My first Kristen Ashley book was in the Colorado Mountain Series, and I was hooked on the author immediately. It’s been well over a year since I read the last book in the series, Breathe, so I figured a re-read was in order. IT WASN’T. Except for a small mention, Breathe didn’t even cross into Jagged (Breathe crossed more into Rock Chick Revolution!) In fact, Jagged was more of an offshoot of For You, the first in The Burg series, with Nina and Max from The Gamble thrown in. Convoluted enough for you? Kristen’s series are kind of incestual, they all cross into one another eventually. If you were to re-read a book to refresh your memory, For You would be the one. It has been 2 years for me, and honestly, I didn’t remember Graham Reece much beyond the name.
Since I had only a vague recollection of Reece, and Zara was only mentioned maybe once as a local store owner in The Gamble, the main players of the book are not people you were truly connected to before the book.
“I walked away from the love of my life. And he let me.”
Graham ‘Ham’ Reece was a drifter, a wanderer. A big gorgeous bear of a man, he didn’t stay put for long. Bartending in rough bars, he had a mean, scary look and a hulking body, but still hot and hunky as hell. Just in a scary way.
“Yeesh, didn’t know a bear matin’ with a human could create somethin’ that divine but there it is. Proof.”
Reece and Zara met 5 years prior when he was bartending at The Dog and she was waitressing. They had 4 months of living together, but Zara knew Reece was a wanderer. As good as things were between them, he wasn’t a man to stick around. Still, that didn’t stop her from loving him. Over the years they kept in touch. He visited often. He came to town and took care of her a few times, but that was it.
As far as I knew, the longest he stayed in one place was a year. Usually it was six to eight months. Ham was not a man who laid down roots.
One could say it wasn’t much, but when you had him for the brief periods you had him, you had him.
But Zara was ready for more. She fulfilled her dream of owning a store and was breaking ground on a new house. She also finally met someone who was nice and ready to settle. So when Reece rolled into town, as hard as it was, she had to let him go.
Shit. I knew this would happen one day. I’d hoped for a different ending but deep in my heart I always knew this would be how we’d end.
He had other women, I knew. He didn’t hide it nor did he shove it in my face. He asked no questions about other men. He wanted it that way. I did not, but I never said a word because I suspected, if I did, I’d lose him.
Now he’d lost me.
The prologue of Zara letting him go was an amazing start to the book.
“Go.” His voice was jagged, He didn’t want to lose me. Why? My thoughts screamed. “Bye Ham,” I whispered.
**NOTE: Zara called Graham ‘Ham’ and he called her ‘Cookie’. I wish we knew how the nicknames came about. My husband calls me cupcake, so I thought the cookie name was cute, until he called Feb ‘Beautiful’ on the phone. Beautiful is way better. And HAM???? UGH! I assume it’s for GraHAM but wtf do I know since it was never explained?**
Three years later, Zara is living in a crap studio apartment with junkyard furniture and no peephole. She sees a news story on TV about Reece almost getting killed by an ax murderer (the events from For You) and she picks up the phone without thinking to see if he’s OK.
Almost getting killed has a way of making you examine your life and rethink your priorities. This time, Graham seems to be in town for good. He has a management job and furniture, and like all Kristen Ashley alpha hotties, Reece steps up to take care of Zara.
“Cookie, pay attention. I’m gonna give you everything.”
But as much as he takes care of her, Ham never lets Zara know that she is “it” for him. In fact, she kind of seems like second choice to Feb.
“A man is not what he says, babe. He’s what he does.”
Reece was the love of Zara’s life. And she let him know.
His lips came to mine where he whispered, “Love of your life.” I stilled. Then I drew in a soft breath. After that, I admitted, “It’s always been you.”
Fuck, now I gotta fuck you again,” he murmured, but his murmur was jagged.
Zara was a strong woman with a whole shitload of hard knocks throughout her life. But she was a survivor. Ham had woman that screwed him right and left, and you couldn’t blame him for being a little gun shy.
“Drove away from you nine years ago, knew it was wrong then, didn’t know that it was the biggest mistake I’d make in my life.” ~Ham
I read Jagged after re-reading Breathe and then Rock Chick Revolution right in a row. I really did love Jagged, but of the three, Jagged fell a little flat. Until the epilogue. Once again…awesome job on the epilogue (except I thought it was going to be huge and juicy because it started at 90%. I almost cried when it ended at 91% and there was a preview for The Gamble).
“Best woman I ever met.”
- The immediate connection and love you feel toward Zara. She is so relatable.
