Archive for October, 2012

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

A Fool’s Gold Christmas

Monday, October 1st, 2012

   Susan Mallery

Harlequin, 2012

   Synopsis: Fool’s Gold is a great little matriarchal town whose dearth of males has resulted in the leadership, from the mayor to the fire chief, being female. Evie Stryker is new to town, coming as a result of her brothers’ coaxing to recuperate from an injury. She is not only worn out physically, but emotionally, and not happy about living near her mother with whom she has a dysfunctional relationship. Ms. Mallery puts a twist on this family’s dynamics in a way that makes Evie a double-loser: bad enough to be at odds with her mother, but her brothers have enjoyed a great relationship with same mother.

Evie has a lot going on with her brothers and mother pushing for reconciliation, plus dealing with the loss of her dream to be a professional ballet dancer. As a stop gap, she becomes the temporary director of the local dance studio. To her surprise she enjoys imparting her gift with her students and helping them gain self-confidence and grace as they study dance.

The only dark spot is the tenant above the dance studio who vehemently dislikes hearing her students during his working hours, and who turns out to be her brother’s attorney and her next-door neighbor. Neither Evie nor Dante are interested in a relationship – both are wounded from previous loves and their childhoods – but they find themselves thrown together because of their solitary lifestyles. An unlikely friendship deepens into an affair. Aware of their growing feelings for each other, they each must face the demons from their past before forging a new relationship.

My Take: I liked Fools Gold Christmas. This feel-good story is great escapism. The problems were genuinely serious and yet solved in a way that made sense for the characters. As Evie and Dante faced the scars from their childhoods they emerge stronger and more able to engage in a mature lasting relationship.

My Rating: 5 out of 5. Give yourself an early Christmas present and read it.

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