Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

When Snow Falls

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Brenda Novak
2012, HarlequinMIRA

     Synopsis: After growing up in cheap motels, moving from town to town with her sister and mother, Cheyenne Christensen is grateful for the friends she found once her family settled in California. But she’s troubled by the mystery of her earliest memories, most of which feature a smiling blonde woman. Although Cheyenne has repeatedly asked for explanations, people aren’t talking. Cheyenne is set on finding answers, but without so much as a birth certificate, it won’t be easy.
Things get more complicated when her closest friend is attracted to the man Cheyenne has secretly loved for years. For Eve’s sake, she decides to step aside—which lands her right in the arms of Dylan Amos, oldest and baddest of the Amos brothers. He’s the kind of guy she’s sworn to avoid. But maybe there’s more to Dylan than she thought. Maybe letting him go would be a bigger mistake.

My Take: First of all, I have always enjoyed reading Brenda Novak. But this is not as good as others I have read. The characters were strong and defined, but not especially likable.

Secondly, the behaviors of many characters were troubling and I am not a fan of S&M (Sadism & Masochism) however slight it is.
Finally, the resolution occurred in the last tenth of the book, while the unresolved angst occupied the reader, without relief, for the majority of the book.

My Rating: Disliked it.

An Outlaw Christmas

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin, 2012

 

Publisher Summary: Celebrate the holidays with a brand-new McKettrick tale by beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller.

With his wild heart, Sawyer McKettrick isn’t ready to settle down on the Triple M family ranch in Arizona. So he heads to Blue River, Texas, to seek a job as marshal. But in a blinding snowstorm he’s injured—and collapses into the arms of a prim and proper lady in calico.

The shirtless, bandaged stranger recuperating in teacher Piper St. James’s room behind the schoolhouse says he’s a McKettrick, but he looks like an outlaw. As they wait out the storm, the handsome loner has Piper remembering long-ago dreams of marriage and motherhood. But for how long is Sawyer willing to call Blue River home?

As the gray skies clear, Piper’s one holiday wish just might bring two lonely hearts together forever.

 

My Take:  Since I’m a hard-core Linda Lael Miller fan, I have wondered what would happen if I didn’t like one of her books – but An Outlaw Christmas is another winner. A story set in the 1800’s, where a schoolteacher rescues a wounded man, thereby ruining her reputation, but providentially he turns out to be a cousin of her closest friend’s husband, and someone with whom she falls in love so the ruined reputation is a moot point.

The book is a tag-along to the modern-day McKettrick stories – McKettrick’s Heart, McKettrick’s Luck, and McKettrick’s Pride. So it’s interesting and enjoyable to read about their antecedents. I must be from the south the way I like to connect dots on the family tree.

Ms. Miller simply tells a good story. The sweetness of the characters is not saccharine, but genuine. Piper St. James’ fear of losing her job is one indication Ms. Miller understands the times she writes about. We can snort at the ignorance of the townspeople, but the truth is, it could have been catastrophic. The only drawback was the book was too short, but we can always look forward to her next one.

My Rating:  5 out of 5

The Last Single Maverick

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Christine Rimmer

Harlequin, 2012

Publishers Summary:

Look out ladies: there’s another Traub bachelor in town! Jason “Jace” Traub is every bit as gorgeous as his sexy twin brother, but rumor has it he is even more marriage shy. There’s not a woman alive who could make this restless rancher settle down…

Yet insiders whisper that Jace has been talking wedding plans with Jocelyn Bennings, the chestnut-haired beauty who ran out on her own wedding just days ago! Could the confirmed bachelor really be hooking up with
heartbroken, headstrong Joss? Stay tuned, loyal readers, to find out if their marriage of convenience runs amuck—or if lasting passion will finally rope in the last single maverick!

My Take: 

Another Traub brother bites the dust in a fun romantic read. All the ingredients are present: rich handsome hero, beautiful heroine. The characters are likable and the story moves right along to the predictable ending which is why we all read and enjoy them.

