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Dream Keeper (Dream Team) Paperback – November 30, 2021
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'Kristen Ashley's books are addicting!' JILL SHALVIS, bestselling author
'I don't know how Kristen Ashley does it; I just read the damn books and happily get lost in her world' FROLIC
Single mom Pepper Hannigan has put all she has into one goal -- giving her daughter Juno the best life possible. That means no risks. No reckless nights. And no romance. Pepper refuses to let any Tom, Dick, or Harry romance his way into her family of two, only to break both her and her little girl's hearts. But Juno has other plans . . .
August Hero may have a storybook name, but the serious, stern commando believes he's anything but a knight-in-shining-armor. He can't deny, however, how badly he wants to play Prince Charming for Pepper and her little girl. But when Juno's matchmaking brings danger into their homes, August will need to save both Pepper and Juno to prove to Pepper that happy endings aren't just for fairytales.
Find out why readers are addicted to Kirsten Ashley's books . . .
'I'm surprised this book didn't self-combust from the degree of utterly swoon-worthy, bossy, possessive, unapologetic, sweet, tender, badass, HOT UBER ALPHA males in it! This book is pure over-the-top deliciousness!' Aestas Book Blog
'Those who like a dash of sweetness in their suspense will be delighted' Publishers Weekly on Dream Maker
'Kristen Ashley books are a haven , a safe place I go to when I am having a bad day or when i just want to destress' Goodreads review
'A non-stop wild ride!' Goodreads review
'A light-hearted, funny romp with enough drama to take you to that deeper level we crave in romance' Goodreads review
'This book has it all: to-die-for hero, a sassy, smartass heroine, lots of action, hot hot sex, secret lairs, badass bikers, romance, a few misty-eyed moments, laugh out loud humor, alpha males out the wazoo and just general over the top fun!' Goodreads review
- Publisher : Piatkus (November 30, 2021)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0349425914
- ISBN-13 : 978-0349425917
- Item Weight : 12.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.8 x 1.34 x 7.64 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,648,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2021
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The first couple of chapters had me on the fence with this book because as much as I love how this author reintroduces previous characters, especially the Rock Chicks, at times it can be too much. I felt that at the beginning and wondered if it was just going to be cameos and no real substance. I need not have worried because once the story really got going and the focus was on Auggie, Pepper, and Juno I was 1000% invested. I knew that Pepper was going to have a story to tell, and I was right in that assumption. Her backstory and her family were crazy. The twists were insane and not at all what I was expecting. I loved Juno and her special connection with someone that I have come to LOVE in this series. There were some pretty pivotal moments in this story with this little girl that made my heart soar. That was largely, because of the amazing mother that she had. I LOVED Pepper as a mother. The world could be a better place if everyone had someone like her as a mom. Auggie's backstory was sad. I hated that he felt the way that he did because of his upbringing had been. I think because of that, it made me love Pepper and Juno with him that much more. They truly balanced each other out. He wasn't as "Alpha J/P" as this author normally depicts but he was still all KA man if that makes sense. The steam when it happened, was so good, and if I wasn't in love with Auggie before that happened, it really happened then.
There was a lot of drama going on in this book, but not so much that I couldn't make sense of it. There is an interconnected story that has been playing in the background through this entire series so, in my opinion, this story is not done even though the original matchmaking by Lottie is complete with these three girls, there is still more story to tell. The way that it is done, reminds me a bit of how the Chaos series was done, where the answers to these mysteries won't be finished until the series is concluded. I am all in for that.
There were possible new characters that could have stories, one of which, I hope is Billy. I, also, hoped to all that is right and just in this world that Mr. Cisco gets a story because GOOD LORD do I love this man. He has become one of the strongest and most amazing of secondary characters that this author has EVER written. He is just magic. Every time, I think he cannot get any better, he does.
Even though this story didn't jump out at me, like this author's books normally do, I am still very happy with this book. I am glad that I didn't let the beginning deter me from enjoying it to the fullest.
Pepper certainly did not have the ideal childhood, but she’s doing everything in her power to give Juno the exact opposite. Even going as far as putting her own happiness on hold. But Juno has a plan and nothing is going to stop her. Seriously…I adore that girl. Throw in a cult, some criminals, and a bunch of hot protective alphas and you have the makings of a Kristen Ashley classic.
There is nothing to say about the how this book is written…it’s KA people!! Enough said!
