Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Let me take a moment to note how much the ideas in L.B. Dunbar’s newest story, Hauling Ashe, resonate so deeply through my own life experience. Overall, I enjoyed reading Hauling Ashe in all of its enemies-to-lovers, grumpy/sunshine, road tripping, slow-burn ways. Dunbar has infused it with a goodness that you cannot help but enjoy it, even though (here’s my criticism) some of her hero, Tucker’s, and heroine, Mae’s, journey felt manipulative. That word seems heavy, but it best suits the falling action portion of Dunbar’s book when Tucker and Mae cannot accept a future together. I honestly thought that there was inconsistency during that portion as Tucker knows he wants a forever with Mae and Mae wants the same, but they have to push and pull for several chapters before this is resolved. My only criticism is that I thought they could have rectified that sooner. The pacing feels off on that.
All of that aside, Dunbar hit a bruise in me, the one that exists in people of middle age. When you are the ages of Tucker, Mae, and myself, you are left with the time to consider where better or different choices might have saved you heartache and loss. However, as Dunbar so beautifully writes within the pages of her book, those choices are a portion of your life, and you have more opportunities to make different ones for yourself. On their literal road trip or journey, Dunbar provides Tucker and Mae the opportunity to undertake a figurative journey, one that allows them, together, to heal from past traumas. As they journey together, they infuse each other with the strength to face their past, so they can find a future together. There is such beauty in that message especially as, by the end of this book, they find exactly what they are looking for, and you cannot help but think that the future is a place of peace for both of them. This is where I connected with these characters, and I love that Dunbar takes on these heavy themes for an older crowd and wraps it in a steamy, slow-burn romance.
You don’t have to be middle age, however, to fully appreciate L.B. Dunbar’s Hauling Ashe. You simply need to be a human who has made choices in your life that have taken you down a different path. Loaded with twists and turns that mirror those of Route 66, this story will capture you and leave you feeling at peace.
In love and romance,