KALEIDOSCOPE by Kristen Ashley
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Reviewed by: Reading In Pajamas/ Cori
Rated: 5 Stars
When old friends become new lovers…anything can happen.
Sexy, gifted, and loyal, PI Jacob Decker is a tall, cool drink of perfection who had Emmanuelle Holmes at “hello.” His relationship with Emme’s best friend kept them apart for years, but things have changed. Now that a case has brought him to Gnaw Bone, Colorado, the road is wide open for Emme and Deck to explore something hotter and deeper than Emme dreamed possible. So why is she sabotaging the best thing that’s ever happened to her?
It isn’t easy to catch Deck off guard, but Emme does just that when she walks back into his life after nine long years. The curvy brunette had her charms back in the day, but now she’s a bona fide knockout . . . and she wants to rekindle their friendship. Deck, however, wants more. Emme’s always been the one; she excites Deck’s body and mind like no other woman can. But a dark chapter from Emme’s past overshadows their future together. Now only Deck can help her turn the page-if she’ll let him . . .
Loved it! I adore anything Kristen Ashley writes, but Kaleidoscope blew me away. It’s a beautiful love story about two people reconnecting that were meant to be. I couldn’t put it down. Kaleidoscope has great characters, a great plot, with plenty of action, and lots of steamy romance. This is the sixth book in the The Colorado Mountain Series, but they can each be read as a stand alone. I love the entire series though and highly recommend it. She also has plans for two more books in this series and I’ll be grabbing them when they release.
*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
BUY LINKS: ➢ Kindle http://amzn.to/LpcWvQ | Nook $3.99 http://bit.ly/1agtFxg | Kobo $3.99 http://bit.ly/1bilRpM
COLORADO MOUNTAIN SERIES BY KRISTEN ASHLEY ~ READING ORDER
✦#1: The Gamble – http://amzn.to/HIGoM4
✦#2: Sweet Dreams – http://amzn.to/1exgBV4
✦#3: Lady Luck – http://amzn.to/17L2Sbl
✦#4: Breathe – http://amzn.to/1aeYa3d
✦#5: Jagged – http://amzn.to/16FYDJX
✦#6: Kaleidoscope – http://amzn.to/LpcWvQ
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February 5, 2014 Forever Romance will be hosting a LIVE Spreecast Chat with Kristen Ashley at 7 PM EST. You can RSVP to watch and participate. http://www.spreecast.com/events/live-chat-with-kristen-ashley–2
Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
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“Sometimes,” Chace started, and his tone was cautious, “girls like her, girls like she used to be who turn into girls like she is now, get a guy’s attention, a good-lookin’ guy like that, and they can go—”
Deck cut him off. “Chace, you know Emme. You know that’s bullshit. She’s always known her own mind. And she’s always been cool. Even when she wasn’t a knockout, she wasn’t that kind of person.”
“It’s been years, Deck,” Chace reminded him. “A lot of them. People change, and it isn’t lost on either of us she has in a big way.”
“Yeah, and I just met her on the street. I’m havin’ dinner with her tonight and she looks good, man, but she acts the same. And her man is a dick but he’s also a moron. So he’s no boss,” Deck declared and looked at Shaughnessy. “And you just got yourself a maverick.”
The mood in the room shifted. It had been alert. Now it was relieved.
Shaughnessy was the only one who didn’t want Deck stepping in.
The rest of them, after all they’d seen for the past few years, wanted this done, and they were willing to take risks to get that.
“Terrific,” Shaughnessy muttered, his eyes moving through the room.
“Decker, this needs to be discussed,” Douglas stated, and Deck looked to him.
“You want me on the team, we talk money. I’ll give a discount, see this shit sorted. I’ll want a full brief. I’ll want the entire file. I won’t take orders. I’ll keep you in the know of what I do and what I find. But, just sayin’, that woman means something to me.” He threw out a hand toward the whiteboard. “So even if you don’t put me on the team and pay me, I’ll still be seein’ her clear of this shit.”
“You can’t let her know we’re investigating her boyfriend,” Carole said swiftly.
“This isn’t my first rodeo,” Deck returned. “What’s goin’ down, I wouldn’t fuck your investigation. But she’s still clear and she’s clear in no more than a week. Not months. Not as long as it’ll take you to track this crew, the way you’re goin’, and stop their shit.”
“As contract to this task force, you cannot engage in illegal activities. We can’t prosecute with fruit from the poisonous tree,” Douglas told him.
“Again, not my first rodeo,” Deck replied.
“You have a crew or do you work alone?” Henry asked.
“This, I’ll be bringin’ in my crew,” Deck answered.
“They’ll all need to see me,” Douglas stated. “Contract is signed, you all work for my department until the case is done.”
Deck nodded and his eyes went to Chace. “Want a picture of that board, want the file.”
“Deck, not sure this is a good idea. You got a conflict of interest with this—”
Deck again cut Chace off. “This is Emme.”
