Thursday, May 10, 2018

Blog Tour: Jigsaw by Jessie Cooke (Review + Excerpt)

Title: Jigsaw
Series: Southside Skulls Motorcycle Club
Author: Jessie Cooke
Genre: MC Romance
Publication Date: April 22, 2018
Two Books in One: Jigsaw and Rusty


When you’re fighting for your life, with your Harley lying on your broken body, on an embankment twenty feet below the road, there is no time to think… “What the hell happened” and “Who was responsible?”
Someone, somewhere, must hold the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Jigsaw had one thing on his mind… survival, until he looked up into the eyes of an angel, minutes before another woman aimed a shotgun at his head.
He was alive at least… what else could go wrong?


When Rusty Daniels dumped his Harley in front of a group of boys who thought he was a hero, the former football superstar couldn’t walk away from them. 
They gave him no option. 
It was their way, or trouble would soon be headed his way… in a BIG way.
Reluctantly he headed in a new direction in his life… a direction that would lead him to a dying man called Saint, who would teach him more about living than he could have ever hoped for.

This is the 10th book in the Southside Skulls MC Series. It is a Standalone Romance Novel but characters from the previous novels, DAX, CODY, GUNNER, ZACK, LEVI, KAT, HUNTER, GARRETT & WHEELIE are included in this story too. 
HEA and No cliffhanger. 
Intended for Mature Readers.
* * *
The Southside Skulls MC Series is about members of the MC club, and their friends and associates. 

Each story, while focused around one or more main characters, is not necessarily about a Southside Skulls club member, but the story is related to Skulls members and the club.

