Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: “Club Business”

There’s not so so much to say about the business of MCs in romance novels, but if we’re looking at the MC in terms of characterization, there are some interesting things to consider. 

First, it’s not always clearly stated – in fact, I can’t think of a single book in which the MC specifically refers to itself as an “outlaw MC” – but the MCs in smut are probably all outlaw MCs. Now, this sounds like something criminal or possibly exciting, but it really just means that the club isn’t sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) or doesn’t adhere to its policies and bylaws. That said, the overall sense of these MCs, even if they don’t directly address what kind of illegal business the club is involved in, is that they are shady. Why else would you need to kidnap a doctor to illicitly save someone’s life in the middle of the night? (Please see Striker by Lilly Atlas.) 

In real life, MCs that do engage in illegal activity engage in all kinds of illegal activity, including prostitution, which is never one of the things the MC does in smut (there are things readers tend not to approve of, and peddling flesh is apparently one of them). I read that making, transporting, and selling drugs (not just weed, but the bad news kind) is the number one MC moneymaker in real life. In smut, we have varied illegal activity, depending on how rough is the characterization of the MC, but guns and drugs are the top performers.

Second, in most instances, the members of the MC are essentially employed by the MC, and they usually have some kind of legal operation that can, bare minimum, operate as a front for their illegal operations. Most of them run some kind of auto or bike shop, but I’ll give a shout-out to the Reaper’s MC of Joanna Wylde fame for having a gun shop and strip club in their diverse business portfolio. Chantal Fernando’s Wind Dragons have a strip club and a bar. You get the idea. These are working people who live in a world of hourly wages (though, to be fair, that’s most of us, because there are very specific requirements for categorizing an employee as exempt if we’re talking US employment laws). 

These books are not for the readers looking for a white-collar guy in a sharp suit. In fact, as I continued to read, I began to think of some folks I know who really, truly, do not own dress clothes and who I have seen with my own eyes attend black tie dinners in jeans and a button-up shirt because that’s who they are and they don’t need to wear a black tie to a black tie event. Just throw a leather cut on that, and there you go. That said, these protagonists are typically portrayed as pretty sharp, as small business owners who have the same concerns as other small business owners. The hero in the first Reaper’s book is the club’s accountant, for crying out loud.

Finally, there’s a divergence between MC romance in which the club “got clean” versus is happily continuing to engage in definitely illegal activity, like running guns and drugs. In terms of characterization, the latter trends darker and more anti-hero than the former. 

If we’re talking “the club was into illegal stuff and cleaned up”, those series would include the Chaos MC by Kristen Ashley and the Knight’s Rebels MC by River Savage. I might also include the Torpedo Ink MC by Christine Feehan in this crowd, because they were Russian assassins but now they’re an MC with paranormal powers that rights the world’s wrongs. (It’s super messed up, absolutely, but it is nowhere close to the level of yikes of Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan.) Nevertheless, these clubs still totally get their vigilante action on, so they are by no means upright citizens walking the straight and narrow. 

If we’re talking clubs that just don’t care about the fact that what they want to do ≠ what the government says it’s okay to do, then you’re looking at clubs like the Reaper’s MC by Joanna Wylde or the Undeniable series I mentioned above or, honestly, most of the other clubs I read about. In these cases, I found it interesting that most of the time the gun and drug running was addressed as a matter of course, as if there was no moral issue with this activity. Chantal Fernando in particular tends to address this business as a non-entity, which I found perplexing. (Like, why get bent out of shape about sex and not about other moral quandaries?) Even so, there’s an undercurrent of dark and dangerous associated with “club business” in these books. 

I thought it was fun to pick apart what the club does for work as an exercise in exploring what type of work an author might show as valuable or not. How the business demonstrates the cohesiveness and success of the club. How smart the brothers might be, when from the outside world they’re perceived as thugs. (Though, let’s be honest, people are not generally super psyched about strip clubs either, so what does that tell us, if that’s the MC’s business?) How they do or don’t take pride in their work. The characterization of the MC’s business doesn’t only show that the heroes are employed (however that might be), it provides a ton of social commentary that significantly enhances the overall feel and tone of the book.

