BOOK REVIEW: The Promise by Kristen Ashley

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Since his brother’s death, Benny Bianchi has been nursing his grudge against the woman he thinks led to his brother’s downfall. He does this to bury the feelings he has for Francesca Concetti, his brother’s girl. But when Frankie takes a bullet while on the run with Benny’s cousin’s woman, Benny has to face those feelings.

The problem is Frankie has decided she’s paid her penance. Penance she didn’t deserve to pay. She’s done with Benny and the Bianchi family. She’s starting a new life away from Chicago and her heartbreaking history.

Benny has decided differently.

But Frankie has more demons she’s battling. Demons Benny wants to help her face. But life has landed so many hard knocks on Frankie she’s terrified of believing in the promise of Benny Bianchi and the good life he’s offering.

Frankie’s new life leads her to The ‘Burg, where Benny has ties, and she finds she not only hasn’t succeeded in getting away, she’s doesn’t want to.

review

“You were mine, even when you were his.”

Kristen Ashley truly has one of the most recognisable and inimitable voices of today, and while her books carry her signature prose in every single sentence, each one of her series has a different kind of ‘feel’, a different type of ‘undercurrent’ tying the stories together, and creating a unique, addictive reality to immerse and lose ourselves in for as long as we can. I have adored every book I have ever read by this author, but this series gets to me like no other because of its inspiring themes, because of the way it focuses on families, old and new, on what constitutes a family, and on what people are willing to do for the ones they love. A story of second chances, of forgiveness, of seizing the opportunity to correct past mistakes and ‘make it right’, of having the courage to capture one’s happy ending even when you don’t believe you deserve one—this is a story that stole my heart from the get-go and made me incapable of walking away from these characters for weeks after I first read it.

“Benny Bianchi was always going to be a promise at the same time Benny Bianchi was the prize at the end of a crazy life.”

We met Frankie and Benny at the end of At Peace, and have been anxiously waiting for their story to be told ever since. Once the girlfriend of Benny’s late brother Vinnie, Frankie has been shunned by the Bianchi family for seven long years. Wrongly blamed for all of Vinnie’s mistakes shortly before and leading to his death, she has endured and carried her penance in silence, punishing herself for something that was never her fault. She has missed the Bianchis every single day, needed and longed for their love and acceptance since her own family is one she could never depend on, but it is Benny Bianchi’s loathing that has stung the most. Frankie has had a soft spot for the younger Bianchi brother ever since they were kids, but after years of being ignored and hated by him and his family, she has had enough. Once her penance is paid, Frankie is ready to start over, far away from her memories, far away from everyone who has ever made her feel inadequate and unworthy, but that is the very moment when Benny finally realises what has been in front of him all along and what he stands to lose if he lets her go.

“We’re talkin’. You don’t like that, I don’t give a f*ck. Seven years I’ve been f*cking up. Right now, that shit ends.”

Benny is not a man accustomed to women not being receptive to his advances, having successfully ‘played the field’ ever since he was a teenager. But he has also never wanted a woman the way he wants Frankie, nor has he been willing to fight for one the same way. Frankie is unlike any woman Benny has ever met or bedded, her feistiness making her irresistible in his eyes, but the beauty of her heart making her impossible to walk away from. Determined to heal the breach and give her everything she has ever wished for in life, he pursues her relentlessly but patiently.

“Honest to Christ, Frankie, you think I’d wait since high school to get my shot at makin’ you mine and then I’d let a four-hour drive and a f*ckin’ year lease beat me?”

However, as desperately as she’s always wanted the kind of life Benny is now offering her, she is terrified even more of losing him and his family once again. Her feelings for him grow stronger every day, and yet she keeps succumbing to her fears and pushing him away, convinced that she would only end up being a source of heartbreak for the man she always cared for, even if letting him go would mean breaking her own heart.

“Benny should have a good woman. Which meant he had no business being with me.”

Aware of all of Frankie’s misplaced hang-ups due to her family’s emotional fickleness, Benny’s patience has no limits as he remains confident that with the right kind of love and nurturing she would eventually see herself as everyone around her sees her. The unmistakeable pace of the story allows us to get the full effect of Benny’s gentle persistence, the best kind of example of a man in love who is willing to give the woman of his dreams all the time her mind needs to catch up with what her heart has known all along. Their chemistry is explosive, making our skin tingle every time they exchange a simple touch, but it is the everlasting nature of their feelings for another that have our own hearts clenching and bursting at the seams. There are scenes that literally have our pulses racing and our knees weakening from the way they are so deliciously erotic and heart-warmingly sweet all at once. Sometimes it’s an entire scene, sometimes all it takes is a simple word, but even the simplest of moments between the characters can be so emotionally charged, we are constantly fighting to catch a breath.

“Never loved another woman. Not in my life. Waited until I got it right. I got it right.”

The love and support of a good man can be all it takes to erase a lifetime of self-doubts, and Benny and Frankie’s story shows us how much true love can empower a person. And how much beauty can be found when one loves patiently but persistently. By the end of this book, I felt like I knew every facet of these characters’ complex personalities, they felt real to me, familiar. It’s a story that warms your heart from the inside out, and leaves you with a deep sigh of contentment. I kept flipping back the pages, hoping to make that feeling last as long as I could, hopelessly addicted to a high that only a Kristen Ashley book has ever been able to give me. And I’m still flipping’…

“Minute by minute, honey.”
“Minute by minute, baby.”

5stars

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✤ ✤ ✤
The ‘Burg – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters
foryou2 atpeace2 goldentrail2 gamesoftheheart2 thepromise

For You: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
At Peace: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Golden Trail: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA
Games of the Heart: Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Promise: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

k ashley_pic

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: Creed by Kristen Ashley

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Way too young, eleven year old Tucker Creed and his six year old neighbor, Sylvie Bissenette, find they have something awful in common. Creed then decides he’s going to do everything in his limited power to shield his Sylvie from her ordeal. So he does and Creed and Sylvie form a bond that grows and blossoms with their ages.

They plot to leave their lives behind, the town they live in that will hold them down and the histories they share that, unless they break free, will bury them. Sylvie goes to their special place, Creed never shows and she doesn’t see him again until it’s too late.

With Creed gone, Sylvie is forced to endure a nightmare and do the unspeakable to end it. To deal, she develops a hard shell with sharp edges that very few can break through. So when Creed again finds his Sylvie, he discovers the girl he loved is locked away and he has to find his way back into her heart without getting shredded in the process.

review

“Born to love you, baby. Die lovin’ you, my Sylvie.”

Books like these are the reason I read. Simple as that. I had no doubt in my heart that this story would touch me, I knew from the very beginning that it would mark me profoundly and only feed even further my incessant obsession with Kristen Ashley’s unique ‘brand of phenomenal’, but I had no idea whatsoever that this would be one of those books that would quite simply ruin me for all others. A heart-stopping tale of second chance at love, my own personal weakness, Creed is a story that tugged at every single one of my heartstrings, and my only regret is that I will never be able to experience this breathtaking book for the very first time again.

