Dream Team, Book #4
Heat Factor: They didn’t have on-page sex until after 60%… Is this even a Kristen Ashley novel?
Character Chemistry: Eh
Plot: It wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, that’s for sure.
Overall: How very dare
Let me tell you a story. The story begins with a prequel. A prequel novella in which one last dangling unattached character from a series finally gets her own happily ever after. And in so doing, she meets her partner’s four best friends. Yes. Four. Her love interest has four best friends. Friends whom she vows to set up with four of her best friends. Yes. Four.
And so our story properly commences. The first of the four pairs find their happily ever after. A villain is identified but escapes. The stage is set. Then the second of the four pairs start talking. The villain returns, BUT WAIT! He is not the villain! Though he may do some villainous things on the side, he has been framed. We begin to see that there are other players, players of the secret, nebulous, conspiratorial, powerful, moneyed, dirty cop variety. The body count grows. In the meantime, the third of the four pairs do their thing. They do their thing, and, like, pretty much every other character that has ever been involved in this Denver world makes an appearance because for some reason that totally makes sense, bikers and cops and private investigators and commandos (who are not, in fact, active military) and club owners who also provide protection to sex workers all need to be involved in this whole conspiracy situation.
And so the third pair rides off into the sunset, happy in the knowledge that they have achieved their personal happily ever after even though the world is a shambles because there are dirty cops threatening the lives of every single person involved in this extremely large and extremely informally organized take-down ring.
And so I ask you: Does this fourth story wrap up the tale of the secret, nebulous, conspiratorial, powerful, moneyed, dirty cop bad guys?
Imagine my chagrin when, after a promising opening in Chapter 10, I get past the 50% mark and there is no further action on the Evil Bad Guys front. What exactly is happening with this book? Is it honestly just about Auggie and Pepper interacting with their various family members in seemingly dramatic ways?
Why yes. Yes it is.
I wanted to read this book to round out the whole story. What happens? How do all these badasses take down the Evil Bad Guys? I felt pretty meh about book 3 in this series because it didn’t really do anything while at the same time it introduced an absolutely ridiculous number of characters from multiple other series. Part of what I have found fun about KA is that all of her (contemporary) books are somehow part of an interconnected world, but this series is just getting to be too much. There was some of that probably unnecessary character introduction in this book, although without the whole Evil Bad Guys situation it was much more limited than in past books.
In addition, while I have said that KA is good at characterization, and in this case I do think that Pepper had a very distinct persona from the other three heroines in the series, the writing itself did not reflect that distinction among the four women. If they all have the exact same highly punctuated thought patterns (as demonstrated by the text), are they in fact different protagonists? I freely admit that when I went through my huge KA backlist binge, it was mostly on audiobook; however, I have been feeling with this latest series and her other recent Chaos novella releases that the stream-of-consciousness style that characterizes her writing is even more pronounced (and in this case I found it more disruptive) than in her older works. In order to truly validate that I suppose I’d have to do a writing analysis, but I don’t want to. I said what I said.
And Cisco’s relationship with Pepper’s daughter – I get that KA tried to make it not so, uh, bad – but no. Cisco is a complicated character, and the daughter instigated the perfectly innocent (it must be said) contact in the first place, but yeah, no. That was a whole nope from me.
And this might be getting into spoilers, but let’s talk Pepper’s boundaries with her family. Auggie straight up cuts off his extremely dysfunctional family to the point that he’s thinking about steps he might need to take in order to get restraining orders. Meanwhile, Pepper’s brother and sister say totally awful, harmful stuff to her and her daughter, and then suddenly when she finds out that they’re working on something that’s big picture good, everything is fine now?
It’s like every person in Pepper’s family life at the end of the book is like this gif:
And I am not buying that nonsense. No, sirree. Uh uh.
I was in this series to see what happened with the whole overarching plot. Maybe for completion. A little bit because I gravitate to a familiar author I’ve enjoyed in the past. But I’m not going to wait for up to three more books in order to find out what happens.
THERE WERE FOUR PAIRS OF PROTAGONISTS.
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