Well, that wasn’t the last chart I’ll provide, but I don’t expect we’ll see too many charts when we talk politics next. Smut is super political. Don’t let anybody tell you different. 

PS: All my Motorcycle Monday posts can be found here

Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: Let’s Bone

If I were going to describe MC romance sex, it would be like this:

🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Mmmmkay?

Short story: There’s a lot of sex, and it’s super duper detailed, hot and heavy. And also, in case you’re not caught up on all the other posts in this series, the heroes are also all dominant in the bedroom. 

Maybe with slightly less bed destruction….and sparkly vampires

How about a little like this:

Whew, boy…

Some of this?

I always imagined it with a bit more finesse, though…

This wouldn’t be amiss either:

Ermagherd 365 Dni…Insanity

DEFINITELY this:

You’re welcome.

Anyway…

Sex is sex, but there’s more interesting stuff going on with sex in MC smut than sexytimes so steamy I need to keep a fire extinguisher next to me while reading. Specifically, all the other stuff going on with the rest of the brothers and in and around the clubhouse.

If you cast your mind back to my discussion of setting, you’ll recall that one of the primary understandings we’re meant to have about these biker folk is that they’re wild and free. They’ve cultivated a space where they can be just that. 

One of the ways this manifests is they do what they want. This includes have sex when they want and where they want. That might include…public spaces in and around the clubhouse. (Please see, like, all of the Reaper’s books by Joanna Wylde or Tracker’s End by Chantal Fernando.) Most often it includes promiscuity and a, erm, healthy sexual appetite that’s understood but isn’t necessarily on page. (Please just see all the books.) 

All of this sex is usually with the club women I discussed last week, unless we’re talking about protagonists featured in that or prior books in the series. Club members who might have old ladies but who weren’t protagonists in prior books in the series are significantly less likely to be, erm, monogamous. 

So what we’ve got is: clubhouses are portrayed as sex palaces and bikers as promiscuous, which means that in nearly every story there’s a point at which the lack of fidelity and monogamy between the club members and their old ladies (or any women at all, because club women are skanks, of course) becomes an issue for the protagonist couple. Or, more specifically, it becomes an issue for the heroine. People all over the world have sex…all over the world. But the centralized in-your-faceness of sex in the clubhouse I guess brings the idea of non-monogamy home for the heroine. Or rather, centralizes the idea of cheating, because it’s always about cheating, never about the possibility that couples might choose to engage in non-monogamous relationships. (One notable exception to this is Arrow from the Wind Dragons books. He has a non-monogamous relationship in book 1, and it becomes a small issue in book 2, Arrow’s Hell.)

This fixation on cheating is borderline obsessive, and the lack of consideration that parties in this “live free or die” lifestyle might choose to have open relationships is, for me, a head scratcher. I feel that if I saw people having public sex – copious quantities of public sex with miscellaneous partners – I might think their notion of relationships might not match my WASPy upbringing. It makes sense to me that heroine protagonists would think about what they want in terms of a monogamous relationship, but it makes very little sense that they would get bent out of shape about seeing a non-monogamous relationship in the context in which it occurs. Except inasmuch as this obsession serves to reinforce norms and ideas about monogamy, who is interested in monogamy (hint: it’s women), and the idea that a woman needs the special something that makes womanizers magically monogamous. Or inasmuch as it can act as a catalyst for relationship drama. Which, let me just say, is typically predicated on a lack of communication and trust between partners. So that’s not great. 

In sum, there are quite a few value judgements occurring where sex is concerned in these books, which is interesting because you’d think that people who are all about doing their own thing would be less not more judgemental about who’s having sex with whom and where. But that’s not the case. It’s a rather incongruous take, when all is said and done. 

Next week I think we’ll take a break to do an author spotlight, and then we’re back for our last three pieces about MC smut culture. 


Previous posts in this series can be found here.

Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: She’s My Woman and Other Romantic Sayings

I don’t need any charts to tell you that one of the essential components of MC smut is that the heroes are extremely domineering. It’s fun because the heroes (many, but not all) might be terrible womanizers who are allergic to the word “relationship,” but when they meet the woman they want, it’s DONE.

