Taming Ryder by Nicola Haken

 Taming Ryder, the second book in Nicola Haken’s Souls of the Knight series, can be read as a stand-alone. However, the characters from Book 1, Being Sawyer Knight,play an important role in this installment. This is a personal preference, but I like knowing the back history so reading in order is usually a must for me. With that said, I did not connect to Ryder’s story as much as I did to Sawyer’s. The writing is done well, the characters are fleshed out, but it seemed to move along at a slow pace.
We met Ryder in the first book where he worked as a hair stylist with Elle. After being kicked to the curb by his parents, he did a few scenes in the porn movie business. Liking it and needing a change, he left the salon and moved to the US from London. He now works full-time as a porn star. He loves sex, he loves the attention, and he loves his freedom. So, overall, this gig is perfect for him. Or, so everyone thinks. Ryder keeps himself very closed off and what he shares with others is only what he wants you to see.
In his teenage years, he suffered mental abuse and assault. Living with those nightmares is killing him. And I mean that literally. He drinks and parties obsessively, he smokes pot, a lot, and he has sex with whoever may be willing from the club he is hanging out at. Love, romance, and commitment are things he has no interest or desire in, whatsoever. That is until Mason came along. Seeing some of his own pain reflected back at him thru Mason’s eyes causes him to take pity and invites him into his home and life.
Mason, a lot like Ryder, only for different reasons, is also a damaged soul. No idea to the whereabouts of his Father, and recently losing his Mom, is taking its toll. Nowhere to go or no one to ask for help he applies to become a porn star. He just needs some quick money and making porn movies seem to be the outlet that can provide that for him. No place to live, no transportation, and basically the clothes on his back will not get him too far. Ryder, noticing the worry he sees, invites him to move in with him temporarily.
Needing the stability until he can get on his feet, Mason takes Ryder up on his offer. This will be the storyline for the biggest part of the book. Learning the business, becoming friends, confiding in each other and ultimately on their way of having feelings they were not expecting. Once, very early into their roommate status, they have sex. Mason, not being as experienced as Ryder is, agrees to have sex mainly to try new things. It’s not until almost 70% into the story will they come together again. They spend most of the time running from their feelings and trying to figure out what they did to make each other uncomfortable. They avoid each other as much as they can never having any moments to talk and figure out the problem.
The storyline was good and it was probably necessary considering they each had their own set of problems to not have them jumping into bed with each other frequently. For me, it took too long to close the gap between them. I don’t have to have abundant amounts of sex in my stories. I do, however, like the characters to be together with the goal of getting the issues resolved.
Jake and Sawyer, from Being Sawyer Knight, play a fairly large role in getting and giving help when Ryder needs it most. It was a real pleasure getting to see them again and watching them in action. Jake was at the top of his game and I loved getting to see that side of him.
The side characters all played an important role. It’s kind of like the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” and with Ryder, who seems to stay in some kind of turmoil, needed all his friends pulling together to help him out of a bad situation.
Mason was a wonderful addition as well. He is so thoughtful and caring, and really provided for Ryder the stability and patience that he so desperately needed to work through his issues.
Nicola Haken has once again written a novel with great care and concern for her characters. Even though the story seemed to move at a slower pace, the plot was still interesting and covers very real issues. I realize this will come across as a hypocrite, considering my earlier statement, but she didn’t rush the characters to do something they were not ready for. She allowed them to find their own footing, comfort level, and take it from there.
If you haven’t read Being Sawyer Knight, I would strongly encourage you to do so. Afterwards, I recommend reading, Taming Ryder. The author covers several issues that a lot of people in real life face daily. Abuse and sexual assault runs rampant, especially with teenagers and young adults, everywhere. Neither, of these abusive acts, discriminate nor care how the victims are left wondering what they done to deserve such abuse. The author does a good job with encouraging her characters to seek counselling, or some type of therapy. Sometimes we don’t know how to help but just being a strong shoulder sometimes is enough.