Friday, February 12, 2021

Glory Falls by Janine Rosche

Glory Falls by Janine Rosche

The Madison River Romance series is such an enjoyable collection! One of my favorites in a long, long time.

Here’s the summary of book three:

Two people scarred by past trauma have a chance to write a new chapter in their lives, overcome loss, and find love in the third entry in the Madison River Romance series.

Screenwriter Cecilia "Blue" Walker is victim to life's worst plot twists. Having lost her daughter to the depths of the Madison River and her husband to the arms of another woman, she finds herself yearning for something to restore her brittle faith and once-vibrant career.

Hope arrives in the form of her childhood friend, Thomas Beck, a firefighter with a legacy of larger-than-life rescues who doesn't see himself as a hero. Haunted by his past, Thomas only agrees to a movie adaptation of his story if Blue, his longtime crush, is the screenwriter.

However, as Blue and Thomas work together to bring his heroism to the big screen, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood threaten to shed light on secrets that could tear their fragile relationship and their lives apart.

And now, my review:

I loved so much about this book: finally reading Thomas’s story, the heroine’s profession as a screenwriter, the hero and heroine’s history together as childhood neighbors. The author once again delivers strong prose and excellent characterization while weaving a skillfully layered plot.

Thomas is willing to sacrifice a lot in order to help Blue who helped him so often as he grew up an abusive home. He’ll give up his privacy and let himself be depicted as a hero, though it makes him so uncomfortable. Loved these conflicting values.

Janine is excellent at dropping backstory breadcrumbs and tying story elements together. Nothing feels wasted or unintentional. Their childhoods aren’t the only elements tying these characters together, and as their other history is revealed, we feel for each of them. These overlaps made for great conflict on top of the others. But it never felt overwhelming, only intriguing. I was hooked for the entire story, highlighting, chuckling, savoring.

This reunion romance is like a hug from an old friend—warm and comforting and delightful. I read the whole series in order. I recommend you do the same, so you can track the characters. But you could read this book as a stand-alone. You won’t be lost because Thomas and Blue’s story is best explained (and mostly contained) within this novel.

Book two was by far the toughest read as it included mental health issues and violence. I mentioned in my Net’s Book Notes review of Wildflower Road that I skimmed some flashback scenes. I didn’t have to skim anything here in book three.

I love how Thomas is awkward and humble. He’s not the typical book hero. He broods, but he’s not prideful; he’s broken but he’s strong and capable. Heroic. He thinks in terms of protectiveness and action. I loved this unique and genius element of his characterization.

Another great element is the way Janine weaves faith into her stories—gently and without preaching. Themes in this story include forgiveness, restoration, and redemption. Christian readers will delight in faith-filled values.

His self-sacrificing nature will endear readers to him. The heroine hopes to help him too. It’s two-sided and because she’s competent, giving, and compassionate, we root for her too.

There were a few plot twists, and I loved how the author didn’t settle for predictable events.

Their project (the movie she’s writing about him, see summary) keeps them together and it’s the perfect “call” for Thomas to face his self-image and the buried pain. And all of it overlaps. So well done.

Again, one of my favorite reads and series lately. Loved it! I’ll watch for Janine’s next book, even if this series is over.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Promised by Leah Garriott

Promised by Leah Garriott

Oh, what a lovely cover. I can feel the dew and smell the morning air. Love it!

Let’s begin with the summary:

Margaret Brinton keeps her promises, and the one she is most determined to keep is the promise to protect her heart.

Fooled by love once before, Margaret vows never to be played the fool again. To keep her vow, she attends a notorious matchmaking party intent on securing the perfect marital match: a union of convenience to someone who could never affect her heart. She discovers a man who exceeds all her hopes in the handsome and obliging rake Mr. Northam.

There’s only one problem. His meddling cousin, Lord Williams, won’t leave Margaret alone. Condescending and high-handed, Lord Williams lectures and insults her. When she refuses to give heed to his counsel, he single-handedly ruins Margaret’s chances for making a good match—to his cousin or anyone else. With no reason to remain at the party, Margaret returns home to discover her father has promised her hand in marriage—to Lord Williams.

Under no condition will Margaret consent to marrying such an odious man. Yet as Lord Williams inserts himself into her everyday life, interrupting her family games and following her on morning walks, winning the good opinion of her siblings and proving himself intelligent and even kind, Margaret is forced to realize that Lord Williams is exactly the type of man she’d hoped to marry before she’d learned how much love hurt. When paths diverge and her time with Lord Williams ends, Margaret is faced with her ultimate choice: keep the promises that protect her or break free of them for one more chance at love. Either way, she fears her heart will lose.

And now, my review:

I love the premise for this story: our heroine has made herself a promise. She will protect her heart in the future. She’s suffered a broken heart. So, Margaret will go into a relationship with her eyes wide open. And she’ll avoid love. She thinks. The Proper Romance novels are often so delicious. I hadn’t read this author before (later I learned this is her debut novel), but I knew with that cover, and since it was from that line, I had to give it a try. So glad I did. The story kept me hooked. Just when I thought the plot might wind down, it picked up momentum again and I was more delighted than before.

The author is adept at including symbolism, and I relished the hidden messages and dialogue subtext. Her descriptions immersed me in the setting and helped me experience the story with the characters. I loved the setting of the English countryside and the manors. Mentions of lakes and rivers and trees and gardens.

Our hero is a mystery. Since the story is solely first person from the heroine’s POV, and we never have the advantage of another’s point of view, we are left wondering what he’s thinking and what his motives are.

Once we understand what the hero is about, we love him. He’s determined and honorable and gentle. There were a few confusing moments because again, we’re only in her POV. And at times, though overall the romance threads were enjoyable, the heroine's internal monologue felt a little juvenile. The narrative was a bit redundant while the heroine ruminated. It’s believable that someone would deliberate over and over, but it isn’t always engaging. I read the ARC, and this element may have been worked out in the editing and rewriting stage. Still, I didn’t skim very often.

Overall, a very enjoyable debut by a promising author! I’ll watch for her next book.