- Series: The Three Series
- Paperback: 606 pages
- Publisher: Kristen Ashley (April 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0692703233
- ISBN-13: 978-0692703236
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 431 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wild and Free (The Three Series) (Volume 3) Paperback – April 26, 2016
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About the Author
Kristen Ashley grew up in Indiana, but has lived in Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least), but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched). Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.
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The Good, The Bad and Everything In Between
A paranormal buffet: There’s a little here for all paranormal fans, between the werewolves, vampires, golems, wraiths and phantoms. Even if I hadn’t read the first two books, I think there’s enough information conveyed here that you could read it as a standalone.
Excellent first half: The action is pretty tight in the beginning of this story, as Delilah is attacked by some evil vamps and weres in a dark alley and Abel rushes to her rescue. When Abel takes Delilah back to his “apartment for terrorists”, or Lilah to her friends/family, she is thrust into a strange world where the supernatural exists and finds out that the thing she’s been searching for all her life (to the point that her mother thought she was mentally disturbed) is standing right in front of her. The tension is great, and I felt that I didn’t get a chance to really sit back and two people who have suffered in their own ways before they found each other went a long way towards helping me buy into their instantaneous connection.
Abel’s tortured biker hot: Abel is over two hundred years old (but he’s surprisingly current in his slang and speech patterns), and was adopted by a Chinese family when he was just a pup. He’s spent several lifetimes believing he is a monster, hiding his true nature from everyone and naturally, he’s not quick to trust. Yes, he’s a two hundred plus year old biker guy, and he sounds like alot of KA heroes, and yet it still worked for me. As the story progresses, it was great to see him realize his potential and his love for Lilah is fantastic. I liked Abel’s family
Delilah’s a very understanding heroine: Delilah is a rare heroine who rolls with the punches, and even when she has a hissy fit, it lasts like a nanosecond. She says awesome ALOT, but she’s a likeable heroine who’s secure in herself and loves with all she has.
A secondary romance!: A rarity in romance novels today, there is an actual B love story featuring Yuri, a vampire (introduced in With All that I Am) and Aurora, a witch. It was a simple, slightly kinky and sweet unexpected romance and one of the best things about the second half of the book.
So, the second half…: If I had to grade this story, it would have been a solid four-five star read with the first half, I enjoyed it so much. At about the halfway mark though, there was alot of exposition - while it was necessary, it made the story lagged a bit. Even with this slow down in the action, I would have liked to have seen the story expand and really showcase the war with the villains. Perhaps I favor the first half of the story because that’s where the bulk of Abel and Delilah’s romance happens. They have that instant connection, which works for the overarching storyline of the battle between good and evil, but I felt as if their individual romance was shortchanged a bit. Emotionally, there is little struggle. They understand and accept their fated love. There’s no tension once they come together - once they bond, their done. I think that’s why the secondary romance of Yuri/Aurora exists at all.
Not a fan of sitting out the action: Even the characters were complaining about sitting around and being inactive and I was wholeheartedly agreeing with them. Instead, too much time was spent in the vampire compound, waiting for something to happen. When you weren’t waiting, and there’s some development in the conflict, the reader is left behind with the women, who were protected by their alpha men. Now, if the story had been told first person POV from just Delilah’s perspective, I could almost understand that. But that’s not the case - the perspective changes throughout the story so there’s no real reason to keep the audience away from the real intense action sequences.
The Bottom Line (3.5 stars)
There were a few things that didn’t work for me, but I liked enough elements of it that I think it’s worth reading, especially if you’ve read the earlier books.
I have recently started reading KA in the last month and enjoyed most of the 8 books I have read to date- my #1 favorite being Golden Dynasty. In terms of this story, I liked it overall, but found that I had more questions than answers regarding things that seemed ambiguous to me. First, I will start with what I liked, which includes the fact that the heroes/heroines (H/h) from the previous two books in this series were very present in this book. They really brought some substance to the story. And I loved Yuri's side story and love connection, as well as the wonderfully, delightful surprise later on in the book. Those elements honestly helped retain my interest because, admittedly, I had checked out on the "main" H/h (Abel and Lilah) early on in the story.
What I didn't like/had questions about:
GREGOR: What is with everyone busting his balls?! I mean really?! Given that this vampire has been around a long time and proactively played a significant role in the prophesy, one would think that he would be given more respect from the others and depicted with more reverence in the story. I truly felt bad for him- many times. He got shutdown and verbally attacked so often (in more than one story in this series), it is a wonder he could hold his head high or retain any semblance of dignity. Even Lilah and Abel gave him grief on more than one occasion. So much so that I was completely shocked that what happened to him was the catalyst for triggering Lilah's anguish and subsequent power. I didn't even know she LIKED the man that much to grieve over him like that. Maybe if something had happened to Abel or her dad, I would have understood. This I just didn't get.
PONCHO'S AUNT & the 3 h's: Such a (and it turns out, unwarranted) big deal was made by Poncho's aunt, a witch, about the three h's walking in the room. According to Poncho's aunt, Lilah, Leah, and Sonia were so allegedly badass (BA) and powerful that the witch disappeared and clung to the ceiling out of acute fear of them. She even refused to calm down until they left and stated those "three have enough power to take over the world." Well, Sonia's power consisted of being a wolf and being able to talk to animals, her specialty being bunnies, it seems. Several times, she went off to "practice" talking to bunnies. Allegedly, she could talk to the animals since childhood; so, why did she have to go off to practice calling bunnies so often? And she already had a power of sorts- the ability to turn into a wolf. Why didn't the animal-talking power go to at least Leah, who, in spite of having the alleged ability to tap into the power of her "most powerful of all" vampire mate, was working with nothing two books later? Given that her vampire mate knew a war was coming, couldn't he have been training her to tap into his powers or something? And Lilah's power was built up to be so major, yet she couldn't wield it until a man she or her mate didn't even seem to like got beheaded. I liked the heroines well enough, especially Sonia and Leah, but I didn't get anything coming from these ladies that screamed world domination. It was a letdown, because I wanted them to kick butt and take names Xena warrior style during the war- which turned out to not be a war (more about that later).
TEONA: I loved the entrance of one very sexy male, as well as his mate, Teona, who is African American and a witch. I think Teona and HER mate should have been the third couple. I just didn't like that the author made Teona cock-obsessed, especially since she had a mate and he seemed to be more than able to hold his own in the male anatomy department- per Teona's comment. It reflected badly on her and her man and made it seem as if she hadn't seen a cock in a long time. Why have her do that? After all, Leah, Sonia and several other women characters were at the compound to view Abel's naked body countless times when he transformed from a wolf, something he did almost daily. Yet, they never made outright vulgar statements about his or another man's penis. It would detract from their men. So, why wait until this character comes, who has a drool-worthy man of her own, and have her lower herself like that? I just felt like Teona and her mate had too much power and strength of their own to "go there." I think that, if the author had taken out the plethora of sex scenes between Lilah and Abel, she could have not only added more getting-to-know-each-other scenes between Abel and Lilah, but could have nicely inserted more dialogue and interaction between Teona and her mate. I wanted to see how they felt about each other on a more intimate level, especially given the significant relationship of Teona's mate with Abel. In fact, it would have been great to see the same for the Black female characters in two other KA books: Elvira in Motorcycle Man and Meeta in Broken Dove. All of these three women seem to be sex crazed. For Meeta and Ruben, I couldn't find out where they had even spotted and displayed interest in each other. Yet, the next thing I know, they're having sex marathons. And Elvira is the most pathetic of the three, because she has no man and is openly drooling over these other women's hot, hot men. I was embarrassed for her.
ABEL & LILAH: I didn't have an issue with the fact that the h accepted the H so quickly. Sometimes, it takes forever for some and it is quicker for others. After all, I was able to suspend reality and believe in the concept of a story with supernatural beings. So, it wasn't too much of a stretch to believe there was a supernatural, pre-ordained connection between Abel and Lilah. It was so strong, they were able to find each other. I didn't even mind the excessive cursing. What I didn't like was Abel and that gigantic chip (attitude) on his shoulder. I get that he was abandoned, but he seemed to be angry and growling most of the story. I fail to think of anyone who wasn't a target. All of that anger was draining and he came across as very immature. And what's with him calling the other women bitches? I know he and his family relocated alot, but I didn't get the sense they ever relocated to a gutter during one of their moves. The other supernaturals seemed a bit classier than that.
FALSE ALARMS/EMERGENCIES: I stopped counting the number of times they needed to "meet ASAP," sometimes even over a non-issue that they couldn't even do anything about. Although I didn't like Abel's attitude, at one point, I agreed with his sentiment that they should call him when there is actually something upon which they could act.
The WAR: This was supposedly a big cataclysmic event. So, why did about only 15 or so people end up fighting against the army of the bad immortals? Where was the back up, including the werewolves and vampires mentioned earlier in the story- or even the vampires that had lost their concubines? Yes, yes, I know the battle took place in everyone's dream. About that. How was that able to be televised? I can only suspend reality to a certain degree and that one was a stretch for me. Why not just have them battle it outside of their dreams and then you can have the human voyeurs, as well as sufficient back up from the good mortals? What was the purpose of the Oprah-inspired reporter interviewing one of the good immortals? It made it seem too voyeuristic, reality tv-like to me- not a good feel.
And, if Lilah, Leah, and Sonia had "enough power to take over the world," why were they so ineffective during the skirmish (I dare not even call it a battle, let alone a war)? Even the mortal men seemed to do more heavy lifting than them. What happened to the pending attack on the compound that I got the sense was going to happen while the good immortals were fighting in dream land/Missouri? Why the bunnies?!!! Don't get me wrong. I know they can do some serious damage to a carrot and the finger of an unsuspecting 2-year-old, but a vampire or werewolf bent on human destruction? More importantly, if you have the power to call forth animals, why would you call forth the contents of a neighborhood pet store as opposed to...oh, say a zoo or nearby forest? I'm thinking some lions, coyotes, or even a possum or two could have done some serious damage. I guess I should just thank goodness no goldfish joined the fray or I would've had to toss the book across the room.
Overall, it was a decent read. Definitely not my favorite of KA's books, but worth it to complete the series and to see the H/h's from the first two books.