He kept looking me right in the eyes.
“My honor to be that man who’s there for you.”
Kristen Ashley is one of my all-time favorite authors, and she’s also the queen of Alpha male romance. Whenever a reader comes to me for a recommendation, KA is one of the first authors I always think of. No matter what kind of romance you like, she’s got you covered. All her heroes are Alpha so no matter what you read, you’ll be getting a powerful, protective, and possessive guy to swoon over. Prefer bikers? She’s has ’em, lots and lots of ’em. Rock stars? Check. Like your romance sprinkled with a dash of suspense? There’s a more serious series or a light-hearted one. Second chance love? All of these. Want to cry? Read this or this. Want to laugh? Read these. Looking for something with some heat? Well, honestly that’s all her books. Maybe you’re into PNR? She’s got those. How about fantasy? Yup again! Ghosts? Affirmative. Commando badasses? Oh yeah. Single parents? Yes, yes, YES! Adoption? Indeed. Ex-cons? Mmmhmm. Cops? Definitely. Strong heroines? Hell yeah! Standalones without series? This or that. You name it… Kristen Ashley has it! And ALL her books are fantastic. They’re all well-written. They’re all addictive. And they are exactly the reason why so many readers around the world are in LOVE with her books.
Bounty was the ultimate slow-burning romance. This is exactly how a soul-deep love that is first built on a beautiful friendship should be written. The story begins when Justice and Deke meet one night in a biker bar. Neither of them were looking for anything, but they found each other. They sparked, they connected. In those few moments, a part of her heart belonged to him forever. It being late though, they arranged for him to pick her up the next day on his bike. She waited and waited but, with no explanation, he never showed and she didn’t hear from him again for the next seven years…
Seven years later is when the real story begins. Justice’s whole family were rock stars but by this point, she too had become a world famous singer. Unbenounced to Deke, she even wrote a song about him on the night they met that went on to be a world-wide hit after she released it. But being in the spotlight her whole life had its drawbacks and after her father’s death, she needed to step back and find a little place to call her own where she could just be Jus, not Justice Lonesome. So she bought a piece of property in Carnal, an oasis to call her own. And stepped into the bar that night to celebrate…. and there he was.
Seven years, ten minutes, and I knew him at a glance.
Seven years, ten minutes, I was right then drawn to him so deeply, it was taking physical effort to stop my body swaying his way, my feet from moving to him… But it still hurt he didn’t remember me.
But he didn’t recognize her. Not at all. Looked right through her and went back to his conversation. Which hurt deep. So deep that she had no intention of going up to him to dredge up their past. But fate had another plan for them. As it turned out, the house she’d purchased needed pretty much everything (including walls) built from scratch and as luck would have it, her contractor had a man skilled in construction just arrive in town recently who he was happy to send her way to work on her house. Naturally, she jumped at the chance to be any closer to having walls so she agreed. But when he arrived, guess who it was…
Right, this was happening.
I met a guy who asked me out and stood me up and now I met him again and he didn’t remember me.
It was not a big deal.
Sure, I’d written a song for him. I’d recorded it. I’d released an album with that song on it. It and the whole album had been critically acclaimed, sold relatively well and nominated for awards.
He didn’t know that.
He didn’t know me, the me he asked out or the me I turned out to be.
Now he was going to install my desk, inventory the stuff in my house, blow insulation in my walls, make my furnace work and give me a utility room.
No big deal.
He was brusque and borderline rude, efficient at his work, but still made so signs of recognizing her and no effort to be friendly. It was clear she was no more than a job to him and while that hurt deep once again, she was bound and determined to befriend him. And so began their… mmm, not quite a romance yet… but definitely a relationship of sorts that was so incredibly fun to watch develop.
I loved their strangely spare but totally awesome banter. Every time he softened a little made my heart skip a beat, and her unending positivity kept me smiling. For example, the way he refused to take food from her, but the way she wouldn’t give up on feeding him…
I held the bag to him when I got close.
