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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Connect with Kristen: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy all the books in the Unfinished Hero series:
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The Giveaway

There are THREE prize packs up for grabs, as well as FIVE e-copies of Raid:

First prize pack:

Signed Copy of Raid (when it’s available in print)
Amazon or BN.com $25 gift card
Raid, Knight and Creed E-books

Second prize pack:

Amazon or BN.com $10 gift card
Raid, Knight and Creed E-books

Third prize pack:

Amazon or BN.com $5 Gift card
Raid, Knight and Creed E-books

To win one of these prize packs, please enter below. This giveaway is administered by Kristen Ashley.

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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:
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