“Tucker Creed. My first love, my protector, my savior. My betrayer.”

Sylvie Bissenette is a badass. A woman comfortable in her own skin, self-reliant and independent, loyal and devoted to the few she lets get close to her, she gives an air of confidence and invulnerability, all the while hiding a heart that has been broken for the past sixteen years. While working on her latest assignment as a private investigator, the last thing she ever expected to find herself facing is the very man who broke it, the embodiment of her every childhood hope and dream, and to be forced to partner up with him.

“You were in my life a long time ago. I’ve lived two full lifetimes since then…”

Tucker Creed walks back into Sylvie’s life with one purpose and one purpose alone—to get the love of his life back. Sixteen years after they last laid eyes on each other, they are no longer the two guileless young people they once were, their hard lives since their separation having stolen their innocence forever, but frozen their hearts in time. From the moment their paths cross again, every shared memory replays before their eyes, every joy, every moment of sorrow, every hope and dream that never came true, and the mere vicinity to one another jump-starts their hearts once again.

“I’d move to the goddamned, f*cking moon to wake up to you in my bed.”

It takes no time whatsoever for the flame that never stopped burning between them to become an all-consuming inferno of emotions, the demons that tore them apart rearing their ugly heads at every turn and forcing them to face nearly two decades of nightmares, but once the truth is out in the open, Creed and Sylvie are finally given the chance to start the happily-ever-after they were denied for so long.

“I want your clothes in my closet. I wanna hear your voice in my house when you’re talkin’ on the phone. I want you sittin’ beside me when we’re watchin’ TV. I want shit you like in my fridge. I want your razors in my shower. I want my roof over your head. Your car in my garage. I want to give you what I should have been giving you for sixteen years. As good as you deserve. A showplace. A place where I can make you happy.”

It is rare for me to find two characters who not only make me love every facet of their colourful personalities, but whose chemistry is so palpable on the pages, that I find myself equally stimulated by their ‘sexy times’ together, as well as their simple everyday interactions. This is not just a love story. This is not even just a timeless love story. This is a story of two best friends, two soul mates, two halves of the same whole, two people whose shared past made them capable of truly loving and giving themselves to only one person in the whole wide world. Perfectly attuned to one another’s needs and desires, time and distance have only strengthened their bond and made them even more aware of the rare beauty they found in one another twenty-seven long years ago.

By intertwining the present with frequent flashbacks into their childhood, we get to see the people they once were, the people they are now, and thanks to the best epilogue in the history of epilogues, the people they eventually become. It is a story about learning to let go of a past that cannot be changed and embracing future in all its unexpected and unpredictable glory. Bursting at the seams from the mere power of the raw emotions confined amongst its pages, this is a story that affected me no end, leaving me with a goofy grin on my face and a heart that would not quit singing arias over and over again.

 “For over twenty-seven years, every day, every minute, every second, I’ve loved you, Tucker Creed.”

5stars

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✤ ✤ ✤
Unfinished Hero – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters
knight2 creed2 raid2 deacon

KnightAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Creed: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
RaidMy Review | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Deacon: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

k ashley_pic

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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Other books in the series or related posts:

BOOK REVIEW: The Will by Kristen Ashley

thewillEarly 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.

review

“It’s never too late to reach for happiness and no matter what life has done to you, it’s never too late to find it.”

I will start this review with the promise that reading it will not affect your enjoyment of this book in any possible way. One of the most striking qualities of this story is the sheer number of unexpected emotional reactions it evokes in the reader, page after page, scene after scene, and nothing in this review will rob you of any of those skin-tingling moments. But it might just give you an idea of why this was the KA book for me.

Starting a new Kristen Ashley book is always an emotional experience for me, her stories forever touching my heart and making my wildest fantasises run rampant. Each new book by this author seems to set a new benchmark for all the books I read after that, but never has it happened before that a story won’t let me write its review for several weeks after I’ve finished reading it because every time the story crosses my mind, I am overwhelmed by ‘book nostalgia’, wishing stories like that never had to end. I have loved and lived every single Kristen Ashley book I have ever read, but this was the most epic one of them all for me, the one that completely took my breath away and the one that will always represent ‘vintage KA style’ in my eyes.

“She wanted me for you.”

We meet Josephine ‘Josie’ Malone at one of the most trying moments in her life – at her beloved grandmother’s funeral. Josie has just lost the only family she had left, the woman who saved her from an abusive childhood by giving her a loving home, a place to belong to, a safe harbour, and by exemplifying the kind of woman Josie had always strived to become. At this moment of complete emotional loss and vulnerability, a man and his children standing near her grandmother’s casket catch Josie’s eye, their identity unknown to her but the intense pain in their eyes acting as a beacon to her own broken heart. The following day, her grandmother’s will is read and Josie’s world is suddenly turned inside out, its startling content leaving Josie torn between wanting to please her grandmother one last time and perplexed by the nature of her wishes.

“My most precious possession, the thing I treasure above anything else in this world … I hereby bequeath to …”

By all accounts, Jake Spear is a complete stranger to Josie but someone her grandmother not only seemed to hold in the highest regard, as her will shows, but also cared for deeply. A local entrepreneur and business owner, Jake’s business ventures vary greatly from one another, but his every action demonstrates that he is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for the three most important people in his life – his children. A former boxing champion and three-time divorcee, Jake is the very opposite of the type of man Josie has been pining for over the last two decades, his small-town lifestyle standing in stark contrast to the jet setting one that Josie has become accustomed to in her career, but she is strangely drawn to him. Having left home in her early twenties, determined to escape the memory of her past and reinvent herself, she has spent the last twenty years distancing herself from her emotions and looking after someone else’s needs before her own. But one look at Jake and his family, coupled with her recent loss and newly acquired responsibilities, and Josie cannot help but start questioning her choices in life and finding new definitions for happiness.

“…although it feels lovely you wish for me to have all kinds of beauty, I’m perfectly happy without it.”

After suppressing her own dreams for so long, and quashing every inborn instinct she has ever had to form a family, Josie is confronted for the very first time with the very real possibility of having everything she has always wished for, if only she is brave enough to grab it by the horns and never let it go.

“I’m fine with being alone. I want it to be that way. Honestly, I do.”

These characters might be slightly older and hence dealing with very different issues from the younger ones we typically encounter in KA books, but the intensity of their connection, the chemistry, and the passion between them are just as off-the-charts as always. If anything, their need for each other and desire to connect on all levels feels even more urgent and eager. There are moments that will have your heart racing, there are others that will make you melt from glee, and there will be moments when you will struggle to catch your breath.

“Every inch of you, outside and any way you can get inside, baby, physically or emotionally, is mine.”

This is essentially a tale of second chances at love, or first chances at love when deprived of true happiness until later on in life, and it tells the story of two people whose lives have taught them to recognise beauty once it comes along and to allow themselves to hold onto it, regardless of how undeserving of it they believe themselves to be. Every element of a KA book is present – her inimitable prose, her intense dialogues, her unmatched character development and ability to make the reader feel such a wide spectrum of emotions – but this story went beyond that for me, the honesty with which it was told touching me on a very personal level, and making me connect with the characters like never before.

