Dream Maker

Dream MakerFrom The New York Times Bestselling Author Of The Dream Man And Rock Chick Series Comes A Brand New Story About Love, Friendship, And The Bonds Of Sisterhood Evie Is A Bonafide Nerd And A Hyper Intelligent Chick Who Has Worked Her Whole Life To Get What She Wants Growing Up, She Had No Support From Her Family And Has Only Ever Been Able To Rely On Herself So When Evie Decides She Wants To Earn Her Engineering Degree, She Realizes She Needs To Take An Alternative Path To Get There She Takes A Job Dancing At Smithie S Club Thinking This Would Be A Quick Side Gig, Where She Can Make The Money She Needs But With Her Lack Of Dancing Skills And An Alpha Bad Boy Who Becomes Overly Protective, Evie Realizes This Might Not Be As Easy As She ThoughtDaniel Mag Magnusson Knows A Thing Or Two About Pain, But The Mask He Wears Is Excellent No One Can Tell That This Good Looking, Quick Witted, And Roguish Guy Has Deep Seated Issues Mag Puts On A Funny Guy Routine So He Can Hide His Broken Heart And PTSD But When Evie Dances Her Way Into Mag S Life, He Realizes That He Needs To Come Face To Face With The Demons Of His Past If He Wants A Future With Her ARC provided in exchange for an honest review thank youGod above, but this book is BAD I hated it so much I felt like throwing something Apparently I also hated it so much I ve written what might be my longest ever review So here s a TL DR Unnecessary OW drama, a hero who should actually be in prison, and a stale plot Back when I was fourteen or fifteen, I bloody loved the Rock Chick series The action, the romance I totally ate it up I haven t read an Ashley book in a while ARC provided in exchange for an honest review thank youGod above, but this book is BAD I hated it so much I felt like throwing something Apparently I also hated it so much I ve written what might be my longest ever review So here s a TL DR Unnecessary OW drama, a hero who should actually be in prison, and a stale plot Back when I was fourteen or fifteen, I bloody loved the Rock Chick series The action, the romance I totally ate it up I haven t read an Ashley book in a while, but I read this book to see if her writing still holds any of the old magic for me No, it does not You know why The writing is crap, and the plot no better I m going to take you on a journey with me through the first 15%, which is as far as I got before I started frantically skimming I don t consider that this review has any spoilers there is literally nothing in this book that hasn t been done in every other book she s ever written But I ll deal with that later For now, let s start with The Heroine Evie though weirdly, my ARC constantly calls her Evan, which I m guessing is a recurrent typo and not her full name is, naturally, introduced to us on Page 1 The very first thing we learn about her is that she s a millennial This fact is then absolutely hammered into us for the next 50 pages She s a millennial She s totally into texting Because did you know she s a millennial And she s got a bee in her bonnet about global warming That s what millennials care about She dresses exclusively in Urban Outfitters which according to its Wikipedia page targets young adults and wears shoes made from recycled plastic bottles What else would a millennial wear None of this felt like an organic element of her character Basically, it reads like Ashley woke up one morning and realised that she s getting older while her readership is getting younger, and so she went all out to create a heroine who s a walking stereotype Evie isn t a real millennial She s essentially a composite of what a Generation Xer thinks millennials are For the record, I m Generation Z, so I have no dog in this fight I get the impression that someone somewhere told Ashley, Your heroines need to soundlike they re from the 21st century , and this is the result Apart from these randomly shoehorned in smatterings of popular culture, Evie is like every other Rock Chick She s vulnerable to manipulation by her crappy family, is easily impressed by the horrific commando herobelow and pretty much has the spine of a jellyfish With all her faults, though, I would a thousand times pick her over The Hero I find it incredible that in the ONE hero where Ashley tried to make him compliant with modern sensibilities or whatever, he ends up being soooo much worse than any Rock Chick hero ever was.Daniel Mag Magnusson appears in Evie s life when they re sent on a blind date together by his friend Mo and her friend Lottie Before he arrives, we re told he s a manwhore who s slept with half of Denver because his ex broke his heart My least favourite trope, but okay, I was prepared to give him a chance AND THEN he shows up at Evie s house to pick her up for their date AND HE STARTS READING HER TEXT MESSAGES That s right, they ve known each other at this point for literally two minutes, and he thinks he has the goddamned right to read the texts that show up on her scren Not even over her shoulder she leaves her phone charging on the table while she s on a sofa, and he goes over and sticks his nose in when the screen lights up Evie should have run right there But wait it gets worse.He tells her that if she sends him away from her house, he s