Author: Kristen Ashley

Review: The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley

Posted October 25, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Time in Between by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
The Time in Between (Magdalene, #3) by Kristen Ashley
Series: Magdalene #3
Also in this series: The Will, Soaring
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 563
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three-half-stars

After a painful loss, Cady Moreland is coming to Magdalene to start the next chapter of her life. A chapter that began eighteen years ago but had a heartbreaking ending. The time in between was full of family and friendship, but Cady could never get the man she fell in love with all those years ago out of her heart.

Coert Yeager has learned to live without the girl who entered his life right when she shouldn’t and exited delivering a crippling blow he never would have suspected. The time in between was full of failing to find what he was missing…and life-altering betrayal.

But when that girl shows up in Magdalene and buys the town’s beloved lighthouse, even if Coert wants to avoid her, he can’t. A fire in town sparks a different kind of flame that won’t be ignored.

As Cady and Coert question the actions of the two young adults they once were thrown into earth-shattering circumstances, can they learn from what came in between and find each other again?

I’ve been anxiously awaiting The Time in Between! I really enjoyed the first two books and I couldn’t wait for Ashley to get back to the town of Magdalene, Maine. This is a second-chance love story and I ate up the first half of the romance. Sadly, the second half of the book kind of fizzled. They reconciled and were fully committed to each other by the 45% mark. The other 55% was just them living their lives. I don’t mind a bit of “after the HEA” in a novel, but when more than half the book is dedicated to them brushing their teeth, eating, going to work and just hanging out? Well…it was kind of boring. I liked catching up with the other couples and the residents of Magdalene, and I enjoyed watching Coert and Cady settle in to each other, but I’d have liked it more if it didn’t’ go on for so long.

There are two things I want to comment on. 1) in Kristen Ashley’s world, there can’t be an HEA unless there are kids. If the heroine is too old to have her own (as is often the case since she tends to write heroines in their 40s), then the hero conveniently has one or two of his own that she has to mother. Or, if he doesn’t, there’s always a miracle baby (or two) that the heroine gets pregnant with at the end. I would really love to see just one book where kids aren’t needed to make it all complete.

2) Ashley writes complicated relationships really well. In most of her novels there’s an evil ex who proceeds to make the hero(ine)’s life hell. 99% of the time those evil exes are redeemed in the end, at least partially. I really love this aspect of her novels. Too often the cardboard ex is cast as the villain and that’s that. Not so with Ashley. Even the true assholes are often multifaceted. Twice in this novel we saw characters in a different light. I really enjoyed that.

Anyway, while there was some truly great parts to this book, the majority of them happened before the halfway mark. The romance and angst in the beginning didn’t make up for the slow second half.

3.25 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Lightning Review: Midnight Soul by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 19, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Lightning Review: Midnight Soul by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Midnight Soul by Kristen Ashley
Series: Fantasyland, #5
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: August 15th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 645
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three-stars

Against his will, Noctorno Hawthorne, an undercover vice cop, finds himself embroiled in magic, mayhem and parallel universes. Too late, he meets an amazing woman only to find she’s destined for his identical twin in another world.

And things aren’t going real great there.

Noc is recruited to help save that world.

What he doesn’t know is his destined love resides there.

Franka Drakkar wears a mask. A mask she never takes off to protect herself in a world of malice, intrigue and danger.

When Franka meets Noc and he discovers her secrets, convinced she carries a midnight soul, having shielded herself from forming bonds with anyone, she struggles with accepting his tenderness and care.

When Noc meets Franka, over wine and whiskey, her masks slips and Noc knows it’s her—only her—and he has to find a way to get her to come home with him.

And then make her want to stay.

I’ve been anxious for Noc’s book for ages, though I admit I was surprised his heroine was Franka. I expected (hoped?) it would be Valentine. Shows what I know.

I do not recommend starting here. The storylines from previous books are interwoven and really bring this novel together. Plus, I feel like the majority of the novel was spent on secondary and previous characters from the other books.

It took me quite some time to fall into this story. Generally KA grabs me right away, but I struggled through the first quarter or so of the book. I found parts to be somewhat predictable (esp for someone who has read a lot of KA), but I enjoyed the romance and, more, enjoyed the return trip to Fantasyland. We caught up with all the previous characters and had some closure from some that weren’t coupled yet (the other Circe!). While I don’t recommend this as a starting place for those who are new to Ashley or this series, I think fans will enjoy it.

