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REVIEW: The Promise by Kristen Ashley

TP

Dear Ms. Ashley:

Your ‘Burg series is among my favorites, with At Peace (Joe and Vi’s story) being a routine re-read for me. During the course of At Peace, we meet the Bianchi’s, Joe’s very Italian cousins who own a successful pizzeria in Chicago, among them is Benito Bianchi, son, and Italian Hot Guy. We also meet Francesca Concetti, who ends up being involved in At Peace’s climax and is forever tied to Violet. It’s clear from At Peace that Benny and Frankie have a history and a lot of chemistry, so I was really looking forward to their love story.

The Promise picks up days after the end of At Peace. Frankie is in the hospital healing from her gunshot wound. She’s been in for about a week and has been avoiding the Bianchi’s, who have all visited multiple times wanting to thank her and make amends for a seven year long rift they’ve had. She’s been avoiding them by faking sleep. The most persistent of the Bianchi’s is Benny. She and Benny have history. Frankie was with Vinnie Jr., Benny’s brother for years. But Vinnie was killed after getting himself involved with his uncle, who is a mob boss. The Bianchi’s have held hard feelings towards Frankie for years, thinking that she should have somehow been able to lead Vinnie down a better path. Needless to say, Frankie putting her life on the line for Joe’s woman has erased all hard feelings and the family is now anxious to mend the rift.

Frankie has absolutely no interest in mending fences. Before the rift, the Bianchi’s were Frankie’s shelter from her incredibly messed up family. They encapsulated everything that she wanted in her life. And when they shut her out, it devastated her. In particular, Benny’s neglect. She and Benny had always been close, and after Vinnie died, Frankie made a drunken pass at him. He reacted badly and shut her out completely after that. She’s hurt and angry and unwilling to swing her emotions out on the line for any of the Bianchi’s again. Unfortunately, Benny has other plans. Frankie nearly dying has pulled his head out of the sand and he’s going to finally take action to rectify the rift and to establish the two of them as a couple. He picks up Frankie from the hospital and takes her to his house, where he commences with the wooing.

Frankie spends alot of time being outraged at Benny’s high-handedness and irritated at the way he insists on caring for every little detail of her life. He’s overbearing, confrontational and determined to get his way. He’s also at times very sweet and solicitous, and between that, and the other members of his family being so anxious to mend the rift, soon he and Frankie are a couple and quickly falling in love.

All of this happens in the first third of the book, which was fun, compelling reading. Problem is, after a few fits and starts, Frankie and Benny are together. And there’s still two-thirds of the book to go. The rest of the book involves an industrial espionage plot that involves the heroine making a number of very risky decisions that I think are moronic. And some family drama with Frankie’s side.  But it also involves the birth of Vi and Joe’s baby as well as their wedding, both of which I loved reading about.

I found the book to be what I’d term a trademark Kristen Ashley self-pub. It’s over-long, features an overbearing alpha hero and a heroine whose character is mostly derived from throwing alot of attitude around and generally being a pain in the ass. There are also the expected details descriptions of hair/makeup and clothing and the heroine does alot of whispering. So, basically, all of the things that make up your authorial voice. This was a book that I read relatively compulsively although not with the absorption of some others. But, if your fans are looking for a Kristen Ashley fix, this will do, and certainly it gives great glimpses of past, beloved characters. In the end it’s not my favorite, or even in my Top 5 favorite Kristen Ashley books, but I think those who read you regularly will enjoy it. Final grade: C+

Best wishes,

Kati

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Kati

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.

