Title: Juniper Smoke (Part I & II)
Author: Sadia Ash
Release Date: July 16, 2016
Find Juniper Smoke on buzzfeed top ten romance novels of 2016!
Juniper is a sassy, nerdy scholar whose dream is to curate Celtic artifacts in Ireland. However, her reality is taking care of her autistic twin and couch potato mother. Her life is work. Home. Repeat. Until she meets Kyle, while hanging 40 feet from a museum scaffolding.
Kyle Paxton is damaged and robotic. He has a mental condition that makes him see the world in numbers and data. He even schedules dating with clockwork precision. Haunted by the ghost of his psychotic girlfriend Chloe, who committed suicide, he tries to avoid relationships. He only has friends with benefits and puts seasonal time limits on them. One girl for two seasons. Winter. Summer.
When he becomes the museum board president, they are forced to work together. Kyle breaks all his friends with benefit rules for Juniper and she falls for him. Galaxies collide and Kyle’s clockwork world spins off its axis. But when the tragic secrets of his past catch up with them, he loses her. Juniper grapples Kyle. He may be the one, but Juniper always runs away from the people she loves.
Over time, several cities and several tries, Kyle and Juniper are tested by family, career and a very powerful arch-nemesis, Denise, as they try to find each other. Can love survive the test of time?
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I think this story broke me a little. I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I don’t read the synopsis of a book before reading it. I usually go off of reviews and author or friend recommendations. This book came to me as an advance reader copy for a promotional tour. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read it. But I have to say I feel as lost as Juniper does right now. I read this 700+ page book in 3 days. I’m exhausted not only from staying up till the wee hours of the morning each night but also from the emotional toll it took on me. This was a beautiful and complex journey through a world of the rich, powerful, and emotionally stilted. In the end, I was left bereft and longing for finality. How long must I wait for part 3?
There is so much to love about this book. My first draw was Kyle. He’s a bit quirky and machine-like in his interactions with the world. You quickly learn that he has an affinity for numbers and is extremely focused and analytical in all aspects of his life. And while the sections of the book where we get his point of view are short, they are just enough to help you understand Kyle’s mind and heart. They also add to the mystery behind his life. The author gives you small clues into his past and the relationships with those around him, which keeps you hooked to know more about Kyle and root for him to win over Juniper but also allow for frustration when you see them stumbling their way through this relationship. At the beginning, I wanted Juniper to walk away from Kyle and all his insanity and rules about relationships. Then I was convinced all he needed was someone to love him completely for him to relax and let go of his strict sense of what his future could hold.
Juniper was a fantastic female lead. She is brilliant at what she does, beautiful both inside and out, and just damaged enough from her childhood to give her a level of insecurity that doesn’t seem overly dramatized but realistic. I loved all of the historical and artistic references as we are immersed in her life as a museum curator and historian. The author did an exceptional job incorporating Juniper’s brilliance throughout the book as to not make her life just about her relationship with Kyle. The same goes for Kyle and his tech world. I enjoyed seeing into those aspects of their lives and the office politics.
In addition to their singular worlds, I loved reading about the family dynamics on both sides and getting glimpses into how they lived and interacted with one another. You can see how these relationships molded Juniper and Kyle into the emotional wrecks they are today. And of course, there’s the villain of the story. In this case there’s more than one, but it’s clear that only one person truly wants to destroy any happiness these two might find with one another. But I’ll leave that for you to find out.
Overall, this was an exceptionally written story. I found it a bit reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Grey at the start. However, I’m happy to say that it was quite different. The characters had depth, the plot was focused and fascinating, and the character interactions were realistic with true relationship development and emotional growth. I’m also glad that Juniper Smoke wasn’t focused on sexual need but on internal and familial struggles. This was a fabulous debut novel for Sadia Ash. I’m looking forward to part 3 of Juniper and Kyle’s story and more from her in the future.
Entering the Four Seasons Hotel ballroom with one arm around Juniper’s waist, Kyle’s eyes honed in on his competitors and colleagues. The world’s top CEO’s, innovators and inventors in his field were present today. The theme was Click and Electrify in honor of companies making innovative camera products.
Kyle was not focused on Click and Electrify.
He was electrified by the girl walking by his side, every inch of her beautiful. Inside and out. It had taken him a few weeks to see that Juniper Mills was the most beautiful girl he had ever met. It wasn’t the green flecks in her irises, her full bitten lips, the sheen of her hair, the arc of her waist, the sway of her hips, or even the way she looked tonight.
Her beauty was rare—the kind that radiated from the glow of her kindness, her intellect, her quiet dignity, her confidence despite her uncertainty, and even her adorable flaws. It was a quiet beauty. A silent scream. It was something primal inside her that had screamed at him to pay attention. It was something that had settled inside him since the day time they met. He just didn’t know it was there. Threading his fingers in hers, he tried to recall a time in his life that he had been happier. He couldn’t.
As they entered the hall, she looked up, the bones of her face illuminated by lavender lights.
“Yes.” He was still staring at her.
Decked out with blue and purple lights, laser displays, strings of LED lights, and floating jellyfish holograms, the hall was high-end meets high-tech.
She tossed him a teasing smile. “What’s up with jellyfish? Is that an engineering thing?”
“No. Just décor props. The theme is electric. Though to be exact, they should have used eels. Or electric rays. Jellyfish and fireflies have bioluminescence, not electricity. They emit light.”
Like you, Juniper.
Sadia Ash has worked for film and TV publicity with the Prenner Group, did news and TV placement for Aeros (a NASA project), edited scripts for indie films, and fundraised. A lot. A serial volunteer, she has raised funds for many charities that educate and help girls.
Currently working on two other novels and a film script, Ash hopes to see the sunlight outside her window one day. She holds an MA English degree from Loyola University in Chicago, and a Screenwriting Certification from UCLA. Originally from Chicago, she lives in California with her husband and two sassy kids.