“I know it’s Emme,” Chace shot back, concerned for Deck and losing patience because of it. “Until just now, I had no idea you’d react the way you have when you saw it was Emme. So Emme’s the goddamned conflict of interest.”
“You know her,” Deck whispered, also losing patience, and he watched his friend’s face. Definite concern but also indecision.
He knew Emme.
Chace went from the academy into Carnal’s Police Department and stayed there but that didn’t mean Deck didn’t spend time with Chace throughout all Deck’s travels. Chace had met Elsbeth. Chace had spent time with her. And with Elsbeth came Emme. So Chace had spent time with Emme too.
“Her change is remarkable, Deck,” Chace noted again. “That’s something to take into account.”
At his words, Deck felt the ghost of her fingers digging into his shoulder through his coat. Saw the dimple. Heard her call him honey.
And he knew her history. Elsbeth told him. He knew what she’d survived. He knew what made her what she was.
He didn’t know what made her what she was now, but he was going to find out at dinner.
Last, he knew Emme would not be a part of a crew who burgled homes across an entire county and recruited high school students to do it. Not for the attention of the likes Dane McFarland. Not for money. Not for power. Not for anything.
“She’s up first. I investigate her. Clear her. Then clear her of this shit,” Deck stated.
“You work that with me,” Chace returned.
“Suit yourself. But dinner with Emme tonight is just her and me.”
Chace studied him.
Deck took it then looked to Douglas. “You got a file for me?”
“It’ll be delivered to your house by three thirty,” Douglas replied.
“Contracts will be emailed to you by then. My crew will be in tomorrow at eight to be deputized,” Deck replied.
“You gonna be with them?” Douglas asked.
“Wouldn’t miss that shit for the world,” Deck answered, cut his eyes through the people in the room, noting Henry Gibbons looked amused, Mick Shaughnessy looked annoyed, Carole Weatherspoon looked reflective and Chace still looked worried.
Then he walked out of office, out of the station and to his truck.
I looked out my office window, down to the yard, my eyes to the bustling activity, and I did this tapping my phone on my desk.
I should be working but I wasn’t thinking about work.
I was thinking about Jacob.
More precisely, I was thinking about calling Jacob, had an overwhelming urge to do so.
I was also trying not to do so because I had a boyfriend, even though he was a boyfriend I wasn’t all that sure about. He was sweet, he was into me, but he was just… off.
Then again, I didn’t have a lot of experience so what did I know?
Additionally, after my dinner with Jacob last night, within an hour, I’d called him after ten at night and now it was only eleven thirty the next day.
I didn’t want him to think I was psycho, and calling him would imply psycho behavior. Further, when I called him last night, I’d asked him to dinner, which was dinner two nights in a row with a woman he hadn’t seen in nine years, a woman with a boyfriend, and that was semi-psycho.
Okay, maybe it was totally psycho.
I didn’t want Jacob to think I was psycho.
But I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted to connect with him on the phone. I’d missed him and I liked having him back. I liked it a great deal.
I also missed him a great deal.
And I needed to ask him something. Further, he was the only one I could ask.
I looked from the yard to my phone. My mind telling my thumb not to do it, my thumb not listening, I found Jacob’s contact and hit go.
I put it to my ear.
“I’m a psycho,” I whispered and luckily finished whispering two seconds before Jacob’s voice sounded.
“You okay?” he answered.
He kept asking that mostly, I figured, because I kept calling when I didn’t need to so he probably thought something was wrong.
Or that I was a psycho.
“I need to know if you don’t eat anything,” I lied.
Actually, it wasn’t a lie. Although I remembered a lot about Jacob (most everything, in all honesty), I couldn’t recall if there was something specific he didn’t like to eat.
I could recall how beautiful he was, how tall he was, how strong he was. I could recall how smart he was and how funny he was. I could recall how cool he was with me. I could also recall how much I missed him. But I couldn’t recall if he didn’t like chicken.
But that wasn’t the only thing I needed to know. I needed to know something else too.
Much like last night, when he didn’t make me feel like a psycho, in fact, the opposite and sounded like he was happy to hear from me and would be willing to talk all night, he again sounded like me psychotically calling him yet again in a precursor to stalker way was no big deal.
“I don’t eat it, I’ll pick it off.”
“You can’t pick it off if I cook with it in it or if the mainstay of dinner on the whole is what you don’t eat,” I informed him.
“You makin’ Indian food?” he asked.
“No. Don’t you like Indian food?” I asked back.
“Love it,” he answered.
“Then why’d you ask if I was making Indian food?”
“ ’Cause I hoped you were.”
I burst out laughing.
No, Jacob definitely didn’t make me feel like I was being a psycho.
When I quit laughing, I told him, “Sorry, honey, I don’t know how to make Indian food.”
“Shame,” he muttered, a smile in his deep, attractive voice, and if I was on an infrared scanner, specific parts of me would have shown up hotter.
You have a boyfriend, Emme! I told myself.
