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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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
✤ ✤ ✤
Colorado Mountain – Reading Order and Purchase Links
thegamble2 sweetdreams2 ladyluck2
breathe2 jagged kaleidoscope

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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Other books in the series or related posts:

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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Other books in the series or related posts:

Breathe by Kristen Ashley

breathe2In order to protect a father he does not respect, in Lady Luck, we learned that good cop Chace Keaton went bad, sacrificing his career and his future. But when the local police department’s secrets are revealed and the wife he’s forced to marry is murdered, Chace finds himself the town of Carnal’s hero. Knowing how deep in the mud he was forced to sink, Chace feels he’ll never get clean. The quiet, content future he envisioned of the love a good woman with whom he could build a family was now beyond his reach. The only thing he can do is find his wife’s murderer.

But he isn’t the only one looking.

While searching for new leads, he runs into Faye Goodknight, the town’s quiet, shy, pretty librarian. Chace has long since had his eye on what could possibly be the town’s last remaining virgin but he has also long since given up hope he could make her his. Faye is pure and clean and Chace refuses to dirty her with his sordid past.

Pure and clean Faye may be, but when the shy librarian is forced to go head to head with the man who she’s had a crush on since he hit her hometown, Chace finds Faye is full of surprises. And he doesn’t know what to do with her.

review

Is it even possible for Kristen Ashley to write a bad book? Another absolutely delicious, heart-warming and page-turning story from the Colorado Mountain series.

In this book, we are again in Carnal, Colorado. We’ve met most of these characters already in the previous three books, but this is the story of Chase, a local policeman and town hero, and Faye, the town librarian. This is probably the sweetest love story that I’ve read so far in a KA book. Faye saw Chace for the first time when she was just a teenager – he was larger than life in her eyes, handsome, strong, brave, a truly good man. She fell in love at first sight and she kept loving him from afar for thirteen long years. During that time, Chace’s life had been anything but unevenful – he married a woman he didn’t love and stayed married to her for six years, became a dirty cop to protect his mother from pain and suffering, got clean, saved his town from corruption and then lost his wife to a murderer. Most of that was widely known about him – what no one knew, including Faye, was that he fell in love with the pretty local librarian the moment he set eyes on her many years ago in a supermarket, while she was wandering the aisles reading a book, completely oblivious to the fact that he was watching her. Once his life became complicated, he never dared to hope again that she could be his one day.

But life sometimes offers us second chances and that is exactly what Faye and Chace get in this beautiful story. Although everyone sees him as a hero, Chace still sees himself lost in the darkness that overtook his life for six years, dirty and unworthy of all that praise. He feels that nothing he did or will ever do could buy him redemption from his past sins. He soon discovers that Faye is his greatest fan. Her endless faith in him and her purity heal Chace’s wounds, helping to restore the man he once was. She helps him unload the burden of his guilt, teaching him how to forgive himself and accept what everyone else believes about him – that he is indeed a good man. Faye’s love “delivers” Chace, teaches him that he can’t “shoulder the world’s burdens” and that he needs to give himself a break.

Faye’s devotion to Chace went as far as saving herself for him, hoping that one day he would be her first and hopefully last. And he is.

“When I was sixteen,  I saw you and when I did, I was young, romantic, and it might sound stupid but the minute I saw you, I knew I wanted to give that to you. I knew it was only you. I waited thirteen years, honey. It was worth the wait.”

They give themselves to each other completely, body and soul, quickly becoming inseparable and hopelessly in love. We get to enjoy a skillfully paced and overwhelmingly sweet progression of emotions between two people who have loved each other quietly for a long long time.

“I’d walk to the ends of the earth in hand with Chace Keaton and all he had to do to get me to do it was kiss me deep, smile at me, hold my hand and call me baby.” ~ Faye

“He’d wanted her for years not having any f*cking clue how much of her there was to get, how deep it ran or how sweet it was.” ~ Chace

One of my favourite things about this book is the fact that at the beginning our perception of these two characters is such that we see Chace as the strong knight in shining armour, while Faye appears to be the shy and gentle damsel that needs a knight to look after her and protect her from the ugly world around her. However, as their relationship develops and the events unfold, we see their dynamic changing – Chace becomes the reluctant hero who needs saving from himself and Faye becomes the one whose strength and fierce love help him achieve that. Faye might not be as strong as Chace physically but the strength of her emotional armour is unquestionable. I really loved that. Once more, Kristen Ashley’s characters are impeccably developed, making nothing about them far-fetched or dislikeable.

