because she thinks that when he gets out, they can be together.
The real story starts when Painter comes back to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and he and Melanie have to figure out where they go from there.
I’ve read all of Joanna Wylde’s Reaper’s MC books and even the side series Silver Valley featuring the Silver Bastards MC. I’ve loved some of these books and didn’t care for others. All things considered, though, I was so excited for Painter’s book. I knew he was a player, but I really wanted to see him fall hard. He does, too.
I reached up, setting a hand on her shoulder. She covered it with her own hand, winding our fingers together. Her eyes burned through mine in the mirror, and that’s when my world shifted.
I’d fallen in love with Melanie Tucker.
Not some little-boy, bullshit needy “love” like I’d felt for Emmy Hayes—this was nothing like that. This was deep, almost painful in its unholy intensity. It was like she’d sent tendrils burrowing deep inside, binding up together so tightly I’d die if I ever tried to pull them out.
YES. This is what I want. Painter to hit his knees and realize he can love and to know what love is.
We start with a prologue set in the present then move into the past several years to the start of their relationship to present again with about eighty-ish pages left in the book. A good majority of this book is “before”, and I liked it a lot.
He and Melanie are so great together. They’re sweet, fun, and a little bit dirty. He brings out some recklessness in her and she calms him down. It’s a great pairing. There’s club business that takes Painter away a lot, but throughout, he and Mellie are solid. This felt like a huge sigh of relief for me where some of these books take on loads of drama and clichés, this didn’t…at first.
This book can easily be split into “before baby” and “after baby”.
“Before baby” which is about 250 pages is fun and flirty. Painter is a dick sometimes, but it’s the MC stereotype. Melanie is open but hesitant, mostly about how dispensable Painter sees himself. She’s all in for their relationship, though, and so is he.
Then the “after baby reveal”:
Through a terrible series of incidents, Painter ends up in jail again to complete his sentence. He’s in for two years and misses the birth of his and Mellie’s daughter and the first year and half of her life. Mellie is understandably upset because he put himself in that position to be arrested, but she goes from being head over heels in love with Painter to cursing his name and pushing him away to the point he has to find out about the circumstances of his daughter’s birth, by letter, from another person.
Melanie visits him once in jail when Izzy is five months old, and that’s the only time she visits, I assume. It’s never addressed again. After that visit, she decides to send him pictures of their child for the first time. Granted, Painter didn’t take the news of her pregnancy well, but Melanie even cried for hours after she found out. Painter needed some time to adjust to the thought, he just got arrested before he could get back to her and apologize in person. He feels genuine remorse for what he’s done to land him in jail and away from them.
I’m not downplaying the isolation that Melanie feels because I couldn’t imagine such stress as a single mother, but she constantly hates on the MC that helps her, yet she never turns down their help. She lets them watch her daughter for her, but she tells Painter she doesn’t trust them.
It didn’t make sense.
The tipping point for me was the fact that four years pass between the time he gets out of prison and the time they get back together. This is when Painter becomes an asshole nonstop and Melanie treats him terribly. He claims to love her so much but sleeps around like he did before he met her. She tries to date but no one ever comes close to Painter. He’s possessive and crude. She dances a fine line between teasing him and being bitchy.
Even when they get back together, it’s not a slow build of trust, it’s an immediate connection after he tells her that she broke the rules and she’s his again. She goes along with it, has unprotected sex with the man who has been sleeping his way around the clubhouse and then everything is peachy.
The last thirty-eight pages (yes, I counted) were hastily thrown together. It felt like the author was trying to wrap up loose ends that we really didn’t need wrapped up as opposed to using that page space to focus on getting the romance back on a realistic track.
This is probably the toughest review I’ve ever written because I liked so many parts of this book, but there were big things that didn’t fit for me. I’m giving this one 3 stars because up until the last eighty pages, it was a solid 4 star book. Then it crumbled.