Friday, October 26, 2012

The Unlikely Wife by Debra Ullrick

Let’s begin with the summary:

A Woman in pants! 

The arrival of Michael Bowen’s bride, married sight unseen by proxy, sends the rancher reeling. With her trousers, cowboy hat and rifle, she looks like a female outlaw—not the genteel lady he corresponded with for months. He’s been hoodwinked into marriage with the wrong woman! 

Selina Farleigh Bowen loved Michael’s letters, even if she couldn’t read them herself. A friend read them to her, and wrote her replies—but apparently that “friend” left things out, like Michael’s dream of a wife who was nothing like her. Selina won’t change who she is, not even for the man she loves. Yet time might show Michael the true value of his unlikely wife.

And now, my review:

I think readers tend to get used to a certain type of heroine in historical romances. We’re used to women in lovely dresses (or at least some kind of a dress) if we’re talking about the 1800’s. Imagine the groom’s shock when he’s been corresponding with a woman who comes across as classy, elegant, and refined,  yet a woman in trousers with an uncultured vocabulary shows up. What a shock. Worse, they’re already legally bound in marriage. They married by proxy because they were each sure they knew the other person. 

As with book one, I liked the nobility of the hero. He didn’t just have the marriage annulled as soon as he saw her. I like how the author wrote outside the box by not giving us the usual heroine. But I didn’t find it believable that the heroine was immediately in love with the hero (from their letters, no doubt). He certainly wasn’t perfect, and naturally his adjustment period made him a bit grumpy. I felt that plot development could have grown over time. (the heroine falling for the hero)

I would have liked to see more evidence that he needed this kind of challenge in his life so he’d change. (A supposition put forth by the other characters in the book—that Michael needed to be more flexible.) He didn’t strike me as rigid and impossible in book one or here in book two.

I also didn’t care for the heroine’s misunderstanding of embracing one’s identity and not being willing to change or grow up. How could such a tomboy expect a man to fall in love with her? What straight man wants a wife who acts like another man? She does eventually change a bit, as she tries to please her husband. But I still found her too rough around the edges and too prideful to be likable. The hero and heroine came into agreement that he'd work the ranch, and she'd help him by caring for things in their house. The scene where she thinks serving odd foods to her husband is okay seemed far-fetched and didn’t help me like her as a character, especially since he’d already told her he wanted usual food, not frog legs, crawdad tails, etc. I also would have liked to have seen someone correct her language. The repeated use of "iffen" (for "if") started to wear on me by two-thirds of the way through the story.

I think readers who like heroines who are outside the box will love this story because all the other elements were strong. And though the heroine was a tomboy, there was still romance between the hero and heroine as they each adapted and accepted the other. And isn't that how relationships/marriages work?

  (e-book format)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Unexpected Bride by Debra Ullrick

This is the first book in Debra’s series about the Bowen family living in Idaho Territory in the 1800s. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

After the disaster of his first marriage, Haydon Bowen has no intention of marrying again. Unfortunately, his brother has some intentions of his own, and plans to see to it that Haydon finds happiness once more. So he answers a "groom wanted" advertisement—in Haydon's name—and sends Haydon to meet his new bride at the stagecoach stop!

For beautiful, cultured Rainelle Devonwood, any dangers she may face in the Idaho Territories are preferable to staying with her abusive brother. So even when Rainee learns she's a mistakenly ordered bride, she won't let Haydon drive her away. She's up to the challenge of life on the difficult, demanding frontier…and the greater challenge of opening Haydon's heart again.

And now, my review:

This was the first Love Inspired historical I’ve read in a while, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the characters, who were all likable and believable. I liked Rainee’s strength. The hero’s brother has arranged this without the hero’s knowledge. And Haydon is such a gentleman, he can’t just send this bride-to-be back where she came from. And good thing, because she’d either be killed by her hateful brother or married off to the hometown wife murderer. 

I liked the setting and how closely the story stuck to the romance between these two characters, which is an LI requisite. I liked the way the hero wasn’t trying to win her, but couldn’t deny his own good character traits. He was noble, and protective, and kind. And of course, what heroine wouldn’t fall in love with a hero like that? If you’re up for reading the series (three of the books are available in e-book format, and some are available in print), I’d begin with this one so you’re not lost when the characters appear in later books. If readers ever feel they'd prefer a more concentrated romance (as opposed to a full-length novel, which is more drawn out and with more characters and subplots), I recommend reading Love Inspired novels. They're wholesome, concentrated romance. 

Watch for my review of book two coming soon to Net's Book Notes.


Monday, October 15, 2012

You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

Welcome to the blog tour for You Don’t Know Me by Susan May Warren. I love her books! So glad to participate in the tour for this latest Deep Haven release. By the way, Happily Ever After continues to be one of my all-time favorite books. HEA was the first release in the Deep Haven series, back in 2003. If you haven’t read it, check it out!

Susan May Warren is hosting a party on Facebook with giveaways and prizes! See below for more information about that. For your convenience, I've included links below in case you're interested in purchasing either the print or e-book version of You Don't Know Me.

Let's begin with the summary

To everyone who knows her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother. She’s a permanent member of the PTA, never misses her kids’ sporting events, and is constantly campaigning for her husband’s mayoral race.