“Roast beef and Swiss. I had them heat it up. French roll. Regular potato chips, Big Grab. If you tell me what flavors you like, next time, I’ll get saucy. Also in there are two of Shambles’ butterscotch cookies with chocolate chips.” I then offered the water. “This needs no explanation.”
“Woman, you don’t need to buy me food,” Deke rumbled, straightening to his full height which meant I had to tip my head back to look at him.
“Dude, you pass out from dehydration or malnutrition, no way in hell I can carry your carcass to my truck to race you to emergency. I couldn’t even drag it. You need sustenance.”
I jiggled the bag.
“I’m not gonna pass out,” he clipped.
“And I’m not gonna have someone at my house who eats bologna day in, day out. Yes, it’s yummy, but you need variety. So today, roast beed.”
I jiggled the bag again.
Everything was going unconventionally well, as they danced around the line between friendship and something more, until one horrifying night gave them a wake up call that send them crashing towards each other in a way that everyone including them knew, they’d never be apart again…
He kept moving and she kept moving so when they hit, they slammed into each other. He curled his arms around her and she wrapped hers around him, pushing… no, fucking burrowing into his body.
He lifted a hand and cupped her head, pressing her cheek to his chest…
“I’m here. Right here, baby.”
Now, thankfully even though most of the story is told from Justice’s POV, we do a fair number of chapters from his POV as well giving us some much needed insight into why he was so careful to keep his distance from her, whether or not he actually remembered her, and how deeply he really was falling for her.
These two were just from such different worlds. Her a famous rock star who wanted for nothing, him a down country biker mountain man who’d had to work hard for every single thing he had. But just so you know, he actually did have a legit reason for both keeping his distance from her at first and for why he stood her up seven years ago — both reasons were pretty heart-wrenching at that. I’ll let you discover that on your own when you read but I just wanted to assure you that he’s not an asshole.
As I mentioned earlier, theirs was a gorgeous slow-burning romance and I totally didn’t mind the languished build. But then THAT MOMENT when things crossed from friends to lovers between them oooooooohmigosh I was smiling and swooning non-stop. It was intense and BEAUTIFUL.
The hotness, the connection, the spark, the love, it was all there! But I loved how smoothly they transitioned from being friends to lovers. I mean yes, there was a specific moment that defined it, but as you read, you could just feel them gravitate towards each other in a way where when they officially became a them, it just felt right in the way where you knew there was no other way for them to be but together.
“My honor,” he told me.
I felt my brows draw together, but even so, my heart didn’t skip a beat at that. It squeezed. He kept looking me right in the eyes.
“My honor to be that man who’s there for you.”
KA writes epic romance. This is a well-known fact. But just as important as the love stories are the way she includes friends, family, and community into her stories in such a deep, heart-felt way that, I swear to you, there were tears in my eyes on more than one occasion. Just that knowledge that there are people out there — good, kind, honest, loyal friends — who always have your back can be so deeply meaningful.
If you’re a long-time KA fan, you’ll be pleased to know that this book is chock full of cameos from this full series (Max, Tate, Ty, Chase), the Rock Chick series (Mace!), the ‘Burg series (Joe), the Unfinished Heroes series (Deacon) and it was so much fun to revisit all these characters. Like meeting up with old friends!
You could read this book as a standalone and be fine understanding everything. Your understanding of this book does not hinge on any previous stories. However, you will have a deeper connection to the secondary characters if you have read their books in advance. So really, the choice is yours. My usual recommendation with KA books is to pick a series and then start with the first standalone and read them through in order, but they’re all structured to stand alone so, either way, you won’t go wrong.
This book is quite low on drama. It’s a slow-burning, smooth-flowing romance that builds in passion and intensity over the course of the book. I had so much fun reading Deke and Justice’s story and this is definitely a wonderful new addition to KA’s fantastic roster of books! A new favorite!
If you’re a fan of Alpha male romance, you should definitely grab a copy!
“You know how you too me I was one of the best women you’ve ever met?”
He didn’t answer immediately, then his deep voice sounded. “Don’t.”
I did. “You’re one of the best men I’ve ever met.”
Rating: 4.5+ stars. Contemporary romance.