“I’d give him anything. I’d give him everything. If I had the power, I’d give him the world.”

By the time you reach the end of this book, you’ll realise what a wonderful ‘full circle’ the author has weaved for us, showing us that every story, even the most ‘real’ and close-to-home ones, can become breathtaking fairy-tales. KA books should really have a separate rating scale as they truly stand in a book universe of their own, but if I had to pick an absolute favourite among them all, this book would be that book for me. I promise you, this story will mark you in the best possible way and if you’re anything like me, you’ll never fully walk away from it. Six Stars of Excellence and then some.

“I wanted you before I even knew you… You’re everything I ever wanted, darling.”

6stars

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This is the first book in a series of standalone stories with interconnected characters.

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CASmashwords | Paperback
Read a spoiler-free excerpt
The Author

k ashley_picKristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
✤ ✤ ✤

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Other books in the series or related posts:

BIRTHDAY TEASERS: The Will by Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley_BT 2014 Banner

As we near the end of the Birthday Teasers event, I am so honoured to be able to share with you an excerpt from one of my favourite authors in the whole wide world, the one and only Kristen Ashley, and her upcoming book The Will, the first in a three-part series of standalones, coming to us on KA’s actual birthday, 8 April 2014. All I can tell you is that this is possibly one of KA’s best books to date – so deeply emotional, so unexpected, so moving… Josie is my new favourite KA heroine and Jake… I cannot wait for you to meet JAKE!!!! The moment I finished reading it, I went right back to the beginning and started again… THAT good!!! This excerpt is very close to my heart, and I am so grateful to Ms Ashley for allowing me to share it with you today! Enjoy, book junkies! ♥

Read my 6-star review

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.

excerpt

Dearest Gran,

We just got off the phone and I’m concerned about you. I know that sounds strange since our phone call was about how you were concerned about me.

Please don’t be. Please?

I’m happy, Gran. I truly am. Honestly.

When we were talking earlier, I wanted to say this but I didn’t know how to say it. Perhaps I couldn’t get my mouth to say the words because I didn’t want to admit it out loud or say it to you and upset you more.

But you should know—I’m fine with being alone. I want it to be that way. Honestly, I do.

You know I’m not alone most of the time regardless. But I do think you know what I mean.

My first memory is him and her in the kitchen, she was on the floor, you know how it was. I told you. And there were more memories after that that were even less pleasant. You know of those too.

And yes, the truth is, this affected me. Yes, it made me shy away from connections. And I know you don’t think this is healthy, but truly, it’s fine.

There are people who need people, sometimes a great many people. And I understand that what happened made me not that kind of person. But it means the connections I make are actually meaningful, not a collection of souls in order not to feel lonely. I don’t need that for I never feel lonely.

If I were to have a man, he would need to be very gentle and understanding, patient and kind, thoughtful, softhearted, and yes, maybe dashing and refined, definitely intelligent and successful.

All of these things and the last mostly because I would wish him to have his own diversions for I wouldn’t wish him to need to spend too much time with me. This is because I like being alone. I like my own company.

This isn’t to say I didn’t sometimes long for a gentle touch, a man’s eyes falling on me appreciatively, building a shared history where we might one day simply gaze at each other, understand and smile.

But I long ago gave up these yearnings. I meet many men and this man, this man that I would need to share my life with, he doesn’t exist, Gran. I’ve come to understand that and it’s settled in me. I’ve built a life I enjoy, one that keeps me busy, and I’m happy with that.

Truly.

I find it remarkable, after all that you endured, that you’d still believe in love. In romance. In all that heady possibility. And I adore it that you want that for me.

What I wish you to understand in your heart is that, although it feels lovely you wish for me to have all kinds of beauty, I’m perfectly happy without it.

I have your love and that’s all I need.

And you have my love too.

Forever and completely.

Yours,

Josie

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The Author

k ashley_picKristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
✤ ✤ ✤

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Other books in the series or related posts:

BOOK REVIEW: Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley

kaleidoscopeWhen 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 . . .

review

“Met you twelve years ago and we’re just gettin’ here. I don’t call that fast. I call that a waste of f*ckin’ time I’m about to rectify.”

Whenever a Kristen Ashley book is about to come out, I am like a child in a candy store, greedy for it and desperate for my “KA fix”, but when that book also happens to be part of the Colorado Mountain series, well, we have a small emotional meltdown on our hands. I have re-read every single one of these books more times than I care to admit and finding out that the quiet but reliable Jacob Decker was getting his own book was a dream come true. In true Kristen Ashley style, this is a story of second chances at love, of best friends turning lovers, of people finding a home in one another. Every element of this writer’s signature writing style is present once again – a protective and nurturing alpha male, this one with a gentle Dominant streak, a fierce but emotionally vulnerable heroine, a passionate union of minds as well as bodies – all perfectly packaged into a delicious bundle of addictive fiction at its best.

“You think you’ve lost beauty, Jacob, but you didn’t. Just turn the dial.”

Jacob “Deck” Decker is a loner, a man who has not exclusively dated a woman for almost a decade, ever since the demise of his last failed relationship. But after one chance encounter with a blast from his past, Deck is reminded of the one who got away, of the only woman who has ever both challenged his mind as well as cared deeply for him – his ex’s best friend. Emme was his soul mate from the moment they met, their connection palpable to everyone around them, but their friendship ended the moment his relationship to her best friend came to a halt. Heartbroken and angry over the break-up, Deck had expelled Emme from his life, aware of her affections towards him, but unwilling to deal with them. Nine years later, they are back in each other’s lives, but a decade of distance has changed them both and put so many things in perspective.

“I missed you,” I whispered.
“How bad?” he whispered back.
“I wouldn’t allow myself to think about it, that bad.”
“Baby –”

From the moment they meet again, the spark between them is re-ignited, reminding them both of how much they had once meant to one another and enjoyed each other’s company. But Emme is no longer the diamond in the rough Deck once knew, having blossomed into a confident and outspoken young woman, her independence and drive only making her even more irresistible in his eyes. Everything about her now draws him to her, feeding fantasises he never allowed himself to entertain before. It does not take long for their friendship to enter uncharted territory, but Emme is no longer the same woman Deck had left behind, ten years of loneliness and having to face the ups and downs of life on her own, coupled with a childhood trauma, having marked her deeply and made her emotionally disconnect from life. She fears loss above all else, so she skips through life never allowing anyone to get too close to her, preferring solitude over the pain of losing a loved one.

“I’m not a puzzle to figure out, Jacob.”
“You are, Emme, the most frustrating one I ever found and the one it’s most important to solve.”

But Jacob, being the alpha male who not only knows and goes after what he wants, but being also the only person in the world who understands Emme through and through, will not allow her to distance herself from him, seeing the beauty and uniqueness of their connection as something worth fighting for. With every dominant bone in his body.

“You love me but won’t let yourself have me. And, baby, I’m gonna figure out why. Fix what’s broke in you. Then turn my attention to givin’ you the best life I can for the rest of the time you’re on this earth breathin’.”

