Note: This ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I jerked my shoulder. "I don't give a fuck about coming out to anybody, if that's what you mean."
"What I mean is that this can never be normal, not in our world," he said. "You're the one who has everything to lose."
"You have a business," I said, laying my head against his neck. "You don't think that's huge?"
"Sure, but I can go anywhere and open a bar," he said, burrowing his fingers in my scalp. "You have brotherhood you've sworn to. A life with the Disciples."
"Yeah, sure," I said. "But I never found anybody I wanted to lose everything for."
Vaughn O'Keefe's life is pretty simple. He spends most of his time at the Hog's Den, the bar he shares ownership of with the president of the Disciples of the Road motorcycle club, and makes sure he checks up on and spends time with his elderly father. He's considered an honorary member of the Disciples, thanks to his management of the bar plus his ability to be discreet when it came to club business. The club has helped him out more than once, so when he's short one bartender, he's offered the assistance of one of the recruits. He knows he should be thankful but it's difficult when the recruit has been fuel for his fantasies.
Reed "Smoke" Callahan's life hasn't always been easy. He lost his father and the bar the man owned to a fire that reeked of arson, and he was in a relationship that got him hooked on heroin and led to drug-induced sexual encounters. With the help of the president of the Disciples of the Road motorcycle club, he's clean and doing his best to lead a better life. He would do anything the Prez asked of him, but when he's told to help out the bar owner who's tempted him from a distance, he hesitates. Spending time together could lead to their dreams being fulfilled, but it could also lead to a nightmare neither expected.
When author Christina Lee announced that she was going to write Vaughn O'Keefe and Smoke Callahan's story, I knew it was going to go to the very top of my to-be-read list. These two were introduced in There You Stand, one of my all-time favorites and a top read for 2015, and now they finally have their time in the spotlight with The Darkest Flame, the first in the Roadmap to Your Heart series. Both Vaughn and Smoke are bisexual, a fact that they don't publicly share with those closest to them, refusing to run the risk of backlash should the Disciples of the Road MC, an old-school-type of bike club, ever discover their secret.
Vaughn and Smoke have noticed each other before but they keep their mutual attraction under wraps. Having no choice but to be in each other's company while working side-by-side at the Hog's Den heightens the awareness each has for the other. Keeping anything going on between them a secret is difficult, but when someone notices, it leads to taunts and threats with Vaughn as the primary target and these clue in Smoke as to who may be sending them. This complicates things between Vaughn and Smoke, who are already having to deal with the realization what was supposed to be temporary was becoming much more.
This first in a series had a similar romantic suspense thriller feel that There You Stand had but was able to stand on its own merits with two characters who were trying to handle their attraction and feelings for each other while not trying to attract the attention of a stalker-like individual. I loved Vaughn and Smoke and how they found the one person who was meant for them in each other, in spite of all the odds thrown their way. The Darkest Flame has set the bar high for the rest of the series, but then, I never expect less from Christina Lee and that's why she's one of my all-time favorite authors. I'm giving this five-plus stars. ♥
Release Date: 17 August 2015
Date Read: 15 August 2015
Learn more about Christina Lee here.