He was freezing, and his clothes were wet. He could feel his hair sticking to his face, frozen to it. He shivered, and a ripple of pain tore through his body. It took a crazy amount of effort, but he was finally able to open his eyes. When he finally got them open, he was frustrated to realize that hadn't done him much good. He was surrounded by darkness, and quiet. The only sound he could hear was the stridor of his own breathing inside his head. He had the eerie feeling that he was trapped in some kind of void...but where? Where the fuck was he?
He could feel that he was lying on his back and whatever was underneath him was wet and spongy and colder than hell. There was something heavy laying on top of his right leg. He reached down to push it off, but his hand slapped against something cold and hard, like metal. He managed to get a weak grip on it with his aching hand and he used it to help himself struggle upright. As soon as he did, a wave of dizziness and nausea assaulted him. Everything was spinning, and he felt like he was going to throw up. He closed his eyes and fought it, and when he opened them again the dizziness had receded, slightly. He sat very still, listening for sounds and waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. The shape of what was laying on his leg began to emerge at last. It was a motorcycle, the back end of a Harley. At least he thought it was the back end. The metal and chrome were so mangled that it was hard to tell. He'd been in an accident, that much was apparent. Maybe someone was looking for him, or someone had called an ambulance?
Just as he entertained that thought, a flash of light in the sky caught his eye. He looked up toward it and when he did, the quiet and stillness of the night was broken by the sound of a car approaching. There was a road above him and as the car came around a sharp bend, the guardrail alongside it came into view. It was split wide open like something had barreled through it. That something must have been him. It was nothing short of a miracle that he was even still alive. As the sound of the car disappeared and the eerie quiet returned he felt even more discouraged. There was no way that someone in a car could see him from up there, even if it were daylight, and the road was at least twenty feet above him. A steep, rocky embankment and at least an acre of trees stood between him and it. Even without a crushed leg and in the daylight, that would be one hell of a climb.
He looked around and tried to see through the trees on the other side wondering if there was anything beyond the them. The icy wind felt like tiny needles piercing his face and arms and his ears and head were throbbing. He could feel soft tufts of snow fluttering around his head and now that his eyes were used to the dark, he could see it sticking to the trees around him. He might not have known much at that point, but he did know he'd never survive a night in the woods in below freezing temperatures, a short-sleeved t-shirt and jeans. Where the hell was his coat, anyways? Who rides a motorcycle, at night, in the snow, without a coat? And, why wasn't he wearing gloves? Had he left wherever he came from so quickly that he hadn't had time to grab them? He wished that he could remember, but he didn't have time for all that right then. He had to get this damned motorcycle off his leg and go find help. The rest, he could figure out later, if he survived.
He wrapped his cold hands around an icy steel piece of the motorcycle, flinching when he felt it press down harder against his leg. His jeans were soaked with blood and his leg lay at an odd angle from the knee down. He tried to block that out while he pushed, pulled and tried to lift the heavy steel up so that he could pull his leg out. It was taking so long, and he was working so hard that he was covered with sweat and he felt like he couldn't breathe. He wasn't sure if it was the cold or if he was choking on his own frustration. At one point he yelled out angrily into the trees, howling almost like a wounded animal. All that did was make the throbbing in his head worse.
He almost gave up more than once, but at last he felt the excruciating pain shoot all the way up into his groin as he was able to move his leg enough to get it out from under the bike. The pain brought back the nausea and he felt like he was going to black out. He reached up and slapped at his own face, he'd be damned if he was going to pass out now that he was finally free. Now came the nasty business of trying to stand up on a leg that was twisted sideways. He had to roll onto his stomach and the cold penetrated his shirt and gripped his chest tightly as he pushed up on his sore arms, He almost collapsed, laughing like a lunatic what seemed like hours later when he was still doing push-ups and hadn't made any fucking headway. He finally crawled to the nearest tree, dragging that worthless leg behind him. The bark scratched and tore at his flesh as he held on tightly and shimmied himself up until he was standing on his one good leg. He was so proud of himself for being upright that he almost forgot about his injury. He took a step and his leg gave out...right after a bolt of pain threatened to knock him out and then he went down on his face. He lay there and felt like he might cry. The process of getting back up just seemed just too daunting to face, so he began to crawl.
He crawled until his palms bled and then he'd find a tree, get up on his one good leg and he'd hop and hobble for a while. The pain was excruciating and the cold even worse, but his only other option was to lay down and die and he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He pushed on and when the faint little light came into view, he wondered if he was imagining it. He stood still, gripping onto a tree and staring at it for a long time, waiting for it to disappear. When it didn't, he pushed forward again, this time with something to focus on and a tickle of hope.