Every single Colorado Mountain instalment has been an intensely emotional and always truly unforgettable love story, and this last one did not disappoint. But while most other couples in this series had to fight to find their way to one another, Deck and Emme start their journey already caring deeply for each other, and their connection only grows as they let themselves embrace it. In so many ways, this story was quite a departure from Ms Ashley’s previous works in the series, but the fresh dynamic between these characters made me love this book even more. In this beautiful tale of friends becoming lovers, I once more fell head over heels in love with another epic Kristen Ashley romance, one that stayed with me long after I turned its last page.

“… I’d be alone, lost and alone forever, if I didn’t have you.”

4halfstars

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Colorado Mountain – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The Gamble: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback
Sweet Dreams: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback
Lady Luck: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback
Breathe: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback
Jagged: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Paperback
KaleidoscopeAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

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The Author

k ashley_picKristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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BOOK REVIEW: Rock Chick Revolution by Kristen Ashley

rockchick8_322x500Ally Nightingale has secrets. Secrets she doesn’t even share with the Rock Chicks. But two men know what she’s up to. One has her back. The other has her heart, but he doesn’t know it.

As Ally rewinds the last year of her life, she knows two things. One, she’s never going to get what every Rock Chick should have—her own Hot Bunch guy. And two, she’s a Nightingale through and through. She just isn’t sure what to do about that.

But as her secrets are revealed, the men in her life react. Darius Tucker, a lifelong friend, as usual takes her back. Ren Zano, the man she loves, isn’t quite so sure. The Rock Chicks, Hot Bunch and the entire gang at Fortnum’s weigh in, and a Rock Chick Revolution starts brewing.

It’s up to Ally to control it and prove what she knows down to her bones.

She’s a Rock Chick, she deserves her hot guy and she’s going to keep the one she wants…

Because she’s a Nightingale.

review

“My name is Allyson Nightingale, but everyone calls me Ally. And I’m a Rock Chick, in name and deed. … I worship at the shrine of Rock ‘n’ Roll and I live the rock star life, doing what I want when I want how I want.”

Pure. Kristen Ashley. Genius. There is no other way to describe this last instalment in the Rock Chick Series. I have to admit I have jumped on the Rock Chick bandwagon quite late in my obsession of all things KA, and it is not only blatantly obvious that this is where it all started, but it is a fact that this series is Kristen Ashley in its most distilled and pure form – funny, engaging, emotional. If you’re a Rock Chick newbie or you’re simply looking for the best and fastest way to fall in love with this author’s writing, this is the series for you. Period.

“You’ve got your way, the way you are and the way you are with the ones you care about. And that tells me, a man gets in there, you give that to him, the children you give him, that man will be all kinds of lucky. And I’ve decided we’re gonna see if that man is me.”

We have watched Rock Chick after Rock Chick find their happily ever after in the arms on one delicious member of the Hot Bunch after another, and in this eighth and last instalment of the series, we finally get to witness Allyson “Ally” Nightingale, one of the original Rock Chicks, find her man. Ally has lived a fast life, never shying away from adventure and helping others in need, but her love life has always taken a back seat to her shenanigans. She has been instrumental in making her friends’ happily-ever-afters happen, she has risked her life for them and given them her all so they could not only find their happiness but also keep it, but Ally has never actively pursued her own happily-ever-after, no man ever making her dream that dream for herself. Until Lorenzo “Ren” Zano.

“… he was confident. Not arrogant. It wasn’t about swagger. Confident. He just knew what his body and mind could do, he knew what he liked, what he wanted and he was confortable with all that. It oozed off him in the way cool oozed off people who were cool. And Ren was just that: cool. He was like a rock star without the guitar and in a suit. It was phenomenal.”

Their story takes off like a rocket to the moon – unstoppable, inflamed, impassioned. There are obstacles on the way, the least of all being Ally’s inability to accept her place in Ren’s heart and his place in hers, but their connection is immediate, unquestionable and they battle through every single obstacle, each test of their bond only making them stronger and more certain of their feelings for one another.

“In one night, he made me believe in the modern-day fairytale I watched all my girls get, and he made me believe life had that in store for me. And he made me want it.”

But, in true Rock Chick fashion, this is not just a love story – Ally and Ren’s fairytale romance might be the backbone of the story, but Ally’s tale of self-discovery and finding her own place in the world is the fuel that feeds that story. For as long as she can remember, Ally has known that the adrenaline she gets from helping others feeds her soul, but she has never considered it as a full-time occupation. In this book, Ally not only finds the love of her life, she also finally embraces who she is as a person, making her prepared to sacrifice everything to fulfil her purpose in life. Through endless adventures and side stories, we not only find out the true beauty of Ally’s heart, but also the endless courage that drives her and makes her a true heroine.

“… the bottom line is, I love doing it. It’s in my blood. It’s me.”

This is so much more than just the story of Ally, or the story of Ally and Ren – this is truly Kristen Ashley paying homage to her readers by giving us a book that ends a beloved series in style, ticking all the HEA boxes, but also acknowledging her own dream of becoming an author, seeing that dream come to fruition and living it every single day, grateful for the love and attention her stories have received. This message is gently entwined in the storyline, subtly communicating to her readers what they have meant to her in return.

“… no matter how old we get, we always need to believe in fairytales.”

I am a true Kristen Ashley fan. I do not hide that nor do I pretend not to think her stories are better than sliced bread. I love this authors unique writing style, the way she utilises language almost as a character in her stories, I love her alpha males and I love her fearless heroines, I love the humour that is written even in the gravest of scenes, I love the modern fairytales she gives us that feed our romantic bones and the depth of emotion that is present in every word, every scene, every exchange. This book not only concludes this series, it brings it full circle, recalling every single story, bringing back every single character that made us fall in love with Rock Chicks and their mischiefs.

This is not just a series – this is a tribute to a way of life. To be a Rock Chick is to live fearlessly, love with all your might, sacrifice everything for the ones in your heart and never stop giving, feeling, living.

My name is Natasha and I want to be a Rock Chick.

“You’re the best I’ve ever had, Ally. Bar none. And the way you love, stubborn, tough, unshakeable, is unbelievably f*ckin’ beautiful.”

4halfstars

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Rock Chick – Reading Order and Purchase Links
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The Scavenger Hunt

To grab your clues, just visit the sites on the Rock Chick Revolution blog tour to receive your clues. Each day will feature 3 blogs, with 3 different clues. The clues given by each of the blogs will help lead you to your next destination on the Rock Chick Road Tour. After you gather the clues and figure out where in Denver we are that day, just enter your answer HERE!

Grand Prize WinnerRighteous Rock Chick Back Stage Pass - 30 minute private one-on-one chat with Kristen. Can be via video or text chat.

2nd Place WinnerRebel Rock Chick VIP - A signed copy of Rock Chick Revolution.

3rd-5th Place WinnersRock Chick Groupies - An e-copy of Rock Chick Revolution for you or a friend.

This contest is administered by Kristen Ashley.