going to use his contacts to tap her phone and read all her texts and listen to her calls This breaks so many laws, I can t even deal with it Since Ashley is trying to make Evie all modern and feminist, she does tell Daniel that he can t do that but the fact that she doesn t call the police, and in fact ends up acquiescing to this psychotism, makes her look weaker than ever This is the point where I realised the book was a no go for me I like alpha males, but Daniel isn t even an alpha male He s just a bloody arsehole.Also, there s a really cringeworthy scene where he tells her that the details of his job are seventh date stuff , but he reveals that he goes on missions Evie s tiny mind is blown and she keeps calling him a commando , which frankly is just painful He also makes fun of her opposition to guns, passion for global warming, and other such left wing tendencies Their first date ends in hostility when Evie tells Daniel that she knows he s a player and she finds that a little toxic Toxic masculinity is another one of those millennial buzzwords that are in this novel without it seeming like their meaning is actually understood Good stuff, but he gets butthurt about hearing the truth and storms off Then tells Mo to tell Lottie not to set him up with one of her bitches ever again Ookay There s a scene set in Daniel s place of employment, which provides the perfect opportunity to showcase The Cringey Scenes Practically every character Ashley has EVER written is stuffed into this book One of the first we meet is Tack Allen, from Motorcycle Man isn t he like 80 by now He, and a bunch of other old Ashley heroes like Hawk, have a macho man showdown where there s tension in the air and violence threatens FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON It s clear that all these big dicked folks just have dicks too big to all fit into the same room together The only female characters in the room are sidelined and defined exclusively in terms of their relations to the men I ve always been irritated by the undercurrents of gender stereotyping and you women have no idea what s going on you re so ill prepared for your issues, let the man with the gun come and help you in Ashley s books, but this one scene really brought it to a head Like, at one point, Daniel tells Evie that he only knows anything about her shoes because he once had a woman There are only so many misogynistic statements from him I can take Speaking of his woman, let s now delve into The OW Drama Daniel was with a woman named Nikki for a long time She ends up dumping him, this precipitating his decline into manwhore dom She does however reappear 65% of the way through the book, when Daniel is injured and Evie is tending him.They quickly have what s described as a lover s quarrel Evie is there, but she herself admits that she might as well not be, because they essentially forget her presence I m sorry, but this level of analysis and drama related to an old relationship where the hero loved the OW is way beyond my comfort zone And you know how it gets even worse Evie starts a catfight with the OW While defending the crappy hero Who did not deserve to have two apparently otherwise sane women fight over him AT ALL Daniel does eventually tell Nikki that she s not welcome there any, but the damage is already done Evie s spinelessness is put on display when she lets the OW bitch talk for the first ten minutes, pretends she s invisible for the rest of it, but then gets her claws out only to defend the indefensible psycho who threatened to tap her phone All the book s issues are exacerbated by The Cringey Writing Okay, so Ashley has a shall we say unique writing style I did know this going in But now that she s with a mainstream publisher and all, not even self published, I expected this to be toned back a little to meet normal standards.It wasn t At all.Every tiny little detail of EVERYTHING is described in boring, exhaustive detail It apparently isn t enough for us to know that Evie s wearing makeup we have to know about the mascara, eyeliner, shade of eyeshadow, foundation, and blush she s wearing Also every detail of her clothing and movements Also, people don t just say things They share them with horrifying frequency The dialogue is unrealistic as all hell Especially between male characters It s all about my woman and his woman and dropped g letters on the ends of verbs and ughhhh The boring plot has no unique features to redeem the overall mess that is this book Overall It s clear that my old enthusiasm for Kristen Ashley is long gone Blog Bookstagram 4 stars I love Kristen Ashley s writing, but some of her newer books have been hit or miss for me This was definitely a hit If you are a fan of the Rock Chick books or the Dream Man series, you ll see some familiar faces reunited and it feels so good Evie s friend and coworker Lottie has been trying to play matchmaker to all of her girls, and Evie is first on the list She s setting her up with Lottie s man s Mo friend and fellow commando, Mag, aka Danny While all this is going on, 4 stars I love Kristen Ashley s writing, but some of her newer books have been hit or miss for me This was definitely a hit If you are a fan of the Rock Chick books or the