Tag: Kristen Ashley

Review: Free by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Free by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Free by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #6
Also in this series: Own the Wind (Chaos, #1), Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 29, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 570
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Through good times, bad times and times of war, Cole “Rush” Allen grew up in the Chaos Motorcycle Club. Along this journey, he watched his father, Tack, and his MC brothers fight, sweat, bleed and die to steer the Club to legitimacy.

And they’ve got one more battle on their hands.

A battle they have to win.

But when Rush meets the woman who put herself right in the thick of it, he knows he has to stop at nothing to get her out.

Rebel Stapleton has lost someone she loves to murder and she’s the kind of woman who’s going to do something about it. She puts her career on the line, and her life, to bring the man who did it to justice.

That is, she does this until Rush Allen intervenes.

Chaos is at war and they’re about to face the ultimate showdown. They’ll have to negotiate skeletons from the past, enemies becoming allies, and loved ones in the line of fire on their ride to be…

Free.

Free is the 6th and final book in the Chaos MC series by Kristen Ashley. I’ve been anxiously awaiting Rush’s book, since 1) I wanted to see how things were cleared up with their long-time rivals and 2) I loved Rush in earlier books and wanted to see where he was going to take things. We hadn’t met his heroine prior to this book, so she was an unknown.

Cole “Rush” Allen is a member of the Chaos MC. His dad, Tack, is the current president. Tack really cleaned the club up and mostly brought them into the light, but Rush wants to finish the job and get them completely away from anything even remotely illegal. With several old enemies and a couple new ones making themselves known, that’s harder than it seems. Especially since bodies keep piling up – and literal skeletons are floating around. When he meets Rebel Singleton, he knows immediately that he wants her. But Rebel is playing a dangerous game – going undercover in a porn op to find dirt on a mobster – and Rush doesn’t want her wrapped up in that mess. Convincing her to walk away and keeping her safe may be more than he can handle…

It took me forever to read this book. There were so many point-of-view changes and unnecessary content, it didn’t hold my attention. I don’t know why we needed to see so much from so many different characters. We had chapters from 3 villains, 2 extra characters who ended up dying, several characters from previous books and a couple surprise ones at the end. At 570 pages, this novel was already a beast. If half of that had been cut back, it would have been better for it.

I haven’t cared much for Benito Valenzuela’s (the mobster guy) storyline throughout this series. He’s a pretty ridiculous villain and I had little interest in seeing how things played out with him. Nothing we saw about him or from him in this book changed my mind. I don’t even know why the final bit from his POV was included in the epilogue. It was ridiculous.

I enjoyed Rush and Rebel as a couple, and I actually really liked the secondary storyline with Beck, but the rest was pretty ridiculous. I’m not going to lie, I’m disappointed this is how the series ended.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Chaos


two-stars


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Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Posted January 10, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 8 Comments

Joint Review: Complicated by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Publisher: Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 571
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

When small town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn’t be stronger, but the timing couldn’t be worse.

Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids, and himself, is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that’s perfect for them—a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She’s learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that’s what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can’t fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta’s finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that’s happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely…Complicated.

Complicated by Kristen Ashley follows Hixton Drake and Greta Dare as they fall in love amidst a lot of small-town drama, a murder, a jealous ex and lots of other complications that get in the way of them being them. Hixton is dealing with a divorce that he didn’t want and Greta has her own fair share of life worries that keep her busy but they’re drawn to each other over and over again and sometimes, you can’t walk away from that connection. Not when it’s probably best.

Rowena: Alright, so it took me a while to read this book because that page count? Holy cow, KA books are so long but even with all of those pages to get through, I enjoyed this one. I thought it was a sweet romance and I really liked Greta. And Hix. Mostly, Greta though.

What did you think?

Holly: KA can definitely be long winded. This book could have been cut down by at least 100 pages, maybe 200.

Rowena: I’m not sure if it’s because I don’t read very many of KA’s books but I seemed to have enjoyed this one a lot more than most of the readers that I know who have read it. Sure, it was hella long, but I was still invested in everything that was going on and I really enjoyed getting to know Hix, Greta and everyone else. From Lou and her girls, Andy and then Hix’s kids (especially Shaw), I loved everyone…except Hope. I hated her until I didn’t hate her but I never really liked her.

