Contemporary New Adult
Available April 16th
Recevied via Edelweiss for review
THE STORY (from Amazon)
Aside from her dad, who passed away when she was six, Cassidy Jameson has only ever trusted one man: her best friend, Tyler. So of course she follows him to Texas when he leaves for college. She just didn't expect to be so drawn to their new roommate, Gage, a gorgeous guy with a husky Southern drawl. The only problem? He's Tyler's cousin.
Gage Carson was excited to share an apartment off campus with his cousin. He didn't mind that Tyler was bringing the mysterious friend he'd heard about since they were kids . . . until the most beautiful girl he's ever seen jumps out of his cousin's Jeep. There's something about Cassi that makes Gage want to give her everything. Too bad Tyler has warned him that she's strictly off-limits.
Despite everything keeping them apart, Cassi and Gage dance dangerously close to the touch they've both been craving. But when disaster sends her running into Tyler's arms, Cassi will have to decide whether to face the demons of herpast . . . or to burn her chance at a future with Gage.
From Ashes is a story that, based on the synopsis and cover art, we enter into assuming there will be a fair amount of romantic drama as well as a prominent love triangle. What we discover a few chapters in is just how correct our assumption is with regard to the former, and luckily for us, how incorrect with regard to the latter. What could have been an extraordinarily frustrating love triangle between Tyler, Cassidy and Gage turns out to be something entirely unlike what we initially expect (though still quite frustrating, just in a drastically different way), with Cassidy and Gage's feelings for one another solid and reciprocated, though unbeknownst to them, neither is fully aware of what the other is feeling. There's thankfully no waffling on Cassidy's part, and neither Cassidy nor Gage is deliberately obtuse when it comes to their miscommunications, instead they are manipulated and misled by someone they have no reason to assume would do something so hurtful. As a result, our irritation is derived from the circumstances rather than the characters themselves, and we continue on in the hopes that good things await the two of them once they sort through the layers of deception.
There are certainly some beautiful moments between Cassidy and Gage; quiet, stunningly intimate moments that do a nice job of smoothing the feathers of ours that have been ruffled along the way, but ultimately this story is so intensely and unnecessarily dramatic at times that not even those sweet and sexy scenes can hold off our ire. For the first half of the book it's easy to root for both Cassidy and Gage, their unwitting roles in Tyler's twisted game of possessiveness something that has us instantly in their corner, wishing we could step in and clear the air with just a few simple words so they could both finally start the relationship they've been desperately wanting. As the story continues however, Cassidy becomes increasingly difficult to like, our budding connection with her stalling out as she continues to hurt Gage with her cluelessness, and when yet another romantic player other than Tyler and Gage enters the picture, any lingering affinity we had for her is quickly extinguished.
Tyler is equally problematic, his history with Cassidy initially endearing him to us only to have him rather suddenly undergo a massive behavioral overhaul shortly after Gage first lays eyes on Cassidy. For someone who claims to want nothing more than what's best for her, Tyler does everything in his power to keep her happiness at bay in the misguided hope that she'll finally develop feelings that have never once been a part of their unique and seemingly unbreakable bond. When his actions escalate from small falsehoods and manipulation to downright cruelty, our patience with this book as a whole wears dangerously thin, and we flip the pages with a sort of dread as we wonder what massive drama will be hurled at us next.
The highlight of From Ashes is Gage himself, a young man with a butterfly-inducing southern drawl and an unwavering loyalty to Cassidy despite her tendency to push him away at every turn. He is patient, kind, and sinfully attractive, and while Cassidy loses a bit of our respect as she tries to sort herself out through major and minor dramas alike, the romantic scenes between them still cause our pulse to quicken and a flush to spread on our skin. Overall, From Ashes is full to bursting with tension and angst, so much so that we find ourselves drowning in it, desperately searching for some small facet of the story to keep us afloat, and while Gage is that lifesaver for the most part, he alone is unable to help us make peace with many of the decisions both Cassidy and Tyler make.