However, I’ve read all the Traub books and find the same problem with each. The author’s premise that the Traub men don’t know what love is and therefore are unable to commit is not in character with the family background. A man raised in an intact family, with brothers he loves, and parents who are in love with each other and who love him is not believable when he says he doesn’t know what love is. He could be leery of it, or not ready for it, but to say “I don’t know what love is” is not in keeping with the characters of the story.  Christine Rimmer needs to find another hook that is more believable.

I liked that they began their relationship with a friendship.  It’s too bad more couples don’t realize the importance of being friends before being lovers.  It would help a lot.

The author misses chances to take dialogue to a deeper level.  After they attended church she poured her heart out to him and when she thanks him for listening, his response of “Happy to help,” missed a chance for him to reciprocate, and deepen the story.

Finally, the two main characters names, Joss and Jace, are too alike, and it was hard to keep them straight.

My Rating: I loved it.

 

Oregon Outback (Romancing America)

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Elizabeth Goddard

July 2012

Barbour Books

352 pages

A Synopsis of the Four Books:

Comprising four novellas in one volume: A Love Remembered, A Love Kindled , A Love Risked, and A Love Recovered, is about four brothers journey to find love. It begins with FBI agent Jonas Love who brings trouble back home, endangering his life and that of an old flame. The second is about cattle rancher Carver Love who finds himself falling for the sheriff in the midst of chasing down modern-day rustlers. Thrill-seeker Lucas Love is featured in the third book –  a man who fears nothing until he meets a beautiful bookkeeper. And finally, Justin Love is trailing a fugitive in book four who’s heading too close to home—and one particular lodge keeper. How will God protect these men as they risk their lives to defend the ones they love?

My Take:

Elizabeth Goddard is a good writer who creates believable likeable characters. The story runs through each novella, linking them together into one enjoyable whole. Unfortunately, my problem with the books is the problem I always have with novellas – they’re too short. I would imagine Ms. Goddard faces the same frustration in writing them that I did in reading them, namely, the extras and embellishments that make romances so much fun to read are missing. In 40,000 words, she must streamline the story and lay out the characters cleanly, which doesn’t allow for any extras that contribute so much to a book. I want to know the particulars about Carver and the sheriff’s original showdown, not a recap. How did Justin Love come to believe he was too dangerous to return to his family? What pivotal event marked his life? Hints aren’t enough for me, nor is the author’s say-so, I want to hear it myself from the characters experiences. Yes, the bare-bones of the background of the story is given, but we don’t experience it and that is a huge drawback.

My Rating: A 3 out of 5 simply because of their brevity.

The Wedding Dress

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The Wedding Dress
By Rachel Hauck
Thomas Nelson, 2012

Publisher Summary:
Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new-shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history-and its new bride-begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My feelings:
Rachel Hauck seamlessly blends three vintage tales of love with Charlotte and Tim’s modern-day love story, hiding the surprise of why the gown was destined to belong to Charlotte until the very end.

I enjoyed learning about the bridal business from an insider’s perspective: the competition in the business, the designers, and watching an owner who loves brides trying to fulfill her customer’s special dreams, not simply make a profit. Of course what book worth its salt leaves out the evil character? In this case a soon-to-be sister-in-law adds the much-needed someone-to-hate factor. The author also displays the beauty of multi-generational friendships showing the interaction between a young energetic go-getter and the grace of someone who has lived many years.

Reviewing this book brings up a major drawback of Christian romances – they too often tend to be shallow. I enjoy easy, feel-good chick books, but I do not enjoy ones in which problems are ignored or treated trivially. Everyone grows through hard times and when Christian romances present a problem then immediately solve it by a prayer, they trivialize the struggle we go through to surrender our desires to God’s will.

One way this book rises above the banal is captured in Tim’s consuming passion for racing bikes. He doesn’t recognize the effect his hobby has on him and his relationship with Charlotte until he relinquishes it. Only when contemplating the empty space it leaves does he realize God had known all along that it had blinded him to better choices.

My rating system:
What makes an excellent romance story in my opinion is a writer who creates people you can relate to, emotion without cloying sentiment, and a story line that is strong and believable. Rachel Hauck did an exceptional job of skillfully weaving Christian principles with real life people without sermonizing.

I would rate this book: Definitely Read

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/05/13/bookaddicts/detailed_book_review_the_wedding_dress_rachel_hauck#storylink=cpy

 

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