complicated, by kristen ashley

If I can offer one piece of advice with audiobooks: Don’t listen to one where you have preconceived notions of what the characters sound like, you’re apt to be disappointed. Not the case with Complicated. This stand alone novel has been released as an audiobook only until November 2017, when it will be available in print. Since it’s not part of a series, there was little to no room for disappointment and it’s by one of my most beloved authors, Kristen Ashley.

The story begins in the midst of a 1-night stand. Or rather, at the end. Hickson (Hicks) is fleeing the home of Greta after they met at the club where she sings part-time. He’s the local sheriff, 3-months divorced, begrudgingly, and Greta is a full-time hair dresser during the day.

With the ink barely dry on the papers dissolving his long-time union to Hope, which produced 3 children, the last thing Hicks is looking for is a relationship. Greta, on the other hand, is ever hopeful in spite of her wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing and streak of general bad luck. She too was married but her divorce was long ago and left a shadow of ‘it just won’t happen for me’ over her expectations for love. So when Hicks is hastily fleeing her bedroom, Greta, while hurt, is not all that surprised.

With a special needs brother who lives in a facility that offers the best possible care and a mother with no qualms about blackmailing her daughter for money—Greta has her hands full. But she also has a support system composed of the owner of the salon she works in and the proprietor of the club she sings at. Not to mention a local community who comes to her aid in spite of the prom king and queen status Hicks and his ex-wife essentially hold in the town.

The title of the book describes the relationship between Hicks and Greta. For those who are in a marriage or have had the unfortunate experience of divorce, you know that relationships in and of themselves are complicated. With elements such as local gossip, young children, and a murder thrown in—it only serves to make things more convoluted.

Kristen Ashley, true to form,  managed to make us care deeply about the characters she has brought to life through the power of the pen—or in this case, the spoken word. The pain and anguish that Hicks feels for a divorce that was forced upon him leaves us bereft and sympathetic. He’s trying to do the right thing for his family and ultimately himself by learning to live again.

With interwoven intrigue and sex scenes that will leave you blushing, Complicated is a story rife with emotion about people you could easily know and love. The sexual tension, underlying suspense, and deep emotional connection to the characters once again, has us praising Ashley for her storytelling.

If you can wait until the print version of Complicated hits the market in November, you are stronger than I am. At just over 15 hours on audiobook, I managed to finish in about 2 days—listening at every opportunity I could find. And if you’re new to audiobooks, like I was, this is one that won’t disappoint.

 

bounty, by kristen ashley

bountyFirst and foremost—I met her!!! I met Kristen Ashley at the 2016 RT Convention in Las Vegas!!! She is one of my most favorite authors, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve read about 30 of her books. I was so tongue-tied that I was only able to marginally fan-girl over her. Squee!!! (This meeting in no way influences my review of her latest book.)

what went right…
Bounty is a clear evolution of Ashley’s writing. For as big a fan as I am, I have been less than happy with her last few books. Her plug and play alpha heroes with their Neanderthal speech patterns have left me wanting to throw my iPad at the wall. Not this time! Not only does Deke, the hero, speak in complete sentences, he stays true to who he is throughout the book. You don’t see him transform into some shell of the character he once was in the beginning of the book.

Similarly, Justice does the same. She’s a well-known musician and new in town. She’s looking to establish some roots at the same time Deke is meant to wander to open road. Together, their voyage and discovery of each other and their deepest desires proves for a really great read. While he’s transforming her fixer upper into a home and she’s finding her way out of the spotlight, their meeting from 7 years prior is seemingly forgotten, by some…

There was such engaging dialogue and character development that you almost forgot to expect a classic Ashley twist. But it was there and it didn’t disappoint. Initially, I thought it wasn’t needed, but in retrospect it would’ve been a rather anticlimactic book had there not been one.

the verdict…
This is the penultimate book in the Colorado Mountain series so sadly, we can only expect 1 more. Why?!?!? You see many characters of old–Tate (love me some Tate), Wood, Nina and Max–who started it all…

Yes, there are a few incoherent rambling diatribes, but not like the ones we’ve been subjected to in the past. You can clearly see Ashley has either listened to her readers, gotten a better editor, grown as a writer and fixed her own mistakes, or all of the above. Whatever the reasons, Bounty is a fun, heartfelt read and I’m looking forward to more from Ashley. (Did I mention I met her?!?!?)

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soaring, by kristen ashley

Big fan! I’m hoping my streak of bad reads is over. As I’ve stated, repeatedly, Kristen Ashley is one of my most fave romance authors. Her characters are real and more often than not, relatable. I’ve read almost all of her series and stand-alone’s, which comes to 20+ books, so when I say I’m a fan, I mean I’m a fan. Anyway…

Soaring is part of Ashley’s Magdalene series. Unfortunately, I did not love the 1st book, The Will. But I was very happy I stuck with this story-line because I really loved Soaring. I’ve noticed that while Ashley is still rather verbose when it comes to describing exactly what someone is wearing and how their homes are decorated–this is just part of her writing style–she has definitely heard her readers when it comes to the speech patterns of her alpha males. For quite a few books, they all had the exact same way of speaking and it was just above that of a cave-man. Just because you’re a man’s man, doesn’t mean you’re uneducated and can’t complete a sentence. Let’s dive in!

