Review: Raid by Kristen Ashley

Wednesday, March 6

Title: Raid*
Author: Kristen Ashley
Series:  Unfinished Heroes #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher:  Self Published
Format: E-book
Date/Year:  February 2013
Reviewed by:  DD

*This book was purchased by the reviewer for her own reading enjoyment

Summary from the publisher:

Hanna Boudreaux has lived in the small town of Willow, Colorado all her life. The great-granddaughter of the town matriarch, she's sweet, cute and quiet.

Too quiet.

Hanna has a moment of epiphany when she realizes her crush for forever, Raiden Ulysses Miller, is not ever going to be hers. She sees her life as narrow and decides to do something about it.

Raiden Miller is the town of Willow's local hero. An ex-marine with the medal to prove his hero status, he comes home, shrouded in mystery. It takes a while but, eventually, Hanna catches his eye.

But after all these years of Raid and Hanna living in the same town, the question is, why? Is Raid interested in Hanna because she's sweet and cute? Or does Raid have something else going on?

My Musings:

I want to preface this review (because I always have to do that) by saying my peace about Kristen Ashley. She is one of my ALL time favorite Authors. Others in this group include Lisa Kleypas, Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Robyn Carr, Judith McNaught, Lorelei James, Erin McCarthy, Jill Shalvis and maybe a couple others that I forgot to mention. My point is this is a pretty substantial group of women, and when someone says “please suggest an author that you like” inevitably I will say one of these (including Kristen). That being said, I have not loved all of Kristen Ashley’s books. Are they addictive? Yes. Are they all 5 stars? No way. Despite that opinion, I have talked this woman up and extolled her virtues to every person I know that actually reads for a hobby. Her incredible books (Play it Safe, Golden Trail, At Peace) far outweigh the ones that make me wanna smack her. The point is I could talk about her works for pages and pages, as I feel they are fascinating. However, the sad thing is that the first book of hers that I am going to review publicly is negative, and I hate that. But I suppose I should get on with it......

I am not going to go as far as to say that I hated Raid. But it came close. This book is getting excellent reviews, and I am wondering if I just missed something. I mean literally I am the ONLY person that did not like this book.

I am very aware that most authors have a formula, and if you read enough of their novels it becomes familiar to you. Comfortable. Like your favorite warm blanket. But then, comfortable can become annoying. Like your husband snoring in your ear at 5000 decibels, or crunching chips so loud that you can’t hear the TV. You love him, but you could really clobber him. Hence, the problem with Raid. Well, one of the problems. Her formula has worked for me thus far, but this book, maybe because it was shorter, really highlighted that there IS one.

Let’s talk about the title.  It is actually very clever, I think. What you might say is a Triple-Entendre. The main character’s name is Raid (actually Raiden, Raid is a nickname). Also, he lost his friends in what we assume was a “raid” in Afghanistan. In addition he basically “raids” the heroine, Hanna’s life. Despite this analysis that my brain DOES recognize, the first thing that come to my mind is a bug spray commercial. Sorry, can’t help it.

Kristen Ashley writes super hot sex scenes. As always, the scenes in Raid were good. Maybe a little off, but hot nonetheless. Looking back on the novel, I am not sure she really described in too much detail what Raid looked like, but for some reason I can picture him clearly. Every novel she’s written has been this way to me, and it’s really odd, because I can’t do that very often. So whatever description she provided was spot on, and he will forever have a “look” in my brain. The men she writes are nothing but sexy alpha, sometimes on the border of mean,  and for some reason, it’s very appealing to a lot of women, including me.  I am not talking about “dominant” so much as rough, protective, and hot.  I think that the story started out really sweet, with a girl who has loved a man as long as she can remember since childhood, and just a glimpse of him can make her day, or an unfortunate viewing of him with another woman can hurt and cut deep, even though the man doesn’t realize he is hurting her.  It shows how one can truly have a one sided love, and just how devastating it can be. It’s an age old premise, but one that can be explored many different ways.

