Mystery Man by Kristen Ashley + interview


Dream Man, Book 1

Synopsis: Night time is the right time…

Gwendolyn Kidd has met the man of her dreams. He’s hot, he’s sexy, and what started as a no-names-exchanged night of passion has blossomed into a year and a half-long pleasure fest. Sure, it’s a little strange that he only appears in her bed at night, but Gwen is so sure he’s the one, she just can’t turn him away…

Hawk Delgado knows more about Gwen than she could ever imagine. She’s gorgeous, headstrong, and skittish about relationships. But Hawk is facing his own demons, demons that keep him from connecting with anyone. Yet when Gwen is drawn into Denver’s lethal underground scene, Hawk’s protective nature comes out full force. The problem is, when Gwen gets a dose of Hawk’s Alpha attitude in the daylight, she’s not so sure he’s the one anymore….

Review: I am a big fan of the “Rock Chick” saga, and learning that I wasn’t going to be able to read the other volumes because they won’t be translated into French had slightly frustrated me (understanding that I screamed to blow my vocal cords off), so necessarily, when I knew the spin off was published, I threw myself on it.

Well, it’s in the line of Rock Chick, and we find all the ingredients that made me love this saga: a heroine with temperament, a sexy, hot, male hero, who can save you from any situation just with his biceps, a plot that raises the suspense, humor, cute (the “cute” thing is super important!), well developed secondary characters too…

Certainly, we really find the same strings as in the other two volumes, but it works well and erases the annoying little sides (macho-man, the men who revolve around the girl, her “ingenuous” side)…

In short, I had a great time reading it. To be honest, I’m particularly tired right now, and I’m having trouble immersing myself in a romance. And then I enjoyed it. I giggled, I found that Hawk has a slap face, but he’s damn adorable, that Gwen deserves her share of slaps (her naivety: ahhhhhhh!), but that she’s really touching. That her sister’s a hell of a bitch, and that okay, the guys around Gwen, we could have done without them, but still…. Once it was finished, I read it again. And again. And again. Well, yes, I’m really tired, and I really got caught up in that reading. So I think we can say that the story works!


What do you ultimately want people to take away from your stories?

Ah, but it’d take me hours to answer this because I have a lot to say and I say it through my stories. But I’ll try to do it in brief.

I think, first, it’s important for anyone to look around them and see the truth and importance of what comes to them from those who love them. Family and friends are incredibly important in life. If we saw ourselves the way the ones who love us see us, people would struggle a lot less with confidence and self-worth. We allow so many other influences, the absolute wrong influences—media and movies and television and even toxic people we let into our lives—to inform how we’re “supposed” to be.

Which brings me to the second message I try to put in all my books, and that is to learn to love yourself just as you are. My characters are flawed. They do stupid things. Crazy things. Make bad decisions. But we all do. We cannot be perfect all the time. Look perfect all the time. It’s not only impossible, the pressure and stress that puts on each one of us is damaging.

But mostly, even if we aren’t perfect all the time, we’re pretty great just as we are and part of that is living life and learning from it, so actually the times we struggle make us who we are. This means imperfection, in the end, is the real kind of perfection.

To get there, we have to be kinder to ourselves, and as an extension, to others. We’re all really on the same team in this world. We want health and as much happiness as we can get. It doesn’t help to judge yourself or others along that journey. Just be who you are, let others be the same, give yourself a break, and give others a break around you.

Last, it’s important to me to show the beauty of women and the sisterhood. I cannot speak for men, but women do not have it easy for so many reasons, it’s unspeakable. The spectrum is broad, from domestic violence and sexual assault and harassment to simply tearing each other (or ourselves) down. I always say, if the sisterhood did not spend so much time trying to keep each other low, we’d rule the world…and do it a lot better than men.

To that end, I try to show the beauty of women from tall to petite to curvy to thin to professionally ambitious to women who want nothing but to be mothers, take care of their homes and see to their families. Young and more mature. Those of means and those who struggle. There’s beauty and strength in all of that, it should be celebrated, in ourselves and in our sisters, and that’s what I hope I show in my books.

How much of your story is outlined before you start writing a book? Are you more a pantser or plotter?

I cannot say I never plot anymore because I’m writing an epic fantasy story for an Audible exclusive and because the story is so huge (four heroines, four heroes, four romances, a massive cast of characters and a variety of POVs), I had to do a lot of character building, world building, history building and have a very firm sense of how the characters walked into the story. I now have a bible for that story that’s pages and pages long. I’ve even drawn a map!

But usually, I’m a pantser and don’t do any preliminary work at all. The story just comes to me like a movie in my head and I write what I see, hear and feel.

How did you came up with the inspiration for this book, was there a specific event, scene or character that popped up in your mind ?

I went through a period obsessed with heroes who were closed off, which meant diving in to why that was and how to draw them out. But also, how that can affect those around them when their protective mechanism harms others emotionally. One can say Hawk in MYSTRERY MAN has definitely shut the door on life and even if the reason is very understandable and heartbreaking, it’s just as heartbreaking how much he’s missing in his attempts to shield himself from further loss, not to mention, how deeply he hurts those around him when he shuts people out.

I’m glad he figures it out! And I loved being immersed in watching how he did that.

How long did it take to write this novel?

It depends on how long it is. I write rather long books so my “normal” novel, which is anywhere from 150,000-220,000 words (and that’s quite a bit for a romance novel) can take me three to four weeks. I also write shorter novels and novellas, and those will take me one to two weeks.

I will say, when I write, that’s all I do. Usually anywhere from ten to fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. It’s obsessive. And it’s bliss!