3 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley

Posted August 8, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #4
Also in this series: Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Published by Forever
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Pages: 624
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three-stars

Millie Cross knows what it's like to burn for someone. She was young and wild and he was fierce and even wilder-a Chaos biker who made her heart pound. They fell in love at first sight and life was good, until she learned she couldn't be the woman he needed and made it so he had no choice but to walk away. Twenty years later, Millie's chance run-in with her old flame sparks a desire she just can't ignore. And this time, she won't let him ride off . . .

Bad boy Logan "High" Judd has seen his share of troubles with the law. Yet it was a beautiful woman who broke him. After ending a loveless marriage, High is shocked when his true love walks back into his life. Millie is still gorgeous, but she's just a ghost of her former self. High's intrigued at the change, but her betrayal cut him deep-and he doesn't want to get burned again. As High sinks into meting out vengeance for Millie's betrayal, he'll break all over again when he realizes just how Millie walked through fire for her man . . .

This series has been hit and miss for me. Some I loved while others were just eh. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Walk Through Fire since High wasn’t my favorite character in past books. I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t love him either.

High and Millie were together for three years. They met at a party and were inseparable after that first meeting. They both knew, right from the beginning, that they were it. There was no one else for either of them. Until Mill just cut High off one day and disappeared from his life. Twenty years later she sees him in a Chipotle and decides it’s time to make things right with him. She tracks him down to a motorcycle club event and they end up having sex, though it meant something totally different for High than it did for Millie.

They end up circling around each other for several weeks after that, until they come to a head the night the Club turns on Millie and the reason for her sudden breakup with him comes out. Then Millie takes off for Paris for two weeks and High realizes he’s been an ass and decides to fix what he broke.

Here’s the thing about this book: The first half was pretty great. I totally believed that Logan and Millie loved each other back in the day. I even believed that their love was the GREAT ONE and there was no one else for either of them (strictly speaking in terms of soul mates). What I didn’t buy for a single second was that Mille lived in a bubble for 20 years. She had close friends but never went out? She ran a very successful party planning business but didn’t network? Her life just stopped the second she walked away from High? That didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

It also frustrated me how immature both Millie and High acted at times. They were in their (or close to? I can’t remember now) their 40’s. I wish they’d acted like it. Instead they purposely lashed out at each other, refused to communicate and involved themselves in petty, high school-type drama. The Club didn’t show itself in a very favorable light, either. The way the men acted was silly and childish, and the women were just as bad.

But whatever. I could have gotten past that. The big problem was the second half of the book. Millie and High work out the animosity between them about 1/3 of the way into the book. The rest is all just external problems in the form of drama with his kids, club business and a bad guy using Millie as bait to draw High – and Chaos – out. Plus there were some things that made me want to bang my head against the wall. Example: The bad guy breaks into Millie’s house and tells her he took pictures of her and High having sex in her office/studio (which is in a building behind her house), yet they continue to have sex there without thought. Uh..what?

There were some minor frustrations with both Mille and High, particularly their lack of communication, but I enjoyed parts of the story. Ashley excels at writing stories I fall right into, and this was no exception, at lest for the first half.

2.75 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: Fairtytale Come Alive by Kristen Ashley

Posted December 31, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Fairtytale Come Alive by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Fairytale Come Alive by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #4

Publication Date: November 22nd 2011
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 264
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three-half-stars

 In Isabella Austin Evangelista’s life miracles never happen… she knows she’s destined to be the princess who’s stuck in the middle of a fairytale where there will be no happily ever after. 
Once upon a time, Prentice Cameron loved Isabella Austin until he discovered she was a spoiled, rich girl who spent her summers toying with his heart.
Life led Prentice to his own fairytale, the love of the full-of-life Fiona Sawyer. That being so, that fairytale was torn away when Fiona died of a brain tumor leaving Prentice with a house to keep clean, piles of laundry to be done, a business to run and two children who were getting tired of takeaway.
But Isabella comes back to Prentice’s tiny fishing town and she sweeps into his children’s lives like a beautiful, well-dressed fairy godmother who bakes exquisite chocolate cakes and gives the perfect manicure to six year old girls. Then Prentice finds out Isabella’s soul destroying secrets, secrets that explain why she left him so many years ago.
Fiona, stuck in her village and forced to haunt her family and watch Prentice and Isabella’s crazy dance, finds the impossible happening. She’s cheering for Bella and Prentice to rekindle their love. Then she finds out why she’s caught in her heartbreaking haunting and discovers she must embrace her magic and keep Bella safe or Bella’s fairytale will never come true.