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✦ This Blog’s Scavenger Hunt hint: “Fake velvet lined Yahtzee cup” ✦

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Head over to The Book Bosses tomorrow for your next hint.

Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley

fireinside2Lanie Heron isn’t looking for love – no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed.

So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club…

For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She’s too polished and too classy for his tastes.

But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can’t say no.

And he doesn’t regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that’s ever happened to him – in or out of bed.

Now the trick will be to convince her of that.

review

“Are you real?” I asked his skin.
“Baby, you’re standing in my arms,” he answered.
“Please be real,” I whispered.

If you know me, you are aware of my Kristen Ashley addiction. But if you know me, you also know I am a tough reviewer, especially when it comes to beloved books that have sequels because my expectations are tenfold. It takes nothing less than a small miracle for a book to swipe me off my feet when I’ve loved the prequel something fierce, and I adored Own the Wind, BUT… there is a reason Kristen Ashley is my drug of choice. Her stories, her writing style, her characters get to me like no other – I feel it all, every single emotion, every single word, and let me tell you, this is one addiction I am never going to kick.

“I’m not your old lady,” I declared.
He grinned and asked, “You aren’t?”
“No,” I stated firmly.
“In my tee, in my bed, after a night where my condom stash got lighter by three, lady. Beg to differ.”

In this breathtaking next installment of the Chaos series, we are treated to the story of Hopper “Hop” Kincaid and Lanie Heron, Tyra’s best friend. We met these characters in Motorcycle Man where we indirectly watched them go through their own personal ordeals, but in this book, their story is finally told. Lanie is a survivor – her last relationship ended with her fiancé getting shot and killed in front of her after using her as a shield, getting shot herself and getting her best friend stabbed. These events have left her emotionally broken, unable to move on, crippled by guilt and disillusioned with love. When she approaches Hop for a one-night-stand, her intentions are just that – one night of sex and nothing more. But once they get a taste of each other, of how good it feels to be in each other’s arms, a one-night-stand soon becomes a lot more than that.

“Injected, the drug that was Hop coursed through my veins. I had it back in a way I couldn’t believe I’d ever managed to live without it.”

Lanie is like no woman that Hop has ever bedded before – all class and kindness. She is high drama but she challenges him, makes him unable to get her out of his thoughts, and her vulnerability makes him want to protect her and keep her safe. She tells him that she does not want a relationship with him but every cell of her body responds to him and to his efforts to take care of her.

“The way you look at me when I tuck you in bed, like I gave you diamonds, something precious, something you wanna keep safe, something you want forever. Woman like you could get diamonds just crookin’ her finger, so a woman like you shouldn’t find a man tuckin’ you in bed precious. But you do.”

So, Hop does not give up. He pursues her, never taking no for an answer as he slowly gets under her skin, bit by bit, gesture by gesture, showing her that there are men out there who would never use a woman as a shield and who would love her unconditionally, always putting her first. He breaks through her defences, but even then, Lanie’s demons are deeply ingrained and tough to beat, constantly setting their relationship back and turning it into a fight to stay together.

“I don’t use you as a shield. I am the goddamn shield, and I’m not talkin’ about bullets because shit like that does not touch old ladies. Ever. I’m talkin’ about assholes with monster trucks. I’m talkin’ about Club business, life, every second you live, every breath you take. You take a chance on me, your biggest worry is your 7Up fizzing over.”

There are no words for the kind of range of emotions I have felt reading this book. Not many books make me cry but this book succeeded effortlessly and it did so on more than one occasion. The emotional vulnerability of these characters, paired with their desperate longing to be loved, properly, genuinely, completely, made my heart clench page after page. There is something truly magical about a scenario where a man won’t give up on a good woman, regardless of all her hang-ups and issues, and who is willing to do his best to make her feel loved and protected. Call it old fashioned but this is one formula I will never get tired of.

Lastly, a special note has to be made about this author’s writing style. No other author I have ever come across has perfected her own style so beautifully and so uniquely – her sentence structures, her vocabulary, the vehicular used by her characters, it is all flawless and truly original. She does not use profanities for shock value, her alpha men might look rough and not use “please” and “thank you” every five minutes, but their every word screams of the kind of hearts they have behind those badass exteriors. You can get lost in a book like this, find yourself highlighting passage after passage wishing you spoke that way because this is no ordinary prose, this to me is poetry, and this is pure Kristen Ashley at her best.

“Those bullets tore through you, baby … But you didn’t leak out. You’re still here. You lost blood, Lanie, and someone you loved. But you’re still here.”

A new book to add to My Favourite Books.

“Every step, every breath, every second I lived on this earth, I’m thankful for, no matter how fucked up or whacked or hard or good, ’cause all that shit led me to you.”

5stars

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Buy book: Amazon (US) | Amazon (Australia/NZ)
Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
The Giveaway

Ultimate Prize Winner: Signed copies of Own the Wind and Fire Inside; Forever Swag Bag – Canvas tote bag to celebrate 10th Anniversary of Forever -  Full of Forever books; $15 gift card to BN or Amazon; Rock Chick Bumper Sticker; Print copies of Rock Chick, Rock Chick Rescue and Rock Chick Redemption.

2nd Place Winner: Signed copies of Own the Wind and Fire Inside.

3rd Place Winner: Signed copy of Fire Inside.

4th Place Winner: eCopy of Fire Inside.

5th Place Winner: eCopy of Fire Inside.

This contest is administered by Kristen Ashley.

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Own the Wind by Kristen Ashley

ownthewindTabitha Allen has a not-so-secret crush on Parker “Shy” Cage.

Shy thinks he knows the path Tabby’s on and it isn’t a good one. So he decides to teach her a lesson to lead her to the right path.

Unfortunately, he was wrong and his actions wound Tabby, breaking her heart. It’s Tabby who then teaches Shy a lesson about casting judgment and Shy Cage learns what it feels like to be invisible.

But when tragedy strikes and Tabby’s heart is broken again, Shy does what he can in the background to help. Trying to forget her heartbreak, Tabby finds herself in danger. To keep it secret from her biker family, the Chaos Motorcycle Club, she calls Shy to rescue her.

But when she lets him back in, she gets much more than she bargained for.

review

“I never dreamed any f*ckin’ dream… Didn’t dream it, saw it, waited my time, and then you gave it to me.”

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!! Someone pinch me because she’s done it again!! Kristen Ashley has not only given us another story to steal our hearts and rock our worlds senseless, cover to cover, but she has just set a new standard for her writing. In one of the best executed and most emotional stories to stem out of KA’s endless imagination, we are thrown into the world of the brethren of the Chaos Motorcycle Club, where we not only get to know the Brothers better, but we also fall hopelessly in love with one very mouth-watering badass named Parker “Shy” Cage.

Shy is a young man who had been searching for a place to belong to ever since he lost his parents at the tender age of twelve, and after a painful adolescence, he finally found that place when he walked through the doors of Chaos MC. Being a Brother has given him the much needed sense of belonging that was lacking in his life, and the freedom to be himself. He wears his leather jacket with the Club insignia and the Chaos ink on his back proudly, knowing any one of his Brothers would always have his back. But as freedom-loving as Shy is, his heart craves nothing more than to find the love of a good woman, one that would also give a purpose to his life.

