Our book club pick for July is Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley. This is the second book in her Colorado Mountain series, but can be read as a standalone since none of the characters from this book were introduced in the first, The Gamble. The book was first self-published, but has recently been picked up by Grand Central Publishing’s Forever imprint.
Lauren Grahame has spent her whole life thinking something special was going to happen. She didn’t know what it was, she just knew it would one day be hers. But she learned the hard way that special wasn’t on offer.
So, after divorcing her cheating husband, Lauren searched for nothing special and she thought she found it when she landed a job as a waitress in a biker bar in Carnal. It was perfect: a nothing job in a nowhere bar in Nowheresville.
Then Tatum Jackson walked in. Part-owner of the bar, he took one look at high-class Lauren and wanted nothing to do with her. And he made this known, loudly.
Tate’s angry insults seared in her brain, Lauren decides the feeling is mutual and she doesn’t want anything to do with the gloriously handsome Tate Jackson. The clash of the bartender and barmaid begins but, even though Tate makes his change of mind clear (in biker-speak, a language Lauren is not fluent in), Lauren is intent on going her own way.
Until a serial killer hits Carnal and Lauren finds out Tate isn’t a bartender, he’s a bounty hunter. He stakes his claim for Lauren before he goes on the hunt for a killer but Laurie doesn’t speak biker nor does she understand bounty hunters and Tate comes back from the hunt to find his old lady has moved on.
Life throws curveball after curveball at Laurie and Tate. As secrets are revealed, women are brutally murdered, and Lauren tries to find her inner biker babe.
*I tried to keep this post as spoiler free as possible. You should have no problem reading it. The comments are open to spoilers, however, so read those at your own risk.
There’s a lot going on in this book. One of the things Ashley really needed was an editor who could help her cull out some of the ridiculous excess in her stories. But sentence structure and info dumps aside, her writing is very compelling. It’s easy to fall into her world and become wrapped up in the lives of the characters.
While I struggled with many aspects of the story, I admit I couldn’t stop reading. The more I read the more I wanted to read. Part of the appeal of this particular book is Lauren’s personal journey. I don’t think Tate changed or grew much during the course of the book. What we saw in the beginning was what we closed the book with. But Lauren kind of came out of her shell. She was understandably devastated when she realized her husband had had an affair for years with her best friend. After the divorce she took off and had wandered aimlessly in her car. When she lands in Carnal she thought she’d found a good place to land. There was nothing special in town and a job waitressing at a bar was anything but. As she settles in, however, she really opens up. She comes into her own and starts collecting friends and relationships along the way.
One of the thing I loved best about Lauren was that she was a mature, older woman. There were a few times she acted silly, but for the most part she was decisive in her thoughts and opinions. There wasn’t a lot of teenage angst or silly dramatics with her. That’s pretty unconventional in today’s romance market.
As much as Tate frustrated me in the beginning, I admit I loved him. He had a tendency to fly off the handle and say thing he didn’t mean when he was angry, but at his core he was a strong man. He like Laurie for herself, attitude and all.
There was a lot of background noise in this book. A serial killer on the loose, Laurie’s ex-husband showing back up in her life, Tate’s ex, her relationship with Tate’s ex’s brother, her family, his friends, the townsfolk, etc. While I think Ashley did a good job of incorporating each part into the story, many of the things were unnecessary. Especially the serial killer thing. It was pretty over-the-top.
Was this your first Kristen Ashley book? If not, which did you start with?
Would you read her again?
What did you think of the novel?
Did you enjoy Laurie and Tate?
What were some of your favorite aspects of the novel?
What were some of your least favorite?
I think Ashley is a love-her-or-hate-her author. It seems to be all or nothing with readers. I can see the flaws in her writing and struggle with many things in her novels, but I can’t stop reading her. I binged on her a few months ago and I haven’t really stopped.
If you haven’t had a chance to try her yet, or you just want to read this book but haven’t done so, Forever has offered us 15 digital copies of the book to giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Spoiler Warning The comments are open to spoilers. Read at your own risk! Spoiler Warning