Monday, June 9, 2014

Split Blitz: eARC Review for STAY VERTICAL (The Bare Bones series book #2) by Layla Wolfe

Layla Wolfe is a wannabe biker's old lady who is satisfied with a leather jacket, one bad-ass pink camo compound bow, and a vicarious outlaw lifestyle.
Layla has published 25+ erotic romance titles under the name Karen Mercury.

Social Links
Facebook  | Twitter  | Goodreads  | Website

Title: Stay Vertical (The Bare Bones series #2)
Author: Layla Wolfe
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Add to


One two three four five six seven. All good sinners go to heaven.
Peace Corps volunteer June Shellmound returns to Arizona to care for her dying mother. At the clubhouse of The Bare Bones motorcycle club, June is swept into the drama when half-breed Lytton Driving Hawk barges in and demands recognition as president Ford Illuminati’s half-brother.
Hot enough to melt steel, Lytton has forged a life apart from the reservation as a brilliant chemist, living the high times at his pot farm in the mountains. Lytton is no fortunate son, though, and the mortal secrets Ford’s been hiding about their father drive the last nail into their brotherly coffin.
Lytton turns his back on the Bare Bones and sweet bleeding heart June. Blinded by vengeance, Lytton becomes ruled by his own demons, raising hell alongside Ford’s mortal enemies, The Cutlasses. Alliances are torn apart within the club, loyalties are divided, and everyone’s true spirits are tested. When the dust clears, Lytton and June find themselves running for their lives just to…STAY VERTICAL
Publisher’s Note: This is Book #2 in the Bare Bones series. This book is a stand-alone and can be read out of order. However, it is advised to read THE BARE BONES first to get a complete picture of the club’s background, storylines, and setting.
Publisher’s note: This is not your mother’s contemporary romance. Daring readers will encounter sexual assault, violence against women, general violence among men, consensual BDSM, and a HEA. It is not for the faint of heart. It’s a full length novel of 65,000 words with no cliffhanger.

Recommended 18+ due to mature content.



My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Stay Vertical starts right after Ford Illuminati and Madison Shellmound are reunited. In the aftermath of all the violence and trauma comes a new development - Ingrid Shellmound is dying of cancer. Of her three children, only one can look beyond all the hurt and abuse she caused and come back to care for her: June, and she has to fly in all the way from Africa to do so.

June looks at the world through rose-tinted glasses and would willingly care for all the strays she bumps into. With this kind of character, it's not a wonder she ends up in the Peace Corps setting up water systems in the desert. Life is beautiful, despite hardships in living accommodations and weakling boyfriends. For the life of her, she can't understand why her brother and sister have to hand the care of their mother over to her.  Wouldn't it be easier for them since she's several continents away? But a good daughter she is and she comes home.

Lytton has family problems of a different sort. He grew up thinking he was full-blooded Apache, until the day he applied for a scholarship to MIT and found out his father was white. Crushed and disillusioned, he uses his knowledge and chemist's degree to put up an organic pot farm on his stepfather's land. He blames his mother for his disappointment and lets his aggression out on a willing rotation of subs.  There's a sort of satisfaction in his life until the fateful day he finds out who his real father is and he doesn't like it. Who the heck would want to be Cropper Illuminati's son?

As I started reading, I felt the conversation between June and Layla was really strange. Why are they both so lyrical? I realized I wasn't reading about MC members (although Ford speaks this way too sometimes) but people with high skill sets and doctorate degrees. It's such a wonderful way to set them apart from the rest of the pack.

June, though, was so naive! How could you just throw yourself on the newest guy to literally walk into your life? Maybe it was the smell of pot that affected her brains? But, Madison agreed with her choice. After all, they've both had a crush on Ford since forever so it would be logical she falls for his carbon copy. Right? I think?

Lytton repelled me in the beginning. There's a mean, suicidal streak to him which, thankfully, slowly disappears the longer he stays with June. He's clinically detached from everything around him - it seems all that keeping him alive is his anger and need for revenge. While his anger is somewhat directed at his mother, it's focused full force on Ford when he finds out they share a father. This character grew on me slowly and by two-thirds of the way through the book, I was rooting for him full force.

I just love Layla Wolfe's bits of humor that pepper this book, especially the ones that need to be deciphered. Who else would name an MC member who's so awful with guns after two basic shooting stances? Isosceles Weaver, ha! I had to laugh at that one.

Of course nerdy me enjoyed the discourses on different types of marijuana and the eco-friendly, organic way of raising them. Pesticide free? Better hits? Healthy grass? Saving water? Food for thought.