“He’d never, not once, walked up to a woman who looked lost without him and became found the second she saw him. Who leaned into him the minute he touched her. Who made him laugh so hard, his head jerked back with it. Whose mouth he could take and the world melted away for him just as he made that same shit happen for her.”

Tabitha “Tabby” Allen is the Club President’s daughter, the “reigning princess” of sorts, having grown among the Brothers and having always considered them to be her family. They’ve protected her all her life, pulled her out of trouble when she was just a rebellious wild child, and always treated her as one of their own. But Tabby has always only had eyes for one Chaos badass, having had a secret crush on Shy since she was sixteen years old. One wrong assumption, one misguided life lesson, one young girl’s heartbreak later and their lives take separate paths.

“I’d loved him. It was a young, faraway love, but sometimes that was the most intense kind, or it was when you’re young and you love someone from afar. He’d crushed me, so bad I couldn’t even re-experience it by sharing.”

As time goes by and Tabby’s new life takes shape, Shy never gets over the void in his heart that was left by Tabby’s absence, until a tragedy suddenly brings them back together. Their romance is one born out of friendship, their connection enduring and only getting stronger every time their paths merged back together. Tabby and Shy’s stunning love story will slowly but surely melt your heart. Through heartache and against all odds, their fall in love fiercely, completely and irrevocably. Shy re-awakens Tabby’s inner biker babe, helps her find her roots again and herself in the process. He helps her heal her broken heart and discover that her heart has always belonged to one man alone.

“May feel like you’re fallin’, Tabby, but remember, I’m at the bottom ready to catch you.”

Tabby gives Shy the ‘home’ he has been longing to have again for most of his life. She grounds him, allows him to dream and breaks the painful ties to his loveless childhood after his parents’ deaths. They become one another’s safe haven, them against the world, the centre of each other’s universe. A story of belonging – to one’s family, to one’s legacy, and to one’s soul mate – we get a story that redefines ‘family’ and shows the timeless power of true love.

“I was a part of an us and I was happy. Some mother*cker killed my parents and took that from me, so life forced me to become nothin’ but a me. Now I’m an us again, and that’s what I’ll be with my woman and the family we make until the day I f*cking die.”

Against a rough backdrop of everything that being part of a motorcycle club might entail, we lose our senses in one of the most beautiful and untraditionally romantic love stories penned by a woman who really can do no wrong. By completely immersing us into this exciting new world of bikers, oath brothers and codes of honour, we not only fall in love with it, we actually ‘get it’, live it, want to be in it. A truly breathtaking start to a new series, one which immediately earned its rightful place among some of my favourite books ever. Ms Ashley, right back at ya, “down to OUR bones, mama”!

“You can’t pick the parts you want and force out the parts that make you uncomfortable. He is the man he is. With men like us, you accept him as that or you don’t take him at all. You gotta decide, what’s it gonna be?”

5stars

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From Kristen…

In preparing for this post, I got the unique opportunity to ask our beloved KA to share with us a story from her past that has irreversibly influenced her as a writer and made her the unique author that she is today. And because she never does anything half-heartedly, THIS is what she sent me…

Way back in the day I started reading, and approximately two point five seconds after I discovered my love for books, I discovered my love for romance.

Shortly after, I discovered Penny Jordan’s books.

I loved reading and I loved romance but Penny’s books were the bomb. I think it was then that I decided that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I don’t know how old I was, but I was very young. And it was so long ago, I can’t even say what struck me about Penny’s books that made me start to dream that dream. They were just so good, any time one came out, I devoured it. I was too young to be able to buy books so I depended on the library, and I haunted that place for novels. I jumped on Penny’s so fast I’d almost finished them before I even got them home.

Not too long later, I discovered Judith McNaught and started to firm up in my head what was the ultimate romance novel (to me). Very, very alpha heroes with hearts and the ability to do romance, even if they did it their way. Heroines you always wanted to champion. A damned good story that sucked you in and made you not ever want it to end. Just enough of the “good stuff” to get your heart beating, but the book could not be about that, the physical; it had to be deeper. It had to have heart. A supporting cast that you enjoyed spending time with almost as much as the hero and heroine. And last, a lot of humor that breaks the intensity of a well-written story.

Well, life went by and I never lost sight of this dream. I just took my time with doing something about it. And as I was doing that, fate stepped in and made another dream come true.

See, living next door to my family in England, was Penny Jordan.

It was like someone old me Bruce Springsteen lived there. I went all fangirl and totally freaked!

It was worse when she came over and I met her.

I could barely talk.

But she was absolutely amazing. She was friendly, supportive, gave me a lot of encouragement and was very generous with good advice. She’d obviously had years of dealing with fangirls and she made certain she didn’t make me feel like the idiot I was acting.

She was exactly what I wanted her to be. It was a thrill.

I was lucky enough to be in her presence several times. And one of those times, she wove a tale of how she started writing… by telling her little sister bedtime stories.

It was Christmas, and kid you not, Penny was petite, blonde, very classy and soft-spoken and we were all a bit tipsy. But to this day, I remember her sitting in the corner of the couch, weaving her tale and everyone in the room hung on every word.

What touched me deeper was her story was so very like how I started writing, telling myself stories to put myself to sleep. Listening to her, something settled in me. Made my dream valid. If this talented woman with a long, successful career and string of fabulous novels started out like me, maybe I was made to do this… like she was.

Unfortunately, still young and infinitely beautiful, Penny passed away in November of 2011.

But before she did, she invited us over to her house to take a tour. She had a fabulous home, but what I remember most was this tall, standing bookshelf stuffed full to bursting, and every single book in those shelves was hers.

What an accomplishment.

What a legacy.

And, not only did this remarkable woman spark a dream at a young age, with her kindness and class, the care she took with me as a reader, she showed me the way should my dream come true.

I might not have a lot of class, but she knew what I now know. There is nothing better for a writer than readers who love what you do. It is the deepest of compliments. And that should be respected. Time carved out. Generosity given.

With her career, Penny Jordan gave a lot to her readers.

That’s just the beauty she gave me.

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The Giveaway

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BOOK REVIEW: Raid by Kristen Ashley

raid_322x500Hanna Boudreaux has lived in the small town of Willow, Colorado all her life. The great-granddaughter of the town matriarch, she’s sweet, cute and quiet.

Too quiet.

Hanna has a moment of epiphany when she realizes her crush for forever, Raiden Ulysses Miller, is not ever going to be hers. She sees her life as narrow and decides to do something about it.

Raiden Miller is the town of Willow’s local hero. An ex-marine with the medal to prove his hero status, he comes home, shrouded in mystery. It takes a while but, eventually, Hanna catches his eye.