I really liked Hanna Boudreaux. She took care of her Great Grandma (“Grams”) and simultaneously had her own business knitting beautiful afghans and shipping them to specialty boutiques all over the country. I love that her house was cottage-y and homey, and that she used her talents to make money.  Hanna is sweet, trusting, and giving to a fault (we will also explore this below), loyal, and she loves who she loves. And she has ALWAYS loved Raiden Ulysses Miller, since she was 6. She knows she has to make a change in her life, and she does it. She provides for herself rather handsomely while staying small town and true to her responsibilities. I like that in a person. She befriends a couple that own a small bike shop in town, and she adores them too despite their obvious flaws. Again, trusting. I don’t want to say naive, because that would be too much. She discovers her love for biking, snowboarding, and outdoor sports that she had not previously taken advantage of. During this time her life begins, and ends, metaphorically speaking, at the same time.

Raiden is a normal damaged hero. I say normal, because in most romances, without some sort of emotional redemption and wounds for his woman to heal, there is no story. Raid was a soldier in Afghanistan, with a rabid case of PTSD that he won’t admit. He is gruff, tough as a boot, and has a lot of personal demons to fight. Everyone in town thought that he would be career military, but he came back, and surrounding him were a lot of whispers about why. He finds a “business” he is good at and that’s what he does, although no one is really sure what that is. He is gone for days, sometimes weeks at a time. His mom, sister, and others in the town just accept that they have no idea what he’s into or on about, so they just love him when he’s there and let it go the rest of the time. Raid starts inching his way into Hanna’s life via her Grams (the town matriarch) and offering to mow her yard, and you’re thinking “wow, this is really a stand up guy”.  I so much wanted to like him, and a few times I really did. He is a hottie of epic proportions, and every girl in town has been half in love with him since birth.

It has not escaped me that this is called the “Unfinished Heroes” series**. I have been warned. However, it’s just not working for me, except Creed, and I hated him on many occasions too. There is a very fine line between a strong alpha hero and a complete asshole. Raid plummets into the “complete asshole” zone  and never redeems himself in my opinion.  Hanna forgives him, but I would tell him to go f**k himself. I have a hard time with the fact that after being in the same town since childhood, Hanna gets a haircut and some highlights, and he finally notices her. Hanna has a hard time with this too, but she is too in love to question it. And I have a hard time with a man that thinks a woman is his reward for the injustices and misery he has suffered, and then blows up when she is concerned about his emotional health and berates her and calls her bad names. I was so pissed I didn’t even want to keep reading it. And I have a problem with Raid saying “sure make my place livable” so she does, and beyond, then he gets pissed at that, because he thinks she  is subliminally telling him she doesn’t want a future with him (what?) it’s just grrrrrrrrr.  There are so many instances where this neanderthal (and usually I mean that in a GOOD way)  gets mad at Hanna for no reason, and then he gets upset, she get upset and then they forgive each other. That’s basically the whole book. I hate that I felt there were moments that could have gone somewhere....where I was starting to feel something for Raid, and then he was just an asshole again. Where are his good parts? I’m not finding any. Why is he this way? What the eff is his problem?

I feel like a bunch of authors are trying to touch a little on PTSD, because so many people have to deal with their mates after they have seen unspeakable horrors. I think this is commendable, but I have a love/hate relationship with it. I am not trying to discount these struggles, and I know some are trying to really get this out in the open, but I also feel like it’s been dramatized for the sake of a storyline or inserted because it’s trendy to talk about it and it adds a lot of drama. That is sobering, because SO MANY people are living with this sadness. It’s one of those things that has to be done right and so delicately, and most fail at it. I think this one fails at it, because there it is in the story, yet we never find out what really happened besides the fact that Raid’s brothers in arms were killed. It began to get into it, but it didn’t and I think that several more pages were needed to deal with this issue. In turn we would have understood why Raid is so mercurial (i.e an asshole).

