Series: The One-Eyed Jacks MC Club Book #1
Author: Cat Porter
Blurb: I suppose some of us have to get really dirty before we can become truly clean.
I was allegedly South Dakota’s most famous Old Lady.
Sixteen years ago I had survived my Old Man’s murder.
Never again will I surrender my heart.
Never again will I sacrifice to the Club.
But that all changed in one night.
I came home and crashed into him,
and my past and present blew up in my face.
Both of us lonely, running on empty, and unwilling to admit it.
Now I feel things I’d forgotten about, want things I’d cut out of my insides.
Love not only stings when you lose it, when it’s ripped away,
When it first sinks its teeth into you, it can cut just as raw and sting just as deep.
I’d forgotten that.
Who holds the keys to betrayal? To suspicion? To trust?
To brotherhood? To family?
To redemption and a bleeding heart?
Right now, I just might.
Warning: This work of fiction contains graphic language, sex, and material some readers may find objectionable.
Thoughts: Let me just say that the blurb for this book really does not do it justice – this is the absolute best MC book I have read. Not only does it have that hard, gritty undertone to it representative of good MC book, but there is an undertone of pure sensitivity and sweetness in this one and a level of emotion that just pushes this one into a class all by itself. The story is a beautiful one and it also isn’t simple or easy – it’s hard, it’s complex, it’s painful, and it will bring more than one tear to your eye. It was obvious to me that this author didn’t just jump in, throw a few words on a page, and throw it out there for us to read…..this author not only thought through her storyline, but she took her time in the telling of it. This story was woven with intent, purpose, and with a soulful intensity. She is the difference between just a writer…and an actual master of her craft. And I will tell you right now, I will pick up anything else that she has a mind to write….because with just this one book (her debut book, mind you) she has won me over for life.
This book is, of course, is not for the faint of heart. I think that can really be said for any of these MC titles. This one for more than obvious reasons, though – this one is a wild, wonderful roller coaster ride from beginning to end. This one breaks boundaries, breaks your expectations (even for an MC), and really is just like nothing else you have ever read. This tells the story of Grace – not just for one moment in her life – but for the decades of it. While we do get to know Grace – in both her past and her present – the author does such an amazing job with it that even up till the end we still never know everything about her. This story is a journey in the life of Grace – and what a pleasure that journey is. While it does bounce around a bit in the storytelling, for once it did not bother me at all – in fact, it actually contributed to the overall effect. What can I say except…once again, Porter is a master of her craft…and I am a humble reader of her works…:) One who can’t wait for whatever else she deems to grace us with!
Interview with Cat Porter: How did you come up with the idea for this story? It was about a year and a half ago, I got tired of reading biker books where the heroine was a young girl and a newbie to biker culture, scared out of her wits and horrified with their lifestyle and whining about it- the crime and the crudeness of life on the fringe. Or a story about a young thing who wanted to walk on the wild side with a biker dude. An image of a world weary been-there/done-that older woman stuck in my mind and wouldn’t go away. What if one day, out of the blue that woman walked back into her old clubhouse after being away for a long time? What would the guys say? How would they react to her now? Why is she back anyway? That was the story I wanted to read. It immediately became the story I had to write.
Where do you find your inspiration? It’s this strange weave of feelings, experiences past and present twisted with evocative images or situations I see/read/hear on television or in books or in music. I make odd connections and then through that an idea hits me in the gut and buzzes there, that’s when I know.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Turning off my analytical mind and just “listening” and letting it happen and not editing myself as I spit it out on the page. Now that I’m writing full time, it’s not such a hurdle anymore. But that willingness to be free is special. I remember while writing L&K I was buzzing along and there were crazy moments that came up and I thought “I can’t go there-Oh, hell yes, I can!” and it was great to just get it out and let it happen and play with the new, surprising things that came up for the plot and the characters.
What are your current projects? I have a new book coming out in November, “Wolfsgate” a romance drama set in 18th century England. I’ve had an obsession with the 18th century since I was a little girl watching Masterpiece Theatre with my parents every Sunday and I enjoyed reading the classics and historicals from a young age. The notion of an arranged marriage used to fascinate me to no end. What happens if the husband and wife actually, truly, fall in love and how does that happen? I’m currently writing the second book of the One-Eyed Jacks series and planning on releasing it this winter.
Tell us about your first book. What would readers find different about the first one and your most recent published work? My first (traditionally) published book is a religious children’s myth, so it’s very different from “Lock & Key”! But the differences between L&K and “Wolfsgate” aside from the obvious- a bike club in contemporary South Dakota and upper class society of 18th century England- is a remarkable two sides of the same coin idea, I think. In the bike club there are no rules or restrictions (just those of their “tribe”), they live on the fringe of society and their moral compass is off the standard chart.
