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Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell, #1)

Heaven and Hell (Heaven and Hell, #1) - Kristen Ashley In the prologue, Kristen Ashley gives us a glimpse into the hell Kia has lived in for 7 long years.

He got close and backhanded me hard. With some experience, it was at the upper end of the scale of how hard he could hit me. I knew this because it hurt like a bitch and also because I flew to the side and landed hard on a hand and hip, I lost focus on the pain in my cheek when the pain radiating up my arm from my wrist took precedence.

Make no mistake, Kia Clementine is strong, but that bastard also left her emotionally scarred and broken. When a twist of fate suddenly gives Kia her freedom, she doesn’t waste any time doing the things she wants to do. On vacation in Lake Como, Italy, fate hands her another gift—her longtime celebrity crush, Sampson “Sam” Cooper.

Sam is an ex-football, ex-military man who millions love for his heroism. He’s the kind of man I wish every woman whose ever been abused could find. Gentle, loving, patient, insightful. Soon after meeting him, Kia gives up a few of her secrets, and the ones she’s uncomfortable telling, he has no problem guessing.

"I see it, Kia, and I get this is gonna take effort. But what I’m sensin’ is, you don’t notice I’m makin’ that effort. Don’t fuck up, baby, and, out of habit, reinforce your shields to hold back a threat that doesn’t exist. You get me?"and"I wanted your attention, Kia. That’s it. I get where you are now, baby, and I’ll never do that again and I would never, no fuckin’ joke, baby, please get this, I would never, ever hurt you."

Sam focuses on helping Kia heal, gives her what she needs, but he never lets her deny the connection growing between them. When a threat Kia thought was neutralized, comes back to haunt her, Sam shows her just how far he’s willing to go to protect what’s his. As Kia’s confidence and self-esteem grow, she realizes that she’s not the only one in their relationship troubled by demons. Suddenly the tables turn, and it’s Kia working to give Sam the freedom from a pain he refuses to acknowledge.

I really, really enjoyed Heaven and Hell. Ms. Ashley takes on, not only, the issues surrounding domestic violence, but also grief – and she does it with a sensitivity that a lot of writers lack. She doesn’t shy away from showing us the devastation of either, and for that, I am grateful. Too often, I find myself frustrated at the unrealistic way abuse victims are portrayed in romance novels. Kia experiences the steps all must go through to heal, and she does with Sam (not for Sam).

I have to make this already long review, even longer, by giving a shout-out to all the secondary characters! Luci, Celeste, Thomas, Hap, Maris, Skip, and Kia’s family and friends were amazing! Memphis, Kia’s beloved dog, I swear I could hear that dog yapping with glee. What I’ve noticed about Ms. Ashley’s books are the true-to-life characters that round out the story to make it complete…and leave me wishing I knew them all.

The epilogue… *big contented sigh*.

Closing this review out with a piece of advice Sam gives Kia. One I think we could all live better lives if we took heed of.

"Learn from them, baby," he whispered. "You got one life, never use it to just breathe."