Ride Steady, by Kristen Ashley

3 Stars

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KA is my go-to escapist romance author. Her books are delightfully predictable, because in 50 characters, she replicates the same five personalities. While definitely romance, these books usually have an engaging plot to keep them out of the erotica category… until recently.

I’m not sure if KA’s fall is due to having a publisher or if she’s cranking out the books too quickly, but her books have grown shorter and both the sex and plot scarcer. It’s as if her last five to ten titles have been long novellas, where we meet some new characters, revisit some old ones, and see the resolution of a minor conflict. Since every book in the Chaos series has flopped, I checked Ride Steady out from the library, expecting disappointment… and ultimately setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised.

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Ride Steady tells the typical KA tale of love gone awry until boy saves girl some odd years later. While there were a couple of forced crossovers, unlike many of her latest titles, this one didn’t focus too heavily on cameos from other books. The characters were true KA characters, both quite likable, and the sex scenes were limited, yet explicit and normal. The plot was no Mystery Man, still being a bit sparse, but it was present and it was interesting. I’d have liked to have seen it developed more. The resolution was happy, as always. Overall, while the old KA isn’t back in full force, I think I see her on the horizon.

Review Word Count: 250

Chaos Series Order (sans novellas)

  1. Own the Wind
  2. Fire Inside
  3. Ride Steady
  4. Walk Through Fire
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Rock Chick (Rock Chick 1), by Kristen Ashley

3 Stars

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I can sum up Kristen Ashley books in one sentence: she ain’t deep, but she sure is fun.

As a librarian, I meet a lot of people who think that all reading has to grow your mind. It doesn’t. Sometimes, it’s really nice to enjoy the literary equivalent of that Kardashian show. The difference is, old school KA has a delightfully fun plot. So, why just three stars for Rock Chick?

Rock Chick is not a good introduction to KA. Lee isn’t quite as much of an alpha as her many male leads and, quite frankly, there’s not as much sex. I wouldn’t call the majority of KA erotica, but it’s definitely heavy on the romance. The plot of this entire series is crazy and fun and maybe a little too goofy in comparison to the rest of her contemporary romantic suspense. Not only do the women refer to themselves as Rock Chicks, the men are The Hot Bunch. It’s eye roll inducing if you’re unfamiliar with the author and even if you are, it takes a bit of adjusting to accept alongside the almost supernatural draw the men have to their individual gals.

All that being said, this book is great fun, as is most of KA’s older stuff. The author has a signature writing style and characterization that many have failed to replicate. Admittedly, she rotates the same six characters with new names, but they’re just so much fun to read that you’re not so sure you care.

Review Word Count: 249

Series Reading Order
Rock Chick
Rock Chick Rescue
Rock Chick Redemption
Rock Chick Renegade
Rock Chick Revenge
Rock Chick Reckoning
Rock Chick Regret
Rock Chick Revolution

Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland 2), by Kristen Ashley

2 Stars

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I didn’t have as many issues with this book as some, but it wasn’t my favorite. Yeah, it was pretty rapey at times, but this was clearly a shoutout to the Khaleesi and Drogo, so I could adjust to the more… primitive sexuality (yeah, we’ll go with that).

What frustrated me the most, though, was actually the pretend language employed in this story. Several chapters included large blocks of gibberish text that were only explained at the END of the chapter, which was intensely distracting for a Kindle read. Smaller words weren’t always explained at all and I kept having to download the PDF dictionary. It was just unnecessarily difficult to read, for this reason.

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Furthermore, while I could deal with the more brutal sexual themes, this was probably the book where KA is most guilty of victim blaming. After the hero does the most unthinkable and despicable things possible, we get to hear the heroine’s nosy and obnoxious best friend (what’s a KA novel without one of those?) blame HER for “holding a grudge” and causing HIM to abuse his men. That, coupled with all that rape and spousal abuse, was just a bit too much for me.

Series Reading Order
1. Wildest Dreams
2. Golden Dynasty
3. Fantastical
4. Broken Dove

Review Word Count: 200