Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Narrated by Lance Greenfield and Erin Mallon
Standalone. Exclusive to Audible until November 2017.
Complicated by Kristen Ashley is everything I fell in love with about Kristen Ashley’s writing in one book. We have her traditional long, descriptive narrative—over 18 hours when most books are about 8. (Not once did it feel too long). We have a slightly older couple, both divorced, and him with 3 kids (two of them teenage), and he is an AWESOME father with an ex that makes things difficult; we have a strong, independent woman who is sweet and cool and has had a rough past, and we have a Sheriff working on an important case, adding the suspense to the story. We also have a small town where everyone knows everyone’s business, but it brings in a lot of great side characters. Rolled together, Complicated is everything I love about Kristen Ashley’s writing, and this story is one of my favorites of hers.
The audiobook took a bit to warm up to for me however. One of the things I have always loved about Kristen Ashley’s style is when she writes in first person for the heroine and third person for hero. However, in audio I am really not a fan of third person. Since this was written for audio and had dual narrators, I would have liked to have listened in dual first person. In audio you feel the detachment of the narrator more than in print I think, and it really stands out when the male narrator is vocalizing a conversation and there has to be double the amount of “she saids”, and “I replied” and other conversational cues in the narrator’s real voice. Luckily the parts from the heroine’s point of view sucked me in completely, as they were first person. But Complicated was, to me, Sheriff Hixon’s story more than Greta’s so we heard the 3rd person more. Plus, these aren’t my favorite narrators. I like them both, but I sometimes find him a bit mechanical (and sometimes super sexy) and she often sounds like she is about to cry, though this worked really well during emotional moments. I don’t dislike either, but I don’t love when each of them do the other’s lines. The narration wasn’t bad in any way, but I don’t feel like it enhanced the story for me the way some narrators do. I also think it would have been cool, in an audible exclusive, to maybe have something (like sounds?) that brings it to life more than usual.
Despite me not totally swooning over the narration, I am swooning over the story. I loved every second of it. And once I really got into it, and got over the 3rd person male pov, Complicated jumped up to one of my favorite KA books ever. Had I read the print version first, I think this may have taken a top spot without any negatives at all. Who am I kidding? It’s still one of my favorites.
Complicated is a great title for this book, because they both have a whole hell of a lot of baggage. Sheriff Hix is recently divorced with three kids. His older son, Shaw, a senior in high school, is an alpha in the making and I absolutely LOVED him. His two younger girls, while having some issues with the divorce, were just written so well that I couldn’t help but love them. The problem is, Hix didn’t want the divorce. His wife was acting rash and went through with a divorce she didn’t really want either.
But when Hix hooks up with Greta, the local hairdresser/lounge singer with the angelic voice, his ex realizes what she lost (nah nah), and Hix realizes what he lost (not much), and how much better it could be. Greta has her own baggage as well. She is divorced as well, with a drunk mom and a disabled brother (who I loved so freaking much!). But when circumstances throw Greta right into Hix’s family, the magic really begins.
“Sounds perfect, I told her. And it did. But suddenly, everything was. A cramped apartment, a broken nose, three kids who barely knew me, one not knowing what to make of me, a future that was complicated. With my hand in Hixon’s, it was all suddenly just that, perfect.”
Hix was a typical Kristen Ashley alphahole at first, and I loved how he turned out to be pretty freaking awesome.
“It’s you. It was you from the first time you sat your ass across from me at that table at the Dew and you know it. I knew it. It freaked me and I bailed, that’s how strong your pull was. All the shit I jacked up between us was because I couldn’t deal. I couldn’t adjust that fast to being given a shot at something so fucking beautiful when my life had turned to such shit.”
Despite my minor issues with the narration, Complicated was pretty much perfect. It was very sexy, and I ran through the full range of emotions while listening to it. As I went back to listen to the clips I saved for this review, I got right back into it and started listening again.
- Complicated was everything I love about Kristen Ashley’s writing.
- Older main characters.
- I loved the kids, especially Shaw, an alpha in the making.
- The Sheriff part of the story was interesting, heartbreaking and exciting but never took away from the romance.
- Greta was a completely perfect KA heroine who I totally want to hang with.
- Hix was an amazing dad. His kids always came first.
- I love the way KA writes kids, especially older boys.
- Junk Sundays.
- Felt familiar in style, yet fresh and new at the same time.
- Nothing ever felt rushed or slow. The pacing was perfect.
- Long enough to tell a full, descriptive story without ever boring me.
- Very sexy love scenes, but they weren’t the main focus.
- Third person male POV is usually great in her print books, but I don’t love 3rd person in audio.
As I said above, these are great narrators. Hix has a deep growly voice, but it sometimes sounds a little mechanical, especially when sped up to 1.25. Greta is soft spoken, and perfect for emotional scenes, but she sounds like she is on the verge of tears a lot. And when they read the other person’s lines, it really didn’t work for me. While the narration didn’t enhance the story for me the way it sometimes can, it also didn’t take away from the story. One thing that I didn’t like regarding the narration was the third person male POV. I feel like the dialogue cues in 3rd person really stood out and made it a little harder to connect at first. This is what will bring my full rating from 5++++ stars to just plain 5 stars.
On another note, Complicated will be a lot of people’s first audiobooks ever because they don’t want to wait until November. I’m not sure it’s the best first audio. I’d suggest listening to a book you have already read and loved first (like a Rock Chick book for a $1.99 addition) while you get the hang of audible, then pick this one up after you have your brain primed for audio. It’s easy for your mind to drift while listening and I think it takes some practice to fully immerse in an audiobook (try it while driving or jogging or doing another mundane task). I’m an audiobook junkie, but I am also a detail reader, so I find that I hit that ‘go back 30 seconds’ button at least a few hundred times per book. I want you all to have the best audio experience ever, so make sure you are prepared, because you really don’t want to miss this one.
The Down & Dirty:
Rating: 5 stars, 4.5 Heat (the last sex scene brought it from 4 to 4.5), 4 Narration
Purchase Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Releases in paperback and e-book November 7, 2017
Listen to a sample: