Category Archives: Giveaway

Audio Book Review & Giveaway: Covey Jencks by Shelton L. Williams

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

review

Welcome to my first ever audio book review! I’m really excited to share my thoughts on Covey Jencks. Within the first few seconds, I was laughing because I was pronouncing Covey with a long “O” sound. So you can see that I am someone who could definitely benefit from listening to audio books more often.

One thing I noticed several minutes into this audio book is that all the normal front of the book stuff (title page, publishing information, foreword, etc.) was treated as individual chapters. So when you looked at your listening device, chapter 7 was when chapter 1 of the book actually began. I wish the company that put together the audio book could or would have used some other naming convention so that the chapter numbers actually matched up.

Narrator: At first I was a little confused with the choice of Kathy James as narrator, but I feel like it might have had to do with what was discussed in the foreword. This book contains all types of characters and the diversity extends beyond the normal racial categories to include cisgender individuals as well. So I think that Williams wanted to liberate us of our assumption as to what Covey Jencks would sound like. James was a good choice for keeping us on neutral footing. She has a very soothing voice with very precise diction, sort of like Siri. It takes her about a chapter or two to hit her stride, but it feels satisfying to hear her personality shine through. And though I tried to break the confines of my bias on gender roles, I couldn’t help but smile every time that pretty voice cursed or talked about lewd behavior. Side note: I truly hope that Ms. James narrates some of those children’s books intended for adult audiences in the future. Lastly, kudos to anyone who can read AIM messages without me fast forwarding.

Story: I can’t praise this story enough. I was able to invest myself into every character, especially when it came to Covey and Freddie. I liked hearing about Covey’s upbringing and just appreciated his sense of humor all around. I have a feeling that Williams has a bit of Covey in him because that character just felt so natural. I liked the many layers of Ms. Freddie as well and was glad to get to know her through the various flashbacks. Odessa was sort of its own character for me also because who knew about the seedy underground during that time period? I have never been to Odessa but I had imagined a sleepy town where there’s one bar and one police officer to break up the occasional drunken brawl. But I guess that there would have to be more to a place for Covey to come back from a high power attorney position in Washington, D.C.

I had a good time listening to this book. It’s a good mystery that takes you on a wild ride that is very different from your typical whodunit. You can’t go wrong getting this in audio or print format.

Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.

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My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
 
 
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Review & Giveaway: Wait for Me by Susan May Warren

WAIT FOR ME

Montana Rescue Series, Book 6

by

Susan May Warren

Genre: Contemporary Romance / Action / Christian

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: November 6, 2018

Number of Pages: 336

SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!

Pete Brooks can’t believe he’s waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, a series of mistakes on the job have cost lives, and Pete isn’t sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he’s no longer interested. When a terrible fight between them sparks an impulsive decision, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she and Esme are taken captive and into the untamed Montana wilderness—with murderous intent.

Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man. Pete will have to use everything he’s learned to find Jess and Esme—and pray that his past mistakes don’t cost him the life of the woman he can’t stop loving.

Praise for the Montana Rescue Series

“Warren’s stalwart characters and engaging story lines make her Montana Rescue series a must-read.”Booklist

“Faith, action, romantic tension, humor, and emotional depth.” Publishers Weekly

“Warren excels at creating flawed characters the reader cares about, as well as building a suspenseful adventure.” Christian Library Journal

 

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review

I remembered bits and pieces from a previous Montana Rescue book that I had reviewed a while back, but it bugged me that I couldn’t remember most of the characters in this latest installment. After reading that old review, I realized that most of the characters in Wait for Me were actually peripheral characters in A Matter of Trust.

 

Warren creates these deep, complicated characters that you can’t help but become invested in. And I love that she explores the relationships and inner workings of each person over the course of this series. How many times have I read a book where I wished that the author would take the time to share more about a particular character or let me explore another locale that was lightly brushed upon briefly? Either Warren knew that her readers would want more, or she, too, wasn’t ready to let go of this world that she has created.

