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REVIEW: Fire Inside: A Chaos Novel by Kristen Ashley

Dear Ms. Ashley:

Lanie Heron is a survivor. She survived loving her man so much, she took a bullet for him. She survived his betrayal and involvement in the mob. She survived choosing to stand by him and nearly getting killed. She survived her childhood, complete with philandering father and drunken mother. She’s survived all of this by limiting who she allows to truly infiltrate her life. Her best friend Tyra, Tyra’s husband Tack, their kids, her sister, that’s it. Lanie is not looking for love. In fact, she actively and emphatically does not want love in her life. All that being said, a girl has needs. So one night, while at a party at Chaos (the motorcycle club her bestie’s husband is President of), she approaches Hopper Kincaid. She’s decided that she wants and deserves one night with a man. She wants nothing but that one night: no romantic entanglement, no sweet talk, just some good sex. She’s sure that Hop is just the man for it. He’s good looking, seems to be a decent sort, and gives off a vibe that says he’s awesome in bed.

FIHop is quite sure that having sex with Lanie is a really, really bad idea. He knows she’s a lady, she’s under Tack’s protection, and he knows she’s been irrevocably scarred both physically and mentally by her past. But she’s gorgeous, and she assures him that she absolutely will not be looking for more than the one night from him. She just has an itch that she’s pretty sure he can scratch for her. Lanie makes a strong case, and Hop agrees. They have some seriously wild and passionate sex, and Hop realizes immediately that there is no possibility of just one night, he wants more.

Lanie is adamant that one night with Hop is all she’s going to have. But she’s deeply attracted, and he’s fantastic in bed and he’s very persuasive. Next thing you know, Lanie and Hop are starting a relationship. Or, Hop is having a relationship with Lanie. He’s supportive, generally kind, considerate of her quirks, and delights in her dramatic side. Lanie is less delighted. She emphatically does not want anyone to know about what she and Hopper are up to, particularly because it’s not going to last. But the longer Hop is in her life, the more she leans on him. The more she wants to see him and be with him. But will Hop ever be able to get around Lanie’s belief that they shouldn’t be together?

I have mixed feelings about this book. I was really looking forward to Lanie’s book, given that we got to see first hand what she went through in Motorcycle Man. Hop also featured in Motorcycle Man, and not in a particularly positive light, so I was really interested to see how you would redeem Hop, who definitely didn’t seem like a good guy. The good news is, I thought you did a great job of redeeming Hop. Turns out, he’s a terrific dad, has some pretty hefty baggage of his own, but is driven and serious about Lanie and he’s willing to put himself all the way out there to gain Lanie’s trust and eventually her love. The bad news is, Lanie got on most of my nerves. Listen, I’m a dramatic girl. But at 42, I understand that throwing a hissy fit because my soda overflows is the action of a ten year old girl. Lanie is off the charts dramatic. She yells, throws a lot of attitude and flies off the handle pretty much any time things don’t go her way. If she were 22 in the book, that would be one thing. But we’re talking about a woman in her 40′s. She seemed like a whole lot of trouble. Multiple times during the book, she throws a fit, stomps off and won’t give Hop a chance to talk to her. For his part, Hop also jumps to conclusions a time or two. On the whole, these two behaved a lot more like high school students in love than grown adults in love. The disappointing part for me was that I really thought Lanie was a chance to show how someone grows from serious adversity in their lives. But I felt like Lanie remained mostly static, a diva who spent a lot of time being really dramatic. I also found that the book ended quite abruptly. Or perhaps it was because I was looking for more growth, more evidence that Lanie had truly connected to Hop, so it felt like there was more to write.

While this is definitely not my favorite of your books associated with Chaos, I always enjoy visiting the characters there. Even though Lanie and Hop didn’t deliver exactly what I was looking for, I’m still really looking forward to what’s next for the men of Chaos Motorcycle Club. They’re among my favorite characters in Romance Land these days. Fire Inside gets a C+ from me.

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.

25 Comments

  1. Jane
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:06:50

    Kati already knows this but I liked this book a lot more than she did primarily because I found Lainie so entertaining. KA promised us a character who got upset when her Coke wasn’t poured just right and that’s who was delivered. Both Lainie and Hop were emotional creatures and both hurt the other. I enjoyed reading about this high maintenance, emotionally driven couple because they seemed so different than the ones I usually read about.

  2. Mandi
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:25:34

    I kind of liked Lanie’s dramatics…I found them humorous rather than annoying. I thought she made such a good pair with Hop. Oooooh Hop and his mustache. And that he calls her “lady” and says she has class. He only has sex with her in fancy bathroom stalls. #CLASS (LOL)

    I still don’t know why every ex-wife has to be the worst person on the planet in her books.

    Do you have any idea who will be next?

  3. Kati
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:43:41

    @Mandi: I’m just saying, if Rush isn’t in the future, I’ll be deeply bummed. Not sure who is up next. Jane, do you know?

  4. Jane
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 08:48:41

    @Kati: and @Mandi: I don’t know! I’ve been stunned at how quickly these two have been released. I guess I should ask.

