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Anna (Bobs Her Hair)
- Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: Versión Kindle
At Peace has sweet, touching, and steamy moments in the story. Joe and Violet have chemistry. Of the three and a half Kristen Ashley books I have read, this story has the best written suspense of all. The secondary characters feel like people I would meet in real life. A couple of those characters have me interested in their upcoming stories, but I am conflicted about the rating for this particular novel. The conflict lies not with the typical KA style of rambling narrative or love of describing insignificant details, but with the characterization of Joe.
***"Little suitcase like a brick, kinda makes it hard to get a good grip."***
Joe has major baggage - lots and lots of baggage! In fact, he has seventeen years of living under the cloud of his crazy first love. Joe's the kind of hero destined to meet the one woman who will heal his pain. She will shine her bright light onto his soul and he will be whole again. I can embrace the dark, tortured hero. (They are usually my favorite.) So, what's wrong with Joe? There are times when his behavior is cruel to Violet. He plans. He executes. He twists the knife. Darn you, Joe! An attempt is made to pardon him. I partially shook it off to enjoy the remainder of the story, but the damage was done.
***"Lover man, oh, where can you be?***
When I read romance I expect a hero to be the stuff of dreams. He can be the bad boy set on fire by a shy woman; a scarred and bitter lord matching wits with an iron lady; or he can be a kind, tormented, and lonely man brought to life by a cynical mistress. Joe is not the stuff of dreams. If a friend showed interest in a man like Joe then observed her receiving the poor treatment Violet did, I would advise this friend to let Joe go.
So what's the conflict? It's obvious I didn't like Joe "Cal" Callahan. Well, I didn't until the second half of the book. The first half of At Peace we have kick-him-to-the-curb Joe. The second half, Joe is the dream alpha hero. He is everything Violet and her daughters need and want. Accepting the transition is ultimately dependent on the reader's ability to realize this is only a book and Joe is obviously the `One' for Vi. His cruel actions will either be forgiven or a romance reader (like me) will mark him with a scarlet "A" (for a@@hat).
Joe's point-of-view helped me as a romance reader. The glimpses into his head enlightened me. His past explained his negative patterns. Later, Joe proves he can be compassionate and wise. He can be a family man. Joe has redeeming qualities. Violet is able to rationalize and forgive Joe's transgressions. She follows her heart.
***"If this is communication, I disconnect"***
Does miscommunication have to be a constant source for conflict? It is a common issue between men and women. In At Peace, Joe mystified me (and Vi). Why did he play mind games? This behavior is followed up with Joe's irrational answers and deflections. My enjoyment dimmed. Joe required effort and mind tricks for me to move past his mistakes.
***"Gonna wallow in your dang good stuff!"***
The best thing about Ms. Ashley's storytelling is she knows how to pack an emotional punch. There are scenes that brought tears to my eyes. It happened so many times I lost count. Whether I like all the characters, they have vivid personalities. They convey passion, anger, joy, bravery, despair, fear, and jealousy. The hero and heroine's friendships with secondary characters are compelling. One unlikable character had unexpected depth to her. Kate and Keira's (Violet's daughters) distinct personalities shine. Joe's Chicago family intrigued me. I genuinely cared for these characters. I want Mike's story! I also want Frankie and Benny's story! Despite my Joe troubles I am invested.
Another positive is the way Violet's stalker problem unfolds. Feeling that I knew KA, I assumed events would play out in a predictable manner. Fortunately, the solution involves many unexpected players and unforeseen twists. The `Burg police act appropriately. Joe stays true to his nature. I really enjoyed watching the stalker subplot reach its climax!
Kristen Ashley heroines tend to thrive with domineering men. They are sassy, nurturing, and somewhat independent. Yet there is a continuous theme amongst the heroines: A need for a man take control. Their men make them feel safe and cherished. There's almost a Dom/sub dynamic in the way the women are handled.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I'll continue to read Ms. Ashley's work with long periods in between books. I am taking a star and a half off the rating because of Joe's characterization, but I am rounding my rating up to 4 stars. This story can stand alone and I will skip book 3 to read Mike's story in Games of the Heart, followed later by Frankie and Benny, which should release within a few months.
[***Lyrics in Quotes: "Baggage Claim" by Miranda Lambert, "Lover Man" by Billie Holiday, "Communication" by The Cranberries, " Good Stuff" by The B-52s]