 

I didn’t properly articulate this in my review of Book 3, but I am still very impressed with Warren’s knowledge of wilderness survival, medical conditions, and EMT skills. Although if my memory serves me right, I think this book has more injuries in it. From the moment that the tense, emotional atmosphere is shattered by physical violence, the danger advances on our characters like an avalanche. Who really loves whom takes a backseat as lives are at stake.

 

But still I had trouble wrapping my brain around why Jess seemed to be stringing Pete along. Without having read the four other books in the series, I’m hazarding a guess that Warren enjoys writing complicated love shapes. I say shapes because this book and Book 3 both have love squares instead of triangles. Geometry aside, you can see why Jess has trouble choosing which man/life to commit herself to. Warren makes it hard for the reader to choose too. Why must all the men in this book be attractive and have such great attributes? Bad guys aside, of course.

 

Faith and God are handled well in this book. It is when a character has hit rock bottom and can’t give an ounce more that someone else will remind them that there is someone bigger than them that can lift them up and love them no matter what. It didn’t feel forced and I liked that even the person on the receiving end of this message was skeptical. I think that the genuine introduction and reaction of the subject will open up readers who feel skeptical about God as well.

 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, intricate love story and/or suspenseful, survivalist read. Kind of opposite spectrums, huh? But this book really has it all. I look forward to reading more from this author.

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota.

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Review & Giveaway: In Too Deep by Lynn H. Blackburn

IN TOO DEEP
Dive Team Investigations
Book Two
by
Lynn H. Blackburn
Genre: Suspense / Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 352

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop—or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant. 

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming—a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills—to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.
The truth could set hundreds free—but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems, and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

PRAISE FOR BENEATH THE SURFACE, BOOK ONE IN THE DIVE TEAM INVESTIGATIONS SERIES:

“Fans of Dani Pettrey’s “Alaskan Courage” thrillers will enjoy this nail-biter of a series opener, which will also be appreciated by romantic and psychological suspense fans.” Library Journal
 
“Just when you think you can relax, Blackburn brings you back to the edge of your seat in this riveting, high-tension suspense story.” 
Patricia Bradley, author of Justice Delayed 
“Blackburn’s Beneath the Surface is completely engaging from the very first page. Dive Team Investigations is bound to be a new favorite series for readers everywhere.” Christian Market
 
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review

For a book with a cover that shows an underwater scene and a punny title like “In Too Deep,” I predicted that at least 50% of the novel would take place in or around the water. It turns out, evidence and clues were disposed of in the water, and we end up only spending about 5-10% of the time in the deep dark. I was hoping to read more about the technical side of crime scene diving, but perhaps Blackburn does that more in Book 1 of the Dive Team Investigations. At any rate, I found this book to be suspenseful and well plotted. I had an inkling of whodunit, but I couldn’t figure out how they could possibly walk away with what they wanted.

Characters make or break a story for me, and it’s difficult to find fault with Adam and Sabrina. When I realized that I’m 10 years older than Sabrina, I started to question how much I have accomplished in my life. I loved how cerebral and logical she was – practically an AI in human skin. I was frustrated by how clueless she was about Adam’s affections, but then again remembered being that age and misreading guys all the time. The drama of their romance proved to be unfounded and was a little anticlimactic for me, but I found their interactions to be cute. I think my favorite relationships and interactions involved the friends and fellow police officers who kept watch over the two as the bad guy(s) kept coming after them.

The underlying, terrible criminal activity that is unearthed in this novel is completely relevant and morbidly fascinating. If you live in the Houston area as I do, you’ve heard your share of stories with similar situations. I hope that books like this one build awareness and encourage people to take notice and take action. Sorry for being so elusive, but I don’t want to ruin the story for you.

I feel bad for saying this, but the Christian bits in this novel took me out of the story a little. I really wish they didn’t, but they did for some reason. However, don’t feel like you need to avoid this book if you’re adverse to religious or Christian novels.

