REVIEW: The Hookup by Kristen Ashley

Moonlight & Motor Oil Book One

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♦BLURB♦

When the new girl in town, Eliza “Izzy” Forrester decides to hit the local drinking hole, she’s not ready to meet the town’s good, solid guy. She’s definitely not prepared to engage in her very first hookup with him.

Then Izzy wakes up the next morning in Johnny Gamble’s bed and good girl Izzy finds she likes being bad for Johnny.

Even so, Izzy feels Johnny holding her at arm’s length. But Johnny makes it clear he wants more and Izzy already knows she wants as much of hot-in-bed, sweet-out-of-it Johnny Gamble.

Floating on air thinking this is going somewhere, Izzy quickly learns why Johnny holds distant.

He’s in love with someone else. Someone who left him and did it leaving him broken. Whoever was up next would be runner up, second best. Knowing the stakes, Izzy will take what she can get from the gentleman that’s Johnny Gamble. And even knowing his heart might never mend, Johnny can’t seem to stay away from Izzy.

Until out of nowhere, his lost love comes back to town. He’s not going back, but Johnny still knows the right thing to do is let Izzy go.

And Izzy knew the stakes, so she makes it easy and slips though his fingers.

But that’s before Johnny realizes Eliza moved to town to escape danger that’s been swirling around her.

And that’s why Johnny decides to wade in.

That and the fact Eliza Forrester makes breakfast with a canary singing on her shoulder and fills out tight dresses in a way Johnny Gamble cannot get out of his head.

 

♦5-STAR REVIEW♦

The Hookup was more than just a second chance at romance for its characters, but a way for them to breathe deeply and experience life again after love and loss. With its cast of deep and inviting characters, Ashley wove a love story that transcended the traditional romance narrative by adding in the element of strength and support from family and true friendship; both of which showed such power in promoting self-healing and confidence in Izzy and Johnny. As always with a KA book, it read like a beautiful dream with her typical flair for character traits and descriptive writing from start to finish.

The purpose of The Hookup wasn’t angst or conflict–though Izzy and Johnny’s story wasn’t without strife or challenges–but the power of healing and peace that can come with loving another, and yourself, wholeheartedly. With a story that feels like the real definition of a love story to me, it was so easy to not only fall for these characters and their story, but also the connection they fostered from the beginning and the beauty of the separate worlds they inhabited coming together. Both were fiercely independent with strong heads on their shoulders, and it was lovely to see that Izzy and Johnny could and did stand on their own in every instance but that they weren’t afraid to need or want the other. The Hookup was equally heartwarming and provocative, captivating me not just because of the sensitive alpha hero and the heroine’s big heart, but because of the beautiful ensemble of characters that lifted up and empowered each other throughout the story and how you could see that actively shaping the main characters. But yes, it was also very much because of the wonderful romance it tells, too, because these two coming together were truly something special.

 

♦EXCERPT♦

“Izzy?” she answered.

“Hey, I’m home,” I told her.

“Okay, well…how are you?”

How was I?

Johnny’s behavior explained by the sad fact it was the anniversary of his father’s death, but still explained, and he was coming over for dinner the next night, not to mention, after not being affectionate (at all, unless you counted sitting me on the countertop, which I kind of did) after the last time we’d had sex, he made out with me at the door of my car for a good, long, happy while—I was great.

“I’m great,” I told her, opening Serengeti’s stall and moving in, lifting a hand to pat her jaw while she moved her nose to snuffle my neck and blow at my hair.

“Damn,” Deanna muttered.

My hand arrested on Serengeti and I focused on Deanna.

“What?” I asked.

“Damn,” she repeated.

“Damn what?” I asked.

“Well, just to say Johnny Gamble is Johnny Gamble.”

A specific area in my chest squeezed at the way she imparted that obvious but still confusing information.

“What’s that mean?” I asked.

“He’s Johnny Gamble of Gamble Garages. Did he tell you that?”

No he didn’t tell me that.

And suddenly I was embarrassed about something that I hadn’t liked all along.

But it was worse since Deanna knew more about a man I’d slept with than I did.

Serengeti was getting fidgety, so I used my hand on her to lead her out of her stall, and once in the corridor, she trotted out the open bay at the back, directly into her pasture.

I moved to Amaretto as I shared with Deanna, “No, he didn’t tell me that. I mean, we talked but we were also doing other things.” I let that lie. It did, weighty between us on the phone, before I went on, “I don’t know what that means.”

Even though it seemed like I did. Something seemed familiar about that.

“You haven’t lived here long enough,” she murmured while I opened Amaretto’s stall and moved in for some quick pats before I let him loose. Louder, Deanna said, “You know the gas station in town?”

Oh yes.

That was where I’d seen it.

“He owns that?”

“That and seven more of them across three counties. None in the city, just in the counties. Some of them are like mini-mart stores. All of them sell gas and do work on cars.”

Wow.

That was impressive.

♦ABOUT THE AUTHOR♦

kristen-ashley-headshot

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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