Monday, June 18, 2012

A Texan's Honor by Shelley Gray

The first book in Shelley Gray’s The Heart of a Hero Series was so good, I was excited to see this one come out. And now I can’t wait for book three.

Here’s the summary:

Texas, 1874. Years ago, Will McMillan had fought in the open, next to his Captain, Clayton Proffitt. Now, in book 2 of The Heart of a Hero series, he’s waging another war undercover, pretending to be a member of the notorious Walton Gang.

But when a hostage situation goes awry and an innocent woman is in the middle of the fray, Will knows he must protect her no matter what happens. Even if they risk being killed by his gang or by the lawmen on their trail. Even if the woman he’s risking everything for will never love him back. Even if all he's left with is his faith.

And now, my review:

I liked our heroine—very strong and courageous, yet believable. This author has a way with heroes. She gets into their heads in her characterization and shows their strengths, doubts, and weaknesses, and especially their hope. I like how honorable they've been.

This book offered two heroes for readers to follow, two story lines that intersected. After the author got us established firmly in Will’s and Jamilyn’s POVs, she introduced Scout Proffitt (the brother of the hero from book one). We followed him through his adventures and learned that this historical hitman character wasn’t all bad. 

The author explored themes like honor and whether or not people can change. Scout really wonders if he can change. When he meets up with an abused woman who asks for his help, he finds that just maybe he can. 

The story included some off-screen sexual assaults, as in book one, and some on-screen murders, but for the most part (and I’m a sensitive reader), I don’t believe those incidents should deter anyone.
Shelley has a way with story. She kept me engaged the entire time, while always avoiding the cliché story lines. Just when I thought she’d go one way, she went another. 

This book stands alone, though for maximum fun, I’d recommend reading book one (A Texan’s Promise) first. 

I’m guessing book three will center on Scout, and I can’t wait to read more of his story.

(print format)  (e-book format for Kindle)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Perfect Blend by Anita Higman

This was a recent Kindle freebie and because Anita is so well-respected, I snatched it up. Glad I did!

Here’s the summary:

The Café Rose is a place for great coffee and falling in love. Jacques, the owner and matchmaker of the Café Rose, seats his friend, Hamilton Wakefield, with loner Kasey Morland. Her business life is a mess, and since Hamilton is an entrepreneur, he lets Kasey know he's just the man to straighten her out. Sparks fly, coffee is poured, and romance is in the air. Will their clashing personalities turn into a bitter brew, or will Hamilton and Kasey discover they are instead, the perfect blend?

And now, my review:

I enjoyed getting a chance to read one of StoneHouse Ink’s books. And reading a novella by Anita Higman was a delight. She is so good with story structure, characterization, prose and romance. 

Her writing is strong. She knows where she’s going, and readers gladly tag along for the ride.

It’s challenging to get a believable romance out of so few words, but Anita helps us experience this couple’s journey. My favorite character? Jacques! He owns the coffee shop where our hero and heroine meet. He’s so much fun, always matchmaking. I liked the setting of this story as well. 

Every now and then, you need a good rom com (romantic comedy). Anita provides just such a light, fun read.  There were aspects of the story that transcended the fiction experience where I could immediately apply the subtle truth to my life. That’s what distinguishes good fiction from okay fiction. And somehow, in this little story, Anita managed to include some nuggets. Sometimes her prose is so much fun, I had to highlight it. Like this:

“Yes, another dimwitted thing had flown out of his mouth, buzzed around his head, and called him an idiot.” Fun, huh?

Enjoy this delightful read!