He couldn't have said how much time passed, but finally a house began to take shape in front of him. He had to duck through a barbed-wire fence to get to it and the wire left deep scratches on the exposed parts of his body that weren't already open and bleeding. Still, he kept going. He could see the light up close now. It was a lamp in a small window on the bottom story, and it seemed to be the only light on in the house. There were six windows, and a balcony on the side of the house facing him and in the center of the bottom windows was a narrow door, painted bright red.
He hobbled up to the cement steps and standing at the bottom, he leaned his head into the door and slowly raised his fist. He let it drop into the door a few times...and it barely made a sound. His muscles were so sore and tired and cold that they all wanted to refuse to work. He couldn't give up now though and freeze to death on someone's back porch. He raised up his head and raised his fist again, this time giving it everything he had as he slammed it into the wood. After four or five knocks the door was pulled open. At first glance he wondered if he had died along the way and this was heaven. The woman that stood at the door had on a nightshirt that barely came to the tops of her thighs. Her long, thick brown hair hung disheveled around her face and her lips and cheeks were flushed like she'd been sleeping...or having sex. He almost laughed at himself. He was all fucked up, but still happy that part of his anatomy seemed to be working.
“Who are you?” she said, as another woman appeared behind her in the doorway. That one was hot too...but, she had a gun. He opened his mouth to try to say something when the one with the gun yelled over her shoulder,
“Kimber. Call Dax.” He was still trying to form words with his cold lips when a gray curtain seemed to descend all at once and the last thing he heard as he fell forward was the sound of a woman's screams.
* * *
When he woke up again, his first thought was that at least he was a hell of a lot more comfortable...and warm. He was still in pain, but his leg was wrapped tightly in something and the pressure helped. It was also propped up on something soft and his aching head was laying against a pillow. He pulled open his eyes and found himself looking up into the most intense blue ones that he'd ever seen.  
The eyes were looking out at him from the face of a man that didn't look happy about being pulled out of bed at whatever the fuck time it was. There was a deep crease between his brows and the man in the bed had to wonder if they would have cleaned him up and made him so comfortable if they planned on killing him.
“You awake?” The man with the blue eyes asked. He opened his mouth to talk again, this time nothing came out because it was just so damned dry. The big, blond man nodded at the angel who had answered the door. She had on a robe now, but she still looked just as hot. She held a cup near his lips with a straw sticking out of it and the big, blue-eyed man slipped a hand under his neck and lifted him up off the pillow. The woman put the straw to his lips and he sucked the cool, refreshing water into his mouth. It soothed his tongue and throat and he was disappointed when she pulled it away. The blue-eyed man seemed to still be waiting for an answer to his question and although it was obvious, the man in the bed said,
“Where did you come from?”
“I-I walked...”
“I think—I was in an accident, I think...”
“You think?”
“I was—there was—a lot of trees, and a road way up over my head...the guardrail was broken...”
The man with the blue eyes suddenly had a look of disbelief on his face. “I-95?” he asked. He may as well have been speaking a different language as far as the man in the bed was concerned. He didn't know what, or where I-95 was.
“I-I don't know. There were...a lot of trees.”
“You walked, here?”
“Yeah, sometimes I crawled,” he said, miraculously cracking a smile. So his dick and his smile still both worked. His mental checklist put that down as good news.
“That's almost four miles from here, through the woods.”
“Seemed—it seemed like ten,” he said with another smile that hurt his face.
“I'll bet. Do you know where you are?”
“You're on the Southside Skulls ranch.” Again, meant nothing to him, but the man seemed to think it should.
“I'm sorry, I-I don't know who...” His voice was cracking and the pretty girl gave him another drink of water.
“What's your name?”
It was the question the man had been dreading the most. On his long trek there he'd mulled that one over. Of course he had a name, and it was probably on an ID in his back pocket. But it had been too cold and he'd hurt too bad to try to find a wallet, or anything. Sadly though, he was going to need it, because he had no idea who he was. “I don't know,” he said, at last. When the blue-eyed man looked at him like he was nuts he said, “I think I hit my head.”
The other man smiled. “Considering the drop from that guardrail to the ground below is about thirty feet, I'd say you hit it more than once.”
“Dax? Should I call the ambulance now?”
The sound of the woman's voice was pretty but it struck a fear through him that cut like a knife. He wasn't sure if it was her voice, or the idea of an ambulance that terrified him. “No,” he said, quickly. He couldn't see the woman but the man she'd called Dax looked down at him thoughtfully and said,
“Let's wait a bit.” Looking back at the man he said, “Call Doc instead.” Dax looked down at the man and said, “We'll have our doctor check you out, see what he has to say and go from there. Maybe the pieces will start coming back after you've gotten some rest.”