For a while, I answered myself.
Jacob is also your ex–best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Emme! I reminded myself.
So? I asked myself.
I shoved those thought aside, thoughts that, if anyone knew I was talking to myself in my head might prove I was indeed a psycho, and pointed out to Jacob, “You haven’t actually answered the question.”
“I’ll eat what you cook, Emme. Cook what you like.”
He was such a nice guy.
He always was.
Nice. Tall (very tall). Handsome (unbelievably handsome). Smart (so damned smart). Funny. Interesting. Gentlemanly. And a repeat of nice because it was worth a repeat since he was just that nice.
I liked all that about him. I liked that he wore his dark hair way too long. I liked that sometimes a thick hank of it fell over his forehead and into his eye. I liked that he was who he was and didn’t wear designer jeans or put gel in his hair. I liked that, even considering he was extortionately intelligent, in fact, a genius, he never made anyone feel less than him because they weren’t as smart. I liked that he never acted superior or arrogant and with all that was him, looks, body, brains, he was one person who could. And I liked that he liked to do what he liked to do, he did what he liked to do and wouldn’t get pushed into doing something he didn’t want.
Like Elsbeth tried to do.
He’d lost her to that and he’d accepted it. I knew it killed. He’d loved her to distraction. But he refused to be the man she wanted him to be and instead was the man he was.
She should have seen she had it all even if he didn’t make bucketloads of money and thus couldn’t give her the life she was used to getting from her daddy. Country clubs, tennis lessons, vacations in villas in Italy and beaches in Thailand, fabulous homes kept by maids and fabulous meals cooked by cooks.
She didn’t see all she had.
I dropped my leg so I was sitting cross-legged in the couch and leaned into him. “Honey, you remember everything so I don’t have to remind you I haven’t seen you in nine years. I dig it that we reconnected and I love having you back.” I again threw an arm out, this time toward him and back to me. “This is great. You and me spending time together, shooting the breeze. I missed that. And I get it that friends make gestures, but this is too much.”
His eyes warmed during this speech and he took his arms from the couch, bent his legs, leaned into them, and me, and put his elbows to his knees, never releasing my eyes.
“Baby, I want you warm and liquid. The first bein’ physically, the second bein’ financially. You stop payin’ so much for heat, you’ll have more money for the rest of the shit you gotta do.”
This made sense.
But he’d again called me “baby.”
And I needed to address that.
So I asked, “What is that?”
His head cocked and his eyebrows drew together. “What’s what?”
I drew in breath and on the exhale, stated, “You calling me baby.” Then I went on quickly, “Not that I don’t like it. It’s sweet. It’s just not…” I hesitated, “us.”
Something happened to his eyes, his face, his whole big body and that something made me brace at the same time it made my heartbeat escalate.
“You know what it is,” he said softly.
“I don’t,” I shared.
His eyes stayed locked to mine and I knew him relatively well, or I used to. But even if we hadn’t been separated for years, I still would not have been forewarned to the fact he was about to blow my mind.
“Before, we had Elsbeth between us. My head was fucked about that, about her, and it took almost a decade to get it unfucked. Lookin’ back, havin’ you back, I now know and I reckon you know, that’s the way it was. She was between us. She knew it too. And she didn’t like it. But it didn’t matter. My head was fucked so I couldn’t see clear of her and not doin’ that, I didn’t see you.”
I knew my lips had parted. I also knew my eyes got big. And last, I had no clue what to say.
So I said nothing.
“Now she isn’t between us,” he finished.
It was then I knew what the “baby” business was.
I just had no idea how to react to it because I never considered it. He was beautiful. He was kind. He was smart. He was funny and interesting and affectionate.
But he was my best friend’s boyfriend.
That didn’t mean my mind didn’t go there in vague ways, not stupid enough to wish for something I could never have, just silently covetous of what Elsbeth had. And, because of all that he was and that Elsbeth had it, in the end, infuriated she threw it away. Angry enough to end an important friendship because of it.
Sitting there, all that was Jacob, and all that being spectacular sitting across from me, holding my eyes, I finally understood that the reason I was angry at my friend was because, in throwing Jacob away, she took him away from me.
And now I had him back, but also, he was saying I’d always had him a different way, we just didn’t go there and he was going to take us there.
Yes. I had no clue what to say but my body had a clue how to feel. Warm and there were a lot more tingles.
“Jacob—” I started on a whisper.
But he interrupted again.
“You saw me, asked me out to dinner that same night, no fuckin’ around. Since then, you’ve called twice for no reason except to connect, and, baby, before you freak that I noticed that and what it said, I’ll tell you, I’m fuckin’ glad you did and I’m also fuckin’ glad about what it said. The boyfriend you were on the fence about, you got off the fence in less than twenty-four hours after seein’ me again and decided to get shot of his ass. And you didn’t waste any time gettin’ me right where I am tonight. That is not friends reconnecting. You know it. So do I.”
“Don’t deny it.”
I shut my mouth.