Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain 6) by Kristen Ashley
Adult Contemporary, Can Stand Alone.
Kaleidoscope is the 6th in the Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley. Though it can easily stand alone, I highly recommend the whole series, it’s one of my favorites. When I finished Kaleidoscope, I hugged my kindle, and thought “she’s back.” Since Kristen has gone the traditional publishing route, though I still loved her books, I felt like they had lost a bit of the magic. I think the magic is back in Kaleidoscope, though this was a bit more subtle than some of her other books.
We first met Jacob “Deck” Decker in Breathe, and he came off as SO alpha, so I was really looking forward to reading about Chace’s best friend. A freelance investigator/scary dude/vigilante, Deck was brought to Gnaw Bone to assist an investigation into a chain of robberies involving high school kids. When he arrived in town, he heard a voice from his past, a voice he loved. But he didn’t recognize the woman until he saw her dimples. Deck’s ex-girlfriend’s best friend (and his) had gone from frumpy to fabulous. It had been nine years since Elsbeth broke up with him, and in the break-up he also lost the close, stimulating friendship with Emme, or rather pushed her away in his heartbreak. But not before Emme left him with a gift he’d cherish forever.
As Deck’s case is revealed to him, he sees that Emme and her boyfriend, Deke McFarland, are considered suspects. But he knows Emme, and knows her well. Even though it’s been nine years since he saw her, he was sure she wasn’t capable of this. After all, he knows her tragic past. So Deck, who has already made plans to have dinner with Emme (despite her asshole boyfriend’s reaction), knows he has to clear her name.
“He needed to get her shot of McFarland. He just, at that moment, was not going to think about why he needed that so badly.”
They immediately are back to the intelligent banter they once had. Jacob is extremely smart, and they always spent hours talking and arguing about all kinds of subjects. Jacob had had many women, but none who stimulated his mind the way Emme did. Right away, he realized how much he missed that over the years.
“All he had to do was turn the dial.
And he’d been so fucked up by Elsbeth, the promise of her, the beauty he thought he’d lost…that he didn’t see it. He didn’t see he had something even more beautiful right in front of him.
Until nine years later.
Emme was in charge of her dad’s lumberyard in town, and bought herself a gigantic ramshackle mansion that she was attempting to fix up herself. Fiercely independent, she refused any help from her father. But the place was practically falling apart around her, despite it’s amazing potential. Of course, first thing Deck does is make sure she is safe and warm, and he won’t take no for an answer.
Aaah, there’s my Kristen Ashley alpha.
“Your girl?” I asked, my voice coming out in a near on squeak.
“Yeah,” he answered, his voice deep, low and firm.
“This is, well… kinda weird.” Understatement! “And fast.” Extreme understatement!
“Met you twelve years ago and we’re just gettin’ here. I don’t call that fast. I call that a waste of fuckin’ time. I’m about to rectify.”
I loved how close Deck was with Chace. Like brothers. And with Chace, came a very pregnant Faye and a girl posse for Emme, and the girls are all from the earlier Colorado Mountain books! Yay!
“Is the sex good?” … “I hope it’s good but not great,” Krystal remarked. “Sex slave to an alpha. Bad news.”
This time my head didn’t jerk. I blinked again.
“I’m a sex slave to an alpha and I have no complaints,” Lauren muttered, grinning at Zara.
“Me either,” Zara replied, grinning back.
“I’ve had mine longer than all of you,” Nina announced. “And I’m of a mind that there will never be a time to complain.”
As usual, this Kristen Ashley book was filled with amazing friends and family. And when he calls Lee Nightingale, and Hector shows up…I think I peed myself a little. I love how Kristen crosses her characters. Fortnums was even in this book!
Another piece of magic brought back was the descriptions. It’s part of what I love about Kristen’s writing. Her long descriptions of locations and outfits, which have been edited down in recent books. I was able to picture both Emme’s and Deck’s houses perfectly, and I loved Deck’s dog, Buford!
Oh…the sex? Yeah. Pretty hot too.
“Spread,” he growled.
On another sexy mew, Emme spread.
Deck bent forward and fed.
Christ. Hot. Drenched. Pure beauty. Absolute.
There was a little action and adventure, but not as much as usual. I mean really, this is the 6th book in the Colorado Mountain series, how many horrible things and kidnappings can happen in these small towns? I was OK with this, it was more about a past crime than anything else. Kaleidoscope was more relationship based than action based compared to others in the series, but we still had the need for a protective alpha.
“You piss me off. You make me laugh. You make me think. You’re absolutely fine with me being nothin’ but me. You’re fuckin’ gorgeous. You’re a great lay. And you like my dog.”
- I laughed, I cried, and I hugged my Kindle.
- I cried the KA happy tears.
- The detail that I love was back.
- Visiting with all of the previous Colorado Mountain characters, as well as a few from the Rock Chicks.
- Jacob Decker. YUMMY.
- Emme was spunky and feisty and independent.
- The significance of the Kaleidoscope.
- The intelligent banter between the couple.
- The closeness between Deck and Chace.
- The closeness between Emme and her parents.
- I even liked how Emme’s home and truck had personality.
- Loved the epilogue.
- It bothered me a bit that Deck never noticed Emme that way until she lost 30 pounds and grew her hair.
- The ending was a bit abrupt.
- Fake-out end at 92% with another preview of The Gamble. (Grrrrr, I HATE that!)
Rating: 5-5++ stars. 4.25 Heat
Though Kaleidoscope was a little slower in pace, and not quite as funny as some of the other Kristen Ashley books, I felt it was smarter. The characters are both highly intelligent (though believe me, Decker still spoke KA alpha-speak), and a lot of the action was in both of their heads. Emme was lonely. Decker was lonely. Together, they were complete. Emme’s past held her back from fully connecting. She was so afraid to love. But watching Deck help her get through it to the other side was just beautiful.
The magic is back.
Just turn the dial.
He didn’t turn the fucking dial.
Not for a long time.
Then he did. He’d turned the dial.
You’re everything to me.
And found beauty.
Purchase Kaleidoscope by Kristen Ashley
I dropped my leg so I was sitting cross-legged in the couch and leaned into him. “Honey, you remember everything so I don’t have to remind you I haven’t seen you in nine years. I dig it that we reconnected and I love having you back.” I again threw an arm out, this time toward him and back to me. “This is great. You and me spending time together, shooting the breeze. I missed that. And I get it that friends make gestures, but this is too much.”
His eyes warmed during this speech and he took his arms from the couch, bent his legs, leaned into them, and me, and put his elbows to his knees, never releasing my eyes.
“Baby, I want you warm and liquid. The first bein’ physically, the second bein’ financially. You stop payin’ so much for heat, you’ll have more money for the rest of the shit you gotta do.”
This made sense.
But he’d again called me “baby.”
And I needed to address that.
So I asked, “What is that?”
His head cocked and his eyebrows drew together. “What’s what?”
I drew in breath and on the exhale, stated, “You calling me baby.” Then I went on quickly, “Not that I don’t like it. It’s sweet. It’s just not…” I hesitated, “us.”
Something happened to his eyes, his face, his whole big body and that something made me brace at the same time it made my heartbeat escalate.
“You know what it is,” he said softly.
“I don’t,” I shared.
His eyes stayed locked to mine and I knew him relatively well, or I used to. But even if we hadn’t been separated for years, I still would not have been forewarned to the fact he was about to blow my mind.
“Before, we had Elsbeth between us. My head was fucked about that, about her, and it took almost a decade to get it unfucked. Lookin’ back, havin’ you back, I now know and I reckon you know, that’s the way it was. She was between us. She knew it too. And she didn’t like it. But it didn’t matter. My head was fucked so I couldn’t see clear of her and not doin’ that, I didn’t see you.”
I knew my lips had parted. I also knew my eyes got big. And last, I had no clue what to say.
So I said nothing.
“Now she isn’t between us,” he finished.
It was then I knew what the “baby” business was.
I just had no idea how to react to it because I never considered it. He was beautiful. He was kind. He was smart. He was funny and interesting and affectionate.
But he was my best friend’s boyfriend.
That didn’t mean my mind didn’t go there in vague ways, not stupid enough to wish for something I could never have, just silently covetous of what Elsbeth had. And, because of all that he was and that Elsbeth had it, in the end, infuriated she threw it away. Angry enough to end an important friendship because of it.
Sitting there, all that was Jacob, and all that being spectacular sitting across from me, holding my eyes, I finally understood that the reason I was angry at my friend was because, in throwing Jacob away, she took him away from me.
And now I had him back, but also, he was saying I’d always had him a different way, we just didn’t go there and he was going to take us there.
Yes. I had no clue what to say but my body had a clue how to feel. Warm and there were a lot more tingles.
“Jacob—” I started on a whisper.
But he interrupted again.
“You saw me, asked me out to dinner that same night, no fuckin’ around. Since then, you’ve called twice for no reason except to connect, and, baby, before you freak that I noticed that and what it said, I’ll tell you, I’m fuckin’ glad you did and I’m also fuckin’ glad about what it said. The boyfriend you were on the fence about, you got off the fence in less than twenty-four hours after seein’ me again and decided to get shot of his ass. And you didn’t waste any time gettin’ me right where I am tonight. That is not friends reconnecting. You know it. So do I.”
“Don’t deny it.”
I shut my mouth.
Have you read this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!