Heaven and Hell by Kristen Ashley
Overall Rating: 4 (sXe)
Quick & Dirty summary: Kia Clementine likes her name and that’s about all that she likes of her life with her husband Cooter. Well, maybe that and her dog Memphis. When Kia finds herself delivered from the hell she’s known for seven years, she takes a three week trip through Europe. When she meets the famous Sam Cooper, a man she cyber stalked for years, she thinks all of her dreams have come true when he claims her as his woman. But Sam has demons he’s struggling with and Kia needs to decide if she’s happy living the dream having only part of Sam or if she needs all of him.
This is not an easy book to read in that the problems these two characters face are intense. Kia has a lot to overcome and while I admire Kristen Ashley’s portrayal of the aftereffects of Kia’s terrible marriage, I wish she had sent Kia to therapy. Kia really needed therapy, as did Sam. The fact that she didn’t write that into the story gives me mixed emotions. On the one hand, not everyone who goes through what they did goes to therapy and they live fine and happy lives. But on the other hand, I think novels help shape cultural norms and I want people to feel more comfortable accepting the fact that sometimes you need therapy to help work through traumatic events. There is nothing wrong with therapy and when life is as extreme as is depicted in this novel, it seems almost necessary.
Alternately, around three quarters of the way through the novel Sam tells Kia “You got one life, never use it just to breathe,” and that is a really profound statement. This can be taken a couple of ways, but within the context of the novel, Sam’s telling Kia that you shouldn’t live your life just existing; that life is a gift and it needs to be enjoyed. Granted he’s trying to get her to have sex with him while his mom is visiting, but it’s a good reminder that to find pieces of heaven here on earth we need to take chances and be active to make good things happen. The implication is that luck may get you a to a certain point in life, such as Kia and Sam meeting, but in order to get the most out of life, you’ve got to be willing to work for it. This is a pretty substantial life lesson in the midst of this romance novel and it’s one of the things I love about Ashley novels. The book isn’t only there to make you feel good, but to remind you that in order to reach heaven you’ve got to be willing to fly.
Although this is a standalone novel, I wonder if more books will come that feature some of the characters. The supporting cast is pretty well developed, but there is enough closure in the side stories that follow-up novels are not necessary. As usual, the epilogue is fantastic! No one does epilogues as well as Kristen Ashley and this one is awesome. The ending seems consistent with the character development and for those who fall in love with these characters, the pay off is huge.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle $3.99)
Yes. Most of Kristen Ashley’s novels are $3.99 and she never skimps on the words, the plot line or the character development, not to mention sex scenes, so really there is no reason not to buy this book. If you’re not a big fan of alpha males, then you may not like this one, but that’s pretty much all of Ashley’s heroes.
Something else you might enjoy:
If you like the idea of small town girl meets and dates famous athlete, then you might enjoy Before We Kiss or Yours For Christmas by Susan Mallery. They are part of the Fool’s Gold series, which I have recommended before, but they are really sweet novels about former pro football players falling in love with small town girls. I especially liked Yours for Christmas even though it’s the shorter of the two novels, because the heroine is a single mother. It also seems appropriate with the holiday season approaching.