Review: Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley

18038459Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain, #6) by Kristen Ashley
Romance Contemporary
E book
February 4, 2014
Forever

Reviewed by Tori

Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at “hello.” His relationship with Emme’s best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that’s ever happened to her?

It isn’t easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she’s a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme’s always been the one; she excites Deck’s body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme’s past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she’ll let him . . . (Goodreads)

Kaleidoscope is the sixth book in Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. We first met Jacob Decker (Deck) in Breathe. Best friends with Chase Keaton, Deck helps Chase get himself out of the hole he dug for himself throughout the series and win the girl of his dreams. Our heroine, Emmanuelle (Emme) Holmes is a new face to the series. We learn that Deck used to date Emme’s best friend, Elsbeth. Elsbeth dumped Deck and Deck in essence, dumped Emme.  Circumstances had all three (Deck, Emme, and Elsbeth) leaving Gnaw Bone and going their separate ways until they meet up again. Deck is surprised by the changes in Emme. No longer overweight and shy, Emme is a knockout who knows her own worth. She is also under investigation because of her boyfriend’s supposed illegal activities. Deck is hired by the police department and “deputized.” He offers to check out Emme, hoping to clear her and from there, he wiggles his way back into her life. As Deck and Emme spend time together, Deck realizes that he has always loved Emme and this time, he’ll do everything possible to keep her in his life.

Kaleidoscope felt like a Disney scrubbed version of a past Ashley book. An ugly duckling turns to swan trope, I should have been in seventh heaven as that is a favorite trope of mine but I wasn’t. Ever since Ashley was picked up by a traditional publisher, I have felt her books have only suffered. The tone, the character development, the conflicts and plot lines have all been whittled down to the point where I no longer hear her voice. The fine sometimes mundane details that made Ashley’s stories so irresistible to me aren’t there anymore.  She has gone, for me, from a “must read” to a “I’ll get to it when I can” read. And that saddens me.  Her characters no longer have a strong sense of self and lose their individualism once they meet and hook up. I first saw this developing in Own The Wind and it’s only gotten worse. No longer do we see them hanging out with friends and just talking. No over the top drama. No silly drunk scenes or raunchy advice. It’s been sanitized to the point where it’s just another romantic contemporary among thousands. Kaleidoscope was uncomfortable to read. It’s like it was sliced and diced and what was allowed to stay no longer fits quite right.

I was also dismayed to get a story about Deck. I liked him in Breathe but he wasn’t built up to the point where I needed his story right now. I’m still waiting on other characters who I have some serious investment in; Frankie and Bennie from the Burg and Hap and Luci from Heaven and Hell. I hear Ashley is starting a new series. While I think that is wonderful, I’m beginning to feel like a diner who is only allowed to eat a portion of a fantastic meal before it’s taken away and I’m presented with a new course to try.

On the whole, Emme and Deck were okay as individuals and as a couple but they lacked a quintessential element of spark and/or enticement to make them the celebrated Ashley couple readers have come to expect. She’s a giggly yes woman and he’s the definitive alpha male. I did like he wasn’t as rigid as some of the other males we’re encountered in her books. Though the constant harping on his geniusness got old after a while. Yes, he’s super smart, we get it.  Their chemistry didn’t feel natural. It was written in and it showed. The conflict built slowly with some subplots tossed in to heighten the tension but even those fell flat. Any information we received concerning the multiple plot lines were presented in an unaffected manner. In fact, some scenes (when he sneaks into her bedroom to snoop) made me roll my eyes at the sheer unbelievability.

I did enjoy seeing some old familiar faces. Perhaps if they had interacted more with the couple one on one, I would have gotten a better connection and feel for the main characters and the story. As it was, I found my attention wandering throughout the entire book.

The ending failed in my opinion. Everything clears up with minimum fuss as has been the norm for the last couple of books. None of the usual over the top drama or in your face scenes that Ashley normally resolves her conflicts with. I reached the end feeling unfulfilled and rather ambivalent.

Though it pains me to do so, I can’t recommend this book with my usual enthusiasm. I know what Ashley is capable of and this doesn’t even begin to showcase her talent.

Rating: D

Previous Kristen Ashley Reviews

Recent Reviews:
Cocktails and books
Fresh Fiction
Smut and Spitfire Books

Goodreads I Author Site I Series List

Amazon I Barnes & Noble

Comments

  1. says

    Does this book have the same kind of dialogue concerns that have bothered me in the past few books? ie: does everyone sound exactly the same when they talk?

    • says

      Yes. The characterization & dialogue is so mainstream now. Non of the “spark” that made her previous heroes & heroine so engaging.

  2. Annika says

    Oh no, sucks to hear this! I’ve been so disappointed with her latest books, Jagged even was a DNF for me! I had high hopes for this one..*sigh*

    I agree with you about her books since getting picked up by a publisher, the crack factor is missing these days :(

      • Annika says

        Yeah, I never thought it would happen! I’m hoping I will be able to read AND finish it at some later date :)
        I really miss being super excited every single time she released a new book, staying awake all night reading, crying, laughing and feeling all the feelings..not caring at all about how exhausted I would be the next day.

