I do not usually read romance novels, but this one sounded interesting and as I am a huge fan of the biker series Sons of Anarchy, I wanted to give Strays a try.
The book immediately thrilled me and was difficult to put down. I had been in a reading slump before, and reading this light romance was all I needed to get out again. The story is really simple, it is not really original and often even clichéd, but that did not keep me from finishing the book in one day (or maybe, that was the reason why). The protagonist Jackie was nice enough to read about, although I guess I would not be best friends with her in real life. I became quite fond of Tyler and would have liked to read more about him. It is refreshing to read a story, particualrly a romance, where a friendship between a woman and a man can really be platonic and where there are no sexual feeling whatsoever between them. The two really have found each other and will not let anyone separate them. I also enjoyed reading about Nash and Jagger, however, they are not what I would consider real-life Bikers.
The biker/gang life was only mentioned on the side. There are one, two scenes that display the violence and brutality of the Red Kings, but other than that, it is all relatively civilised. Of course, the focus is on the romance and only here and there do you realise that what the Red Kings do is maybe not what you would consider legal.
In general, it feels like the author has seen Sons of Anarchy and used the show as a base for her novel. As I have not read any other biker romance novels, I cannot really say if they all have the same structure, but I feel like a bit more research would not have done the story any harm. It is all very stereotypical, from the club house and the garage to the charters etc. There were parts I enjoyed, parts that were okay, and parts that were rather ridiculous.
Moreover, I did not particularly like the writing style of Kendrick. I have not counted how many times a character was referred to as “the blonde” or “the brunette”, but it was a lot. I understand that it considered bad writing when every person is referred to by only their name, however using the hair colour as reference is even worse, especially since I often had to reread the sentence – and the previous one – to figure out who was actually meant by that description. It reminded my of fan fictions I have read and read about, and I would say that the plot was better than the writing. In addition, the formatting is horrible. I thought this was due to my device, but I read that it is a general problem and it made the reading hard and POV switches super difficult to follow.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the novel, but sometimes I could not understand why. The overall picture is better than the flaws in the story and the writing I pointed out, although Kendrick definitely could have made way more out of the story. I have not made up my mind whether I want to read the sequel, but it is currently in the making, so the story of Jackie and Dean will continue in the near future.