Dear Ms. Ashley:
When I think of your books, the Rock Chick series is the one that I think most clearly demonstrates your authorial voice. It’s loopy, good hearted and funny. I re-read this series often because I get a kick out of the adventures of this group of close female friends and their hot alpha guys. So of course, I was all over Rock Chick Revolution, the culmination of the series and Allyson Nightengale’s story.
If Indy is the glue that holds the Rock Chicks together, Ally is the spine. She’s tough, no nonsense, adventurous and would do literally anything for her friends. She’s always been a bit of a free spirit, bartending, working at Indy’s book store, and lately, getting herself entangled in scrapes because of her generous but nosy nature. This nosy nature most recently had her involved in saving Faye Goodknight’s life in Breathe. Her involvement in various adventures has had her brushing up against Ren Zano, a “Hot Italian American”, and possible goodfella. His family, the Zano’s, are part of a crime syndicate, and while Ren has been mostly involved in the family’s legit businesses, he’s not above getting his hands dirty. He and Ally have been “fuck buddies” for more than a year now, but Ally’s involvement in Faye’s near death has made Ren realize it’s time to get serious. Ally wants no part of it. She’s perfectly happy with her hot booty call and really sees no reason to allow Ren any further into her life. Of course, what she doesn’t realize is that Ren is already there. They spend every night together, he’s always there to provide back-up when she’s in a scrape, and she depends on him in a lot of aspects of her life. But him informing her that they are taking it to the next level does not sit well with Ally, and she fights him tooth and nail. That is, until her apartment is bombed due to her involvement with two low level pot sellers who dropped her name (and thus, her brother Lee’s, who is a total badass) as protection.
Ally ends up moving in with Ren and in short order, they are agreeing to “come out of the closet” as a couple and are declaring their love for each other. In the mean time, Ally has decided to fully go into the Private Investigator business, which makes none of the men in her life happy, brothers and father included. She takes a job from Smithie, who owns the local strip joint where the Rock Chicks hang out, and Ally starts stripping (not fully naked, of course) to help him discover what is going on with his girls, who are scared of something. Also, the first in a series of books, Rock Chick, has been published by a mysterious person who seems to know all the details of each of the Rock Chick’s romances. But who is it who is writing these books?
Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Jane, the quiet bookish girl who works at Fortnums. She’s been on the sideline of each of the romances in the series, apparently documenting them so she can publish them. Under the pseudonym…Kristen Ashley.
And HERE’s where my disappointment starts. I hate, loathe, despise when authors insert themselves into their books. In this case, you *literally* inserted yourself. By then end, Jane/Kristen Ashley is a New York Times best selling author, I’m assuming based on the success of the series. It was wrenching in the worst possible way. And in my opinion, wholly unnecessary. I get that you love this series and even that it might be the closest to your heart. But inserting yourself into the book was, in my mind, the worst possible choice. It literally taints my perception of the entire series.
On top of that, Ally and Ren’s romance is barely incidental to the story. Given that a year of their romance seems to happen off screen, we never really get to see them fall in love, which was really disappointing. Plus, Ren was such an interesting character in the series, and we barely get to spend any time with him because Ally seems to be constantly off gallivanting elsewhere.
The book is also in desperate need of editing. Perhaps it’s because this is the first self-pub I’ve read of yours since your Grand Central Publishing books (edited by a professional editor) came out, but the rambling descriptions, the meandering asides about clothes, background story randomly inserted into the action, and even the flashbacks all felt like stream of consciousness, rather than cohesive parts of the story. It seemed like every writing tick you had was on full display throughout the reading of this book. It took me more than five days to slog through it. I nearly DNF’d it about three times. It’s easily my least favorite in what I’ve always considered to be a guilty pleasure series. I so wish I could give Rock Chick Revolution even a marginal recommendation, but the truth is, unless you’re an avid fan of the series, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I know I was. Final grade: D-.