Fire Inside

ARC Review of Fire Inside (Chaos #2) by Kristen Ashley

Fire Inside

Purchase on Amazon: Fire Inside: A Chaos Novel

Fire Inside (Chaos # 2) by Kristen Ashley

Book Description

Lanie Heron isn’t looking for love—no surprise, considering her last serious relationship nearly got her killed. So when Lanie propositions Hop Kincaid, all she wants is one wild night with the hot-as-hell biker who patrols with the Chaos Motorcycle Club…

For Hop, Lanie has always been untouchable. She’s too polished and too classy for his tastes. But when she gives Hop the once-over with her bedroom eyes and offers him a night in paradise, he can’t say no. And he doesn’t regret it when he finds that Lanie is the best thing that’s ever happened to him—in or out of bed. Now the trick will be to convince her of that.

*****

Book Review

I’ve been riding on motorcycles all my life. In 2003, I decided to get off the back and ride my own. For me, the exhilaration and freedom of riding without restraint on the open highway is a way to escape the tedium that daily life inevitably brings.  So, when I find novels that involve motorcycles, they immediately jump to my attention.

My friends on Goodreads have recommended that I read Motorcycle Man, from Ashley’s Dream Man series, but I never had the chance. When the Chaos series was introduced, starting with Own the Wind, I decided to jump in with this series.  I wish now that I had read Motorcycle Man first, but I have discovered that Ashley provides the necessary exposition to help you follow the story line no matter what book you choose first. I could just as easily have started with this second book, Fire Inside without having read Own the Wind.  By reading the books in order, however, I think readers will find greater satisfaction with the ongoing plot and character development over the course of the series.

Ashley immerses you into the fascinating, intricate world of the fictitious Chaos Motorcycle Club (CMC) biker gang. While I attend bike rallies and socialize with other riders, in no way do I fit into this world. I’m more like the guys in the movie Wild Hogs who leave behind Life’s stress to take a road trip.

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 photo tumblr_mc3qlwCZyX1qdk4doo3_r1_250nicetattoo_zpsd64c03c7.gifHowever, for the CMC, riding motorcycles is more than a passion; it is a way of life.  Gang members work, socialize, and even live together at a compound that provides living and recreational areas behind a bike garage and shop.

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When reading Own the Wind, I found it a bit shocking and initially difficult to get over the pervading gang members’ sexist attitudes and their need to dominate their women.  There is no room for political correctness in this environment. Women who visit the club and socialize with the members are called “bitches,” while a woman who gains the status of significant other becomes “an old lady.” The language is at times vulgar, and the men don’t put much stock in long, drawn out conversations. They pack as much meaning in as few words as possible. All of these aspects combine to give Ashley a distinctive writing voice and style which carries over into Fire Inside.

This story centers on the evolving and unlikely romance between the classy Lanie Heron and Chaos member Hopper “Hop” Kinkaid.  Based on stereotypes, Lanie certainly wouldn’t seem like the type to hang out with bikers, but, because her best friend is married to the Chaos’s leader, Lanie is accepted as Chaos family.  Lanie has suffered physical and emotional trauma from her past relationship, where her fiancé died because of his involvement with the Russian mob. It’s been years since she’s been involved with anyone, since she is unwilling to take the risk of having her heart crushed like before.

One night out of loneliness, Lanie boldly propositions Hop for a night of sex guaranteed with no strings and no further expectations. She’s been attracted to Hopper for years, even though she has never once acted on it…until now.  Although Hop is secretly pleased that Lanie is interested in him, he doesn’t want to deal with any complications or conflicts that may ensue if they do this. When Lanie walks off telling Hop she’ll be waiting in his room for him for fifteen minutes in case he changes his mind, well that just seals the deal for Hop.  He can’t resist the temptation of the beautiful, elegant Lanie Heron, who chose him.

For Hop, one night with Lanie is not enough. When the night is over and she leaves, he refuses to accept that one night is all they will have, and he tracks her down at home to continue their sexual escapades.  Although the sexual chemistry between is comparable to exploding fireworks, they both know their relationship is more than just physical.  Hop sees Lanie as a sophisticated, refined “lady,” and that is the term of endearment he uses for her throughout the book. He tells her he’s never had anyone with her class and beauty, and he’s not willing to let her go.

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Throughout the story, even though Hop is at times domineering toward Lanie, he is also gentle and respectful to her. Hop is more than a one dimensional, stereotypical biker guy, and Lanie is drawn to Hop’s gorgeousness, charm, and charisma.

