Warlord (Anathema Book 1) - Lana Grayson

My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

I’ve been reading a couple of selective MC romances of late. Lana Grayson’s Warlord, book 1 of Anathema, seemed like something I’d like to try, so I gave into the temptation. There were pros and cons in the story, and she being a debut author, I’m not going to vent about those. I’m just going to try and elaborate what I felt.

Warlord is a full-length novel, so there was a complete story in it about a girl who wanted to run from her heritage, and for good reasons. Rose is the only daughter of the ex-president of the Anathema MC, who is now in jail. She’s in her early 20s and hates anything and everything that has to do with Anathema. The identity (or stigma?) of being related to MC member(s) have ruined her life in more ways than one. She has two, much elder, brothers who go by Brew and Keep. I don’t remember their real names since everyone called them by those titles. They’ve always been loyal to their MC heritage, and have this blind adoration for their father, Blade Darnell. Since her father was arrested couple of years ago, Rose has avoided her brothers as much as possible. She, also, never visited her father in jail. But Rose had a dream of becoming a musician, a dream born out of a darkness that is explained much later in the story. But the hints dropped in between led me to believe in the worse. And it was true...

Rose is recently beginning to be interested in doing musical gigs to earn money. She doesn’t want anything to do with drugs and strip clubs etc. An honest living if she can do it. But with her paltry day job as a waitress to a local diner, she never accumulated enough money to buy her instruments, and for that, she’s forced to turn to Brew and Keep for help. Later she wishes she hadn’t, for she soon gets entangled in the MC gang wars, with the enemy of Anathema, the Coup. They are a part of Anathema, led by this guy called Exorcist or Ex, who betrayed Anathema by breaking a portion of it and turning into his own gang. And he’s been doing everything to take Anathema down, including a vendetta to oust and kill their current president, Thorne,  whom Rose likes to refer as the Warlord.

We don’t know much about Thorne’s background, except for the fact that he has always been a part of the Anathema, since his puberty maybe? Though a couple of years younger, he had been friends with Brew and Keep, who now hold two best positions in the MC. But Thorne is no Prince Charming. He’s a badass and can be as cruel and mean according to the occasion. This is how he’d been trained, becoming a killing machine. He survived all the street wars all these years and finally, became the president. He also had another weakness; Rose, whom he’d known since she was a kid but never thought that she’d ever be a part of his life.

When Rose does something and unknowingly gets herself in trouble with the Coup, Thorne commands Brew and Keep to bring her in. She is to be kept in Pixie, a bar owned by Anathema. It’s also Anathema’s meeting place, and the members, including Thorne, live here. They also have a separate strip club that has links to Anathema, called the Sorceress. The owner, a hard-eyed beauty named Lyn has obviously known most of Anathema’s members, including Throne, in more ways than one and none of those probably are legal.

Thorne though, brings Rose in for an ulterior motive of his own. He’s sure someone is betraying Anathema with the Coup that includes drugs and information. Thorne is sure it’s Keep, who is a junkie. And he wants to use Rose to rat him out. A betrayer never stays hidden and their ultimate fate is condemned to die by the hands of the President. Little did Thorne know that Rose would become his everything in a matter of a few days. Her innocence, beauty and that beautiful voice would transcend anything that he’s known in his dirty, violent life.

Rose wouldn’t have wanted to be a part of Anathema, again, but she always felt powerless around Thorne, and I mean in a sexy way. His overwhelming presence would wear her out, and it doesn’t help that she had a crush on him once. The attraction never died down and now it’s grown into something much more. Though Thorne at first had no intentions of sleeping with her, they couldn’t avoid it even if they wanted to. When Rose is kidnapped by the Coup, beaten and was left to die, Thorne saves her. So you can say Rose wanted to ‘repay’ it through sex, but that was not all. It was consensual, wanted by the both of them. But then, Rose’s ‘secret’ was still a vague thing and it sort of connects this exchange, as if that’s how Rose knew to repay her debts...

But no matter what, they couldn’t avoid the danger that seemed to dog their footsteps either. One complication after another arises from the initial kidnapping, the drug exchange and a huge amount of money. It was all about keeping the credo of the club alive in any way possible. Then Rose learns of Thorne’s motives which left her feeling used. There were a lot of drama in the story, some seemed silly, while the others quite serious, not to mention guns and violence. I ended up feeling bad for Rose. Poor girl never really knew a real, loving family. Her mother perished a long time ago, thanks to her nasty father, and her brothers, though they loved her in their way, were mostly oblivious to anything but the MC. And when she felt she’s falling for Thorne, she learns that he was using her. :(

Thorne soon realizes the error of his ways when Rose leaves Pixie to live on her own again. There was no way she was living there around him, even though her life was still in danger. As for Thorne, he no idea when had he started to care for a girl, when he never did before. Then again, his past companions were mostly whore and strippers (I assumed). There was no one like Rose. Unfortunately, as a president, his hands are tied. If the charges are proven, he has to dish out what’s coming for Keep. But can he do it knowing it’ll also end any hope of him being with Rose again?

The story has more going on, a more violent gang war where Thorne redeems himself in Rose’s eyes by saving her once again from the Coup. That Ex was fixated on Rose for a reason that also connects to Rose’s secret. She never told anyone about it, until the time when Brew is found guilty instead of Keep. When her brother is facing death, and she learns that her father might be out of the jail any moment, Rose couldn’t keep it inside anymore. Ah, I really felt for her.

In the end, Rose and Thorne find a way to resolve the differences after the final climax. The Ex problem was taken care of, though the Coup is very much still alive. Thorne even takes Rose out of the Pixie to a separate house he’d owned for a long time, but never thought would ever live, so that she can have the semblance of a normal living. Keep was still fighting his drug addictions, while Brew....... Thorne spares his life, which I saw as a token of his love for Rose. But he sends him in exile, which was to be kept a tight-knit secret. But he also had a plan that I guessed was related to Rose’s father. And Brew was going to take care of it while in hiding.

Now here is what bugged me the most. I have to mention that I liked the storyline, and enjoyed the actions, enough to keep on reading. I’ll go as far as to say that I’m now eagerly expecting Brew’s story, which comes next, due early 2015. I MUST know what his future holds. But I wasn’t fond of the writing style. It seemed overly choppy which was distracting me to no end. Some of the dialogue, especially Thorne’s, positively set my eyes rolling, they were that over-the-top.  Also, it took me a while to get familiar with who is who, which MC is which and the overall arc of the story. I felt as if I was reading in the middle of another story, though I finally did get a hold of it after a couple of chapters. I think good editing is needed to tighten up the writing a bit more. For that, sadly, 3 stars. If not for the writing style, I’d probably rate Warlord higher.