Friday, November 27, 2015

Sebring (Unfinished Hero #5) by Kristen Ashley @KristenAshley68

The finale to a beloved series makes me melancholy, but one from this author totally devastates me. I have a hard enough time letting go of Ms. Ashley’s characters and the excitement that overcomes me the first time I step into their literary worlds. Saying goodbye is excruciating, since I’m always anxious for the next installment. Through the power of KA’s flawless descriptive writings, I’ve emotionally attached myself to Knight, Creed, Raid and Deaconfeeling as if they somehow magically became real. As much as I wanted my hands on Nick’s romance, it broke me knowing that the story line was coming to an end.

Stepping into Sebring, I faced a great challenge with getting to know and hopefully liking Nick, the ‘dark horse’, introduced in Knight.  Bracing myself, the struggle was real because, lets face itNick was a douche. Nevertheless, I liked the challenge of an edgy bad-boy reinventing himself in a way that leaves me no choice but to fall for him. By the end of the prologue, Nick had my heart wrapped tight around his little pinky finger. Olivia (Livvie) and Nick’s erotic romance superbly capped this series and once again, Kristen Ashley overwhelmed me with yet another deeply passionate, highly emotional, poignant tale.

If you have not read the series in its entirety, I highly recommend jumping on that pronto to understand Nick’s mindset. His character started off (in prior installments) as someone I loathed. Jealous, spoiled, sabotaging – he took full advantage of his brother, Knight.  After reading Sebring, I hate reflecting back on the asshole he used to be. But, it’s crucial to remember his beginnings to appreciate his character’s transformation. When a hero/heroine is at their worst, Ashley is at her best as she triumphantly scripts their path towards redemption. I absolutely savored seeing Nick struggle from his lowest point, work hard to piece his life back together, while winning my affection along the way.

I loved the man he became. Loved how he earned the respect of his brother, friends and family. Adored how Nick forced himself through the cracks of Livvie’s armor, drawing her from the darkness of fear into dawn’s light. He had my nerves twisted in knots with his elaborate plan of using Livvie to avenge the murder of his late girlfriend/partner, Hettie (his target being Vincent Shade). But without a doubt, his feelings for Livvie were sincere practically from the start. His heart and soul belonged to Olivia Shade as he placed her needs above all else. It may have taken Nick a while, but in his struggle, he found strength for the sake of his love. That’s the true beauty of this tale. The man Nick Sebring became is compassionate, understanding, selfless and fiercely protective of Livvie. Even though Nick’s an anti-hero (overly dark, edgy and living by his own set of rules), to me he’s also a true Alpha-hero in every sense of the word. He was the perfectly flawed, dynamic protagonist.

Seeing Livvie’s life was achingly painful. Trapped under her father’s (a nefarious, heartless bastard) control, she played the role of his dutiful daughter, while helping to run the crumbling ‘family business’. She survived by maintaining a stone-cold facade. Her somber character made my heart bleed when seeing into her dark and lonely life. What I admired the most was, hidden beneath the shroud of sorrow, stood a woman of great strength who dared to hope. I desperately wanted Livvie to find happiness, and it shattered me knowing she was the pawn in Nick’s plan. My anxiety level soared knowing that the realization would send her reeling. Fortunately for her (and my nerves), what began under false pretenses became very real rather quickly for Nick, when realizing Olivia Shade is not what she appeared to be. She was desolate. She was vulnerable. She was trapped in a prison created by her family and Nick made it his mission to unravel the layers and free her from darkness. He found exquisite beauty in his Livvie and a second chance to love again. In the end, Nick was amazingly romantic as he moved heaven and earth in hopes of bringing Livvie much deserved love and joy.
From the onset, these two ignited in a frenzied fury of erotic explosions. Their sexual chemistry was unrivaled and wild. It was combustible. I was constantly fanning myself down as they frantically battled for domination during each passionate encounter. Nick was incredible and beyond sexy. As Livvie desperately needed affection, Nick consistently gave her everything, and I ate all the intensity up with a spoon. And I loved seeing their tumultuous affair become more than just a romp. Profound feelings of love developed, consuming both, which made me swoon.
I'm always giddy when seeing past loves pop up within the story-line. Knight, of course, comes into play and manages to make me fall even deeper in love with him. He openly welcomes Nick back into the fold and forgives. It was a truly remarkable moment of tenderness and healing between two brothers that struck a chord within my heart. There’s so much more substance to Kristen Ashley’s prose than just a beautifully scripted romance. There are inspirational messages conveyed through her character’s experiences, which brings to light the significance of forgiveness, redemption and family. Whether we are journeying through a motorcycle club, parallel universes, the burgs of Indy, the mountainous towns of Colorado, or in the city of Denver where men live by their own codes – these fundamentals are ever-present in her tales. It’s brothers and sisters lending an abundance of guidance, love and support in a time of need.  With each read, I walk away uplifted and tremendously moved as she feeds my soul.

Like all good things, this series came to an end and Sebring was phenomenal. It was one hell of a gripping erotic romance filled with nerve-wracking moments of angst as anti-heroes faced off against their vile foes. GAH! My anxieties climbed sky-high as Nair and Benito added even more drama and twists to the plot. I hated to let these sexy men gobut when one door closes, the promise of what’s to come opens. A secondary character from the Rock Chick Series, who teamed up with Nick, was heavily involved in this story line. I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping to see more of him in the future.

ARC received from Author in exchange for an honest review.