Holly: I didn’t dislike it, but it isn’t KA’s best. I prefer it when KA books have more angst. Wasn’t Shaw great, though? I loved him. He was such an awesome kid. I wouldn’t mind if KA wrote a book for him later.

Rowena: Yeah, I can see what you mean. That’s exactly what Ames said about the book. She wants more angst too. Yes! Shaw was fantastic. You know, he kind of reminded me of your son. Very stand up and just sweet all around. Total good kid and you know that they’re going to grow up to be a great guy. I wouldn’t mind getting a book for Shaw, too. Down the road though. He needs to go and be a Marine and learn how to be a man.

Holly: I do have a pretty great son. 🙂 I agree Shaw needs to grow up first, but some day in the future I’d be interested in his book.

Hope was an idiot. Why she let Hix get away is a total mystery to me.

Rowena: The whole Hope thing, goodness, how stupid was she? It really spoke to the kind of person that Hix was that so many of his kids wanted to live with him and not his mean ass ex-wife. I loved how Greta had a fan club and a support system in her customers and friends. She was really lucky though it wasn’t hard to see why they were so loyal to her. She earned their respect and their loyalty so Hope’s plan to destroy her totally backfired and I loved seeing Hope fall on her ass.

Holly: I loved that the town rallied behind Greta even though they were pulling for Hix and Hope in the beginning. Every time Lou announced one of them switched to Greta’s side I snickered. I do like that Hope was quasi-redeemed in the end. Ashley is good at that.

I really liked Greta. She was great all the way around. Sure of herself, caring and compassionate, willing and able to stick up for herself. I loved how she took care of her brother and her friends.

Rowena: I thought Greta was great too. I loved how she took care of everyone, including Hix. I loved that she was sure in the person that she was and didn’t need Hix to be around all the time. She was understanding of his situation and wasn’t afraid to get her some when she could without needing an engagement ring. She was a strong, independent woman and I really liked her.

Holly: Her teasing Hix and making him food was so cute. Her independence was one of her best qualities. She didn’t need to be with Hix all the time. She was happy to do her own thing.

What did you think of her ex?

Rowena: Greta’s ex was meh to me. I felt more for her Mom than him. I felt a lot of rage where her Mom was concerned but for Keith? Meh.

Holly: The bits with Greta’s ex could have been cut completely. I don’t even know why that scene was included. OMG, don’t get me started on her mom, though. That crazy bitch needed to get smacked upside the head. By Greta.

Rowena: I really enjoyed getting to know Andy and I really loved how complex Greta’s feelings were for Andy, who he could and should have been but still loving who he is now. Greta was damn near perfect, don’t you think?

Holly: I thought Greta’s feelings about her brother and his situation were so authentic. Her joy in his personality, along with her sadness over what he could have been. My heart broke for them both. You’re right, she was damn near perfect, wasn’t she? Well, except what a terrible loser she was when she and Hix wrestled. haha

Hix was…not the best KA hero. Usually her heroes are great, but he didn’t really stand out. I kind of felt like it wasn’t necessarily Greta for him, but any woman would have done. He needed someone to care for. She just happened to be the one.

Rowena: I enjoyed Hix. I enjoyed that he tried to do the right thing for his loved ones and while he’s not my favorite KA hero, he’s not my least favorite either. I liked the way that he took care of everyone. He was sexy as hell, too. Yum.

Overall, this book was great fun for me. I liked that this story fit the title so well. I liked seeing Greta and Hix fall in love (and I totally believed that Hix was drawn and then fell in love with Greta). I liked seeing Hix’s kids develop a relationship with Greta and I liked seeing the two of them come into their own…together. They fit together well and their romance was sweet and I dug the whole thing. I give it a 4 out of 5. You?

Holly: I loved the town, I loved Greta and her brother, I liked Hix and the romance between them. Overall this was a good read. Not KA’s best, but it was entertaining. I’m giving it a 3.5 out of 5

Final Ratings

Holly’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena’s Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Play it Safe by Kristen Ashley

Posted December 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Play it Safe by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Play It Safe by Kristen Ashley
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 487
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

No connections. Play it safe. These were the rules Ivey lived her life by.

Until she hit Mustang, Colorado, a perfectly imperfect town where the citizens were welcoming and one of them included the tall, beautiful, macho man rancher cowboy, Grayson Cody.