Another issue, that I’m sure I harp on a lot is the overuse of words. I try not to be a hypocrite (how many times have I used asshole on this page?) and I’m sure I use the same phrases or words in reviews over and over. In this book it was “phenomenal”. It was used several times in the first half of the book, and I got sick of seeing it. Throw in the rampant overuse of gross sentimental pet names like sweetheart and honey and stick a fork in me cause I’m done. The reason this irritated me is because Raid is neither a sweetheart nor a honey and by gosh didn’t deserve those endearments. And.....Don’t even get me started on why Kristen Ashley decided to hitch herself to the domination bandwagon. She doesn’t need to do this. Her guys are badass enough!! This guy is such an asshole that he doesn’t need to add dominant and “I like to play” to his list of disturbing personality traits. (disclaimer, I don’t think domination is disturbing, I like it, but not in this context). Authors please note: BDSM is overcooked and yawn-worthy as a wealthy young sadist in a suit as of this moment in pop culture.  Stop doing it like amateur night unless you’re Joey W Hill, Cherise Sinclair, or Tymber Dalton, or Maya Banks in her “Sweet” series.  And go big or go home, don’t dabble.  As if this woman Hanna hasn’t surrendered herself enough to this brute, NOW he informs her, by making her crawl on all fours, that he is also dominant in the bedroom. Well now that’s a shocker.  And not only that, but it isn’t even explored. It’s just like she threw it in there because everyone else has, so lets try it out. It doesn’t work. AT ALL.

I also have to comment, as others have, at the length of this book. Most of Ashley’s books go over 400 pages, and this one was not even close to that. I think it was between two and three hundred. Maybe, just maybe if I felt like Raid had more backstory, and we knew more about what he has gone through, we would understand his outbursts. Or at least I wouldn’t feel somewhat cheated. Maybe like she is feeling a lot of pressure to get more books out there. Although I think this book is still self published, I thought I read that she has signed on with a publisher now, and I hope this is a great thing for her and not the beginning of a downfall and hindrance and censor on what she does best- Write fabulous heroes. 

I think the Unfinished Heroes Series needs to stay just that.  I expect so much more from her. I want to give this 5 stars just for the sake of author loyalty, but I can’t do that.  Sadly, everyone is rooting for Deacon to get his own book (he’s shown up in the Rock Chick Series and I think  in the Colorado Mountain Series) and he seems like a real space cadet so this series is likely to keep going. He has been set up to get his own story, and I hope this time she does a troubled man some justice.  


Overall:  2 ½  Stars
. There were some good qualities and moments, I just wasn’t feeling it as a whole with this one. If you want to see what Kristen Ashley is truly capable of, read At Peace (Joe Callahan is swooooonworthy), Play it Safe (not everyone likes this one but I do) or start with the Rock Chick Series. If you want an unfinished hero that is worthy of that title, then I would suggest Creed. Everyone else, literally, has loved Raid, so if you want to read it, don’t let me sway you. For whatever reason it left me sour.  The REAL Hero of this Book: Spot the Cat. He ROCKS. He is worth two stars alone.

Sensuality: 4.  The sex scenes were hot and the language was rough. Kristen Ashley usually doesn’t disappoint in this area. However, I think the sex scenes in Creed far exceed anything else she has done, especially here.

For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

**The author offers this warning in regards to the heroes in this series:  "... the heroes of these books are anti-heroes. They are good men who do bad things. They have their reasons. They have their own codes. They may seek (and find) redemption. Or they may not. They simply are who they are, do what they do and find love along the way."

Other Reviews:

 *Seductive Musings is an Amazon affiliate and receives a very small referral fee for purchases made via the links on the blog and through the Seductive Musings Amazon Store. Read the full disclosure here.


Anonymous,  March 6, 2013 at 7:31 AM  

I have to say that I agreed with your review for the most part. Although I didn't "hate" Raid, it was not one of my favorites. I think one of the reasons that this book is getting such mixed reviews is because Ms. Ashley has set the bar so HIGH with her other books that when she puts one out there that's not quiet up to par it's a litle bit of a shock you don't know what to think and because you love her and the other books so much you just don't want to say anything "bad". Someone made a suggestion that maybe she could rewrite or add to Raid to help fill in a lot of gaps in Raid's story and I think that's an excellent idea and one she should consider. I for one would like to know how he got hooked up with Knight and how he knows Creed???
I think that perhaps Ms. Ashley may be feeling the "pressure" to put more books out there faster because she has done this in the past and her fans have come to expect that. If you read her Facebook page, people are begging her for Ren and Ally's story to the point that she had to comment and tell everyone that she didn't want to rush it because she wanted the story to be the best it could be and I applaud her for that.
I'm still looking forward to her other books that are coming out this year especially Fire Inside. I think that one's going to be AWESOME!

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