Coming Soon: After The Climb by Kristen Ashley
ARC review, Bonus Content, Book Review, Contemporary Romance, New Release, On Sale Now, Romance Readers, Romance Review, Series

Hot New Release: After The Climb by Kristen Ashley

River Rain book 1

They were the Three Amigos: Duncan Holloway, Imogen Swan and Corey Szabo. Two young boys with difficult lives at home banding together with a cool girl who didn’t mind mucking through the mud on their hikes.

They grew up to be Duncan Holloway, activist, CEO and face of the popular River Rain outdoor stores, Imogen Swan, award-winning actress and America’s sweetheart, and Corey Szabo, ruthless tech billionaire.

Rich and very famous, they would learn the devastating knowledge of how the selfish acts of one would affect all their lives.

And the lives of those they loved.

Start the River Rain series with After the Climb, the story of Duncan and Imogen navigating their way back to each other, decades after a fierce betrayal.

And introduce yourself to their families, who will have their stories told when River Rain continues.

This series was started with the help of you, my readers, during the pandemic crisis of COVID-19. The first book in this series is free, a gift to my Chicklets for their loyalty and support over the years, and a project we all banded together to produce during a challenging time. Thank you for years of kindness and encouragement. I hope you enjoy what we built together.

And when this series continues, wait for it . . . because when I start writing it, I’m gonna rope you in again.

This is a unique story in that it was written in collaboration with her readers during the quarantine last year and released in 2020 as a free e-book. The author calls it a love letter to her readers and has updated it into an expanded version. It goes live today and will be free until July 18th. This story is almost a prequel to what’s coming and lays the groundwork nicely for the rest of the series, so I’m interested to read the second book in the series, which will be released in September.

The premise was interesting to me because the MCs are middle-aged. They were childhood friends and high-school sweethearts who broke up once, then briefly reunited in their twenties only to have another traumatic break up. After a life-changing event, they’re hit with a second shock that ultimately gives this couple a second chance. The one drawback for me was the MMC didn’t apologize nearly enough to deserve her forgiveness because his past behavior was inexcusable. He traumatized and abandoned the love of his life based on the word of a friend but the way their childhood and young adult relationships were described, it doesn’t fit for him to have believed anyone over her. It’s a small(ish) thing but it nagged me throughout the book.

I wasn’t that invested in the MCs initially but what drew me into this story were the secondary characters. They both have children and ex-spouses so there are lots of moving parts now. It’s not just the two of them involved like it was decades ago, there are many other people intertwined through their relationship. There’s extended family involved as well, like Corey’s bitter ex and his neglected son, Hale, who was practically raised by Imogen and her husband alongside their own children.

The kids were the most interesting characters to me and I believe they’ll be the stars of the rest of the series. They were a lot more exciting and dynamic than the MCs. I was also partial to Imogen’s ex, Tom, and the role he still played in her life. Their relationship was complex and fascinating. I’ll definitely give the next book in the River Rain series a chance and probably check out more of the author’s catalog.

After The Climb expanded version on Amazon.

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