Fire Inside (a Chaos novel)
Hachette / June 4, 2013 / $3.79 digital
Lanie Heron isn't looking for love-no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club . . .
For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She's too polished and too classy for his taste. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can't say no. And he doesn't regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that's ever happened to him-in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that.
Kristen Ashley fans have had June 4th circled on their calendar for months, panting for more than the tantalizing glimpse we got of Lanie and Hop in Own the Wind. So many questions sprang to mind: Wasn’t Hop, even by MC standards, somewhat of a “man-hoor”? How would Chaos president Tack, married to Lanie’s best friend Tyra, react to his top lieutenant carrying on with a member of his wife’s extended family? The Connecticut princess and the Chaos biker…oh the drama, could it possibly live up to expectations and hype? Readers, worry not, Fire Inside is adolescent, fiery, sprawling, and over-the-top, a fabulous roller-coaster of a read in the best Kristen Ashley Motorcycle Man tradition.
Let’s set the stage and put out some props. Fire Inside has a soundtrack of the heart, courtesy of rocker Bob Seger, so his Greatest Hits wouldn’t come amiss. Although Fire Inside can be enjoyed as a standalone, it’s very much part of the Denver Chaos world, so grab Motorcycle Man and refresh your memories of Tyra and Lanie and how their friendship changed eight years ago when Tyra met Tack. Tyra found true love, but Lanie—not so much. Her fiancé nearly got both Tyra and Lanie killed.
Almost a decade later, Lanie is the successful owner of a boutique ad agency. She and Tyra (aka Cherry to the Chaos brotherhood) are still besties and Lanie’s a regular at Chaos parties, beloved for her spirited ways and high-drama personality, even with something as simple as her favorite soda. Hopper had “seen her create a scene when the diet cherry 7 Up she was pouring fizzed over the top of the glass.”
Fire Inside opens in the best romantic tradition of a couple with seemingly nothing in common, getting together for a Keep It Simple Stupid one-night-stand and finding themselves in It’s Complicated territory very quickly. And it’s more than the utterly off-the-charts sex, although that certainly explains the first 13 nights.
Hopper Kincaid is a long cool drink of man, taller than graceful 5’9” Lanie even when she’s in high heels. His jeans may be well-worn, thigh-hugging gorgeous but like Lanie, he’s no stranger to bling, with “bulky silver rings on his fingers, sometimes two or three, sometimes five or six.” Throw in leather bands, silver bracelets, chains, medallions, stud earrings, and sets of fiery tats to punctuate the picture and you have two peacocks in the room. But his heartfelt emotional honesty about the impact Lanie has on him is like water to her parched soul:
Never had class. Never had beauty. I’ll repeat, never…had…class. I’m not going to fuck over Cherry, who I care about, or Tack, who’s my brother, and I know you don’t wanna do that either, so this is what we got for as long as it’s good. But it’s a clean, pure beauty the like I’ve never had. I’m gonna respect it like I feel like I gotta and you’re gonna let me.
You might be wondering what’s in it for Lanie. It wasn’t that long into their first explosive night together Hop said, “Not done with you,” and to Lanie’s disbelieving surprise, since her dead fiancé hadn’t packed that kind of wallop and stamina, Hop, “taking his time and a lot of it...gave her wow five and six.” Lanie had always found Hop’s looks attractive, not to mention his charisma, but when she met him she was in the throes of dealing with a fiancé who was indebted to the Russian mob. Lanie was so loyal she literally took three bullets in a futile effort to save her fiancé’s life.
So when she came on to Hop at the Chaos party, it was for a hook-up, not a relationship. She feels haunted and hollow inside, as if all her feelings had bled out during the attack years earlier. It turned out, however, that Hop really was all that, as Lanie realizes,
Never, not ever in my life, would the man I was staring at right then be a man I would expect to be in my bed. But he was and he was, for the first time in my life, in my bed on my own damned terms.
Hop is a divorced father of two and his divorce, even by chaotic Chaos standards, was bitter and painful. No one has a good word to say about his ex. A variety of women have kept his bed warm since then but no one spent the night or left with a commemorative t-shirt. Lanie's the exact opposite—there’s been no man in her bed since her fiancé died.
So what do they have in common? What’s the glue that binds them together—other than the high they get from inhaling each other’s pheromones? It was fellow Heroes and Heartbreakers blogger Tori Benson @smexys_sidekick who gave me a clue, saying they were both drama queens—and they really are, feeling everything incredibly intensely and then emoting and expressing and over-the-topping it. This is not a criticism, rather two wonderful people who have been given the gift of a second shot at adolescent love and they go at it hammer and tongs. I couldn’t even keep up with the number of times they broke up and made up. Lanie opened a bottle of white wine, lit candles and listened to Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” over and over again. Hop dreamt about Lanie, stalked her from afar, rode past her townhouse—come on, we’ve all been there.
Beyond the achingly poignant angst, though, both are loyal to their family, their friends, even to the point of phenomenal inner turmoil. One of the sweetest things about them as a couple is their ability to do for the other what they couldn’t do for themselves. Case in point, Lanie is dreading a weekend in Vail with her dysfunctional parents (mom an alcoholic, dad a philanderer) and Hop not only offers to be there for her, he points out,
Train your mind to think you’re gonna be in God’s country, at the foot of the mountains in a spot that’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. What you’re facing sucks. Where you’re gonna face it doesn’t. Try to think of that.
Lanie bemoans her work situation to Hop and when he offers the Chaos solution (to whup the offending company, that’s threatening her, into shape), he accepts her refusal to use him and says he won’t get involved.
But I reserve the right, that shit ever turns ugly, to have another conversation about it. And if I feel you need me, that conversation might have a different ending.
Lanie’s mental jaw dropped, “Oh my God. It just kept getting better. Compromise.”
Lanie drives a Lexus, she wears designer clothes and lives in a fabulous townhouse—but all the money in the world has never given her a gorgeous intelligent man who has her back and her heart and who loves her inside and out as Hop Kinkaid does. He flat out invades Lanie’s world.
He was not of my life, my work, my home. He came from a life that was wild and free…Where rules didn’t apply, only feelings did. You went with your gut, you led with your heart, you did what you wanted and you didn’t think of the consequences. You lived. You were free. Yes, Hop invading my office bringing Chinese food brought all this to me. And I liked it.
Is trust an issue for both of them? Yes. Will secrets and past anguish threaten their future? You bet. Is the Chaos Brotherhood going to embrace Lanie and Hop’s relationship? In Fire Inside, Kristen Ashley has given her readers everything they asked for: a phenomenal love affair, time with all our Chaos world friends, even the irresistible Elvira joins the party. You’ll want to warm your hands around the fire that Lanie and Hop create.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley before its June 4 release: