Author: Marilyn Pappano

Review: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano

Posted December 31, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn PappanoReviewer: Casee
Some Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2) by Marilyn Pappano
Series: Bethlehem #2
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: December 1st 1998
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
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Sometimes miracles do happen.

When Maggie left her husband Ross that fateful Christmas Eve, their marriage was over.  But a near fatal accident on an ice-slick road changed everything.

Now another Christmas approaches.  While Maggie hasn't regained all her memory, she's ready to test her strength at home--with Ross as her only companion.  Sharing a house with him once more, putting on the best face for their neighbors, Maggie knows she's living a lie.

Then she glimpses Ross as he used to be: playful and passionate, the man of her dreams before ambition changed him.  She couldn't know he's feeling the same regrets, the same heartache...or that he fears the return of her memory.  What will happen when she remembers the reason she fled from him last year?

It will take a miracle to send the walls of anger and secrecy tumbling down and reunite the divided couple.  But in the small town of Bethlehem, miracles do happen....

This review was originally posted on December 14, 2007.

I absolutely adore this book. I love it. After I read it, I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love reunion books. I love how I can reread this every single year (at Christmas, of course) and still get as caught up in the story as I did the first time I read it. This is one of my absolute favorite rereads during the holiday season.

Arriving back in Bethlehem a few days before Thanksgiving, Maggie has no memory of what drove her from her home that on Christmas Eve of of the prior year. What she does remember is that after sixteen years of marriage, she and her husband, Ross, have decided to call it quits. After 11 months of extensive physical therapy, Maggie is forced to except Ross’ help in her recovery. Their plan was simple. Ross would be around to help Maggie for two months. They would then part amicably and then quietly get divorced.

Really, is there any such thing as an amicable divorce? Seriously. When you’re together that long and were madly in love?

After being a workaholic for so many years, Ross finds himself curiously adrift. Never being able to find the right balance between being a CEO and husband, Ross refuses to let himself read even one email or answer one phone call. He decides that it’s the nicest thing he can do for Maggie. A parting gift, if you will.

Nothing ever goes according to plan, of course. When you live in a town full of people offering advice, a town that has its’ own guardian angel, it’s very easy to think “what if”. It doesn’t take Ross long to start thinking that he and Maggie could make things work. There’s only one problem. While Maggie doesn’t remember the previous Christmas Eve, Ross does. He knows that it’s highly likely that when Maggie remembers what happened, it will drive her from his arms for good.

I can’t say enough how much I love this book. It’s a book about two people who lost their way. Going back to their roots, Maggie and Ross both have to look inside themselves to find what makes them happy. While Ross did put work ahead of Maggie, Maggie is far from blameless in the demise of their marriage. Coming to terms with that is hard for her, but she’s able to do it. Maggie is one of my favorite heroines.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bethlehem


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Sunday Spotlight: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano

Posted December 30, 2018 by Casee in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

This is one of my favorite books to reread during the holidays. It’s a book about second chances at life and love. Ross and Maggie were college sweethearts and were deeply in love. This book tells the story of how success in life doesn’t always improve a relationship. In this case it actually hurts it. It’s apparent that fate decides that Ross and Maggie aren’t quite done. The small town of Bethlehem works it’s magic and these two slowly find their way back to each other. This book makes me laugh, get teary, and sigh every time I read it. It’s a must read anytime of the year, but much more enjoyable during the holiday season.

Sunday Spotlight: Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn PappanoSome Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2) by Marilyn Pappano
Series: Bethlehem #2
Also in this series: Some Enchanted Season (Bethlehem, #2)
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: December 1, 1998
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Sometimes miracles do happen.

When Maggie left her husband Ross that fateful Christmas Eve, their marriage was over.  But a near fatal accident on an ice-slick road changed everything.

Now another Christmas approaches.  While Maggie hasn't regained all her memory, she's ready to test her strength at home--with Ross as her only companion.  Sharing a house with him once more, putting on the best face for their neighbors, Maggie knows she's living a lie.

Then she glimpses Ross as he used to be: playful and passionate, the man of her dreams before ambition changed him.  She couldn't know he's feeling the same regrets, the same heartache...or that he fears the return of her memory.  What will happen when she remembers the reason she fled from him last year?

It will take a miracle to send the walls of anger and secrecy tumbling down and reunite the divided couple.  But in the small town of Bethlehem, miracles do happen....

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Excerpt

She wiped her eyes and gave a great sigh. “Oh, Ross, if I don’t laugh, I’ll have to cry, and I’ve cried enough tears in my life.”

He didn’t want to know—honest, he didn’t—but the question slipped out anyway. “When?”

