Blog Tour (Book Review, Excerpt & Giveaway): Soaring by Kristen Ashley

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Title: Soaring (Magdalene #2)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 654 pages
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis

American heiress Amelia Hathaway needs to start anew.

Her husband cheated on her, and when everything she wanted in life slipped through her fingers, she fell apart. When she did, she took another heart wrenching hit as she lost the respect of her children.When her ex took her family from California to live in the small town of Magdalene in Maine, Amelia decided it was time to sort herself out. In order to do that and win her children back, she moves to Cliff Blue, an architectural masterpiece on the rocky coast of Magdalene.Her boxes aren’t even unpacked when she meets Mickey Donovan, a man who lives across the street, a man so beautiful Amelia takes one look at Mickey and knows she wants everything from him.The problem is, she finds out swiftly that he’s friendly, he’s kind, but he doesn’t want everything back.

Amelia struggles to right past wrongs in her life at the same time find out who she wants to be. She also struggles with her attraction to the handsome firefighter who lives across the street.

But Amelia will face a surprise when her friendly neighbor becomes not-so-friendly. As Amelia and Mickey go head to head, Amelia must focus on winning back the hearts of her children.

She soon discovers she also must focus on winning the heart of a handsome firefighter who understands down to his soul the beautiful heiress who lives across the street is used to a life he cannot provide.

Grace Review

As someone who literally gave a standing ovation to the author after finishing The Will, I was beyond excited to start Soaring. But I had to prepare.  This book is not short.  And it wasn’t anything I wanted to rush through.  I wanted to take my time and savior it.  So I planned my reading schedule (this might sound ridiculous, but as a blogger with deadlines, it’s critical to getting reviews completed on time), blocking out a full week to read this book.

Then I started to book and couldn’t put it down, reading half of it over the weekend.  As a huge KA fan, this isn’t a stretch, I get caught up in her books so easily, which is why she is my go-to author when I have a book hangover.  But I connected so quickly with story and Amelia’s heartache as she struggled to put her life and family back together, I couldn’t think about much else than this story.

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A lot of KA books feature the drama of a killer/kidnapper on the loose.  The plot of this book was less complex, making it easier to relate to.  This story essentially focuses on how a person moves on, when the life they laid out, changes for reasons out of their control.  Amelia is looking to reinvent herself after a divorce.  She initially took the scorned, bitter route, which backfired on her.  As a result, she makes the conscious decision to right her wrongs, and in doing so, became one of my favorite KA heroines.

“Until then, your life had been golden and you probably had everything you ever wanted, except what was important.  So when something you wanted was taken away from you, you had no clue how to deal and no foundation to keep you solid.”

The topic of divorce isn’t glossed over in this book, as a mere mention.  It is the heart of the story.  The reactions one goes thru when faced with divorce, both the bad and the good.  The impact it has on one’s confidence and how one builds that confidence back up and moves on, maybe to something better.

I stared into his eyes and that got to me.
I wanted to be wrecked.
I wanted to wrecked by Mickey.
Needed it.

And speaking of better, enter Mickey.  He is the perfect guy to get Amelia, or Amy, as he calls her, to that better place.  If you read the synopsis, you may worry about the hot and cold treatment he gives her.  Have no fear.  When you read the story, it will all make sense why he makes a sudden switch with her.  Here you have a KA Alpha male, who like those before him, likes to take care of his woman.  So how can you provide for a woman who has everything, financially?  And this was part of his struggle.  Add to the fact that he is also divorced with kids, you can see how he might be sensitive to progressing with a relationship that may not have a future.  I absolutely loved how conflicted he felt about providing for Amy and the steps he took to make what he thought she needed, right.  He is definitely not the female version of a gold digger.

“Already told you I had a woman I couldn’t give what she needed, now you get how deep she scarred me.  And I guess it’s eatin’ me I got one I like havin’ that needs nothing from me.”

As the two begin to build their relationship, they navigate the normal routes of building a connection and trust, with the added weight of managing the relationship with the children from each of their marriages.  It wasn’t an easy process for them, but I loved how they talked it out and made sure they introduced the kids into the relationship in such a way that wasn’t selfish, but made their feelings a priority.

Other than the emotional roller coaster of a divorce, this book also touches on the sensitive subject of bullying.  Interestingly enough, there were similarities into how both were discussed.  Without giving anything away, it covers how someone handles the emotional toll bullying can have on the already fragile self-esteem of a teenager.  And it covers why someone participates in bullying, and what steps they go to in order to stop the hate.  I loved how the parents handled this situation.  Punishments were laid out to the guilty party and support was given to the victim.  If only more parents were as aware and responsive as these, a lot of people would be in a better place.

One thing I love about KA is not only the development of the main characters, but of the secondary characters as well.  It is those secondary characters who give the main characters strength, and hope to move forward.  And this book was no different.

