Loose Ends by Kristen Ashley
A collection of Short Stories and Novellas tying Up Some LOOSE ENDS
Tying up…Loose Ends
In Kristen Ashley’s first anthology, readers will find three short stories and two novellas taking them back to characters and series in the Kristen Ashley universe.
No Clue, a short story – Visit with Joe and Vi from At Peace of The ’Burg series and learn how Joe breaks up a fight between his sons, what Ryker’s up to and why, exactly, his wife Violet has no clue.
The Stars Aligned, a novella – The long-awaited love story of Hap and Luci. Introduced in Heaven and Hell, readers learned, after a heartbreaking journey through grief, Luci was ready to take another chance at love. But Hap was adhering to “the code” between brothers, unwilling to betray his dead friend Travis by falling for Travis’s widow. Further, Hap can’t quite believe a beauty like Luci could fall for a normal guy like Hap. But for Luci and Hap, the heart can’t be denied. Especially when the stars align.
The Favor, a short story – Deacon and Cassidy from Deacon of the Unfinished Heroes series go back to their favorite cabin at Glacier Lily, and there, Cassie asks her husband a favor. He’ll give her anything she wants. Including this.
More Than Everything, a novella – Readers left Diesel, Maddox and Molly at a crossroads at the end of The Greatest Risk of the Honey series. Maddox and Molly were all in with their commitment to their unconventional love triangle. But Diesel was letting the pressures and prejudice of family and society sink under his skin, making him hold himself distant from the man he loved. Can Maddox and Molly lead Diesel fully into their lives and give him more than everything?
Rock Chick Renewal, a short story – Tod has been planning Rock Chick weddings for years. He’s got a new one on his hands. And it’s not what he expected.
If you’ve been following Ana’s Attic for any length of time you know of my pure adoration for anything Kristen Ashley, so I can’t tell you how excited I have been for Loose Ends! I need to start by saying I can’t stand anthologies for the most part. I have to know how much is left in the stories I am reading and in an anthology, you don’t really know that, but this is Kristen Ashley, and anything she writes, I will read, and I sure hope she does more of these!
There were 6 stories. and two of them could have easily stood as their own books if it were any other author. This is a long book (I think, you can’t tell!), and I admit, it did drive me a little crazy to not know the length of each story as I read it. But it never detracted from the stories for me.
NO CLUE (Short Story)
A sweet visit with Joe and Vi from At Peace one of my favorite all-time book couples! They have a house full of kids and a visit from crazy Ryker. This one was funny, sweet and sexy, and I wish there was more, but it was an adorable little drop-in epilogue.
“It was also about a lot of laughter, quiet golden moments, silken moments of utter pride, and a shit ton of sex. In other words, he was living the life. He kinda knew he’d get that the minute he laid eyes on her. He fought it, but he still knew. Thank God he quit fighting. “
THE STARS ALIGNED (Novella)
This is the one I waited for! Hap and Luci’s story from Heaven and Hell. I reread Heaven and Hell a few weeks ago so it was fresh in my mind, but this can probably stand alone. Luci, an ex-supermodel, had a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love with her husband Travis. But he died, and his best friends Sam and Hap looked after Luci. In the time since, Luci and Hap developed feelings for each other.
“He would always come second best to a dead man.”
When we last left Luci, she was in a bad place, made even worse by being in love with a man who can’t love her back because of a bro code. But Hap did love her, he just doubted he was good enough for the sophisticated yet down-to-earth supermodel. I loved Luci in Heaven and Hell, and I loved her even more in this novella.
“There aren’t rooms that people fill or pieces you give away. If you love someone with all of your heart, you just do. But you can love many with all your heart. Like I love my father. And Sam. And Kia. And my friend Massimo. And Celeste.” She slid her hand up his chest to the bottom of his throat and pressed lightly. “Like I love Travis. And like I love you.”
Told in mostly 3rd POV (as are all the stories in this anthology), I would have loved to have seen Luci’s POV but it was the same POV as Heaven and Hell, where the only first-person part was Kia’s.
“You’re my religion.” Luci closed her eyes. Yes. She’d been right. She’d just been worshiped.”
I loved Pearl, the Jewish grandma, and really loved the visit with Henry Gagnon from The Will. He was in love with Josephine but never made the move until was too late. I so hope his story is in the next Loose Ends.
I love you, Happy.”
“Not as much as I love you.”
“I have a feeling I love you more.”
Hap looked deep into her eyes and stated, “Luciana, that would be impossible.”
THE FAVOR (Short Story)
This was a cute and sweet epilogue-type of visit with Deacon and Cassidy and their family. There were some giggle-worthy moments and I loved the sweet slice-of-life visit.
MORE THAN EVERYTHING (Novella)
We met the threesome of Diesel, Maddox and Molly in The Greatest Risk. They are a m-m-f threesome but Diesel is having a hard time coming out to the world as bi and It’s causing all kinds of angst in the relationship.
“Took a lot of ass, took a lot of cock, it’s still only you and it’ll only ever be you.”
This was a beautiful story about overcoming prejudice but be warned: there is a LOT of sex, most of it of the kinky and rough m-m variety. I loved all three guys and Maddox’s family. Diesel’s sister was awesome, and we will be getting her story soon, you’ll just have to read this to figure out what I mean.
“There will always be people in our lives who don’t get us, what we have, and they never will. If you told me this was what I’d have, what I’d want, what I’d work to keep strong and good and happy, what I’d cherish, just three years ago, I would have told you you were crazy. What a mess, two men, one woman. How do you raise kids with that? How do you balance it out so there’s no jealousy? Where one doesn’t feel left out? How do you make love split into three and make it equal? And then we happened and we’re a miracle. We’re so beautiful, we’re a miracle. We’re everything. We have so much to give to each other, it spills over, so our children are going to be so lucky. Just like us. So . . . fucking . . . lucky.”
I’m not a huge m-m fan so I did think there was a little too much sex in this story (as hot as it was) but I expect that’s how it would be with two horny guys and a horny girl. I think because I don’t read a lot of m-m and this was 3rd person, I tended to feel like I wasn’t sure who’s head we were in at times whereas you recognize a woman’s vs. a man’s thoughts easier in a traditional story (this has also been my issue with other m-m books which is why I don’t read them much). I still love the characters and the storyline so much, and fans of her Honey series, m-m romances and menage will really love this.
TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT (Very Short Story)
This was the shortest story in the book based on a writing prompt, and it wasn’t related to any other story Kristen Ashley has written. I so hope she expands this world into an entire series because I completely fell in love with the tiny, sparkly matchmaking fairies.
ROCK CHICK RENEWAL
Get your tissues out, because if you are even a little sappy, you’ll be crying at the sweetness while throwing colorful confetti! I completely fell in love with this little Rock Chick visit. I wish it was longer!
“They stopped him at the side and Tod gazed up at his partner, his lover, his best friend, his everything-and-had-been-since-time-began-because-they’d-been-destined-for-each-other-since-the-earth-started-rotating-around-the-sun.”
The Down & Dirty:
I absolutely love this idea! While I am not an anthology lover because I like to know how much is left in each story, it’s my most-loved author and some of my favorite characters. The books I normally love most from Kristen Ashley are first-person and all the stories in this anthology are third-person, so I will say, I had a little trouble connecting as much as I usually do, but even 3rd person from KA is better than almost anything else. I still enjoyed every single word of this anthology and wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
If you are a Kristen Ashley lover, Loose Ends is a MUST READ. If you are new to her, don’t start here. Check out my Complete Guide to Kristen Ashley here.
Overall Rating: 4 Stars, 5 Heat
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From “The Stars Aligned”1.
“I loved him too.”
She shut her mouth.
“You know that. I miss him too. Not like you, I get that. But I just want you to know I feel that, for me, for you, and I’m there even if we’re like we are right now. I’m there when that hits you, however you need me to be.”
Luci stared at Hap’s profile unable to speak.
She would not be able to do that. If the shoe was on the other foot, he had lost a wife he adored and was moving on with Luci, but he continued to mourn his wife’s passing in his way, she would need him to do that inside himself. To hide that from her. She was too possessive. Too selfish. She knew that about herself, even if she didn’t like it. She’d want to be a bigger person, a better person, and she might be able to hide her feelings from him to give him what he needed, but it would hurt.
She’d never offer it, as Hap would say, straight out.
But he meant it.
He meant every word.
“I would not be able to do that for you,” she blurted.
He glanced at her before looking back at the road. “Sorry?”
“I would want to, but I would find it difficult to support you in that way.”
“Seein’ as that’s not the way it is, you don’t have anything to worry about,” he replied.
That was not the point.
She didn’t belabor the point.
Dio, but she loved him.
“May I ask you something?” she requested.
“Shoot,” he invited.
“If it was the other way around, not you losing a woman you loved, but if I’d found you first, not Travis, and I had lost you, how would you feel if Travis and I found each other?”
“I’d want you to be happy.”
Not a moment’s hesitation.
“Do you say that because you know how I was with Travis?” she pressed cautiously.
