Jan 06

Counter to my Intelligence by Lani Lynn Vale Review


5 Smooches!

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Sometimes the heart wants what it can’t have.

That’s the motto Silas Mackenzie, the president of The Dixie Wardens MC, has lived by since he was a young man.

Now he’s well on the way to middle age, has three grown children, and he’s lusting after a woman he should definitely stay away from.

Especially one that his ex-girlfriend had given birth to, and happened to be only twenty seven years old.

Sawyer isn’t a young girl at heart, though.

She’s seen the inside of a jail cell for eight long years, and every one of them she spent paying for a crime she didn’t commit.

Silas Mackenzie knows as soon as he sees her that the girl has sacrificed enough.

And maybe…just maybe…so has Silas.

It’s time for Silas Mackenzie to get what he deserves, and put a little bit of happy back into Sawyer’s world, one rough, bearded kiss at a time.


It’s no secret or surprise to Red Cheeks Reads followers that I’m the resident Lani Lynn Vale fan of the group. A Lani Lynn Vale book is a guaranteed, never-let-me-down, sure thing for me. I became a die-hard fan of Ms. Vale’s about half way through her first book, Boomtown, and I haven’t looked back. This author just ticks off all my boxes, and her books never, ever disappoint me. Within the pages of that first book, we met Silas McKenzie for the first time.

“My job wasn’t done… but my time as a good attentive father was.

And I’d pay for that decision every day for the rest of my life.”

To most, Silas Mackenzie is somewhat of an enigma. A semi-retired CIA asset and the president of the Dixie Wardens MC, Silas has this quiet aura of danger wrapped around his persona like a cloak. Always a loner, he doesn’t let anyone all the way in, and while he’s let his MC brothers get close, even they haven’t fully penetrated his walls. There are reasons for this, good reasons, scary reasons. Silas’ past never stops him from looking over his shoulder, it’s as if he’s just waiting for it to catch up to him. So instead of endangering anyone else he cares about, he just doesn’t let anyone get too close. You never know who is watching…

“…we find the defendant guilty of four counts of manslaughter.”

Twenty-year-old college student, Sawyer Berry, is perfectly happy reading her books on Friday night. She is not a party-girl, and this self-professed lightweight never lets herself have more than one drink. Yet, the night her life changed forever, she allowed herself to be bullied into attending a party she did not want to go to by her best friend, Bristol, and her boyfriend, Isaac. Having had enough of the party, she rounded them up and drove them all home in Isaac’s truck. A slick and foggy night and dealing with two very intoxicated friends who were grating on her last nerve coupled with her driving Isaac’s oversized Texas-good-ol-boy pick up truck, something she was never comfortable driving, all added up to disaster when the driver of a smaller truck pulled right out in front of them and Sawyer slammed into them, killing the four passengers inside and killing all of Sawyer’s hopes and dreams in the process.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this.”

Silas and Sawyer meet up one night at a bar more than an hour from home. Both are there looking for the same thing. A hook up. They wind up leaving together. Crackling chemistry explodes when they make it back to Silas’ and what starts out as a one-night-stand morphs into a friends with benefits type of arrangement. Pillow talk naturally goes to what happened that night, and Silas does not like what he hears.

“Got nothing left to lose… Careful’s not in my repertoire.”

Silas is also dealing with the very unsettling news about a former target’s untimely release from prison. This target was Silas’ main focus during his early days as an undercover operative with the Dixie Wardens. Unfortunately, this man when exacting his revenge on Silas by targeting his family, is also the reason why Silas made that awful, difficult decision all those years ago to withdraw from his family. This man is dangerous, evil and hell bent on revenge.

“What the ^%*& happened here?”

Silas begins looking into Sawyer’s case, and he does not like what he finds and spurs him to dig deeper. Sawyer is starting to settle back into her life. During an unfortunate time, Silas’ past threatens his future. The dilemma is real. Silas is tired of being lonely and he loves Sawyer. He’s got a decision to make, turn his back on her, their love and a chance at happiness, like he did to his family 30 years ago, or take a chance and try to protect her from the evil that threatens. It’s a hell of a choice to have to make.

I’ve been waiting for Silas’ story for so long, as have the vast majority of Vale fans. And I must say, she did not disappoint. We’ve gotten scant few details on Silas over the years, Vale hoarded them like a fat kid with his Oreos, only doling out an occasional tidbit here and there. This book finally – finally – answers all of our questions. And there is so much more to the story than we could have even imagined. Heartbreaking at times, achingly lonely in parts, if you weren’t a Silas Mackenzie fan before, you will be now.

As usual, Vale’s writing is on point. She just has a way of building her stories and layering in all the details that make it so easy for the reader to visualize what’s happening. All of that trademark Vale humor that her fans have come to love and expect in one of her novels is here, despite the heavy subject matter. It’s sexy, it’s smart, and it’s Lani Lynn Vale’s best work to date. I loved Silas and Sawyer, I loved their story, and I loved this book. It’s back to a familiar place for me: waiting for her next release!

Counter To My Intelligence and the talented Lani Lynn Vale get 5 smooches from me!

~ Danielle Palumbo