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Title: Complicated
Series: Standalone
Author: Kristen Ashley
Release Date: May 2, 2017

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Rock Chick Series comes a story of love, murder, and second chances...
When small town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn’t be stronger, but the timing couldn’t be worse.
Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids, and himself, is his only priority.
Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that’s perfect for them—a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She’s learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that’s what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.
Hix can’t fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta’s finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.
But when the first murder that’s happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.
In other words, things are definitely…Complicated.
"Babe, you agreed to complicate it. You might as well give it all it's worth."

My adoration for Kristen Ashley's audiobooks truly knows no bounds. I own every single one and I listen to them repeatedly. There's nothing that brings more peace and contentment to this reader than revisiting my favorite KA stories as narrators bring them from page to life. With that said, I think an entirely different reading experience is granted through an audiobook, which is why I tend to read the book first and listen later. With Complicated releasing exclusively through Audible, it forced me to listen first, demanded I allow the narrators to draw me into the story and take me along for the ride. I was weary. I've always believed that the reader loses a bit of that connection when we listen versus when we read the story ourselves. But that wasn't the case with Complicated, to my surprise. I was lost. I was taken. I fell in love.

Complicated is classic Kristen Ashley, a story that feels familiar in the way her stories do, but with a refreshing storyline and characters I came to love. Hixon Drake is a recently divorced Nebraska sheriff and father of three whose one night stand with Greta Dare, a lounge singer and hairdresser, gets, well, complicated. With his ex-wife causing drama and a sudden spike in crime where it'd otherwise been virtually non-existent, Hix knows early on that no matter how amazing their night was together, they can't afford to complicate their lives by taking things any further. But true to form, Kristen Ashley has other plans for these characters, forcing them together under messy, dangerous circumstances, and I could do nothing but sit back, relax and listen to it all unfold.

Like many of Ashley's storylines, Complicated follows a blooming romance amidst a criminal investigation. It's no secret I'm a romance reader and as such, in any book, I tend to prefer the romantic element of a book over a suspenseful one. But I have to say, I was just as intrigued by Sheriff Drake's search for a killer as I was with his attraction to Greta. I was just as absorbed in the manhunt, in the evidence, in the operation of the investigation, in the heartbreak of such a horrifying small town crime, as I was in the slow, sensual romance between these characters. And I think that had everything to do with the narration of the story, the state of everyone involved truly highlighted by the emotional tone granted by the audio. The voices Lance Greenfield and Erin Mallon gave to each character in this story was spot on, often causing an intense visceral reaction to every facet of this plot.

Reminiscent of many of my favorite books from this author, Hix and Greta's story took me back to the Colorado Mountain series and The Burg series, but with a smaller town feel. The more I read, the more I fell in love. I can't say the chemistry between Greta and Hix was quite as explosive or quite as memorable as, say, Ty and Lexi or Tack and Red or Joe and Violet (I mean, is that even possible?) But Hix and Greta share a beautiful romance all their own that is sweet and sexy and truly embodies why I read this author. There's certain elements a Rock Chick hopes to find in a KA novel and Complicated has EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Characters who, after having believed their lives would play out a certain way, find themselves starting over again. An alpha law enforcement officer with an ex whose drama won't quit, leaving their kids caught in the middle. A woman with a past of her own who finds herself in bed with a hot uniformed officer of the law, and the messy, addictive romance that ensues when obstacles threaten their happiness at every turn. A small town of mostly small minded people who like to gossip and meddle but who come together and remind each other how important having a sense of community truly is, especially in times of heartache and danger. Complicated is a comfort read. It's exactly the kind of book we all think of when we need Kristen Ashley to recharge our reading batteries. This story is quintessential KA, a story that feels good just to get lost in the pages, in her words, in the kind of characters only she knows how to deliver. 

While I initially thought I'd struggle to connect with this story as a reader who prefers to rely on audiobooks strictly for rereads, Complicated proved to be an exception to the rule, holding me captive with a riveting murder mystery, a sensual romance, and relentless familial drama. Complicated perfectly exemplifies exactly why I return to Kristen Ashley over and over. It feels comforting and familiar, this story, but refreshing and new all at once. The narration in this storyline was perfect, superbly capturing the voice of these characters and their array of emotions amidst the most intense circumstances, gripping me in a storyline I couldn't get enough of. I needed a KA fix and Complicated satisfied every craving. I thoroughly enjoyed this storyline and I'm thrilled to add it to my collection of Kristen Ashley audiobooks. Hix and Greta's story is deliciously sexy, blissfully romantic, and undeniably complicated. The narrators brought this story to life beautifully. I was hooked! Greta and Hix's romance is one I'll want to revisit again and again.

Jessica's Rating:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen's Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning. 

Nothing's changed.

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she's blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. 

And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.


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