In an instant, she became utterly serious. “Nights when you were in the office. Weeks when you were out of town. Years when you were out of reach. A woman can’t watch her husband create a life for himself with no room for her without shedding a few tears.”

“I—I’m sorry. I didn’t know …”

“Maybe not about the tears, but you knew you were moving me out of your life. You just didn’t care.” She spoke matter-of-factly, as if she had long ago accepted that fact. Before the acceptance, though, there must have been heartache and disillusionment, because she, at least, had tried to make things work.

That was more than he could say for himself.

She tried her burger and shrugged. “It’s not too bad. I’ve had worse. I’ve cooked worse.” After another bite she said, “All those dinner parties I planned for you … What was wrong with them?”

“Nothing. The food was great. You were always great. They were fine.”

“Then why did you take them away from me? Why did you suddenly insist on having them catered?”

Sliding onto the stool beside her, he thought back to when he’d made that decision. He tried to remember what her response was. Had she been resistant, or had she quietly, meekly, gone along? Had she been grateful to be freed of so much responsibility, or had she felt rejected?

That last was easy enough to answer. Why did you take them away? wasn’t the question of a grateful woman.

“It was a status thing,” he said at last. “A way of subtly pointing out that we could afford such extravagances.” Seeking to ease his own discomfort, he said, “You never enjoyed those parties anyway—not the hours of planning or the days of shopping or even the cooking. What did it matter to you if someone else did it?”

“Because it was one less way you needed me. You’re right. I didn’t particularly enjoy the parties. But I liked doing them for you. I liked feeling that I had someplace in your life besides bed.” Suddenly she grinned. “But I have to admit, whatever problems were building between us, the sex was still great. I was always grace—grateful—that you never replaced me there. But you weren’t that type. All those times you were gone, all that distance between us, I always knew that there would never be another woman. That counted for a lot.”

The chill that hit Ross was guilt laced with shame. It made his lungs tight and filled his ears with a rushing that distorted her words as she continued to talk. She sounded so confident, so certain that she could trust him at least on that score, but she was wrong. Her gratitude was misplaced, because for one brief, unforgivable time, he’d been exactly that type. He had betrayed her and himself for a few hours’ pleasure, and in the process he had almost destroyed her.

Now he was betraying her again, because even as she hoped and prayed for her missing memories to return, he prayed that she would never remember.

God forgive him.

Because Maggie wouldn’t.

Bethlehem

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Sunday Spotlight: December 2018

Do you want to give this book a try after reading the excerpt? Let us know what you think and what some of your old favorites are!

About Marilyn Pappano

Marilyn Pappano Headshot

Born in Oklahoma, Marilyn Pappano followed her career-Navy husband across the southern United States for fifteen years, living in California, the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia -- all locations she's used regularly in her novels. Her first book, WITHIN REACH, was published by Silhouette Books in 1987, and she's gone on to sell about eighty books to Silhouette, Harlequin, Warner, Bantam, Dell and Forever Romance. She's made bestseller lists, won every major award in the romance genre, and seen a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie made from her novel, SEASON FOR MIRACLES. Marilyn writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense and is best known for her richly-textured characterization. Her current publishers are Harlequin Romantic Suspense and Forever Romance, where she's using her experience as a military spouse and mother in her new Tallgrass books, a series about a group of best friends and military widows who help each other grieve, live and learn to love again.


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Guest Review: Bayou Hero by Marilyn Pappano

Posted November 3, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 9 Comments

Guest Review: Bayou Hero by Marilyn PappanoReviewer: Jen
Bayou Hero by Marilyn Pappano
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: January 6th 2015
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars

In this book from USA TODAY bestselling author Marilyn Pappano, one family's scandal is responsible for a rising body count…

Even for an experienced NCIS agent like Alia Kingsley, the murder scene is particularly gruesome. Someone killed in a fit of rage. Being the long-estranged son of the deceased, Landry Jackson quickly becomes a person of interest. But does Landry loathe his father as much as the feds suspect?

It's clear to Alia that Landry Jackson has secrets, but his hatred for his father isn't one of them. Alia feels sure Landry isn't the killer, but once more family members start dying, she's forced to question herself. What if the fierce attraction between her and Landry has compromised Alia's instincts?

I haven’t been able to get this book out of my head for DAYS, and I’ve been sitting on this review, trying to balance my desire to tell someone about this ambitious book with my uncertainty about how I really feel about parts of it. This is a good book…possibly even a great book, but it’s complicated, so this review is gonna be long!

