"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. It's a standalone, so I fully recommend jumping right in as soon as possible! I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters, which were all multi-dimensional and felt just as real as the main characters. There was a lot to follow, but not in a bad way; it kept the book moving at a fast pace, and I found myself filing away facts about each character for future use automatically. Every scene in the book was so vivid that I felt as if I were there experiencing everything with them.
Twenty-three-year-old Maggie is mother to nine-year-old Asher (Ash), who is also her brother. My heart melted the first time he called her "Mom." His explanation is even better!
Ash: "Everyone at school talks about their moms, and I think I don't want to say 'Maggie' 'cause that's stupid. I just think you're my mom more than our real mom was before anyway."
Anyway, Maggie does a circus-worthy balancing act trying to take care of Ash, finish college and work to support them both. The last thing on her mind is romance. She is much too busy doubting her parenting abilities and worrying about her choices will affect Ash. In some books, that could come off as annoying, but here, we are shown this through her acts of devotion as she drives him over an hour to his hockey games and practices and tucks him in at night. It's heart-warming, and it puts the reader into their lives in a heartbeat. For example, Ash wants to watch a DVD after dinner with Maggie.
Her internal response: "Asher forced me to watch with him, and by forced, I mean he widened his light green eyes, stuck out his ruby bottom lip, and begged like a puppy. I couldn't deny his beautiful face, despite the work I had to do tonight, so I sat next to him."
Ash is a great kid, who radiates positivity, and made me smile more than once.
Luke, who is also twenty-three, has the weight of several siblings on his shoulders. He returned from college to live at home in order to protect his brother and sisters from their physically abusive father. There are a few incidents of physical child abuse, and though we see the children after the fact, it's no less disturbing to witness their injuries. On some occasions, Luke is the one in need of a protector, and his older sister, Lindsay, offers her apartment when needed while she stays behind to watch the kids.
Luke: "I didn't know what to do to make this better. However, I knew Lindsay was right. I couldn't stay. I just didn't want to leave them to deal with the broken pieces."
Luke attends the same college as Maggie to finish his education. Both are setting out to become teachers. They have more in common right off the bat than even they realize. Both come from dysfunctional home environments. Luke has his "Father" to contend with, and Maggie is under the thumb of her wicked grandmother, who wants custody of Ash.
Luke is drawn to Maggie without completely knowing why, and, subconsciously, the feeling is mutual. He spends an equal amount of time trying to breach her defenses and trying to convince himself he isn't good enough for her, because he thinks he's like his father (a fear with no basis in reality at all).
Along the way, Maggie makes a few friends, who add such texture to the tale (along with Luke's siblings), and all are able to guide her in their own ways when she doesn't know what to do or which end is up.
They both have baggage and issues. They both have people to protect. Can they build a lasting relationship amidst all of the chaos or is the timing just not right?
I enjoyed finding out the answers to those questions. My only complaint is that I wish I knew how a couple of minor issues with the supporting characters turned out, and that especially applies the villains of the story. Even my complaint is praise, however. To make a reader care about minor characters and still stay on track with the main story thread is no small task! I truly couldn't put this down. The variety of emotions tapped into all felt very genuine to me, and I was sorry to reach the final page. I'm chintzy with my stars. "For the Love of Ash" really earned all of them.
Written by Amelia for Summer’s Book Blog. (* ARC PROVIDED BY THE AUTHOR FOR AN HONEST REVIEW *)
© Taylor Lavati 2017
What Readers Have to Say...
"An absolutely heart wrenching read that shows us that at times no matter how much we hope, darkness will find its way to win. "
-Blogger's From Down Under for A Reliant Love
"So this book is the ultimate love story. I like how two ordinary people who is so different and still so alike in so many ways can overcome everything together."
-Angelica Berglund for For The Love of Hockey
"I never thought I would read a "zombie book", much less love one. The Last Legacy really surprised me. Even with the whole people-eating-people thing, it was a fantastic book"
-Melannie S for The Last Legacy
"I could not wait to start book two. If this book was as good as book one, then I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. It wasn't as good as book one...it was better. "
-Keely Retchloff for Finding Sam
"The powers, the love, the excitement, the drama kept me so enthralled. If you are looking for a GREAT series about true love and mythology, look no further... I wish I could rate 10 stars! Definitely recommend this whole series to all my book loving friends!"
-The Book Blog for A Curse Books Trilogy
"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters."
-Summer's Book Blog for For The Love of Ash
"Wingless isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but thought I'd try it out and I am so glad I did. The characters and "worlds" she creates are done so well that you can actually picture them and feel like you are there right along with the characters."
-JLH for Wingless
For The Love of Hockey | January 2016
The Price of Love | 2017