Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Law Man by Kirsten Ashley

Why I read it:  Continuing my glom.

What it's about: (from Goodreads)  Four years ago, Mitch Lawson moved across the breezeway from Mara Hanover and she fell in love with the tall, good-looking police detective who had an uncanny ability to dress well even though he’s single. It was not a stalker kind of love; she knows she has no hope since Mitch is way out of her league. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s her dream man.

Then one day Mara’s faucet won’t turn off and she knows nothing about plumbing. Being a good guy, Mitch offers to help then he invites himself over for pizza. Mara gives it a go but finds herself running away from him (literally) on their first date, standing him up their second and then she runs into him (again literally) on her way to save her ne’er do well, criminal cousin’s kids who’d just run away from their ne’er do well, criminal Dad.

Suddenly, Mara finds she has on her hands the guardianship of two kids and a gorgeous police detective who’s willing to do anything to help out… including giving fabulous foot rubs.

But Mara knows who she is and where she came from and she knows Detective Mitch Lawson is better than her. Hot law man Mitch disagrees and his challenge is to convince Mara to let go of her past and he sets about building a family at the same time he finds he also needs to protect them all against known and unknown adversaries that would tear them apart.

What worked for me (and what didn't): The beginning of this book was a bit annoying for me, but once Mitch made his intentions clear, things picked up and I ended up liking this one quite a bit. 

While there are definite similarities to the stories and the main characters, there are also definite differences and I appreciated them here.  Mara is not only shy, she has significant self esteem problems.  Mitch not only cooks and shops and cleans, he is a natural dad - he doesn't bat an eyelid at taking on Mara's cousins - he falls in love with them almost as quickly as he fell in love with Mara in fact.  There is something super sexy and attractive to me about a man who is good with children - who is prepared to step up and care for and protect them.   

It took a while, but when, eventually, Mara and Mitch hit the sheets, it's pretty awesome.  He's mostly a gentle lover though (another difference) and he's careful with Mara which I appreciated a lot.  Sure, he had a moment or two of being an asshole at the start but once the pair started actually talking to each other, things were definitely looking up.
“And I found out you have great taste in music and the reason you’d barely look at me for four years is that you’re pathologically shy.” 
“Mitch –” 
“And it’s cute.” 
“Please, Mitch –” 
“And this was great fuckin’ news because you bein’ shy meant you were into me which meant I finally was open to make a play.” 
“Stop it,” I whispered. 
“But it was seein’ those two kids respond to you and how you responded to them that made me understand it was worth the effort to take on what I knew would be the frustrating task of extracting your head outta your ass.” 
“Stop it.” This time I said those two words on a hiss. 
“I already knew you looked great in shorts, great in a bikini, you were a great cook, worked hard and your friends love to spend time with you.” 
All thoughts flew from my head and I blinked at him, mortified. “You’ve seen me in a bikini?” 
He ignored me. “So I made my play."
Some of the trick of enjoying a Kristen Ashley book (from the 4 I've now read) I think, is getting into the rhythm of the dialogue.  There have been occasions where I've had to try out a sentence to get a mental picture of the tone but once that's clear in my head, the flow is very good.  I'm not sure that the addition of (admittedly necessary) commas would change anything in that respect - I think I'd still have to get my head into the "KA Zone" a little because her dialogue is different to what I've read before.  I like it, but it takes me just a little getting used to at the start of each book to get the rhythm of the characters.

