April 7, 2016

No, YOU have a book-crush on Rob Hart's Ash McKenna

Who was your first book-crush when you were a kid? 

Mine was Calvin O'Keefe from A Wrinkle In Time. I loved him so hard! He was a ginger! And sweet! He took care of Charles Wallace, and loved nerdy Meg. 

He was (and still is) a perfect guy.

Since reading A Wrinkle In Time for the first time, I've had many (MANY) other book crushes. Jem in To Kill A Mockingbird. Richie Tozier in It. So many more, I can't even think of them.

Now I have a new one. I trust that the author's wife is going to forgive me for this... 

In New Yorked, the debut crime novel of awesome author Rob Hart, we met Ash McKenna, the dude with the girlie name (today's boy named Sue, if you will), as he goes on a drug- and alcohol-fueled violence bender, searching for the killer of the unrequited love of his life. New Yorked was fun. It was a romp through the streets of Lower Manhattan, and Ash himself was....

Well, he was a mess.

I did NOT have a book-crush on the Ash McKenna of New Yorked. Nope. Not at all.

Then I picked up City of Rose, the second book in Hart's series and, well...I sorta fell in love with Ash McKenna.

In a bookish sort of way.


Here's the thing. In City of Rose, Ash has fled his self-destructive ways, seeking new beginnings across the country in Portland, Oregon. Working in a "vegan strip-club" (that is, a strip club that serves only vegan food - how very Portlandia!) as a bouncer, he's self-suppressed. Buttoned up. Opposed to making any sort of connection with any sort of person who could possibly make him smile.

At least until a gorgeous ex-junkie-stripper named Crystal asks for his help in finding her little girl.

Little by little, Ash opens up, becoming human again, but also falling into his violent tendencies. But it's all in the name of saving a little girl! And thus, it becomes so...sweet!

Yes, in this book, somehow violence is endearing.

No, I don't understand it.

But I do love it.

I think what's happening here, really, is that we, as readers, got to see a major change in the author's life.  Rob...had a kid. A sweet little baby girl, born during the writing of City of Rose. We get to see his love for his child portrayed through Crystal, sure, but also through Ash himself, giving the characters so many more dimensions than he had in New Yorked. 

Now Ash is sometimes tender. He lets Crystal in beyond the brick walls he's built for himself. He goes above and beyond to reunite mother and daughter.

And in the end...he reads a little girl a story, and damn if it doesn't make you want to hug someone.

Now, keep in mind this is still a Rob Hart original. As such it's still snarky. Vicious. Witty. Bloody. Nothing is every quite as it seems, and the other characters are almost as colorful as in New Yorked (though it's hard to top a drag queen drug kingpin). City of Rose kept me turning pages late into the night, and gave me a good excuse to shut out the rest of the world and sit on my back porch and READ.

It's a fun book, about as fun as it gets, and I'll be honest. That Ash. He owns a piece of my heart now, and I really hope he doesn't give it back!

Thanks, Rob, for all the fun!

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