Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley


Dear Ms. Ashley:

You and I, we’ve had our issues. Five of your books are in my very favorite list, and I re-read them over and over again. I open each book of yours hoping to get back that feeling that I had when I read Motorcycle Man or Sweet Dreams. Sadly, it’s been harder and harder for me to get back there. I had very high hopes for Kaleidoscope, which is part of your Colorado Mountain series, several of which appear on that “favorite list”.  Sadly for me, this book felt like a re-tread, and had several issues that I felt were insurmountable for me to really immerse myself in the book.

If you’ve been a reader of the Colorado Mountain series, you are acquainted with Jacob Decker. He’s a fixer/private investigator who tracks down bad guys and is known for his tenacity. In past books, Deck has been characterized as taciturn and loyal to his friends. There’s no doubt that he’s lethal.

When the book opens, he hears his name being called and turns to find Emmanuelle Holmes, his ex’s best friend, and a girl who he never forgot. She’s changed, lost weight, prettied up, but she’s the same Emme – warm and funny. She’s with her boyfriend, Dane, who dislikes Deck on sight. But Emme doesn’t care, she’s been through a lot in the years since she and Deck lost touch, and she’s determined to rekindle her friendship with him. They have dinner and catch up, and by the time dinner is over, Deck is determined that he won’t let Emme go again. She’s his, and should have been for years.

Emme’s boyfriend Dane is a douchebag right out of central casting. He’s into something bad, and using Emme to cover up some of his actions. It takes Deck about a nano-second to determine this, which immediately made me question how Emme was so clueless. But then again, you spend most of the book driving home to the reader that Deck is a genius, the most intelligent man ever, brighter than your average human, so I suppose that I just supposed to buy that he *knows* things. It takes Deck airing his concerns to Emme once for her to realize that Dane IS a bad guy and that she should break up with him post-haste. But in the meantime, Dane has given Emme a ring that turns out to be stolen. Since Deck has been asked by the police to help them crack open the ring of bad guys that Dane runs with, he knows this before Emme does. When she finds out that Deck knew, she assumes she’s a mark and kicks him out of her life. But in typical Ashley hero fashion, Deck won’t be kicked to the curb.

Emme’s past is rough, she was kidnapped as a child for about three days. And she has a heck of a case of PTSD mixed in with a touch of Stockholm Syndrome. She’s secretly kept in touch with the man who kidnapped her, and tells herself over and over that he’s really a good man who didn’t mean her harm because he was just sad over the death of his daughter. I wondered why he wasn’t in prison. Anyway, Deck basically tells Emme that she’s damaged, but that he will fix her. And then he spends a ton of time bossing her around, handling things that are her business for her and basically making her think that she’s not going to be able to survive without him. It left me with the impression that she moved her Stockholm Syndrome from one man to another.

As you can tell, this book didn’t work for me. I found Deck to be an overbearing asshole, which actually surprised me because generally your heroes and their alphahole dominance works for me. But in this case, I found you cramming Deck’s brilliance, his NEVER being wrong in any case and his need to care for Emme incredibly off-putting. I think if you’d made Emme a stronger personality, less wishy-washy and perhaps less influenced by Deck’s every wish, I’d have found myself rooting for them more. In the end, you tied up the book with little to no drama, and I found that I wasn’t rooting for the couple to be together. I’m going to be honest and say I’m really disappointed to write this review. With each of your books I hope for a book that I gush and gush about. Instead, I found myself rolling my eyes and wishing for better for both characters.

Final grade: D.

Best regards,


AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle


I've been reading romance for more than 30 years and reviewing regularly for the last five. My first romance was Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts, and once I read it, I was a goner. I read most subgenres of romance (except inspirational and steampunk) but focus mostly on contemporary and paranormal, with a sprinkling of historical thrown in for flavor. I am an avid sports fan, so I have a special place in my heart for sports themed romances. I'm a sucker for old skool romance, which is probably most evident in the fact that The Windflower is my favorite romance of all time.


