Sunday, November 1, 2015

ARC Review: WALK THROUGH FIRE by Kristen Ashley

Walk Through Fire
by Kristen Ashley
Book 4, Chaos series

Millie Cross knows what it's like to burn for someone. She was young and wild and he was fierce and even wilder-a Chaos biker who made her heart pound. They fell in love at first sight and life was good, until she learned she couldn't be the woman he needed and made it so he had no choice but to walk away. Twenty years later, Millie's chance run-in with her old flame sparks a desire she just can't ignore. And this time, she won't let him ride off . . . 

Bad boy Logan "High" Judd has seen his share of troubles with the law. Yet it was a beautiful woman who broke him. After ending a loveless marriage, High is shocked when his true love walks back into his life. Millie is still gorgeous, but she's just a ghost of her former self. High's intrigued at the change, but her betrayal cut him deep-and he doesn't want to get burned again. As High sinks into meting out vengeance for Millie's betrayal, he'll break all over again when he realizes just how Millie walked through fire for her man.

Kristen Ashley is the kind of author that invites you to take a deep dive into her story, to join her characters in experiencing the heartache and joy of finding and being in love.  I jumped feet first into this story and enjoyed every minute of my immersion.  

Logan “High” Judd hasn’t been the most popular guy in the Chaos series.  He’s butted heads with Tack and going in I wasn’t quite sure how Ms. Ashley was going to redeem this character.  Needless to say, she does so in a spectacular way. 

Walking Through Fire is a quintessential second chance story.  This book sets the standard for me for all future books in this sub-genre.   High is the bad boy (one of the baddest among the many) in Chaos.  Churlish and edgy, we learn that he wasn’t always this way. Millie is a successful event planner who lives a very structured, tightly wound life.  She avoids all extremes and rarely takes chances.  Back in the day, Millie and High were fully devoted to one another and in all-consuming love. Then they weren’t. Millie broke up with High and they were over.  That breakup leaves bitterness in High from which he never recovers.  She is left with a half-life. 

My life had been interrupted and I’d never restarted it. Since Logan Judd, I had not had a boyfriend. I had not had a lover. Not in twenty years. He was it for me and those pictures showed why. I met my perfect man at age eighteen and I had him for three years. Then I sent him away. Could I right those wrongs? Should I? You obliterated him. I had. 

Life starts over when Millie sees High at Chipotle twenty years later.  She decides she needs closure and reaches out to High.  Each interaction is explosive.  The chemistry between them has not diminished, but the hurt is deep on both sides. 

There is one thing that is guaranteed to make me cry and break my heart, and that is self-sacrifice that goes unknown to the recipient (think Les Miserable).  Millie pays a tremendous cost for High's future happiness, a future that will not include her. This revelation and the circumstances in which it comes out, makes me gasp and tilts me off my axis.  It is almost overwhelming.  This is what Kristen Ashley does.  

High and Millie’s reunion is about redemption and care.  The way in which High releases his inhibition to care for Millie’s sacrifice, navigating around loss and regret, is swoon-worthy. He makes it right for her, ensuring that her sacrifice is valuable. The characters find their way back to each other with small, beautiful, tender moments.  But, like in real life, their reunion is also complicated because families and children are involved.  Kudos to Ms. Ashley for negotiating this prickly terrain and doing it with a realism that made me both cringe and applaud.  

This book also amps up the story arc between Valenzuela and Chaos.  Benito ups the ante in the turf war between the two factions and it is clear that something big is on the horizon.  This feud fuels the tension in the club and gives us readers anticipation for future books. 

IN A NUTSHELL: Walk Through Fire is an adult story about two people finding their way back to clarity, purity and happiness.  Certainly my favorite in the Chaos series, this book ranks in my top five Kristen Ashley books. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are my own and I received no fees for this review. 

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