Saturday, January 26, 2013

SUNNY: BOOK REVIEW "Games of the Heart"


Mike Haines
Dusty Holliday

Mike Haines has known Dusty Holliday since childhood.  She is the kid sister of his girlfriend.  From the start, they share a deep and abiding connection. However, after graduation, Dusty leaves the 'Burg and Mike doesn't see her again.  

Fast forward twenty year and they reconnect at the death of Dusty's brother, Darrin.  And the story begins...


Kristen Ashley is in love with Mike Haines.  How do I know?  I know because only an author with deep affection for a character could have written a story to encapsulate the almost perfect man that is Mike Haines. Mike is caring, loving, giving, romantic, alpha, controlling, brave, possessive, and yummy.  Although he is wounded, he is not broken, and this book is less about redemption (there is a dash of that) but about love done the Kristen Ashley way.  Unlike some of her other works, there is less suspense - there is no serial killer, no mob boss, no sexual predator - but plenty of drama.  This book is like Mike Haines' kisses, a slow burn that elevates the reader's temperature.  It takes a deep foundation of phileo love and layers it with eros love.

The narrative is woven with stories of the next generation of Kristen Ashley characters - Fin, Reesee, No, and Kirby. With Fin, we get to see an alpha in the making - the trials that forge the character of a young man into a wise one.  It is as much their stories as it is Mike and Dusty's.  

I also loved revisiting with the other 'Burg characters - Colt, Merry, Sully, Cal and Ryker.  Through Mike's relationship with them we get a stronger understanding of Ms. Ashley's love and respect for the 'Burg - the friendships, the deep loyalties, the donuts.  As Mike loving puts it:  "Most folk think Indiana's a state to drive right through.  They took a minute to eat our food, experience our hospitality, understand the depth of our loyalty and they did it in the Fall when the trees are in color, no one would ever leave." The way she writes it, it feels like truth.

I felt completely satisfied when I finished this book.  Actually, I felt a sense of joy and contentment.  This was a beautiful read.  

If you need a book that affirms your belief in love, you must read Games of the Heart.

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