My intense love for romance author Kristen Ashley is getting so out of control it’s borderline stalking at this point. I’ve read almost every single book she’s published, pre-ordered titles months in advance, and I check her website obsessively for information about new projects. At this point, I’ve probably invested more money into her work than I have into my own student debt. #noregrets
Which is why Ashley is the perfect author to feature as my Author Crush this month (and, um, every month, to be honest). Not only is she crazy prolific (if my count is right, since 2011 Ashley has published 54 books – in five years people!!) she’s one of those rare self-published authors whose quality of work never seems to waver. And these are not short, quick reads either. The books range in page count, but are usually upwards of 400 to 500 pages and we see some of the same characters return in multiple series. So if you’re looking for an author who never disappoints and consistently pumps out awesomely long and involved romances, then it’s time to give Ashley a read.
Plus, I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet: the sexy alpha heroes. Ashley’s leading men are hot, aggressive and looking for that one perfect girl to settle down with. They don’t mess around once they find her either. Don’t expect a slow-burn romance -– these heroes are not shy about their feelings, and they’ve usually moved in with their lady love by page 10. The female characters are also no slouches, and whether they’re tough, sensitive, wounded, or sassy, they are always strong enough to handle their intense alpha men.
If you haven’t read any of Ashley’s work yet, here are my five favorite books – and why you should read them ASAP:
For You: The ‘Burg Series (2011)
It’s not often that a serial killer novel/romantic-thriller sucks me in, but wow did I fall hard for this book. Ashley is the queen of creating relationships that I instantly root for, but no couple hooked me quite as quickly as February and Colt. They’re high school sweethearts who are torn apart by a tragic misunderstanding and then find themselves in the middle of a horrific killing spree. Not only are they super hot together, but it’s the way everyone else views them that really gets to me. The whole town, their past loves, their families -– everyone knows that Feb and Colt belong together. Theirs is an epic, soulmate kind of romance, and I could not put this book down.
Sweet Dreams: Colorado Mountain Series (Hachette Books, 2012)
This was only the second Ashley book I read after discovering Rock Chick. And while Rock Chick is a whirlwind of sass, sex and comedy (see below), Sweet Dreams pulled me in with its more grown up themes and complex relationships. A lot of Ashley’s couples fall for each other at first sight, but that’s definitely not the case with Tate and Lauren, who get off to a pretty rocky start after he harshly insults her. Lauren is fresh off a divorce, wounded and lost. She ends up in a biker town working at a biker bar, and it couldn’t be more obvious that she’s a fish out of water. Though it takes a while for Tate to win back her trust, he more than makes up for his initial blunder. Throw in a crazy ex, a secret kid and a terrifying killer and you have the makings of an awesome love story.
Rock Chick (2011)
I love all the Rock Chick books, but the first one is definitely my favorite. The writing is a little looser, the story feels totally fresh and original, and Indy is the kind of character I could read about all day long. She’s hilarious and wild, and it’s no surprise that her best friend’s brother, Lee, has been secretly in love with her for years. He finally decides to act on his feelings just as Indy finds herself in some serious trouble involving stolen diamonds and an ex-employee. Lee saves her life -– and puts some pretty hot moves on her -– in this fun and sweet romance that launched a hugely popular series.
Own the Wind: A Chaos Novel (Hachette Books, 2013)
Hot guys on motorcycles? Yes, please. We first meet Tabby as a teen in Motorcycle Man, the fourth book in The Dream Man series. But while that love story belongs to her father (the head of biker gang Chaos), in Own the Wind, Tabby is all grown up and about to marry a non-biker. Until her fiancé dies in a tragic accident, that is. As Tabby struggles to pick up the pieces of her shattered future, she starts to lean on Shy, her father’s protégée and a super hot biker in his own right. Tabby and Shy have a very smoldering love affair that’s also super sweet, particularly in how he helps her overcome her grief. The only problem is her dad, Kane, who isn’t too keen on the thought of the two getting together. It leads to a lot of drama, but the book more than makes up for it with all the sexy makeout scenes.
Heaven and Hell (2011)
I’m a total sucker for celebrity-falls-for-normal-girl romances, especially when that celebrity is as hot as ex-football star Sampson. After suffering an abusive relationship and discovering her husband was murdered, Kia decides to go on a glamorous vacation to help heal herself. While there, she meets Sampson, her celebrity crush. In the hands of a less skilled author, this story could have been simple and sweet. But Ashley dives deeply into Kia’s history of abuse, and explores what happens when love isn’t necessarily enough to make you stay in a relationship. The two main characters go through a lot in Heaven and Hell, but it’s impossible not to get swept along for the ride.
Main image via www.denverlibrary.org