Release Date: May 26, 2020
Series: Dream Team
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Grand Central
Dream Maker is the first in a new series from Kristen Ashley that meshes her Rock Chick and Dream Man series with all new couples and some old friends. Evie is smart as a whip, down on her luck, an exotic dancer with a heart of gold, yet she aspires to something better. She gets set up on a blind date with Danny “Mag” Magnusson and the night turns from slightly embarrassing to criminal in a heartbeat. Being a former soldier and a full-time commando Mag knows a thing or two about how to get Evie out of her mess, but will she let him?
I’ve been a fan of the Rock Chick series since the first was published nearly 12 years ago. Since then I’ve read almost every single book that Kristen Ashley has published with a determination that borders on fanatic. When I was offered the chance to review the latest series I of course jumped, because it had been touted as Rock Chick 2.0 and I love a good girl squad book.
Kristen knows how to write an alpha that is protective, a badass, smart, and determined that is also capable of extreme care and love towards his woman. Mag fits this bill to a “T”, but with a 2020 set of sensibilities. It was interesting to be inside the head of an alpha that on one hand is thinking “mine”, but on the other is acknowledging his woman’s autonomy. Evie, on the other hand, fits the mold of a Kristen Ashley heroine without anything new to draw me in further. She is smart, beautiful, determined, insecure, and taken advantage of by every person in her life except an incredibly small group. She doesn’t believe she’s good enough for Mag, and even goes so far as to make plans to keep him at bay.
As I read, I began to wonder if my love of past books had clouded my love for anything new, because by 40% I was struggling. So much of what was happening to Evie felt like it had been done in other books, and I couldn’t stop drawing comparisons to the old novels and finding the new novel a bit lacking. We’ve seen the forced proximity of the main couple used in almost all of the Rock Chick books. Evie’s useless mother is almost a carbon copy of the mother from Law Man and her distant but affable father is a rehash of Jet’s dad in Rock Chick Rescue. I also struggled with the fact that so many previous characters make appearances. I couldn’t help but wonder how a new reader would feel reading some of the information dumps Kristen had to use in order to explain away who all the cameos were. Even as a fan I had to stop and check the internet to make sure I was remembering which man went with which woman. Lastly it bothered me that there were so many popular culture references. Today a mention of Postmates or Urban Outfitters seems timely and appropriate, but how will this age 20 years down the road? This book felt stuck in 2019-2020 and I don’t know if the references were a good choice to make.
In the end of course I enjoyed this book because it’s a Kristen Ashley, and she scratches an itch for me that so many other authors cannot. The way she writes an alpha should be studied by new contemporary authors to see how a strong and capable man can be written without coming off as a complete jerk. For me, reading Kristen’s books is like ordering coffee at a Starbucks. I may know the coffee is not going to be earth shattering but it will always be consistently good and sometimes that’s exactly what I need. Fans of Kristen will love the inside jokes, the cameos, and the new hot bunch and girl squad. However, new readers may struggle with a book that is so full of fanservice. I do think it’s still a solid story if you enjoy a bit of action and drama with your contemporary love story. Overall, I’m giving this a 3.5 because I know Kristen can do amazing things and this book just wasn’t her best work in my humble opinion. If you’ve never read one of her books, I’d suggest starting with the Dream Man series or the Rock Chick series before you try this latest offering, it may help you appreciate this story as it’s intended.