Friday, August 24, 2012

Over the Edge by Mary Connealy


Welcome to the blog tour for Over the Edge by Mary Connealy. Read on for contest information! 

Let's begin with the summary of this third book in The Kincaid Brides series:

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he's never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he's gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he's got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn't happy to find out Seth doesn't remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she's come to the Kincaid family's ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.

Callie isn't a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She's not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

And now, my review:

I haven’t read the earlier books in The Kindcaid Bride series, and though this story definitely zeroes in on Seth Kincaid and his wife, I still felt lost at times. There were lots of characters from earlier books, and we spent time in their POVs. There were references to locations we hadn’t been to in this story, but we were supposed to know what they were (for example, the cavern). Confusing for readers who haven’t read the earlier books.

The voice was new to me, too, and that probably contributed to the confusion. The genre is considered “cowboy comedy,” but I didn’t see the humor in the tormented hero’s situation. And I especially missed the humor in the Texas-native heroine who was incredibly prideful and disrespectful and mean to the hero, her husband. Her inner thoughts called him brainless, an idiot, and a lunatic on several occasions. And she often thought of kicking, hitting, or shooting him. Of course that last one was probably meant as an exaggeration, except that she did shoot at him near the beginning of the story. Unfortunately, what was probably supposed to be funny, didn’t translate that way for me. She never repents of her rude, disrespectful attitude, and that felt like a breach of contract with the reader. We’d like to see some transformation, but she remained prideful of her strengths and her Texas heritage, and judgmental of her husband, throughout the story. Even during any sort of reconciliation scenes, she never repented or apologized. Yes, the hero abandoned her, but he was now trying to make things right. And her hostility seemed completely out of balance (i.e. unbelievable) with the situation. It makes sense she would feel angry and even vengeful, especially at first, but she carries it too long and takes it too far. 

The book's summary hints at the heroine's faith, but I read the entire book, and I don't recall (forgive me if I missed it) the heroine's faith or convictions playing a big part in the story. That's an aspect I'd have rather seen displayed and explored more obviously.

What I did appreciate was that the hero was warm and humble. He knew he had some limitations, and some failures to make up for, but he was caring and protective of his wife (who was caustic in return) and his infant son. Overall, his character journey was more fulfilling. 

I think readers who’ve enjoyed this series will get the most out of this book. There are some “series loose ends” tied up here, so I wouldn’t miss it. And in as much as this wasn’t the typical cowboy story (a hero who has his act together and barely has any weakness), this story is original. I’m still trying to decide if my funny bone was on vacation or if comedy doesn’t translate well with historicals, or what… Undecided. Whether you’ve read the entire series or not, this one’s heroine requires some grace. 


CONTEST:  Win a Nook Color from Mary Connealy in the Over the Edge Giveaway. RSVP for 8/28 Facebook Party. Celebrate with Mary by entering to win a Nook Color with GlowLight!

See what folks are saying about Over the Edge!

One winner will receive:
  • A Nook Color with GlowLight
  • The entire set of Mary Connealy's The Kincaid Brides series
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 28th. Winner will be announced at the "Over the Edge" Author Chat Facebook Party on 8/29. Meet Mary, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and more. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group.)!

So grab your copy of Over the Edge and join Mary on the evening of the August 29th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the RSVP today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello

Welcome to the blog tour for The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello. Read on for contest information!

Let’s begin with the summary:

Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

She’s never felt more alone.

Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancĂ© wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancĂ© will make things better—or worse.

Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

And now, my review:

I haven’t read Sibella’s work before, but I’ve been curious for a while, so I was grateful to get a chance to read this book for review. 

Her novel was very well researched! By her author letter, we learn she isn’t a closet geologist, but she truly had me fooled. Amazing details! Sometimes her passages on rocks and dirt were very, very involved (read: lengthy). But overall, I think they lent realism to the story. Also, since I’ve been reading this book, I’m looking at horses differently too. Great research on the horses involved in racing at Emerald Meadows (obviously representing Emerald Downs near Seattle). 

