Chasing Serenity (River Rain #1) by Kristen Ashley

Acknowledgments from the Author

The idea for the River Rain series was swimming in my head in February 2020, right before a year that would go on to shake the globe with illness, death, social unrest and a (hopeful) reawakening.

When we were all told to stay home in order to stay safe and no one knew yet how bad it was going to get, or how long it would last, but the fears ran deep and were real, some friends (you know who you are, Kristin and Kathy) encouraged me to do what I used to be able to do before I made my living writing.

When I had an idea for a book I was obsessed with, drop everything…and write it.

This used to be my most favorite thing in the world to do.

But now, although getting these ideas still happens all the time, I have to abandon them because I have writing schedules to keep, a business to run and a life to live.

As lockdowns blanketed the world, I came up with the brilliant (I will say so myself) idea of doing this with my Chicklets (if you don’t know who that is, it’s what I call my readers) by gathering input, ideas and casting polls on Facebook.

Through this process, it came to be that, in an uncertain time, and for me, being on the cusp of what would become months and months of alone time (with my cat), I was not alone. Even doing something that, for me, is a very private, solitary undertaking.


It was a beautiful experience, having that togetherness in a time so rife.

What came of it is After the Climb, the prequel to the River Rain series.

And I so enjoyed connecting on something that is really very intimate for me (writing a book) with my readers, that I decided that every book in this series, I would write the same.

As such, this was something I did for this book, Chloe and Judge’s story, Chasing Serenity.

It was a no less beautiful experience the second time around, I look forward to continuing and I hope my Chicklets do too.

For Chasing Serenity, I want to thank all my readers who contributed ideas, shared their thoughts or cast their votes in the polls.

However, it’s important for me to single out Marsha Elder and Amanda Young.

When we were deciding what animals Judge and Chloe would have, Marsha and Amanda offered up tributes to their lost fur babies, Zeke and Montana. The love in their suggestions for these two pups shone bright for me, and therefore I’ve memorialized both Zeke and Montana in this book.

Marsha and Amanda, I hope I served your puppers well. Thank you so very much for trusting me with them.

I would also like to give a shout out to Marine Paturel. She shared some wisdom about French names that sparked a discussion about a variety of things that, as a writer, are vital.

You cannot know everything, have lived or traveled everywhere, nor do you always have the time or resources to do deep dives into every nuance of a book.

But it’s no fun as a reader to read something you know is off, or as a writer to get something wrong that’s going to take your readers out of the story.

Marine saved me from that by giving her time and input that set off a conversation that I found incredibly illuminating and useful.

So, thank you, chéri.

I also need to shout out to Kat Mazzeo, who came up with the idea for the name Camp Trail Blazer. Upon vetting that name, I found it’s an initiative in Brooklyn that’s been around for a while (so if you have kids and live in NYC, check that out). But it’s also perfect for what will become a fictional camp for this series.

Last, I want to thank the brains and heart and soul behind Blue Box Press. Their enthusiasm and support, creativity and drive. I have never in my life had so much fun discussing marketing and cover options.

As ever, it’s good to be in business with you, Liz Berry, Jillian Stein and MJ Rose. It’s good because it feels safe, because I know you care, and because you give me the space to put out the best book I can.

You know I love you for many reasons, those are just a few of them.

Now, as ever…read on and…

Rock on.

For Jillian Stein

In the time I’ve known you, I could have dedicated a dozen books to you.

I was waiting for something that was perfect for you.

But you are who you are: the coolest, hippest, chicest, most loving and supportive chick ever.

So the wait for what was just right for someone as awesome as you would be forever.

And since this book is ours, sister…

In essence spawned in a cabin a couple of years ago…

Stretching its wings now…