Donna Reads: Law Man (Dream Man #3) by Kristen Ashley

Mara Hanover is a shy, hardworking girl, born on the other side of the tracks. Her family is trailer trash, and she left home at a young age and worked hard to put her rough beginnings behind her. Mara heard all of her childhood that she was worthless and would never amount to much. Her self worth and self esteem are very low. Police detective Mitch Lawson is Mara’s neighbor and she has secretly been in love with him for years. Mitch, according to Mara, is way out of her league. Mara sees herself as a 2.5 and Mitch as a 10.5. When Mara gets a phone call from a store about her nine year old cousin, Billy and his six year old sister, Billie, she rushes out to pick up the kids she loves. She literally runs into Mitch on her way, and he talks her into letting him drive her there. The kids’ father, Mara’s drug-addicted, drug-dealing cousin, Bill is bad news.

I will freely admit I’ve had issues with Kristen Ashley’s heroines in the past. Too many of them are cardboard cut-out Lucille Ball type characters – wacky and obnoxious. Mara is not obnoxious. Mara is sweet and shy. She’s retreated so far inside her own head that Mitch struggles to find the real Mara. Mitch has been secretly into Mara for years, too, and she has all kinds of trouble accepting that.

The side characters in this book were great. Mara’s boss, her coworker, her best friend at home, and her neighbors all thought Mara was wonderful. When Mitch finds out she ranks people in her head and puts them all into zones, he’s baffled with that. He worked so hard the first half of the story to break her out of the protective and imaginary cocoon she’d wrapped herself in. It was sweet. Mitch forced her to live in the real world outside of Mara world.

Mara’s young nephew and niece were so cute and sweet. Mara ends up fighting to get custody. There’s action and excitement because Bill has entangled himself with some very bad people. Mara’s mother and aunt show up to create havoc.

I really liked this one and recommend it.

Donna Reads: Wild Man (Dream Man #2) by Kristen Ashley

Tess O’Hara owns a bakery. She’s a 43 year old survivor of a very bad, abusive marriage. The story opens with her making love for the first time with her 45 year old boyfriend. Jake is a bit of a mystery. After he leaves, Tess falls asleep. Shortly after, her house is swarmed by police, and she’s taken in for questioning. The questioning has to do with her drug dealing, douchebag ex-husband. The police don’t believe she isn’t part of his newest illegal activities because her name is on joint bank accounts. She finally breaks down at the station and explains why she’d have nothing to do with her ex. He’d raped her. When she says that, she hears a loud crash outside the interrogation room. The police finally let her go. On the way out of the station, she sees Jake in one of the offices and he’s wearing a badge. Her mysterious boyfriend isn’t named Jake. His name is Brock Lucas, and he’s a cop.

I liked this book and its heroine a LOT better than I’ve like KA’s heroines in the previous book in this series and in the Rock Chick series books I’ve read so far. Tess isn’t ditzy or obnoxious. Tess is sugar sweet, but she’s tough. I liked that Tess and Brock were both older. Once they got past the initial confusion of his having been undercover investigating her, and he confessed to having actual feelings for her, their dedication to one another never wavered. I liked that a lot.

The angst and danger in this story came from both of their exes and some from his family and his past. The supporting cast of friends and family were great. KA focused almost exclusively on his family and very little on Tess’s. I loved that Tess didn’t play games. She never lied. She found good in almost everyone. Brock was strong and supportive and a great family man. I loved that he was 100% Tess’s man.