January 2, 2013

Book Reviews: Romance Novel Overload

Happy New Year!!!

To begin 2013, let’s start with books…books…books…

As I’ve written before, I have been searching for the next Fifty Shades of Grey. I turned to the Bared to You trilogy–which was somewhat satisfying–see review below. I am looking forward to the final book in the series, but I have to wait until May 2013 to see how that wraps up. In the interim, I admit, I have gotten a little carried away in the romance novel department. So here’s my confession, I’ve read 15 Kristen Ashley novels (and I started yet another trilogy, the Blackstone Affair, but much like the Bared to You trilogy, the third book is not available until Spring 2013…coincidence with the Bared to You release? I think not. Competition perhaps? Both Kristen Ashley and Raine Miller (the author of the Blackstone books) are no longer independent/self-published authors–they’ve gone mainstream and now have publishing houses. I have to say, this is somewhat disappointing as a devoted reader. While the editing, I’m sure, will be much better–as well as the promotions, author pay, etc., it does delay when the books will be in the hands of the public. On the flip side, this is actually a good business move for the authors; I love their writing and I wish them much success. I’ll be reading! But I digress…). Alas, fifteen books is a lot…so…

Kristen Ashley has several series. The books I’ve read are not inclusive of all of them, just the ones I have read and some that I love (a brief synopsis of those I loved is provided below) . The thing I enjoy most about the books I’ve read are that the couples are all over age 30 (many over 40), there are no virginal damsels in distress, and there are no billionaires.  I will say that many of her heroes take on similar characteristics in speech and general attitude, but that’s a minor grievance. The characters in the books crossover both intra- and inter-series, which is so much fun. All series are in the correct book order:

Crime–The ‘Burg Series

  • For You
  • At Peace–The story of Joe and Violet. Joe is not the most charismatic hero and is far more than rough around the edges, but it’s impossible not to love him. He’s a security specialist, mainly to the stars, and is very ‘damaged’. Violet has 2 teenage daughters, lost her police officer husband, sort of in the line of duty, and quite often I wanted to shake some sense into her. Throw in a stalker, the mob, and a visit to Chi-town–winner!
  • Golden Trail
  • Games of the Heart

Colorado Mountain Series

  • The Gamble
  • Sweet Dreams–I cannot say enough about Tate. His character is tops on the Goodreads heroes over 40 list, and for good reason. He played one NFL game for the Eagles (which I won’t hold against him even though I’m a diehard Giants fan…and because he’s well…fictional) and is now a bounty hunter. Lauren has finally settled in Carnal, CO after divorcing her cheating husband, leaving her executive job, and is now a waitress in a biker bar. To say she and Tate don’t initially hit it off would be an understatement. But it’s worth the initial angst and if only Tate were real…
  • Lady Luck
  • Breathe

Dream Man Series

  • Mystery Man–Hawk is a ‘commando,’ whatever that is. And Gwen loves shopping. Hawk buys her Jimmy Choo’s. Badass commando buying designer shoes for a fashionista–need I say more?
  • Wild Man
  • Law Man
  • Motorcycle Man–There’s a tie for me in this series. Tack is a motorcycle club president and custom car business owner. Tyra is the office manager of the custom car biz and wears stylish kitten heels and cap sleeve blouses. The biker way of life truly comes alive in this book, so be warned. It’s nowhere near as hard-core as Sons of Anarchy, but you may have to think outside the box.

Unfinished Hero Series

  • Knight

Stand Alone Books

Heaven and Hell-I actually forgot I read this book. But then after I re-read a few pages, the storyline came back to me. I thought the hero, Sam, would be a bit different from the other heroes in her stories. He started out that way, in a good way. But then he too fell into ‘more of the same’ where Kristen Ashley’s heroes are concerned. A bit of a let down. But overall, not a bad story. He’s a retired NFL player, Kia is a newly wealthy widow, having been in an abusive marriage for years.

Play it Safe–The story of Gray and Ivey. He’s a cowboy and she’s a hustler. He stays a cowboy and she becomes a stripper. They’re separated, not of their own volition, for 7 years. What starts out as a sweet love story becomes very grown up. And good.

I’ve only highlighted my favorite books in each series, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read all of them in each. I loved some more than others, but didn’t truly dislike any. You don’t have to read them in order but the benefit is in the crossover of the characters if you do. Each couple and storyline is unique, not a continuation. And while the books look very long–all are over 1,000 pages on my NookColor–they are quick reads.

Bonus Review

For all you bookworms out there, you’ll know there’s been a lot of hype about the book Gone Girl. Yes, I’ve read it. The first word that comes to mind for me regarding this book is clever. Cleverly written. Clever story line. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. I will say that personally, I don’t have a desire to read any of the author’s other books–but that’s not her fault. Here’s the thing about my reading: In any book, I need to like someone…anyone…even if it’s the bad guy (sometimes they have redeeming qualities). And in this book, I liked no one. I had a similar issue with the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I even tried to read the 2nd book in that trilogy, but considering the first book took me several starts to get through it, and I still didn’t like any of the people in the 2nd book–needless to say, I wasn’t successful.

There you have it. Plenty of books. A few loves, some likes, and some don’ts. Enjoy!

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