Like with The Bare Bones, I'm again struck at the incongruously beautiful writing contrasting with such gritty subjects. Something that would normally repel, like drug smuggling, assault, or simply warring siblings in a bloody fist fight takes on a strange charm with the way it's presented. It's a combination that will have me coming back for more.

I do wish Stay Vertical isn't the end to this series. Maybe Ford and Lytton have another brother hiding out somewhere?

Read The Excerpt

Putting his hands under my arms, he lifted me onto the library table where his chemistry textbooks were.  I leaned back on a book that was open to some hydraulic engineering tables, spreading my thighs wide.  I had no shame. I knew that if I wanted to win and keep Lytton’s attention, I couldn’t be the prim and proper mathlete or the crusading Peace Corps worker.  I had to be the hard-as-nails, worldly biker chick who was as comfortable on his Softail’s pussy pad as I was in his bed.
He pressed his forehead to mine.  The crotch of his jeans was packed with his straining erection, but unlike most men, he proved he could ignore that for a few seconds.  “I want you to be my old lady.  Weaver forced my hand, June.  I want to put your best interests first in my dominance of you.  Here.”
Without tearing his eyes from mine, he swiped an object from a taller dresser.  I didn’t want to break his gaze either, and I felt more than saw him wrap a wide leather cuff around my wrist.  He was serious now, his eyes brimming with unexpressed emotion, and I had the distinct feeling he didn’t do this sort of ceremonial thing every day.
“Your happiness, your health, your contentment are in my care now, June Shellmound.  I offer this cuff to you to guide you in your journey through life.”  He grinned and added in a less stiff tone, “I’ll get you a better collar when I get down to P & E.  This just happened to be here.  Go with me on this.”
I finally looked down and saw he’d snapped a plain brown leather wristband around my arm.  The contentment Lytton wished for me flooded through me instantly, and I found myself saying, “I want to belong to you and go wherever you want to bring me.  I trust in you, Lytton.  I submit to your guidance because I know you want what’s best for me.”  I have no idea where I pulled that from, but it worked.  I did submit to his guidance—in almost everything.
I probably would’ve said the dreaded “L word,” but he silenced me with a kiss.  Now he leaned into me, pressing his hard-on against my very core, making my inner channel flutter with anticipation.  The shudder seemed to resonate through my uterus and ovaries, sending a surge of estrogen through me.  I angled my hips toward him, locking the heel of one shoe in his back jeans pocket.  Love swept through me because he’d made me his old lady.
It was almost as though he felt that love.  Suddenly some intense and frantic libido took hold of him.  Bending at the knees, he scooped my ass into his palms and carried me to the bed.  He tossed me like a load of laundry and I bounced, my arms splayed above my head, wide open for him.  I knew I was smiling when he stripped that wifebeater from his sculpted torso.  I could have easily stayed there for a century watching him lift his arms over his head, the stylized eagle rippling as it wrapped around his shoulder.
But Lytton didn’t have all the time in the world.  Last time I’d been with him, he’d been a generous, sensitive lover, putting my orgasm first.  He hadn’t even seemed to care about whipping his cock out and finding release.  Now, though, he was all about unbuckling his belt in a flash and finding satisfaction.
I wasn’t prepared—I didn’t exactly wander around Arizona with old expired condoms in my wallet—but I knew it was the safe time of month.  At the moment, to be honest, safety wasn’t first on my mind.  When Lytton shoved his jeans around his thighs and his long, fat cock leaped free, I was his willing receptacle. 
I knew Lytton wouldn’t make me pay for my meal, or bring his fishing pole on a romantic vacation, or measure the spice in the curry jar.  He’d never had his retainer tossed onto the school’s roof—for better or worse, he’d been the bully giving the swirlies and purple nurples to the nerds.  Lytton was a larger than life renegade, a survivor of an impoverished upbringing.  He was tough and courageous, with a fiery spirit that could not be kept down, and right now he was sinking himself balls-deep in me while I cried out with a soul-splitting wail, begging to be filled.


  1. Thank you for the insightful review, Johanna. You're the first person to notice the logic behind Iso Weaver's name. LOL!

    1. Layla! Finally have the chance to thank you for writing those beautiful books. Completely have fallen in love with them and your writing.
      I am so amused when I read works of writers such as you, who can manage to insert little bits of information that aren't so widely known - and use them in a unique way, to boot! I hope to have the chance to read more of your work.
      P.S. The MF reviews go to me. Not a surprise that you'd attribute them to Johanna, though. I manage to co-host and lurk on the blog at the same time. LOL

  2. Thank you for participating in the review blitz.