Tag: Contemporary Western Romance

Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

Posted September 24, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #8
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing, A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5), Mistletoe Miracles (Ransom Canyon #7)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Westerns
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family and a whole lot of Texas.

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.

Christmas in Winter Valley is a group of smaller romances all set in one book/story based around the Griffin family and their place, Maverick Ranch.

First there’s the story of Cooper Griffin and Hayley.  Cooper is hurt while out checking on wild mustangs but Hayley, the vet that was out there to help him, saves his life.

Then there’s Tye and Dani who can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.  Tye is an ex-rodeo star and is now a ranch hand at MV (Maverick Ranch). He falls fast and hard for the Griffin family cook, Dani, but here grown sons don’t like that too much.

Elliot Griffin was hurt 10 years ago by Jessica who he was engaged to.  He had to leave school when his dad died and each of them think it’s the other’s fault that they didn’t stay together after that.  Jessica shows up at MV to do the taxes and sparks fly between the two.

Creed (a ranch hand) and Dallas (cousin-in-law to the Griffins), end up as a couple, I think, but it’s hard to say as not much, if any, time was spent on their relationship.  Could be they just ended up FB’s. lol

While all of these people are falling in love with each other, all between December 10th and December 24th (yes, very fast), there are friendships growing and intertwining all of these characters.  Men and women alike are finding out who they truly are and how they see life and love.  It was well done, but I never felt that I was too invested in any of the relationships.  I’m not sure if that was because there was so much going on, or what.  Despite that I liked the book overall.

That said, I have to say that my favorite part of the book was a 9-year-old boy named Tatum.  Tatum was shipped off to his grandma’s house when his dad and then his mom died.  When his grandma died the evil neighbor lady told the sheriff that this small boy carried death wherever he went, was half-wild and they should take him to the pound.  WTAF? I wanted to crawl through the book and thrash that woman!  Tatum ended up running away before social services could get him and was found by Cooper Griffin right before the boy would have frozen to death.  I won’t tell you the amazing cuteness that comes out of Tatum’s mouth on the regular, but let me just say that he’s the sweetest thing in the world!  The relationship between Cooper and Tatum is heart-warming and I loved it. Jodi Thomas wrote his character wonderfully well and I actually found myself wishing he was more on-page than he was.  Yes, it’s a romance novel, but Tatum made the book for me!

Overall a nice Christmas story about love and family.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Ransom Canyon

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda Jackson

Posted April 6, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda JacksonReviewer: Judith
Breaking Bailey's Rules by Brenda Jackson
Series: Westmoreland series #30
Also in this series: Bane
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Format: eARC
Add It: Goodreads
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Rule number one for Bailey Westmoreland: Never fall for a man who would take her away from her tight-knit family's Colorado home. So why is she following rancher Walker Rafferty all the way to Alaska? Bailey tells herself she owes the sexy loner an apology, and once she gets there, it's only right to stay and help him when he's injured…isn't it? Before long, Bailey realizes home might be where you make it—if Walker is ready to take all she has to offer.

Any lover of romance who has also come to appreciate interracial stories knows about and appreciates Brenda Jackson.  Her Westmoreland Family series has gone on now for years, and while some reviewers have panned her stories as formulaic and predictable, I still like to read her work.  Ms Jackson is a writer who is unashamedly open about her interest in human relationships and family dynamics.  She has covered the full spectrum of emotion as well as the situations people either cause or in which they find themselves victims.  She is also not subtle about her heroes being alpha males, many of whom are unwilling to settle down to one woman.  Money, opportunity, careers, and a long list of other variable make these men challenges in and of themselves.

However, in this story, the challenge is a young woman who is comfortable in her skin, who wants to be appreciated for who she is, who enjoys her independent ways along with the full involvement in a family that is energetic to say the least.  Her one requirement for anyone looking to become involved with her romantically, long-term partner or permanent significant other, is that she will never leave Colorado.  It is her home in more ways than just geographical.  She is connected to the land, the environment, the mountains’ majestic presence, the sense of “home” she shares with her Westmoreland family.  She believes there is someone who will be the passionate partner she is seeking and who will want to keep her happy in the land she loves above all other.

Now there pops up another possible branch of the Westmoreland clan, and the connection is not a happy one or acceptable in many ways.  To acknowledge this family is to accept that there was hurt and infidelity in the past, and that is so not OK.  Walker Rafferty is a close family friend and one that is sent to investigate the possible connections between previously unknown relatives and it is meeting Bailey that throws a wrench into his life.  His efforts to interest her in some kind of romantic liason are rebuffed—that’s probably too mild a descriptive—and in good conscience Bailey realizes that she has some fences to mend after Walker returns to Alaska, a very long way from Colorado.

