Monday, February 20, 2012

A Cowboy's Touch

Summary: Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch, and Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch. Love blossoms between the two--despite Abigail's better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana, separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?

My Take: I love Denise Hunter's books. She has a way of writing that makes a place come alive and weaves a story so realistic that you'd swear she knew the people involved. Her romances are powerful not just because you can feel the tension between them -- like an electric current suspended between two metal poles that are both attracted and repelling each other ... but also because you believe their story. You pull for them, get mad at them, cry for them, and rejoice for them.

Abigail's life is threatening to come tumbling down around her shoulders. She already lost her father, now her mother's business (that she works at) is on the edge of being shut down and her aunt is showing signs of alzheimers. Overworked and stressed, her own body begins to fail her and she's sent off to check on her aunt. That's when she meets Wade and his daughter and eventually has to decide between her growing feelings for him and saving her mother's business. 
Wade is everything you could want in a hero - except trusting and open. He's been hurt one too many times, thank you. He'd rather keep to himself, shut out the world, and not feel any of that pain - and not hurt anyone else. I picture him a bit like a big, handsome - prickly, bear. lol He's protective and strong, but a bit grumpy and not a lot of fun to be around - at least not until you remove all those spines. :o)

This was a wonderful beginning to the series. I look forward to the rest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Date

Summary: The orphaned daughter of missionaries, Addy is quite content to stay in the shadows and never draw attention to herself. But when she's selected for a reality TV show to try to become the President son's prom date-a show she didn't audition for-she's suddenly in America's spotlight.

The lights, the make-up, the competitions, and the blogs discussing every move she makes all make Addy incredibly uncomfortable. But through her time at The Mansion, Addy comes to realize that first impressions aren't always right, that hiding out may not be what God had planned for her life, and that her faith should affect everything she does. It may just be that her selection wasn't random at all and that she's on this show "for such a time as this."

My Take: I was hesitant about this book because I'm not the biggest fan of the romantic reality shows. This was a cute, fun, read that had a surprisingly refreshing message thrown in as well.

I found myself smiling and even laughing several times as the reluctant reality star, Addy makes her way through the hurdles at "The Mansion." Some of the best moments are with her roommate and new best friend. I liked how Addy starts as a well grounded person - but still grows and learns that even her perceptions and expectations can be wrong.

Although the book had some places where I thought it might be stretching realism, I loved some of the unexpected places the author took us. In the end, this is a great clean read - especially if you're looking for something light and fun, or something for a young adult to read. I want to thank the publishers for providing me the electronic copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Rose of Winslow Street

Summary: The last thing Libby Sawyer and her father expected upon their return from their summer home was to find strangers inhabiting a house that had been in their family for decades. Widower Michael Dobrescu brought his family from Romania to the town of Colden, Massachusetts with a singular purpose: to claim the house willed to him long ago. Since neither party has any intention of giving up their claim, a fierce legal battle ensues between the two families.When important documents go missing from the house, Libby suspects Michael is the culprit. Determined to discover the truth behind the stolen papers, Libby investigates, only to find more layers of mystery surrounding Michael and his family. Despite their rivalry, Libby finds herself developing feelings for this man with the mysterious past. As a decision about the house looms in the courts, Libby must weigh the risks of choosing to remain loyal to her family or give her heart to a man whose intentions and affections are less than certain.

My Take: I love historical romances. I practically eat, sleep and breathe them. They've become a sort of ... meat and potatoes for me. This book is more like... cheesecake. It's rich and with an unexpected tang here and there -- the surprises in the story. There is the sweet topping and the crust as well -- just adding to the complexity of the flavor. Okay, I'll leave the cheesecake metaphor alone now -- I'm getting hungry. lol

The point is this is a decadently rich story packaged between a gorgeous front and back cover. It's thick with tension and symbolism. Michael, Libby, and Mirela all have secrets, the house may hold a secret ... and all the secrets are affecting the present. 

Michael and Libby are engaged in this dance (for lack of a better word) around each other. They come withing millimeters of each other and then back away. It's a passionate dance that's also somewhat distrusting and aggressive. I can almost picture them (especially Michael) on "Dancing With the Stars" doing the Paso Doble. The pull towards each other is also a pull away from loyalty to their own family cause because of the legal battle over the house. 

The complexity in this book comes from not just the rich characterization of Libby and Michael - or the secrets hidden in everyone's lives - but also from the relationships with all the characters. Libby's relationship with her father and sister-in-law. Even the relationship between her brother and his wife. Mirela's relationship with Michael, Turk, and the boys. Michael's relationship with his boys. Michael's relationship with his absent brother and dead father ... All these shaped the story and the characters and I think it speaks to us about how our relationships shape us. 

It was an awesome story, a wonderful romance, a great read. I hope you'll add it to your shelf. It makes my favorites list.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesdays

This warm weather we've been having has me thinking about Spring planting already. I love the name of this plant ~~ Hens and Chicks. This is a newer color of it. It's a hardy plant that tolerates poor soil. That's great for someone like me who has little time and not much more talent in the garden but still likes it to look nice.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. Anyone can join in the fun.Go to her blog via the link above to see the rules and sign in so everyone can find your post. :o)

My teaser sentences are from a book I just started but it looks really good.

"She could be independent, serve the women of her country, rich or poor -- especially the poor-- and not need a man's attentions, let alone anything else. Then Captain Rafe Docherty, an unscrupulous, probably criminal Scotsman, looked on her with kindness after she'd threatened to to slit his throat, and a hole ripped open inside her." pg 86

I picked this part because I think it seems to fit the character and as I look at the cover, I can almost picture her thinking about these things. I look forward to seeing how things work out in the story. It sounds really good so far.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Apologies and The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt—and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?
Observing both brothers as an "invisible" servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?
On her journey from wellborn lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of "serve one another in love."

My Take: First let me apologize for being absent. I've had a severe bronchial infection that my asthma has made worse. Feels like I always have that lately. It's getting better now, but I was running a serious fever and really sick. I also have been trying to dedicate more time to actual writing. Crazy right? We had some family stuff going on as well, but it looks like things may be slowing down and getting back to normal.

My (reading) year started well. This was a fantastic book. The story was very well done. There was this thread of tension winding throughout the story. You wondered if she was going to get away with it and stay safe or if her stepfather was going to catch up with her. I also loved how much she changed over the course of the book. There was a lot of growth but it happened naturally - not overnight.

I loved all the details about life "from the other side of the tracks" that you get to see in this book. Julie always manages to write a wonderfully rich -- historically accurate book without making it seem like you're getting a lesson. This time period is one of my favorites and you don't often get to see it from this perspective.

This one is going on my list of favorites. I hope you'll consider adding it to your reading list. Have a wonderful day. :o)