Dream Man series, you ll see some familiar faces reunited and it feels so good Evie s friend and coworker Lottie has been trying to play matchmaker to all of her girls, and Evie is first on the list She s setting her up with Lottie s man s Mo friend and fellow commando, Mag, aka Danny While all this is going on, Evie is going through a huge family mess Her family is a complete and utter trainwreck, and somehow, she always seems to get stuck in the middle of it all Danny can tell Evie is in danger with a situation her brother put her into and he s there to help This book is not just a romance, it s a bit of an adventure Watching Evie and Danny fall in love amidst all the drama they re going through was just the icing on the cakeBabe, he leaned into a hand on the counter toward me, it s you What s me I whispered For me Evie the type of heroine I love Nerdy and quirky, has a big heart, and funny Danny is a hero who s never let anyone truly in since he got back from overseas, but Evie changes his mind and his heart just by being her I loved this couple together This book reminded me of all the things I love about KA s writing The sisterhood, the alpha males, the endearing heroines It was a great start to this new series and I can t wait to readabout this world and Danny Evie s friends 3.5 starsoh the nostalgia i felt while reading this listen, i ve read a lot of KA like, a lot i was obsessed with her books at one point and loved most of them and this book reminded me of the books that i loved so maybe im pretty biased but oh well but when Tex, Shirleen, Elvira, most of the rock chicks, most of the hot bunch and macho men, and i know i already mentioned him but he deserves to be mentioned again Tex you bet your ass i screamed and unashamedly fangirled for 10 minutes 3.5 starsoh the nostalgia i felt while reading this listen, i ve read a lot of KA like, a lot i was obsessed with her books at one point and loved most of them and this book reminded me of the books that i loved so maybe im pretty biased but oh well but when Tex, Shirleen, Elvira, most of the rock chicks, most of the hot bunch and macho men, and i know i already mentioned him but he deserves to be mentioned again Tex you bet your ass i screamed and unashamedly fangirled for 10 minutes.but i am extremely mad that when the rock chicks showed up and they were telling Evie about the other rock chicks that weren t there, THEY NEVER MENTIONED MY GIRL SADIE i hated the rock chicks in her book cuz they gave me mean girls clique vibes and only hung out with her cuz they felt bad for her but the fact that they don t even mention her here the audacity am i right my girl Sadie is the best rock chick out there and she didn t even get an honorable mention ughhh.anywho, this is apparently the next gen for rock chicks and dream man series and did i think this was a great start mehh it was okay but did it have all the tropes that i love that KA does yes alpha, possessive, commando, macho man, bossy but affectionate H h being all like i want you but imma resist you cuz im protecting you while H was all like babe, baby, honey, no, you are mine KA writing where there s a lot of showing rather than telling excessive use of babes , honey s , and baby s from the H h is in trouble so now the H makes her live with him even though they just met this series is mainly about Lottie s girls Jet s sister from rock chick rescue and she s like the main girl for a strip club and now being Mo s woman, she sets her girls up with Mo s men.so this is about Evie Mag Danny s story and their story kind of reminds me of law man but only because of the deadbeat brother endangering his own sister and her apartment gets trashed and now bad guys are coming after her storyline i liked both Evie Mag but Evie was kind of annoying at the beginning where she did a lot of stupid shit with good intentions just because she was trying to protect Mag also, apparently she s this tech nerd genius but we never really got to see that here i wish that was exploredand as for Mag, i thought he was fine he was really sweet and cooked and even though he was your typical KA H, he didn t have any of those problematic, toxic masculinity that old KA H s have which is a definite plus from Lottie s book the novella before this , apparently Mag had a long time ex girlfriend and she broke things off with him and then he became a ho there was one scene with the ex here and this is what he says to her I m sorry When we talked about that when we were together, marriage, kids, I m seein now, they were just the logical next steps You re a good woman, we had good times, a lot of them, and we just had a lot of time in It was what we were supposed to do I got caught up in that Don t get me wrong, you meant somethin to me, Nik You meant a lot Not havin you hurt like fuck, you meant that much I just didn t get what I was supposed to feel until I saw Evie with an armful of meat to be fair, when i skim read Lottie s book, i thought there would be a lot of OW drama here but surprisingly enough, this encounter with the ex was the only OW drama so thank god for that also, he told the OW he wanted to marry the heroine so.all in all, this was just a chill book Mag and Evie got together pretty