Kick Start My Heart- Autumn Jones Lake



May’s reading didn’t go quite as planned. I had a different book in mind, but because I’m taking a class on novellas, and because that book wasn’t a novella, I had to switch things around.  I chose something from this anthology, which I’ve been using as a textbook of sorts for the class.

‘80s Mix Tape is definitely the most fun textbook ever! A collection of seven New Adult stories set during the 1980s, each uses an eighties song as its title. When I saw that one story was a motorcycle club romance, it was a perfect choice.  While the subgenre is hugely popular it’s not one I’ve read, so in the spirit of Something Different month, I decided to give it a try.

“Kick Start My Heart” turned out to be a mixed bag, but not for the reasons I expected.

In 1987 Los Angeles, Chaser, whose father heads an outlaw motorcycle club, is a guitarist in an up-and-coming metal band. Aspiring actress Mallory is hired to play the sexy girl in the band’s video, and Chaser catches her eye.

I’ll start with what I loved about this story: Chaser. He’s a decent, honorable guy from a rough and tumble environment, who’s left it behind, at least temporarily, to pursue his true passion, music. But he knows he’ll have to return to it someday, and doubts virginal Mallory—who doesn’t even realize her best girlfriend is a hooker, would ever fit in. Chaser has no clue that Mallory is really the on-the-run daughter of an imprisoned Russian mobster. No sooner was Papa sentenced, then Mallory emptied the family safe and headed for Hollywood.

For me, this is where things fell apart.

For a frightened girl trying to escape her old life, working as a highly-visible model on MTV seems like really a bad idea. When Mallory is inevitably found, Chaser has to intervene, but she offers no explanation who the baddie is, beyond admitting she knows him. Nor does Chaser ask. Instead, he takes her on a three-day ride to hide out with the motorcycle club. But Chaser’s dad knows all about the runaway Mafia Princess, and isn’t happy to have her under his roof.  After all, the club has spent “the last ten years” trying to avoid deals with the Russians.

While I could be wrong, the Russian mob seems much more of a 1990s/2000s thing. The eighties were still the Cold War, and unless the MC was selling military secrets or steroids for teenage gymnasts, I can’t imagine what Russian deals they were avoiding the previous ten years. Finally, the heroine’s name, Mallory, didn’t ring true for someone from her ultra-traditional Russian background.

I couldn’t shake the feeling I was reading a contemporary story retro-fitted to the 1980s. It wasn’t bad, but too many off-kilter details kept pulling me out. Still, I found a motorcycle romance with a hero I liked, so I may have to give another of Autumn Jones Lake’s books a try.