  5. Christine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 09:15:52

    I guess I’m in the minority here but I didn’t see Lanie as any more dramatic than Tyra was. I was expecting a full on diva who carries on when her 7-up overflows but when Lanie did get upset it was over family or relationship problems. I didn’t find her packing a heavy suitcase or taking a couple hours to get ready for work in the morning the kind of over the top behavior Kristin Ashley was building it up to be.
    I also didn’t find Hop hard to “redeem” because Tyra had no idea what was going on in his life and his relationship when she saw him doing what he was doing in “Motorcycle Man.” I knew what that explanation was going to be once I knew Hop was the hero for this book.

    I liked that Lanie (unlike other heroines in KA books) stood up for herself professionally with Hop and that he actually listened to her very realistic and sensible argument “How can I be respected as a woman and a business owner if my boyfriend has to jump in to threaten people who are encroaching on my business?” It was a very refreshing change from the “Babe I just know what’s better for you despite your protests and you are going to just be secretly happy I went ahead and worked this troublesome guy over for you” we have seen before.
    Though I did enjoy this book there was something lacking about it. Maybe I am used to much longer books from Ashley and more outside problems and adventure for the couple.
    Ashley did a nice job of showing Tack as a concerned friend and almost brotherly figure to Lanie. He seemed much more actively involved and concerned about her than Tyra in some ways.
    I think my biggest problem was that in many ways Hop was like “Tack lite” with the two kids (boy and girl), ex problems and his prior “business” in the early days of Chaos. Only with Hop everything was less dramatic and not as affecting. Even his behavior seemed….less. Tack was such an active force once he knew Tyra was for him challenging her, debating with her, that in comparison Hop’s reaction to Lanie’s outburst towards the end just seemed lame. Tyra and Tack’s back and forth even while heated was so much more engaging than reading…. “one week and two days later.”

  6. JC
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 09:52:18

    I’ve heard so much about Kristen Ashley lately, so I’ve added a few books to my TBR list. Looking forward to seeing what the buzz is all about.

  7. Tabs
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 10:01:40

    I really didn’t find Lanie that dramatic either. I kept waiting to see some of overblown drama that Hop was always talking about but I honestly didn’t see any. I mean, the soda thing wasn’t even shown–it was related anecdotaly by Hop.

    Anyway, I loved Lanie and was more than happy to go along for the ride as she got to a better place in her life.

  8. Patricia Eimer
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 10:04:44

    I’m going to have to try these out.

  9. JoJo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 10:45:13

    I believe the order of the books after Hop are Joker, Brick, (maybe one more) and then Rush. KA said 5-6 books but ending with Rush. And Shy’s brother Lan possibly in a spin-off series.

  10. Mandi
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 10:50:24

    @JoJo:

    Oh! I want Joker and Brick to get books. (and Rush of course). I worry Natalie is going to be a heroine :/ Not a fan of her yet.

  11. JoJo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 11:03:18

    @Christine: Agree with you Christine. I felt like the usual KA “crackness” was missing. I liked the book and the characters but felt like I got a Readers Digest version. For example, I love the way KA writes kids into her books. But the relationship between Hop’s kid and Lanie was never fully realized as compared to Rocky’s relationship to Tanners boys (Golden Trail) or Joe to Vi’s girls (At Peace) for example.

  12. Tina
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 12:15:44

    I liked this book quite a bit. I wasn’t at all invested in reading about Hop and Lainie. Until I was. I thought KA made them a great, rootable couple.

    Also add me to the group that didn’t think Lainie was overly dramatic. I got the impression that Hop got stuck on the idea that Lainie was dramatic but she didn’t seem to live up to that ideal, imo. The thing I enjoyed the most was their arguments. Which is strange because I hate couples that so nothing but argue throughout a book and then say ILY in the end. But Lainie and Hop’s constant back & forth was great.

  13. Christine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:19:30

    @JoJo – which one is Joker again? Is he the really stern one mentioned in Shy and Tabby’s story? I agree about the story being light on the crack. I still liked it but it wasn’t something I was rushing to reread as soon as I finished.
    @Tina- oddly enough I could have done with more arguing btw Lanie and Hop if it was productive. One of the great things about Tyra and Tack was when they would have an argument they would get something out of it. Usually Tack would sum it up and say “OK I learned this about you and you learned this about me” and it would move the relationship forward. Hop just not speaking to Lanie for a week was not only poor communication it made for boring storytelling IMHO.

  14. veronica
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:28:00

    Hop ‘made’ this book for me. I loved it. I was actually looking forward to Lanie’s sass and drama but not in a high school kind of way, in the end she kind of got on my nerves. Love what Hop did toward the end. :)

  15. JoJo
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:28:33

    @Christine: Yes Christine, Joker is the one who “didn’t smile often and never laughed”; a recruit with Rush (Own the Wind). And I saw on KA’s site this morning it may be High who’s up next in the Chaos series.