They’re like:

Actually it’s probably more like:

Details.

Thus, we are typically looking at a certain level of one-sided courtship. The areas where there is still contention in the relationship tend to revolve around “What does this relationship actually involve?” and “Is it monogamous?” 

Point the first: Biker dudes do not go on dates (I mean, some do, but not really). Relationship development centers on clubhouse parties and men showing up (uninvited) for meals and drinks at the heroine’s house. The romance romance is…seriously low key. 

Now, on to those other questions, which are explored during the relationship development that does not occur on romantic dates…

I have found it interesting that most of the time the hero – willingly or unwillingly – wants a monogamous relationship. (It seems like there’s no question that the heroine always expects a monogamous relationship.) Even the two or three heroes I can think of who explicitly at first said they didn’t want to promise fidelity also don’t want anyone else after they’ve met the heroine. This is usually because there’s something about the heroine’s personality that they find intriguing (i.e. it’s not all about sex). Be she feisty or mousy (and it’s definitely mostly feisty), she’s got his attention, and he’s got eyes for no one else. 

Therefore, most of the tension surrounding the question of “is it monogamous” tends to derive from citizen heroines being introduced to the club for the first time and seeing the debauchery that occurs. Instead of delving into this, I’ll simply say that this is one area where these books tend to buy into the idea that women need to prevent men from succumbing to their sexual animal natures. Because if a scantily clad woman is traipsing around the clubhouse, he just won’t be able to control his horniness (obviously). In the end, the hero and heroine do get to the point where she trusts him to be faithful to her because they really love one another. But until they get there, the “boys will be boys” perspective that some of these heroines have is extremely…off-putting. (Please see also the women vs. women relationships discussed in last week’s post…)

Jumping back up to the “she’s mine” mentality and the question of “what does this relationship actually involve?” it’s maybe not fun because, even when a moment is kind of swoonworthy, there’s a cringe factor when the hero categorically refuses to take no for an answer from the heroine. What the relationship involves is: he’s decided they’re together, he’s probably decided she’s his property (if the author gets into that language, which not all do), and her opinion on the matter doesn’t really factor. 

No, that’s not quite right. This type of romance definitely uses the she-says-no-but-doesn’t-really-mean-it gambit, and of course when she says no, the hero knows she’s not being honest. It’s something that’s fallen out of favor in other areas of romance, given the consent and respect issues associated with it, but not in MC romance. Depending on the author, the hero might back off for a little while, because the heroine’s a citizen and she needs to get used to the idea of the club mentality, but it’s definitely a strategic retreat. He’s not really going to let her go. It’s all about bringing her around to his viewpoint and culture. There is almost never a grovel. In fact, I can’t think of one off the top of my head. 

Usually there are some other dangerous shenanigans going on, so the hero and the club need to provide protection to the heroine. She might shy from this, but especially in the case of citizens engaging with criminal MCs, the counter-argument is typically something along the lines of, “Woman, you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into, you are way out of your depth, and I am in a position to protect you. And I’m going to protect you.” In which case there’s also a bit of forced proximity that will keep the heroine with the hero while she becomes accustomed to the idea of belonging to a domineering biker dude. 

As I said when talking about MC heroes, this is definitely a romance that speaks to the wish fulfillment of being the one special woman who can tame the bad boy hero. 

This relationship scene is probably also the best place to talk about the property patch. 

As many of us would, almost all of the citizen women who become involved with the MC balk at wearing a property patch, so it’s no surprise that this is a conversation in the books that include women wearing property patches. These heroines don’t even necessarily buy into the idea after other old ladies explain the situation to them, but they always come around to feeling honored to become the hero’s property. As it were.

The idea is this: any woman who wears the property patch both reflects on the club and is protected by the club. Only women who are worthy of representing the club and having that protection will become old ladies and get the patch, and everyone will know what it means just by looking at the woman wearing the property patch. This is often especially important in club culture, because women wearing patches are protected from bikers in other clubs or from other chapters of the same club. Which is its own kind of problematic, considering that women really shouldn’t need a property patch to feel safe at a party, but this is not an in depth discussion of property patches, so I won’t get into that. 

