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REVIEW: Raid by Kristen Ashley

RAIDDear Ms. Ashley:

That I requested Raid for review comes to a surprise to no one. The fact that I gobbled it up in less than three hours probably also comes as no surprise either. Of all of your series, the Unfinished Hero series is the one that I’m most likely to have issues with. I was appalled reading Knight, enjoyed Creed for the most part, and wasn’t sure what to expect with Raid, except that I knew after reading the three sample chapters online that I wanted more immediately. What I found was a hero who was a combination of Tack from Motorcycle Man and Knight — part domineering douchebag, part seriously in love hero.

Hanna Boudreaux has lived in the small town of Willow, Colorado all her life. The great-granddaughter of the town matriarch, she’s sweet, cute and quiet.

Too quiet.

Hanna has a moment of epiphany when she realizes her crush for forever, Raiden Ulysses Miller, is not ever going to be hers. She sees her life as narrow and decides to do something about it.

Raiden Miller is the town of Willow’s local hero. An ex-marine with the medal to prove his hero status, he comes home, shrouded in mystery. It takes a while but, eventually, Hanna catches his eye.

But after all these years of Raid and Hanna living in the same town, the question is, why? Is Raid interested in Hanna because she’s sweet and cute? Or does Raid have something else going on?

Hanna has been in love with Raiden Miller since she was six and was on his team at her grandmother’s annual summer picnic. Raiden, being older and a boy never even noticed Hanna. Then, when he got older, he joined the Marines and went away. Hanna dated other men, but never forgot how she felt about Raiden. When he got out of the Marines, Raid returns to Willow, Colorado, intent on trying to find a little peace after the horrors of the battlefield. At first, he doesn’t notice Hanna, even though she goes to his sister’s coffee house at least three days a week in the hopes of a glimpse of him. One day, Hanna sees Raiden making out with a busty brunette wearing too much make-up. It’s then that Hanna realizes Raid is never going to go for her. So she decides to do things for herself. She gets a make over, books a cruise and buys a sporty car.

Unsurprisingly, Raid notices Hanna shortly afterwards. He’s enticed by her cuteness. She’s dorky and goofy and truly beautiful. He immediately begins a pursuit of her, going through her grandmother, the grande dame of Willow. Raid wins her grandmother’s approval almost immediately, though she warns Hanna that Raid has a lot of darkness in him and that she should be very careful. Hanna is delighted and astonished that Raiden in interested in her. She’s also confounded as to why. Even though Raiden tells her over and over that she’s beautiful and sweet and makes him feel renewed, she still doesn’t really understand his attraction.  But the more involved she gets with Raiden, the more she realizes that he has issues that darken his soul and need her sweetness to lighten.

Raid was one of only four soldiers from his platoon that returned from war. He’s haunted by night terrors, making him dangerous to sleep near. He’s moody and sometimes deeply cranky. He’s dominant in all aspects of his life, including sex (sort of). His job, now that he’s out of the services is not exactly legal – he’s a bounty hunter, one who doesn’t turn his skips over to the police, instead giving them to the men who are seeking them. Hanna has been sheltered her entire life, so she struggles with the fact that Raiden’s work is not above-board. She has a hard time with how he sometimes speaks to her. And while she enjoys sex, there are times he asks her to do things she’s uncomfortable with.

Suddenly, he asked, “Trust me?”

“Yes,” I answered immediately.

“Then on all fours, baby, crawl to me and do it slowly.” Oh God.

I didn’t know if I could do that. I didn’t know why but I didn’t know if I could do that.”

“Raiden,” I whispered.

“Do you trust me?” he semi-repeated.

I swallowed before I nodded.

“All fours, Hanna. Slow.”

I closed my eyes telling myself this was Raiden. He wouldn’t humiliate me. He wouldn’t debase me. I could trust that he would lead this to something good.

I opened my eyes again, kept them on him and slowly dropped to my knees. Keeping my head back, I fell forward to my hands.

-Kindle location 2548

This particular scene bothered me. Crawling across a floor IS debasement to me. I understand that many will disagree with me. But shortly after, they have a discussion where he tells her he knew she didn’t want to do it, but did it anyway. That makes me ask, why would he have her do it if he knew she didn’t like it?

Raiden does have very serious issues, the most apparent being that he suffers from PTSD. He has night terrors that can lead him to physically hurting Hanna. He throws her out of bed at one point. Of course, he’s completely horrified. Hanna’s answer is that he should speak to the other survivors of his unit to see if they are having issues. MY answer would have been to get him to seek professional help. Raiden’s PTSD was mostly glossed over, a couple of scenes, he talks to a buddy from his unit, and not much else is said about it. This felt to me like a squandered opportunity. I’d have liked to have seen the PTSD be the central conflict for the two of them. Instead, it was lightly touched on and then never really mentioned again.

Overall, I felt like Raid was much more tightly written, with very few glaring typos. Your writing voice is as strong as ever, and Raiden is a signature Kristen Ashley hero. The book also felt shorter to me. I think this is because I’m spoiled by your 130,000 word epics, so I was disappointed to see this book end. Also, Raiden gives Hanna the same “I like to be in charge in bed” speech as Knight gave Anya, but it was rarely anything more than making her hold out for a short period of time. No actual D/s behavior, except the crawling incident.  It makes me wonder why his Dominance was included in the book? Particularly given his history, a more apparent D/s relationship would have been quite interesting to me.

