What is Cracktastic Reading? For me, it is when I basically baseline a series as soon as I can get my hands on the books. It is also when I get to a stopping point and go “holy hell did I just fall back to the 80s/90s with the super Alpha Men and the head/desk leading lady” (my head to the desk but OH MY GOD)!
I haven’t had a truly Cracktastic Reading experience since before I started blogging in 2008 but Dream Men & Chaos by Kristen Ashley certainly filled the bill! I want to state this upfront since when I start talking about particular characters you will get the impression I did not like the series: I COULD NOT PUT THESE DOWN! That is because Kristen Ashley tells a story like a BOSS! Seriously, I NEEDED to know individual’s love stories and the action was fantastic. Plus the men were unapologetic alpha male (though yes there will be some issues with them too) AND they were FIERCE. Simply put, any time you can’t put a book down whether it is because of a train wreck character or a storyline you must know how it ends then the writer did their job. Kristen Ashley did her JOB!
Did y’all ever read Shel Silverstein? Remember the Poem “I cannot go to school today?”? There were a couple of times when my library would get one of the books in that I would be like can I say that about work? The answer is no, I went to work like a responsible adult but I picked up dinner on the way home so I wouldn’t have to do dishes, clean house, or anything chore related. I just binged. Yes, I got all of these books from the library except the one that started it all (Fire Inside) which I got at RT. I also did not read them in order–I read the latest (at the time because there is one coming out 6/30) Chaos first and the first Dream Man last.
Here was my reading order (all series must read in order people get ready to CRINGE):
- Fire Inside Chaos #2 (published June 4th 2013)
- Law Man Dream Man #3 (published January 1st 2012)
- Own the Wind Chaos #1 (published April 2nd 2013)
- Motorcycle Man Dream Man #4 (published May 22nd 2012)
- Wild Man Dream Man #2 (published October 5th 2011)
- Mystery Man Dream Man #1 (published July 13th 2011)
Basically I read them as I could get my hands on them! Did I feel reading out of order hurt the stories in any way? NOPE! In fact, I am glad that I read Mystery Man last (it was my least favorite) because I might not have ever experienced the rest if that happened first!
Here is what you should know about this series:
- The characters with the exception of 2 are all over 30. I LOVED THIS! In fact, most of them are in their late 30s to mid 40s. SWOON!
- The 2 that were 24 and 27 respectively were actually the least dramatic couple in the series. I both loved and hated that because I think technically that puts them into NA territory and I don’t like NA. That being said, they had their shit together.
- The men are ALPHA –I don’t mean a little bit. They all use the word baby (which drove me nuts). They all are my way or the highway (and I do mean to the end). They are all very sexual and BOSSY!
- The women are all over the place. I love that women around my age were celebrated in this series. I didn’t love that some of them had the emotional age of a 22 year old.
- The characters were real. While some of them had crazy ass jobs (Commando, PI, Biker) most were just regular people (cops, sales people, marketing agents). In fact, I loved that not every person (there were some) was rich. They had to work for a living. They had responsibilities. They had bills to pay. Kristen did a GREAT job of making it known that these people had jobs but she did it in a way that didn’t draw you out of the fantasy of hot men. BRAVO!
- There is something known as BadASS world!
- Elvira! This character is the best ever friend, smack talker, and woman in the series. More on this at the end because…..
- This thought will go through your head multiple times while reading/listening to this series
I will be doing my simple thoughts in the correct reading order because I know that not every reader is a series rebel like me 🙂
My Rating: 2.5
Contains the magical unicorn of women: Gwen. Evidently the one woman that can bring 3 alpha men to fall all over her and claim her as their own (ok Lawson didn’t really claim her but Tack and Hawk did). I read this book last and boy am I glad. I didn’t get the appeal of Gwen (in the book–love her in the series) and think I would have felt Lawson/Tack were settling in their own books had I read this one first. This was also the biggest hot mess from the beginning to the end (though I could not put it down). Let’s just say that you will have to believe that a woman meets a man, takes him back to her house for a one night stand, and will let him randomly show up for the next year and a half in the middle of the night just to have sex. She doesn’t know his name. Never gave him a key. Doesn’t ever call the cops. Granted Hawk is HAWT but I am pretty sure night 1 is acceptable but the next time he breaks into your home while you are sleeping is not even for a really HAWT guy. Then again maybe I am just too uptight. Gwen is also way to TSTL in many spots and Hawk says the reason every one wants her is because she is a challenge. I didn’t see anything about her being a challenge other than her attitude–she pretty would say she was over men and then crumble the second a kiss was involved. Nothing wrong with that but it doesn’t make her challenge. So overall Gwen didn’t work for me in her own love story but I tell you she is awesome in the rest of the series as a friend. The action was awesome. The story around the action was awesome. Hawk was very alpha and hawt. Elvira was in it which made her part awesome. I loved meeting Gwen’s friends. I really liked Tracy (she represents all of us hopeless romantics). Still very readable even though I wanted to have a shoot-straight talk with Gwen.