ABOUT THE DREAM TEAM SERIES:
This series follows the men that work for Hawk Delgado, commandos that often find themselves in dangerous situations. There are kidnappings and dirty cops galore that keep things interesting as the series progresses. Note that Hawk’s story with Gwendolyn Kidd is Mystery Man, which is book one of the Dream Man series.
This series crosses over with the Rock Chick series as well. Charlotte “Lottie” McAlister plays matchmaker in this series. Lottie is Jet McAlister’s sister. Jet’s story with Eddie Chavez is told in book two of the Rock Chick series, Rock Chick Rescue.
In book one of the Dream Team series, Dream Maker, Daniel “Mag” Magnusson steps up to protect Evie Gardiner and ends up falling in love.
In Dream Chaser, book two, commando Boone Sadler convinces Ryn Jansen to take a chance on him.
Axl Pantera doesn’t give up on Hattie Yates In book three, Dream Spinner.
This is book four of the Dream Team series. It is Auggie Hero and Pepper Hannigan’s long-awaited single mom romance. Although best read in series, this can be read as a standalone as well.
IN THIS BOOK:
The story opens at Mo and Lottie’s wedding. Auggie and Pepper were supposed to be next to couple up if all went according to Lottie’s matchmaking plan, but Pepper, a single mom, made it very clear that she was not going down that road, much to Auggie’s disappointment. Pepper is focused on her eight-year-old daughter, Juno, and she doesn’t have room for more in her life.
Not much later, the couple succumbs to their attraction to one another in an unexpected moment of passion that ends in disaster. Months later, they are still trying their best to avoid one another, which is quite a task since all their closest friends are together in one fashion or another.
As Halloween passes and the holidays approach, their story picks up again. This time, however, eight-year-old Juno plays matchmaker – and she enlists the aid of Brett “Cisco” Rappaport. The successful crime lord had once been responsible for Pepper being kidnapped and held by gunpoint, but little Juno believes instinctively that he is the one to turn to for help.
Pepper Hannigan, twenty-eight, makes being a single mom look easy. She is organized, focused, and purposeful in all she does. Things fell apart with her ex, Corbin, three years ago, when she discovered that he had been cheating. She and Corbin share custody of Juno, now eight, and though she does receive child support, Pepper puts all that money away for Juno. Since she had stayed home when Juno was born, and she hadn’t the education nor skills to provide a good home for herself and Juno, she turned to stripping after the breakup. Working at Smithie’s had helped her purchase a home and build a nice life for her and Juno, and it was also where she formed strong friendships with her friends – Lottie, Evie, Ryn, and Hattie. She doesn’t make as much in tips since the club switched over to a sexy revue, but she gets by. Her goal, though, is to open her own meditation studio. Mediation is a big part of her life, keeping her centered, and she wants to share that with others.
Pepper made a vow to herself, and she plans to keep it. After watching her daughter suffer through a series of women parading in and out of her ex’s life, and noting the toll it took on Juno, Pepper made a conscious decision to keep her home drama-free. She wants to ensure that Juno feels loved and secure, so she wakes up each day to put her daughter first. Later, when Juno is in her mid-teens and seems emotionally capable, Pepper will consider dating. But until then, dating is out, even if Auggie Hero is a dream come true. He is the impossible dream, though, and she has no other choice but to settle on having him as a friend.
Augustus “Auggie” Hero, thirty-four, is a former Marine. After leaving the service, he returned home to Denver where he now works for Hawk Delgado as a commando. He is blessed with godlike good looks. That hasn’t necessarily turned out well for him, though. He has had a few relationships – including a long-term one with Marie – but he still finds himself single. Mostly he finds himself used by women, targeted for a good time. They toy with him, and he hates it. He grew up in a dysfunctional family, and the games his parents play eat him up to this day. Pepper, though, seemed different. Her love for her daughter, Juno, is visible. And he desperately wanted to feel that love himself. It was something he hadn’t experienced growing up. And watching all his closest friends fall in love has him feeling a little lonely these days. His friends expected him and Pepper to get together, but then Pepper had surprised him. It turned out that she wasn’t much different than the rest of the women. Even so, he adores Juno, so when Juno enlists his help, he cannot say no.