Now, one cannot conclude this review without mentioning the chemistry between Chace and Faye. I was afraid that the virginity theme in the story would be a ‘taming’ element that could potentially take away from the scorching hot love scenes that we are so accustomed to getting in KA’s books. I had no reason to worry. Ms Ashley is a master of tastefully written and sizzling hot loving’ - it’s never gratuitous and always used to enhance the character development and strengthen the bond between them. But, gosh, KA certainly has a way with words!

“It was wild. Abandoned. Rough. Wet. Intense. Fiery. Thorough. Exquisite. Heart-pounding. Blood-singing. Soul-rocking. Life-altering. Luscious.”

I loved loved loved this story just like I knew I would. It is so comforting starting a book knowing you will adore it even before reading the first page. I only have one question though - why haven’t I bought a plane ticket to Colorado yet?

4halfstars

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK
✤ ✤ ✤
Colorado Mountain – Reading Order and Purchase Links
thegamble2 sweetdreams2 ladyluck2
breathe2 jagged kaleidoscope
✤ ✤ ✤
The Author

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
Other books in the series or related posts:

Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley

sweetdreams2Lauren Grahame has spent her whole life thinking something special was going to happen. She didn’t know what it was, she just knew it would one day be hers. But she learned the hard way that special wasn’t on offer.

So, after divorcing her cheating husband, Lauren searched for nothing special and she thought she found it when she landed a job as a waitress in a biker bar in Carnal. It was perfect: a nothing job in a nowhere bar in Nowheresville.

Then Tatum Jackson walked in. Part-owner of the bar, he took one look at high-class Lauren and wanted nothing to do with her. And he made this known, loudly.

Tate’s angry insults seared in her brain, Lauren decides the feeling is mutual and she doesn’t want anything to do with the gloriously handsome Tate Jackson. The clash of the bartender and barmaid begins but, even though Tate makes his change of mind clear (in biker-speak, a language Lauren is not fluent in), Lauren is intent on going her own way.

Until a serial killer hits Carnal and Lauren finds out Tate isn’t a bartender, he’s a bounty hunter. He stakes his claim for Lauren before he goes on the hunt for a killer but Laurie doesn’t speak biker nor does she understand bounty hunters and Tate comes back from the hunt to find his old lady has moved on.

Life throws curveball after curveball at Laurie and Tate. As secrets are revealed, women are brutally murdered, and Lauren tries to find her inner biker babe.

review

Have I been living under a rock?? Why have I only just discovered Kristen Ashley books now? They are like a drug, a sweet intoxicating makes-you-want-to-spend-the-whole-weekend-in-bed-reading elixir that gets you from the get go and makes everything else – eating, drinking, sleeping – optional. Well, I just came out of a two day Kristen Ashley binge and I feel like I should be on the next plane to Colorado. Stat.

The first Colorado Mountain book was one of my favourite books ever and this one did not disappoint. I think one can comfortably get used to and expect a certain standard from Ms Ashley’s writing – it is a superbly written, entertaining, original, addictive emotion-fest that puts equal emphasis on character development and plot. Nothing is hurried or fudged in these books, they are well-rounded little gems and they are a pure joy to read.

This is the story of a forty-something divorcée – Lauren – who leaves her fancy suburban lifestyle after her marriage painfully dissolves and takes off, driving aimlessly throughout the country, searching for a place where she would find a peaceful and drama-free existence.  She comes across Carnal, Colorado, a waitressing job vacancy in a local biker bar and she takes it. Lauren is a broken woman. Her ten-year-old marriage to an egocentric man made her question herself and her worth. She spent a decade changing who she really was in order to please a man who needed to put her down to feel good about himself. He fed her insecurities by making her believe that she had to change if she wanted to keep him. Eventually, he left her anyway.

