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.