Dream Maker doesn’t release until May 26, but I wanted to share this review early so you know what decision to make :)
I am not expert in Kristen Ashley’s books, but I have read over 30 of them. For me, Ashley is at her best when she doesn’t go too far off course from her typical formula (damsel in distress/women in peril + alphahole + over the top drama + interesting cast of characters + overly long descriptions and conversations).
I found that Dream Maker didn’t stray too far from the tried and true Kristen Ashley formula. Evan is a woman in peril when her terrible brother involves her in some stupid shit. Daniel “Mag” is introduced pretty early and serves the role of the alphahole. There is lots of over the top drama that is very reminiscent of almost every single Rock Chick and Chaos book and the situations in those books.
Some spoilery stuff ahead- proceed at your own risk.
This book is a spin off of Rock Chicks and Chaos so it shouldn’t be a surprise to know that so many of the characters/things from those series make appearances- including but not limited to- The Hot Bunch, Commandos, The Rock Chicks, Fortnum’s, cheese boards, interrupted sex, a few of the guys from Chaos (although not nearly enough Tack, I want all the Tack I can get). Honestly, it felt like being back with family. That is part of Ashley’s magic.
There were two things in this book that really stood out to me as being different. Evie/Evan (of course she has two names, that is the way with so many KA heroines) attempts to save herself. And Mag is one of the most emotionally fluent hero’s I think I have read from KA. Especially compared to the parent series (Rock Chicks & Chaos). Danny uses full sentences when he talks to Evie about things, even when he is upset. There is hardly any grunting (except during the sexy times). It was delightful.
There was scene where Evie gets mad at Danny and calls him by his preferred name “Mag” instead of “Danny” and he loses his shit in the way that only a KA hero can and demands that she only call him Danny because it makes him feel like the person he was before he became a commando. This is the stuff I love about KA. In the real world this would drive me bananas in a partner, but I love the way she does it.
There’s a subplot with Lottie from The Quiet Man and how she is trying to match up the rest of her friends with guys from Mo & Danny’s friend group. It felt like it got a little too much page time. Clearly Ashley was trying to set up the next three books. I think some readers will love this though.
The one thing that always confuses me in every KA book is the timeline. I think this is supposed to be a few years after Rock Chicks and Chaos, which would put most of those characters currently in their late 30-late 40s, if not even older. And yet Indy & Gwen want to hang out with Evie and Lottie and their girls (early 20s). That is a part that doesn’t work for me and I can’t think too much about it or else I will see too many things that don’t make sense.
Of course it wouldn’t be a KA book without some problematic elements. Evie is a bit of a Mary Sue, so much so that even her kidnapper falls for her (didn’t that happen with Gwen or Indy). Danny’s ex-girlfriend is a harpy shrew. Evie’s mom is the WORST, because there always has to be at least one mother in a KA book who is depicted as a bad mother. The book was too long (too many descriptions of things that do not matter) and could have definitely used some editing. But if the editor had to make a choice between making the book shorter or making Danny a hero that spoke in sentences, I am glad they went with the latter.
I think that if you enjoyed early KA books (Rock Chicks, Chaos, Colorado Mountain) and have been waiting for her to return to that type of setting and story telling I think you will enjoy this book. I think KA superfans will love this. If you’ve never read KA before, you can probably read this and enjoy it.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. It’s rich with found family. The storytelling was engaging with a couple of eye rolly moments. The most toned down hero I remember reading of hers, I might call him just an alpha and not an alphahole. Seeing all the characters from the previous books is like getting a hug from friends.
Release date: 5/26