Who I loved:
Josie and Alyssa – If you read The Will, then you can easily remember this odd pair, who play a key role in this story, as Amy come to Magdalene with zero emotional support.  Thankfully these two were there for her, whether it be as a shoulder(s) to lean on, or to help her get her confidence back.  They help her move on and were there for her during those moments that Amy doubts herself.

Auden and Olympia – Mickey’s kids are a ray of sunshine.  I adored them from the get-go and wanted to give them everything, just like Amy.

Cillian and Aisling – Amy’s kids initially are a kick to the gut.  They aren’t quick to forgive Amy’s earlier antics from the divorce, and I found sympathy for both the kids and Amy.  The process in which they started to give her a second chance seemed very real and made it that much more special.

Lawr – Amy’s brother, the voice of reason for Amy.  He calmed her down when she panicked and gave her guidance when needed.  Plus he shared a dislike for their parents, and was willing to do anything to protect his sister.  The perfect brother.

Robin – Amy’s BFF from home.  Initially this woman sounded like bad news, as the one who egged on Amy during her bitter stage.  But it turns out she is just a loyal friend who has her friend’s back, no matter what, so I can’t fault her for that.

The Dove House – this retirement home was a surprising element to the story.  While Amy didn’t have to work, I thought it was great that she decided to volunteer, especially considering the place she choose to volunteer.  I loved the connections she built with this group, even with Mrs. McMurphy, who thought Amy was a Nazi.  They became her extended family and an escape when she was feeling unneeded.

As for those who I didn’t like in this story, it should be obvious who they are and why I disliked them, so I won’t waste anytime discussing them.

With two likable main characters and a great supporting cast, it was easy to be consumed by this book.  The title of this book comes from the feelings Amy experiences with Mickey, with heart, body and soul soaring.  It can also describe how I felt reading this story, experiencing that feeling of comfort and peace that Mickey brought to her life.  Giving her everything she ever wanted, and allowing her to ascend to a higher level, a better life, and a better place.  And I loved every moment of that journey.

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Final note: There is one more book in this series that features Coert, the Magdalene police chief, and a mysterious woman from Denver.  My brain is going into overdrive as to who this could be.  Would it be too much for it to be Becca from The Gamble?

– Grace

*An ARC was received from the author for an honest review.