This book is first and foremost a mystery. Don’t miss out on a great story that sheds light on a very ugly and real problem that we have in our country. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery and the satisfaction of justice served.

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Hidden Legacy (Love Inspired, June 2017) and Covert Justice, winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.
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Review and Giveaway: A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

A SPARKLE OF SILVER
Georgia Coast Romance #1
by
LIZ JOHNSON
Genre: Contemporary / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: October 16, 2018
Number of Pages: 368

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Millie Sullivan plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of a palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where her great-grandmother was a real guest ninety years ago. When Millie learns of a lost diary that may contain the location of a hidden treasure on the estate and reveal the identity of her great-grandfather, she sets out to find the truth of her heritage—and the fortune she desperately needs. But it won’t be easy.
When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. Still, her story seems too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up.
Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight.

PRAISE FOR A SPARKLE OF SILVER:

“A mystery, a treasure hunt, and a split-time romance—all set within a beautiful chateau. What more could we want?”—Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley and A Portrait of Emily Price
“A charming romance about real people triumphing over real problems. Add in a dash of mystery, a treasure hunt, and old family secrets, and you have a story that will warm every corner of your heart.”—Victoria Bylin, award-winning author of Together with You
“Lovers of history will enjoy this treasure-seeking adventure through a historic estate, and readers will appreciate a story that turns up riches of the lasting kind.”—Denise Hunter, bestselling author of Honeysuckle Dreams
CLICK TO PURCHASE
review

I had the hardest time putting this book down. It had so many details and moving parts in it that kept me reading well past my bedtime. The cover looks like your run of the mill romance set in some beautiful destination vacation spot, but it’s the quote by Denise Hunter that most clearly identifies what makes this novel different from the rest: it’s a mystery as well.

 

And it’s the mystery of who Millie’s great-grandfather is, and whether she could be the heir to a fortune, that propels our heroine and her unlikely sidekick, Ben. Actually, to be fair, Ben just thinks Millie is looking for a treasure, he has no idea that she might be an illegitimate heir from affluent stock hoping to come into some kind of an inheritance.
Kudos to Johnson for making us work for what we want to know. We are not told from the beginning that Ben and Millie are quite easy on the eyes; this is a revelation that comes to light as the two begin to trust each other and enjoy each other’s company. As each layer falls away, you can really believe that two strangers are falling in love, much like another couple that we see through old journal entries. Each story progresses nicely, maybe a little slowly with the intention of building suspense.

Johnson doesn’t hit you over the head with details, she merely inserts suggestions here and there. If you’re not reading carefully, you might miss them. I have gotten a little better with my predictions when reading mysteries, but I have to say that I missed the mark on the culprit. I actually couldn’t think of who the criminal mastermind could be. I did, however, predict the ending right. Read up and tell me if you figured it out.

 

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance and/or mystery. You can cozy up to this with a warm mug of deliciousness or lay out on a beach with a cool, refreshing drink. Either way, be on the look out for book #2.

 

Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Red Door InnWhere Two Hearts Meet, and On Love’s Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. A marketing manager for a Christian film company, she makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona.
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Review & Giveaway: The Encouragement Letters by Shanna Spence

THE ENCOURAGEMENT
LETTERS
by
SHANNA SPENCE
Sub-genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: November 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 180
Scroll down for the giveaway! 
WILLIAM CROMWELL, at age eleven, knew what it was like living with new changes. In 1865, Manchester, England a new textile factory moved into town and after a tragedy that befell him and his mum, they struggled to live. With so many things going on in his young life he wanted to be the encouragement that his father was to him.
As everything changes along with terrible hardships, just maybe the hope he gives to the growing town will find its way to Will…
PRAISE FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS: 
This was such an uplifting wholesome book! It was so nice to read something positive about a time when people were so willing to step in and help someone in need without expecting anything in return! I couldn’t put it down!– 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer
Excellent read!! This story speaks to people in all walks of life. It is encouraging, sweet, and funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to see what it means to “treat others as you want to be treated.” — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

