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Review by: 
Kelly Cozy
Publication Date: 
Smite Publications
Bottom Line: 

Jennifer Thomson is average. She doesn’t have amazing dreams or expectations. She has an okay life. The low points are getting yelled at for showing up late at work. The high points are not getting yelled at for sneaking in late to work…

…and then her average little world gets blown to pieces.

Jennifer’s workplace is rocked by an explosion, and everyone tries to escape. She is among the survivors; the last one out. The image of her being taken to safety by an emergency responder becomes iconic. Her average, little life is consumed by nightmares, press inquiries, and probing, unwanted questions. Jennifer is left in a lonely place where average would seem like paradise.

Across the nation, former undercover government agent Sean Kincaid goes through his average life. Sean’s “average” is just a cover. The neighbors wave and smile, but none of them know about Sean’s past – the battles he’s fought, the people he’s killed. Sean has gone from laughing in the face of death to being put out to pasture. When he sees Jennifer’s rescue on the news, something sparks within him. He commits to finding those responsible for the attack, and getting justice for the innocent girl who barely made it out alive.

“Ashes” focuses on becoming someone new and overcoming the past. Author Kelly Cozy (The Day After Yesterday) rolls out an interesting path of transformation for her protagonists. The two lead characters couldn’t seem further apart, yet their lives are meant to intersect, Sean will make certain of that. The story following the attack begins slow, ramping up the closer Sean and Jennifer get. Cozy describes environments in vivid detail. Readers will find themselves immersed in fast-paced Los Angeles, humid Florida, and among the pines in British Columbia.

Relationships are also at the core of the story. Jennifer’s support network changes many times, and readers will enjoy the many different characters with whom she interacts. Sean is much more of a lone wolf, but his undercover work puts him face to face with some really fun bad guys. A run-in with a former colleague provides one of the breathtaking highlights of the book.

“Ashes” is the first in a duo of books, to be followed by “Reckoning” in late 2013. Reading “Ashes” following the recent attacks at the Boston marathon provided an interesting experience. Cozy gets the opening chapter across without overdoing it. She paints a picture of the terrorist attack, and the ensuing news coverage, that is reminiscent of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

“Ashes” takes a little while to get going, but the payoff is very effective. When the two transforming protagonists finally meet, the stage is set for a tense interaction that will change their lives forever.

Read more from Kelly (and pick up Ashes) on her page HERE.

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