My Rating: 3.5
This one was my STOP: Reverse the woman being annoying and insert alpha male book. I loved Tessa! For everything that she had been through, she was strong with her head put on tight. She was not TSTL. She was not pushed around. She made her own decisions. Brock on the other hand got on my nerves with his “I know best” routine because boy was wrong on more than one occasion. I read this one next to last. This is also the couple I knew the least since they really aren’t in the other books that much. Brock shows up with Lawson some but Tessa is pretty much background in the rest of the series. Their love story was high octane. Evidently y’all Denver is a dangerous place to live 🙂 This was really fun to read though because of the people surrounding Tessa/Brock. They had great friends, family, and even crazy exes (though they were bad–it was an interesting bad). Also, loved that Kristen was able to show that blending families and becoming a step-mom is a worthwhile thing. It can be romantic and awesome!
My Rating: 2.75
This was my second read by Kristen Ashley. Can I just say that even though I rated this low–the action part of the story was ROCK STAR! The beginning and end were AWESOME! However, the middle part of the book with melodramatic Mara drove me batty. Seriously she broke up with, left, or otherwise engaged Mitch in the most hot/cold of ways so much in the middle. Sure she had a lot on her plate but I just don’t see a man sticking around for all that. Granted, Mitch must have loved it because not only did he stick around but he took on her cousins as his own kids. Mitch was swoon-worthy. Though after reading Mystery Man, I know why he stuck around for Mara. He likes them dramatic. Too each their own! There was Elvira in this one so SCORE!
My Rating: 4.00
While I still find the overly “not listening” type of alpha male annoying (at this point though totally acceptable in the Bad Ass world of KA) Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ahsley gave me a lead female that just stood toe to toe with the biggest and baddest of the bunch! I am so glad I fell in love with Tack during this book and KNOW that Tyra is his forever and ever before I read Mystery Man. Tyra is NOTHING like Gwen. Oh Tyra was dramatic (all the women in this series are) but she was not a push-over. She gave as good as she got and not only with Tack. She was a strong woman with the women and men in her life. I LOVED THAT! Seriously, I could totally posse with Tara. Plus there was a good amount of Elvira in this one. Have I mentions that I love her!
My Rating 4.50
My favorite in the series though I loathe to say it. The characters were younger but boy did they have their stuff together. I really loved both Tabitha and Shy. I also really loved that we got to see their relationship grow, blossom, change, and expand over like a 6 year period (I don’t have the book anymore as it was a library book but it was something like that). They had a great friendship base which is always my favorite kind of story. Granted, Shy was a horndog and Tabby was a mess at different times in the friends , not-friends, avoid, grow, and come back together years but it was real. It was raw. It was HAWT. Plus, I really liked how Tabby was able to stand up for herself with everyone in her life. LOVED THAT! Action was great again. Story was great! Romance was great! Enjoyed this one from beginning to end!
I already posted this review on my blog once but putting it here since this is the book that started this cracktastic journey for me!
Read for Fun (Paperback)
Overall Rating: 3.50
Story Rating: 3.25
Character Rating: 3.75
First Thought when Finished: Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley was definitely more appealing to me than the last outlaw biker story I tried! (Would just note that while these are/were “outlaws” they are now not on the wrong side of the law which made them likable)
1: I loved that both of these characters were above 30! So rare!
2: I liked that they both had things to work through. Legit life stuff that comes with age and experience.
3: I liked that Lanie refused to change who she was based on who was with.
4: I liked that she also didn’t care what other people thought. She was with who she wanted.
5: Lanie’s moment with her family had me fist-pumping!
1: The last argument between them almost made me wish they would break up. I just didn’t see how it was going to last long term. Don’t get me wrong, I was rooting for their HEA but it was like one argument too many.
2: OMG while they were hot, they were also overly dramatic which got a little draining.
3: I think because I came into the series on book 2 of the spin-off that I was wanting a little more of the story outside of Lanie/Hop. I will get the rest from the library.
4: I cuss like a construction brat (because I am one) but occasionally I would have liked Hop to use his “big boy” words.
5: I wanted more honesty between the best friend and/or more girl time.
Final Thoughts: Good enough for me to seek out the original series and the first in this one. I need to see how the “let me take a few wires and cross them to get Hop in” fell in love!
I am praying that we get a true story about her getting an HEA! There was a mention of a man in her life that was Bad Ass (in the Chaos books) and such but seriously she needs her own story. Mostly because she is the most entertaining of the bunch. I have a feeling I will never see it but it is my series wish!
See that final thought up there–well come to find out that particular guy is in another series by Kristen Ashley. My library only has the first book so I am going to have to either delve into my book budget or borrow the rest but I have a feeling they will be as cracktastic as these have been!
Also already on hold for this at the library when it releases next week