 
A very inspiring book from a great new author! — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A charming tale of a simpler time. Yet, the message is ageless. I congratulate Ms. Spence on this her first effort and look forward to more entertaining reads from her in the future.— 5 Stars, Kindle reviewer
 
review
At first glance you can already tell that this book is historical. But the cover is so mature looking that I thought it might be a nonfiction book intended for adults. However, the book’s slight profile and, as I began to read, tone tipped me off to the intended middle grade audience. While an adult fiction book would ease the reader slowly into its world and gradually unfold the protagonist’s innermost desires or struggles, middle grade books tend to be more straight forward and honest with their intentions. I enjoy a flowery passage here or there, but the direct delivery found in books like this can be refreshing when you want to immerse yourself in a different world and just get down to the nitty gritty.
And poor little Will’s world is very gritty. Tragedy hasn’t lost his address as it continues to visit him at every turn. First his beloved father dies, then he worries that his mother is ill with the same affliction, and… well, I don’t want to ruin the story for you. But know that this young man is made of such wonderful moral fiber that he repays other people’s kindness with beautifully crafted, anonymous letters of encouragement until he is able to repay them properly. What really struck my heartstrings was the love and respect that he had for his mother. No matter how dire their situation, he never went against her wishes for him to continue his schooling and not work in a factory.
Spence did a really lovely job of creating characters that I cared about and set them in a time and place in history that I wasn’t very familiar with. I’ve read my fair share of books set across the pond or books that took place in the 1800s, but I’ve never read a combination of the two before. I was fully invested in the people, especially Will, and loved reading about a village that was helping to raise a good man.
I highly recommend this book to young readers and older readers alike. I think that this would be a great book to read in history class preceding lessons on the industrial revolution or child labor. But this is also a great book to read when life is getting you down and you need to pick yourself up.
Shanna Spence is a wife, mother, and registered nurse of over twenty years. She has written poetry since the age of thirteen and always dreamed of writing books. Raised in a small East Texas town, she pursued a career of nursing in Dallas, Texas but eventually went back to East Texas to settle down and raise a family.
Now she finally has found the time to fulfill her dream of writing stories that will hopefully bring out the imagination in others — as well as inspiration. She is currently living in Longview, Texas. 
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Review & Giveaway: Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

BURDEN OF PROOF
FBI Rapid Response, #1
by
DiANN MILLS
Genre: Inspirational /Mystery / Suspense / Romance
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Date of Publication: October 9, 2018
Number of Pages: 416

Scroll down for the giveaway!
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder. 
As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.
PRAISE FOR DiANN MILLS:
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” —Library Journal

“DiAnn Mills is a master of fast-paced and intricately plotted romantic suspense.” —Colleen Coble, Bestselling author

“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” —Publishers Weekly
CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER! 

review
I was excited to get a copy of DiAnn Mills’ latest book because she never fails to capture my undivided attention. I get a little breathless when gripped with suspense or excitement, and this book is filled with so many moments that make your heart skip a beat. Mills is especially skilled when it comes to writing dialogue. Each characters’ speech sounds natural and flows just as well as the non-dialogue text. When Mills switches the point of view, there is no confusion because the character’s voice shines through very clearly and the writing style is concise.
I can say with all honesty that Mills’ books are all very unique. Although I’ve read several FBI-mystery-romance books by her, they are all very different from each other, as well as books by other authors in the same genre. You would think that there are only so many meet-cute scenarios that can happen between an FBI agent and a paramour, but Mills will raise you another. In fact, she will keep them coming since this is the first book of a new series.
I’m Filipino, so I’m excited to see a Filipino protagonist whose ethnicity is not central to the plot. Sure, Mills throws in an Adobo reference – you should try this dish if you haven’t yet (it’s not the same as the Hispanic Adobo dish) – but April could be any ethnicity really. But since she’s not just any ethnicity, I’m going to nitpick a little. April is uncomfortable during long prayers, but most Filipinos are (or were at one time in their life) Catholic, so super long prayers – Hail Mary, anyone? – should be no biggie. April’s parents would prefer that she was a university professor rather than an FBI agent. Are you kidding? Filipinos love to brag and most of them love guns as well. And they live in Texas? Game over. They have guns of all shapes and sizes. And they would bring all those guns to the range to show their friends while they proudly talked about their FBI agent daughter.
But overall, I’m really amazed at how Mills’ characters spring to life in every book, this one especially. I think she is very successful with her portrayal of April’s struggle to do the right thing because I was constantly second guessing myself on what was the “right” or best thing to do in that situation too. I feel lucky to not have to make decisions that place my family on one side of the scale and the community on the other. I suppose most normal Joes like myself don’t have to.
I look forward to reading the next book. While you wait for the next installment, I suggest you pick up one of her FBI Task Force novels.

