Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ashes of Life / Erica Lucke Dean with Laura M. Kolar

This is the first half of a doubleshot review. This afternoon ?wazithinkin weighs in with her thoughts (and does a much better job in the process).

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Approximate word count: 85-90,000 words

Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: NO Paper: YES
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Erica Lucke Dean:

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica Lucke Dean moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains, where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180 lb lap dog, and at least one ghost. When she's not writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens and diabolical ducks, she's either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the main character in her first book, To Katie With Love, Erica is a magnet for disaster and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces. How she's managed to survive this long is one of life's great mysteries.”

Laura M. Kolar:

Laura M. Kolar lives with her husband and daughter in a one-stop-light town in northern-lower Michigan. Though she didn't discover her love of books until she turned thirty, as a self-declared hopeless romantic, she has spent the past few years reading and writing stories with mostly happy endings. If she's not at her day-job or with her family, you will find her sipping a cup of chai latte while sitting in her favorite rocking chair, hunched over her laptop writing or spending entirely too much time on Twitter.”


Married for just three months, Alex Barrett is stunned when her husband, David, dies in a tragic accident. And the absolute last thing the pregnant young widow wants is to take on responsibility for his teenage daughter, Maddie. Reeling from loss, Alex struggles to deal with her grief and her troubled stepdaughter, but one question haunts her: why was David with his ex-wife when he died?

All Maddie Barrett wanted was for her parents to get back together, but an icy road took that dream away. Afterward, Maddie is riddled with guilt that she can’t share with anyone. Feeling angry and alone, she lays all the blame on Alex.

Alex and Maddie must find a way to move past their pain—shared, yet separate. Thrown together in an untenable arrangement, they fight through a frozen landscape of sorrow and redemption while redefining love, forgiveness, and family.”


At first glance, Ashes of Life seems like a departure from the standard fare for either of the co-authors. Laura M. Kolar's previous output was a coming of age story with paranormal aspects aimed at the young adult audience. Erica Lucke Dean's books are erotic romances, co-authored with Elise Delacroix, and her solo efforts, which straddle the line where romance meets chick-lit. That first impression is both right and wrong.

While Ashes isn't like what either author has done before, it plays to their strengths. Ultimately all of Dean's books that I've read, and as well as I can tell those from either author that I haven't, revolve around relationships, romantic and otherwise. Dean's books always show a sense of humor and, in spite of Ashes attacking some serious issues, that sense of humor still shows. (The relationship between the protagonist, Maddie, and her favorite barista along with her interactions with a handsome doctor who comes to her rescue more than once are a couple examples.)

However, ultimately Ashes is more serious than the typical romance or chick-lit book. Like those, it has a budding romantic relationship that may or may not come to fruition. But also themes revolving around parenthood and duty with complex characters dealing with difficult situations. The authors may have been stretching their wings, but in doing so came up with an exceptional story which I highly recommend.


Some adult language and mild adult situations.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: ***** Five Stars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Erica Lucke Dean said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book! You are the best! :)