Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

Let’s begin with the summary:

Champion back-country snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing—or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret—one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.

When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder—and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other—even when disaster happens again?

And now, my review:

This book is about Gage, but I loved getting to learn more about Ty. He’s kind-hearted and compassionate.

Okay, back to Gage, the main hero of this Montana Rescue series novel. He’s likable and competent. You trust that if he’s sent out to rescue someone, he’ll bring them safely home. That’s reassurance you’ll need as the story gets more and more intense. Getting to ski with Gage was fascinating. He has something to prove, and Susie slowly reveals his secrets to the reader. Love how she did that. Gage’s heroism flows from a few things—past regrets and this need to prove himself to the world. He’s calm, though, and mature.

Senator and attorney Ella Blair is a likable character as well. She has some past regrets that she'll need to overcome. As I read her story, I felt she was more believable as an attorney than a senator, but that may be because we didn't spend much time on her senator role. I loved that she was a strong and competent snowboarder. The perfect match for Gage and someone we could respect.

Like when I read Susie’s smokejumper books, and I felt as if I was breathing in the smoke and coughing on the fumes, while I was reading this wintertime novel, I could almost smell the snow and feel the powder surround me as I swished down a slope. The descriptions take you right into the experience with the characters. Gage’s skiing expertise was so well written. He’s a champion freerider, and the first scenes in the book were extremely well penned. The wording was so technical, I wondered for a moment if someone else had written them. Some of the phrases were foreign to me from start to finish. Then, when I read Susan’s Author Note, she makes it clear she’s been a life-long skier. She knows this topic.

There were many profound statements, some relational, and some spiritual—about how God sees us versus how we see ourselves, especially when it comes to feeling worthy of being rescued. God doesn’t require us to be worthy, but we require it of ourselves.  This novel included themes of rescue, forgiveness, secrets, God’s love, mercy, and trust. Also, there’s a theme of believing in yourself and how when others do, their faith in us encourages us to see ourselves differently.

I had a tough time, now knowing this world, believing that a tent without a fire inside, could be warm enough in the temperatures she described for people to camp in. Or how a stove would work inside a tent, without a way to vent the fumes outside. Perhaps a little more explanation would be helpful.

Another concern was that Ty meets someone, and she and he both experience an immediate attraction. No surprises so far. But what didn’t quite click is why he was drawn to her after that initial attraction. Without giving away spoilers, she has a career that threatens the team’s members, so it wasn’t believable that he would continue to pursue her when that became apparent. We could use another strong element that draws him so we believe that he would let her into his life and therefore close to the team.

But overall, I relished this story. I have Susie’s next book in this same series (Troubled Waters) on my Kindle, ready for me to keep enjoying these characters. Can’t wait to get back to it!

Highly recommended! I love this series, which I recommend you read in order. Otherwise, you may be lost. There are a lot of great characters to track.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Love Story: A Novel by Karen Kingsbury

Let’s begin with the summary:

Decades ago, John and Elizabeth Baxter lived a love story that is still playing out in the lives of their adult children and grandchildren. But few of them know the exact details of that story or the heartbreak that brought the two together.

Now in high school, Ashley Baxter Blake’s oldest son, Cole, must write a family history paper for a freshman English class. He decides to interview his grandfather about that long-ago love story.

John is hesitant, not sure if he can take the sorrow of reliving his love story with Elizabeth—especially now that he is remarried. But he agrees and allows his heart to go places it hasn’t gone in decades.

At the same time, Baxter family friend Cody Coleman is working through the breakup of his complicated relationship with Andi Ellison. He is determined to move on when a chance sighting changes his plans—and heart. Can Cody convince Andi to give their love another try, or is it time for them to say goodbye, for good?

As school ends, Cole presents his report on the love story between his grandparents John and Elizabeth Baxter. It is a tale that touches the hearts of the entire family, and one that causes Cole to better understand his own beginning.

And now, my review:

If you’ve followed Karen’s Baxter family series, this book will take you back to a time when the eldest Baxters met and fell in love. For die-hard fans, this is a potentially satisfying opportunity to learn more as they follow their favorite characters into the past. Their love story is relayed through a retelling of their history, which unfortunately, I found unengaging.

When the present-day activity picked back up, there were many redundancies as we circled back to information we already knew. The pacing failed as the plot stalled. If I were reviewing this book for a new author, I would guess that the writer was trying to find his/her way and rewrote information as self-reminders during the process of writing.

The adult heroine’s POV contained juvenile thoughts that didn’t seem fitting for her age, so it was difficult to believe her as a character and root for her as the heroine. Coupled with telling and redundancies, the distant POV kept me from experiencing the emotion of the characters. I recall feeling deep emotion while reading some of this author’s earlier work, but this book did not hold my interest. I also felt this character's spiritual statements were trite.

I have read some of the books in this series, and it was interesting to reconnect with these characters
like visiting family friends. Readers will enjoy that comforting aspect.

While this book wasn’t for me, I still wish the author and her publisher the best.