On the run for a decade, Ivey knew she was supposed to play it safe. But she was tired of being on the run. She wanted a normal. She wanted real. She wanted a home.

And she wanted Grayson Cody.

And Grayson Cody wanted Ivey.

No one who looked at them couldn’t see they belonged together. There was one man in this world for Ivey and one woman in this world for Grayson Cody.

So they fell in love.

But just as quickly as they fell together, they were betrayed and torn apart. Separated for years, Ivey was certain her life would not include her rancher cowboy. Until the town of Mustang reached out to her when Gray was in trouble. Even though she thought he broke her heart, she charged in to help. Then Gray and Ivey discovered they were betrayed and, not only that, Gray had an enemy who would stop at nothing to defeat him.

I just want to start by saying, that blurb is a hot mess. I trust Ashley as an author, but I still avoided reading this book for years because of that blurb. I downloaded the Kindle version with the audio add-on so I’d have something to listen to at work. I’m not a big audiobook person because I don’t like how slow they move. I adjusted the speed to 1.5x, however, and that really helped. I liked the narrator for this one.

Ivey and her brother Casey have been on the run for ten years, trying to escape a bad home life. Now 22, she makes a living as a pool hustler. When they land in a small Colorado town and she meets Gray, for the first time in her life she wants to stay put and form connections. The entire town adopts her as their own and she and Gray fall into each other pretty quickly. Ivey knows he’s the one for her, and Gray seems to feel the same. When her brother shows up and says they’re both in danger, Ivey leaves to protect Gray, but someone is conspiring against Gray and they play things so Ivey thinks he betrayed her.

7 years later Gray is in a bad spot financially. He’s about to lose his ranch. Ivey is now a Vegas showgirl with wealthy friends, so when she gets word she bails him out. Which is when they realized they were played. Unfortunately, the threat to Gray still exists. Rediscovering their love becomes a lot harder when they’re faced with constant danger….

Parts of this book moved slow, but I really enjoyed the small town and the romance. The cast of secondary characters was just as delightful as always. I thought the suspense plot was silly and the villain over the top, but I loved the way the story moved in and out of their lives.

Though this isn’t my favorite of Ashley’s works, I really enjoyed it. The audio made me want to search out some of her others to see how they compare.

3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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PSA: Authors, Don’t Spoil It!

Posted October 31, 2017 by Holly in Discussions | 1 Comment

For years friends have been trying to talk me into watching Game of Thrones. My husband and I binge-watch shows regularly, but neither of us were really that interested in GoT. Finally, Ames and Rowena talked me into starting it.

Normally I’m all about spoilers. I don’t mind if I see or hear things about a show I’m currently watching or plan to watch (or books I’m reading or plan to read). My husband, on the other hand, hates spoilers. He won’t even watch the next episode preview because he doesn’t want to know.

We both went into GoT without really knowing anything about it. I didn’t pay attention to any of the posts about it over the years and neither did my husband. So I figured, what the hell, there are a lot of twists and turns, I’m going to avoid all spoilers. Y’all, it’s hard avoiding spoilers when you’re 6 seasons behind in a series and the current season finale is just airing, but I managed. I didn’t see a single thing that spoiled who lives and who dies, what intrigues were afoot, or anything else. It was like we were watching it in real time.

Until I read The Time in Between by Kristen Ashley. My husband and I had just finished Season 2, but there was a major spoiler for something that happens at the end of Season 3.

The spoiler was a huge one, detailing the events of one of the major events in the show (what happens at the end of “The Rains of Castamere” episode, aka The Red Wedding). And it was just casually mentioned on page as a throwaway comment. The hero and heroine were watching the show and bam, the hero throws out a major spoiler, no big deal (except it was a big deal, y’all! It really was).

Authors, please don’t spoil real-life shows in your fiction books. When I whined about this on Twitter, someone said “To be fair, that spoiler is four seasons old”. 1) I don’t care. A spoiler is a spoiler. 2) The show is still running, so there are a lot of people just starting it. 3) I avoided spoilers like the plague only to be innocently blindsided while reading a novel, ffs. That is not okay.

So, once again, here’s a friendly PSA from your local book blogger: AUTHORS, DON’T SPOIL REAL LIFE SHOWS IN YOUR FICTION NOVELS!

via GIPHY


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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
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 563
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-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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