Navigation Bar

BOOK REVIEW: Out of the Ashes (The Ashes #1) by Diana Gardin

Title: Out of the Ashes (The Ashes #1)
Author: Diana Gardin
Genre: NA
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

Paige Hill is discovering who she is again after losing everything she loves in a tragic fire. She’s endured a long road to recovery with the help of her best fiend Gillian and is finally beginning her life again: college, a job, and a blossoming love she never even saw coming.

Clay Forbes is the notorious campus playboy. He’s a star athlete, a senior architecture major, and the only son in a family with power and money back in his hometown. When he crashes into Paige, his whole perspective on life shifts, and his world as he knew it becomes nonexistent. He’s wrapped up in her.

They’re both learning how to love, but Clay’s ex-girlfriend Hannah won’t make it easy for them. She puts a target on Paige’s back, and won’t stop until she’s derailed their budding romance once and for all. Who will be left standing after the ashes settle for the second time?

First of all, I'd like to point out that this is a self-published eBook. That being said, it's obviously not going to be up to the normal, polished published (OMG! Say that three times fast!) standards. There are a few grammar mistakes, spelling errors, and goofs, but nothing that distracts from the story as a whole. I wished the author showed a bit more, rather than tell, but overall the writing was good.

I actually downloaded this eBook for free—per the authors price then—and will rate it with all of the above in mind.

"The pain was there; it always was. It was like a dragon retreating to its lair after a battle. It would rest, but it always lay in wait for its next fight."
At the start of this book we meet a broken girl—Paige—recovering from a terrible tragedy. But amidst that, she has hope for her future, which I found admirable. Her grit to rejoin life and actually live, whereas so many others in her position would've withered away, had me rooting for her.
"Suddenly, a ray of light broke through the dark clouds that had eclipsed my life since the fire."
Not long after, we are introduced to Clay—a self-proclaimed player (and not just on the soccer field). There is a wee bit of insta-love on Clays part, but whatever. His character wasn't un-enjoyable, but he wasn't particularly swoon-worthy either. Although I have to say, at times—during certain scenes and situations—the things Clay said or did made my stomach dip pleasantly.
"So I did the only thing I could think of. I leaned in and kissed the imperfect skin. Just once."
Paige notices Clay's player ways, and is cautious of both him and the past that drags her down emotionally. She keeps the secret of what happened to her guarded for a while, which creates some tension between the characters. So there is some push and pull in their romance, but it never seems to last very long. Their romance does move fast (like, at warp speed), and Clay's transformation can seem a little too good to be true (and at one point Paige even says that) but this is fiction (and a self-published romance at that) so I can totally go with it. Plus, I love unwavering loyalty in a male character. :)
"I held her eyes with mine, and I wanted her to see that I was here to stay. No amount of scarring on her skin could make her any less beautiful to me."
 Sometimes the things the characters said could be a bit unrealistic, but then again, some of the side characters were my favorite in the book. I loved Gillian's fierce protectiveness towards Paige, and Drew's oblivious, goofy nature was too cute; it had me smiling more than once.
"What had she been through that had hurt her so badly she wasn't willing to share any of it?"
The plot was your average boy-meets-girl-and-ex-girlfriend-hates-new-girlfriend—but this was executed in a new, different way I hadn't seen before in a free, self-published eBook. The antagonist wasn't shy and sneaky like most others I've read about, which made for some explosive (literally) times. The ending was what shocked me the most and cemented the fact this was not your typical free romance. At that point it was a holy-crap-did-that-really-just-happen? jaw-dropper.
"I actually welcomed the blackness, because it hid my ugly."
I feel the need to warn you: there is a cliffhanger at the end of this book. But the main conflict in Out of the Ashes does ... well, lets just say it gets resolved; ending the main problem in the first book, but creating even more drama for the second book. And if it weren't for the fact my book spending budget is a negative zero at the moment (hence the free eBook review), I would defiantly drop a few bucks for the second in the series to see how it all ends.
"Paige Hill had would be the death of me, and I was going to enjoy every minute of my demise."
Overall, Out of the Ashes wasn't a bad read—especially as a self-published eBook—and for the price of free, I found it worth my filler-time. But to be honest, I'm having a hard time deciding what to rate this book. If this was a published book, I would probably rate it with two stars (making it an okay read) but since it is self-published, I'm inclined to give it three stars because 1) I've a lot of worse self-published books, 2) I don't regret reading it, and 3) it was enjoyable for a quick, free read.