Anyway, I guess we can think of the property patch as a much more visible version of getting a guy’s class ring. 

In short, even if there’s an instant connection, the romance still evolves such that the hero realizes that he not only wants the heroine, he loves her, and he wants a monogamous relationship with her, while the heroine realizes that she wants the hero the way he is, trusts him, and will love him for who he is.

Next time, we’ll talk sexytimes! See you then!


The rest of Erin’s series on MC romance can be found here.

Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: All the Single (Old) Ladies

This is the segment I’ve mulled over the most since I started reading MC smut. After reading a few of these books, I definitely had certain impressions of the heroines, but breaking down the data after reading a lot of these books and tracking them was…informative. I also got a better read on why I liked the ones I liked after I charted all of this out. 

So let’s get down to business: MC smut heroines.

In biker romance, there tend to be clear cultural delineations that are evident primarily where the women are concerned. In the first place, there’s club culture and civilian culture, and because the heroes in these books are members of the club, civilian culture as it exists is mostly something that needs to be trained out of the old-lady-in-training heroine of the book. 

So let’s break it down. There are essentially three types of women represented in these books. The first breakdown is old ladies (of which group the heroine is always a member) and club women (they have a lot of other unflattering names, but they’re the women who aren’t old ladies who provide sex to the club – always because they want to, of course). The next breakdown is among the heroines, who are either part of the MC lifestyle or they’re civilians. 

Heroines who are civilians fall for the hero almost against their will, because they know that the “MC lifestyle” is totally wack, and they need to be trained in the ways of the MC. These are the more common heroines. (Note: When I was tracking heroine origin, I included children/sisters of MC members who met their dads/brothers as adults in the citizens category, since they effectively were citizens, even though their relatives were MC members.) The other heroines are the women who were already in the club life and therefore do not require the training. Conflicts for these heroines tend to be more like forbidden relationship romances because the external culture conflict doesn’t exist (unless it’s rival MC romance like Devil’s Game by Joanna Wylde). 

Before we get into the civilian heroine business, a brief discussion of the heroines steeped in the MC lifestyle: These heroines tend to be badass bitches. Maybe they were brought up in a club (most common) or maybe they were already someone else’s old lady and now they’re widowed. Either way, they understand the rules and the role of women in the club. That is to say, they understand that they do not press about club business or insert themselves where they’re not supposed to go (mostly), but they were probably also raised with some kind of education in fighting and shooting (please see Ravage Me by Michele Ryan), so they’re much more capable of dealing with adverse situations that cause the civilian heroines to do stupid things, like make unbelievble deals with cartels (I got so angry when this happened in Reaper’s Stand by Joanna Wylde, I texted Holly and Ingrid to rant). 

Heroines raised in the club also wouldn’t object to being called property because they’ve been raised with the understanding that being a man’s property is meaningful-not-in-a-bad-way. (Property is a whole thing…I’ll probably get to it next week when we talk about the relationships.)

But, as you can see above, the majority of heroines are not originating from the club. I also considered the kind of job (or lack thereof) the heroine had, and what kind of financial vulnerability that might create for her. There is a variety, for sure, but while there are some doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs among our heroines, more than 50% of the heroines are either unemployed, employed by the MC, or they have low-wage, hourly type jobs, the majority of which are waitressing or bartending. This means that most heroines are dependent on the club or the hero for their living, or if they’re not, they’re vulnerable to living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I didn’t end up breaking down my charts by vulnerability levels AND origins (or by vulnerability level AND origins AND age), but when I saw my suspicions confirmed that most of the heroines were in a life with some level of financial vulnerability, some things started pulling together for me. When I did start looking at the age of the heroines in the mix, things started pulling together more: 

It’s really no surprise that most of these heroines are in their 20s, since that’s a popular age in general for heroines, but the majority being in their early 20s plus the financial vulnerability is…a thing. Dukes rushing in to the rescue of their young ladies is not all that different from biker dudes rushing to the rescue of their biker babes, but one might not be quite able to rub off the patina of predatory on some of these relationships when the heroines are so young and so undeniably vulnerable, especially when we plug in the bad boy hero element and the desire so many women have to be the one to tame the bad boy. (I will say that there aren’t a lot of age gap romances in this bunch, the notable exceptions being books in the Undeniable series by Madeline Sheehan which, as I believe I have mentioned, is seriously effed up.)