(only available as an e-book)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

You won't often see writing how-to books featured on Net's Book Notes, but I couldn't resist since this one is such a great tool! It's free SATURDAY, JUNE 9TH FOR KINDLE at this link:

Here's a note from the author:

Dear Novelist: Would you like your readers to live your stories, not merely read them? Deep Point of View anchors your readers inside the point of view character(s) of your novel. This handbook shows you how to perform the transformation from ordinary narrative to deep narrative in clear, easy-to-master steps. I invite you to sweep your writing to the next level with a technique that creates immediacy and intimacy with your readers and virtually eliminates show/don't tell issues. My Best to You, Jill

And now, my review:

This book is like Fiction 101 where POV is concerned. So helpful! Jill breaks down the basics and goes beyond that to give you key lessons in deep POV. She makes sense out of distant POV. And the book offers workbook-type pages where you get to practice the lessons. She also gives plenty of examples to illustrate her pointers. Plus, you can get through the book in one sitting because it reads very fast. 

As a writer and an editor, I haven’t seen a book on POV like this before. I will be recommending this one to clients and writing buds for a long time to come. I’ve already recommended it to my current client and critique partners. Thanks, Jill, for such a comprehensive tool!

Highly recommended to writers and editors!

(Kindle/e-book version, free 6/9/12)  (paperback copy)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings

I had heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I was excited to read it for review. Let’s begin with the summary:

With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can't keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can't help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

And now, my review:

This story is obviously loosely based on the story of Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz in the Bible. As I began reading, I expected a romantic storyline to keep me engaged. When that didn’t immediately happen, and I found multiple editorial errors, I lost interest and stopped reading for a while. The back cover copy indicates the story isn’t categorized as a romance, but I was hoping for one given the potential in Ruth’s story in the Bible. 

Then, a few weeks later, I felt a nudge to give it another try. I still found a lot of errors, but knowing readers (not editors) are the target audience, I wanted to share how I found the story.  The story is very well crafted. The author included some wise, well-worded prose that helped explain the buzz I’d been hearing/seeing about this book. 

I am glad I finished this novel. There was a lot of originality in the story. The author had a good handle on what it must have like for Ruth to enter a new culture and feel compelled to prove herself. Very believable and I sympathized with her. I liked the character of Weston as well, and a romance most assuredly developed between the two. I think because the book didn’t follow everything the formula dictates, the novel was designated as historical fiction, rather than historical romance. But if lovers of romance will stick with it, they’ll find much romance to enjoy.

Readers who don’t mind head-hopping and/or out of place (time setting) jargon will enjoy this book. The story itself is strong.

Monday, June 4, 2012

7 Hours - Post 6 - All of Our Dreams by James Andrew Wilson


Ever wonder who’s behind this series? James Andrew Wilson was the mastermind.

Here’s the summary:

Luke Harrison is haunted by dreams of an imaginary past. Five years ago his wife, Arianna, fell victim to a horrifying degenerative disease, unraveling all of their dreams in an instant. Luke’s entire life is focused on her care and comfort.
But there is an approaching darkness, a malevolent Watcher who seems intent on taking Arianna from Luke.

Dreams and reality collide as Luke faces his own impending death. He doesn’t know what's real anymore, and time is running out.

And now, my review:

This was one of those stories where I wondered if there were problems with e-book formatting. There were some very confusing passages. I didn’t read the summary first (I rarely do), so I was lost in this guy’s dream sequences. I liked the author’s prose. I liked his treatment of his main character’s regrets. How he’d go back and dream freely with his wife if given the chance. Speaking of her, I liked the character’s commitment to his wife, though she had a debilitating disease that would eventually take her life.
Look at this prose as night falls:

Purple has faded to darkest blue, and the stars are no longer humble. We watch night come upon us, and we don’t fear it. 

The 7 Hours anthology was James’s idea. His treatment of this concept was original to the series. He has some trippy notions about time, some of which I had no problem entertaining. Like when Thomas Constant explained déjà vu. I also liked his treatment of salvation. I enjoyed the artistic elements in the story (the characters are painters) and appreciated the character of The Watcher. Very interesting. Readers who are looking for something unusual with a strong message of hope, I recommend this novella. I’ll be watching for more books by this new-to-me author.