The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

Why I read it:  I liked Sweet Dreams so much I bought the rest of the books in the series and started at book 1.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Nina Sheridan’s on a timeout adventure in the Colorado Mountains. She needs distance from her clueless fiancé, distance to decide whether she wants to spend the rest of her life with a man who doesn’t care enough to learn how she takes her coffee.Arriving in a blinding snowstorm at the A-Frame she rented, she comes face to face with the most amazing man she’s ever seen. Minutes later, when he kicks her out of his house, she goes head to head with him.Beyond angry because she’s flown half a world away to start her timeout adventure, not to mention her sinuses hurt, she heads back down the mountain and ends up in a ditch. Unable to extricate herself, she gives up, hopes for rescue and falls asleep in the backseat.The next morning she wakes up in the amazing man’s bed and she’s sick as a dog.Holden Maxwell spends days nursing her back to health and then he spends the next two weeks trying to convince her to take her Colorado adventure further, in other words, make it permanent and take a gamble on him.

Nina has a tough time fighting her attraction to Max, especially when it seems all Max’s friends, her mother and stepdad and the whole town want them together and both she and Max get embroiled in the murder of Max’s ex-friend and the town of Gnaw Bone’s most detested resident – a man everyone has motive to kill, especially Max.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m a big fan of the main characters in a romance spending a lot of time together.  I like it when they meet very early in the book and I don’t like long separations.  There are exceptions to every rule of course but I think one of the reasons that the Kristen Ashley books I’ve read so far have worked for me, is that her main characters get together on the page very quickly and if there are any separations, they are short.  Nina and Max, spend a lot of time together in this book.  It is a fairly long book and they get a lot of page time.  There is a lot of dialogue and I got a good handle on Max, notwithstanding the book is almost completely from Nina’s 1st person POV.

Law Man by Kirsten Ashley

Why I read it:  Continuing my glom.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Four years ago, Mitch Lawson moved across the breezeway from Mara Hanover and she fell in love with the tall, good-looking police detective who had an uncanny ability to dress well even though he’s single. It was not a stalker kind of love; she knows she has no hope since Mitch is way out of her league. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s her dream man.Then one day Mara’s faucet won’t turn off and she knows nothing about plumbing. Being a good guy, Mitch offers to help then he invites himself over for pizza. Mara gives it a go but finds herself running away from him (literally) on their first date, standing him up their second and then she runs into him (again literally) on her way to save her ne’er do well, criminal cousin’s kids who’d just run away from their ne’er do well, criminal Dad.Suddenly, Mara finds she has on her hands the guardianship of two kids and a gorgeous police detective who’s willing to do anything to help out… including giving fabulous foot rubs.

But Mara knows who she is and where she came from and she knows Detective Mitch Lawson is better than her. Hot law man Mitch disagrees and his challenge is to convince Mara to let go of her past and he sets about building a family at the same time he finds he also needs to protect them all against known and unknown adversaries that would tear them apart.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): The beginning of this book was a bit annoying for me, but once Mitch made his intentions clear, things picked up and I ended up liking this one quite a bit.
While there are definite similarities to the stories and the main characters, there are also definite differences and I appreciated them here.  Mara is not only shy, she has significant self esteem problems.  Mitch not only cooks and shops and cleans, he is a natural dad – he doesn’t bat an eyelid at taking on Mara’s cousins – he falls in love with them almost as quickly as he fell in love with Mara in fact.  There is something super sexy and attractive to me about a man who is good with children – who is prepared to step up and care for and protect them.
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