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Sara's Review: Essential Beginnings (Surviving Ashes #1) by Kennedy Layne


PUBLISHER: Kennedy Layne Publishing

RELEASED: July 21st 2015


LENGTH: 310 pages








Change is coming… Maverick Beckett took his much needed annual vacation up to Washington State to relax with his old friends from his years in the Corps. He also had every intention of extinguishing the fires that arose between him and a certain local woman he couldn’t get out of his mind until the unthinkable happened. Nothing is as it seems… Henley Varano loved the simple anonymous life that her remote hometown provided. She’d had the wealthy existence of a fashion model and the fame that came with it only to find it lonelier than she could have ever imagined. Unfortunately, men only saw the fictitious person she appeared to be in the magazines and not the real woman she was—even the one man she’s wanted for years. Surviving is just the beginning… An apocalyptic event changes the course of their lives when the massive Yellowstone Caldera erupts. Panic ensues among the small town, causing Mav and Henley to witness the best and worst of humanity. They must work as a team to create a new existence before the fallout of harsh and fiery elements overtakes their safe haven. Along the way, they might just find that they need each other more than ever. Series Description: The world as they know it is about to change. The Yellowstone Caldera has erupted in an apocalyptic fashion, triggering simultaneous events around the world. The one thing that will either bring society together or rip their lives apart is the need for survival as a group. A company of former Marines will do whatever it takes to reach an area in the far recesses of northeastern Washington State, a region they feel is uniquely equipped for endurance and existence in what is left of the crumbling infrastructure of the United States. Follow along as Kennedy Layne conveys each of their stories as these brave men and women face the harsh, fiery elements of an inevitable apocalypse while encountering passion, intrigue, and suspense…


I am a huge fan of apocalyptic romance and it has been awhile since I have read one. The premise behind Essential Beginnings is solid, with the Yellowstone Caldera erupting, basically a super volcano. This volcano will throw the planet into an apocalyptic winter that will last 10 years, with falling ash. The buildup and believability of what was happening was quite scary. What I found distracting was, Layne was too overly descriptive and wordy in her writing. Example:

“….slid the key into the ignition, turning it until the engine rolled over and started. She nudged the gearshift into drive and then pressed her foot on the gas pedal.”

This would have been much better served to say she jumped in the truck and drove to her destination. This excess bogged down the story and quite frankly I skimmed a lot of this. And there is a lot. There are so many details that aren’t needed that don’t add to anything, they just cluttered the story. One author told me that if you give your character a gun at the start of your story, he better have shot somebody by the end. All details need to have meaning, if they don’t are they really necessary?

The story between Maverick and Henley was interesting but I was more rapt by the survival and their romance really felt secondary. I am extremely interested in reading the rest of this series because despite the problems I had with this novel I really did enjoy it and want to continue with it and find out what happens next. I am giving Essential Beginnings 3.5 Boundless stars.

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