The Wicked Horse #5
I think everybody who started this series and loved it was intrigued by the character who would have an appearance in every single book. The enigmatic, wise beyond years Bridger, the owner of The Silo, who had a roughness about him yet offered kindness in the most unexpected moments. I was intrigued by his demons from the start, you never learned what they were, only saw the way they worked him. Until now.
When an aquaintance drops an injured, beat up woman at his place everything in Bridger says "no way, José". But never being one to refuse innocent people a helping hand he agrees to letting her stay under his protection.
Maggie is the victim of the jealousy of an old lady. She gave birth to a daughter whose father is the president of a one percenter MC. Not wanting to expose her child to the life of an outlaw motorcycle club and being the property of her father she escaped one day and hid her daughter. When she was captured again she was tortured by Zeke, the president and his old lady Kayla. When she awakes from almost being killed by Kayla the first person she sees is Bridger. He offers her his protection and gives her a place where she can feel safe. As it always is when you live with somebody in close space you get to know them. Bridger, true to his trade, is a very sexual person so it doesn't take long until both of them give in to their desire for each other. Soon, Maggie finds herself wishing for more than the physical but will she be able to tear down the walls Bridger has erected around his heart? How can you fight demons you don't know?
From the start we know that Bridger was abused by his stepmother as a teenager. The things she did to him were horrible and that leaves scars on the soul of a decent man and it's a testament to the strength of our hero that he has stayed an inherently decent man. Nevertheless...
"...love is for idiots and trust is for fools."
It was fascinating to get a good view into the aloof Bridger, seeing him doing mundane things like make toast (and failing) for Maggie. He is the person who gets things done, and if he needs to use sex with a man for it he'll do just that. Enjoy it, however, he does not. It's all the same to him, woman, man, sex is only a way for him to blank out for a moment and escape his darkness.
"I could probably engage in a focused chess match as I was ploughing someone, able to stealthily checkmate my opponent while getting my rocks off.
That darkness and how it impedes him and his emotional life is heartbreaking. The way he tortures himself over not being able to give Maggie what he wants had me hurting for him. He sometimes is callous with her when his walls start to crumble.
I'm a shameful, heartless fuck, no doubt, but I'm also selfish as I mentioned.
On the other hand it was lovely to see him finding out that he was actually good with kids. When he was with Belle, our heroine's daughter, it was lovely and adorable. Bridger is a fascinating and bottomless pit of contradictions and I love that while he doesn't lose his edge he becomes a better and softer version of himself.
I have to say I did Maggie wrong in the beginning. I thought she'd be a needy and weak heroine but it didn't last long and soon she showed a strong backbone. There is a lot of kindness in that woman but also resilience and pride and when the time for grovelling comes she gives Bridger a run for his money. She also has a traumatizing past yet never let it break her. Her strength is fortified by her little girl.
We get to see most of the past main characters and of course Woolf, Bridger's best friend, has a lot of page-time. It was lovely to reconnect with him and remember why I loved him so much in his own book. He gives it to his best friend straight, filterless, when Bridger makes a mess of things.
"...but don't make me do your dirty work for you. Man the fuck up, Bridger."
I had an inkling that this installment would be the most emotional in the series and it really was. I hope we'll meet some of the characters of this series in other books as we have with others. They have grown on me and I am sad to let them go. Maggie was an endearing heroine and loved how she was with Bridger. Bridger was everything I hoped for.
Sawyer Bennett did Bridger's story justice.
Sawyer Bennett did Bridger's story justice.