Obsession = mood for the past 5 days.
“Kaleidoscope” is the sixth book in Ms. Ashley’s phenomenal and breath-gripping Colorado Mountain series. I have to admit: the first four were fucking amazing. There. I said it. The f word that I swore I was never gonna use in any writing. But it’s so appropriate – really. Ms. Ashley self-published the first four books, I think, that’s why the emotions exposed on them were so freakin’ raw. Each of those four was 600 pages long, at the very least. SIX HUNDRED PAGES. It’s crazy, but I LOVED them. If Ms. Ashley had an editor back then, the editor was either really smart to leave the books as raw and as long as they are, because Ms. Ashley pulled no punches there, or just really got too caught up in the stories herself that there was nothing to be edited out.
I’ll also have to confess that, yes, there were little quirks that annoyed me, personally, as a reader, in those first four books. For example, Nina just kept saying “Max…,” “Max…,” “Max…,” and Max would interrupt her with lengthy soliloquies in between Nina’s utterances of his name. Nina’s a lawyer. How could she not get a word in edgewise, whilst talking with her man? Another example: Faye’s annoyingly excessive use of “frak,” a substitute word for “fuck.” Frak this and frak that. She’s twenty-nine. She’s a geeky and quiet librarian. Her “cute” annoyances appear even when she’s supposedly angry, i.e., she threatened to send her dad into outer space with a fictional TV villain after her dad did something behind her back. Her being a geek, however, cannot substantiate her being this annoying. Why? Because I’m a (relatively) quiet geek and am very appreciative to English-language inventors whenever I get to use the word “fuck. So I say, fuck the frak.
Now, I question “Jagged,” the fifth book of the series. It was weird. Extremely weird. I hated it. I just didn’t have the heart to give Ms. Ashley a 1-star rating, since, in my mind, she was most likely browbeaten by editors from her publisher, Hachette, seeing as how Jagged is half the length of Ms. Ashley’s usual CM book. Plus, it had main characters whom I hated. Both hero and heroine were just stupid. They also appeared out of the blue – I can’t recall the heroine from Max & Nina’s book, and Graham Reece was strictly pulled straight out of thin air. Hence, I felt disconnected to these two. Then, I thought, maybe other readers thought her CM books were becoming too formulaic? Because “Jagged” did not seem like it’s part of the series, other than it being set in the fictional town of Gnaw Bone, Colorado.
“Kaleidoscope,” thankfully, brought me back to the Kristen Ashley zone, which, I have to say, is a very addictive zone. So addictive in fact, that I’ve just bought her Rock Chick series, due to the cameo appearances of Ally Nightingale and Ren Zano in “Breathe,” the fourth book in the series. Where Breathe made me cry buckets of tears, Kaleidoscope made me happy, because it brought back Chace and Faye, who had oodles and oodles of drama heaped on them. Kaleidoscope also gave Chace’s best friend, Jacob “Deck” Decker his own HEA. Furthermore, Kaleidoscope did not follow the CM formula, too. Deck’s heroine, Emmanuelle “Emme” Holmes, had already gone thru her fair share of scares and trauma. Thus, the bonus reason why I really liked this book: Emme physically pulled herself thru from the bad things that were done to her. Her relationship with Deck, however, helped her with the psychological and emotional trauma that she was still unconsciously dealing with. I so wanted to give Kaleidoscope a 5-star rating, but it just was too staccato for me. It’s like a Hachette Publishing editor got Ms. Ashley’s book, and literally took a hatchet into it and hacked away. There were plenty of sexy scenes, but they were all detached. There were many headings: “two hours later,” thirty six hours later,” “one year later,” – and then reversals. It was confusing and frustrating, making me think: this story is out of whack since the timeline and the tidbits were hacked up.
Nonetheless, I want to give Ms. Ashley a high-five for Kaleidoscope. It’s a fitting end for Deck and Emme. Now, please excuse me, I’m going back to finish “Bounty.”