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Excerpt

  “Hello, Boston Stone,” I greeted because I had no idea what else to say.
“You are?” he asked as I put the bags to the ground and touched the button on the trunk that would open it keyless.
As it glided open, I opened my mouth, doing it uncertain if I’d share my name or continue to try to brush him off, but I didn’t have the chance to decide.
I heard the word, “Babe,” growled from behind me.
I turned and saw Mickey stalking our way.
Not sauntering.
Not simply walking.
Stalking.
And he didn’t look happy.
“Mickey,” I called tentatively as a greeting, uncertain at his demeanor.
I hadn’t seen him since he hadn’t seen me (I hoped) at the movies.
He was in his firefighter-not-fighting-a-fire uniform of blue khakis and tee. His eyes were moving up and down my body. He still was unbelievably beautiful (that uniform…seriously).
He didn’t greet me back.
When he stopped, his gaze cut to Boston Stone and it went flinty.
“You need somethin’?” he asked incomprehensibly inhospitably.
“I was just helping this lovely lady with her groceries,” Stone responded.
“I got it,” Mickey stated flatly and then he got it. As in, he carefully pulled me back, grabbed the bags I was perfectly capable of picking up myself and placed them in my trunk.
He then went for the bag Stone was carrying, caught hold, but Stone didn’t let go.
“I can put it in the trunk myself, Donovan,” Stone clipped.
So they knew each other.
“As I said, I got it, Stone,” Mickey clipped back.
Yes, they knew each other.
The handles flattened as they both kept hold and pulled.
“Please!” I exclaimed. “We already had a wine incident. The sidewalk of Magdalene has been anointed with one red, let’s not anoint Cross Street with four.”
Mickey instantly let go and stepped back, running into me but he didn’t apologize or move away.
He stayed close, the back of his left side touching the front of my right.
It was at that point I noticed Mickey gave off a lot of heat.
Stone put the bag in my trunk, shut it and turned slowly to Mickey and me.
But he had eyes on Mickey.
“Are you two seeing each other?”
“That’s your business how?” Mickey asked as reply.
“It’s my business because, if you’re not, I’d like to request you leave so I can ask her to dinner,” Stone returned.
My head jerked as my body locked in shock.
“That’s not gonna happen,” Mickey growled.
My body stayed locked in shock but that didn’t mean my eyes didn’t fly to Mickey’s stony-faced profile in more shock.
“So you are seeing each other,” Stone remarked.
“Again, not your business,” Mickey bit out.
Stone’s expression turned shrewd. “And that’s something that would lead me to believe that the beautiful woman standing behind you is free to go to dinner with me.”
“You forget English?” Mickey asked. “I already answered that too.”
I butted in, “I think I can speak for myself, Mickey.”
He moved nothing but his head (though his torso shifted an inch) so he could look down at me.
His eyes were communicating again.
This time they were communicating the fact that he really didn’t like Boston Stone.
Considering what I knew of Mickey, this would be something that, along with my own natural aversion to Mr. Stone, would have made me decline the man’s invitation.
Unfortunately, Mickey added words to his look so this didn’t happen.
“You’re not goin’ out with this guy.”
Was he being serious?
He couldn’t tell me what to do. He wasn’t my father, my brother or my lover.
Heck, he barely knew me!
All he knew about me was that he didn’t want me. I was his…“attractive” neighbor who he now did not even walk over to beg recipes from (okay, so Aisling didn’t know of any other recipes I had, but whatever).
He didn’t even return my email!
And he was off with beautiful, statuesque redheads, smiling at them, taking them to movies.
He couldn’t tell me who I could and could not see.
“I’m not?” I snapped.
“No,” he turned fully to me, an ominous fully. “You are not,” he enunciated each word clearly.
“Sorry?” I asked sarcastically. “When did you become my big brother?”
He was still enunciating clearly, and dangerously, when he stated, “I absolutely am not your big brother.”
“No, you’re not,” I retorted, tossing my hair, which I hoped was shining in the sun. And with my hair toss, I further hoped my fabulous highlights caught the rays and gleamed. “You’re my neighbor. And if I want to go out with someone, you can’t say boo to the contrary.”
“This guy is an asshole,” he bit off, jerking his thumb at Boston Stone.
I felt my eyes get big and I got up on my toes, leaning into him, hissing, “That’s insufferably rude, Mickey Donovan.”
“It isn’t rude if it’s the truth.”
“You may think so but you don’t say it in front of the man in question.”
“You do if he’s as big of an asshole as this asshole is,” Mickey shot back.
My eyes got wider and I leaned closer. “Stop being nasty!” I demanded.
“You been in town, what?” he asked then answered with another question he didn’t expect a reply to. “A coupla months? I lived here my whole life and trust me, I’m savin’ you from a load of misery, this guy gets interested in you,” he returned.
I rocked down to my stilettos. “I am a big girl, Mickey. All grown up and everything. I do think I can make such decisions for myself.”
“You do, and they’re not what I’m tellin’ you to do, you’d be wrong.”
I glared at him.
Then I pushed right past him, hand lifted and got in the space of Boston Stone.
“Boston,” I said as he took my hand, grinning arrogantly and more than a little obnoxiously at me. “A belated nice to meet you. I’m Amelia Hathaway.”
His hand tightened in mine as he murmured, “Amelia.”
I pulled my hand from his, asking, “Do you know Cliff Blue?”
“Of course,” he replied, inclining his head in a pompous way that actually was kind of creepy.
“I live there,” I announced, doing another hair toss and powering beyond the creepy. “And I have plans this evening but I’m free tomorrow. Are you?”
“I wasn’t,” he replied. “But I’ll be making a phone call and I will be.”
“Excellent,” I decreed. “Seven?” I went on to ask.
“I’d be delighted,” he said softly, his eyes dancing with humor and I could see that too was relatively malicious.
I didn’t care.
I’d go out with him once, just to stick it to Mickey.
Then I’d be done with Boston Stone.
And anyway, I had about seven new outfits that would be perfect for a date and I knew this even though I hadn’t been on a date in two decades.
“I’ll see you then,” I said.
“You will, Amelia.” He dipped his chin to me. “Looking forward to it.”
“And me,” I replied.
He gave me another arrogant grin then transferred it to Mickey.
“Donovan,” he murmured.
Mickey didn’t reply.
Stone looked back to me. “Until tomorrow, Amelia.”
“Yes, Boston. And please, feel free to call me Amy.”
Mickey grunted.
Boston smiled before he turned and sauntered away.
I whirled on Mickey and tipped my head to the side. “See? All grown up and able to make decisions for myself.”
“What I see is a pattern here,” he retorted unpleasantly.
“Oh?” I asked with mock interest. “Do tell.”
Then Mickey told.
“First time I laid eyes on you, your ex was up in your face, cursing at you, threatening you, shouting right at you and acting like a total fucking dick. It’s obvious he’s rich and up his own ass and didn’t give a shit you were alone, and because of that, you probably felt unsafe. It was just as obvious you were lettin’ him use you as his punching bag. Even if no woman deserves the way he was speakin’ to you, he just kept right on punching. Now, you know that guy you just made a date with is a total asshole and you made that date anyway. So that’s your pattern. You open yourself up for assholes to shit all over you. And if that’s the way you like it, baby, then no way in fuck I’m gonna get in there to show you there’s another way.”
Before I could retort, he turned on his boot and prowled away.

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