First things first: that blurb is a hot mess. If I didn’t trust Ashley as an author I never would have bought it. Even with my trust I still downloaded a sample before committing fully.

Prentice and Isabella were madly in love for 15 months 20 years ago. Then her father showed up in town and pulled Bella away. She’d been living under his thumb for years and there was no way she could refuse him. Prentice thought Bella chose to leave and ended up marrying someone else and creating a wonderful family.

Now Bella is back in town a year after Prentice’s wife passed away, for the wedding of her best friend to her old flame, one of Prentice’s closest friends. He’s struggling with his and his children’s grief and the last thing he wants or needs is to be saddled with Bella. But Annie, the bride, insists Bella stay with him since her house is filled and she wouldn’t be treated well in the local hotel (the town turned against Bella when she left). He can’t tell her no and ends up having the woman who broke his heart living in his back pocket.

Bella knew it would be hard returning to Scotland and facing Prentice, but she had no idea just how poorly he thought of her. His sadness over the loss of his wife is hard to bear, but his absolute hatred of her is beyond devastating. She’s determined to get through the week, support her best friend as she marries the love her of life, and get gone. But she didn’t expect to fall madly, deeply in love with Prentice’s children. As she herself can’t have children, they’re an absolute blessing in her life.

As the details of her life come to light, Prentice reevaluates his feelings for her and realizes she may not have been solely to blame for their break up all those years ago. He also realizes his feelings for her never really went away..when she lets herself relax and shows him the girl he knew 20 years ago, he can’t resist her.

I don’t really care for Ashley’s suspense plots. She includes them in the majority of her books and they’re generally superfluous and, frankly, over-the-top and silly. Not only is there one of those in this book, but the ghost of Prentice’s ex is hanging around and a good portion of the book is told from her point-of-view. That aspect of the story was pretty cheesy. I mostly rolled my eyes and skimmed those chapters, or pretended she was a narrator.

I cried my way through the first half of this book. It really grabbed me. Bella’s pain touched me in a surprising way. While I generally enjoy Ashley’s novels I don’t usually become that emotional over them. She was somewhat of a martyr, yet I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. The way the town – and especially Prentice – treated her really got me.

Prentice frustrated me a lot. He was quick to jump to conclusions about her and didn’t react well when pieces of her past were revealed. He was redeemed for me in the second half when he realizes his mistakes and set about fixing them. His remorse over walking away from Bella initially and treating her poorly in the present went a long way toward soothing my ill feelings toward him.

The second half didn’t work and well. It was slow moving in parts and spent a lot of time going over the same things again and again. Pren and Bella’s back-and-forthing became kind of tedious and the ghost thing got out of control. But the angst factor was high and really pulled me in. Despite my annoyances, I was invested in seeing Pren discover Bella’s secrets and seeing them get together. And I loved his kids.

Ashley writes kids really well and these were some of her best. They really carried the story, in the second half especially.

The first half and the kids made it worth the read. A warning: The epilogue is ridiculous and irritating. I’ve read the book several times now and I always skip it completely. I just get angry when I read it.

Though this book is flawed, I can’t deny it pulled me in completely. I wanted Bella and Prentice to get it together and work it out. I’m glad I stuck it through to the end.

3.75 out of 5

Fun Fact: Prentice is mentioned as the architect of the heroine’s house in Soaring, book 2 in the Magdeline series (though there is no connection between that series and this book).

three-half-stars


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Review: Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley

Posted December 8, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Sweet Dreams by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley
Series: Colorado Mountains #2
Also in this series: Jagged, Kaleidoscope
Published by Forever, Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 24th 2014
Pages: 688
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four-half-stars

"I adore Kristen Ashley's books!"---Maya Banks, New York Times bestselling author She's ready for the ride of her life . . .

Lauren Grahame is looking to reinvent herself. After leaving her cheating husband, Lauren moves to Carnal, Colorado, and gets a job as a waitress in a biker bar called Bubba's. It's a nothing job in a nowhere joint . . . until Tatum Jackson walks in. Lauren has never seen a man with such good looks, muscles, and attitude. But when he insults her, Lauren doesn't want anything to do with him. Too bad for Lauren he's also the bar's part owner and bartender.