As always, Ms Jackson draws her characters with a deft and sure skill, giving readers a full imagination of what these characters look like, how they think, what they yearn for, and how they go about finding ways to reach their personal relational goals.  Bailey is a woman that can be lovely and kind, but she has the ability to be as uncomfortable as a thorn bush.  The slow progress that Bailey and Walker make toward some sort of connection is the core of this story, and while it is certainly a movement toward “happily ever after,” it is not a comfortable story.  I always find a Brenda Jackson a good read.  It is balanced between the need to keep a story line clean and moving forward and the erotic content.  It is not just about their sex life but rather how all the elements of their humanity gradually merge to make it possible for these two to connect on a deeper, more lasting level.

It’s a good book, a fun read in many ways, and a nice way to spend an evening.  Just the kind of experience a lover of good romance enjoys.

I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Bane by Brenda Jackson

Posted February 25, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bane by Brenda JacksonReviewer: Judith
Bane by Brenda Jackson
Series: Westmoreland series #31
Also in this series: Breaking Bailey's Rules
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: December 1st 2015
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

After five years, navy SEAL Brisbane Westmoreland is back home on his ranch and ready to reclaim the woman he left behind. But when he tracks her to Dallas, he's in for a shock.

Crystal Newsome isn't ready to forgive Bane for saying he loved her then vanishing from her life. Only now the beautiful chemist needs his protection. As their own irresistible chemistry takes over once again, can Bane keep Crystal safe and convince her they can have the second chance they both deserve?

It appears that with this 31st book in the Westmoreland Family Saga, Brenda Jackson is finally leaving this clan behind.  Yet she is bringing that era to a close with a bang.  Those who have read previous books in this long, 13 year series, have met most of the characters in her books many times over.  She is always careful to give sufficient context so that readers can keep track of these various people.  Lovers of this series and of Jackson books in general have been waiting for this book for quite some time.  And it is not a disappointment.  There is love and laughter, dismay and disappointment, deep love and anger, history and yet a future that is in doubt, especially when Chrystal’s own personal safety is on the line.

I doubt that there is a woman alive who would wait patiently for a spouse from whom only one contact was received in five years.  Yet Bane comes home ready to resume his life with Crystal and finds a wife that has no open arms of love spread for him.  Instead he finds anger and upset and becomes quickly aware that he is going to have to work hard to once again find himself accepted in the regard and love of a woman he has loved all his life.  His reasons for seeming to abandon Crystal and her present need for Bane’s protection are all strands in a story that is complicated and convincingly realistic.  The threads of the story weave in and out and form a story that will hook the reader’s imagination from the first.  Bane and Crystal have never lost that chemical magic that sustained their early love.  Finding a new foundation upon which to rebuild is challenging and very much a part of how this all plays out for these two.

Brenda Jackson is, quite simply, one of my favorite authors.  I have read her books for years and whenever I see a new one I am on it like white on rice.  This book was no exception and whether one has read all the books in this series or just a few, the energy level, the consistent skill and evident expertise have never wavered no had Ms Jackson ever disappointed her fans.  She uses the best kind of language, full of descriptive words and  a much appreciated balance between dialogue and monologue.  Her characters are people of deep family loyalty and in spite of how they choose to live their lives, each has a clear inner core of morality and integrity.  This is a fine piece of writing and a credit to its creator.  It is well worth the time and effort to read and enjoy.

I give it a rating of 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Midnight Ride by Cat Johnson

Posted August 7, 2015 by Whitley B in Reviews | 2 Comments

Midnight Ride by Cat Johnson
Whitley’s review of Midnight Ride (Midnight Cowboys #1) by Cat Johnson.

One bucking bronco…
Oklahoma ranch hand Tyler Jenkins is too young, too sexy, and too damn wild to be tied down by any single woman—for more than a few steamy hours…

One hard-working widow…
Widowed rancher Janie Smithwick is too busy paying off her debts to play rodeo with a reckless young cowboy like Tyler—no matter how hot he gets her…

One midnight ride they’ll never forget…
As a rule, Janie should be dating a man her own age, like her handsome neighbor Rohn—not the twenty-four-year old ranch hand he employs. But once Tyler gets Janie alone—held tight in his arms, pressed against his hard muscled body, burning with desire—the widow realizes that some rules, like broncos, are meant to be broken…

Okay, so, I was at work one day (I work in a library) and someone turned in this book. It was just sittin there on the counter, looking up at me, all hot and sexy and wearing a too-small t-shirt.

“Hi.”

“How you doin’?”

“Yeah, you need to come home with me.”

Literally all this book had to do was give me a hot 23 y/o cowboy and then get out of the way. Let’s face it, my motivations were not the most literary.

