I'm excited to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Jay Crownover's ASA because I adore Jay's writing. ASA is a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel being published by HarperCollins & it is the 6th book in The Marked Men Series. Below you'll find my review, an excerpt and a couple of teasers to whet your appetite. There's also an awesome giveaway of $25 at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner's choice), so be sure to scroll down to the bottom to enter for a chance to win.
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Jay Crownover’s New York TimesandUSA TodaybestsellingMarked Menseries continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.
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 luscious 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.
Picking up Asa, I was a little unsure that I’d fall for him, because he was a serious jerk in the past. He was out for himself and didn’t care who he conned or took advantage of to get what he wanted. I should’ve never doubted because I fell hard for Asa! He was a different guy, sorry for the past and sweet with a little wicked thrown in!
Asa learned his lesson, almost dying in the process, and now he beats himself up over all the sins he committed. Asa loathes what he once was, and carries a load of guilt that just about suffocates him. Thing are about to change when Royal steps into his life. She’s beautiful and has been coming onto him hot and heavy, but he knows something’s off with her, and doesn’t want to be the reckless mistake she comes to regret. A man only has so much willpower in the face someone as drop dead gorgeous and sexy as Royal.
Royal is a cop drowning in guilt over an incident that got her partner shot and another officer killed. She keeps showing up at The Bar, the place where Asa works, causing trouble and throwing herself at him at every turn. Unfortunately, for Royal, Asa has found his conscience and no longer takes advantage of vulnerable women so he keeps rebuffing her attempts. She knows she should stop, he’s a criminal, a reformed one, but being an officer she should still stay far away, but he’s just too much of a temptation for her.
I’m happy that Royal woke up to the senselessness of her pity party pretty quickly. This is mostly because she sees how Asa beats himself up over the past all the time:
I wanted to tell him that watching him torture himself over things he couldn’t ever change had given me perspective I so desperately needed, but I knew enough to know we weren’t there yet.
Royal tries to help Asa see that the past is the past and there’s nothing you can do about it, the way to show you’ve changed is by how you live now and in the future:
“There are amazing things happening right here in the moment with us, Asa. It would be a real bummer for you to miss any of them because you can’t let go of the past and because you’re too busy trying to sabotage the future.”
Royal knows they won’t work if Asa can’t forgive himself and move on.
Asa and Royal’s romance was super hot! Asa had that sweet, sexy Southern drawl that could melt the panties off a nun, and he definitely knew how to turn on the charm when he wanted to. He could be wickedly mischievous too, and the combination was dead sexy! Royal is definitely a match for Asa though, she was a strong confident woman who wanted people to see her for her merits and personality rather than the stunning good looks she was born with. She pushes all of Asa’s hot buttons in the very best way!
Asa is the last book of the Marked Men series and so it was sweet getting to see the other couples and their happy, life changing events in Asa and Royal’s story. They’re given a lot of page time so fans of the series sort of get an extra epilogue in a way. I loved that all these people are a support system even if they’re not all flesh and blood family. It was a satisfying conclusion, and I look forward to Jay Crownover’s next project!
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.
And don’t miss the previous books in The Marked Men Series!
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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