Mara was certainly very likeable and funny in her own way - although Gwen and Tyra have the crown in that regard in this series I believe.
She was checking out Detective Mitch Lawson as any woman should or she would be immediately reported to then thrown out of the Woman Club.
There were some very funny scenes - mainly from Mitch this time - and usually at Mara's expense.  I could have been offended I guess by the way he said she had her head up her ass all the time, but, once I got his "rhythm" I understood his meaning a lot better too.  After cracking the Mitch code, I could see he wasn't trying to be mean or hurtful at all.  That's my take, but I certainly see others may think differently on that.
“Have I ever given you the impression I don’t want to be around you?” he kept at me. 
Yes. He had. There was the time he told me I had my head up my ass and all the other times he said it. And the times he told me I was clueless. And not ten minutes ago when he was in the break room with me which was also a time when he shared he thought I was clueless and had my head up my ass. I didn’t remind him of this.
This news was infinitely scarier because he stayed there because he liked the gym, the running trail and seeing me in shorts or catching a glimpse of me next to the pool wearing a bikini in the summer. 
As this knowledge threatened to break the hold he had on my freak out, Mitch deftly steered the conversation to music and movies. However, he lost his hold upon finding out I was an action movie freak then promptly declared I was the perfect woman because I had a great ass, long legs, “fantastic fuckin’ hair… and even better when it’s down”, liked baseball, “though… the Cubs… uh, baby” (this muttered on a teasing grin) and I also liked to watch things blow up.   
At that, I started fidgeting in my seat, biting my lip, looking anywhere but him and trying not to hyperventilate at the same time wondering if he’d seen The A-Team.
“You’re annoyed with me,” I pointed out the obvious. 
“Uh… yeah,” he confirmed the obvious. “But I’ve also had more than my fair share of experience with people and with women…” 
Hmm. He could say that again, especially the latter. 
Mitch kept talking. “And I’m clued into the fact that no matter how hard I can make you come, no really good orgasm is gonna erase your perceptions of yourself and replace them with how I see you. I know what I got on my hands. I also know that most women who look like you have their heads up their asses in a different, far more annoying way. So the bright side is, what happened to you, even though you’re as beautiful as you are, you’ll never think your shit doesn’t stink. And I gotta say, sweetheart, I get your sweet, I get your attitude, I get your mouth and I get all that without conceit and you thinkin’ you can lead me around by my dick, so this is not a bad thing at all.” 
“Well, it’s good you can look on the bright side,” I muttered, my eyes sliding to his shoulder and then they flew back to his face when he burst out laughing, his arms closing around me so tight the breath went out of me.
I enjoyed the kids in the book - they were fun and not just plot moppets.  They didn't overtake the book but were an enjoyable addition to it.  Like me, Mara's attraction to Mitch only increased when she saw how good he was with the children.
I gotta protect those kids from any more falls and I gotta protect my woman from takin’ any more too and I’ll exhaust myself, bleed myself dry and run myself ragged to see to doin’ that.
I found Mara's classification system (people are one to threes, four to sixes, or seven to tens and the groups don't mix very well) to be kind of annoying. And, at the start, it was SUPER repetitive.   Added to that, it was clear that Mitch felt strongly for Mara but Mara had no clue this was the case.  It was also clear that Mara was a lot better looking than her self-allotted 2.5.  Right at the start, Mara and Mitch were very much at cross purposes and that is the kind of thing which typically frustrates me in any book.  When the cross-talking was also combined with repetitious people-rating, there was a bit of eye-rolling and sighing in my lounge room.    But, the focus on the numbers dropped off (thankfully) and Mitch and Mara started to actually talk to each other and things got much better.

Even though they kind of went to living together immediately (this was due to circumstances rather than design) I did feel that their relationship was very strong and they belonged together. 

What else?  Once again, I loved that there are characters in this book who aren't getting their own books.  I like series books well enough but when there are only 3 or 4 girls and 3 or 4 guys, by the third or fourth book, it's a matching game, artificial and too predictable.  The characters often (but not always) seem to be there only (or mainly) to be ready to step in when it's their turn in the hero/heroine chair.  There are friends and neighbours and other members of the "posse" in this book.  Elvira (who is a hoot and I love her) and Cam and Tracy and LaTanya and Bray and Brent aren't getting their own books.  They are there to round out the story and show community and the different types of relationships that the main characters have.  I love that.  

The scene where Mara meets Hawk for the first time, when all the girls are drunk at Club after a girls night out, is hilarious.  Tack (pause for a short *sigh* break) makes a brief but important cameo.  He is definitely a scene stealer for me.  Out of the 4 I do think that Motorcycle Man is the best but I have enjoyed them all, this one probably rates around the same as Mystery Man with Wild Man coming in a very close equal third.

Grade: B/B+

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