Lanie lives in guilt, fear, and loneliness, plagued by the nightmares of her past. She doesn’t want to get involved with Hop because she fears his dangerous lifestyle will only cause more pain and heartache for her.  Although she tells Hop to leave her alone, that she has nothing to offer him, he still keeps a close watch on her, knowing that she needs someone there for her. Circumstances keep drawing them together, forging a stronger bond between the two.

I love how much Hop cares about Lanie, and as much as she tries to resist him, he just keeps moving forward, knocking down those imaginary steel walls that have enveloped her heart.

 He is emotionally strong enough to not be deterred by her repeated rejections, and to softly beg her to take a chance on him. He promises he will help her fight those “monsters” that keep holding her back from fully living.

Most of the book is about the painful, yet so fulfilling process of falling love. Much of the conflict is relationship-based, with family drama, miscommunication, and Club business creating obstacles for Hop and Lanie.  Throughout the book, my favorite parts occurred when both Hop and Lanie exposed their vulnerabilities and admitted painful truths to hold on to what they have together.

To all you dedicated Kristen Ashley fans, let me just state, now I get what all the fuss is about!

Live Free Ride Free

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating

Good-Read-icon

*****

About the Author (From Goodreads Profile)

Author KA

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn’t taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Author Contacts

Official Website | Goodreads Profile | Twitter | Facebook

*****

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Start the  Chaos Series Now!

Click on the Book Cover to visit Amazon.

OwntheWindbookcover

*****

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Music to Complement Fire Inside

Songs Referenced in the book: (Credit to Kristen Ashley)

Bob Seger- “We’ve Got Tonight”

Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – “You’ll Accomp’ny Me”

Review of Taking Shots (Assassins #1) by Toni Aleo

Book Cover

Purchase on Amazon:  Taking Shots: The Assassins Series (Ebook) /Taking Shots: The Assassins Series  (book)

Ebook is .99 on Amazon for a limited time!

Taking Shots (Assassins #1) by Toni Aleo

Book Description

Elli Fisher has never thought she was good enough, let it be her job, her weight, her love life, nothing. That is until she meets Shea Adler. After doing a promotional shoot for the NHL team, the Assassins, she meets the hunky hockey player who shoots a puck, shattering her world.

Shea Adler was tired of the life he was living outside of the rink. The girls, the money blowing, the drinking, everything had to stop and it all did when he met Eleanor Fisher. He had never met anyone like her. She was feisty, witty, shy, and simply gorgeous. When he laid eyes on her, it was as if he was taking the hardest hit of his life into the boards, and he had to have her. Elli is a little skeptical of Shea, but he knows that they were meant to be together, and he needed her in his life.

Can Elli throw her insecurities out the window and love Shea with everything inside of her, or will she let a past relationship, and her family ruin any chance of her being happy.

*****

Book Review

Taking Shots is the first book in Toni Aleo’s Assassins series, where each book focuses on a hunky hockey player for the Nashville Assassins and the woman he comes to love.  If you like a romance book that slowly depicts a couple’s developing relationship, as they each battle their insecurities, then you will enjoy this book, even if hockey isn’t one of your favorite sports.

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Eleanor Fisher, called Ellie, is a professional photographer as well as a die-hard Assassins’ fan.  She attends every game, has awesome seats to watch the home games, and is most likely team captain Shea Adler’s most dedicated fan.  When she gets a chance to be the official photographer for the Assassins team, she jumps at the opportunity to be around the players of a sport she loves.  On her first day taking pictures of the team members, she finds herself blushing as she considers how gorgeous Shea is when she is photographing him.   When he flirts with her, she is too shocked to even reply.

In her eyes, someone like Shea Adler could never be interested in her.  First of all, Ellie has low self-esteem because of her family and a past relationship. Readers are given bits and pieces about her family and past but the full story isn’t revealed all at once; instead it is parceled out over the course of the story to keep the reader’s interest.

Secondly, Ellie has major issues with her body image that I found surprising and saddening.  When she was in her teens, she was a size two.  Later, she developed hypothyroidism and gained a lot of weight. Although she has lost some of the weight, she isn’t happy that she is now a size ten and, in her opinion, still overweight. So being a size 10 means you’re fat? I think not.
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There is nothing wrong with being a size 10, but I think, today, young women feel so much pressure to be “stick thin.”  Unfortunately, Ellie places too much importance on a person’s physical attributes in the beginning of the story, but, her attitude does change as her character begins to grow.