quickly, though, the pacing and development was ok i kinda got bored in the last half tho but i think that sof a me thing since something personal happened to me.with the little glimpses that we get about the future MCs im a little iffy because apparently these dudes Boone Axl are seeing OW even after we know they want the girls Lottie set them up with soo uh here s me to hoping this is a lie and they re just pretending to see OW so that the h can make their first move fingers crossed 4 STARS All my life, you know All your life what, baby Until you He curved both arms around me and his voice was growly when he asked, Until me, what The people I loved made loving them hard Until yougiddy wiggle Hey Pssst You there You listening to this Because this cynic just read a KA book and loved it No but seriously Guys I seriously got my KA mojo back with this book and I m so thrilled because now I m also seriously hooked on this series So here s the tea 4 STARS All my life, you know All your life what, baby Until you He curved both arms around me and his voice was growly when he asked, Until me, what The people I loved made loving them hard Until yougiddy wiggle Hey Pssst You there You listening to this Because this cynic just read a KA book and loved it No but seriously Guys I seriously got my KA mojo back with this book and I m so thrilled because now I m also seriously hooked on this series So here s the tea It had the following 1 A heroine that s dorky, somewhat a klutz, but beautiful with hair up to THERE and curves in the right places.2 A hero that can probably hold a conversation using only yeah , babe , and grunts3 A heroine that s down on her luck but has a vagina spun from gold because everyone and I mean EVERYONE falls for her Even the bad guys.4 A lot of action5 Plenty of secondary characters hilarious antics, including a cross over with Rock Chicks and Dream Man.6 A comando hero7 Hot shmexy loving8 A new cast of characters in the form of gorgeous but down on their luck women who turn to stripping but the strip club owner is THE BEST9 Male characters that will never pronounce a hard consonant at the end of their words.10 Girlfriends that get into crazy situations but stay tight through all of it.And this girl is giddy with excitement Why Because this is the vintage KA I love and missed Now look, if you ve read ANY KA book in the past, you know exactly what I m talking about It may sound crazy to any who haven t read her, but for me, this tried and true formula of hers just does it for me And if the chemistry is there for the MCs, then I m putty in your hands.Evie and Danny were so good together Their chemistry was undeniable And what I really loved was that the action kept going well beyond the 50% mark of the book In the last few KA books, I ve admittedly grown bored by the halfway mark and felt like the rest was filler, but not here There was a lot of book here, and all of it was GOOD.It s not everyday you meet a cast of strippers that you just absolutely fall in love with and are dying to read their stories And can we just talk about the set up for the second book Because GAH But let me not get ahead of myself here and focus on this one.Evie was fantastic Of course everyone, their mother, and their uncle Harry loved her But she s impossible not to love Except, unfortunately for some deadbeat members of her family that get her in life threatening danger.Danny is a guy she gets set up on a date with by her friend and coworker, and they have instant sparks And of course when he finds out she s in danger, he immediately moves her in with him and will move heaven and earth to protect her And this girl gobbled it right up.Yes, it s a tried and true formula but with a cast of new faces, and it just worked, you guy It worked so well This was like a combination of Rock Chicks and Dream Man and it was delicious I was immediately hooked and I m already desperate forARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest reviewFind me on DNF 71% 2 STARSI feel like such a grouch every time I start a new KA book now Sigh, this is where nostalgia is taking meeeeeh It saddens me to file this one as a DNF, especially since I felt so excited starting Dream Maker, shouting in ALL CAPS how great it was to get a new book from Kristen Ashley that felt like her vintage work I was happy to discover a similar tone and vibe that made me fall in love with the author s characters in the Rock Chick series as opposed to the last few releas DNF 71% 2 STARSI feel like such a grouch every time I start a new KA book now Sigh, this is where nostalgia is taking meeeeeh It saddens me to file this one as a DNF, especially since I felt so excited starting Dream Maker, shouting in ALL CAPS how great it was to get a new book from Kristen Ashley that felt like her vintage work I was happy to discover a similar tone and vibe that made me fall in love with the author s characters in the Rock Chick series as opposed to the last few releases from the author that I ve found to be lacking aje ne sais quoiYeah, that old case of nostalgia gets to me every damn timeI still regularly reread and appreciate many of her books, from Rock Chicks, Mystery Man, Colorado Mountain, The Burg The idea of a new generation