“My wallet?”
“You didn't have anything on you. I'll send someone out to the crash site and see what we can find.”
“Thank you.”
“Doc says he'll be here in about fifteen minutes.” That voice again. He still couldn't see her but that tremble of fear accosted him once more. He knew the voice, and for some reason it frightened him. But why? Maybe she knew him, and she would have the answer to that.
“Okay Kimber, thanks.” Kimber...He heard that name before, recently. He closed his eyes and the memory of the two pretty girls in the doorway came back. The one with the gun had called out to Kimber to call Dax. Opening his eyes again, he fought back the remnants of fear that still surrounded him and said,
“That girl, does she know me?”
Dax raised an eyebrow and said, “Kimber?”
“Yeah, the one that was just talking to you.”
“Kimber!” Dax called out.
“Yes Dax?” Her voice was beautiful, soft, gentle, and it sent goosebumps racing down both of his arms and around back to his spine.
“Come here a minute, darlin'.”
The man in the bed actually shuddered when she approached. It was crazy, because there was nothing threatening about her at all. She was tiny, maybe five two at most, blonde hair that framed her face and touched her shoulders, and big, beautiful dark eyes. She had on a nightshirt that fell down to her knees and hid her figure but she couldn't have weighed more than one hundred and fifteen pounds soaking wet. Still, something about her caused his anxiety level to shoot through the roof. He could feel his pulse begin to pound and his breathing became more rapid. The woman was looking down at him with a blank look on her face and Dax was once again watching him like he might be a crazy.
“Do you know me?” he finally asked the woman.
“No...should I?” She looked and sounded so sincere, but she was so familiar. Why would she lie? Dax let them stare at each other for what seemed like several long minutes and then he finally told Kimber,
“You can go back to bed darlin', thanks.” The man in the bed watched her go and while he did, he had the strange feeling that his past was leaving with her. He struggled to sit up, compelled to go after this tiny little nymph that seemed to scare him to death and beg her to tell him the truth. “Hey there Jigsaw...take it easy now, okay?”
* * *
He opened his eyes and he knew before he looked over at the clock that it was going to be exactly midnight. It always was. He had the dream at least once a week for the past six months. It wasn't really a dream, but a memory and at first it pissed him off that he couldn't remember anything else but he had to re-live that memory over and over again. But eventually it had just become a part of his life, like the ranch, the club, and the gorgeous woman laying next to him in the bed. He supposed his mind wanted to cling to that memory because it was the night that his life started over. Six months later he'd done a lot of moving forward, and a little bit of recovering his past, but that part was slow going and you could drive a train through the holes in his memory.
He was grateful that Dax let him stay on the ranch. He'd even done everything he could to help him find out who he was. Angel's brother had run his fingerprints, but they were nowhere in the system, not even in the motor vehicle department. He checked with missing persons and no one matching his description had been reported missing. No one had reported an accident that night. It was almost as if he had never existed before. But, he had kept moving forward and it was almost eight months later now, and he was as happy as a guy without a past could be. Dax let him become a prospect a few months in and later that very night there was going to be a big patching in ceremony where he would be one of the guests of honor.
“You okay baby?” He smiled as she cuddled deeper into his side. The sound of Kimber's sweet voice didn't frighten him any longer. It had the opposite effect on him now. It made him feel like he was home. He'd fallen for her hard and fast and if he had to roll thirty feet down an embankment and forget his entire life to end up right here in her arms, he'd probably agree to do it all over again.
“I'm okay,” he whispered. “Horny though,”
She giggled. “What else is new?”
Jigsaw smiled again, but he was thinking, Pretty much everything, I guess.

3.5 Stars

So this one is a two for one deal. First, with Jigsaw’s story, a mysterious puzzle to his true identity after he loses his memories and ends up at the Skulls' door. The second story is Rusty’s, a heartbreaking yet heartwarming tale of a man struggling to truly start living again.

Personally, I found Rusty’s story to be the one that really stuck with me. My heart broke for him and his struggles. I loved that he had to learn to fight his way out of the murky waters he was living in and while there was a romance there, it was Rusty who really touched me.

Jigsaw had a very entertaining story as well and I enjoyed having the twists and turns and trying to guess what was really going on. The relationship between him and Kimberly was good and I thought they had great chemistry. I actually would not have minded if this story was actually longer.

Overall, I enjoyed Jigsaw although it wasn’t completely what I expected. The blurb was a little vague and I had an idea of what it was going to be about but found something different. I’d still recommend Jigsaw to fans of Jessie Cooke and the series.

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.***

Jessie Cooke writes hot romance novels about tough guys, bad boys, bikers, fighters and lovers and the women of strong character who tame them. 

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