December 14, 2015

Early Review: Happily Ever After: A Day in the Life of the HEA (Rook & Ronin #3.5)

Happily Ever After: A Day in the Life of the HEA (Rook & Ronin #3.5), by JA Huss
Publish Date:
December 16, 2015
Publisher: self-published
Format: e-ARC, provided by the author
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(Synopsis) Life in Rook & Ronin’s world has been bliss for fifteen years. Rook, Veronica, and Ashleigh are still BFF’s raising their kids together. Ronin, Spencer, and Ford have managed to go legit and stay out of trouble. And they have a pack of kids running around the eight thousand square foot Vail mansion they all share for the holidays—begging for gifts, and fun, and love.

But every HEA has problems.

Five is fifteen now, and getting ready to go off to college. He’s put it off as long as he could in order to stay close to Princess Shrike, but his stay of execution is over and in three weeks he’s off to Oxford. But Five can’t leave until he gets the only thing he’s ever wanted. The heart of his Princess.

Ford and Ashleigh never had any more children after Five. And now that Kate is sixteen, Ashleigh is out of her head with desire for just one more chance to have a baby in the house.

Rook and Ronin have two beautiful daughters, but Sparrow is growing up too. And she just got a job offer that has Ronin crazed with paternal worry.

And Spencer is the father of a fifteen-year-old princess who looks way too much like her Bombshell mother for his comfort level.

Join the whole Rook & Ronin gang for a Team Christmas you will never forget.

It has been nearly two years since JA Huss ended the amazing story of BFFs Ronin, Ford and Spencer, a.k.a. The Team, in Guns: The Spencer Book. Except for a few brief glimpses here and there in books about side characters from their story, all has been relatively quiet in Fort Collins, CO as the three couples got married, started families and settled down to live their lives. But, JA Huss is granting us a Christmas wish and letting us see a day in the lives of these three awesome families - Christmas Eve, to be exact - 15 years after the events in Guns. 

What struck me the most about HAPPILY EVER AFTER is that is was REAL. Sure, Ronin, Ford and Spencer are stupid rich and hanging out in a tricked out mansion in Vail for the holidays. But, as we see pretty quickly, they are still real couples with real problems that we real people can relate to. 

Ronin works a lot, and he's starting to realize that, if he doesn't slow down a little bit, he might miss his daughters growing up. Sparrow is 13 now, and going on her first modeling job, which has him totally freaked out. It's not what he wants for her, having lived that life and seen its pitfalls. Starling is now 6 and involved in activities that Ronin didn't even know about. Although his relationship with Rook is solid, he's starting to question what's really important.

Ford's two kids are 16 and 15, and he's enjoying his life now that the time they'll still be living at home is drawing short. Ashleigh, however, has swung in the opposite direction, and with her children getting older, she finds herself wanting another baby more and more. 

Spencer's recently welcomed his sixth, and final, child into his family, and he thinks life can't get any more perfect. Until he realizes his oldest daughter, at 14, isn't a little girl anymore, and Ronnie seems very sad all of a sudden. After six babies, his Bombshell is feeling tired and fat and ugly and old, and he's desperate to make her see how much he still loves and desires her, but just the words don't seem to be doing any good. 

Happily Ever After is told entirely from the four main male POVs - Ronin, Ford, Spencer and Five. Yes, 15-year-old boy genius Five gets his own chapters, as he tries to woo his princess Rory before he leaves for Oxford. Those chapters were absolutely precious. Five has been in love with Rory since they were babies, and he's scared to death that once he leaves, she will move on to other boys and forget all about him. So, he gives her a Christmas Eve she will never forget.

These men love their women EPICALLY. I mean it - these three couples are the stuff of sigh-inducing legends. It doesn't mean they don't get pissed at each other or that they always say or do the right things. It means that, even when they are idiots, they love each other unconditionally anyway. The way Ronin, Ford and Spencer treat their wives should be a model for every other man on Earth. This entire series should be required reading before couples get married.  The depth of love that they have for their wives and for their children brought me to tears. Big, fat, ugly tears. 

I love how close all three families still are, even after so much time has passed. There are now 10 kids between them all, ranging in age from 16 years to 6 months, and they're all the best of friends. The Team lives on, even though their activities have changed to ski trips and dance recitals. I know that, should any of the three families need anything, the remaining two would drop everything to be there. 

Happily Ever After will make the most sense if you read the entire Rook & Ronin series, plus the spin-offs in order: Tragic, Manic, Panic, Slack, Taut, Guns, and Bomb. If you haven't read this series yet, you really, REALLY need to. It's one of my favorite new adult series ever. And, I promise you, this novella will make it 1000% worth it. 

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