Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Walk Through Fire (Chaos #4) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68


Once finishing my first read (Yes, I confess, I needed to savor this one several times) I had to step back, catch my breath and process all the feels. This one totally did me in above and beyond any…and I mean ANY of Kristen Ashley’s tales. I was completely destroyed throughout most of this story courtesy of Millie. For personal reasons, I connected with her character, her heartache and all that she had suffered; she just touched me more than any other heroine I’ve encountered.  There was so much to take in – the raw passion, the love, the hurt, the correlation between the beauty of this couple’s second chance and the pain endured during years of separation... I was an emotional wreck. Cried ugly tears and sniffled my way through boxes of tissues before the broken pieces of my soul were placed back together. Walk Through Fire was amazing and worth every damn tear I shed.

Walk Through Fire is the fourth installment in my absolute favorite biker series – CHAOS. This time, it’s the enigmatic Logan “High” Judd’s turn to rip off his mask and tell his story. In past novels, High struck me as both mysterious and troublesome.  I didn’t know what to expect from his character and honestly, when meeting him in Motorcycle Man I didn’t care for him. He was at odds with MY Tack, bucking heads and creating tension within the club. It left a bad taste in my mouth. So going in, I braced myself for the intensity and edginess of his character, and it took me some time to warm up to him.

I have to admit, there were parts of this story where I had a difficult time with High’s character. There were times I saw the ugliness in the callous way he treated Millie (mind you, it was when they first reunited and before they had a chance to sort their heads out). I get why he was angry, cold hearted and hurtful. Millie unexpectedly and inexplicably tossed Logan out of her life twenty years ago, but he and his brothers were beyond harsh. (Hop, you pissed me off, brother, and I am still holding a grudge).  

But then, I reached a turning point when realizing High was trapped within the confines of his own hell.  Losing Millie destroyed him, turning him into a bitter man, who’ll do anything to numb his heartache. Meeting Millie again, after all these years apart, he was desperate to guard himself from further hurt.  Seeing his pain chipped away all the resentment I held and he had my sympathies.

The story itself frequently flashes back to the past, showing their beginnings as well as the three years they were together. Their love was beyond beautiful and I absolutely adored the younger, carefree Logan that gave his heart entirely to Millie. She was his world and losing her broke him, so I totally get why he was unpleasant. Once all hell breaks loose and Millie FINALLY explains why she pushed Logan away, (excruciatingly intense scene) I saw his tender side emerged, causing me fall deeper in love with him. Beneath all the sexy ruggedness, lies a passionate man who is forgiving, loving and compassionate. 

Working through my moods swinging from raging anger to swooning over all the magnificence that was High, I have to say all along, he was one sizzling sonnavabitch. Every time he spoke Hear?”   I freaking melted. I love a sexy bad boy and just thinking about all his hotness gets me all riled up.  

Millicent Cross… her life tore me to shreds and made my heart hurt. In the flashbacks, we see a young, vivacious girl who’s head over heels in love with the quintessential biker bad boy. They worked hard to build a life together, planning their dreams and finding comfort within the club. Until one day, it all fell apart.

Here’s the thing that pains me about Millie - of her own volition, she walked away from true love, shattered Logan’s heart into smithereens, while sentencing herself to a hopeless life filled with loneliness. She suffered silently.

With out revealing any spoilers, Millie had her reasons – and when discovering them, I was a goner and sobbed. But my head and heart were conflicted. In the back of my mind I wanted to scream at Millie and knock some sense into her shouting NO! How could you do such thing? Logan’s hot, sweet and sexy, just talk to him! However, my heart understood exactly why she chose to walk through fire for her man. Millie loves Logan so completely, that when realizing she could not give him everything, she sacrificed herself to give him a chance to have it all. As foolish as it may sound to purposely break two hearts, her actions where undeniably selfless and in the end, she gave Logan the greatest gift. Her strength was immeasurable and her devotion to Logan was absolute as she carried the burden of blame for years.

Understanding aside, it was hard for me to rationalize Millie’s decision; I was crushed and decimated in seeing her anguish. Ashley penned Millie’s character in such a way that I actually felt her emptiness echoing inside me, slicing through my heart, leaving me aching. KA proved once again the power she holds over my emotions.

Once the truth came pouring out, two decades worth of anger, bitterness, resentment and pain were transformed into steamy passion. Millie and High embraced the mistakes of the past and love they share in hopes of moving on to heal one another.  It was one hell of a roller coaster ride feeling every emotion these characters experienced - from moments of laughter and levity, to gut wrenching confessions, I held on tight and enjoyed the ride.  

Of course I relished all the drama. The angst involved with Benito causing problems for club, Elvira and the Old Ladies meddling in everyone’s affairs, family issues complicating Logan and Millie’s lives…so many nail biting moments and I savored all the craziness. The epilogue was shorter than what I am used to, but it was sweet regardless and laid groundwork for what may come in the next installment (cross fingers it will be Hound’s story). What I loved most of all were the flashbacks to not only the beginning if this couples’ relationship, but the earlier days of Chaos before Tack took the helm. Seeing wee little Tabby and Rush (so adorable) and finally meeting Black, the brother Chaos tragically lost. I was all weepy eyed getting to know him briefly only to mourn him.

Another soul touching romance gifted from Kristen Ashley’s beautiful imagination.  Walk Through Fire was a story of sacrifice, forgiveness, redemption and the everlasting power of love. A story about strong heroine who walk through the fires of hell for her man, and a hero who worked tirelessly to mend the broken heart of his one true love despite his own pain.  As far as awarding stars to this read, there aren’t enough stars in the sky. Thank you, Kristen, for voicing Millie’s story so eloquently and bringing to life the heartache involved with her circumstances. This was not an easy story for me to read, but the experience was incredible.

ARC received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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