Launch Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway: Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley

Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at "hello." His relationship with Emme's best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that's ever happened to her?

It isn't easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she's a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme's always been the one; she excites Deck's body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme's past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she'll let him . . .

When Emme was 12 years old she was kidnapped for 3 days. The man didn’t harm her and then took her to the police station himself and turned himself in. After that Emme seemed incredibly well adjusted…but distant.

Emme met Jacob when he was dating her best friend 9 years earlier. They had gotten along incredibly well then and loved being around each other. When Elsbeth broke it off with Jacob, Emme broke it off with Elsbeth because of her reasons for dumping Jacob.

Now Jacob is in Gnaw Bone to work a case and Emme runs into him on the street. He recognizes the voice but she’s changed physically since then. Jacob had missed Emme over the past 9 years and was pleased they were reconnecting. When Jacob finds out that Emme is under suspicion of involvement in a string of robberies because of her boyfriend, Jacob is pissed. He knows she’s not involved and sets out immediately to clear her name.

When Emme and Jacob have dinner that night Jacob realizes that this woman is the one for him. He was so blinded by Elsbeth way back when that he couldn’t see what was right in front of him. He tells Emme straight out that she’s his and Emme…doesn’t disagree.

Emme and Jacob start a relationship but they have issues. Emme can only get so deep into a relationship before she disconnects and pulls away. Jacob knows that this has to do with her kidnapping but he can’t seem to break through. Emme knows that there’s something wrong with her but she can’t seem to figure out how to fix it either. Jacob determines that he will solve the puzzle in order for them to be happy.

While I liked Kaleidoscope – especially the parts about the actual Kaleidoscope in the book as they were incredibly touching – I kind of felt like I was reading about the same hero as in most of Ashley’s other books. Yes, the story is different and really pretty good – especially with Emme’s story which was definitely different as the heroine wasn’t kidnapped or shot at during the story which was a nice change – but the hero was kind of the same as I’ve read in previous books. He big, he’s handsome, he’s possessive, he drops his “g's” like nobody’s business…and while that’s all nice there’s just not much hero variety. Jacob could be very sweet like all of Ashley's heroes and that's always nice to read.

Now that being said the story of Emme’s issues with disconnecting was pretty serious. I liked the way that Ashley had Jacob dealing with it all and I loved that not everything was wrapped up nice and pat at the end. The couple got their HEA and you could tell they would work in the long run but not everything was completely wrapped up with a big ole red bow on it and I appreciated that a great deal. Ashley didn’t try to sell the fact that Emme went to a couple of therapy sessions and she’s all better. These things take time and Ashley acknowledged that – awesome.

There were definitely good parts of the book for me as well as those I didn’t care for all that much. It wasn’t necessarily a fast paced book and that did hurt it some, imho. Overall, however, I liked the story and that made up for a lot.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5


I dropped my leg so I was sitting cross-legged in the couch and leaned into him. “Honey, you remember everything so I don’t have to remind you I haven’t seen you in nine years. I dig it that we reconnected and I love having you back.” I again threw an arm out, this time toward him and back to me. “This is great. You and me spending time together, shooting the breeze. I missed that. And I get it that friends make gestures, but this is too much.”

His eyes warmed during this speech and he took his arms from the couch, bent his legs, leaned into them, and me, and put his elbows to his knees, never releasing my eyes.

“Baby, I want you warm and liquid. The first bein’ physically, the second bein’ financially. You stop payin’ so much for heat, you’ll have more money for the rest of the shit you gotta do.”

This made sense.
But he’d again called me “baby.”
And I needed to address that.
So I asked, “What is that?”
His head cocked and his eyebrows drew together. “What’s what?”
I drew in breath and on the exhale, stated, “You calling me baby.” Then I went on quickly, “Not that I don’t like it. It’s sweet. It’s just not…” I hesitated, “us.”
Something happened to his eyes, his face, his whole big body and that something made me brace at the same time it made my heartbeat escalate.
“You know what it is,” he said softly.
I didn’t.
“I don’t,” I shared.
His eyes stayed locked to mine and I knew him relatively well, or I used to. But even if we hadn’t been separated for years, I still would not have been forewarned to the fact he was about to blow my mind.
“Before, we had Elsbeth between us. My head was fucked about that, about her, and it took almost a decade to get it unfucked. Lookin’ back, havin’ you back, I now know and I reckon you know, that’s the way it was. She was between us. She knew it too. And she didn’t like it. But it didn’t matter. My head was fucked so I couldn’t see clear of her and not doin’ that, I didn’t see you.”
I knew my lips had parted. I also knew my eyes got big. And last, I had no clue what to say.
So I said nothing.
“Now she isn’t between us,” he finished.
It was then I knew what the “baby” business was.
I just had no idea how to react to it because I never considered it. He was beautiful. He was kind. He was smart. He was funny and interesting and affectionate.
But he was my best friend’s boyfriend.
That didn’t mean my mind didn’t go there in vague ways, not stupid enough to wish for something I could never have, just silently covetous of what Elsbeth had. And, because of all that he was and that Elsbeth had it, in the end, infuriated she threw it away. Angry enough to end an important friendship because of it.
Sitting there, all that was Jacob, and all that being spectacular sitting across from me, holding my eyes, I finally understood that the reason I was angry at my friend was because, in throwing Jacob away, she took him away from me.
And now I had him back, but also, he was saying I’d always had him a different way, we just didn’t go there and he was going to take us there.
Yes. I had no clue what to say but my body had a clue how to feel. Warm and there were a lot more tingles.
“Jacob—” I started on a whisper.
But he interrupted again.
“You saw me, asked me out to dinner that same night, no fuckin’ around. Since then, you’ve called twice for no reason except to connect, and, baby, before you freak that I noticed that and what it said, I’ll tell you, I’m fuckin’ glad you did and I’m also fuckin’ glad about what it said. The boyfriend you were on the fence about, you got off the fence in less than twenty-four hours after seein’ me again and decided to get shot of his ass. And you didn’t waste any time gettin’ me right where I am tonight. That is not friends reconnecting. You know it. So do I.”
“Don’t deny it.”
I shut my mouth.

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Also very cool:  Tomorrow, February 5, Grand Central Publishing will be hosting a LIVE Spreecast Chat with Kristen Ashley at 7 PM EST. Be sure to join in! 

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