Let me start out with a huge trigger warning: This book deals with the rape of children. There is nothing graphic, but this issue is THERE in a painful and persistent way through much of the book. So, take care!

Alia is an NCIS investigator assigned to look into the murder of an Admiral in New Orleans. He and some of his household staff were brutally stabbed. His son Landry absolutely hated his father, so he is naturally a suspect. When other people connected to the family start showing up dead, too, Alia and Landry start to realize the killings are connected to the family’s dirty secrets.

What did I like?

  • Alia is tough and smart and I want to know her in real life! I love her dedication to her job, her occasional gallows humor, her good-natured bickering with her ex husband, her quiet support for Landry, and her love for food. She’s also part Vietnamese and her heritage actually seems like a part of her life, not just window dressing. She brings a much needed lightness to the book, and I loved her.
  • Even though we never “meet” Alia’s family in person I loved them too, based on a couple short phone conversations and what we know of them from Alia. I thought it was so important to get an example of a healthy family (and a healthy military family, at that) to contrast with the sick dynamics of Landry’s family. Alia’s parents aren’t perfect, but they love her unconditionally and support their daughter in her endeavors without trying to be overprotective or bossy. Hooray for functional families!
  • It’s set in New Orleans and uses that city to excellent advantage. The sticky heat, the hidden wealth behind the wrought iron gates, the amazing food, the tourists who come without seeing the real city…all of it is evocative without being some kind of caricature of New Orleans.
  • There is no instalust, no lightning bolts from the sky, no uncontrollable pants feelings. Alia and Landry act like two normal people who at first can’t trust each other for very legitimate reasons. The attraction builds slowly, and even once they start spending social time together they move slowly because of Alia’s job investigating Landry’s dad’s murder. (The romance does still move pretty fast in terms of actual days, but in page numbers it’s well paced.)
  • THEY DON’T CREATE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST BY SLEEPING TOGETHER! Yes I am yelling because I am not sure I can think of another romantic suspense I’ve read, and I read a lot of them, where the solution that Alia and Landry use here has ever come up. I won’t tell you what the solution is, but it is mature and responsible and why the fuck have I never seen it before?
  • I haven’t mentioned Landry yet. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him too, though maybe not as much as Alia. What I did appreciate about him is that he isn’t afraid of his feelings for Alia. He knows he feels something serious for her, and he knows he wants it to be long term. He isn’t a closed off, broody a-hole, which would have been the easy route to take with this character.

And now for some very spoilery discussion, because this gets at the heart of why I wasn’t sure exactly how to feel about parts of this book.

As a child, Landry was repeatedly raped by a group of his father’s male friends for years before escaping with the help of a distant relative. The friends actually traded their kids around as sex objects; Landry’s younger sister and all the male and female children of the friends were also raped routinely. It is completely horrifying and disgusting, and reading about it made me nauseous. There aren’t any graphic descriptions at all, but Landry’s pain is excruciating to read about.

I’m always leery of books that use rape as a backstory or sensational plot, and it’s hard to escape the fact that the rapes do add a level of sensationalism to the story, although I think the author is careful to portray it as the awful crime it is. On the other hand, there are almost no romances where the hero is the one who was raped, and I worry it’s because authors and readers think it makes the hero seem less manly. So perhaps this is a story that is important to tell, if it’s done properly.

Part of why I hesitated to write this review was because I was going over all the details in my mind searching for mishandling of this topic. Overall, I do think the sexual abuse was handled sensitively. Landry certainly has issues, but he is able to have a largely functional life and build relationships with other people. The book makes it crystal clear he doesn’t do it on his own, though. He needs years of therapy with a skilled doctor, and even then he is still struggling with certain things. He has heartbreaking moments where he feels ashamed or angry at himself, though he talks himself down from those moments by recalling his therapist’s advice. And most importantly, Alia and the other characters in the book don’t treat Landry as less-than because of his trauma. To my untrained eyes, it felt respectfully handled. 

So why my complicated feelings? Most of my hesitation was due to the killer. I could see it coming, and I didn’t like it. The killer had their own very serious mental health issues, which were less gracefully handled. Was it too cartoonish? Was it a cheap “crazy killer” cop out? Was it just there for sensationalism? I’m honestly not sure, but I do know that I didn’t want that character to be the killer. While Alia and Landry get a happy ending, nobody else really does.

To be honest, I am impressed with Pappano and Harlequin for even trying to tell a story like this, because I sure as hell did not expect this when I picked up the book! This was much deeper, more nuanced, and more gut wrenching than your average category romance. While I’m still not exactly sure how I feel about some elements, I am not sorry I read it. 

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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