Outlaw read like a piece of Sons of Anarchy (SOA) fan fiction than a novel in its own right. I have googled it to see if is, but haven’t been able to find anything to confirm, but if Ms James isn’t a big fan of the series then I will eat my hat!
Let’s start with the main character Cole, described as:
...blonde hair falling past his collar, golden facial hair growing along his jaw and mouth.
Sound familiar? Cole was in fact a ringer for Jax, the main hero in SOA, it even felt like James had tried to mirror Jax’s speech patterns in the dialogue with his regular use of the word ‘darlin” and in the general cadence. Then there’s Crash, who seemed to me to be very much like Opie, Jax’s best friend in SOA, then there was the ‘weasely’ looking policeman, hell there’s even a Scottish biker in the mix. I found it very hard to disassociate the characters of the book, with those of one of my favourite TV shows and not in a good way.
The story centres around Cole being at a meet, when a biker turns up with a bruised, battered and handcuffed woman with him. Cole is so disgusted with this behaviour that he manipulates things in order to rescue her. Angel, a twenty-one year old woman who has been kidnapped, awfully abused and raped finds herself in the terribly violent biker world, which is a million miles away from her life as a policeman’s daughter.
Angel has a lot to come to terms with and neither of them are able to trust one another, but they find themselves striking a deal in order that Angel doesn’t end up running to the cops. Inevitably both of them end up falling for one another, despite the large disparities between their lives. The romance itself was ok. I found it hard to believe that just two days after being violently raped, Angel is willing to have sex with Cole, never mind the psychological issues, and surely she’d be far too sore? So for that reason I found myself struggling to get into it and find it believable.
In the middle of the book it’s like the story totally switches gears and almost feels like it’s written in a totally different style. There’s a jump in time, I actually often quite like this as a narrative device, and thought that it did add to the overall story, but it was almost like they both became slightly different characters, not a total revolution, but not quite the same either.
It was at this point that I felt like the book became less influenced by SOA and more of a slight homage to Kristen Ashley. Mack, the group’s President, ended up reminding me of Tack, the hero in Ashley’s Motorcycle Man, and Natalie with attractive read hair, Tyra. The epilogue itself felt like something straight out of Ashley’s books with it’s use of the word ‘kick-ass’ and switch of narrative style to first person when the rest of the book had been in third. Overall the book was all a bit of a jumble.
Outlaw felt like a complete mish mash of other people’s styles and I couldn’t quite ascertain what was James’s own. I didn’t totally hate it, I did reach the end after all, but I felt like it lacked originality and read more like fan fiction than a unique novel in its own right. Perhaps if you haven’t watched SOA or read any of Ashley’s books (which are much, much better), then perhaps you wouldn’t have the same issues with this book as I did. But at the same time I’m not sure I’ll be picking up anything by James again.
Rating: 2 Stars
Outlaw by Nicole James
Contemporary / Biker Romance
Self-published (April 2013)
Ebook: 416 pages