Series: Colorado Mountains

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
Genres: Fiction, General, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 688
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
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

4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,


Review: Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley

Posted June 9, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Kaleidoscope by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley
Series: Colorado Mountains #6
Also in this series: Jagged, Sweet Dreams
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: December 16th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Suspense, Erotica, Contemporary Women, Action & Adventure
Pages: 416
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

"I adore Kristen Ashley's books!" --- Maya Banks, New York Times bestselling author
When old friends become new lovers...anything can happen.
Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at "hello." His relationship with Emme's best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that's ever happened to her?
It isn't easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she's a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme's always been the one; she excites Deck's body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme's past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she'll let him . . .

Emme and Deck were friends for many years while he was  dating her best friend. When Emme’s best friend broke up with Deck – and broke his heart – Emme knew she had to walk away from him, too. It would have been too painful for him if they remained friends. Nine years later they run into each other in Gnaw Bone. Emme is living there now and Deck is in town working on a case, though he actually lives in a nearby town. Emme is extremely happy to see her old friend and Deck is shocked at the change in Emme. She’s really blossomed into a beautiful, confident woman. She’s in the process of restoring a beautiful, rundown home and just happens to be dating the prime suspect in the case Deck has been called in to investigate.

Deck knows as soon as he sees Emme that she isn’t involved in the shady stuff her boyfriend is, but he needs to use her to get to her man. He figures the sooner he does that, the sooner he can work on getting back to where he should be…the main man in Emme’s life. He’s missed his friend and wants to explore a relationship with her.

When Emme realizes Deck used her and her boyfriend was involved in some shady stuff, she shuts down. Though she tries to open back up, there’s something that keeps holding her back. She keeps sabotaging the relationships in her life. Lucky for her, Deck isn’t willing to give up on her. Can she work through her issues before he loses patience?

I vaguely remember Deck from Breathe, Book 4 in the Colorado Mountain series. He was best friends with Chace, the hero of that book. I do not believe Breathe needs to be read first, however. Deck was barely mentioned in that book.

The shining star of this book is Deck. He’s down-to-earth and levelheaded, which was needed to balance Emme’s crazy. She suffered through an extremely traumatizing event as a child and hasn’t ever really dealt with it. For some reason, it’s finally coming to the surface. She doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, but she feels the need to put roadblocks in her relationship with Deck. I admit I found her constant push and pull frustrating. Her mental breakdown seemed to come out of nowhere and wasn’t explained very well, maybe because the story is written from her point-of-view and she didn’t think she had a problem?

She and Deck were good together. Their care and compassion for one another came through well. Had the side plot with Emme’s trauma been taken out, I think this would have worked much better.

3.75 out of 5

This book is available from  Forever. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars

1 Comment
Tags: , , , , ,


Review: Jagged by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 19, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Jagged by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Jagged by Kristen Ashley
Series: Colorado Mountains #5
Also in this series: Kaleidoscope, Sweet Dreams

Publication Date: September 30th 2014
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Erotica, Contemporary, Suspense, Contemporary Women
Pages: 375
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-stars

The next novel in Kristen Ashley's sizzling Colorado Mountain series introduces a new electrifying relationship that turns Carnal, Colorado into a hotbed of action, romance, and suspense. An old flame rekindled

. . . Zara Cinders always knew Ham Reece was the one, but he wasn't interested in settling down. When she found someone who was, Ham walked out of her life. Three years later, Zara's lost her business, her marriage, and she's barely getting by in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. As soon as Ham hears about Zara's plight, he's on her doorstep offering her a lifeline. Now, it will take every ounce of will power she possesses to resist all that he offers.

Ham was always a traveling man, never one to settle down in one town, with one woman, for more time than absolutely necessary. But Ham's faced his own demons, and he's learned a lot. About himself, and about the life he knows he's meant to live. So when he hears that Zara's having a rough time, he wants to be the one to help. In fact, he wants to do more than that for Zara. A lot more. But first, he must prove to Zara that he's a changed man.

Two of my favorite Ashley books are from the Colorado Mountain series. I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, Jagged fell far short of my expectations.

Zara and Ham had a fling that lasted several years. He traveled a lot but when he was around they were bed partners. When she meets a man she thinks she wants to marry, she breaks things off with him permanently. Several years later things fell apart for her. She lost her business, was in the process of losing her home and left her husband. Now she’s living in a crappy one bedroom apartment and struggling to get by.

When Ham finds out what happened to Zara he offers to help her get back on her feet. She wants none of it. He didn’t want to commit to her before, so why now? She’s sorry to hear that things have been kind of rough for him since she broke things off, but she wants nothing to do with him. Until he realizes her apartment isn’t safe and doesn’t give her a choice about accepting his help.

Zara got on my nerves with her stupidity and refusal to accept help in any form. She acted immature throughout the book. If there had been some growth along the way I could have moved past it. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. When her ex-husband offers her money in the divorce she refuses. She refuses to take any of their possessions in the divorce. He’s a wealthy engineer who lacks for nothing and she ends up in a dumpy one bedroom apartment in a bad neighborhood because she refuses to take a dime in their divorce? That’s just plain stupid. Same for her decision to refuse help from Reece (I cannot think of him as Ham. That’s the most unsexy nickname I’ve ever heard). Why cut off your nose to spite your face? I understand independence, but there’s a fine line there and Zara crossed over into stupidity.

Reece was frustrating, as well. For an older man he certainly had his maturity problems. Supposedly he fell in love with Zara long before he came to her, but I didn’t really buy that. His actions spoke otherwise. We first met him in For You, where he was in love with February Owens. That she chose another and he then went back to Zara was a mark against him. Though the details of For You are hazy for me, I wondered if Zara was like a consolation prize. Plus, I had a hard time accepting that he was so obsessed with her when she acted the fool so often.

Beyond all that, the two of them were venomous to each other. I don’t understand how a couple can be so angry and mean to each other, and yet still stay together. The things they said to each other were things enemies would hesitate to say. If this had happened once, I could have moved past it, but it was a recurring theme through the book.

The plot featuring Zara’s family was strange and didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I kept getting the feeling I’d missed something, like perhaps she had been mentioned in a previous book and I should gotten the backstory there.

Though this started well, it quickly went down hill. This is one of my least favorite Ashley novels.

2 out of 5

This book is available from Forever. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

two-stars

2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,