No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O’Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars. Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the sleepy town of Deep Haven, Deidre got a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker. Twenty years later, Annalise couldn’t be more unprepared for her past to catch up with her. When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on bail and out for revenge, Annalise is forced to face the consequences of her secrets. Will she run again, or will she finally find the grace to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

And now, my review:

Identity is such a mystery, isn’t it? I loved Susan’s treatment of this fundamental aspect of our lives. From the characters who had to change their names and make up tales about their families, to the characters who had to assume a role, she makes readers think. How much of a person’s identity is in his/her name? And how much does that realization affect sanity and one's understanding of reality? 

She also helped me understand more about the witness protection program, how a person’s life and their family’s lives are affected. Fascinating and a bit unsettling, all for the sake of safety. Because Susan’s characterization is always so stellar, I could easily (though warily) put myself into the shoes of the main characters (both the heroine and her mother) and imagine giving up so much in order to be safe. 

And then, there’s Susan’s prose. Check out this highlighted excerpt from my Kindle reading:

Outside, ruby and amber leaves tumbled down the sidewalk, gems bullied by the wind. She’d have to cover her mums tonight. 

The secondary characters shone in this novel. I especially felt for Tucker. He was just trying to make good, rise out of the poverty and hardships of his life. Fit in. To be someone. His character will make readers wonder if they’ve ever misjudged someone, to the detriment of all involved. He wasn’t so much of a “hoodlum” as those around him guessed him to be. Well done. 

The characters here had to face some tough choices in very believable scenarios. I liked how deep the story was. Susan is never one to pull punches when it comes to hard-hitting emotional story elements. I appreciated that in this book. And yet, there’s hope. There’s redemption in the knotted scenarios that seemed impossible to unravel. 

I didn’t find as much romance in this story, but there was some between Tucker and the heroine’s daughter. But you will find heroism and nobility as the hero and heroine face the past together. This story explores lies and safety and hiding and courage. If you like fiction that makes you think, this one’s for you. For me, having been a student of “identity” for some time, I found this exploration fascinating. The reading transcended story in that sense. An enjoyable, thought-provoking novel. Enjoy!


(print version)           (e-book version)
Here's some information about the Facebook party coming up on October, 23rd!

Win a $200 Weekend Getaway from @SusanMayWarren! RSVP for Facebook Author Chat Party on Oct. 23rd! Welcome to the campaign launch for Susan May Warren’s latest offering in her beloved Deep Haven series, You Don’t Know Me. Susan is celebrating with a $200 Weekend Getaway Giveaway and hosting a fun video Author Chat Party!

One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Gift Card (Use that to catch up with a loved one and “Get to Know” your spouse, friend, sister, mom…whomever!)
  • The entire set of Deep Haven Books
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 22nd. Winner will be announced at the ”You Don’t Know Me” Author Chat Facebook Party on 10/23. Connect with Susan for an evening of book chat, Deep Haven trivia, and a live video chat! There will also be info about Susan’s BookShout read-along and a chance to win gift certificates, books, and other fun prizes!

So grab your copy of You Don’t Know Me and join Susan on the evening of the October 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the books – don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter

Welcome to the blog tour for Denise Hunter’s latest release, The Trouble with Cowboys. The author is hosting a Facebook party tonight! Don’t miss it! (See below for more information.)

Here’s the summary:

Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

And now, my review: 

I’ve enjoyed all of the cowboy novels in the Big Sky Romance series. Denise’s books have that certain element that keeps me coming back for more and enjoying every minute. She has a way with romance. These characters were sparking off each other from the beginning, sharing great chemistry.

The hero is afraid. Denise used symbolism in the story by giving the hero a skittish horse the heroine must come help. The heroine herself needs help writing articles to the lovelorn who write in for advice. That forces these two together to get along and be successful. Her career depends on it. His horse’s health depends on it. 

I loved the hero’s way with babies. Instead of being incapable and clueless, this cowboy knows exactly how to help with his nephew. 

Denise’s use of letters at the beginning of the chapters was a great reflection of the story’s elements—complete with a bit of humor and some insight. Loved that!

Her prose deserved a few highlights in my Kindle as I read. Check this out:

Besides, getting him to pay up last time had been like collecting pollen from the wind.


He extended his hand… Then his hand closed over hers and she felt the same shiver run through her as last time, and no matter what she told herself, she knew she’d just signed up for all kinds of trouble.


His eyes softened and the world whittled down to the two of them. His smile was a table set for two, complete with flickering candles.

Over all, a great read. Sad to see this series end, but always looking forward to Denise’s next book! 


Denise Hunter’s “The Trouble with Cowboys” Facebook Party & Kindle Fire Giveaway
To celebrate the release of The Trouble with Cowboys Denise is hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. She'll connect with readers and give away some amazing prizes - including a Kindle Fire! 

TONIGHT, October 11th!

Grab your copy of Denise Hunter’s latest book and join her for an Author Chat Party on October 11th at 8:00 PM EST (that’s 7:00 Central, 6:00 MST, & 5:00 PST)! Haven’t read The Trouble with Cowboys yet? That’s okay, don’t let that stop you from coming to the party! (You may win a copy!)

During the evening she’ll be sharing the story behind the book, posting discussion questions, testing your trivia skills, and of course, there will be plenty of chatting and fun giveaways– books, gift certificates and–a Kindle Fire! She’ll also be giving you a sneak peek of her next book too!

Click here to RSVP and then come back tonight … and bring your friends! 


(print version)         (e-book version)