It shouldn’t come as a shock that the older heroines tend to be the ones who have more established careers. They own their own homes. They have advanced degrees. These are the heroines who are doctors and lawyers. It shouldn’t come as a shock because older women typically do have more established careers, having been part of the job market, gaining professional experience, longer than women in their 20s. But given that the majority of the heroines in these books are young and also the majority of these heroines are vulnerable, there’s definitely a “HE SAVED ME!” narrative going on a lot. Which, I suppose, is what one expects of scary, bossy biker dudes.

Primary takeaway: Young and financially vulnerable citizen heroines are being absorbed into club life. Hmm.

So, I also mentioned that there’s a difference between heroines and, erm, club tail. My primary takeaway in this area is related to sex, monogamy, and cheating, which is something we can discuss when we discuss relationships and sex. My secondary takeaway, however, is that these books, much more than any other romances I’ve read, tend to involve throwdowns between women who SELF-CATEGORIZE by class – club women obviously being a lower class than old ladies. 

Even though all of the sex is (supposed to be) consensual, and there really shouldn’t be anything wrong with consenting adults responsibly having sex when they want to, many of these heroines end up throwing down with club women to stake their claim on the hero. 

Now, some of this is about demonstrating that, whatever else has happened in the past, the heroine is also a scary, badass biker babe, worthy of being on the back of her scary, badass biker dude’s bike. But also these interactions tell us something about trust between the protagonists (which is a relationship issue), and they create conflicts between women when the issue is not the relationship between the women but the relationships the women in question both (or all) have with the man in question. And yet the women are the ones having catfights over a man, who is theoretically already dedicated to his woman, so it’s really just catty. And it really delineates that there are certain kinds of women who are okay (the women who are good enough to be old ladies) and who are not okay (the women who spread their legs for any guy in the club) (which is a sex issue). 

Primary takeaway: While old ladies might form a sisterhood, overall, relationships among women associated with the club are problematic.

And, finally, this one is also absolutely not universal, but the majority of heroines in MC smut fall into stereotypical gender roles of cooking and cleaning. The club women tend to be responsible for cooking and cleaning in the clubhouse, and when heroines become old ladies, they cook and/or clean. Certain authors play with this a little bit, especially if the relationship is allowed to play out beyond simply the protagonists addressing the big problem or threat, but overall there is a definite theme of Action Man and Provider, Woman in the Home and Mother, and all of the traditional roles assigned by those labels. 

As I said when we began, this was the segment I mulled over the most, and it’s probably the one I find the most interesting to evaluate on a big scale. What do these characterizations say about this type of romance? What is appealing about these women? What resonates with readers? What is problematic about these characterizations and does it matter? What is the author trying to say about the strength of these women? It’s easy to write off a single heroine in a single book, but when we look at MC smut overall, the characterization of the heroines is telling, and it is extremely divergent from what we see in modern contemporary romance, which features significantly different characterizations of heroines and those heroines’ relationships with the women around them. I have many thoughts about enjoying romance with problematic content, but that’s probably a ramble for a different post. 

For this, now you have an idea of what kinds of heroines you’ll be likely to find if you pick up some MC smut. Next week we can put the men and the women together and talk about these MC smut relationships!


Previous posts in this series:

Motorcycle Monday

MC Romance: Badass, Scary Biker Dude

My number one takeaway for biker heroes is that they rock some saucy hair. Especially facial hair. Hair like this:

Maybe other smut heroes should branch out in the hair department.

