Series: Magdalene

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
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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


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Review: Soaring by Kristen Ashley

Posted March 24, 2015 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Soaring by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Soaring by Kristen Ashley
Series: Magdalene #2
Also in this series: The Will, The Time in Between (Magdalene, #3)
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 16th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 389
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Series Rating: four-stars

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.


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Review: The Will by Kristen Ashley

Posted May 28, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Will by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
The Will by Kristen Ashley
Series: Magdalene #1
Also in this series: Soaring, The Time in Between (Magdalene, #3)

Publication Date: April 8th 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 379
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Series Rating: four-stars

 Early in her life, Josephine Malone learned the hard way that there was only one person she could love and trust: her grandmother, Lydia Malone. Out of necessity, unconsciously and very successfully, Josephine donned a disguise to keep all others at bay. She led a globetrotting lifestyle on the fringes of the fashion and music elite, but she kept herself distant. 
While Josephine was trotting the globe, retired boxer Jake Spear was living in the same small town as Lydia. There was nothing disguised about Jake. Including the fact he made a habit of making very bad decisions about who to give his love.
But for Josephine and Jake, there was one person who adored them. One person who knew how to lead them to happiness. And one person who was intent on doing it.
Even if she had to do it as her final wish on this earth.

This read like an older KA novel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I haven’t loved her last 3 or 4 releases, but I really enjoyed this one.

Josie’s manner of speaking was hard to get into early on. She’s very formal and sounded old fashioned. I had a hard time believing she didn’t understand a lot of modern colloquialisms. Her general innocence was bothersome, since she had a hard childhood and spent years globe-trotting. It was explained that she kind of took on this persona to protect herself from further hurts, but that didn’t make sense given the life she lived up until her return to Magdalene.

Similarly, I had a problem with how the Ashley brushed over the fact that Jake owned a strip club. In a small town, I don’t think he’d be as respected or well-liked, nor would his kids be revered the way they were, as a strip-club owner.

I liked her and Jake together, however. I also liked his kids. I liked his kids (and their friends) a lot, actually. They were possibly the best part of the book. Ashley writes kids really well. They acted like real teenagers do, yet they weren’t annoying or bratty.

As with all Kristen Ashley’s books, parts of it were over-the-top. The return of someone from Josie’s past and the drama with her boss, for example.

Though this isn’t my favorite or hers, I enjoyed it for the most part and will probably re-read it. Incessantly. Because I have a problem.



This book is self-published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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