Once again reading has not been great for me lately. I some life things happening, not bad things, just different things it has been taking up a lot of space in my head. Reading hasn’t been the escape that I need it to be. I hope that things will change soon.
Big Stick by Kelly Jamieson– I actually read this last week but forgot that I read it. I think that says something about it. There’s only so many hockey books a person can read before they all blend together.
This book was actually pretty decent though. The heroine is a single mom by choice and she owns a sex toy company. The hero plays hockey is kind of a jerk. She needs a place to stay and ends up staying in the hero’s guest house. So it is kind of forced proximity when Jodie and Nick have to spend time together.
Even though this is a hockey book and I forgot I read it, once it popped back in my brain I remembered that Jamieson does a good job at making things just a little different or unusual. For example, the hero isn’t on the first line in hockey. He is part of the second squad. So he’s not a starter on the team. He is a solid player, but he isn’t the star. I like that. Not every professional athlete is “THE STAR” so this was refreshing. Jamieson frequently deals with heavier topics and in this book touched on mental illness and suicide. So if those are things that don’t work for you, this book is not for you. This was an enjoyable read and I recommend it for someone who enjoys hockey romance and looking for a quick read.
Luci & Hap (Loose Ends) by Kristen Ashley– I read Heaven & Hell in 2012 and I absolutely loved the side love story between Lcui and Hap. Luci’s husband Travis died and Hap has loved her from afar for several years. As soon as I finished Heaven and Hell I knew I needed them to get a HEA. I have stalked KA on all mediums waiting for this story. When I saw that KA was FINALLY writing a story for them, I was overjoyed, but also super conflicted about it. I am a very different reader than I was 6 years ago. Additionally, I have struggled with Ashley’s most recent works. Her older self pubbed books worked really well for me back in the day. I haven’t been able to feel the same about her books in a while. But I HAD to read this story. I know I would probably be let down. And I was.
Here are the things I did not like in this book:
- Hap’s mom was a worthless loser (I hate that KA always has at least one terrible women in her books. And it helps shine the light on the heroine being amazing.)
- Sometimes KA tries too hard to incorporate too many things. This story is part of an anthology where she ties up “loose ends.” So in Hap and Luci’s story, we get a recap of the relationship between Henry and Josie (from The Will). Wait, what? It’s one thing to have crossover when a security specialist is needed. It’s another things to randomly drop in characters from unrelated worlds. It felt weird and forced.
- There is some weird time hop stuff happening. Heaven & Hell was pubbed in 2011. There are references to flip phones in the book. Luci and Hap’s story began in that book. This story picks up a few months after H & H ended. Except it is current time as evidenced by the fact that Luci has an Alexa in her home. And when Henry Gagnon is forced into the story, he and Josie have just broken up. The Will was pubbed in 2014. It felt weird and things like this pull me out of a story.
- There was some low key “Sneaky Jesus” in this book. What is sneaky Jesus you ask? Well it is a term I use when an author sneaks in religion/faith in to a book, especially in the redemption arc of a character who has until that point not shown a religious side. In this story, Hap says that Luci is his religion. That is how he explains his love for her. And then he talks about how he was brought up in the church and some other stuff. But it never comes up again. They don’t go to church. He doesn’t show any other faith-based traits. Just the one convo and then it’s gone. That is sneaky Jesus. I don’t mind reading about characters who have a faith and practicing the faith or even questioning it, but it should fit the rest of the story.
Mostly though I was disappointed in their story. It felt like it was lacking in depth. She spent too much time trying to weave in things like the weird connection to Josie and not enough time on the HEA between Luci and Hap. They get together over a weekend and then never separate, as is pretty typical for a KA couple. But I wanted more. I wanted more exploration of their feelings. I wanted it to be drawn out. I wanted it to reflect the 6 years I had to wait for this story.
Long story short, please someone remind me to stop reading new books/stories by Kristen Ashley. I think the time has come that she no longer works for me as a reader. I have to accept the fact that the things I used to be able to ignore and overlook are now the things I absolutely hate about her books.