Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Promise, by Kristen Ashley

Dang it Kristen Ashely. Making me lose sleep and weep and laugh and clap at the good parts! 

That’s what I did – or what The Promise made me do while reading. This is one that myself and others have been waiting a while for, and lawdy! Kristen Ashely did not disappoint. 

The Promise is the story of Benny (Benito Alessandro Bianchi) and Frankie (Francesca Concetti) and picks up right where At Peace leaves off. While it’s not entirely necessary to read At Peace before The Promise, I HIGHLY recommend it. 

Once the girlfriend of Vinnie Bianchi, Frankie has been shunned and blamed for Vinnie’s death for seven years. She’s taken that on, but shouldn’t have. She lives with that blame, and punishes herself for not being able to save Vinnie from himself. She’s been treated horribly by the entire Bianchi family, but Benny gave her the worst of it. He took his anger for his brother and his brother’s actions and transferred it to Frankie.
Frankie is done carrying that burden. She’s moving away from her crazy family, the Bianchi’s, and starting new with a new job in a new city.  Her plans are put on hold after getting shot by Daniel Hart while trying to save Benny’s cousin’s woman, Violet. While there, the Bianchi family decides that penance has been paid and tries to heal the split between their family and her. Benny, most of all, is done fighting his anger, and his emotional ties to her and decides to take action.

They all descend to the hospital to make amends. After two weeks of faking sleep to fend of the Bianchi family, Frankie is finally being released. Benny is on to her games, and isn’t having it. He’s planning to make up for his past treatment toward her in a big way and move forward with her in his life. The thought of losing her is more than enough for him to pull his head out of his ass and admit his feelings for her. 

“Seven years I’ve been fucking up. Right now, that shit ends.”

She’s not so sure:
“But he’s my dead boyfriend’s brother”

“You were mine, even when you were his.”

She knows what it’s like to have the Bianchi’s in her life, and what it means to lose them. She’s not taking that chance. Despite that, he’s pushing.

“You know what this is. That’s why you’re freakin’ and hidin’. I know what this is. That’s why I’m not letting this shit go.”

He’s digging his way in, and she’s fighting her feelings for him. He’s not giving up. He’s not giving up her beauty, her bravery, her loyalty to those around her, and her fight. He promises her a good life. 

“He was wrong. I never had nothing but good coming my way. If I got good, I lost it. That was my life. I’d learned to lie with it.”

Frankie gets some sage advice of Mrs. Zambino, the spitfire widow that lived across the street from Benny. 

“You’re a good girl, Frankie Concetti…Good girls earn good things. Let yourself have good things.”

She doesn’t. Despite things going well, she freaks. She bolts. She takes the job at the pharmaceutical company in Indianapolis that she had lined up before she was shot. She leaves, telling him she wants him to have the woman he deserves, and that woman is not her. 

While she pissed me off at this point, I can see why. She came from a family that didn’t stick. Her mom was a wreck, running through husbands faster than the drive-through line at Starbucks. Her dad wasn’t around. Her sisters – they’re a mess. She thinks that she’s the same way and doesn’t want that for Benny. 

She’s setting in Indy, trying to maintain contact with Benny and he’s not having it. Won’t return her calls, which of course, she makes knowing he’s working and can’t pick up, so she just leaves messages. Finally, on a trip back to Chicago, she contacts him and wants to see him to work things out and keep him as a friend. He shows up late, and well, let’s just say they Worked. Things. Out! Holy smoke Benny is hot! 

What ensues is the development of their long-distance relationship, with the patience of a man who helps his woman get over her insecurities, doubts, and fears. The tenderness of their conversations. The shared history of love and family, love and family lost, and love and family found again. It’s about realizing and appreciating what is in front of you rather than freaking out about the future. 

“Minute by minute, baby”
“Minute by minute”

It’s about the integration of the family and friends – which include Frankie’s family, Benny’s parents and siblings, his cousin Joe/Cal, Violet, Kate, Kiera, “sisters of the heart,” and other players you’ll recognize from other books. 

Since this is part of the Burg series, there’s also a bit of drama. When one of the researchers from her company is shot, she learns it was a hit learns from her assistant Tandy, that there’s something funky going on at her company. Frankie being Frankie, gets herself involved, which gets Benny, Sal, and others involved as well. While as much as I want to hide spoilers, I can’t. I can’t. This is the best line ever: 

“I have  question…Can you kick Chuck Norris’s ass?”

I’ll leave you with that. 

While many were raving over The Will being “Classic KA”, sorry, this one is more like her traditional writing. It’s full of family, family drama, life, love, forgiveness, and that angst and drama that only Kristen Ashely can deliver. This one didn't have the gut wrenching anguish that others have (At Peace), it holds the common thread of the Burg novels with a bit of suspense (but not too much here), and a young couple torn apart to find themselves together again years later. If you're expecting to have a major book hangover with this one - grab a few margaritas and down them before reading, as they'll give you more of a hangover than the emotion in this book. It's there, it's just not at the level of past books. Benny isn't as bad-ass alpha as others, but you do have Joe/Cal back in this book so there's that. Not to say that this was a disappointment - It's still worth reading. Just not what the others were.

The Burg Series will conclude with Cheryl and Merry. I'm sticking with this series to see what happens, but don't have the expectations that I had with the first two books in this series. 

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