“All my life, or as long as I can remember, I thought something special was going to happen to me. I just had this feeling, deep in my bones. I didn’t know what it was but it was going to be beautiful, spectacular, huge. All … my … life. It didn’t. I waited and it didn’t happen. I waited more and it didn’t happen. I waited more and it still didn’t happen. I tried to make it happen and it still didn’t happen. Now I know it isn’t going to. It’s never going to happen because there isn’t anything special out there to happen.”

Carnal is exactly what she has been searching for – a small town where people actually care about each other, know each other, where she can live a quiet uneventful life and heal her broken heart. She expects nothing more from life, she believes that life doesn’t have “anything special in store for her” and she is OK with it. She just wants a job, a home, and a peaceful and predictable everyday life.

Well, life has something quite different in store for her – Tatum Jackson. Tate. A macho mountain biker man, co-owner of the bar she is now working at, a man with a nasty temper and an equally ugly past behind him. Theirs is a love-hate relationship from the beginning. Their attraction is undeniable but Tate’s baggage pulls them apart every single time. Until it doesn’t. What Lauren eventually finds in Tate is a safe harbour, a place where she is appreciated and loved for the person that she really is, narky attitude included. Tate is a man who has been dealt so many bad cards in his life and he never once gave in. His only fault (that I can see) is his temper and vicious tongue when he gets mad. But he is a dog that barks but never bites. The women that “got under his skin” up to that point have all been dysfunctional individuals who only took and never gave anything back. He is at a crossroad in his life when he meets Lauren and choosing to pursue her proves to be the best decision he has ever made.

“Two kinds of women get under your skin. The ones who do damage, they don’t feel good there but once your f*cking stupid enough to let them in you got no choice but to take the time to work them out. Then there are the ones  who don’t do damage, who feel good there, feed the muscle, the bone, the soul, not rip it or break it or burn it. The ones you don’t wanna work out.”

Theirs is an attraction of opposites – Tate being the possessive domineering bossy alpha male who loves with all his being and protects whom he loves at all costs; Lauren being a spirited and loving woman who only wants to take care of the ones she loves, a woman whose goodness and mere presence make people want to open up to her and make her one of their own, someone who was never outspoken during her marriage but who has a lot to say. Their personalities end up perfectly fitting each other like missing pieces of a puzzle, and what they build together is exactly the kind of “special” that Lauren always hoped to find.

“God, if he wasn’t so handsome, strong, sometimes sweet, didn’t have a Harley, that beard, a tendency to play with my hair, didn’t look so good in jeans and wasn’t so danged good in bed, he would seriously not be worth it.”

As in all Colorado Mountain books, the plot of the book is so much more intense and intricate that just the romance between the main characters. None of the secondary characters are neglected, neither in character development nor in their contribution to the overall storyline. There is always a heart-stopping event at the end and a heart-warming HEA. Just what the doctor prescribed. Reading one of these books means immersing yourself up to the tip of your head into another reality, one that takes over yours and makes you a (willing) participant. Like a good junkie, I am immediately throwing myself into another KA book, real life be damned!

5stars
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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK
✤ ✤ ✤
Colorado Mountain – Reading Order and Purchase Links
thegamble2 sweetdreams2 ladyluck2
breathe2 jagged kaleidoscope
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Other books in the series or related posts:

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

thegamble2Nina Sheridan’s on a timeout adventure in the Colorado Mountains. She needs distance from her clueless fiancé, distance to decide whether she wants to spend the rest of her life with a man who doesn’t care enough to learn how she takes her coffee.

Arriving in a blinding snowstorm at the A-Frame she rented, she comes face to face with the most amazing man she’s ever seen. Minutes later, when he kicks her out of his house, she goes head to head with him. Beyond angry because she’s flown half a world away to start her timeout adventure, not to mention her sinuses hurt, she heads back down the mountain and ends up in a ditch. Unable to extricate herself, she gives up, hopes for rescue and falls asleep in the backseat. The next morning she wakes up in the amazing man’s bed and she’s sick as a dog.

