In a Nutshell:
This is Francesca (Frankie) and Benito’s (Benny) story. We first encounter Frankie and Benny in Kristen Ashley’s, At Peace. In that book, they are secondary characters–yet integral to the plot. In The Promise, we find out far more about their history and what happened after At Peace ended. (Just providing some context–essentially, read At Peace before you read this one. You won’t be disappointed.)
Frankie is being released from the hospital after the events of At Peace leave her with a gunshot wound. Benny, has decided that she’s going home with him. Now, mind you–Frankie was in a long-term relationship with Benny’s brother, Vinnie, who was in the mob and killed 7 years prior to the onset of this story. And that’s just the start of the complications.
There’s always been sexual tension between Frankie and Benny, but bad blood over what happened with Vinnie has kept them apart long after Vinnie’s demise. As such, it’s hard for them to finally overcome the past to be together–but they try their best to make it happen. A long distance romance. Work place drama (to put it mildly). Family struggles. And there you have the makings of an almost real life tale.
This is classic Kristen Ashley story telling, though it’s clear her writing has evolved. Gone are the 1,000+ page books with over descriptors. In its place is a concise story with just the right amount of detail. Ashley creates characters you can’t help but adore. You immediately bond with them. (Hence why I’ve read almost all of her 20+ books.) And this one is no exception. You feel for both Frankie and Benny because at the end of the day they’re just trying to do the right thing, be together, and live happily ever after.
I think we all know someone who has been in or struggled with a long distance relationship. We’ve all had to manage vacation time, family acting crazy, and challenges in the work place. Those are just some of the elements that make this story so relatable and the characters seem so down to earth. Not only do you nod your head at times–been there, done that (though some of the scenarios are a bit extreme), you can’t help but laugh at the parallels to real life.
All of that said, there are some stretches. Frankie becomes an amateur super sleuth along with others in her office. There’s murder. Intrigue. And the mob. And while it made for somewhat of an interesting story line–it was really more of a distraction from the primary plot. The conclusion to the big ‘mystery’ was rather anti-climatic and left you wondering if it was needed at all.
On the whole, it was a fun, fast read, that I would recommend. I am admittedly biased because Ashley is one of my fave romance writers, but for good reason. You could read this as a stand alone–she provides enough background, but why deny yourself the fun of At Peace if you don’t have to? Enjoy!