Shea is a wonderfully, caring, honest man who doesn’t understand why Ellie sees herself in such a negative way. Whenever he can, he always compliments her and works to boost her self-esteem.  He also doesn’t understand her cautiousness about taking their relationship beyond just kisses and dates.  During a heavy make out session, Ellie pulls back, terrified to allow Shea to see her body, thinking he will be disgusted by the sight. This hesitation about letting Shea close to her occurs repeatedly, and her inability to accept the fact he thinks she’s beautiful eventually began to annoy me.

However, Shea is patient with her.  Because of the connection he has with Ellie, he is willing to take things slowly.  They spend a lot of time conversing, where Shea openly share details and stories about his life and his family. Unfortunately, Ellie doesn’t share anything about her family and tries to avoid discussing her past.  When her parents learn that Ellie is seeing Shea Adler, they are persistent in having the couple over for dinner.  Ellie does not like being around her family and doesn’t want to expose Shea to them either.  Over dinner it becomes clearer to Shea one of the reasons for Ellie’s insecurities. Everyone in her family, with the exception of her father, seems to derive pleasure in criticizing Ellie, especially her mother.

What makes the entire experience even more disastrous is that almost everything Ellie has avoided sharing with Shea is revealed by family members. Not only is Ellie embarrassed and horrified, but Shea is absolutely shocked by what he learns about Ellie’s past, and he realizes how much about herself she has kept hidden.
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By the end of the dinner, he is angry and frustrated with Ellie, as I think anyone would by this point. However, what confuses me is why Ellie agreed to bring Shea to dinner, knowing this could happen.

These revelations, however, help Shea to gain insight about what has made Ellie so afraid of getting close to someone.  Furthermore, this scene was an integral part of the book because it enables Ellie to begin lowering the barriers she has erected to protect herself from getting hurt. Now that Shea knows more of the truth and still wants her in his life, Ellie decides it’s time to give herself fully to him.

As their relationship deepens, Shea finds he has fallen in love with Ellie. Even though he gathers the courage to tell her how much he loves her, he is disappointed that she doesn’t say it back.  What amazes me about Shea is his level of commitment to Ellie. He’s willing to wait for her to fall in love with him. I keep wondering what’s really holding her back. So a previous relationship didn’t work out? Why should that deter her from finding happiness with someone else?  Only when a drunken Ellie finally tells Shea the details about her last relationship can I finally understand her caution and fears. I wish I had learned this information earlier because it would have helped me to have more patience with Ellie.

Shea is one of the most heart-melting heroes I have encountered. The strength of his love for Ellie makes him a perfect match for her as she deals with those pesky inner demons that whisper to her she’s not worthy of Shea. It is his loving commitment to her that helps her grow and flourish.

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However, the progress to happily-ever-after is halted when a major incident occurs that shatters Ellie’s trust in Shea.  I became frustrated with Ellie again because she just runs away instead of listening to Shea’s explanation.  So the angst continues in the midst of heartbreak.  Other readers may think her reaction was justified, but I think by this point in the story, Ellie should have been bold enough confront the issue and deal with it after ascertaining all of the  facts. Instead she runs away and leaves the entire issue unresolved until the end of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I am certainly glad to have had the opportunity to read a story like this that really depicts the intricacies of making a relationship succeed.  On the other hand, at times, I felt the pacing was too slow, and the story was dragged out longer than it needed to be. I also found there to be entirely too much “giggling” over the course of the plot.  There is nothing wrong with the use of giggle, but I found this descriptor overused to the point that it became an annoyance for me.

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I think fans of contemporary and New Adult romances will find this to be an enjoyable read. I am certainly willing to give the next book in the series a try.

I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing- Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating

Good-Read-icon

*****

Learn More about the Assassin Series by watching this Series Trailer

*****

About the Author (From Goodreads Profile page)

My name is Toni Aleo!

I am a wife, mother, and hopeless romantic. I have been told I have anger issues, but I think it’s cause of my intense love for hockey! I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play! When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughters dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, and reading the latest romance novel. I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, and did I mention I love hockey? I am currently working on Empty Net, and I hope to have it out by November! I hope to hear from you on here, my Facebook, or my twitter! Thank you so much!

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Music to Complement the Book

These songs were referenced in Taking Shots (credit goes to Toni Aleo)

 

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