Fri
Jul 6 2012 5:30pm

The Cracktacular Appeal of Kristen Ashley and Her Anti-Heroes

Wild Man by Kristen AshleyKristen Ashley writes erotic romantic contemporaries featuring heroines with low self-esteem and the dirty-mouth anti-heroes with whom they fall in love. Since her first book hit the scene in 2008, Ms. Ashley has made readers laugh, groan, chuckle, snort, and exclaim out loud over the crazy, insane journeys her h/h have to take in order to find their HEA. What is most appealing to me is that these characters aren’t people I would like—or even associate with in the real world. It takes talent to engage and hold my attention with situations and characters that I would probably smack viciously and repeatedly, were I to ever meet them in real life. Her books are like train wrecks. Not particularly well written or edited, but once you start reading, you can’t look away. You will rubberneck your way from beginning to end.

From this reader’s point of view, it’s the anti-heroes in these books who are the hook. They all have a strong alpha/caveman mentality that brooks no compromise—if you met them in real life, you’d walk away and never look back. They are rude, crude, bossy, opinionated, and have no filters. But they aren’t abusive; they just follow their own paths and have serious communication issues. These anti-heroes are who they are and make no apologies for their behavior, which doesn’t change through the course of the story. It’s not about finding that one person who will cause the anti-heroes become better human beings. These heroes are quite happy the way they are and see no reason to change, or even want to change. What you see is what you get. But they reveal a new side to their personality when they find a woman they want to be with that still is in keeping with their Alpha status. They are protective and observant when it comes to their women.

Amy, a reviewer at FictionVixen.com and a total Kristen Ashley addict, comments “...it’s sexy that her heroes are so observant because most men are not. It’s also sexy that they all want the heroines to see themselves in such a positive manner and realize they are women of worth. In the end, the heroes are lucky as hell to have them and the heroines end up feeling the same way about their sexy, bossy asshats, lol.”

The majority of the stories Ms. Ashley writes revolve around the heroine and her need to find herself. Usually the heroine has been through a bad relationship. She meets the hero, who is a complete arse, and begins the painful journey of learning to stand on her own two feet. Once the heroine starts this journey, the hero sees her through different eyes, and she becomes the woman he didn’t know he was missing in his life. Of course, there are normal shake ups and pitfalls. No relationship is smooth sailing, especially with these screwed-up people.

Ms. Ashley doesn’t make this process easy for the hero. The woman in her books might have low self esteem, but only a few of them are completely stupid. As the heroine’s esteem rises, so do her standards. The heroes often have to do some serious damage control. The HEAs are doable; they fit the hero and heroine to a tee. It may not be what we hope for, but it works for the characters.

Rock Chick by Kristen AshleyHere are a few cracktaculor selections from Ms. Ashley. As I’ve stated before, you will either love these books or hate them. But you will never forget them.

Rock Chick, the first of the Rock Chick series, tells Andy Savage’s story. Cop daughter, rocker chick, and bookstore owner, she has been in love with the owner of Nightingale Investigations since she was five. When Leo Nightingale makes it clear that they will never be an item, Indy declares herself over him and goes about her merry way. Unfortunately, Indy gets herself in trouble with some stolen diamonds and a lovesick mobster. Now she needs Leo’s help, but Leo wants more than to help—he wants Indy’s heart. Too bad Indy’s over Leo...or is she? Crazy, insane, over-the-top antics makes this a hilarious read. There are seven books in this series.

“Maybe we should have this conversation in an alternate universe where Alternate Indy gives a shit what Alternate Leo wants her to wear.”
― Kristen Ashley, Rock Chick

The Colorado Mountain series is a favorite among the Ashley addicts. While the characters are still over the top, the storyline is better plotted and easier to relate to. The first in the series, The Gamble, tells the story of Nina Sheridan and Holden Maxwell. Nina has taken a time out from her clueless fiance and decides on a Colorado adventure might be the trick to sorting out her conflicted feelings. She meets Holden (Max), and immediately butts heads with him. When she is lost in a snowstorm and becomes ill, Max nurses her back to health and decides that her adventure needs to include him. Add in a town full of nosy people and a murder mystery, and you have a laughter filled ride to an HEA from Hell. There are 3 books in this series.

“Shut up and kiss me, Duchess.”

“Max!”

“All right, I’ll kiss you.”

― Kristen Ashley, The Gamble

Mystery Man by Kristen AshleyThe Dream Man series is darker, with extreme anti-heroes whose laissez faire attitudes towards sex and women in general leave you cringing while reluctantly drawing you into the stories. Often our anti-hero has very good reasons for being a complete arse. Mystery Man, the first in the series, shows how our heroine Gwen meets the man of her dreams, takes him home, and sleeps with him. She proceeds to be fuckbuddies with him for two years, allowing him to visit her in the dead of the night with no real potential for a relationship. She never even learns his name. When her sister gets into some trouble, Gwen finds herself in over her head, and her mystery man rides to her rescue. Only Gwen isn’t as impressed with her mystery man in the light of day and tells him to take a hike. Now, mystery man Cabe Delgado has to prove to Gwen that he is still the man of her dreams, day and night.

“Don’t call me baby when you’re pissed, Sweet Pea.”

“Don’t call me Sweet Pea at all, baby.”

― Kristen Ashley, Mystery Man

 


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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14 comments
Nicole Leapheart
1. BoxyFrown
My one and only KA book was Knight. It popped up on some lists for what to read after 50 Shades, so I gave it a shot.