When the rough-around-the-edges Tate meets the high-class Lauren, he thinks she won't fit in at Bubba's. Yet there's more to Lauren than meets the eye, and Tate soon sets his mind on claiming her as his own. Before long, the desire burning between them is heating up the cold mountain air. But when violence strikes the town, Tate must reveal a dark secret to Lauren-one that may put an end to their sweet dreams.

A curious thing happens to me with Kristen Ashley. I read her books the first time and come away feeling not too impressed. The stories are just okay, the writing is frustrating, they go on forever and honestly, the heroes are mostly assholes. I don’t even know whey I read them half the time. Then a few days go by and I can’t stop thinking about the stories and characters. I’ll think about a scene so much I end up deciding to do a quick read through and next thing I know I’ve read the damn book 800 times and highlighted a million passages. That’s what happened with this book. I read it the first time and really liked Lauren, the heroine, but it drug on and on and honestly, I didn’t love it. I probably would have given it a solid 3 stars, but I wouldn’t have recommend it to everyone and their mother.

Then I started thinking about a particular scene and ended up re-reading the whole book. Which I loved. Then I read it again. And Again. And again (and again…). I’ve probably re-read this book more than any other and I love it. I’ve highlighted or noted at least 3/4 of it. I love Lauren’s interactions with Tate and his son, the way she comes into her own and the way their relationship progresses. Even the constantly back-and-forthing they do and the ridiculous dialogue doesn’t bother me any more. I just love this book.

Lauren has spent a year wandering. She found out her husband – whom she thought was the love of her life – was cheating on her with her best friend and she just lost it. She granted him a quicky divorce, sold everything and set out on a roadtrip that lasted a year. She finally lands in Carnal, CO and gets a good vibe from the place so she decides to stay awhile. The local bar, Bubba’s, has a “now hiring” sign in the window, so she pleads her case to the owner and lands a job as a waitress. She’s ready for a fresh start and the biker town offers her a chance to see where her head is at.

Then she meets Tate, co-owner of Bubba’s bar and extreme hot guy. When he insults her, she’s devastated. Then she realizes he isn’t worth getting worked up over and focuses on figuring out herself. She’s a forty-something who always thought she’d find something special, and instead she’s washed up and alone. As time goes on she makes friends and begins to find herself. When her father has a heart-attack, Tate is there to help her through it, and they end up seeing each other. She’s unsure about the relationship, but she can’t deny she wants Tate more than any man she’s ever met. He is totally unexpected. He’s a rough-around-the-edges biker with a temper, but he’s also kind, caring and goes out of his way to let Lauren know she matters.

I think what I love best about this book – and most of Ashley’s other novels, if I’m being honest – is the slow slide into love. The relationship moves fast at first, but Ashley takes the time to explore their feelings for one another and really shows them falling in love, rather than telling us it happened. They fight, they joke, they open up to each other, they face trials and tribulations and through that, their relationship grows. This isn’t instalove. This is them slowly settling in to each other.

I also really love the way Lauren comes into herself. She’s been kind of lost since her divorce, not really thinking or feeling too much. She let her ex convince her she was less than she was, and it takes some time but she begins to return to the woman she was before him. Yes, she meets a man and begins to fall in love, but she also makes friends, finds joy in her work and begins to have a life outside her relationship with Tate.

Sometimes their dialogue drove me crazy, Tate could be a total jerk and at times Lauren was way too quick to give in, but in the end that didn’t matter to me because I believed in her, and them. It’s not without faults, but the story is engaging and Lauren’s personal journey really speaks to me. I especially love the way Lauren comes into herself and develops friendships with the residents of Carnal, and falls in love with Tate and his son.

There’s a mystery plot that revolves around a serial killer. It serves as a catalyst for some big dramas, but doesn’t have much purpose outside that. The killer wasn’t revealed until the end of the book and seemed to come out of nowhere (there were very few clues about who he was or to point in his direction). When I reread I skip the last chapter completely.

This is an engaging story about a woman finding herself with the help of a town full of bikers and the love of a good man. It’s a story I’ll read again and again for the interpersonal relationships and sweet romance.

4 out of 5

four-half-stars


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