I swear, this was a short-story that someone decided to turn into a novel by adding in every single inane thought that they could think of. There was so much padding, so many descriptions of every little action and item. Do I really need to know every step of this lady baking a pie? Or exactly what’s involved in cleaning up for dinner? No, no I don’t.

But I was willing to pay my dues and put in the time to get to shirtless sexy 23 y/o cowboy. And when it came time for the sexins? When I finally got my shirtless sexy 23 y/o cowboy? Still with the padding! This is not a good time for a two paragraph detour into talking about boots! Let the man take his damn pants off! I was so annoyed by that point that I just had to call it quits.

(And he kept wearing his hat indoors. The book kept specifying that he was wearing his hat indoors. IDK why that annoyed me above all else, but it got me downright twitchy.)

Rating: DNF

This title is available from Zebra Books.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Sirens in Bliss by Sophie Oak

Posted May 5, 2014 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Sirens in Bliss Judith’s review of Sirens in Bliss by Sophie Oak

What happens after happily ever after?

It’s the event of the year. The wedding of Leo and Wolf Meyer to their beautiful sub, Shelley McNamara, has all of Bliss up in arms—and makes everyone think about love and marriage and family.

Wolf and Leo have to deal with the sudden reappearance of their father. Rafe Kincaid is handed an opportunity that might take him and his family away from Bliss. Aidan, Lexi, and Lucas O’Malley find themselves at a crossroads in their marriage. And Stefan Talbot must face his biggest fear—possibly losing his wife in childbirth.

So come to the Feed Store Church, pick a seat, and enjoy the chaos as all your favorite characters from Texas Sirens and Nights in Bliss, Colorado, come together for one eventful weekend.   And some of them may never be the same again.  Note: This is a reunion book, which shares an overall story arc and many crossover characters with the Texas Sirens and Nights in Bliss series. This is not a stand-alone.

Those of us who have read all the Texas Sirens and Nights in Bliss series by this author will understand that this is one of those not-stand-alone books that makes all of us terribly happy.  We all have series that we grow to love and find incredibly enjoyable and find ourselves re-reading them from time to time.  It is even better when an author brings all these characters together in a follow-up novella that brings us up to date in these characters’ lives as well as entertaining us once again.  This is especially true with all the very odd and charmingly strange characters who have put down roots in Bliss, CO, a haven for every different kind of person and where everyone is accepted without holding back at all.  The people of Bliss have been a source of wonderful fun throughout this entire series beginning with the former sheriff and his twin right up to the former FBI agents and the people who live at the nudist camp and crazy Mel who wants to make sure that the aliens don’t attack and attempt to “probe” all his friends.  Add in Leo and Wolff’s mom who insists that their new bride has to like beets because of their curative powers and you are in for one of the funniest romance books you have ever encountered.

Having a sense of humor is wonderful and I appreciate the fact that this author writes humor into her stories with ever making fun of anyone.  She just lets the individuality of her characters speak for themselves, all of whom are genuine and precious, warmhearted and giving, and whose idiocyncracies simply clash and bounce off one another in a way that is truly lighthearted and wonderful.  The best part of all this is that all of these really strange folks really know how to love–how to receive it and how to give it.  They know the power of forgiveness and they understand what it means for broken people to be healed by acceptance and an opportunity to take back their personal power.  One of the funniest parts of Sophie’s stories is the group of women whose membership is for those who have shot an attacker.  They have been abused and injured in past experiences.  Not anymore.  They empower one another and they make sure that none of their friends are ever endangered.  The men of Bliss know when to take cover.  It’s absolutely wonderful!

For those who have not read the Bliss, CO series and the Texas Sirens series, I urge you to do so.  Most are menage relationships but it doesn’t matter.  All are filled with characters who learn to accept others as well as themselves, who learn the power of love to connect and heal and overcome the faults that lie within us all, even those who don’t think they need anyone else.   This story will probably not make much sense to those who have not encountered these characters beforehand.  So I think going back and reading the first books in these series will be a good experience.  Recently I went back and re-read all the Texas Sirens books and was impressed all over again at how insightful they are in bringing human foibles into full view and allowing these people to learn the joy of genuine relationship built on caring and loving.

Perhaps the best part about this book is the fact that these characters are well beyond the “happily ever after” stage where most romance novels end.  Some of them are in trouble and some are wondering where all the “magic” has gone.  Some are just discovering the full potential of their love to reshape and renew their lives, but all of them are wonderfully human and their situations will speak to those of us who are entertained by their stories.  So I happily give this book a rating of 5 out of 5.  It’s always going to be one of my favorites!

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

Nights in Bliss, CO series

Texas Sirens Series

This title is available from Siren Publishing.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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