Saturday, April 11, 2020

After the Climb (River Rain #1) by Kristen Ashley ~ Review

After The Climb (River Rain #1)Source: Available for free download.

After the Climb (River Rain #1) by Kristen Ashley

They were the Three Amigos: Duncan Holloway, Imogen Swan and Corey Szabo. Two young boys with difficult lives at home banding together with a cool girl who didn’t mind mucking through the mud on their hikes.

They grew up to be Duncan Holloway, activist, CEO and face of the popular River Rain outdoor stores, Imogen Swan, award-winning actress and America’s sweetheart, and Corey Szabo, ruthless tech billionaire.

Rich and very famous, they would learn the devastating knowledge of how the selfish acts of one would affect all their lives.

And the lives of those they loved.

Start the River Rain series with After the Climb, the story of Duncan and Imogen navigating their way back to each other, decades after a fierce betrayal.

And introduce yourself to their families, who will have their stories told when River Rain continues.

This series was started with the help of you, my readers, during the pandemic crisis of COVID-19. The first book in this series is free, a gift to my Chicklets for their loyalty and support over the years, and a project we all banded together to produce during a challenging time. Thank you for years of kindness and encouragement. I hope you enjoy what we built together.

Please note: This book is a love letter to my readers, a project we worked on together, and as such, for the time being, will only be available right here on my website. In time, I will put it on vendors to be made available widely, but now, it’s just for you.

Kristen Ashley is my favorite author. This is not a secret. So of course I was intrigued when she started a project she called "We're All in This Together." Honestly, the idea of writing the book "together" through polls deciding little details in a book that don't entirely matter doesn't make me any more of less likely to read a book. But this is KA and part of her doing this "together," she posted parts of the working draft as she was writing it. Which means I started reading this one before it was completely written and released. I actually only read the first set of chapters she posted, because when I got to the end of them I knew I was torturing myself trying to read along and chose to wait until the rest was done and released to read the rest. Because the beginning had me that hooked.

Which brings me to last weekend when Kristen Ashley released After the Climb as a free download. I hopped on that SO FAST. I read it in less than a day. And now my thoughts are such a cluster that I'm going to split this into two lists: things about After the Climb I particularly enjoyed and things I did not.

Let's start with the things I enjoyed:

- The. Characters. All of them, but the MCs' children especially. They were all so interesting and fun, and really that's always a shining star in KA's books. It's rare (though not unheard of) for me to not think her characters are awesome. Not only are these particular characters, in fact, awesome, but they also have high potential to become some of her best. A thing I'm hesitant to say, because she has many amazing characters in many amazing series, but... we'll see. For now, they were super fun and I'm excited for more in future installments.

- This book was exactly what I needed right now. Just what I was in the mood for. It perfectly hit the spot. I know this isn't a quantifiable point, but it does add to my level of enjoyment, so it was worth mentioning.

- All of the relationships. There's a bunch of new characters in this one, and they're all interacting and getting to know, or re-know, each other, and I loved the sprouting relationships from it. Of Bowie with Genny's kids, and Genny with Bowie's kids, and all their kids together. The friendships between Bowie's best friend and his wife with Genny. The little interaction of Tom and Bowie. Hale and everybody. And, of course, Genny and Bowie. It's all so heartwarming, and I am here for it.

- Speaking of Bowie and Genny, their romance was nice. I love how well they fit together and how easily they worked. Once they got past the difficult beginning, they were both all in and I appreciate that. They're mature and realistic and they care for each other so much.

Now for the things I did not particularly enjoy:

- This one is a personal preference, but I tend to have a hard time with second chance romances. They tend to be a hard sell for me, though I always pick up the ones by KA because she does them so well. This one isn't exactly an exception, but I grapple with the way things ended between them the last time. It's discussed, and I understand...but my feelings are mixed. I am glad they're together now, and I am excited to see them together as the series continues. I guess I just wish there was more apology from Bowie to go along with his explanations as to how things went in the past.

- I kind of feel like the side characters outshine the main characters. I truly like Genny and Bowie, but I was always itching for interactions with Chloe and Sasha and Gage and Sully. The kids with Bowie and Genny were cute, and the kids together and bonding was the best. It kind of made the impact of the main characters fade to the background. Which isn't necessarily a BAD thing overall, because it means this whole series is going to be fan-freaking-tastic, but for this book focused on these two characters...*shrugs*

Overall, I had a great time reading After the Climb. It was a fun, quick read that really hit the spot. I am beyond excited to see more of these characters as the series continues! I can already tell this series is going to be a great one.

4 stars - Marvelous!

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