Soaring by Kristen Ashley
Series: The Magdalene Series #2
Publication Date: March 16th 2015
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American heiress Amelia Hathaway needs to start anew.
Her husband cheated on her, and when everything she wanted in life slipped through her fingers, she fell apart. When she did, she took another heart wrenching hit as she lost the respect of her children.
When her ex took her family from California to live in the small town of Magdalene in Maine, Amelia decided it was time to sort herself out. In order to do that and win her children back, she moves to Cliff Blue, an architectural masterpiece on the rocky coast of Magdalene.
Her boxes aren’t even unpacked when she meets Mickey Donovan, a man who lives across the street, a man so beautiful Amelia takes one look at Mickey and knows she wants it all from him.
The problem is, she finds out swiftly that he’s friendly, he’s kind, but he doesn’t want everything back.
Amelia struggles to right past wrongs in her life at the same time find out who she wants to be. She also struggles with her attraction to the handsome firefighter who lives across the street.
But Amelia will face a surprise when her friendly neighbor becomes not-so-friendly. As Amelia and Mickey go head to head, Amelia must focus on winning back the hearts of her children.
She soon discovers she also must focus on winning the heart of a handsome firefighter who understands down to his soul the beautiful heiress who lives across the street is used to a life he cannot provide.
We were introduced to the town of Magdalene, Maine last year in The Will. Though I enjoyed The Will, I liked Soaring more.
When Amelia’s husband told he he was leaving her for a young nurse he met, then married said nurse 2 days* after they signed the divorce papers, she went a little crazy. She became bitter and angry, and lashed out at her ex and his new wife every time she saw them. While she didn’t involve her kids, she didn’t do anything to shield them from her behavior, either. After three years of watching her get into yelling matches at their sporting events and in general being nasty, they wanted very little to do with her. For a year after their father moves them to Maine, they flew out to see her once a month, and they barely spoke to her when they did. One day she woke up and realized she’d lost her children and she decided she needed to make some major changes in her life to rectify that. The first was moving from California to Maine so she could be closer to them. The second was taking a hard look at the person she’d become and figuring out how to get out of the dark place she’d fallen into.
Her first week in town, her ex-husband comes over to confront her about moving to town and ends up yelling at her on the front porch. The guy who lives across the street ends up coming to her rescue. Mickey Donovan is a roofer and volunteer firefighter, and he’s the first person – aside from her brother – she can remember standing in front of her since she married her ex sixteen years before. He’s attractive and protective, and she tries kissing him during a sleepy, half-drunk movie marathon – where he completely rejects her. Her already battered self-esteem takes another major hit, and she resolves to avoid him if at all possible.
I liked Amelia quite a bit. In the beginning she was a broken, sad woman who had hit rock bottom. She took a hard look at her life and realized if she didn’t make some changes she was going to end up a lonely, bitter old woman. I like that she didn’t try to excuse her behavior, or blame it on the actions of her ex. She accepted responsibility for her actions and set about making the necessary changes to become a woman she and her kids could be proud of.
Ashley has always written really great kids. They’re usually nuanced and three-dimensional; written just like real kids, whether teens or tots. While Mickey’s kids were definitely fleshed out, I don’t think we got as good a feel for Amelia’s. Their anger and attitude towards her made sense given her past actions, but I don’t think we got to know them as well – see inside their lives, get inside their heads, etc – as we did his. Which was kind of disappointing since they should have been the main focus of her attention.
I struggled a bit with Mickey’s level of involvement early in the novel. There are only 2 short chapters from his point-of-view, so we didn’t see any of his thoughts and feelings, except through Amelia’s eyes. Usually Ashley is great at showing us how into the heroine the hero is, even if the chapters are all from her POV. But that wasn’t the case here. He ran so hot and cold, pulled back so much, when he finally made a move (inviting her to share his kid’s birthday dinner with them), I was taken aback. She’d met the kids as their neighbor, but for dad to say “stay and celebrate my son’s birthday with us” when it was meant to be family dinner, was much too forward considering he’d only just told her he wanted more.
His attitude toward her money was also hard to take at times. He came from a wealthy background but chose to make his own way in the world, which was great. He still had a close relationship with his family, so it wasn’t like he was the black sheep of the family. He just chose not to be involved in the family business or take his trust fund. Since there was no contention between him and his family, and he had no problem with their wealth, I didn’t understand his aversion to Amelia’s.
Despite that, I really liked him. He was a hard working family man who just wanted to take care of his kids and provide them a good life. His relationship with his ex-wife, his protectiveness when it came to his kids and Amelia, his work ethic, etc really gave us a good feel for the person he was and made it easy to see why Amelia cared for him.
The relationship I enjoyed most was that of Amelia and her brother Lawrence. They were very close and spoke often, though he lived in California. They told each other everything and were very supportive of one another. I loved them together. Generally we see contentious brother/sister relationships, or more of a traditional role – older brother being protective and standoffish with younger sister – but they were best friends. Part of that was probably their age – she was forty-seven and he was older than she. Still, it was one of my favorite parts of the book.
There really isn’t a lot of outside conflict in this novel. The story is about Amelia as she tries to fix her relationship with her kids and find life after divorce. I liked how insular the story felt.
4 out of 5
*In the state of California, where Amelia’s husband filed, there’s a six month cooling off period after the divorce papers are signed before it’s final. So there’s no way her husband could have married his new squeeze 2 days after they signed the papers.