Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Quinn, Carr and Macomber

Full Contact

Tara Taylor Quinn

 ♥♥♥♥♥

This August 2011 Super Romance returns us to Shelter Valley, updating us on Shelley Moore’s life story. Shelley helped break a prostitution ring when car trouble and a poor choice led her to attempt hitchhiking in safe Shelter Valley. A high dollar john mistook her for his designated trick and brutally raped her.

She married her childhood sweetheart, but mere physical touch still unnerves her. The couple divorced and her ex has remarried. Things are so bad she barely tolerates spontaneous hugs from her young son. Her therapist suggests she try noninvasive healing touch through massage, a method commonly used on sexual abuse victims.

This visit to Shelter Valley, once again, provides a satisfying nuanced read. It gives a more realistic outcome for a virgin who suffers brutal rape than to go forward living a normal life without years of therapy. Realistically, times have changed since the first book and people are now more open to noninvasive massage to help rape victims recover. Excellent way to pass the word to damaged people everywhere. Thank you, Tara Taylor Quinn.

Forbidden Falls

Robyn Carr

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Readers ,this reviewer just started reading Robyn Carr. Virgin River series is slated to be nineteen books and novellas by May. Forbidden Falls is about midway through the series. My ninety-one year old father is devouring this series at the rate of a book a day.

The main characters in this book are new to Virgin River. Noah Kincaid is a Presbyterian minister who purchased the local church on e-Bay. He needs an assistant who can multi-task and finds one in Ellie Baldwin. She needs an upstanding job to regain custody of her two children from her ex-husband. I will not spoil the plot because in this read, especially, most of the fun is the twists and turns which unfold about Noah, Ellie, and local citizens. This book is a romance for romance lovers. Pick up your copy today.

Hannah’s List

Debbie Macomber

 Part of the Blossom Street series, Hannah’s List has intrigued me on the best seller lists. The premise is interesting. A dying young wife writes a letter to be given to her husband one year later. She suggests three possible women for him to consider for his next marriage. The first two women are available but in love with another, so it gets ‘kinda’ sticky.

The third choice entertained everyone but the widower. Consider the source of her first name, Macy. She feels lucky her mom was not in Neiman-Marcus when she went into labor. Macomber writes likeable characters. In this read you’ll find laughter and tears.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

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Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Bond, Pappano and Morsi

Our Husband

STEPHANIE BOND

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 Stephanie Bond’s first book has long been a favorite which holds up well over time. This wild romp came from the author of the successful Body Movers series. Bond’s hook is a traveling salesman has three wives scattered along his route. His three wives vary in age, education, and backgrounds. His first wife, Beatrix he married for money. His second wife, Natalie could be his daughter. His third wife, Ruby could be his granddaughter with Beatrix. Their personalities are different but they share the common thread of accepting superficial marriages without much communication because his force of personality gives each woman the feeling that she is special.

 The women each give him a gift. Beatrix provides status. Natalie allows him access to her medical earnings. Ruby renews his passion and builds an aging man’s ego.

When these women become the prime suspects in his murder they unite to solve the mystery. Their road trip is the stuff of family legends.

Because Bond is such a good writer, by the last page you will come to see all three as quite likeable.

Copper Lake Secrets

Marilyn Pappano

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Marilyn Pappano takes her readers along the reading experience like the consummate professional she is. Her books engage you. Believable and well-crafted characters become your friends, neighbors, or people you have heard about—Irish travelers.

The way the suspense grows with her main characters is refreshing as they are not at odds like the often written pair who instantly hate each other and then fall in love. Both seek answers to personal demons finding the answer in Copper Lake. They work together and grow to love one another while the suspense builds through more deadly threats.

The descriptive is rich, encompassing the reader in things as simple as childhood swims and as complicated as survival of our main characters. With Marilyn Pappano layering the plot, it is just so fascinating to read beyond the first layer. An awesome romantic suspense. I loved the Copper Lake estate where the action takes place. I enjoyed touching base with a familiar character or two. Pappano’s storytelling in this book is among some of her best. She had an earlier work turned into a movie for Hallmark. This one would translate easily to the big screen and is scary enough to draw in a wide audience of both sexes. Undoubtedly one of the best reads over over 360 books for me last year. Pick up your copy and feast on the work of a gifted writer.

Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar

Pamela Morsi

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One of the best books I read last year is Morsi’s tale of Emmaline (Red) Cullens who has worked from homeless unwed teenage mother to proprietress of her own bar in a little locals’ hangout beyond the upscale River Walk of San Antonio, TX. While both are bound by the river, her piece of Heaven is definitely low rent.

Red is proud of her adult daughter serving in Afghanistan. Currently as a cougar to fiddler, Cam, she has good lovin’ and is not yet ready to kick him to the curb. One call from Bridge, her daughter, endangers this good life. Bridge’s ex-husband is deployed in S. Korea and out of the picture. His mother providing care for the grandchildren suffered a stroke. Red must take care of two grandchildren she barely knows.

I’m sure readers will enjoy Cam’s skills with children and helping Red grow. The two grandchildren are just incredible. Cam’s aunt adds another dimension to the story, enhancing the reader’s experience. Red learns to navigate PTA, its dragon lady, and a no show cupcake booth worker who ensnarls her in working the politically correct cupcake booth from hell. If ever a booth needed two workers it’s this one. Poignant and at times funny beyond belief, savor the read.

The quotable dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Once you meet Red you will understand the phrase: “A heart as big as Texas.”

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Robyn Daniels’ Friday Book Reviews: Meier, McCoy and Bashi

KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST

SUSAN MEIER

(HARLEQUIN ROMANCE 12/11)

An uplifting tale serves a well-liked woman floundering in her personal life, but highly effective at her job. A blizzard sends the potential buyer for her family’s business with his young Diva Christmas-hating daughter to her door for shelter.

Our attractive heroine, one of the most maternal and intuitive mother figures ever written, quickly helps the Diva fade and a Christmas-loving child spring forth. The hero is well written as both a good man and a caring father. He is, also, a bit of a handsome charmer used to getting further with a good body and nice manners. Our heroine makes him re-evaluate these gifts and what might win her over.

A nice holiday read with many holiday trimmings.

LONE DEFENDER

Shirlee McCoy

(Love Inspired Suspense 9/11)

This offering from the Heroes for Hire provided me a new experience. It offered an uplifting read without seeming to be at a tent revival. Skylar Grady is a private investigator abducted to the Arizona desert where she wakes up without survival skills except a strong will to live. She has been on a case tracking a deadbeat dad so she can’t figure out why the stakes grew so high.

It is a suspenseful, fun, romantic, and spiritually uplifting read. The hero is wounded but such a great match for our heroine’s Happy Ever after (HEA).

If you shy away from overly preachy books but are a Believer, see faith in daily life as portrayed by McCoy.

NYLON ROAD: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR

Parsua Bashi

This true graphic coming of age memoir tells the story of Bashi, an Iranian born in 1966. Pre-revolution, her parents enjoyed a certain lifestyle and political voice. Both disappeared with growing food scarcity.

The illustrations produce a fluidity I have not seen in other graphic novels. Admittedly, I have not read more than a dozen, but I encourage you to look at the artwork.

Bashi tracks her passage from pre-revolutionary politically active pre-teen to teen years under the Khomeini era. She loyally resisted chances to migrate from her homeland to stay with her parents.

She details restraints on Muslim Iranian women, which unfold at times a touch brutal but realistic.

The book encourages introspection. “I learned that not knowing is not a sin. Not knowing and yet being prejudged is where the problem starts.” P.79

Her knowledge of other cultures helps human understanding. Her book’s message is more encompassing than just human understanding and worth the read.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

 

Friday Book Reviews: Thomson, Thayer and Osborne

SHROUDED IN DARKNESS

BY

H.D. Thomson 

A friend suggested I read this paranormal suspense. Boy, I’m glad I did for its impressive prose and word choices selected to enhance tension. The story unfolds with edge of the seat suspense which caused me to jump more than once as I read (I admit to being a “weinie” about scary things). Thomson writes romance to engage the senses with sizzling love scenes. (an e-book)

 

THE COWBOY’S BABY

Patricia Thayer

Thayer’s (Harlequin Romance 7/09) rancher Trace McKane has an infertile wife, Kira. Both likeable characters have ruined their happiness and marriage trying to build a family. In this realistic book Kira speaks ten words to each verbal movement of her husband’s lips. Just as it is in real life, this simple explanation of the delicate verbal communications outside the bedroom offers realistic dialogue should anyone want to study how couples speak. Nicely done.