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne du Maurier, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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Review & Giveaway: Cowboy Charm School by Margaret Brownley


COWBOY CHARM SCHOOL 
HAYWIRE BRIDES, #1

by
MARGARET BROWNLEY
Sub-genre: Western / Clean Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: September 4, 2018
Number of Pages: 384
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When Texas Ranger Brett Tucker accidentally derails a wedding, he’s determined to bring the estranged couple back together…but he never dreamed he’d start falling for the bride!
Texas Ranger Brett Tucker hates to break up a wedding, but the groom—notorious criminal Frank Foster—is a danger to any woman. So he busts into the church, guns blazing…only to find he has the wrong man.
 
STOP THAT WEDDING!
Bride-to-be Kate Denver is appalled by her fiancé’s over-the-top reaction to the innocent mistake and calls off the wedding—for good. Guilt-ridden, Brett’s desperate to get them back on track. But the more time he spends with Kate, the harder he falls…and the more he yearns to prove that he’s her true match in every way.
“Light and airy as cotton candy, this tale charms.” 
— Publishers Weekly
 
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review
From the very first chapter, I could tell that this book wasn’t written by your typical romance novelist. I can’t put my finger on it, but perhaps it is Brownley’s word choice – none of those overused descriptions we see in most western romance novels – that sets this book apart from all the other romance novels I have read. Or maybe it’s because that first chapter, so suspenseful and visceral, doesn’t read like a romance at all. But don’t worry, come chapter two, you definitely know that you have picked up a romance novel, if the pretty book cover hasn’t tipped you off yet.
If you follow my blog, you know that I have recently reviewed another western romance that featured a young woman who makes candy for a living and eventually falls in love with a law man. You can rest easy that this book is completely different and exciting to read. The search for the robbers is paced nicely with very subtle clues about who the culprits might be. Kate’s job as the town’s candymaker is more than just a quaint occupation she holds, but a family legacy and vehicle with which she spreads hope and goodwill to the citizens of Haywire.
The part that I enjoyed most, that also had me sighing with exasperation at times, was Brett’s tutelage of Frank – very Cyrano de Bergerac. Although, I got the impression that Brett was easier on the eyes than Frank, which is not the typical Cyrano reincarnation. The whole “Cowboy Charm School” thing had me at war with myself. The idea that a guy can learn to be more romantic was sweet, but at what point is it like the games guys play nowadays just to land the girl? And the sticky situation of falling in love with someone that you’re trying to help someone else woo, that doesn’t usually work out well either. No matter, it was fun to read and to guess how it would work out in the end.
While Brownley’s language is beautiful, it’s not too flowery. There are no wasted descriptions or useless dialogue. I really am amazed that although this book can be considered a mystery, it very solidly reads like the western romance that it is classified as. I look forward to reading about the other Haywire brides.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a cozy romance, but also to anyone who likes mysteries as well.
New York Times bestselling author MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned more than forty-five novels and novellas. She’s a two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap. She is also a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award.  
 
Her story, A Pony Express Christmas, will appear this fall in the Old West Christmas Brides collection, and book two of her Haywire Brides series will be published May 2019.  Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English.  Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
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