of Rock Chicks on paper held some appeal, only, the way it was executed in the book causedthan a couple eyerolls, with characters from previous Rock Chicks and Mystery Man books acting like total caricatures of themselves It was probably meant to be cute, I personally found it awkward The Rock ChicksI have truly enjoyed myself up until 25%, then things started to feel monotonous Once the meeting stage of Evan and Mag s relationship ended, my interest slowly started to wean off, the main plot revolving around bad guys going after Evan wasn t exciting enough to keep me engrossed and the focus on the romance was just so DEJA VU We re also introduced to all the pairings Lottie MAC Macalister has made between the new commando guys and her girls from Smithie s stripclub for the next books in the series Literally every commando guy in this book is paired with a feisty like heroineEvery conversation Evan and Mag were having was like replaying an old tape of Rock Chicks, the hero reigning in the heroine frantic behaviour, mansplaining about how things were going to unfold from now on, you know, all the alpha shit I usually love in KA books, except this time it read to me like a stale recipe unfolding.Also, the nitpicking asshole that I am have got to point out how absurd is it to give EVERY GODDAMNED charaters 3 differents names I m 38 years old and felt like taking down notes to remind me who is who for the first 20% Just me Alright then Heroine was EVIE, short for EVANGELINE but everyone was calling her EVAN Hero is MAG Short for Daniel MAGNUSSON Heroine and loved ones calls him DANNY Secondary character, Lottie, is called MAC Cause her last name is MACALISTER.Another thing, it takesthan a collection of Chucks or cool tees, one mention of DD and that one odd time someone took apart and rebuilt a radio at eight years old to make them super smart and dorky in my eyes Maybe show me in the book, present text what makes the heroine a nerd Because I FLOVE nerdy heroines but sorry to say Evan was not it Dream Maker wasn t necessarily bad, it just failed to keep me engaged in the long run I decided to DNF out of boredomthan out of hate, which leaves a possibility I ll try to finish it later on Who knowsMore reviews and book talk atYou can find me here too As a die hard Kristen Ashley fanThis is the best news ever MAY 2020 can t come soon enough Many thanks to Forever Pub for the free copy in exchange for an honest review3.5 stars Hmm, where to begin Why don t I start at the very beginning Within the first few pages, I was not only not enjoying the book, but I was also angry I was immediately annoyed with Daniel because he was being an asshole Don t get me wrong, I love a good angsty, alpha male but Daniel was being beyond that He was acting like Edward from Twilight which I do not like.Fortunately, I was able to move on from tha Many thanks to Forever Pub for the free copy in exchange for an honest review3.5 stars Hmm, where to begin Why don t I start at the very beginning Within the first few pages, I was not only not enjoying the book, but I was also angry I was immediately annoyed with Daniel because he was being an asshole Don t get me wrong, I love a good angsty, alpha male but Daniel was being beyond that He was acting like Edward from Twilight which I do not like.Fortunately, I was able to move on from that and began to enjoy the book It was pretty romantic although a bit insta lovey I really enjoyed the military esque thriller feel this book had It reminded me a lot of the honey badgered series by Shelly Laurenston Overall, this book had it s unrealistic and annoying moments but if you re able to look past that, I m sure you ll enjoy this i m so, so excited for this mostly because of the PTSD rep which isn t something we see enough of Goodreads Blog Pinterest LinkedIn YouTube Instagram Some folks pointed out that this was sort of a spin off Rock Chick book after I d started the book but, honestly, the blurb doesn t really mention that, does it Sure, it mentions the Dream Man and Rock Chick series but no mention of spin off similarities From the New York Times bestselling author of the Dream Man and Rock Chick series comes a brand new story about love, friendship, and the bonds of sisterhood Anyway, I sort of gave up on KA a little while back but saw some reviews t Some folks pointed out that this was sort of a spin off Rock Chick book after I d started the book but, honestly, the blurb doesn t really mention that, does it Sure, it mentions the Dream Man and Rock Chick series but no mention of spin off similarities From the New York Times bestselling author of the Dream Man and Rock Chick series comes a brand new story about love, friendship, and the bonds of sisterhood Anyway, I sort of gave up on KA a little while back but saw some reviews that this was like her old stuff and, as it was her old stuff that really made me like her, I decided to give this one a go When I say her old stuff , I do not include the Rock Chick series I tried to read that a few times and just could not get into it, at all I think the heroine annoyed the fuck out of me in the first one so I never continued So when I get to the part in this book and they start going on about the Rock Chicks, I