Showing posts with label Kristen Ashley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kristen Ashley. Show all posts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TBR Review: Motorcycle Man (Dream Man #4) by Kristen Ashley

I had problems with WiFi and internet access in my area yesterday, and couldn't post my TBR review -- but decided not to give up and I'm posting it today. May's theme for the TBR Challenge is: more than one book by an author in your TBR. I have a few books by Kristen Ashley and decided to read and review her much lauded Motorcycle Man, a book that has been sitting and gathering dust in my Kindle for a long time.

I think I will always remember Motorcycle Man as one of the most cringe worthy romance reads ever. Yet, I read it in its entirety. There is something to it, that's for sure, but I don't even know where to begin explaining what it is. I'm stumped.

The characters in this romance live an alternative lifestyle that takes place, for the most part, within the narrow confines of a motorcycle club and the homes of its members. Tyra falls into this world after quitting her job and finding one at a body shop owned by the Chaos Motorcycle Club. The Saturday before she starts her job, she parties with the Club members and ends the night by having sex with Tack, the president of the MC. During the aftermath, Tyra daydreams that Tack is 'her dream man' but is quickly disabused when he dismisses her from his bed. On her first day at work these are Tack's words to her:
"I do not work with bitches who've had my dick in their mouth," [...]
Because she's desperate for a job at this point, she stays and the sexual harassment begins. They go back and forth;
"I am not going to warm your bed!" I fired back.
"Oh yeah you are," Tack returned.
"You don't even know my name," I retorted
"Nope, and I didn't before when you sucked my cock, I ate you, you fucked me hard and I fucked you harder. Didn't bother you then."
"I thought you knew my name?"
Tyra fights back and continues to feel a combination of deep attraction and fear for hawt, scary biker dude Tack as they play his game until she succumbs and becomes his biker-babe  -- because he colors her world.
"I like everything about you, honey. Everything. Lived in black and white seems like all my life. Never noticed. Not until you colored my world."
He finds her irresistible:
"Every day, somethin' new. Will I ever get to the heart of you?"
There's are kidnappings, screeching fights with a disgusting ex-wife who must be the worst mother ever, a battle with the Russian mob, blood, and lots and lots of hot, sex, love, misunderstandings, and well... more sex and love. And they live happily ever after:
"Sometimes it happens in weird ways that included fights, blood, drunkenness, kidnappings and pregnancies. But dreams came true." Tyra
In Ashley's MC world, women fall into categories: "babes," "bitches," "the Club's whores," and wives/girlfriends="old ladies." These women are not supposed to worry their gorgeous little heads about their men's business in the club or the danger they may be exposed to (after all their men are taking care of it and keeping them safe), and for the most part they accept it all without question.

The men are an uber-alpha variety of scary biker dudes who "claim" women when they are interested, and have a problem communicating in full sentences. Some of them are married and cheat while others are monogamous, and while some are portrayed as having soft hearts, all have that extra bit of over-the-top alpha DNA that doesn't always sit right because the balance of power in relationships and respect are severely lacking.

So here is where I go back and forth: As you see from the quotes above and my summary, Tyra and Tack fall in love. While lust and sex remain the central focus that drive intimacy, this is a romance and Ashley works hard to make it work. Because, despite all those cringe-worthy moments and objectionable language, Ashley also includes touching if rough-edged romantic moments between Tack and Tyra. The evolution of Tack as a romantic protagonist is rough because he learns how to treat Tyra so she won't leave him, but the all-around lack of respect for other women is highly questionable. Tyra's ultimate acceptance of her "place" as a woman in Tack's world (because although she "fights" it, she also accepts it), made this a tough read. I know Ashley is portraying an "alternative lifestyle," I'm just not sure how accurate it is, and it's not one that it's easy to relate to -- at least not for me, not if I get to be called someone's "bitch." It can't be denied, however, that even as this is a grating, button-pusher type of romance, Ashley has a way of keeping the reader going.

I'm glad that I finally read Motorcycle Man because every time a book by Ashley releases, fans compare it to this book. I wanted to know what that was all about. Personally, and going against the tide, I'm really happy that my first book by Ashley was The Will.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Dream Man
Grade: C = Because Ashley really works the romance in this book and I finished it even as my comfort zones were severely challenged.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Will (Magdalene #1) by Kristen Ashley

The Will by Kristen Ashley has all of the necessary components to make a warm family story into a passionate romance, and in this instance, although the circumstances are not always pretty, the premise works.

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
Grade: B

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