Amelia is a 47-year old, divorced, mother of 2 teenagers. Oh, she’s also an oil heiress–which in this case means she doesn’t have to work or worry about money, but that certainly does not put this in the category of other billionaire love stories. Amelia lost her children to her neurosurgeon ex-husband, Conrad, and his wife because of Amelia’s crazy public antics when she found out that Conrad had cheated on her and was leaving her for his girlfriend. She’s now followed them across the country, from CA to MA, to get her life back on track, prove to everyone, herself included, that she’s changed, and is worthy of being a custodian and mother to her children.

Cue Mickey, the 48-year old, divorced, father of 2–a teenage girl and an 11-year old boy–who lives across the street from Amelia. Mickey’s a construction worker and volunteer fireman. While he too is an heir–to a frozen seafood fortune–he has chosen to shun the money and find his own way, apart from the family business. It’s not the easy existence it could be, especially since his ex-wife is an alcoholic barely holding it together in the joint-custody agreement he has with her over their children.

Much of this story is about Amelia finding her way and who she is. How she can’t live her life for the approval of her parents, how her needs are important, and above all, being the best mother she can to her kids. Again, so many relatable topics. And of course, there is the fun and heart-warming love story of Amelia and Mickey. Which doesn’t have the smoothest start–especially since they initially date other people.

In today’s age of trying to do what’s right, divorce, starting over, finding yourself, and love, after 40–Ashley does an amazing job of addressing heavy current-day topics (bullying) while keeping the tone light-hearted and fun. Looking forward to the next and final installment in this series!

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Book Review: The Will

the willle sigh… My 2nd less than stellar review, The Will. This one saddens me because the book is by one of my most favorite romance authors–Kristen Ashley. Here goes.

In a Nutshell
Josie is an idiot and Jake is an alpha male who sometimes speaks in complete sentences. They fall in love, have drama, and live happily ever after. That about sums it up.

Tara’s Take
Honestly, I hate to be so harsh, but I really struggled reading this book. I actually took copious notes on how much I disliked it–primarily because of the heroine. Let me explain:

Josie is a big fan of hip hop music and is close personal friends with one of the rap game’s most prominent stars. But Josie knows NO slang and has to have everything explained to her. (Because hip hop never uses slang.)

She speaks like a robot who’s learning the English language. Instead of saying, I need to go to the mall and get some clothes for gardening…She says things like, “…I needed to go to the mall in order to acquire clothing that would be more suitable to tasks such as these.” Seriously, no one speaks like that! And it’s that way through the entire book! Even her thoughts were ‘proper.’ I don’t know who or what she was supposed to be channeling in her speech.

She’s refined, cultured, and traveled the world–but yet, she behaves like she has no common sense. The contradictions were all over the place and impossible to ignore.

Take for instance when she was sitting in restaurant. She could tell simply by the way a man was walking towards her that he was going to hit on her. Yet, she spent weeks holding hangs, cuddling, spending almost every waking hour with Jake (the hero) and had no idea he was interested in her romantically. WT*?!?!?

Again, because this is one of my most fave authors–I’ll stop right there. Suffice to say, I can’t recommend this book. BUT–here’s the thing, I am so committed to this author, I will read the next book in the series when it comes out. I just know she can do better!

 

Book Review: Jagged

It feels like forever since I’ve reviewed a Kristen Ashley book. She is by far, one of my most favorite romance writers and authors in general. So when I found out that she would be writing another novel in her Colorado Mountain series, I marked my calendar! Literally…I wrote the release date on my calendar; which was November 5th and I finished Jagged yesterday, November 6th. Without a doubt, it falls into my top 5 Kristen Ashley books. Up there with Motorcycle Man, Sweet Dreams, Mystery Man, and I can’t choose what would round out the 5th and those are by no means in order by love (I can’t do that either). Alas, let’s dive in.

Jagged tells the story of Graham Reece aka Ham aka Reece and Zara Cinders. We met Reece in Ashley’s For You (which could be in my top 5…but so could At Peace…but I digress). Reece has been a bit of a rolling stone for the majority of his adult life. Zara has been a Gnaw Bone, CO staple the entirety of hers. She was married. He was married. Both divorced and having fulfilled each other’s emotional and ‘physical’ needs for years, things begin to ‘shift’. 

During the recession–yes, THE RECESSION–Zara loses her house to foreclosure and her small business goes under, all in the midst of her divorce. She finds herself in an unsafe apartment complex, working for minimum wage at the local home store. Reece/Ham rides back into town–yes, he has a Harley–and takes up residence at some posh condos seeing as how he’s the new manager at The Dog. Let the fun begin! Reece and Zara are so down-to-earth and relatable, you almost feel like you know them. Well, if you hang out with super hot biker/bar managers–my personal dream.

Unlike some of Ashley’s other books, there is no kidnapping and nail-biting suspense in this book, but that doesn’t make it any less an intriguing page-turner. (Did I mention I read it in a day???) Your heart-strings play a symphony for all that Zara has had to endure, abuse, loss, etc. And Reece as well, his problems with women, while extreme, are understandable. Ladies–we aren’t perfect and men really do have feelings. There are ups and downs throughout the book and of course, some steamy bedroom (and various other room) scenes. For almost 300 pages, this is a quick read. The characters pull you in, you see some familiar faces that are always entertaining. I think I’m going to have to go back and re-read some of those ‘old’ Kristen Ashley novels…

Kaleidoscope is next in this particular Ashley series and my calendar is already marked for its February 4th ebook debut!