Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
I am completely and utterly enamoured with Kristen Ashley right now. If my bank account was endless, I would have made a further dent in her booklist. As it is, I both listen to and read one of her books a month, and that isn’t fast enough. She gives so much to her story and characterization that, when you finish one of her stories, you feel as though she hasn’t left any story piece unturned. Over and over again, she shows you that her heroes ADORE their heroines, and they live lives complicated by outside forces; however, if they remain together, they can weather their storms. She doesn’t always end her stories with weddings or babies, but she always ends in the best happy ending for her couples.
After reading the prequel novella, After the Climb, for her newest series, River Rain, I was frothing for her newest book, Chasing Serenity. The promise of Chloe and Judge’s journey intrigued me. When the ARC hit my Kindle, I was reading, and this book did NOT disappoint.
If you’ve read After the Climb, then you know the story: Duncan and Imogen Swan, her hero and heroine of that story, have reunited and finally found their happy ending after their mutual friend, Corey Szabo, having torpedoed it decades earlier. Ashley uses all three points of view to tell the compelling story of their reunion and eventual happy ending. I found that book intriguing as two people finding and falling for each other with a lot of life lived between the two. With the inclusion of Corey’s POV, you realize the depth of his love for his friends even after his selfish motives and actions.
As you enter and end Chasing Serenity, you are once again treated to Corey’s point of view, and honestly, it makes the book more poignant as you realize quickly his mentorship of Chloe. Even more, the crux of this book is Chloe’s love for everyone, a love so protective and deep, that she oftentimes forgoes her own happiness for other people’s. She hides her vulnerabilities and want for love and protection by a strong emotional shield. People don’t quite see the gravity of Chloe, even her family. Without knowing it, in this story, we find her wounded over and over again by their insensitivity and selfishness. That is…until she meets Judge. Even though their meet-cute creates a hate-to-love situation, Judge sees the real Chloe clearly, so much so that he antagnozies her because he finds her ire $exy. Their initial journey isn’t an easy one as Judge actively pursues her while Chloe pushes him away, believing she couldn’t handle him ever walking away from her.
With Chloe’s story, we recognize the depths of grief. Corey, her mentor and protector, has left her, and she lacks protection, that one person who truly knows her and makes sure she is cared for. Kristen Ashley crafted her to punch into my soul because I am Chloe. Her pain mimics my own pain, and I found myself crying tears over it. Thankfully, Chloe has a hero such as Judge because he knows exactly what she needs and gives it to her.
As their story progresses, it transitions away from Chloe’s struggles because Judge finds way to make her feel whole again. It is then that Judge’s past comes to haunt him. What do you do with a stalwart hero, incredibly capable, intelligent, and empathic, when he must face his own grief? You give him a heroine such as Chloe who loves deeply and protects those she loves. Together, Chloe and Judge endure and fall deeper in love through their trials, cementing their forever.
Over and over again, Kristen Ashley writes stories that feel big when you read them. She gives you so many words and feelings. Even more, she creates families. Chloe and Judge aren’t alone in Chasing Serenity. They have people who care deeply for them and we meet them in After the Climb, in this book, and we will see them again in future stories in the River Rain series. This is Kristen Ashley’s witchery. She makes you care deeply about her universe of characters. You can’t wait to visit them again, so you pine for her next book. At least that’s the reason for my decreasing bank account. If you’re looking for an epic read, grab Chasing Serenity today.
In love and romance,