Holden Maxwell spends days nursing her back to health and then he spends the next two weeks trying to convince her to take her Colorado adventure further, in other words, make it permanent and take a gamble on him. Nina has a tough time fighting her attraction to Max, especially when it seems all Max’s friends, her mother and stepdad and the whole town want them together and both she and Max get embroiled in the murder of Max’s ex-friend and the town of Gnaw Bone’s most detested resident – a man everyone has motive to kill, especially Max.

review

This book ticked ALL the boxes for me. I wanted a nicely paced and believable love story and a plot too – got it. I wanted loveable characters – got that too. I wanted sizzling chemistry between characters – definitely got that and then some. Needless to say, I ended buying the entire Colorado Mountain series after reading this book.

Nina is a complicated, passionate, emotional woman in her thirties who escapes to Colorado to have a “timeout” from her fiancé and her current life. As perfect as her life might appear, she has had her share of tragedies in her past, abusive relationships, neglectful father, loss of a beloved sibling, and what she craves the most at this point is stability. Her fiancé offers her that but that stability comes at a price – she feels lonely and unfulfilled – so she decides to take some time to think things through. She rents an idyllic house in the Colorado mountains, hoping to spend a week in solitude and reflection. She gets exactly the opposite of that. The house owner, Max, happens to be in town that week, making the house unavailable for renting. One bad case of sinusitis later and they end up not just sharing the house, but a bed too. And the story just rolls from there, like an avalanche, unstoppable and utterly unpredictable.

There was not one second of this story that I did not enjoy. Nina is as gutsy as a female character can get – she has no filter, the shortest fuse in the history of fuses, she overreacts, she explodes at the slightest thing that rubs her the wrong way, she holds nothing inside and takes no prisoners when she goes on one of her rants. But she is also a very loving and love-hungry young woman who craves a relationship where she feels cherished, needed, adored and never taken for granted. However, she never expected to find her perfect man in “Macho Mountain Man Max”.

Max is domineering. Max is overprotective. Max takes what he wants and he doesn’t apologise for it. Max does not take no for an answer. He is everything that Nina’s fiancé never was and never would be.

“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.”

But Max also shows Nina the kind of love and attention that she has never had in her life. He is physical and he expresses his affection for her by holding her hand while he drives, by sliding his arm around her shoulders and pulling her into his side when they are sitting next to each other, by curling his hand around her neck when he wants her to pay attention to him, by snaking his arm around her waist when he is just standing behind her, by never forgetting how she likes her coffee, by making her feel confident and beautiful. Nina fights him at every turn but she cannot fight the way her body reacts to him or the way her heart falls hopelessly in love with him. Max is the ‘jing’ to Nina’s ‘jang’. While we never know how Nina will (over)react to things when she starts “seeing red”, Max never allows her to get away with her tantrums and challenges her to see things differently and more calmly. Every time they spoke to each other I couldn’t erase a stupid smile from my face. Their interactions made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I loved how irrational and insecure Nina would get and how Max would read her every single time and would erase all her doubts by communicating with her openly and honestly.  There were no misunderstandings when Max wanted her to understand something. His language might not be fancy but he made his point every time. He was the only one who could extinguish the fire that raged inside Nina because he made her unafraid of giving her heart away to him.

“You just need to know, I gotta fight to keep what we got so we can build on it, I will. Him, your Dad, you, I don’t give a f*ck. In my life, I’ve learned when to let sh*t go and when to fight. This, babe, what we got, I’ll fight for.”

What also pleasantly surprised me in this story and made me love Nina even more was that the moment she felt that something started with Max, she broke it off with her fiancé back home. There was no real relationship overlap at any point. She did not keep one ‘on hold’ while she was figuring out the other. There was no adultery and that made me love the story even more.

Nothing in this book was rushed. The pace and the length of the story gave the reader time to fall in love with the characters, absorb the storyline, it allowed the characters to develop naturally and to forge bonds that never felt forced or hurried. There was a believable progression of events, as colourful and complicated as they eventually got, and there was enough angst and emotion to keep us helplessly glued to the pages, wanting more.

The secondary characters and storylines are also definitely worth noting. Each character was there to add to the plot, not just as a story filler. They were each carefully developed and helped to make this book a well-rounded and beautifully written read.

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK
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Colorado Mountain – Reading Order and Purchase Links
thegamble2 sweetdreams2 ladyluck2
breathe2 jagged kaleidoscope
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The Author

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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