knew it wasn t going to be for me Actually, even before the dreaded RC were mentioned, I sort of knew it wasn t going to be for me Ah, well I had some great times with KA books, back in the day Made some great friends on Goodreads over our mutual love of KA and Tate Jackson, in particular but, alas, I am cutting the ties with KA I don t think I will even re read any of her books in the future Thanks for the memories and I still have the good friends on here I hope Not going to rate the book, as I did not finish it Here is a shout out to my favourite KA book good times, indeed 3.5 A Bit Of D j vu Stars 1 2 Spoiler Free A Quick ReviewThis book harkens back to the flavor of OG Kristen Ashley s books There is a hint of what once was and bringing past characters into the current story will help fans to remember and buy inthan the recent books that did not sit well I enjoyed it, it became chaotic but it had that heart and romance of the dominant alpha man and the woman who was just trying to get through life The romance was there as well as the usual suspens 3.5 A Bit Of D j vu Stars 1 2 Spoiler Free A Quick ReviewThis book harkens back to the flavor of OG Kristen Ashley s books There is a hint of what once was and bringing past characters into the current story will help fans to remember and buy inthan the recent books that did not sit well I enjoyed it, it became chaotic but it had that heart and romance of the dominant alpha man and the woman who was just trying to get through life The romance was there as well as the usual suspense There are going to beand as a sucker for KA, I will be looking to see when New Series Quiet Man Dream Man Dream Team, 0.5 Dream Maker Dream Team, 1 Dream Chaser Dream Team, 2 One That Started it Mystery Man Dream Man, 1 Wild Man Dream Man, 2 Law Man Dream Man 3 Motorcycle Man Dream Man 4 Quiet Man Dream Man, 4.5 Before Reading What does a Bonafide NerdAnd a Hyper Intelligent Chick doWhen she wants an Engineering DegreeWell, in Kristen Ashley s WorldEvie goes to Smithie s to Earn the ExtraNow can she DanceNot exactlyBut that doesn t stop herFrom being Damn Cute on the StageIt also doesn t stop one of Hawk s MenWanting to Pull her OffAnd have her All to HimselfIt was Never Mag s Plan to become a Dream Maker May 26th 2020 ForReviews, Free E books and Giveaways It s been awhile and it occasionally feels as if the world s gone to hell in a handbasket, but I have to say that this book made me smile SO MUCH It became the ultimate self care item, and I ve been re reading my favorite bits off and on since i finished it.I m not going to even pretend this will be quickish, so I hope y all brought snacks I ve got alot of feelings to sort through and some alot of rambling to get done, so let s do this The Sitch Evan Evie Gardiner has ALOT on her p It s been awhile and it occasionally feels as if the world s gone to hell in a handbasket, but I have to say that this book made me smile SO MUCH It became the ultimate self care item, and I ve been re reading my favorite bits off and on since i finished it.I m not going to even pretend this will be quickish, so I hope y all brought snacks I ve got alot of feelings to sort through and some alot of rambling to get done, so let s do this The Sitch Evan Evie Gardiner has ALOT on her plate She s working towards her computer systems engineering degree, and earning money to go to school by working two jobs computer tech by day, stripper at Smithie s by night She s doing this all while being her family s caretaker She s the one her family looks to when things go sideways, or they just don t want to take care of it themselves When her sketchy AF brother lands himself in jail, he calls Evie and asks her to help him with a dubious favor, as usual It just so happens to coincide with the night Evie is going on a blind date set up by her friend Lottie Her date With Daniel Mag Magnusson, a man with a particular set of skills and a job as a well, that slike sixth or seventh date info But when that simple favor goes sideways, Evie s in danger, Mag swoops in to protect her, and oh yes, romance happens.The Good Feels like going homeFull disclosure I am a longtime reader of Ms Ashley s books, and I loved alot of them I have faves and I have re read several of her books But I will also admit that there are KA books that Idid not love All of this to say, I m very familiar with her idiosyncrasies, her strengths as a writer, as well as her weaknesses I was a little trepidatious when I started this book but I am very happy to say that this is the most pure fun I ve had reading a KA book in a good, long while There s so much of this story that s like a snazzy new sweater it s warm and cozy, feels familiar, fits perfectly, and yet it s fresh and clean clean There are so many moments that longtime readers will love, and new readers will enjoy discovering When the danger comes into play, Mag s connection to the OG Hot Bunch and Mystery Men brings lots of old favorites into the mix, without overwhelming the narrative and still allowing the new characters to shine Ms Ashley has long impressed me with her ability to build a found family and set up female friendships so well, and she continues to do so here There s a balance to the old and