Breathe by Kristen Ashley

So. Where to begin…?

As the least romantic person I know, I stepped outside of my comfort zone this weekend. I read a romance novel. Yes, you read that right. And not just any romance novel, a romance novel featuring a debauched cop and a virginal librarian…

(Beat that, I dare you.)

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. I picked up ‘Breathe’ by Kristen Ashley because she was a local author (who uses various Colorado locales) and she features a librarian in a prominent, if stereotypical position within the book. And if I’m being honest, I relate to Faye on a cursory level – all I ever wanted was a guy to worship the ground I walk on and tell me how brilliant I am. Is that too much to ask? No, no it’s not.


Detective Chace Keaton has had a rough year. He recently finished cleaning out the dirty police department in his hometown of Carnal, Colorado. In the process, his wife (whom he hated and cheated on frequently) was murdered, a friend was wrongly convicted, and he was blackmailed by his own father. He is on edge and angry. So when he meets the town’s pretty, shy librarian in the woods at two in the morning, he is intrigued. Although he rudely pushes her away, he can’t help but seek her out and later apologize. Faye, confused by his mixed messages, reacts incorrectly and kisses him.

“What the fuck was that?” He ground out.

“I…” she started, blinking again, but he didn’t let her continue.

“Don’t do that shit again, Faye,” he growled, took a step toward her and pointed in her face. “Do not do that shit again.”. He dropped his hand but put his face where his hand had been and kept going. “I don’t know what bullshit game you’re playin’, following me around, suddenly everywhere I am. But straight up, I’m not playin’ it. You got some romantic idea I’m a wounded soul you can heal with…” he shook his head and flipped out a hand, “your limited charms, think again. I already told you, I do not want your concern. I do not want your company. And I do not want your inexperienced bullshit fumbling. Trust me, I had in my bed the master at that shit and she got nowhere. And you, just now, got as much as you’ll ever get. Get this in your head Faye, all I want from you is for you to leave me the fuck alone.”

This is where Faye and I part ways. Chace may be having a bad year, he may even be having a bad decade, but a little respect and kindness wouldn’t hurt. He’s well aware she’s inexperienced and he cruelly points it out. Twice. And he calls her fat (although I didn’t include that passage) when she’s clearly not. I certainly don’t believe all love affairs are classy and considerate, but why would you continue to pursue a man who speaks to you like that? My main issue with this particular novel is that I did not care for the dominant personality of the hero or the easy acquiescence of the heroine. Faye’s able to – of course – overlook his rant and Chace realizes he can’t resist her. They begin dating, but take it slow because, as I indicated above, Faye is a virgin. Although Chace is far from chaste, Faye doesn’t mind. In fact, she enjoys knowing he is experienced.

If he wasn’t, how was he going to be a good teacher, showing his lady love how to give him pleasure at the same time giving her more than she’d ever dreamed? So I didn’t mind that Chace played the field, including with Misty.

The rest of the novel is your standard romance. There’s tension, there’s drama, there’s sex, and there’s happily ever after. I don’t consider that a spoiler, but sorry if I surprised you. However, I have so many problems with the aforementioned passages that I don’t know where to begin. So I won’t. I knew going into this that I’m not the person this genre is aimed at. I’m often more willful than is desirable and I have an independent streak roughly the size of Russia. I read ‘Breathe’ because I believed it would be a welcome distraction from the dour and depressing books (and news) I’ve been reading. And it was. Sometimes we all need to believe that everything will work out perfectly. Crimes with be solved. Passion will be had. There’ll be a beautiful house with a picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a love that lasts a lifetime. ‘Breathe’ is in no way genre-defying, the writing is fairly standard, and the author uses the word whisper(ed) 487 times. It’s in need of a good editor and the stereotyping irritated me. But, for what it’s worth, it delivers on everything it promises (which isn’t much) and it distracted me from my everyday bookish woes (like the prescient appearance of the Tea Party in a King novel). I can’t imagine I’ll pick up another romance anytime soon, but I certainly don’t regret reading it. If you like your cops dirty, your librarians pure, and a town with a punny name, ‘Breathe’ may very well be for you. 2.5/5.

Do you ever read outside your genre or read for distraction? Would you read a book that perpetuated a stereotype you find annoying? And furthermore, why are librarians often depicted as virginal, shy women who can’t get their head out of a book? Please see Urban Dictionary for the proper definition of a librarian.


When Chace and Faye finally have their first (and sweetest) date, he brings over pizza and beer. Naturally it’s a meat lover’s pizza, this is a Colorado mountain town after all. Personally, I’m a veggie person – tomato, basil, spinach, mushroom, and green pepper – if you’re ever tempted to cook for me.

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