Speaking of Seattle, I loved the setting of this book.  As someone who spent 23 years there, I delighted in the beautiful setting. I will say I’ve been on a multitude of ferry runs to and from Bainbridge Island, and they’ve never blown the horn for departure or arrival. They make announcements and riders know by when the engines cut back when they’re approaching arrival. Thought that was interesting. But otherwise, her descriptions were great!

Her descriptive passages throughout were delicious! From the afternoon light, to the scent of mud, her wordsmithing deserved many highlights in my Kindle. And I was glad to be reading on my Kindle because I was able to swiftly look up all the vocabulary words. But I liked that too—learning more about geology than I ever planned too. :)

I also liked that she wrote this in first person. I would have loved to see more of a romance between the heroine and her FBI handler since a romance between them was insinuated a few times. But since I haven’t read the other books in the series, I didn’t hold too tightly to that expectation. (It sounded like there was more of a romance in the earlier books.) 

The heroine has to deal with some tough issues where her mother is concerned, not to mention other trials she faces. And though I could see her struggling, I couldn’t feel her pain. The POV, though first-person, wasn’t deep enough, didn’t contain an emotional anchor for readers to connect and feel her emotions with her. But Sibella did a great job of layering the characters, and I did sympathize with our heroine.  

This was a great read—a very enjoyable suspense novel.


For your convenience, links to purchase:

(print version) (e-book version)


Contest info!!
Novelist Sibella Giorello is celebrating the release of the latest book in her praiseworthy Raleigh Harmon series by giving away a Kindle Fire! 

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • The entire 5-book Raleigh Harmon series.
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/25/12. The winner will be announced on 8/27/12 on Sibella's blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Sibella's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

Today I'm featuring a light summertime read.

Let’s begin with the summary:

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six-year-old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. 

However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger—who designs roller coasters, of all things—intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

And now, my review:

This story takes readers back to the lovely locale for the Lake Manawa Summer Series. I enjoyed Making Waves and was excited to read this book for review. Unfortunately, with the multitude of POV characters, I couldn’t bond with the heroine. Generally, romances focus on the heroine’s and hero’s POVs, but this one included several others, to the story’s detriment, in my opinion. And because some of the POVs were other women near Lilly’s age, I was confused a few times trying to keep the characters straight. Perhaps if I’d read all three books in this series, that may have helped. Overall, though, I’d say the multiple POVs were overkill and unnecessary. We couldn’t really connect with any one character before we were thrown into another. The story would have benefited from focused, deeper POV from the heroine’s and hero’s hearts and minds. 

These stories are great for the history lessons. I learned about roller coasters and how they were built, even back then. I hadn’t really given their origins much thought—I’m not one who loves riding roller coasters. But as you read, you can tell Lorna did her research.
The tension of the family dynamics will keep you reading. The heroine’s husband has died and his parents are coming for custody of their grandson. It’s a frightening prospect for her.  
Readers who enjoy light historical romances with a sunny setting will enjoy this novel.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Do you ever come back to a writer you’ve read before and relax, knowing you’re in for a great read? That’s what happened when I picked up Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer. Plus, what's not to love about that cover?

Let’s begin with the summary: 

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride? 

And now, a little something extra. The book trailer:

(BTW, that vest-clad live-action guy in the video? Editor Dave Long at Bethany House Publishers. Probably not part of his job description. :)

And now, my review: 

Karen has such a way with words. I love reading her books! She excels at pacing too. Instinctively she kept things moving along very smoothly. And the romance? She excels at that too. 

There were two very strong themes: fear and trust. Travis had convinced himself that the outside world was too dangerous for him to even mix with his neighbors. He’d promised his father he’d raise his brothers and remain on the ranch. But now that his brothers are grown, he’s still a prisoner of the land. He fears something terrible will happen to them if they leave their land. Or if they let others in. (His father's fears passed down?) He trusts only in himself for his safety. His new bride will challenge those beliefs and help him learn to trust in God.

I liked the fact they'd known each other before and Travis had acted heroically on her behalf. The heroine’s actions were very brave. She inspired me. But she also infuriated me a couple of times. Still, I could forgive her because of her nobility. I read this novel in two days. It’s really good. Reads fast and is very enjoyable. 

Highly recommended. 

(print copy)     (eBook version for Kindle)