Train wreck I couldnt put down...you nailed it. I have tried to get into the series you mentioned, but I havent had the patience just yet.
pamelia
2. pamelia
Kristen Ashley's books are my new obsession. I have read and re-read "Knight", The Mystery Man series, The Colorado Mountain series (fourth book comes out next month -- squee!) and I am just wrapping up my Rock Chick series re-read.
Are they perfect books? No way. Spelling and punctuation are spotty. They often go off on ridicuously long descriptions of a house (do we really need the whole floor-plan of every house?) or outfit (please, do tell me what color the topstitching on those jeans is!)? The dialogue is often missing pronouns and while that works a lot of the time it does crop up a few WTF did he/she just say? moments.
The strength of these books are the characters and the emotions and the love and the romance and the humor. I don't laugh out loud very often while I'm reading other authors' books. I don't usually cry actual real tears while I'm reading other authors' books. I don't often re-read a book within a week of first reading it. I don't generally ignore books that I have pre-ordered and been waiting for for months now in order to read other authors' books. I do all that with KA's books.
I love that there are characters who exist as actual people outside of the hero/heroine dynamic; characters who are not all there as sequel bait. I love that her heroes/heroines range in ages from late twenties to mid forties. I love that there are multi-ethnic casts. I love that not all her heroines are the same woman with just a change in haircolor/eyecolor and I wouldn't describe them as weak by any stretch of the imagination. I love that her female characters have female friends (real honest-to-god help you hide the body friends) and I love how their inner voices (yes the dread first-person narrative) sound real and genuine to me. I could (and have) gone on and on. Suffice it to say, I have happily drunk this Koolaid!
pamelia
3. Torifl
BoxyFrown-LOL Im a addict. Her Burg series is good. More a rom suspense. Though in one book, the hero calls his swwete "buddy" all the time. Drove me insane.

pamelia- I agree. With each book of hers I read, I just get more and more involved. She is a combo of Crusie and Laurenston. I'm drinking the kool-aid with ya!
Jessica O'Brien
4. JLOBrien
So far, the only Kristen Ashley book I have read is Knight...and I loved his character, but as much as I enjoyed the story, it almost got to the point where I put it down. Knight's dialogue was almost to an unreadable point. I kept having to go back and re-read the conversations they were having.

But, as a character, he was my perfect hero. Tough, flawed, observant and sweet in his own way.

I don't plan on giving up on Kristen Ashley as an author (although I admit one of my huge pet peeves is editing). I think I may try the Mystery Man series next....I am hearing good things about it. And I didn't know about the Rocker Chick series until now..so thank you for the introduction!
pamelia
5. DebbieS
I guess I also drank the kool aid , 'cause I'm a BIG Kristen Ashley fan. I started out w/"Sweet Dreams", and have since worked through everything she's written. Even though many times her heroes start out being arses in the beginning, they've usually made me fall in love with their hot badass alpha selves by the end of the book in a major way. Knight was a bit different from her other books, so if you've just tried that one book and didn't care for it, give one of her other books a try. My favorites are Sweet Dreams, Lady Luck, Motorcycle Man, Mystery Man.
pamelia
6. serenamac
The Sexy hero from Rock Chick is Liam "Lee" Nightingale and not Leo. Please update your review.
pamelia
7. Kelly S
I agree about the KA characters. I wouldn't hang with any of them, BUT they're like a train wreck --u can't look away. As for the men--I agree no filter, vulgar and very Alpha-y.
pamelia
8. Debbie A
Sorry - love Kristen Ashley's books. I do rate them from 3-5 stars - only a few of them are 3's for me. Most are 4's and I have about 4 that are my total 5s. Maybe a matter of taste - but I am a fan.
pamelia
9. KellA
1,000 times better than 50 Shades. As opposed to other posters, I would TOTALLY hang with the Rock Chicks, because I am one (only thing is I don't drink, but I would if I hung out with these girls and the Hot Bunch) So waiting for Ally's story...
pamelia
10. Smeech
To anyone who watches the HBO tv show Game of Thrones, you have to read Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley. The hero Lahn, is based on Khal Drogo from season 1, the barbarian horselord leader who marries Daenarys the blonde dragon girl. He is muscular, savage, and over the top alpha. I loved it and it is my favorite Kristen Ashley book.
pamelia
11. TangelB
I know this post is late, but I can't help myself - I am totally a KA fan!! & I just discovered her this summer - from a review like this. I started everything with Sweet Dreams & I have to say I was through the roof with the way the hero treated the heroine at first meet. Then, by the end, I was hooked, on him, on her, on the series & the author. I like how most of our heroes know at first sight that she's the one. (I've been living that dream!) They fight, they make up, they make mistakes, they learn, and they're all surrounded by family & friends. I do have to make one complaint about KA's books - that I'm missing too much sleep staying up all night reading the latest addition to my library.
pamelia
12. Asheeka Branscomb
I love all of Kristen Ashley's books!!!! It is crack. If you have not read the Rock Chick series, you are really missing out on a good read, but anything she writes is great!!! Read and enjoy.
pamelia
13. Lt
Considering you were unable to get correct names for characters your review is questionable. As long as the books were, for you to not be able to know the main names were Indy NOT Andy as well as Liam not Leo, I wonder if you actually read the books or just read another review or summery.
pamelia
14. Torifl
@LT-I assure you, I have read every book Kristen Ashley has ever wrote more then once. My reviews are my own. I do not and have never plagiarized someone else's review. Sometimes mistakes are made in writing and editing; it's not an exact science.
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