Review: At Peace by Kristen Ashley


Title: At Peace (The 'Burg #2)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Date of publication: 16 March 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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My rating: 4 stars


Violet Winters once had it all but lost it when her husband was murdered by a criminal madman. During a cold winter night Violet has to leave her warm bed to tell her neighbor to turn the music down. And that’s when she meets sinister, scarred, scarily attractive security specialist, Joe Callahan.

She wants to deny it, but Violet can’t beat back the hunger she feels for Joe so she gives in again and again. Feeling it himself, Joe feeds Vi’s hunger, breaking his own rules to keep her in his bed.

Even though Violet had only one man in her life, she’s sure Joe is giving her the signals and Vi decides she’s ready to take a second chance at life and, maybe, love. But Violet doesn’t know the dark secrets in Joe’s past, secrets so soul-wrenching, they’ve drained him dry. With nothing left to give, Joe’s determined to live his life alone and he breaks Violet’s heart.

Crushed by Joe’s betrayal, Violet comes to terms with the fact that, no matter what signals he gave, Joe was not theirs to win. But Violet’s husband’s murderer is obsessed with her and heartbreak again haunts the door of the Winters home. When it does Joe is forced to face the knowledge that he can’t fight Violet’s pull, she’s under his skin and filled him full to bursting.

Joe needs to win her back and put his life on the line to keep Violet safe. But, having had it all once, can Violet endure losing Joe?


This is my first book in Kristen Ashley's The 'Burg series and after I kept hearing how awesome the hero, Joe Callahan is, I had to finally check it out for myself. And, yes, he is pretty awesome! I loved Vi and Joe's story and it goes in the very elite company of my favourite KA books, along with Motorcycle Man, Sweet Dreams and Lady Luck.

This book told one very emotional, heart-breaking story of second-chance romance. It was intense and engaging, drawing me complete into the lives of the main characters. The focus in this book was very much on the idea of the importance of family, something which I personally value very highly. The author included different family relations in the story - grandparents, parents, children, siblings - in all their complexity. Family is the most precious thing in life, it is the greatest gift and the biggest achievement - both Vi and Joe.

I liked both Joe and Vi, though they had their bad moments and weaknesses. He treated Vi so bad at the beginning, leading her on, abusing her vulnerability and lack of real experience. Joe acted like a jerk almost up to the middle of the book but he more than made up for it in the second half of the book. I understand his position and why he did the things he did, but still they were too hurtful to accept easily. Joe was a typical KA alpha male - possessive and protective, super sexy and lot of jaded.

Vi was a nice character, as well. She came off as rather strong, and independent at the beginning, trying her best to learn to live after the loss of her husband, how to be a single parent, ect. I admired her for dedication to her family. Then, she acted clueless at flirting, completely misread the situation with Joe and went out to date Mike while still being involved with Joe and I didn't understand and appreciate any of this. It wasn't realistic for a 35 year-old woman to act like that.

The suspense/criminal element in the story was present but it was somewhat subdued, the focus was really on Joe and Vi's relationship.

On the negative side, this book had the typical elements in KA writing which I don't particularly like. It was a bit repetitive, overly descriptive. The  clothes, make up, food, houses/yards, barbecues were presented in too many unnecessary details. There were also far too many secondary characters introduced and some of them didn't really add anything to the overall story. As can be expected Vi's life was full of drama, some was small and funny, other was big and over the top.

Another thing that I find common for Ms Ahsley's heroines and something which I deeply resent is when they act  so smitten/mesmerized/shocked by the hero that they are unable to form coherent sentences. These otherwise strong and often quite smart and competent women lose completely their minds over the Man and he has to take full charge of their lives.  

In general the plot share quite a few similarities with Ms Ashley's other works - second-chance at love, the heroine who is threatened and needs protection, the alpha hero, who is not particularly eloquent but always says and the does the right thing.

My main issue, in fact the only major one that I have, is Vi and Mike's relationship. She was leading him on and the excuse that it was unintentional is not a valid one for me. Having a second contender for the heart of the heroine is a common device MS Ashley uses for introducing characters in her works (they become the main characters in later books) - this was the case with Tack in Mystery Man / Motorcycle Man, but here with Mike I felt that things between him and Vi were taken to a point that made me uncomfortable. He knew what he was getting into, still he got hurt and didn't deserve it

Overall, this is one of the best books of Ms Ashley that I have read, despite some issues I had with it. This series definitely goes in my TBR list. There are three more books available and final one is to be released later this year.

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