For You by Kristen Ashley, narrated by Liz Thompson

For You audioWhy I read it:  This is one from my personal library.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Lieutenant Alexander Colton and February Owens were high-school sweethearts. Everyone in their small town knew from the moment they met they were meant for each other. But something happened, and Feb broke Colt’s heart; then she turned wild, and tragedy struck. Colt meted out revenge against the man who brought Feb low, but even though Colt risked it all for her, Feb turned her back on him and left town.

Fifteen years later Feb comes back to help run the family bar. But there’s so much water under the bridge separating her and Colt, everyone knows they’ll never get back together – until someone starts hacking up people in Feb’s life. Colt is still Colt, and Feb is still Feb, so the town watches as Colt goes all out to find the murderer while trying to keep Feb safe. As the bodies pile up, the feds move in, and a twisting, turning story unravels, exposing a very sick man who has claimed numerous victims. Along the way Feb and Colt battle their enduring attraction and the beautiful but lost history that weaves them together.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  February Owens and Alexander “Colt” Colton grew up together – her older brother Morrie is Colt’s best friend – and they dated as teenagers. Something happened which split them up – something which Feb won’t talk about but which broke her and which Colt doesn’t understand even a little bit (although, I have to say I found his naivety in the circumstances a little surprising. Surely he at least had something of a clue.) While Colt continued his close relationship with Feb’s and Morrie’s parents and with Morrie, he and Feb had basically nothing to do with one another for 22 years. In between they both got married and divorced. In Feb’s case, she married an abusive asshole who beat her and after it became public knowledge, Feb left the ‘burg, only returning for special family occasions. Colt married Melanie and was happy with her for a while but she pulled away from him when they found out she was infertile and they divorced some years before the book begins.

Feb came back to town two years earlier to help Morrie run the family bar, J&J’s Saloon, when their parents, Jack and Jackie, retired. Colt comes to the bar regularly but he and Feb barely have anything to do with one another. Until, one morning, when Feb is opening the bar and discovers the body of her friend, Angie, left in the alley behind J&J’s.  Colt is a detective and is one of the police officers called to the scene.

It quickly becomes apparent that the murderer is someone who is fixated on February and Colt, ever protective and never over Feb, insists she move into his house so he can keep her safe. To my relief, he steps back from the investigation when this occurred; the FBI and a county-wide task force are involved and it would be inappropriate for him to be directly on the team given his personal relationship with Feb. This doesn’t happen all that much in romantic suspense and I appreciated the realism of it here. He does stay peripherally involved of course but it seemed appropriate to me in the professional sense.

After 22 years, Feb finally decides that she ought to put aside her past hurt over what caused her to break up with Colt – she reasons that so much time has passed, they are different people now. She and Colt start a steamy love affair while the body count rises and the investigation continues.

The story has all the trademarks of a Kristen Ashley book – her unique writing style and cadence, the strong female friendships and family and community ties and an alpha male hero who butts heads with a heroine who stands up for herself. The violence quotient is pretty high but I didn’t feel it delved into torture porn. I liked Feb and Colt together and their interactions with the wider community.

What else? Liz Thompson is a new-to-me narrator. She was very good. I liked her “hero” voice.  My only concern with it was that late in the book the villain gets some dialogue and he and Colt sound alarmingly alike. I’d have liked some more differentiation there.  There were a few vocal errors and more than a couple of odd pauses in the midst of conversations that were more appropriate for a transition or chapter break, but they weren’t too annoying.  Ms. Thompson certainly understands Ashley-speak and had the rhythm of the story down very well. She delivered the humour and emotion and tension of the book with skill and I’d definitely listen to her narrate again.

However, and this has to be said, February has TWO r’s. It’s FebRuary, not FebUary. That first r is not silent. There were a couple of other ‘interesting’ pronunciations – including “hic-coffs” instead of “hiccups” but they were words that didn’t appear often in the story and were therefore more easily overlooked. February is one of the main characters and even though she is often called ‘Feb’, that missing r was repeated often and it grated.

Even with that annoyance, I still felt Ms. Thompson’s performance was very strong and overall, I rate it highly.

For You isn’t as angsty as At Peace (a book which grew on me with hindsight). It is however, a great romantic suspense and it has all the things I love about a Kristen Ashley book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Grade: B+

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