Audio Review: At Peace by Kristen Ashley

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Title: At Peace (The ‘Burg #2)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Narrator: Olivia Porter
Length: 23 hours 9 mins, 621 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

Violet Winters and her daughters once had it all, but lost it when Lieutenant Tim Winters was murdered by a criminal madman.

Over a year later, during a cold winter night, cop’s widow, Violet, has to leave her warm bed to tell her neighbor to turn the music down.

And that’s when she meets sinister, scarred, scarily attractive security specialist, Joe Callahan.

She wants to deny it, but she can’t beat back the hunger she feels for Joe so she gives in again, and again, and again. Feeling it himself, Joe feeds Vi’s hunger, breaking his own rules to keep her in his bed.

Even though Violet had only one man in her life, she’s sure Joe is giving her the signals and Vi decides she’s ready to take a second chance at life and, maybe, love.

But Violet doesn’t know the dark secrets in Joe’s past, secrets so soul-wrenching, they’ve drained him dry. With nothing left to give, Joe’s determined to live his life alone.

But Violet’s husband’s murderer is obsessed with her and heartbreak again haunts the door of the Winters girls. When it does Joe is forced to face the knowledge that he can’t fight the combined pull of Violet and her daughters, they’ve gotten under his skin and filled him full to bursting.

Joe needs to win them back and put his life on the line to keep Violet safe.

But, having had it all twice, can Violet endure losing Joe?

Grace Review

Story: 4.5 stars

This is one of those stories you need to settle in for, it is not short, but it is sweet.  It felt like something that need to be savored.

I’ve heard a lot about this book and about Joe.  And I’ll be honest, it took me a long time to warm up to him.  As Violet (Vi) would say often, he was a dick.  Sure, she first met him as he was kicking his celebrity ex-one-night-stand (or two) out of his house.  He was rude and crude.  Not the best way to meet your neighbor. Strike one.

Despite her first impression of him, it’s not long before she finds herself in his bed.  The sex is hot, passionate, off the charts.  Vi feels a connection to him, to anyone, for the first time since her husband, Tim, was executed by a madman (I’ll get back to that one).  Joe is quick to pick up on the change he sees in her eyes and quickly spells out that she is, was, just sex.  Ouch, strike two.

Vi, being the beauty you’d expect from a KA heroine, is quick to reel in another guy, a good guy and cop, Mike.  This begins the love triangle.  She begins bouncing from dates with Mike to Joe’s bed, and when she admits to herself, “I AM SUCH A SLUT,” I’d have to agree.  In one 12 hour sequence, she actually is with both of them intimately.

Yeah, she went there.  I was wondering how long this would go on, but Joe cuts her loose and it’s strike three.  See ya Joe!

Ok, ok, before you start throwing things at me, Joe does the impossible and comes back into my heart AFTER suffering three strikes.  Only a KA Alpha could pull off this feat!  He does it by bringing strength and protection to Vi and her two girls as they suffer another loss at the hands of a madman.

Speaking of him, this guy Daniel Hart, is a piece of work.  It takes a loooooooong time before we actually meet him in the story.  We only know him thru this actions eliminating men in Vi’s life, and then leaving her gifts at her door.  He’s clearly a nut job, one with a mob background, making him equally terrifying.  But for a good part of the story, there is no reference to him.  This takes place as Joe slowly works his way into Vi’s home and back into her heart.  In the back of my mind, I wondered why that part of the story dropped off, but that will come up later.  There’s a benefit to having a cop like Colt (from For You) as a neighbor.

There are a lot of subplots to the story.  Aside from Joe building a family with Vi and her daughter’s, Kiera and Kate, who I adored, the author lays out the beginnings of future books.  Since I’m reviewing this well after the release, I know that good guy Mike gets his own book, Games of the Heart.  So while I felt bad for how things ended with him and Vi, I knew he’d have something down the road, and I was ok with that.

And then there is Benny and Frankie (Benny being Joe’s cousin, Frankie being the ex to Joe’s other cousin, Vinny and was also killed by the evil Mr. Hart).  I loved the background story on these two, and almost wanted to jump right to their story, The Promise.  Both of them prove their worth in helping to protect/save Vi and Joe against the madman who just won’t go away. Frankie also redeems herself with the family, and opens Benny’s eyes to the woman he has tried so hard to forget.

Despite all of the side stories, the heart of the book is about family and finding peace with the love that those connections can bring.  Together, Vi and Joe show each other that life can get better, even after the tragedies they both endured.

Performance: 4 stars
The narrator delivers a strong performance to such an intense story.  Some of the transitions from Vi and Colt’s POVs had me a little lost, but she still carried through the emotions of each character.  My favorite voices of hers were the youthful voices of Kiera and Kate, as well the the Italian voices of Theresa and Vinny, Joe’s Aunt and Uncle (who treated him like a son).

Overall: 4.5 stars
This story had it all.  Heartbreak, love, hope, pain, and even a sweet cat fight.  Gotta give props to Vi for putting that bitch Suzy in her place.  I may have taken awhile to jump on the Joe Callahan train, but he redeemed himself, and I’m all aboard.  I just wish my ‘Burg was this entertaining.

– Grace

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