  16. Courtney
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 13:38:59

    I actually think this was one of KA’s best books I’ve read. KA is hit or miss for me-I loved “Motorcycle Man,” “Lady Luck,” and “Sweet Dreams,” mildly liked “Own the Wind,” and DNF “Play it Safe” and in parts, struggled to get through both “Mystery Man” and “Breathe.

    Like some of the other commenters, I didn’t see Lanie as that dramatic until the very end when she cut off Hop after she learned about BeeBee without ever giving him the opportunity to explain.

    I actually loved Hop and Lanie and I didn’t expect to either. I found Lanie annoying in “Motorcycle Man,” and didn’t know much about Hop other than it appeared he cheated on his wife.

    I liked how Hop, from the very beginning, wanted to nurture and help Lanie heal because she really needed it. I love KA’s motorcycle heroes, but Tack and Shy aren’t sensitive and I thought Hop was, in a fully alpha-like way.

    I also liked how in this book, there wasn’t a lot of sub-plot nonsense (except with Benito). Sometimes in KA’s books, I find myself skipping over the non-couple stuff because it’s long-winded and distracting. I found this book to be very tight and very strong.

  17. Madeleine
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 15:41:06

    Oh I completely disagree. I loved the books and found Lanie likeable, funny, relatable- far more than I thought I would. I read this and the flop that was Entwined with You and I have to say it again I LOVE KRISTEN ASHLEY. I’m a total groupie because every single book hits the mark, makes me laugh, makes me feel and is just damn good fun.

    Because she makes a 42 year old single dad biker dude seem far more like a dream man than any 28 year old supermodel billionaire CEO ever could be. Because her characters are believable, likeable and you want them to do well. She is probably the greatest gift to romance in the last decade if you ask me. I know she’s not for everyone, my best friend thinks I’m insane, but for me she truly is crack and this review disappointed me.

  18. Courtney
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 16:07:25

    @Madeleine:

    I do agree that KA has a total knack for making the ordinary extraordinary and writing very relatable characters. The men are bikers/mechanics and the couples drink soda and beer, eat potato chips, and have hog roasts. They watch TV and have average houses (I think Tack’s is described as exceptional with the view, but Hop’s house sounds fairly non-descript).

  19. Tina
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 20:28:41

    @Christine:

    I think one of their arguments actually did advance the plot. Hop’s refusal to speak to Lainie forced her to tell him about her father’s cheating and how that impacted her. She hadn’t found a way to share that that before and she was ashamed of it. But his absolute refusal to talk to her at that point was the impetus KA used to get that piece of info out of her to share with him.

  20. Kaetrin
    Jun 05, 2013 @ 21:26:20

    I didn’t think Lanie was all that dramatic either (certainly she was no Gwen – Mystery Man).

    I missed the over the top action of the other books – no-one got kidnapped or stabbed! *wails* But I adored Hop and loved Hop and Lainie together. As usual for me, Tack stole all the scenes he was in.

    Also, after I read Fire Inside I became addicted to Bob Seger on You Tube.

  21. Rei
    Jun 06, 2013 @ 08:36:11

    It was a very refreshing change from the “Babe I just know what’s better for you despite your protests and you are going to just be secretly happy I went ahead and worked this troublesome guy over for you” we have seen before.

    Hmm. I’ll give this one a go on that basis, but honestly I’ve been disappointed by Ashley so far. I know a lot of people like her books, and it is nice to see a romance that works with a different setting to what you might expect, but I still find them so deeply problematic that it’s hard for me to get through them. I’ve read Motorcycle Man and Own The Wind, and then I read Mystery Man (there are words to describe just how much I hated Hawk, but I’d probably best keep them to myself) and then I picked up Law Man because Mitch seemed like he might be less of an “alpha means I don’t really have to listen to what you say” hero. And he, uh, wasn’t. Well, maybe a bit, but not so much as to particularly grab me.

    I’ll give this book a try and see if the Ashley books that don’t work for all the die-hard fans work for me a little better, but I have a feeling it’ll probably be my last.

  22. Laura
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 01:38:37

    I have to agree with those who didn’t find Lanie particularly melodramatic. I’m VERY hit or miss with Kristen Ashley’s book and some of the behaviour of her heroes in particular drives me nuts, but I found this one a pleasant surprise. I was expecting Lanie to be insufferably immature, but compared to some (most) of the Rock Chicks, for instance, she seemed almost laid back to me! And Hop appealed to me as a hero far more than either Tack or Shy. In short: expected to dislike this one, but would actually rate it among my favourites of KA’s. Who’d have thought? :)

  23. Christine
    Jun 07, 2013 @ 07:53:35

    @Rei:
    If none of the other books worked for you then Ashley may not be for you. If you feel like giving it one more shot, Hop is less bossy than many Ashley heroes. He definitely has his bossy moments- particularly when it comes to their love life, so to speak. He isn’t unreasonable though and the couple seemed to have less tension than a lot of others.
    I strongly advise you to avoid “Knight” by Ashley. I got a kick out of many of the books of hers you didn’t care for and the hero in this one made me angry. I wanted to give the doormat heroine a good shaking and a talking to.

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