But after all these years of Raid and Hanna living in the same town, the question is, why? Is Raid interested in Hanna because she’s sweet and cute? Or does Raid have something else going on?

review

“I didn’t dream as a kid of bein’ a cop or an astronaut, but I gave a lot of thought to the woman I’d want in my bed. I grew older and gave more thought to that woman, but it was also about the woman I wanted in my life. And she was you. Then I met you. And now, every day I wake up I cannot believe my luck because you’re here.”

I have a Kristen Ashley addiction – it’s been diagnosed, I have accepted it, embraced it and have the hazy-eyed look on my face to prove it. Reading a KA novel is like cruising on a sailboat on a beautiful sunny day – your heart is happy, your body is happy, you want to pinch yourself to make sure you are really there. It might get bumpy at times, the waters might get rough, the wind might pick up and make the boat sail faster, but at the end of the day, you will reach the shore, happy as a clam, filled with a giddiness that has no equal. This book was no exception and apart from having all the winning elements of a ‘KA formula’, it had the added message of hope. A hope that no matter how cruel life has been to you, how many scars it has left on your body and soul, how much emotional baggage you are forced to carry with you each day, love can truly conquer all and be its own reward for all that has passed.

This is the story of two people who grew up in the same small town, their families knew each other, their paths crossed on more than one occasion, but while Raiden grew up oblivious of Hanna, she had always been more than aware of his presence in her life, having nursed a crush on him since she was six years old. Raiden was the town’s hero, a man who went to war, earned the stripes of a hero but returned a broken man. His activities since his return were clouded in mystery but his hero status remained intact. Hanna kept watching him from afar, with the innocent infatuation and pure adoration, always hoping he would one day turn in her direction and notice her. But when that day never came, she put her fantasies aside to finally stop daydreaming and create the life she was happy living.

And then one day Raiden noticed her.

“Home. Warmth. Comfort. Nurture. Love.”

He never hoped, dreamed, expected for his luck to change and to find a woman like Hanna. He knew who she was and how beloved she was in their home town. He knew she looked after her grandmother, she was quirky, trusting, sweet, loving, funny, and all those qualities made her exactly the kind of woman he hoped he would be able to claim as his own one day. After a quick courtship and through some nail-biting circumstances, they fall in love, head over heals, all in and never wanting to let go.

“How into you do you think I am?”
“Honey, you crawled around on all fours in a pet store, totally unable to cope with bein’ in my space. You’re seriously into me.”

But Raiden’s demons run deep, they are ever-present and they crawl out at night giving him night-terrors. They are faced with challenges from the get-go, but Hanna is no ordinary woman. She takes the fire blazing inside Raiden, the good and the bad, and she tackles it all determined to stand by her man and help him come out of his dark tunnel, waiting for him in the light with open arms. She never judges his life choices, she tries to understand them and accept him as a package rather than as a collection of rights and wrongs.

“Baby, … you are the only thing in four years that has come close to getting me to a place where I can even begin to think I might be able to bear those flames.”

Raiden is probably one of the most complex characters that I have encountered in a KA novel. He is troubled but he is also a dominant alpha male who knows what he likes and he has no qualms claiming it. He falls in love with the sweet “Peggy Sue throwback from the fifties” Hanna, but he ignites for the wildcat that trusts him to make her lose control. Their dynamic is moving and their hot lovin’ scenes are mind-blowing.

“You get my teeth, Hanna, ‘cause makin’ my own personal Peggy Sue go wild for me drives me f*ckin’ crazy. You do it for me like no woman before you. I lose control because you make me and you get my teeth, and what makes that shit better is you love havin’ my mark on you.”

Ms Ashley’s writing style is flawlessly unique as always. Her language has a life of its own, setting the scene so well and immersing us in a world that we quickly become part of. Her male characters never beat around the bush, they hit the target with every word they utter, using language economically but achieving full impact. Raiden is no different. He tells Hanna exactly what is on his mind, truthfully and succinctly, making him a hero we admire on every possible level.

This is a story about the healing power of love and the loving effort it takes to help a man overcome his demons. It is a story of meant-to-bes and childhood dreams coming true, but above all, this is a story of hope, hope that the future would bring all the beauty that the past never did.

“If you’re the kind of woman who can withstand the blaze of hellfire he’s got burning inside, he battles that and wins, you will know nothing for the rest of your life, no taste, no experience, not even the birth of your children that will be sweeter than the love he’ll have for you.”

4halfstars

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
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Unfinished Hero – Recommended Reading Order and Purchase Links
(standalone stories with interconnected characters
knight2 creed2 raid2 deacon

KnightAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Creed: My ReviewAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
RaidAmazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback
Deacon: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Paperback

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The Author

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Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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A Kristen Ashley Kind of Birthday… and a REALLY Huge Giveaway

KA time, book junkies!!!! If you know anything about me, you know that I am not JUST a Kristen Ashley fan. I am addicted, dependent on, always craving and find nirvana in a KA book. It leaves me hazy-eyed for days to come and I’m shamelessly proud of it.

When I started planning my Birthday Extravaganza, I knew I wanted to have as many of my favourite authors in it as possible, as a sort of ‘homage’ to the incredibly talented individuals who make my life richer with their beautiful stories and make me dream with my eyes open. It might be my birthday but this has all been about them. I was uncertain about what to do for the ‘grand finale’, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the offer that flew into my lap when I was told I could have an interview with the Queen of the Alpha Males, the rockin’ one and only, Kristen Ashley.

Welcome to my little blog, Ms Kristen!

Wow, honey. What lovely, lovely things to say. I’m honoured to have been asked to help you celebrate your birthday and I so hope I can keep you “hazy” for a long time to come!

There is absolutely no doubt about that! If you continue writing at the pace we’ve become accustomed to, I see only KA-haziness in my future. Now, let’s get down to business and talk a bit about those fabulous alpha males of yours! I have on more than one occasion “blamed” you for ruining all men for me by creating heroes who are not only perfect male specimens, but they are also kind, protective, dominant, territorial, loving, sexy as hell …. *fans herself* … where was I? Oh yes, your heroes …  They take no rubbish from anyone with their no-nonsense attitudes, they love their leading ladies fiercely, body and soul, and they never deliver a bad line. Who inspired these fabulous badass men, Kristen, and please include full names and addresses?

HA! The truth is I grew up around alpha-males, from the strong, silent type to the strong, not-so-silent type so I guess it’s just what I experienced. In my books, there is, of course, a healthy dose of fiction involved and some embellishing, but sometimes my brother will say something, or my uncle, or I’ll remember how my grandfather used to be, and I’ll think, “Ah, there it is. That’s where it came from.”

I still see no addresses in front of me… You mention the way the men in your life talk – the language used by your alphas, especially those from the Dream Man series or the Colorado Mountain series, is quite unusual for someone who’s never heard men speak that way, very direct and uniquely to the point. They also make for some of the sexiest dialogues I have ever read. No one can make a male character say, “Babe.”, and make him speak volumes with just that one word. This is what defibrillators are invented for, Kristen! My favourite book quote ever is one of yours, of course …

“I was your man, you were halfway around the world from me, honey, I’d f*cking phone you … If you told me you needed a timeout, first, I wouldn’t f*ckin’ let you have one. Second, I wouldn’t give you reason to f*ckin’ want one. And last, you took off anyway, I’d f*ckin’ phone.” (The Gamble)

You manage to make it sound so authentic and unforced. So sexy and yet so to the point. To me, KA males are really gentlemen that just happen to have a deliciously rough exterior. Apart from your family members, did you grow up around men who always spoke like that?

