Heat Factor: It’s Kristin Ashley, so…It’s all pretty much a rolling boil
Character Chemistry: So much sassy back-and-forth
Plot: Action, Sass, Action, #RelationshipGoals, ACTION EEK!!!, #RELATIONSHIPGOALS
Overall: I could listen to Kate Russell read these books ALL DAY (and sometimes I do!)
I’m just going to start with the opening interactions of these books, because they are absolutely wackadoodle:
Mystery Man: For the past 18 months, after the most amazing one night stand she ever had, Gwen has been receiving nocturnal visits from her Mystery Man. He appears in her bedroom at night whenever he wants to, they have bananas amazing sex, and he disappears. (WHAT?! Lololol) Then Gwen finds out her sister is in a bit of trouble, has a run in with the Chaos MC – specifically with Tack, the president – and Mystery Man a.k.a. Hawk Delgado, comes charging into her life with a fierce possessiveness all of a sudden.
Wild Man: Tessa O’Hara has been seeing Jake for four months when they finally have sex for the first time. Then he’s suddenly called away and a multi-agency task force breaks down her door and takes her in for questioning at the local DEA office. After hours in the interrogation room, just as she’s been told she’s in the clear and free to go, she sees Jake across the bullpen…with a badge clipped to his belt. Whoops! Turns out he’s actually Brock Lucas, not Jake, and he was sent in to investigate her ties to her drug dealer ex husband.
Law Man: Mara Hanover has a seriously involved system of rating all people, and she, as a 2, knows that there’s no way she can have anything to do with her neighbor, police detective Mitch Lawson, who’s a 10.5. When her sink breaks and she can’t find help to fix it, Mitch finally has an excuse to talk to Mara, who has no idea what to do with the super hot man in her bathroom, and therefore acts like a total goofball. Mitch is called away to work, but Mara promises him a thank you dinner over the weekend, but when she knocks on his door to remind him about their dinner, she finds him with a seriously hot woman in his living room. Cue meltdown spiral.
Motorcycle Man: Tyra Masters promised herself that she’d never settle, so she’s spent her whole adult life looking for her dream man. After turning her life upside down, she ends up as the office manager of Ride, the auto shop owned by the Chaos MC, and the weekend before she’s scheduled to start her job, she attends a Chaos hog roast. There she meets her dream man, Kane “Tack” Allen, and everything is magical…until he wakes her up after hours of fabulous sex, telling her to leave her number and go back to her own bed. She still decides to show up for work on Monday, going toe to toe with Tack over her job when he realizes just who he slept with at the hog roast.
Mystery Man and Motorcycle Man are definitely the most whaaaaaaaaaat, but if you’re willing to let that be amusing rather than disturbing, it can be pretty fun. If you’re not familiar with KA, she tends to write domineering heroes, so these guys are all bossy, protective, macho and dominant in the bedroom. Everybody is in a dangerous situation, too. Wild Man is the most different from the rest in terms of plotline, since Brock was introduced in Mystery Man only for a hot second, but the other three all involve aspects of the drug world underground of Denver and the Russian mobsters pushing drugs around it. Also, unlike some of the other KA series, the secondary characters aren’t a friend group so much as the family of the protagonists (although Elvira, who works for Hawk, is a running link), so the link between the protagonists in the series is more tenuous than for other KA series.
That’s that, so I think I’ll wrap this up with what I found interesting about each of these books.
Mystery Man: The Rock Chicks being something of an exception, KA doesn’t tend to make her heroines fixate on internal problems that keep the protagonists apart. Therefore, most of the time the protagonists go through some growing pains and then have a solid relationship while they deal with external problems. The different thing about this book is that, when Gwen finds out something totally messy about Hawk, her friends advise her to talk to him about it rather than cutting him off (or cutting off his balls). Also, later, after working really hard to keep Gwen, Hawk suddenly breaks things off with her. He has reasons (oh, the baggage!), but the hero “ending” things in a meltdown is extremely unusual for KA.
Wild Man: Tessa and Brock’s relationship starts with a deception. When Tessa’s friend posse finds out about it, they both express their misgivings and, because one member of the posse is Gwen, share some new, disturbing information about Brock. In pretty much any other romance novel, this would result in an emotional spiral on the part of the heroine, but Tessa agreed to sit down and talk with Brock, so that’s what she does, the two get things sorted because, as Brock points out, they’re the only ones in the relationship who know what’s really going on between them. So they get on the same page and move on. It’s not like Brock doesn’t throw up some red flags, but kudos to Tessa for approaching a relationship with maturity.
Law Man: Mara is a whole mess, and regularly sabotages her relationship with Mitch because of her hangups, but that’s not what I found the most interesting about this book. (In fact, it’s a heroine trait that I find super annoying, typically.) No, the interesting thing is that most heroines are over-enthusiastic to do what they think needs to be done to come to the rescue during the dramatic moment, but Mara really stays in character (she’s very shy and sweet) and steps back, waiting, while Mitch does his job and performs the rescue during the drama. That might not sound great, but it felt natural for this story. Much better than forcing a quiet, shy woman to suddenly become a raging badass.
Motorcycle Man: Tack and Tyra go back and forth a lot, figuring out their relationship as the story goes on. Once he realizes that he nearly missed out with Tyra, Tack is 1000% about working things through with her (although he is super bossy and sometimes boundaries are…non-existent when he does it), while Tyra is trying to figure out if she was right about Tack the first night she met him because his world is not normal. There are also some moments when they just have to get on the same page (Tyra’s 35 and Tack is 41 with nearly grown kids, so life plans, for example, are a thing). So this one was interesting because the way their relationship evolved, while biker-style dramatic, felt like normal relationship growth instead of smut relationship bananapants.
P.S. Book 4.5 in this series is a novella (which when we’re talking KA length is actually a short novel) called Quiet Man, which stars Lottie, who’s the sister of Jet from Rock Chick Rescue, and Mo, who works for Hawk. Lottie works at strip club Smithie’s, so it feels very much like a Rock Chick book (much more than like a Dream Man book), but because Mo is friends with a bunch of guys who work with Hawk, it’s also the bridge between those older series and Ashley’s new Dream Team series, which started this year with Dream Maker, featuring the friends of Lottie and Mo.
P.S. And the novella that bridges multiple series: Quiet Man
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