“I say that because I’d want you to be happy,” he repeated. Another glance to her before he looked back at the road. “Baby, why do you think I’m right here and you’re right there?”
Luci turned her eyes out the windshield but not her attention.
I’d want you to be happy.
Dear Lord, she was going to cry.
“Luce?” he called.
She swallowed and stated, “I would find it in me to support you through the loss of a woman you loved, however you needed me to support you.”
“Honey, look at me,” he urged, taking up her hand, pulling it to his thigh and holding it tight.
She looked to him and he must have felt it because he didn’t take his eyes off the road when he resumed speaking.
“That’s not where we are. As sweet as that is, we’ve got what we’ve got. That’s enough to deal with. There’s no point to this conversation because we are where we’re at and not anywhere else, and we got enough on our plates. It serves no purpose to take it anywhere else. You found Gordo. You lost Gordo. You want me. I’m right here. That’s where we are. Let’s just find our way through that minefield, yeah?”
You want me. I’m right here.
What did that mean?
“I’ve come to terms with Travis’s death, Pearl,” Luci told her.
Pearl didn’t believe a word she said and didn’t only express that with her face, but with words.
“So why, precisely, were you a million miles away when you had a beautiful shoe on your foot and a dozen boxes of the same surrounding you?” Pearl demanded.
“Because I’ve met someone else.”
Pearl’s chin lifted slightly, and she murmured, “I see.”
“But he won’t have me,” Luci went on.
Henry made a choking noise.
Pearl’s already magnified eyes behind her glasses took up her face.
“I beg your pardon?” she asked.
“He won’t have me,” Luci repeated.
Pearl leaned forward. “For goodness sakes, why?”
“He’s one of Travis’s dearest friends.”
Henry made a low noise of male understanding while Pearl’s wrinkles rearranged themselves into supreme annoyance.
She aimed her glare at Henry.
“So you approve of this nonsense?” she queried.
“Approve? No. Understand? Yes,” Henry answered.
“Then please,” Pearl threw out both hands, palms up, and spread them wide to indicate the table, “educate us.”
“That would be impossible for me to do without offending you both greatly,” Henry replied.
“Because we’re too dim to understand?” Pearl asked.
“Because it’s a piss around your property issue that a woman simply cannot comprehend, mostly because it’s ridiculously stupid,” Henry returned.
Pearl was mollified by this and shared it by reaching toward her Bellini and taking only a half-still-annoyed sip.
But Luci turned her attention to Henry.
“You think it’s ridiculously stupid?”
He nodded. “As a philosophy, yes. Logically, it makes no sense. Emotionally, if, to try to find a like comparison, I had not foolishly thrown away any chance I had to win the only woman I’ve ever loved, and we had wed and built a life together, and we found ourselves at that time where we discussed the tragic and hopefully very unlikely event that one of us should pass before the other, in the prime of our lives, or whenever, I would find it very difficult to say with any authenticity that I would be fine with the idea of another man with Josephine.”
“That’s preposterous,” Pearl snapped. “Not to mention selfish.”
“I said with any authenticity, Pearl,” Henry stated soothingly. “Of course I would want her to move on. I would want her to find happiness again. Of course. Logically. Because I love her and I would not want her ever to be unhappy. But would it make me happy in the slightest to think of her with another man? Not a chance. A nightmare, I’ll remind you, I’m living right now in another way, but I’m still living it. Make that man a friend? I’d be infuriated and feel betrayed just by the thought.”
“That’s preposterous and selfish too,” Pearl retorted.
“Nevertheless,” Henry said, catching the eyes of the waiter and lifting his chin before he tipped his head to his empty glass then flicked his hand to indicate he wanted the table to have another round, “it’s true.” He returned his attention to Pearl. “And I’m here because you like me. You like annoying me. You like beguiling me. You enjoy making me laugh and entertaining me. But you didn’t call two hours ago to invite me to dinner for any of that. Nor did you do it to set me up with Luciana. You did it so I could state the facts for my gender.”
“I also like looking at you,” Pearl huffed, and Henry grinned.
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1st Prize: Print signed LOOSE ENDS, HEAVEN AND HELL, THE GREATEST RISK, AT PEACE, DEACON and ROCK CHICK plus $100 Amazon Gift Card
2nd prize: Print signed LOOSE ENDS, HEAVEN AND HELL, THE GREATEST RISK, AT PEACE, DEACON and ROCK CHICK (no Amazon Gift Card)
3rd Prize: eBook LOOSE ENDS, HEAVEN AND HELL, THE GREATEST RISK, AT PEACE, DEACON and ROCK CHICK
4th – 10th Prize: eBook LOOSE ENDS