I only recently found this series and have been reading like a maniac for the last month, book by delicious book, to catch up to the latest releases. I don’t take to series books often, as they have a tendency to be choppy and inconsistent. However, this series stands far apart from all others I’ve read. It has been one of my highest rated so far in 2019, and I can honestly, without a doubt say, that Autumn Jones Lake’s, Lost Kings MC series is THE best MC series I’ve ever read. And I have come to admire Lake's fearless story writing. The way she chooses to tackle difficult, life altering circumstances head-on and without apology, is something much needed in the dark romance universe. And the lead up to this story, the subject matter of abuse, neglect, and the life altering consequences that result, had me vibrating with expectation.
"More Than Miles" is Murphy and Heidi's story. It is the eighth story, and sixth full-length book in Lake's Lost Kings (LOKI) universe. It's a story that has been masterfully hinted at and intertwined by Lake throughout all the other LOKI installments before it. And, one I had been impatiently waiting to get to since starting this series last month, because for me, Murphy and Heidi have remained one of the more complicated, emotionally intense pairings within the LOKI universe. They cemented themselves firmly within my heart very early on. Especially because out of all the LOKI books, Heidi’s story is the one I most relate too, as it closely resembles my own experiences with my own mother growing up. And her emotions, her reactions, her outlook on life, and ever present fear of becoming like her abusive mother, hit unnervingly close to home for me.
Additionally, watching Murphy's genuine care and concern for Heidi throughout books 1 through 5.5, his reactions to her fearful admissions and outbursts, and the subsequent events with Axel firmly put me on #teammurphy. Is it hysterically funny at times, to watch the age difference and lack of maturity on both sides play out amidst the fray? Yes, yes it is. However, it becomes clear very early on that only he understands the ever vibrating thread of abuse, neglect, and overall pain Heidi has endured. Only Murphy understands her in the way she needs to be understood as he suffered in similar ways and can fully recognize and relate to how her very soul is constructed and held together. How her mind and thought process ticks days-to-day, and how her heart quakes with doubt at the thought of repeating the mistakes of her mother. Shared experiences and understandings that have very little to do with age.
Murphy understands Heidi’s fear and is willing to stand with her and be afraid with her. He is equally full of doubt and struggles right alongside her to overcome their past and forge a future they both know deep in their hearts is the right one. Theirs is a bravely painful story about mistakes, misunderstandings, about acknowledging how, as survivors of childhood abuse, we often act/react out of fear, shame, and an overactive self-preservation instinct that only subsides with patience and one’s unique understanding to the childhood trauma at hand. Their story will genuinely gut you, and is often difficult to read. The interactions are angry and seriously conflicted, almost bitter, especially where Axel's behavior and attitude is concerned, and not for the obvious reasons.
Their story is a story that needed to be told in way that only Autumn Jones Lake can tell it. I love this story and these characters overall, and love Murphy and Heidi even more than I can fully put into words, which is why I had some serious expectation when it came to this book. And is also why I am so enormously conflicted about my end feelings toward this book overall…
In the end I am conflicted. I am conflicted mainly because Murphy and Heidi’s story is a big, big, tale to tell. It is a story full of winding roads and equally winding emotions. And it is far too big of a story for one book! I was honestly stunned at the sheer size of this installment, the longest in the series so far at sixty chapters PLUS an epilogue. And unlike Wrath and Trinity’s story which was at least broken down into parts, “More Than Miles” is a single, continuous overwhelming tomb of information that, in my opinion, taints the heartbeat of the story overall and almost breaks the connective thread of Murphy and Heidi’s love, loyalty, and emotional growth. This book is packed full of so many happenings and life moments, stacked with so much information, from a half a dozen different fronts it overshadows them at times. It's overwhelming, and in all honesty, really should have been more than one book.
Murphy and Heidi deserved the same care; their journey afforded the same respect as Wrath and Trinity's, and Rock and Hope's.
Sadly, Lake doesn't honor Murphy and Heidi's backstories of neglect, abuse, and childhood trauma the way she did with Wrath and Trinity. And instead of the brave, almost fearless writing I have come to know and love from Lake, I here found something hesitant, almost timid. And certainly not the same methodical level of respect and care afforded to the stories of the previous installments. Rather it is quick, often clipped, with the beginnings of dialogs and plot branches that end up not being carried through, such as Murphy's demands for complete honesty from Heidi that he himself doesn't fully honor. How he doesn't tell her the truth about the length and duration of his own feelings, about the necklace, or the engagement ring, while patiently coaxing her into admitting and being honest about her own feelings and needs for him. There are also plot additions that seemingly die without explanation such as the encounter with the mother, the shooting, and several other Axel related scenarios that, at first, appear important, but then don’t really go anywhere.
Additionally, after seven books of exquisitely paced, detail rich, character and scenario building, the final chapters of this one feel rushed, and underdeveloped. Seven books of painstaking buildup to the final "make or break" moments of their relationship, seven books of foreshadowing, all boiled down to a few rushed chapters of climax, and an oddly placed, confusing epilogue spanning what appears to be years and including characters never before seen and placed with no context whatsoever. Something I hadn’t before encountered in any of the previous LOKI installments.
My disappointment at the telling of Murphy and Heidi’s book genuinely made me cry. They deserved so much more. They deserved a multi-book, methodically paced telling just as Rock and Hope, and Wrath and Trinity received. My heart is broken at the lack of care afforded to their story. And honestly, this review is one of the hardest I have EVER written, taking me almost three days of writing and rewriting…
I have dedicated tens of thousands of words to book reviews in 2019, and normally, the issues discussed above would garner a 3-star review from me. My all-encompassing love for this story however, as well as, my undying love for Murphy and Heidi as core characters within the LOKI universe overall is what earns it the forth star. Am I entirely convinced it deserves the fourth star, sadly no, but I simply cannot bring myself to dishonor Heidi and Murphy in such a way, as their story is just too important not to be read!