Play It Safe - Kristen Ashley Play It Safe was the first Kristen Ashley novel I ever read. In retrospect, I’m glad, because it’s the perfect novel to break into the KA world if you’re unsure of whether or not you’ll like her style. The epic storytelling, seriously this novel is twice the length of most novels (which I love because it feels like an experience than a book) is only one of the KA trademarks. The alpha, broody, will-do-anything-for-his-woman hero. Feisty, stylish, challenging heroine. Amazingly detailed secondary characters.Ivey and her brother Casey have been on the run since he saved her at the clutches of some rather nefarious characters when she was twelve. Now, ten years later, Ivey is tired of playing it safe, guarding her heart. She’s met the one man that would challenge all of her boundaries. Grayson Cody. (And I quite agree, that’s the best cowboy name, probably ever.)Still, if I could connect, if I could let go, if I could take a risk, I’d do it with him. In all my wandering, all I’d seen, all the people I’d met, he would be the one I’d smile at and do it without a guard up.She tries to ignore him and the feelings that he arouses simply by being near her. A game of pool and what begins as a simple night out take a turn for the sinister when she beats a local at pool who doesn’t take it so nicely. When the man starts to threaten Ivey Gray appears at her side to defend her.Later that evening when the scorned man shows up with three others at her hotel room, she’s surprised to find that Gray had been standing watch, protecting her. A fight ensues and Ivey learns that there’s a beef between the man – Bud Sharp – and Gray and that it’s been festering for years. After it breaks up, she follows Gray home to clean his wounds and just in case the boys come back. There, she cannot run from the feelings she gets while she around him. Recognizing this, she resolves to alight out of town as soon as possible.If I let myself think about it, I knew I’d like it. It would intrigue me. It would make me feel things I couldn’t feel, want things I couldn’t want.Her brother Casey, however, has other ideas. He’s met a woman and wants to stay there for a few more weeks. Unable to say no to the brother who has sacrificed so much for her, she relents. Later, she runs into Gray who asks her out on a date. When her brother tries to intervene, which aggravates Ivey. After all, why can’t she date someone? Why does he get to have all the fun? Impulsively, she accepts the invitation.They go on the best first date of all first dates that ends with one of the best first kisses I’ve ever read. *swoon* Ivey decides then to stay in the town of Mustang for a while after all. She finds a job and an apartment, tells Casey, and settles in to dating Gray. They experience a few months of absolute bliss.“How can one day you have next to nothing and then a week and a day later you have everything?"Until those around them conspire to break them apart. For seven years they are torn from each other by greed, selfishness, and stupidity. Events beyond their control bring them back together again, though it may be too late to save what they once had.Play It Safe was so much more than a romance, though. True to Kristen Ashley style her secondary characters, backstory, and even the town itself were almost like physical things. I adore how she can make you feel exactly how the town feels. Mustang was so much a part of the townspeople, of Gray, and eventually, of Ivey. I felt that.There were characters that made me tear up. Like her reunion with her father. *sigh* Ivey never had roots, never had family, or a place to belong. Through Gray, she finds all of these things and so, so, so much more.When Ivey and Gray finally overcome the circumstances that surround their separation, I swear I was swooning at least 75% of the time.“I loved you then. I love you now. I’ve loved you every day for the past seven years…Every day, every minute, every second.”They didn’t experience drama based on each other, their relationship after the separation was solid, it was all the external factors that threatened their livelihood and safety. They had to relearn each other, learn how to live together. But through it all, they loved each other.“Say you love me, Ivey.”“I love you, Gray.”A definite must read if you want to try your hand at Kristen Ashley novels. This second chance romance, one of KA’s few standalones, has a hea!Casting: Gray and Ivey