 

TEXT ORDER BRIDE

Kristen Osbourne 

A fun premise for what proved a too short book (e-book). A former college roommate, now a minister’s wife, sets up her thirty-two year old single tall friend in Texas with an even taller dairy farmer in Wisconsin. After a month exchanging texts, he proposes sight unseen. They trade pictures. Their first face to face contact is at the altar. Jason makes it clear to Amanda they will consummate the wedding on the first night of their brief honeymoon. A nice ‘baby story at 66 pages’ which could have grown into a good romance novel. It made a pleasant afternoon diversion.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews: Templeton, Molay, and Kent

Recently sickness encouraged me to seek comfort from my keeper books. So here are a few I always enjoy.

From Friends to Forever

Karen Templeton

Silhouette Special Edition 8/09

Tony Vaccaro is an all-Italian Northeastern male who loves his children. Therefore, he does housework, even toilets. Hungarian Lili Szabo is visiting her aunt and his uncle after her mother’s death. Widowed Tony has three well drawn adorable daughters who, along with him, would benefit from a traditional wife and helpmate. Sooner would be better as his wealthy in-laws miss their only child. They could afford to raise their grandchildren and are young enough to do a good job.

Templeton fills this book with snappy dialogue—some Hungarian, some Jersey shore, and some kid speak,  all done to perfection by a great ear mimicking with the best.

Where Templeton excels is getting us to care for two ordinary young people showing promises of greatness whose final careers are not flashy or high income but satisfying and well-suited to these nice people. Their shared love of family is touching. They surmount serious obstacles to earn their Happily Ever After (HEA).

For authors-in-training struggling to write dialogue, perhaps a study of this book or the author’s other books would prove informative.

Married by Midnight

Mollie Molay

Harlequin American 2/00

This American Romance is well-plotted. Tension layers up throughout the book. The premise is simple. Are the best man and bridesmaid a couple in the legal sense when they wake up in the bridal suite?

With the bride from Irish uniform class and the groom from Boston bluebloods, the author uses stereotypes but bends them enough to keep an interesting read and a fresh ending.

Call Me

Allison Kent

About eighteen years ago, “CBS 48 Hours” did a live story on an author getting the call from Harlequin books. This is the book.

Kent provided a solid and different hook: two single type-A personalities with no time to date flirting on an airplane. As they disembark, he hands her his business card. On the back is written, “Call me.”

Gardner Barnes and Harley Golden find love finds a way despite each running a profitable business. With love, they slay dragons under the skilled pen of realistic obstacles and great characters to enjoy HEA.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Moriyama, Knupp and Wind

Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat

Naomi Moriyama

♥♥♥

I enjoyed the recipes available in this book. I believe changing to food from these recipes twice a week would help overweight Americans. When menopause hits, even Japanese women can get broad of the beam. With that said, Westerners reading the recipes with an interest toward cutting back can find menu ideas. Note: Breakfast is the biggest meal.

 Several reviewers who have lived in Japan agree with my foreign student experience. They were not exposed to as much sugar as I ate during childhood. Consequently, in private it was not uncommon to see petite females inhale sweets at lightning speeds. We fixed homemade candy. They stuffed it in faster than we could make it.

Before making a major lifestyle change, do some more reading. It is a well written book.

The Boy Next Door

Amy Knupp

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An up and coming Kansas writer, Amy Knupp ratchets up tension just having Zach Rundle, a young neighbor, climb a tree to reach the second story where Lindsay Salinger is sleeping as she cares for her ailing father. The descriptive made words more than just words.

These longtime neighbors have ignored each other since Zach’s drunken brother killed Mrs. Salinger on impact in a neighborhood car crash while Lindsay drove. Lindsay has survivor’s guilt.

These two have long been attracted. Zach left the taint of being a Rundle behind and has made a good career in Wichita construction. Lindsay’s work makes her notice Zach’s young nephew in the sole care of the elderly great grandma. Lindsay works for something like Child Welfare for the state. She tries to get the boy’s irresponsible father to bond with his son. She fails. Then she goes to work on Zach to step up while he still believes his grandmother is up to caring for the little boy.

Watching the emotional growth of all the characters throughout the book evolve in subtle and more obvious ways made this an interesting character study.

Meant to be Married

Ruth Wind

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A multigenerational feud between two once wealthy families re-ignites every generation or so. The most recent start-crossed lovers, Elias Santiagos and Sarah Greenwood, lose their first chance at love. It costs both of them more than the other knows. Their families are both proud. His family is not pleased with Sarah’s return to Taos, New Mexico over a decade later.

Her father’s illness draws her home to try and make amends for their over decade long breach.

Elias and Sarah have an interesting book which pulls the reader into their angst. Yet the reader feels that special once in a lifetime deep love some are lucky enough to find in their youth.

Sarah has survived by removing all long buried anguish and numbing her mind (dissociative disorder for the severe trauma which overwhelms people). Her coping methods don’t work once she is pulled between two proud men–her true love and her father. One thing which helps her is herbal tea provided by Elias’ grandmother. The woman gives her both the chance to rest and sleep well despite the stress. Her guidance sparks Sarah find her own healing. Elias finds he can grieve his losses to heal.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Thomas, Burpo and Vincent, and Sutherland

Widows of Wichita County

Jodi Thomas

♥♥♥♥♥

When an oil well begins producing, the driller finally has the money to fulfill his/her ‘pipe dreams’. This book signaled a new contemporary direction for Thomas after starting in Texas historicals. It is a lush book about five women married to larger than life men.

An oil rig explosion burns the men beyond recognition. The wives are called to the hospital. They make an agreement to support each other anxiously awaiting news. Two women are friends. Crystal and Randi talk honestly in the first minutes. Then, without words, Randi understands Crystal needs a husband to love. Randi lacks staying power in marriage unlike Crystal.

When the only means to identify whose husband is the survivor is a plain wedding band, they exchange a subtle glance. Crystal stays by her husband’s bedside strengthening him.

She proves a major thorn in his greedy son’s side. As a trophy wife, she will be penniless and homeless without her husband. When this son tries to prove his father incompetent, it is only because of her husband’s vanity in refusing to wear glasses to read and sign checks that she was granted authority to sign the checks he dictated. Thus, this record of her writing checks keeps the business in her hands. Throughout the book her growth is stunning.

Helen, a businesswoman and town leader, has adult twin daughters. Only after she is widowed does she begin to see their many good points. She holds the younger widows together and guides them to become more self-sufficient women.

Ana, an upper class Italian, grew up around bullies and disrespect in her parent’s household. Her older husband married her for breeding stock. When that failed, he ignored her and her wishes.

As a wonderful second grade teacher, a career she loves, Meredith married the high school’s star jock who never graduated beyond his high school fame. She is not a Texas beauty. Her wardrobe appeals to her second graders. It does nothing to show off her assets to men. Even should the money for a better wardrobe come after she pays off her mountain of debts, it is iffy a man will look toward her inner strengths.

Thomas describes Randi as always getting the bigger piece of the cake. She is pure white trash complete with a plastic leather coat, super short skirts that display her long legged assets, and cowboy boots. She drinks too much. She wants to chase her dreams, not settle down.

Sometimes a serious book can make you smile thanks to well drawn characters and in the telling. The book was re-issued this summer.

Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

♥♥♥♥

For believers, this is a very reassuring and faith inspiring book. For non-believers, it gives the reader something to consider.

Late Bloomer

Peg Sutherland

♥♥♥♥  

First of a four book series set in Sweetbranch, Alabama.

Hero Ben McKinzie is first a father. He steals his toddler from the drinking of his ex-wife and her stepfather’s abusive temper. Ben plans to go underground and leave his company business in his brother’s hands.

His first stop toward the underground is Sweetbranch, where he walks into Rose Finley’s Picture Perfect Beauty Salon. His little withdrawn daughter warms up to Rose as she snips off enough hair to subtly change the little girl’s appearance.

Rose dreads turning forty without ever having ‘good lovin’, her college education, or much excitement in her life. She speaks politely to the man passing through as she works. In good conscience Rose can’t allow this out of work man to take his daughter to the rowdy motel. She rents them rooms in her two story house where she lives with Uncle Bump, the local curmudgeon, her cooked food source, and last living relative.

Sutherland constructed three great reads from this start. Each offers a rich textured picture of the deep Southern roots I grew up with in that simpler time before the New South most of us know. These books are peopled with memorable characters you’ll grow to love and remember long after you finishing reading.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels