Release Day Launch/Reviews/Giveaway: Asa: Jay Crownover

Jay Crownover
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Expected April 21, 2015

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 stunning 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.

I pulled the Nova to a stop in front of a duplex that had clearly seen better days. It wasn’t a rusted-out trailer in Kentucky, but it might as well have been. I turned off the ignition and sat back in the seat so I could turn to look at Ayden. She was watching me carefully and I could see how frustrated she was with the entire conversation in the way her shoulders were tensed up and the way her hands had curled into tight balls on her lap. It was the way she used to look whenever I got into trouble and she had to do something desperate and drastic to get me out of it. I reached out a hand and put it on top of her fists.

“I died in that hospital, Ayd. There were no angels playing harps. There was no redemption and repentance. I died and it was very clear that I was going to get exactly the kind of fate I had been courting with all the messed-up shit I had been doing to other people. All I could see was every wrong I had ever committed and every bad decision I had ever made exploding all around me. For once I could see how all of that affected you. I was dying, and I knew what was waiting for me on the other side, yet I couldn’t go knowing that was all you were going to have to remember me by. I had to come back and give you something else to hold on to, some kind of good memory to go with the endless miles of bad I laid at your feet. I wanted to have the chance to show you I could be the kind of brother you deserved all along, so no, I didn’t save myself—you saved me. Just like you’ve always done for my entire life.”

I saw her bottom lip tremble until she snapped her teeth around it to keep it still. Her fists unclenched below my palm and she curled her shaking fingers around my hand and her already husky voice rasped with even more emotion when she told me what I think I had needed to hear from her all along.

“I have always been proud that you’re my brother, Asa. Yes, there have been times in the past I would have gladly fed you to the wolves, and it’s no secret that I had to leave home because I didn’t know what to do to help you anymore, but we both made it out alive and are better people for it. I know you’re sorry for the way things went down when we were younger, but I need you to open your eyes and take some credit for the way you have turned it around to make things the way they are now. I’ve long since come to terms with the Asa from my childhood. What I want to do is love the Asa that’s here with me now. You need to let go of those boulders weighted with all the bad things from past that are dragging you down before you get crushed under them.”

It was eerily similar to what Royal had been telling me the deeper and deeper I sank in with her. I don’t think I was ready to let any part of those stones go just yet, but a sexy redhead was slowly and surely eroding bits and pieces of the rock the more and more time I spent with her. By the time she was done, maybe she would be able to carve out something that was worthwhile, something that didn’t eviscerate me to look at.

I leaned over enough that I could kiss Ayden right on the center of her forehead between her midnight eyebrows and I felt her let out a shuddering sigh.

“I’m never going to let you down again, Ayd. That is the one and only thing in the entire world that I can promise and know it’s a promise I will keep.”

We stared at each other for a long and silent moment. The seriousness of the words I had said to her and the fact that I could see that she understood that I really, truly meant them finally worked to absolve me of some of the guilt that seemed to suffocate me whenever I thought about the things she had done to keep me safe.

Denver cop Royal Hastings is looking to chase her deomons away and she hopes the sexy southern bartender Asa Cross will be the man to do it. But Asa could write the book on trouble so his stance is to try to stay out of it now. So he takes the path of resistance but Royal is definitely hard to resist. 

And once the line is crossed, all bets are off...for better or for worse.

I totally fell for Asa. He had that charisma and bad boy charm, but also knew that he did not want to revert to his past bad habits. But at the same time did not believe in himself to feel worthy.

And Royal was sassy, sweet, sexy, and tough. She was both insecure, but also fierce. She was not afraid to go after what she wanted. But she had some things in her own life causing her stress, guilt, and she beat herself up over them.

So they both needed someone who could accept the other's faults and their self recrimination, while also helping them enjoy life in the present. It was a different dynamic with her initially being the aggressor, but Asa also got to the point where he was pursuing her right back. They definitely packed the heat. They had sexual tension, frustration, and chemistry that just finally had to explode.

But they have to not only believe in each other and give them the benefit of the doubt, but also believe in themselves and hope that they can handle a real relationship and feel worthy of it.

It was heartwarming to see how Asa has grown through this series--from the man with few redeeming qualities to one that takes responsibility for his own actions and has trouble resolving the guilt from his past. He is living in suspended animation as he has issues living life in the present between being stuck in the past and afraid of screwing up in the future. But Royal is so strong, open, patient, and persuasive that she finally begins to bring light to his darkness. While he also helped drag her out of her own downward spiral before she got down as deep. 

But nothing in Asa's life has ever been easy. Even when his outward life tends to be going well, his internal struggles have a strong hold on him. Being with a cop was always an interesting concept with his past record. But they also have other issues to deal with that they will have to navigate if they want to make it work. Love takes understanding, acceptance, and sometimes sacrifice.

Can this reformed criminal and con man finally let go of his past, live life with a good woman, and embrace his future? Or will he be brought back into the darkness and lose again?

I adored Asa. I loved Royal. Sure they were a bit stubborn and frustrating at times, but I always wanted them together. I felt they were well matched despite their differences because they also had a lot of similarities in their personalities and a mutual need to have someone who would fight for them and truly understand them.

This was bittersweet with this being the last Marked Man book. Asa definitely finished the series strong and he earned his place among the group. I loved every part of him--the flirty, fun, broody, demanding, challenging, intelligent, self deprecating, charming, sexy southern guy. He had such a big heart once he began to let people into it. 

I love this group of quirky men and women that became family and just kept adopting strays. Rule and Shaw, Rome and Cora, Jet and Ayden, Nash and saint, and Rowdy and Salem all have found places in my heart. Their stories have touched me, made me laugh, frustrated me and ticked me off, made me swoon, and kept me coming back for more. I also have a soft spot for Brite, Darcy, Sayer, Zeb, Dixie, Church, and Dom.

During the group epilogue I was smiling through my happy tears and celebrating all the continued blessings of this group. This may be the end of the Marked Men, but I am looking forward to the spin off series, The Saints of Denver. Bring on Zeb and Sayer! We have been watching them circle each other for two books now.

And let's just take a moment to appreciate this cover! He is so Asa!

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Asa Cross doesn’t feel like he deserves any good in his life, not after the way he behaved in his past, to his sister, and to people who didn’t deserve the trouble he brought to them. Having carved out a place at The Bar with Rome, and his sister living in Austin, Asa finds himself at yet another crossroads. Only this crossroads isn’t to stay on the right side of the law or the wrong, it is where to go next.

Royal Hastings is reeling over the shooting that put her partner in the hospital with a questionable future while she was left without a scratch. Weeks of avoiding the hospital, and doing her best to catch the attention of the hot bartender who also happens to be friends with her best friend’s boyfriend have not helped her forget her guilt.

When her penchant for locking herself out of her car catches up to her at 3am and the only one around to help her out is Asa, they both give in to the attraction that has been simmering (and been denied by him) for some time.

I loved watching these two go back and forth. His mindset that he wasn’t good for her from the beginning only proved how much he has changed since we first met him in Jet. Her determination to get him to see the present rather than only his past was both admirable and cause for the battle of wills that often erupted between them.

I marked more favorite quotes while reading this than I have in a very long time. So much of Asa and Royal’s words to each other and their internal battles were worded so perfectly that I couldn’t help but take note.

I want to be sad that this is the last Marked Men book, but after finishing I can’t be anything except completely satisfied and content. The final two paragraphs in Asa’s narration of the epilogue summed up the entire Marked series so perfectly that I suddenly want to carve out the time to reread all of them this weekend (even though I’ve already re-read several of them, and I’m not a re-reader at all).

On a final note on the Marked series, I originally read Rule because I was excited to see a book set in Denver, close enough to home that it feels like it’s taking place in my backyard, but it wasn’t until Rome that I truly fell in love with ALL the Marked Men. The stories, the writing, the characters themselves have just gotten better and better as this series has grown and it is one of the few that I find myself reaching for when I need to go home. I don’t have ink, nor have I ever stepped foot in a tattoo shop, but this Marked family feels like home.

While this is the last Marked book, Jay has been very clear that some of our favorite (and not so favorite) secondary characters will return in her upcoming Saints of Denver series, including Zeb and Sayer in the first book. I have several other predictions of equally opposing characters that would make for entertaining reading and can’t wait to see what is in store for that spin-off.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I am seriously sad right now. It’s somewhat hard to believe we have finally met the end of the Marked Men. *sniff, sniff* I dragged my feet a bit on this one as Asa’s book was definitely a bittersweet read knowing I was saying goodbye to some of my favorite tatted/pierced men. I have been a dedicated fan of this series from the start, falling harder and harder each time we encountered a new marked man. Jay absolutely stole my heart with her bad boys, leaving me craving for an immediate release of the next.

I have to admit, I wasn't really attached to Asa’s character throughout the other books, until Rowdy’s book. It didn't really phase me one way or another if he had his own book or not; however, with that said, it sure didn't take me long to fall head over heels in love with him and his girl Royal! I was enamored with everything Asa and Royal from start to finish, and in the end, they ended up becoming my favorite Marked couple. These two ended up being a force to be reckoned with, giving all the other couples a run for their money. Jay wrote Asa his perfect match. Royal has wanted Asa for forever now and Asa has wanted as far away from our good girl as possible! In his mind, he was still too broken and damaged to be good enough for her. Thankfully, Royal wasn't having it. She went after what she wanted like hell on wheels. I love when a girl knows exactly what she wants and goes after it. That's probably one of my favorite traits in a heroine. Not only did these two balance each other, Royal also proved to us as well as Asa that he was just as amazing and as much of a perfect fit as all the other tatted gods within this circle. 

With each new book better than the last, Jay Crownover NAILED Asa and the end of this series. There is absolutely no doubt about it. She wrote her ass off and it showed. Crownover proved without a doubt that she is definitely the queen bee of Marked Men! As a huge fan of this author, I really look forward to seeing what she does with her new series, Saints of Denver. Plus, I am holding out hope that we will get to revisit with Rule, Rome, Nash, Rowdy, and Asa in the near future. 

Thank you, William Morrow, for a complimentary copy of Asa.
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Jay Crownover
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Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She also introduced the dark and sexy world of The Point that started with BETTER WHEN HE'S BAD and is currently working on her newest series The Saints of Denver. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

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