Forty-five year-old Josephine "Josie" Malone's whole adult life has been devoted to her job as assistant to globetrotting fashion and music elite photographer Henry Gagnon, as well as to the man himself. After a nightmarish childhood, the only two people she loves and trusts are her Gran Lydia and her boss Henry. She has become a woman disconnected from the everyday world, obsessed with masking her inner self by wearing the perfect fashion accessory, projecting an icy look, and using a prissy, antiquated vocabulary. Her Gran's passing comes as a blow. Meeting Jake and his family, strangers Lydia obviously loved dearly, comes as a disconcerting and life-changing surprise. Her favorite word: alas!
Gorgeous Jake Spear is a rough talking, soft hearted, retired boxer. Owner of the local strip joint and the single father of three children Conner, Amber, and Ethan, Jake married and divorced three women who stand out for their questionable character and lack of maternal feelings toward their children. Lydia Malone and Jake and his family have adored each other for eight years. They know all there is to know about Josie and are about to meet her in person. His favorite word: fuckuvalot.
“My most precious possession, the thing I treasure above anything else in this world […] I hereby bequeath to […]”Lydia Malone's death brings Josie home to Magdalene, Maine and Lavender House. It all begins when Lydia's Will is read and she bequeaths to Jake what has always been most precious to her: Josie. Although Lydia is deceased, her presence is strongly felt throughout, and to the end of this romance.
“She wanted me for you.”Of course it's not legal to bequeath a person in one's Will, but it was Lydia's last wish. Josie doesn't accept this for a while, mainly because she doesn't understand why, loving Jake and his family, her Gran kept them a secret from her. Jake, however, persuades Josie that they should at least get to know each other, specially since Josie has no family left. What comes next is character growth and the evolution of Josie, and strengthening bonds and the blooming of Jake's children as one influences the other. Together, they slowly become a family filled with expected and unexpected conflicts, warmth, and the love that three children and two very different adults, falling in love and lusting after each other, can engender. Conflicts, however, are not all confined to the family, they also come from outside intrigues that affect the characters personally or the family as a whole.
This is a multi-layered contemporary that involves a family comprised of children who are adored and cared for by their father but who have been more or less discarded by their biological mothers, with a romance between two people who although very different on the outside, are perfect for each other. Josie and Jake have past histories that become key to understanding their inner conflicts and how those affect the overall romance. The children are extremely well-developed characters that I adored to the end: teenagers Conner and Amber, and the younger, adorable Ethan. All of these factors are well blended together, however, this was not a perfect read for me by any means.
The Will is only available in digital format and at 375 pages for the Kindle, I found it to be needlessly burdened with repetitive scenes. Language titters back and forth between the very prim, proper and antiquated vocabulary used by Josie, and the rough and vulgar language used by Jake and secondary characters. These extremes make both pop and seem more jarring to the reader than they should. The sexual scenes are graphic (which I don't mind in the least), but high in quantity which brings into play the repetitive factor. After a while, I ended up skimming quite a few of them.
It is important to note that although Jake is an alpha male -- protective, possessive, etc. -- he is not an asshat or over the top aggressive with Josie. The Will is my first novel by Kristen Ashley, but I've since read "Motorcycle Man” whose male protagonist has been touted as the quintessential Ashley alpha. Jake is rather rough around the edges, but just as Josie's character gains depth by using her grandmother's wisdom to make up for her stilted speech pattern and lack of connection with the everyday world, Jake's character is strengthened with down to earth warmth, sweetness and a big heart capable of loving a whole bunch. His passion, love and respect for Josie are never in question. The fact that Josie is honest, forthright and not a doormat makes the romance and relationship work.
I'm glad that I chose The Will as my first Kristen Ashley read. It provided me with hours of reading pleasure. It is a passionate contemporary romance that I enjoyed for its characters and family atmosphere.
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Magdalene #1
Release Date: April 2014
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