In the 18th century it’s all about the formal rules and restrictions of society. People then spoke indirectly about the stuff bubbling under the surface. In the bike world, they bluntly lay it out in a raw, unabashed way, do what they want, take what they want. In the 18th century world, there may be rules and restrictions (and bindings on their corsets, but no panties!) Yet there is so much implied and not said outright in their fancy speech and formal behavior, so much struggling to get through, so much crudeness and rule bending going on underneath the gilded niceties. All that fascinates me just as much as the raw, brash in-your-face-no-shame culture the biker world represents.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? In L&K Grace and her sister sacrifice in order to protect each other all their lives, from parents who abandon them and turn to alcoholism, from loss, depression, cancer, the threat of death, you name it. It’s noble and it drives those two women, and unfortunately the men around them often use it against them. The same goes for Miller and his older brother Wreck. There’s also the notion of identity- the use of their names, their biker road names, their real names. There are the ideas of family identity and cultural identity at play here too. When Lock first meets Grace he decides to use his real name and that’s how he wants it between them. He doesn’t use a nickname for Grace other than “babe” or “baby” unlike her first love who had had several nicknames for Grace. But this is a different time and place in both their lives- they’ve both reached this point of Brutally Real or Nothing at All.
The other idea is that both Grace and Miller are both living with their heads down in a mediocre glide through life. When they first meet they joke about that cliché “change keeps the blood flowing” but it proves to be true for both of them, because for years their blood has not been flowing, and that needs to be changed. And in order to push through and stand up for what they want after all this time, they have to get dirty and taste ugliness in order to fully realize their truths, know their worth, and be able to stand up and say “No more. This is what I want, what I need and I want to live it now. Screw you and screw everything else.”
Does music play any type of role in your writing? Music is really important to me when writing. I generate playlists for every story choosing songs according to the time period, mood, character journey or the atmosphere of a scene. I can sit there and have one particular song on replay for a long time as I write. Other times I need silence. I’m always listening to the playlist when I workout, walk home from taking my kids to school or while I’m doing housework…it keeps me in the “zone” of the story.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life? I’ve experienced a lot of death in my family and a few friends over the years, so I understand the bite of that kind of loss, the way it makes you look at everything in your life in a new way both good and bad.
What books have influenced your life most? My first big classics, I think. Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Edith Wharton’s novels and A Tale of Two Cities, War & Peace, Crime & Punishment. The haunting, bittersweet scenarios, these strong characters who are trying their best and have these huge needs and wants for themselves, and especially the women who have to overcome such harrowing odds. Historical fiction I adored the Kristen Lavransdatter series set in post Viking/medieval Scandinavia- talk about world building! Also modern works like Henry Miller’s books recounting bohemian random wanderings and musings but so tightly written.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? I really enjoy Kristen Ashley’s early work, the Rock Chick series and the Colorado and Dream Man books and a couple of the ‘Burg and the Fantasy books. Shay Savage is a wonderful writer. She freaks me out in the best way. As I’m reading I panic thinking “oh no, really? No way! How’s he going to get out of this now?!” And yep, she gets her hero out and over each and every time. I love love love her male POV. Her heroes are unrelenting bastards with full, broken and very needy hearts who meet their good woman. I shudder while reading, I tell you! I really enjoy the way Madeline Sheehan lets it rip, I must say. My TBR is pretty long, I still have a lot of authors to discover!
Tell us something that people would be surprised you know how to do. I’m a trained actress. After I graduated from college and worked for a few years in a couple of art galleries, I decided to make my actress dream come true and got into a theatre school in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of NYC and studied for several years. I auditioned and did the whole struggling actress thing, working odd jobs of all kinds day and night from hostessing at restaurants to the night shift at law firms to special event planning and catering companies to make a buck. There was never a dull moment!
Will you write more about these characters? Yes. In my upcoming 2nd installment, we will follow up with Grace and Miller and a new character from Grace’s past will make an appearance, and in the 3rd installment I’ll focus on another member of the club.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? It was about twenty years ago when I first got a few freelance articles published in New York City. One was in an international politics magazine (strange, but true!) and the other was in a small local newspaper. It was a fantastic feeling.
List three books you have recently read and would recommend. I finally started reading the Outlander books this past July. I’m almost finished with book 2. Jamie…sigh. Jamie and Claire…big sigh. I really like Shay Savage’s work very much. Her “Transcendence” blew me away, it was so emotional and bittersweet. And the Evan Arden series, which funnily enough I never in a million years thought I’d want to read, but I tried it and she hooked me in a big way.
Do you have a special time to write? How is your day structured writing-wise? The moment I come home from taking the kids to school, I’m making a cup of coffee and sitting down at my laptop. And I don’t get up until I need to pick them up from school in the afternoon. Then after they come home and I help with homework and clean up a bit around the house (snort!), cook dinner and I’m at the laptop until midnight.
Why did you choose to write romance stories? I enjoy romance because I enjoy that struggle the hero and heroine have to be together. They’re struggling with what they think they want, what they think they need, plenty of external drama. It gets messy, and I like picking through that real life mess and getting swept up in the bravery it takes to finally recognize and make a stand for what you really need, want and believe in.
What is for you the perfect book hero? I read a recent article about why we love Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy so much, and how it’s because we see him become transformed by his love for Elizabeth. So true! That’s what I want in a book hero. I love a good Alpha who goes for what he wants and won’t take no for an answer, who’s hiding some dark secret maybe that he can only share with his woman eventually. But at the core is his transformation into the better person he can only be through his experience of connecting to his woman. I find that journey of his extremely intriguing, breaking down the barriers, finally getting to the point of do or die, him making a stand and finding a new strength.
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