But as usual, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to one of your worlds, and despite some misgivings about the hero and a wish that you’d focused more on the PTSD, I was impressed by the book and found it to be quite entertaining. My usual Kristen Ashley disclaimers apply: not everyone will love your writing voice, and definitely Raiden will push reader buttons. But for me, I ended up as satisfied as ever by Raid. My grade is a B.

Kind regards,

Kati

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Kati Brown

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.

19 Comments

  1. Sophia (FV)
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 08:31:48

    I enjoyed this one much more than the first two in this series. Somehow KA made a Mary Sue character very likeable LOL. I think KA is just getting better and better.

  2. Tabitha
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 09:14:58

    I didn’t enjoy Knight and, though I have the book, didnt read Creed. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to reading Raid. Can’t wait. Thanks for the review!

  3. cbackson
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 09:34:52

    I sort of want to read this, just because dude is named Ulysses.

    Then again, I’ve never been able to abide heroines whose defining characteristic is sweetness, as it is a trait I conspicuously lack.

  4. Tina
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 09:42:59

    Hmm…. I dunno about this one. I like KA and Motorcycle Man is my absolute favorite of hers. But the two books of hers that I dislike the most are Law Man and Rock Chick Rescue. Both of these books are characterized by heroines who spend the entire book thinking they are too plain and not good enough for the hero who is insanely hot and can’t possibly want someone as plain as they are. Meanwhile everyone else in the book, hero included, spend a lot of time saying how totally gorgeous and great the heroine is. This one seems along that same vein.

    Heck, who am I kidding? I’ll end up reading it.

  5. Ann F.
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 10:44:31

    Is this book out yet? I went to Amazon but couldn’t find it….

  6. Kati
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 11:31:49

    @Ann F.: This book is scheduled to be released on 2/28/13.

  7. Courtney
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 12:35:43

    So, I devoured “Motorcycle Man,” twice in the last month and only picked it up because DA and Angela James (here) raved about it. And I felt like it completely lived it to the hype. I loved Tack and Tyra and found Tack to be one of the most compelling contemporary heroes in a long time.

    Then, I read “Mystery Man,” and I didn’t love it as much. A lot of the language was the same for both Hawk and Gwen and I just didn’t have that immediate “OMG, this is such an amazing book,” as I did with Motorcyle Man. Consequently, I haven’t tried any of KA’s other backlist, even though that list is HUGE. But this review thinks “Raid” might be worth it.

  8. Kini
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 16:52:35

    Kati, great review. Thanks for the clarify on the D/s tag and that there really wasn’t much by way of that. Because I really don’t enjoy the D/s stories and was getting sad that I might not like this book. But it sounds like I will enjoy it after all. I will be stalking amazon until it is available.

  9. Courtney
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 18:11:20

    FYI: KA on Facebook just announced that to promote this series, Knight and Creed are $.99 via Kindle, Smashwords, and B&N I believe until Sunday.

  10. Ing Cruz
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 16:13:13

    Nice review Katie. Seriously need my KA fix. Her books and heroes are addictive for me. How much shorter is this book from all her others?

  11. Arely Z.
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 17:39:04

    The Unfinished Hero series is one of those that’s kinda iffy for me. I didn’t really like Knight (though I didn’t hate it as much as you did) and Creed was okay, but not one of my favorite KA books.
    I’m looking forward to Raid though–I’ve heard great things about it.

  12. Arely Z.
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 17:43:06

    @Tina: I agree, Law Man was one of those that I hated because she was always complaining about how she looked super plain and how he was always so out of his league. It pissed me off, especially because she was gorgeous. Same with Rock Chick Rescue. But these are the very few that I do not like that are KA books. I love her!

  13. Krupa P. Patel
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 18:50:30

    I had more trouble with Knight, I just stopped reading it. Since I’ve enjoyed to many other Kristen Ashley books, so much so that I’ve created myself as a character, I was okay with not finishing Knight. That has stopped me from reading Creed. Tack was another character I had issues with but I finished that one. The Gamble’s Holden “Max” Maxwell was the first hero I met and I adored him. I did love Tatum “Tat” Jackson, Chace Keaton, Mike Haines, Alexander “Colt” Colton, Layne Tanner, Eddie Chavez, and Hank Nightingale and Lucas Stark just to name a few. I read the working chapters of Raid and I can’t wait 2 days. I’m hunting for excerpts or hints all over! Do you think Raid is as scary as Knight or Tack?

  14. Rose
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 20:43:04

    @Tabitha:
    You have to read Creed!!! I loved it!

  15. Missy
    Feb 26, 2013 @ 22:18:04

    I have read ALL of KA’s books multiple times and her Alph men send shivers up and down my spine!!! I can understand how they may make some people uncomfortable reading them, but I see the whole package. They maybe bossy in bed (and out), but they know how to and they DO take care of thier women!!

  16. coribo25
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 05:38:04

    I’d love to know what semi-repeated means. Anyone?

  17. Jane
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 07:35:12

    @Krupa P. Patel: I didn’t find him as scary and Raid felt short to me, like Kati says. We are super spoiled as KA readers so her short is like most authors long books.

  18. Kyle Yasinski
    Feb 27, 2013 @ 11:18:24

    A nicely written review, but I must say I disagree with the stance that Raid made Hannah do what she didn’t want to do. He very clearly didn’t. She made the choice to participate, and when he saw her hesitation he immediately stopped the play. Then he discussed the fact that he didn’t want her to do anything at all that caused her the least bit of discomfort.

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    Feb 27, 2013 @ 12:11:43

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