9 Comments

  1. Michele Mills
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 11:31:48

    “I found the book to be what I’d term a trademark Kristen Ashley self-pub. It’s over-long, features an overbearing alpha hero and a heroine whose character is mostly derived from throwing alot of attitude around and generally being a pain in the ass. There are also the expected details descriptions of hair/makeup and clothing and the heroine does alot of whispering.” Yes, this. LOL But hey, I expect my KA to have this or it’s not KA is it? The Promise wasn’t my favorite either, but I still read Kristen Ashley compulsively. She an auto buy. Her voice totally works for me, and wow, you’ve gotta love those care taking alphas! Plus, I need to read a man saying, “Babe,” periodically, it brightens my day. :)

  2. pamelia
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 12:27:40

    This book was such an uneven read for me. Usually a “trademark Kristen Ashley self-pub” has all those qualities you talk about, but it also grabs me and drags me into reading it without wanting to stop. “The Promise” was a slog for me for the first third. I almost gave up reading it and it was the first KA book I ever set aside well before bedtime to watch TV instead. I found the latter part of the book (especially with Joe and Vi’s wedding) much more engrossing.
    I thought overall she didn’t provide near enough internal drama in the relationship– they cleared some pretty big obstacles without blinking. I hardly think Frankie could have or should have gotten over 7 years of ill treatment in a matter of days. As for the external drama I thought it felt tacked on and hardly necessary, plus way to easily wrapped up (with pointless cameos, whee!). What it felt like to me is that KA loved these characters too much to put them through any real hardships and that was really frustrating.
    I didn’t hate the book. To me a subpar KA book is still more entertaining than a lot of other stuff, but I think this one will fall among my least favorites of KA’s books and that’s a bummer.

  3. Tanya S
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 14:14:28

    I also found that Frankie forgave really quickly and that there wasn’t enough romantic conflict. I was disappointed because I thought this book would have lots of romantic angst and I was in the mood to eat it up with a spoon. I did enjoy Benny’ s character and his determination in wooing Frankie. I didn’t love Frankie as much but sometimes I don’t love KA’s more traumatized/damaged(?) Heroines. I still enjoyed the book but it’s not a favorite.

  4. Geri
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 14:22:01

    Sadly, not even the appearance of Joe Callahan and Vi could save this book for me. I’ve waited for this book since At Peace and I have to say I was disappointed. I hardly recognize Frankie and Benny from At Peace. They have zero chemistry whatsoever. I didn’t think this was a trademark self-pub KA at all. Aside from the length and the rambling prose, this book doesn’t have the the chemistry nor the conflict of her other self-pub titles. I’d say, this was more like her traditionally published titles, except longer.

  5. Ducky
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 17:28:06

    I sample read this and I just couldn’t get into these characters. Usually when I sample any KA I always buy the book. I think the above commenter is right – they had no chemistry.

  6. Kaetrin
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 23:56:46

    Yeah, I liked it but the story lacked conflict and conflict is what makes a book compelling IMO.

  7. Kati
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 07:20:01

    It’s so interesting to me that so many had the same reaction. I wonder if she ever changes beta readers to get different feedback. It seems to me like she’s had a couple of books recently that have suffered from plot inertia. She might be due for a couple of new sets of eyes to read her stuff before she hits the publish button.

  8. Bonnie
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 08:56:19

    I auto-buy KA’s books and re-read most of them. I scooped up The Promise and was not able to finish it. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never did. I am an avid reader and finally gave up since I have a large TBR pile at all times. I will still auto-buy KA books. She tells a great story! Has anyone ever read a vampire book as good as “Until the Sun Falls From the Sky”?

  9. Michele Mills
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 11:19:20

    @Bonnie: I liked that one too! I enjoy KA’s paranormals. It’s fun to read her voice in a different sub genre. The Promise isn’t one of my favs (like Motorcycle Man, At Peace, Mystery Man…on and on….) because it had zero conflict (Bummer), but still I adore at least 80% of her backlist, which is saying alot considering how extensive it is. Thinking about her paranormals, I’m remembering I still have Broken Dove in my tbr – how did that slip through the cracks? I’d better get on that. Although, you know how it is, you reread one KA, next thing you know you’re reading ten. Lol

    @Kati: Email her and offer to be her Beta Kati!!!!

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