- Ham was a big, sexy alpha who took good care of Zara, and she deserved it.
- A bunch of great quotes it was hard to choose from.
- Some recaps of all of the Colorado Mountain stories as well as a little of For You.
- The Rooster! (Does everyone in Colorado eat there?)
- Zander. What a great kid. He didn’t seem 9, but Kristen Ashley always writes great kids.
- Visiting with Nina and Max again, as well as Cotton and a few other players from the series.
- An awesome epilogue that finally made me tear up.
- The length!!! All of the other books in the series are well over 500 pages. Jagged is less than 350. It seemed that much of Kristen’s magic was edited out of this book. The connection, though still there was not as deep as it would have and should have been.
- The nicknames! OMG I HATED the name Ham, especially with no explanation!
- How Reece just took it upon himself to go to Nina with the case and didn’t involve Zara enough. It was her life (but I still loved the gesture).
- The custody case was handled horribly. They didn’t even look to see how the boy was doing before beginning that, and never truly mentioned what happened to it.
- The fake-out at the end. The book ends at 91%.
Rating: 4 stars, 4 Heat
This is truly a book where the Kristen Ashley rating scale comes into play. By any other author this would have been a 4,5 star read. But I have come to expect more from Kristen Ashley. In fact, after reading this, I realized how much more I loved Rock Chick Revolution (and that wasn’t my favorite) and upped my rating on that. I loved Jagged, truly. But a lot of the Kristen Ashley magic seemed to be stripped out of it. Perhaps if I hadn’t just come off reading two other KA books I would have found it a little stronger. The missing 200 pages were a part of that, but an even bigger part was that I never felt like Zara was THE ONE for Reece. More like he was ready to settle down, and she was the best woman he knew to do it with.
While this might not be my favorite Kristen Ashley read, it was still awesome, and I highly recommend it. I don’t think it is necessary to read the whole Colorado Mountain Series before this story, especially because books 2,3 & 4 don’t even cross into this one. Only The Gamble takes place in Gnaw Bone. I would, however, suggest you read For You from The Burg series first to enrich the story and get to know Reece a little more. I wish I re-read it beforehand.
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When I saw who was outside, my mouth dropped open.
Luckily, the doorbell buzzing stopped.
Unluckily, the last person on earth I wanted to see was standing outside my door.
“Jesus, you don’t have a peephole?” Ham growled, looking incensed and Graham Reece looking, or worse, being incensed was a very bad thing. I’d learned that five months ago.
I didn’t have it in me to concern myself with Ham being incensed. I was more concerned with him being there at all.
To express this, I asked, “What the hell?”
“Open the fuckin’ door, Zara.”
I stared a beat, then pulled myself together.
This was not happening.
We were done.
I pushed the door closed.
The problem with this was it didn’t work, seeing as the toe of Ham’s boot was wedged between it and the jamb.
“Open the door, Zara,” he repeated.
“We’re done,” I told him through the gap in the door. “Move your foot.”
“Open the door.”
“We’re done, Ham,” I snapped.
“Right, then move back.”
He didn’t repeat his order. He moved his foot but only so he could rear back and plant his shoulder in the door.
The chain popped right open, as did the door, and I went flying.
I righted myself as Ham, now in my apartment, slammed the door.
“You’re payin’ for that!” I yelled.
His eyes were beyond me, examining my new space as his mouth moved.
“Not a problem. I’ll reimburse what they take out of your security deposit when we move you out of this dump.”
I didn’t know what he meant and I also didn’t care.
I switched subjects.
“How did you get here so fast?” I asked, and his eyes finally came to me.
“I hope to Christ you didn’t miss local gossip because you’re spendin’ your days at Deluxe Home Store and your nights at some titty bar.”
“I’m not working at a titty bar, Ham, so you can stop concerning yourself with me and move on”—I paused—“again.” I bit off the last word then what he said penetrated and I asked, “What gossip?”
“Managing The Dog, Zara, have been for a week. I live in Gnaw Bone.”
I felt my eyes get huge as my stomach clenched.
“You’re managing The Dog?” I whispered, aghast.
“Yeah. And you just got a new job. You start after you work out your notice at Deluxe,” he returned.
“What?” This also came out quiet and horrified.
“You’re waitressin’ for me. Shit hours but, if I remember correctly and since the view hasn’t changed except to get better, with your face, tits, and ass, great tips. In the meantime, we’re movin’ you out of this shithole and, you don’t got a girl who can take you on, you’re bunkin’ with me.”
Bunking with him?
Was he high?
“I am not moving in with you,” I declared.
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Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.
Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake.
Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.
And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
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