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Our Review

Mickey kissed my hand he was holding.
I sighed, “Mickey?”
“Yes, love.”
“It has a happy ending?”
“Of course. The best love stories do, and ours is the best, love.”

Wow! How have we not read anything by Abby McCarthy before now? It’s been a long time between MC Romances for us and we’ve missed them. In our quest to find stories with older characters (as in past college age) Stronger Than This came up. As it ticked two must haves off our reading mood, we decided to dive in, and easily became swept up in this gritty, compulsive story.

‘I memorized every detail. She had a few silver scars that I just knew were from her ex. She had a few small silver stretch marks that I surmised were from Talon. They didn’t detract from her beauty. They just showed me how strong she was.’

Now, the first thing we didn’t expect was the grittiness of this story. Oh sure, the reason we pick up MC reads is for that element, but Abby McCarthy goes above and beyond by offering up a story that’s disturbing, uncomfortable, raw and positively heartbreaking at times. Honestly, what Marie went through would break the toughest of spirit. This lady certainly deserved any shred of happiness she could take from life, and Abby McCarthy didn’t shy away from telling Marie’s story.

Stronger Than This began with a riveting prologue that immediately drew in, as we met twenty two, Marie, the heroine of our story. Having left home at sixteen to escape her abusive father, Marie is smitten with a biker named Drake, who rolls into town, sleeps with her and makes promise of a better life than the one she is currently living if she leaves with him in the morning. At thirty four, Drake doesn’t mince words, is rough, crass and direct. Thinking she has nothing to lose, she leaves, quite literally, on the back of Drake’s bike.

‘Before Drake, I laughed. Before Drake, I loved. After Drake, I hurt. I wondered if it would always feel like that?’

For a while things are okay until the ‘real’ Drake emerges. High on drugs and alcohol, he is one nasty son of a bitch and his target is Marie. He begins abusing Marie after the birth of their child, Talon. Marie spends years scheming to leave Drake, and though fearful for her life and that of her daughter, she escapes to Wakeman, Pennsylvania, and though she settles in nicely, with everyone being so welcoming, the fear and threat of Drake finding her is never far from her mind.

“The moment you start thinking monsters aren’t real, is the moment they attack.”

It is here Marie meets Mickey McCafferty. But, as Marie finds out, Mickey is the Sargent in Arms of the Devil Crusaders MC Club, and Marie’s hackles and her fear level is instantly raised.  But Mickey couldn’t be more opposite to her ex-husband, Drake. Mickey is kind, caring, a truly wonderful man with a beautiful soul who has seen his own share of pain, and his club is nothing like the MC Club Marie escaped from, in fact, for the first time in her life, Mickey and his brothers in arms, and their families, allow Marie to see a glimpse of a life she never believed she could have. A good life, filled with comfort, safety, friends, happiness and love. But sadly, danger is never far away.

‘I knew right then and there that Mickey was his own kind of danger to me. The kind where I had to worry about my heart.’

Abby McCarthy didn’t hold back in delivering a story that at times, felt unsettlingly real, taking us out of our comfort zone a time or two. Whilst Marie’s story was hard to read and it broke our hearts, we marvelled at the resilience and bravery of this beautiful lady. We hoped in our hearts that a caring and loving man such as Mickey, could give Marie the happiness she deserved. Mickey and Marie shouldered a lot of burdens, and amid the lawlessness, the ugly and the violence, Abby McCarthy brought us a beautiful story of healing, bravery and love.

Our only gripe in an otherwise fantastic story, was the Irish ‘lingo’ the author used to express Mickey’s heritage. This did grate on us after a while and as Mickey lapsed back into this vernacular when he became emotional, which had the tendancy to distract us from the story at hand which was a shame. However, in saying that, Stronger Than This was a great re-introduction into a theme we’ve sorely missed.

 “I don’t know you Mickey.”
“Get to know me.”

 

Synopsis

Marie:
I married a monster — a member of a motorcycle club. I was okay with him blurring the lines until the lines he crossed turned against me. He wasn’t always a monster, or he hid it well. I wouldn’t have married him if I’d known. By the time his true colors showed, I was pregnant with no way out. Until one day, years of planning paid off, and I was able to run away with my daughter.
I found my footing in the foothills of Pennsylvania, thinking I would be far from any MC. I was wrong.

Mickey:
As a member of The Devil’s Crusaders, not much escapes me in Wakeman. Especially not the tiny, fiery redhead who strolled into town, so obviously hiding from something. She made my blood boil in the best way possible. I’d avoided taking an old lady, instead, choosing to spend my years raising my daughter. Not anymore. Not since Marie. I was ready, and she was it for me. I just had to find out what she was hiding from before it finally catches up to her.

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