the new and that is a skill.But also meeting new faves Now, lest you think that this is just about reminiscing and seeing old faves, it s the new characters that really anchor this tale and made me keep reading Evie is a sweet and nerdy hot heroine whose desire to do well by those who haven t done right by her is heartbreaking at times, but her personal character arc is strong I love that she learns that family is who loves you and appreciates you, not just those related by blood She s empathetic, smart, and caring The story is told via dual POV first person for Evie and third person for Mag, so it s her head that we spend the majority of the time in, and there was never a moment where I wasn t rooting for her to get her HEA.Mag, aka new Commando Bunch, is a great addition to the stable of KA heroes He is first and foremost, so protectively sweet, so very bossy, yet completely and totally in love with Evie that it was easy to fall for him If I have a quibble, it s that his personal arc isn t as fleshed out and there s a reference to scenes that happen off page for him where he works through some of his issues, that I would have loved to read But I do think that could have changed the overall tenor of this tale in a way that wasn t essential to the goal of this HEA.Now, to focus on the romance, like Mag s chemistry with Evie Whew lordy.Heat, Heart and Humor, the Holy Romance trinity Ms Ashley s way around a love scene The Holy Trinity of romance, in conjunction with the Firsts meet kiss love scene are crucial to a successful romance for me Ms Ashley brought the heat, but it s the banter that conveys that chemistry and that is firing on all cylinders And finally, the emotional scenes, the ones that really make Evie and Mag s love shine, all resonated with me Twist on an old themeMuch like comedy callbacks you know, when the comedian will tell a joke at the beginning of a routine, and then randomly refer to that joke again, making you laugh because of the familiar, yet different, context THAT is this book In this Next Generation of Ms Ashley s verse, this romance still managed to remix that classic formula and give me some fresh takes on the Firsts, especially in subtle moments of consent that allow for that bossy alpha vibe to thrive but not completely dominate every aspect of Mag s personality I especially enjoyed how the final dark moment came to pass and was resolved in a manner that a didn t happen too early on the page and b gave some agency to Evie in a way that felt true to character The Bad ish and Everything in Between The family from hellHoly hell is Evie s family, and I cannot stress this enough, It is borderline caricature how completely horrible they are I understand the need for that antagonistic force in Evie s life, but damn if it wasn t hard to read about how horrible they are and occasionally felt beyond manipulative Her found familythan makes up for it, but be forewarned her blood family, with two exceptions, are atrocious But on the flip side, you certainly feel like a better person because you re hopefully not as bad as they are Mild lagNow one of my big concerns in romances that depend on the tension generated by one or both of the MCs being in danger, is the need to maintain tension through the story In the desire to get to the good stuff, there have been times when I ve felt that these types of stories can settle into the HEA way too early On the opposite end of the spectrum, the danger leaves the story so tense so long that you don t get to enjoy the resolution and it feels like it ends too quickly When the balance is off, things can go off the rails and I m either bored or annoyed Ms Ashley s newer books have struggled with this, resolving way too early and leaving me wishing forI will say that Dream Maker wobbles a bit towards the 75% mark, but still managed to pull out a littleaction late in the game and doesn t just settle into a supersized epilogue after the halfway point, so I appreciated that Secondary characters get their little moments to intrigueAs the first book in the series, I was impressed at how Ms Ashley managed to introduce the reader to the new players in this series, set up the possibility of romance for each, and explain why they re not all falling in love right this second Now, I m not sure how those will shake out, and I m not sure I m too thrilled with the idea of how some of them will spend their time waiting for their turn for an HEA just trying to vague this up a tad so as not to be spoilerish , but I am now invested in these future couples and cannot wait to visit again.I had so much fun with Mag and Evie s romance Their romance shines in the midst of many, many faves sharing the page and I adored it While it s not perfect, this truly sparked joy for me, and I can say with confidence that this is the most KA feeling KA book in a really long time It s the best of her quirks and reminded me why I devoured her backlist the way I did, once upon a time There s so much that made me smile from beginning to end and I legit cannot wait until the next book comes out If you re a fan of Ms Ashley s Rock Chick series, I highly encourage you to check this out ARC provided by publisher via netgalley for review Forreviews, visit