Nobody starts a book, better than Kristen Ashley. Nobody. I can think back to every single one of her books that I’ve read, and I can tell you EXACTLY how each one starts. How we “get into” the oncoming story. And each one… I swear it, feels like it’s my own personal memory. My own experience. My own thoughts. My own intense emotion, heartache, and my own relationship worries. My own disappointment. The realistic FEEL of these characters. These stories. THIS is what real “romance-angst” is made of.
While I’m on the subject of things that Kristen Ashley rocks at, I’d say she rocks at down-to-earth, so-MUCH-like-me “heroines”. I always connect to them. They’re a perfect mixture of silly, sweet, strong, and insecure. Somethings about themselves… they just KNOW. And some things… they doubt. They fall in love, HARD. And they live for that romance intensity. But they fear it, too.
They both find themselves in it… and lose themselves in it. I love (and can’t help but connect to) her girls.
Ahhhh you guys. When it comes to this one? The INTENSITY in the beginning of this book rocked my world. Made me cry my eyes out. I “knew” what I was getting into from the synopsis, but I didn’t realize I was going to actually EXPERIENCE it. I thought we were getting into it, after that. But I forgot. That’s not how Kristen Ashley works. We’re getting it all. Heartache, regroup, and personal struggles… growth, and maybe true love. Or maybe heartache again.
As I was telling a friend of mine (also a HUGE Kristen Ashley fan) when she asked how I liked Jagged:
Maryse: AND I CRIED with the prologue. And it’s not ’cause someone died or nuthin’ – not something obvious, to make me cry over. She made me cry over a breakup!!!!!!! A breakup between two characters I didn’t even know yet! So …. you now she rocks writing, when she makes you cry over something like that. From the START.
I was SO INTO the book, so emotionally connected, so overwrought and then I “flipped” the page, and hit “chapter one” and I swear I thought to myself… “OMG WHAT!!!????? I haven’t even really started the book yet?!”
My notes? “Already in tears… 5% into the book. Not even chapter 1 and I’m crying. Incredible.”
Sh!t. I knew this would happen one day. I’d hoped for a different ending but deep in my heart I always knew this would be how we’d end.
*nods* Yep. I was SO in. Already. But did I expect any less?
And now… let’s talk about the hero. Biker, bad-a$$ alpha (but of COURSE!!!!). A total rolling stone. “Wherever he laid his hat was his home”. Sorry. Temptations song lyric came to mind 😉 (ahhh reminds me of my dad… my childhood. I love you Kristen, for always bringing me home…).
But I couldn’t help but think this, because it sorta describes him.
As far as I knew, the longest he stayed in one place was a year. Usually it was six to eight months. Ham was not a man who laid down roots.
Ham is not the commitment type. He can’t even commit to a place, let alone, a woman. A free (yet no-nonsense) spirit. He’s easy. And he looks for women who are easy, too. Wait wait!!!!!! NOT that kind of “easy”. He’s looking for a laid back, good woman. One that gets him. Easy-going.
I went with that flow.
But not necessarily a forever-one, ya know? But always intense, even in his “laid-back” expectations.
One could say it wasn’t much, but when you had him for the brief periods you had him, you had him.
As strong, confident, and set in his ways as he appears to be, he’s got issues. He’s all heart, but he’s all walls, too.
You’ll learn about them. I hinted about them, to my friend, Jo:
Maryse: It’s like… he’s deep, you know? He’ll start saying some weird stuff and I’m all… where’s he going with this? and then he makes his point and I’m FLOORED!
Her heroes tend to lead us into the deep, somewhat convoluted conversations. But by the time we reach the end, there is SUCH a deep, heartfelt understanding of how connected we are, how much we finally know him. How much we finally GET him. But to get there takes some time. And I’m ALL about the time and effort it takes for a budding (or re-established) relationship to truly be explored.
As in most of this author’s books, there’s often insta-lust between the two, and maybe even quickish-love (at least “one-sided” love)… but Kristen Ashley’s books are rarely (if ever) insta-love. She makes her characters (and in turn, her readers) work for it.
Melody: “…not sure about the names in this one…not sure how I’m going to love a tough guy called Ham…”
I know, some of y’all were worried about his name. Ham. LOL!!!!! But he’s got the hottest real name ever! His name is Graham. GraHAM. Get it? 😉 Once I realized that, I was good with “Ham”.
So what’s it about?
Zara and Ham have some INTENSE history. Intense for her, I mean. It would seem, more… laid back-like, for him. Years of them being on and off (I think the longest time they were on was for about 4 months, where she actually lived with him!), but mostly, just Ham and Zara, always being somewhat of an “item”. WHEN he was in town, that is.
Ham understood the concept of exclusive; he just didn’t utilize it.
And months could pass where he wasn’t. But Zara was always there waiting. Missing. Hoping. Loving.
I nearly smiled at the same time I nearly cried. Again, pure Ham. No promises. No expectations. He called when he called.
But one day she decides it’s time to move on.
She’s met a good man, that seems to really like/love her. And when Ham rolls back into town, she lets him off. It was always him for her. But it was never her for him.
She tells him it’s okay. After all, they weren’t that serious, right?
He had other women, I knew. He didn’t hide it nor did he shove it in my face. He asked no questions about other men. He wanted it that way. I did not, but I never said a word because I suspected, if I did, I’d lose him.
Now he’d lost me.
Oh boy. *oooomph* But something this intense, this world-rocking…. life changing, well. It affects (infects?) every part of her life.
And she finds herself single again. Destitute. And coming from a bad family situation, completely alone. Until Ham comes back.
I’ll let you experience the rest. There are moments of *ooooomph*, a few slaps in the face, and profound moments of awwwwwwww!!! I just gave you a bit of the beginning. There’s tons more, where that came from.
…even when you thought you had everything in life, life found ways to give you more.
An easy 4 stars for the bulk of it, but absolutely 5 stars for that intro, and 5 stars for that epilogue. Nobody starts a book off better than Kristen Ashley. And while I’m on it, nobody ends a book like Kristen Ashley, either. This may be one of her best epilogues yet. Precious. Poetic. Perfect.
P.S. Thank you to the publisher for sending me this amazing book to review.
P.P.S. And thank you Kristen, for giving me my own Colorado Mountain Man. Ham is the ultimate gift.
“A man is not what he says, babe. He’s what he does.”