I’ll tell you what – the hero described with mutton chops straight up made my jaw drop. I feel like interesting hair or facial hair is a bold move on the part of an author (though, to be honest, I would be fine with no more heroes who have hair “short on the sides and longer on top” considering that’s apparently what all contemporary heroes have), even if it totally resonates in context. Because, let’s be honest, even if that guy with mutton chops above doesn’t look half bad, what I think of when I think of mutton chops is more like this:

Which, no, is not working for me

Biker heroes are also covered in tattoos, which are always described as totally awesome and sexy (obvi), and they are more likely than most to have piercings (I keep track of peen piercings in my Goodreads reading tags (doesn’t everyone?), and 4 of 5 are MC heroes). Especially if they’re young-ish with the piercings. Also they wear jewelry, which, let’s admit, most heroes don’t (unless they’re aristocrats with super cool signet rings, because are you even an aristocratic hero if you don’t have a signet ring?). 

I don’t think I could have found a more perfect picture to epitomize biker jewelry

All right, okay, we can get serious now. 

If I were going to universally describe MC heroes with three words, they would be: domineering, macho, and individualistic. In other words, these books are definitely not for readers who dislike paternalistic heroes who unquestionably demonstrate red flag traits like controlling behavior and jealousy. If you can’t get behind the idea of an alpha hero, just don’t even wander over here, because these guys range from basic macho alpha-ish to straight up dark bully (depending on what author you’re dealing with). Cinnamon rolls who are emotionally engaged need not apply.

Here’s how this whole situation tends to go down:

  1. Pussy is pussy, and I can get pussy easily because I’m a badass patched biker dude and there are biker groupies wandering mostly naked around the clubhouse just looking for some wild biker banging
  2. I see a woman who isn’t just club tail, and she’s also kind of sassy, and maybe a little bit sweet, and I like sassy and sweet, so she’s mine now
  3. I’m going to get a little caveman on that woman and tell her she’s mine and have her “protected” constantly by one of my club brothers, while I run around banging my chest, declaring that nobody can tell me what to do
  4. Except that I really like this woman, and I want her to be my woman, so I guess I’ll stop being quite such a caveman and acknowledge that I have no interest in other women, and yes, she needs to be respected, I was just trying to make it clear that nobody owns me
  5. Okay, fine, she’s my woman and I’m her man. But I’m still the boss

So, obviously, different stories have different relationship experiences, but if I were going to boil down this experience overall, that would be it. As I was reading, it occurred to me that one reason these books might be as popular as they are is that they combine the bad boy hero with the classic wish fulfillment aspect of the alpha hero who sees one woman as special when he hasn’t done that before. 

This is especially demonstrated because the vast majority of heroes are not only bossy and independent to a fault, they are also super slutty (or there are orgiastic parties at the clubhouse where public sex is NBD at the very least, which implies slutty), but the heroine manages to break through and have enough everything to get the monogamy. (I’ll say this: I find most man-slag heroes tiresome, and the only reason I can think why that’s not automatically the case with bikers is that it seems to be built into the generic culture of MC romance, so it gets a mental pass from me that men in suits do not.)

I think my favorite conversation that illuminates this idea is from Own the Wind by Kristen Ashley. To recap the plot: Tabby is the Prez’s daughter, Shy is a patched member of the club. Shy is called Shy because he is such a womanizer (he has two threesome scenes in this book pre-Tabby), so when the relationship is exposed, everyone loses their minds. Tabby gets so pissed, she lays into her step-mom (please see Motorcycle Man) because, having grown up in the MC life, she knows perfectly well that her dad was also pretty slutty before he married Tyra:

“You know, I’m not pissed because you worry about me and you’d act on that even if you do it judgmentally. I know you’re in the middle. You love me but you’re Dad’s old lady and your loyalty is with him, you have to take his back in what he’s feeling and stand at his side when he does what he feels he has to do. That said, you should know the reason I’m pissed is because you and Dad and even the guys, you didn’t even give him a chance.” Her face paled, I knew my aim was true but I still drove that home. “You didn’t give him a chance.” 

I saw her face soften when that sunk in then I went in for the kill. 

“You know you’re Dad’s one-and-only, Tyra, and if you don’t know this, seeing as he had kids before he met you, I’m sorry to tell you but even though you’re his one-and-only now, you weren’t his one-and-only.” 