  1. Jane
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 14:14:43

    I confess that this was a tough one for me as well but maybe for different reasons. I didn’t mind so much Deck and/or Emme as I did that they were terrible friends, having an intimate emotional relationship. The past was so whitewashed for them and that really bothered me.

    Emme’s personal conflict was interesting but it didn’t match the relationship conflict. I found myself putting the book down to read other things.

    In better news, I just read The Will which is coming out in April and loved it. I hope you enjoy it too.

  2. Shannon C.
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 14:37:54

    But in this case, I found you cramming Deck’s brilliance, his NEVER being wrong in any case and his need to care for Emme incredibly off-putting.

    Oh, I hate the “[Protagonist] is never wrong” thing. I like a little wish-fulfillment, but being wrong about things makes us human and that’s rapidly becoming a deal-breaker for me.

  3. Jrb
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 14:40:55

    Jane is The Will self-published?
    I enjoyed this book more than Kati I especially thought the plot regarding Emme’s kidnapping and PTSD to be especially interesting. To be honest I probably liked that better than the romance. I also thought the motivations of the villains to be interesting. Her kiddnapper’s grief, the motivations behind the head of the burglary ring. People doing wrong for reasons the reader can understand. All that said I have to agree that something is missing for her books with the last few releases.

  4. Jane
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 16:43:18

    @Jrb: Yes it is SP. Honestly though, I’ve liked and not liked both some of her SP work and her trad pubbed work. I don’t see a ton of daylight between the two in terms of storytelling.

  5. Jo
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 17:04:19

    While this book isn’t up to par with the first 4 books in the series, I felt it was way better than Jagged. There were some points where the story dragged but overall I thought it was an interesting story arc and the use of the kaleidoscope throughout the story very clever.

  6. pamelia
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 17:51:10

    I really enjoyed this book and couldn’t let myself go to sleep till I finished it way past my bedtime. Emme really resonated with me and I thought she was really sympathetic. It was a quieter book than many of KA’s others, but (as was mentioned in the book) there have been tons of crazy criminals tearing up Carnal/Gnawbone already and how much can one sleepy mountain region take? ).
    I keep getting the feeling that Ashley’s getting her mojo back since I really liked Broken Dove and this one after Jagged left me wanting more. Can’t wait to read The Will and she also just started the next Burg book which is about Frankie and Benny and should be rife with all the feels and action (fingers crossed).

  7. Kaetrin
    Feb 13, 2014 @ 20:24:19

    I liked it better than you did Kati but I agree with you that it’s not her strongest book. I took a while to become re-accustomed to the syntax of Ashley’s sentences and there was quite a bit of sameyness for me. It was okay and I didn’t have any trouble getting through it but for me, it wasn’t the gushworthy experience of something like Motorcycle Man.

  8. It's Me
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 13:22:00

    For me KA’s books are either LOVE, like reread multiple times, ho hum or a bust. Not too many are a bust for me. Jagged, was a total bust, I haven’t even finished it yet. This one was just ho hum. I felt that Emme could’ve been written stronger. I liked Deck for the most part, however; I hated it when he told Emme she was broken. It thought that was such a hurtful way to word that.

  9. Lori
    Feb 14, 2014 @ 19:58:53

    Isn’t it funny that I thought Jagged was one of her best and this was one I’d never reread because I didn’t like reading it the first time.

    I thought Deck was a dick and always being reminded that he was a genius while he talked in convoluted sentences and just battered his way through Emme’s feelings… it was horrible. Liked her, hated him. I wanted her to be alone with her house and have a nice life.

  10. Deepti
    May 31, 2014 @ 09:30:22

    I am tired of reading same type of heroines in each book – I am sick of word ‘honey’ ..Yes honey, You are right honey, I am sorry honey ( Even it is not her fault). Emme is so clueless. jacob said that he missed her for so many years..but how come he spends lasy summer fucking her best friend to make things right..I don’t like Jacob a bit.He is controlling, persuasive, egostic maniac and emme is spineless have no self respect and does everything he says..!

%d bloggers like this: