The Will (Magdalene 1) by Kristen Ashley
Contemporary Romance, 1st in a series of standalones with connected characters.
“It’s never too late to reach for happiness and no matter what life has done to you, it’s never too late to find it.”
Have you ever finished a book with tears (good ones) rolling down your face and you just wanted to hug your Kindle? That happened at the end of The Will by Kristen Ashley. I will review this with the caveat that nothing I reveal here will spoil your enjoyment of this epically amazing book. The emotions it will bring out of you can only be experienced while reading it. I must say, I was absolutely shocked to read that it was only around 375 pages (I still think it’s a mistake). The sheer number of emotional moments, details, and the huge connection I made with this book made it feel like one of Kristen Ashley’s super loooong books. And only in a good way…I would have been happy to read it forever.
It’s no secret that I love Kristen’s books. In fact, she has her own rating system in my head. They are almost all five star reads, so I have to start comparing them to each other instead of to other books. The Will is one of my highest rated, and may be my favorite book ever from her. In fact, I can safely say, this is one of my favorite books EVER. Nobody can write alpha male romance like Kristen Ashley. And the way she writes kids is just amazing. So many of the books we read are ABOUT kids (or at least kids to me), so reading a book about forty-somethings and their kids is a refreshing change.
Josephine Malone is different. Quirky, formal, even maybe a bit cold (at first). She actually took a bit to warm up to (don’t worry, you warm up pretty quickly). She is 45, extremely cultured (though a bit clumsy) and has traveled the world as the right hand to a famous fashion photographer and video director for music superstars. She has never really gotten close to anyone due to her awful childhood, except for her Gran, the one person she loved and trusted above all others in the world. The book, unfortunately, begins in the small seaside town of Magdelene at the funeral for her beloved grandmother.
“My eyes behind my sunglasses lifted and slid through the crowd standing around the casket.
They stopped when my sunglasses hit his.
And when they did, my breath also stopped.
This was because in all my life, and I’d had a long one, and in all my wandering, and I’d wandered far, I’d never seen a man like him.
She sees him watching her with his three kids at the funeral. They are clearly grieving, and Josephine is surprised her grandmother has never spoken of this family who obviously cared deeply for her. The whole town loved Gran, but Josephine was not social. Though she put on a good show for the well-wishers, she couldn’t wait to leave, something she planned on doing as soon as the will is read the next day. Until then, she stays at her Gran’s beautiful sprawling seaside home that she loves, Lavender House.
When the will is read, the only other person there is him. The man from the cemetery. Obviously Gran knew him extremely well. But why has she never spoken of him and his family?
“My most precious possession, the thing I treasure above anything else in the world, that being my granddaughter, Josephine Diana Malone, I hereby bequeath……”
Jake Spear. Aggressively masculine, big, really big, clearly someone who enjoyed life, he knew her. He called her Josie, only Gran called her that. Jake was married three times. Had three kids (Josie had never actually even interacted with a child), he owned the local boxing gym and strip club. This guy was the perfect Kristen Ashley alpha. At his age, he has learned from his past mistakes and knows what he wants. And he wants Josie. And though they seem like polar opposites, they just work together.
“She wanted me for you.”
Josie had never even had a relationship. She loved her boss Henry, but there was never anything more than friendship between them. She has had sex, but never let it develop into anything more than physical release. She had a full, jet set life. Lots of famous friends. She was content.
“This isn’t to say I didn’t sometimes long for a gentle touch, a man’s eyes falling on me appreciatively, building a shared history where we might one day simply gaze at each other, understand and smile.”
Her Gran wanted more for her. But Jake was not her type. Despite her physical reaction to him, this man cursed, was pushy, and had a lot of baggage including a business that “subjugated women”.
“The uppity shit you got goin’ on,” he continued, explaining what was “cute.” “What isn’t cute is you hiding behind that shit in order to shield yourself from living your life.”
As Josie spent time in Lavender house, she opened herself up to take up a little of the slack her grandmother had left behind. She visited with the old and infirm, something she would never do, but she knew Gran would. She also gave Jake a chance, and when he came over for dinner with his young son and surly teenaged daughter, she swallowed her aversion to kids, and treated them as Lydie (Gran) would have wanted. And she was AMAZING with them.
This was perhaps my favorite part of the book. Despite Josie’s formal, fancy, stick-up-her-ass demeanor, she was actually totally cool. She was great with the kids in her own way, and despite her lack of experience, she won them over immediately. Oh how I loved the kids and the relationship Jake had with them. He was an amazing dad. His youngest son was a doll, and though his daughter dressed a little slutty, her crap mom wasn’t around, so he had to take up the slack. And his oldest son was growing up to be just like him.
“Trust your old man. A woman’s heart is fragile and it’s precious. Don’t be that asshole who kicks it around.”
“A man’s any man at all, the first woman he hurts, he learns not to do that shit again.”
When I say Josie spoke formally I mean it. But Jake liked it.
“However, that encounter was vexing,” She looked back to him. “So can I ask that we dispense with discussing anything that may be distressing and just sally forth enjoying the evening?”
Jesus, she was too much. And too fucking cute being it.
Jake again grinned at her. “We can sally forth however you want, Slick.”
Jake…mmmmmm Jake Spear.
“Panties off, Josie,” he ordered, his voice rough and commanding…”
“Never keep anything from me, I don’t give a shit how you think I’m gonna react. I’ll react how I react. I will NEVER harm you doin’ it.
Every inch of you, outside and any way you can get inside, baby, physically or emotionally, is mine.”
It wasn’t only Jake and his kids I loved. Since this is a new series, we are introduced to a bunch of the townspeople. I loved Mickey (will the next book be his?) and Alyssa and Junior, and the kids…all of them, their friends too, were all awesome. This book was the Kristen Ashley that I originally fell in love with and more. I must tell you, I was actually surprised it was missing some of the action and suspense we are used to in her books, but I didn’t miss it. Not once. The Will was an epic romance, and I can’t think of a single thing that could make it better.
“It hit him in that moment in a way he knew he’d never forget that he could take that hand and she could lead him anywhere.”
Likes (I loved every single thing, but I will try to break it down):
- I loved Gran! Even though she was gone right from page one, you felt her throughout the book, and she was perhaps my favorite character.
- Jake was the perfect alpha male, protective, loving, sexy, dominant, possessive, and knew what he wanted and went for it, yet he was more laid back and gentle than most of her alphas while never losing that alpha feel.
- Older, mature characters that have already learned what they don’t want and knew when they had something good, yet they still had more to learn.
- The kids. Kristen Ashley writes kids like no other. All of her books with kids are my favorites.
- Josie’s relationship and protectiveness of the kids she was afraid of at first, especially how Amber and Josie’s relationship developed.
- The length. I think the page count on Amazon must be wrong. This book was the traditional long, juicy Kristen Ashley book.
- It was still a very sexy read.
- All of the side characters, especially Alyssa.
- The way Kit uses first person for the female POV and third for the male. It always works so well.
- Pages upon pages of highlighted scenes and quotes.
- I loved how Jake has made a lot of mistakes with women but continues to risk it, while Josie is the direct opposite (in so many ways) but they work beautifully.
- The emotions that ran through me when reading this were epic, I bawled my eyes out, yet they were good tears.
- The epilogue was one of the best I’ve ever read.
- Absolutely nothing.
Rating: 10 stars. Seriously! I don’t go above 5+++++ except once before, but I have to here. As I reread a lot to do this review, I upped it from 5++++ stars to a straight 10+. It’s that epic. 4 Heat.
“I’m afraid,” I admitted softly.
His arms pulled me closer and I felt his lips on my hair when he answered, “Beat that back, honey. No reason to be scared. Not with me.”
I had a few images pulled for this review, but as I write it, I don’t want anything to distract you from the words. Kristen Ashley is a genius. I may love other books and authors, but there is nothing that can compare to a Kristen Ashley book. Her writing is pure magic, and so unique I could pick it out in a line-up. Her women are quirky. Her men are possessive alphas. They all have flaws, but they meld together with each other and the side characters beautifully. The Will takes that amazing talent and bumps it up a bit. I can’t imagine anyone reading The Will and not giving it a perfect 5 star rating. It amazes me that Kristen can write so many books yet each is unique in its own way.
Pick up The Will. You will laugh, you will cry, you will swoon, you will smile, you will get turned on, you will get angry, you will cry happy tears, and in the end, you will hug your e-reader.
“I’d give him anything. I’d give him everything. If I had the power, I’d give him the world.”
Purchase The Will by Kristen Ashley
PS. I have given one other 10 star review. Here it is.