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Saturday, August 31, 2013

ARC Review: Bikers and Pearls by Vicki Wilkerson

I’m generally not the biggest fan of super-tame, sweet romances—I read them and end up with a huge smile on my face, but always crave the extra sizzle of sexual tension and steamy love scenes. But every once in a while I’m in the mood for one, and the blurb for Vicki Wilkerson’s Entangled Bliss release, BIKERS AND PEARLS, immediately caught my eye: I’m a sucker for the good girl meets bad boy with a heart of gold, opposites attract, and small-town romance contemporary tropes. While I found it just a tad too preachy for my tastes, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable, heartwarming read with a good message, and a good start to what will surely be a delightful collection of sweet contemporary romances.

BIKERS AND PEARLS is all about not judging a book by its cover and overcoming one’s preconceived notions and stereotypes—and it is not subtle about driving this point home. Kudos to Ms. Wilkerson for tackling this issue head on and making it an integral part of the storyline and the characters’ development, but I personally did not need to be hit over the head with it quite so overtly and frequently. The story centres around risk-averse, Ann Taylor-wearing good girl April Church and former-bad-boy biker with a chip on his shoulder and a heart of gold Bullworth “Bull” Clayton, forced by untoward happenstance to work together to organise a benefit for a cancer-stricken child in their small Southern town of Summerbrook. The sweater set and leather chaps? Oh my! A childhood incident with a drunken and violent motorcycle gang left April with a bone-deep fear of motorcycles and several deeply ingrained unfavourable misconceptions about bikers, and has also coloured how she lives her adult life: seeking to avoid risks, wanting to fit in with the ‘acceptable’ crowd, and looking to please her overprotective parents. While she definitely has a big heart for doing anything in her power to help the sickly Ben—including working with the dreaded bikers to organise the benefit—and I can understand what motivates her perceptions and behaviour, I found her to be a bit of a shallow snob and had a hard time liking her until she realised how superficial she was being. I appreciated her willingness to recognise she had issues and her efforts to correct her misconceptions about the biker lifestyle, but her conviction that the motorcycle + her parents thing was an insurmountable obstacle to her HEA with Bull drove me a little nuts.

Bull, on the other hand, I quite liked from the get-go. He’s got his own reasons to be prejudiced against the sweater set April so desperately wants to be a part of and has a bit of a dodgy past with a motorcycle gang, but he’s now a successful mechanic and genuinely wants to help out in the community. I really liked that he’s worked hard to distance himself from his past and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him, even if people in a small Southern town are slow to forgive and forget his youthful transgressions. His attraction to April—the furthest thing from the smart, sexy, adventurous motorcycle mama of his dreams—baffles him initially, but the way he goes about courting her and helping her overcome her hang-ups is incredibly sweet (even if I did find the whole “I could never be with a woman who won’t ride in the back of my Harley” thing a bit autocratic). And the way he wins over April’s ultra-protective, motorcycle-hating parents? I wanted to take him home and give him a hug, if not necessarily jump him (this is a sweet romance after all!). The relationship is definitely on a slow simmer throughout the entire book rather than boasting scorching chemistry that leaps off the page, but that works just right with April’s hang-ups to make it believable. The two of them as a couple are really adorable.

Overall, BIKERS AND PEARLS is a sweet, quick read with a cute story and a lovely HEA. The story is beautifully written (albeit a bit on the preachy side) and really brings the lush Southern setting to life. Fans of Entangled’s Bliss line and sweet contemporary romances will likely enjoy this and subsequent Summerbrook novels—but I need more sizzle and less sweetness for full enjoyment.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


  1. Your review completely sums up the book. It's a lot sweeter than the other Bliss books. And at times gets a little preachy with the whole people aren't what they appear to be.

  2. Your review completely sums up the book. It's a lot sweeter than the other Bliss books. And at times gets a little preachy with the whole people aren't what they appear to be.