Thursday, April 09, 2015

Review: Asa by Jay Crownover

Series: Marked Men #6
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Copy provided for honest review
Rating: ★★★★★

Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.
Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Crownover shows such artistic growth and maturity in Asa, the final installment in her Marked Men series.  The writing style, the character development and the way the problems are dealt with, were all head and shoulders above where she started with Rule.  She's hitting her stride and Asa is proof of that.

Those who have been reading my reviews for some time know that my favorite characters are the broken ones.  The more messed up they are, the more I want to read their story.  Asa is beautifully, tragically broken.  Growing up with no care other than himself has left him with a past full of selfish and criminal acts.  When a second lease on life puts him in a world surrounded by people who are gracious, selfless and full of forgiveness... all those past misdeeds begin to weigh heavily on his mind.

Asa proves that changing who you are is hard and forgiving yourself is even harder.  His inner struggle brought me to my knees a little bit.   It was so easy to believe that someone who was such a bad person could believe they could never really change. Or believe that they never deserved anything good to happen to them.

Royal is in a similar mindset but for vastly different reasons.  She's lost some confidence in herself and ironically, it's the man with no self worth that helps her find hers again.

For me, Royal was the perfect match for Asa.  She's soft to his hard but with her own edge. She won't back down, she goes after what she wants but not to the point of bending who she is for him.  Yet, she won't allow him to bend for her either.  She just wants him to see himself how others do, not change, not be better, just be who he is now instead of living in the shadow of who he was.

That is where the maturity comes in to play.  Both Asa and Royal are willing to walk away from each other for the sake of each other.  They are both ready to make hard calls, to give up personal happiness for the chance of the other person to follow the path they need to. To have ultimate trust in each other when trust doesn't come easy to either of them.  It's not the easiest resolution to their problems, but it's a resolution I have immense respect for.  It's the only choice that could have been made with unconditional love for another person. 

Asa is a beautiful end to the Marked Men series, showing that love is sacrifice, it's trust, it's selfless. 

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