Sometimes a single flame can
ignite a love that lasts a lifetime.
Milo Phillips knows the meaning of pain. Suffering through
the most intense physical agony of his life, he’s confined to a hospital bed to
bear it alone. More than once, he wishes he’d died in the explosion that melted
and mangled his skin. Darkness consumes him, snuffing all the joy in his life
and leaving an empty hole in its place.
But one day, a flicker of light sneaks into his hospital
room, driving away some of the hopelessness. For the first time in months, pain
isn’t all he feels.
The flicker’s name is Sara Foster, his new nurse. Milo just
hopes that Sara can see past his scars. Because underneath, his heart has begun
beating again just for her.
is the USA Today bestselling author of the Jamison Valley
series. She lives in Montana with her husband and two children. After working
in the technology industry for nearly a decade, she abandoned conference calls
and project schedules to enjoy a slower pace at home with her kids. She loves
reading and, after consuming hundreds of books, decided to share her own
stories. Devney loves hearing from readers! Connect with
her on social media.
How do you know if a book is a 5 star read? I think that’s always the question when you sit down to review a book. For me, it comes down to two things: does the book make me feel? Does it elicit any level of emotion from me? And secondly, is there some degree of believability to the story or the characters? For me, tied to that believability is the authenticity of emotion. Are the feelings I’m feeling (anger, sadness, frustration, happiness, joy, etc) true feelings? Even more, where do those feelings spring from? Has the writer hit to my most basic emotions? What bruises from my past does the writer press on with his/her characters and/or story? All of these questions drive my reviews even when the subject matter of a book isn’t anything I’ve experienced or far from the experiences in my past.
Ashley Jade’s Cruel Prince shouldn’t really capture my attention. I’m a woman in her 40s with a young adult son who is far past the “new adult” experience. Should I really want to read about the romance of teens who are burgeoning into adulthood? This has been a personal question since I’ve noticed a bit of a surge in the New Adult romance genre. But here’s the thing. Ashley Jade’s Cruel Prince is so well written that you can’t help but need to read it. For me, it’s one of the best of this genre this year. And why? Because she crafts characters and storylines that hit to the core of the truth of feelings. Even in the darkest moments of this book, I believe the motivations of her characters driving their actions, that I don’t look at the story from the perspective of a 40-something woman or the mom of a young adult. I can find some piece of myself in the a-hole emotionally complex hero and the subversive powerful heroine. From my perspective, being able to craft this relationship between the reader and the story’s characters is the genius of this book.
At its core, Cruel Prince is a character study in the reciprocity of pain. There are various levels of emotional pain perpetrated on the characters of this story. There are no redeeming adults in this story; the main characters, the teens of this story, are the most mature people in this book. As such, the adults in their emotional neglect and selfishness have created these kids who must learn to handle life and trauma on their own. From Jace’s inner guilt and heavy feelings of personal responsibility for his siblings to Dylan’s feelings of being unloved to Oakley’s father’s censure and step-mother’s selfishness, the pain inflicted by physical, mental, and emotional trauma embody these characters, make them who they are. It’s this embodiment of pain that draws you as a reader to them, no matter your age or background. Reading their experiences and empathizing with their feelings, even their actions (yes, even when Jace is horrible to Dylan or other characters I understand his motivations; I empathize with him and his pain), are what kept me reading this book overnight instead of sleeping. I needed to know that they would be “okay” in the end, so the characters of Cruel Prince are what engaged me in the story: Jace’s perpetual malice to cover his pain and guilt, Dylan’s internal strength to endure the people who mete out pain on her, Oakley’s humor and drug use to cover his pain from not really being seen, Sawyer’s insecurity about herself even as she lives in her truth, and Cole and Bianca’s guilt and lack of parental direction. This is Ashley Jade’s strength; it’s what makes her writing deep and engaging because she magnifies the human experience in her characters. It’s also why people are rabid for her books.
Because I believe in her characters, I have a horrible habit of wanting to “chat” with her through comments on Facebook. I oftentimes forget that they are her babies, and I make selfish comments that might be construed as not believing in Ashley as their creator. This is furthest from the truth. I believe in Ashley Jade’s vision, as, I’ve noted above, she makes her characters believable for me. For my selfish comments, I am sorry, but I think it shows my belief in her writing genius. At least, that’s what I’ve hoped she might see.
Along with the development of character, the storyline is a mighty driving force of Cruel Prince. There is definitely typical bully behavior in this romance. There are mistakes, misrepresentations, and falsehoods that keep the reader suspended in the story. The biggest piece of the story isn’t revealed until almost 80ish% in the story, so if you are looking for a quick, easy resolution in Cruel Prince, it isn’t found here. It’s that tension, though, that engages you, keeps you focused on the page. Additionally, this story is mostly focused on Jace and Dylan’s story. However, pieces of other future stories are doled out as little crumbs. Jade provides just enough to pique your curiosity. I think this is important to the story because the angst over the brokenness of Jace and Dylan’s friendship/relationship can feel overwhelming at times. However, with the interjection of other characters and their potential storylines, you receive an interlude that gives you respite for a short time before gutting your heart again with Dylan and Jace’s story. It’s this cycle that drives you forward in the story, thirsting for a happy ending. It’s why I didn’t put this book down until 5 a.m.
If you are like me and need to feel “all the feels” of a story, then Cruel Prince should be at the top of your list. It’s a complex weaving of pain, brokenness, redemption, humor, and love. It doesn’t matter if you’re a teen, a 20-something, or even an old lady like me because Ashley Jade’s ability to construct the human experience in her characters and their story grips you in Cruel Prince. I may be far, far from teenhood, but the pain of a person’s betrayal and the need to be loved wholly and exclusively are emotions that transcend any age, any time. Ashley Jade’s Cruel Prince delivers on this message, making it one of the best new adult books of this year.
The Hardest Hit, an all-new emotional, single dad standalone from A.S. Teague is coming September 5th and we have the gorgeous cover!
My friends used to tell me ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.’ Clearly they lied, because there was no way the chemistry I had with Mel could ever be left behind.
However, my children, her career, and nine hundred miles between us meant that for seven years, Melanie Holstein was the one who got away.
I was Aiden Shaw, first-round draft pick turned the best quarterback the league had ever seen. I worked hard to secure my position in football history while balancing life as a single dad. Through it all, my Vegas spitfire was never far from my mind.
And considering her best friend was now with my best friend, it was pure and utter torture.
When my career took a devastating turn, Mel was the first person at my side. I was broken and defeated, but that stubborn woman was determined to piece me back together.
I liked to pretend Mel and I were destined for greatness, but Lady Luck had never been on our side. And the tragedy that followed might have been the hardest hit of all.
A.S. Teague enjoys the warmth of South Carolina with her husband and two daughters. The stereotypes about peach cobbler and sweet tea are not overstated. After years in the medical field, she is now enjoying every minute of being a stay-at-home mom. She loves wine, the beach, wine on the beach, and crying at Disney movies. When she doesn’t have a book in her hand, she can be found pestering her husband with pictures of animals she wants to rescue, as well as debating whether to exercise or take a nap.