  3. says

    Bummer. Colorado Mountain is my favorite series and I love Ashley’s writing tics. I’m guessing there’s also no house floor plans, outfit descriptions or trademark penultimate chapter kidnapping. *sigh* I’ll still buy it, but with much sadness.

  4. Ann F. says

    I read her previous books thinking, ‘These books are so good and if she just got a real editor they would be Great!’. But I’ve been disappointed lately too. I feel like they’ve edited the magic away. :(

  5. says

    I’m still in the beggining of this one, so I cannot say yet If I’m going to like it or not, but I agree with you. Her published books lacks all the spark we learned to love in her stories and I’m glad to see that her self-pub books was not affected so much by it, even though RC Revolution was not so good, Broken Dove was awesome!
    Some time ago I saw a comment of hers on Facebook where she said to a reader that she prefers her self-pubs over the published ones because she has more freedom to write. I do hope she has the chance to read your review, it express a lot of her readers feelings right now.

  6. Angela says

    This is exactly how I’ve felt about the last several of her books, especially Jagged.

    I used to crack open a KA as soon as it appeared on my Kindle, now I just get to it when I get to it. That makes me sad.

  7. Laura B says

    I wouldn’t grade this as harshly… In many ways it’s a better story than Jagged; however, it lacked intensity. Part of it is that Deck doesn’t really f-up. He’s too perfect while she’s a red hot mess in many ways. I never had the moment where my eyes sting. Essentially I felt somewhat detached(kinda like Emme really).

    It did have some great moments (esp. in the beginning), and I liked being in Deck’s head for long chapters. I almost wish she’d gone in the direction of _Golden Trail_ and told the story entirely from the hero’s POV. I felt that KA kind of recycled elements from _Golden Trail_ (heroine having deep emotional issues from a childhood trauma never adequately addressed).

  8. Janet W says

    I don’t think I’ll ever be at the can’t finish/aren’t looking forward to a new Kristen Ashley but she’s toying with my emotions. I’m feeling like everything I love is muted. Does that make sense? And addict to HGTV that I am I both didn’t believe for a New York minute that the heroine was managing the costs of a mansion all by her lonesome and I also wanted way more deets! House porn. Seriously, if we can’t get lurv porn, I’ll take it in clothes and decorating. This makes me worried for the juicy I hate you and I hate (mostly) your Italian family book that’s coming soon. I liked the last Rock Chick book ok. But just ok and I’m looking for crackalicious.

  9. Tabs says

    I love that you mentioned the constant harping on his geniusness. I referred to him as “Smarty McSmartpants” in a review of this because dude… that got ridiculous.

  10. pamelia says

    Well I read this last night and really loved it. I loved the quiet conflict of it and I really felt for Emme. I got all choked up a few times and there were some laugh out loud moments. I don’t think it’s a top tier Ashley book, but then again I wasn’t in love with Breathe the first time I read it either, but now it’s one of my favorites.
    Her best books are so freaking awesome that I think her good and really good ones get the short end of the stick since we all seem to grade her in comparison to her other books rather than any other authors.
    Anyway I would recommend Kaleidoscope since it really got to me on the Feelz and I could not go to sleep without finishing it. It’s not as brash and bold as some of her other books, but it worked for me.

  11. Dawn says

    Tori, you summed it up for me. I started reading this one last night, and am getting more and more disappointed in KA for her recent books. My reasons are the same as yours. Thanks for a (sadly) appropriate review.

  12. says

    I am sorry you are disappointed by it. For your sake I hope so goes back to selfpublishing her books, even if they are not well edited. But editing the magic and originality out of a book, that sucks big time.

  13. Elle says

    I started reading this and half way through, I couldn’t really be bothered to finish. I will definitely continue but like you said, since the publishing deal, I just don’t get that urge to put everything else on hold so I can read this Kristen Ashley. I’m really disappointed that getting a proper editor seems to have had the opposite effect. Instead of editing away the mistakes and I’ve-suddenly-forgotten-how-to-speak-proper-English dialogue, it’s edited away the parts which made Kristen Ashley so addictive.

  14. Alesa says

    I have not downloaded this yet. I thought Jagged was so rubbish – I couldn’t see the point of it at all and the characters were just irritating (and don’t get me started on calling him Ham). I didn’t like Own the Wind but thought Fire Inside was a definite step up. (Hop and his singing You’ll Accomp’ny Me was a major swoon). When I first discovered KA I couldn’t get enough and went on a major glom and then downloaded all the new ones as soon as they hit Amazon. Unfortunately I, like you, have been disappointed with the last few …:( .

    And a new series that looks like a Nora Roberts trilogy instead of Frankie and Benny – really??!!

    Come on KA, get back to your broody alphas and your sparky heroines – and a decent plot-line. Please!!!!

  15. says

    Excellent way of telling, and nice piece of writing to get facts concerning my presentation subject matter,
    which i am going to convey in academy.

  16. says

    Hi! I realize this is somewhat off-topic but I needed to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website such as
    yours take a large amount of work? I am completely new to writing a blog however I do write in my diary every day.
    I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Thankyou!

  17. says

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your
    blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me
    to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create
    your theme? Great work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.