Her head jerked, she flinched, and I finally saw it. 

Understanding. 

“You feel me,” I said softly. “I get I’m not Shy’s one-and-only but I still… fucking… am.”

Isn’t that exactly what the dream of a hero like this is? Being the one person with the special sauce who can lasso the wind? Captivating the uncaptivatable? Cracking the uncrackable nut? So that’s a bigtime aspect of the biker hero. 

The other aspect that I enjoy about this hero is that, even if it’s not about insta-love, there’s typically a pretty instant recognition on the hero’s part that he knows he’s found something and he wants to claim it. 

While a nice, emotionally angsty romance might scratch an itch, there is also something satisfying about the paternalistic hero + one-sided courtship. Decision made, get on board please, this is happening, please stop arguing. I find it quite enjoyable, usually. 

So basically MC smut is like a super combo of hero tropes, I guess is what I’m saying. 

(I feel I should take this moment to say that the second chance MC romances can be super angsty, because it’s like a combo of all of the above plus I-don’t-even-like-you-why-can’t-I-stay-away on top of that. But mostly if we’re dealing with a new romance, the primary drama is about the citizen heroine figuring out the club or the external threat.)

Now, I already mentioned that there is some super toxic stuff going on with these heroes. And that’s, like, a lot.

Really, no matter how the author tries to put a certain shine on it, there is a lack of equality between the hero and heroine in these books. This is also where we tend to see a lot of the toxic masculinity come out to play.

First, as I mentioned last week, if the heroine didn’t somehow originate from the MC (either daughter or widow or the like), then the heroine must acquiesce to becoming part of the MC lifestyle. Being a patched member of the club is so important to the hero that the club is everything, and those books that involve a dispute – Own the Wind, above, being one example or Crossroads by Chantal Fernando being another – demonstrate how big a deal it is for a brother to leave the club. They get the patches tattooed on their backs, for crying out loud! 

Yeah, Sons of Anarchy is fiction, but so is MC Smut, so we’re going with it

Another good example that illustrates this lack of equality is found in Ravage Me by Ryan Michele. In that book, the heroine grew up in the club and refuses to date brothers because she knows that if the relationship goes south, he won’t be the one to lose all his family – even though he patched in and didn’t grow up in the club – she’ll be the one who can’t come back, because after she becomes an old lady, she can’t go back to being her father’s daughter. 

So we begin with a lack of equality just right off the bat in terms of who is going to have to adjust or give things up for whom. But I also mentioned last week – and above – that protection factors in, as does jealousy and controlling behavior. 

There’s usually some kind of external, suspenseful plot that makes the protection issue seem less problematic, but let’s all be honest here – having a member of the club follow the old ladies around all the time is super duper controlling behavior. Some authors tend to lean toward having brothers protect women only when there’s a situation happening, which has less ick factor than, say, the biker on duty getting in men’s faces when other men talk to old ladies out at the bar one evening just for fun, which is what happens in Reaper’s Property by Joanna Wylde. But it’s always the men protecting the women and keeping the other non-MC riff-raff away. Men wanting to talk to women are always men wanting to get into women’s pants. Please cool your possessive jets, gentlemen.

Don’t even get me started on “Why do you need to work? I’ll give you money if you need it.” (Legit, Reaper’s Property, which includes exactly that conversation by Horse, is a ride, but it’s not by any stretch the only biker book with a financially vulnerable heroine.)

In addition, not to pile on or anything, but biker dudes are bossy. Heroines need to get on board, and they have to listen and follow orders without necessarily being privy to what is universally referred to as “club business”. Or sometimes it’s not really club business, it’s just the hero being all kinds of macho, which is…not cute. Sometimes the heroines are good at listening, and sometimes they are not, but we can get into all that when we talk about the women of MC smut next week. And we can talk more about some of these dynamics when we talk about relationships in two weeks.

Bottom line: scary, bossy, badass biker dudes are like:

I have been waiting for months to use this gif

Need more MC Smut analysis in your life? Here are Erin’s previous posts in the series: