The opening scene of Iron Horse Rider is a terrible accident/crash in which Shane’s wife dies. What follows is a lengthy flashback detailing how he met his wife and fell in love, and briefly covering how she started riding motorcycle. Flashbacks are very hard to do (well) even when they are short. I felt this flashback was too long and took the focus off the main story; I would have preferred the key backstory elements ‘worked in’ to the main storyline.
The setting that Shane finds himself in after running (er, riding) away from home is somewhat exotic in that most readers will never have heard of the Micmac tribe – and that they spend summers as their ancestors did. There are some mystical qualities to the storyline, which some readers may not care for, as well as healing elements (which I especially liked).
As far as characters go: Shane was an authentic and real biker with an interesting and believable past and personal issues. The heroine (Tia) was less interesting to me; it seemed she didn’t have any bad qualities. The antagonist could have been quite interesting (what made him so angry and mean?) but the author did not take the time to flesh him out. The minor characters – biker friends – were well done (like people I’d meet in my own motorcycle club, not gang members).
I especially liked that the focus was on Shane’s personal transformation (a male point of view), as I tend to write that way myself. I found the plot and conflict compelling, except for one thing: I couldn’t quite seem to get past the fact that Tia was a potential new romance for Shane so soon after losing the love of his life (and hers, although not as recent). To the author’s credit, this is a delicate balance and she does not take this idea too far; the characters are friends but with attraction! In that sense, this is not your typical romance novel – but I like that.
I had to keep reading to see how the ‘competition’ between Shane and the antagonist turned out. There is an excellent ‘karma’ twist as well. All in all, I enjoyed this biker novel more than others I’ve read and would like to read more of Ms. Laudan’s biker fiction. My rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5).