Liquid Silver Books, $4.99, ISBN 978-1-62210-181-8
Sci-fi Romance, 2014
I call Ashfall a romantic suspense, but it is actually more akin to an adventure set in a post-apocalyptic setting, but not too post-apocalyptic in a completely drastic dystopian manner. Let me explain – a volcano went off before this story opens, and it not only creates widespread damage and loss of lives, it also alters the world climate, sea level, and such that the world is no longer the same. But not too different in a Mad Max way.
Mally Andretti survives the apocalyptic kaboom, mostly thanks to her late paranoid and possibly crazy father who made preparations for the end of the world that, hey, eventually happened. The house she is in is built to last, and she seems to be safe inside. However, the romance author is isolated, alone, and beginning to worry that her neighbor is acting all weird outside her gate. Things change when she comes in contact with “Rescue248” on the radio. “RomWriter148” and “Rescue248” hit it off and the chemistry is there, and eventually they meet face to face. Oh boy, Adam Becker isn’t just hot, he and his buddies – the typical ex-Navy SEAL, CIA, whatever turned highly paid bodyguard agent action heroes, you know, those dudes – comes to her rescue when her creepy neighbor and other men decide to break into her house.
That’s when Ashfall falls apart, sigh. Instead of breaking every bone in the intruders’ bodies for taking a gun and trying to steal, rape, whatever, Adam just let them go, apparently because they are drunk. Didn’t these people see Saving Private Ryan, and realize how the one you let go can easily come back one day to stab you in the derrière? And then, instead of feeling things a relieved lady would feel in such a moment, Mally starts wondering what it’d be like to kiss and do the naked hula with Adam. This is exactly that moment when this story morphs from a pretty interesting kind of a story (I don’t normally come across this kind of thing in the romance genre) into an excuse for main characters to lust at inappropriate moments just to fulfill some kind of sexy time quota.
Indeed, Ashfall feels very compartmentalized in an artificial manner. I can easily draw a line at points in this story where it goes from an intriguing and promising start into a story of painfully contrived romance and, later, into an action-driven tale when the heroine mostly plays the concerned handmaiden at the sidelines, watching as Adam and his friends in the Buy Our Books, Our Penises are Huge brigade embark on some kind of rescue that ends in a manner that paves the way for the next story in the series.
It’s quite the shame. The story starts out solid but it soon becomes another hard-to-swallow half-baked tale with romance and sexy moments that never seem natural or believable. I really wish this one had been a straight-out action adventure tale set in a natural disaster setting, the kind of tale that would star The Rock were it to be made into a movie. Really, this is one story where the unnaturally shoehorned-in sex and romance elements ruin everything.