When Juno brings Auggie and Pepper together again, neither is excited. They both will do anything to please the little girl, so they put on their best act. Soon enough, the ice begins to melt, and eventually their friendship – and their attraction for one another – is rekindled. But both come to this fledgling relationship with a lot of baggage. Auggie always knew his parents had problems, and he knew it affected him, but it becomes all too real once Pepper and Juno enter his life. Observing them together breaks him. It causes him to reflect on things he’d rather not think about. Pepper has family issues as well. Her family is Gonzo for God. They belong to the Tabernacle of the True Light, led by Reverend Clyde Higgins. Pepper left them and the church when she turned eighteen, as did her older brother Birch, whom she has not seen in the twelve years since he left. She loves her family, however, and despite their judgment and their pressure for her to return, she does keep in touch. The tension, however, is always there. Both Auggie and Pepper are forced to confront their past as the holidays approach. Things get ugly, but neither is prepared for the danger that follows. The couple eventually finds a happy ending.
Wow! Auggie and Pepper’s story is deep and complex. There is a lot here, including the ongoing investigations that Hawk and his men run (and it won’t end here – there is more to come). At this point in the series, the characters are beginning to feel like family, and Auggie and Pepper are the last of their group to couple up. It is easy to root for them initially, but this story gets very real, very fast, and the hurt feelings really do seem insurmountable. It is a tall order to overcome what takes place, but it works.
Auggie and Pepper are both broken, and in one another they are healed. They find the unconditional love they both crave. Auggie really is the dream, and Pepper knew it all along. She just needs a little help to get to the point where she can allow herself to find her own happiness outside of Juno. Juno is a star in this story, and her storyline with Cisco is adorable. It makes you wonder … how old is Cisco? And how old will he be when she is eighteen? That is pretty far into the future, but it might make for a great age gap romance if he isn’t too too old.
There are some new characters introduced here, and some bode to factor into future stories as well. In Hawk’s group, Billy and Marques are new guys. Zane is also unmatched as of yet. These men are younger, but that doesn’t seem to stop Lottie from having more matchmaking ideas. This time she recruits her friends to assist, and as this story ends, it is obvious that there are more stories yet to come in this series.
Auggie and Pepper’s story is a sweet and emotional ride intermixed with family drama and a dose of danger. It is a story about family and dysfunction. It is a realistic portrayal of parenting and co-parenting, and of the struggles of being a single mom. It is about setting boundaries, even when it is hard. It is about loving yourself enough to make your own happiness a priority. And it is about knowing when to walk away. Auggie is the dream, and yet despite his beauty, he is broken. He has a big heart, yet he has never really felt loved. Pepper is strong and independent. She faces the world unafraid and is a fierce mama bear. Like Auggie, she didn’t have great role models growing up, but she is determined to overcome and succeed. And little Juno steals the show in the most emotional scene of the book. This story is well-written. There are a few confusing sentences, but otherwise, this is solid. The plot is very complex. The characters are carefully crafted and very real. The story is written in third person in Auggie, Juno, and Elvira’s POVs; it is written in first person in Pepper’s POV. I rate this book 4.5 stars.
I received an advance copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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I have to admit being slightly disappointed in this book but only in so much that I expected the story arc of crooked cops that has been running throughout the series to conclude with Dream Keeper but that looks like its going to continue with the next group of commandos and whoever is lucky enough to snag one of those fine specimens although with Elvira involved next time perhaps Billy, Zane and Marques should be running for the hills!
This is the last of the girls Pepper who is supposed to be paired with Auggie; however Pepper has a daughter Juno and an ex who broke her heart, and is understandably reluctant to start a new relationship.
A good story but it irritates me that epilogue's are short and don't go very far into the future as all the stories sort of join together. However it appears the series will now extend to encompass some of Hawk's younger employees; plus the dirty cops story running alongside the love stories appear far from over.
Secondly, I was a bit bored. It took 480 pages for there to be any semblance of danger towards Pepper, and that's a big part of what makes these series so exciting for me. Plus, in the book description it literally says that Pepper is in danger, and sure we hear that said a few times but we never really see any evidence of it, so I was pretty disappointed about that.
Regardless of these things, Pepper and Auggie were cute, and Juno was such a sweetheart. And when the action did finally hit in the last 50 or so pages, things picked up a lot, but this book was just way too long for what it did.
That said, the end did make me quite excited for future books, or what I am guessing might be a spin off series featuring the new guys that were hired by Hawk and finally getting to the end of all the dirty cop stuff.