Kind of. But mostly it comes from how I write. It’s very strange but my books play like movies in my head and I’m frantically typing to get down what I’m seeing there, where people are, how they’re moving their bodies, their faces, what they’re wearing and, perhaps most crucially, what they’re saying. I’m also “in” the characters so, especially in the voice I’m writing (say, if I’m writing in the heroine’s voice), I actually experience what they’re feeling.

I’m delighted it doesn’t sound “forced” because it isn’t. These characters exist in an alternate reality in my head, I hear their voices, I see their faces, I watch them move and it just flows through them to my fingertips to the keyboard!

And then they end up in our heads, ruining all men for us in the process! What about your heroines? Your female characters are just as strong and just as opinionated as your male ones. They are smart-mouthed, sassy and they give their leading men a run for their money. No one could ever accuse your books of being sexist when you have created inspiring female leads that are so passionate and independent in their own right. From the endless interviews with you that I have read over time, I think I can safely conclude that there is a bit of you in each one of those ladies. Did you also grow up around strong women who inspired such characters?

Absolutely. Thinking of this and wracking my brain, I can’t actually think of a single woman in my life growing up who wasn’t her own brand of strong and wise, kind and funny, loving and gracious. And also those in my lives now that I’ve grown up! So I have a very deep well to draw from for my heroines and their friends and loved ones.

I think I want your life… These fabulous stories you write, Kristen, they must make your mind race all the time like constantly changing channels but with no control of the remote. Before you start a new book, do you have the entire plot in your head or does it develop as you go? I’ve heard of authors waking up in the middle of the night because they’ve had a breakthrough in their story, desperate to jot down these thoughts before they forget. When do you find that ideas most frequently come to you?

I never have any clue how a book is going to go until it’s going and I don’t know how it’s going to end (except there will be an HEA) until it’s done. It develops as I go. Sometimes, there will be things that I know are going to happen somewhere in the book, a reveal, a piece of history explained, and I write to that then beyond. But I get to see it play out in my head much like you get to read it play out in my books.

There are times when characters don’t “come to me”. Usually, they come to me very strong and I know pretty much everything about them. There have now been two times, Sam and Kia in HEAVEN AND HELL and the heroine of the book I’m currently writing, who are sharing their secrets with me as I write. It is a bit anxiety-inducing because I’m wondering what’s going on and where the story is leading me. But I think of it as very much having what my readers have when they read my work, not having any clue what will happen until I turn the page. Which is awesome!

As for inspiration, I find it everywhere. It can happen all the time. There isn’t a time when it most frequently comes to me. As you probably know, recently, I was supposed to be writing the final ROCK CHICK, but I was sitting outside, staring at the night sky, saw a shooting star and on the heels of that, Raiden Miller came to me full-on. BAM! I tried to fight it but he took hold so I had to go with him and tell his story with Hanna, I was desperate to get him to his happy ending. So I just did it.

Now, I have no idea why that star led me there. I’m just so glad it did!

The stars must have been on your side because you self-published all your books (am I wrong?) and became one of the first authors to achieve international stardom that way. You focused on eBooks rather than old-fashioned paperbacks, making it no secret that that was your priority because it meant your books would be widely accessible to readers at lower prices and instantly. In hindsight, is this a path you would recommend to new aspiring authors? If you could impart one piece of advice to someone who wishes to write for a living, what would that be?

I am, indeed, self-published however, I am journeying forward both as an indie author and with a traditional publisher. I signed with Grand Central Publishing last year and they are publishing my Dream Man and Colorado Mountain series in print (they’re still in eBook) this year. I am also working with them on the launch of the Chaos Series (a spin-off of Dream Man) and the next two Colorado Mountain books.

That said, I’ll still be publishing indie and have, until GCP, published only indie. I chose to focus on eBooks mostly because I had decided to change the path of my life and focus only on writing and publishing for a time to see if my passion could take flight. And I didn’t have a great deal of money to test this theory! And eBook publishing is very inexpensive (that is, free). If I could have afforded to go to print at the same time with all my books, I would have. Many, many, MANY readers still only read traditional books and I have not even begun to tap that readership (though, at least nineteen of my books will be available in print in the coming 12 months).

I also didn’t have money for a good editor and copy-editor and these relationships are very important. I would hate to see my books in print in the state they were in with grammar and punctuation errors, as well as needed editorial pruning. So, as it turns out, the way it worked for me worked!

As for advice, I’d say the absolute most important piece of advice I’d give to someone who wanted to write is… do it. Finish your book, get it where you want it to be but then let it go and let fly. It might not work but at least you’ll know. Don’t hesitate. Explore your dream. Always, always explore your dreams.

Did you say NINETEEN paperbacks?! Dear Santa, I promise to be a very reasonably good girl … What is next for the fabulous KA? What stories should we be anxiously awaiting?

Personally, I’m anxiously awaiting all of them and wish I could write five books simultaneously because there’s a great deal rolling around in my head that I’m dying to get out!

But what’s definitely coming up next is RAID, the next in the Unfinished Heroes series, will be available in eBook on February 28 (with the print book available on or very close to that date). The first in the Chaos series, OWN THE WIND, will be available in eBook on April 2 (print June 25). The second in the Chaos series, FIRE INSIDE, will be out in eBook in July 2013. With the next in the COLORADO MOUNTAIN series coming out later in the year. And I hope to squeeze in the final ROCK CHICK and, if my fingers can go fast enough, the next in THE ‘BURG series and the FANTASTICAL series in late 2013, early 2014. And then onward!

OMG, Kristen, so MANY stories to look forward to!! I don’t think I have that many sick leave days left… By the way, I have to ask this and I know I am not alone in this, when are you coming to Australia??

Ha! I wish I could say next week. I love Australia. Since having a vacation there years ago, I’ve wanted to go back, like, bad. And I hope one day to do just that. And we’ll have a drink, darlin’, and go find this awesome bike above! Holy cow! That freaking rocks!

It’s a date! THANK YOU so much, Kristen, for turning a day that normally gives me hives each year into a truly special one! No one will ever make me dream about biker dudes and rock chicks like you do.

Thank you so much, Natasha, for asking me to be a part of your special celebration. It truly is an honour! Wishing you a happy birthday, hoping you have fun, find trouble but don’t get caught and here’s to many more blogs and birthdays!

Now, about those names and addresses, Kristen…

Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy a Kristen Ashley book: Amazon
The HUGE Giveaway

Since there are 36 candles on my birthday cake, it only makes sense that I should be giving away 36 FABULOUS eBooks!! That is 6 winners, 6 randomly selected books per winner, peeps! To win, please enter below. By entering, you accept the following Giveaway Conditions.

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