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

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Morsi and Two by Johnston

Last Dance at the Jitterbug Lounge

 Pamela Morsi

This multigenerational excellent read covers Western life from the deep Great Depression until current times. The Crabtree family patriarch is dying. His namesake grandson Jack Crabtree barely manages time off to visit.

Jack and his wife Claire drive up from Texas to the Catawah, OK home place. They married very young and have done well but grown apart. Jack’s focus has been business and acquiring to be wealthy of his college educated and professional mother and step family.

Claire worries about his attractive and controlling female business associate who spends more time with Jack than she does. It is Jack’s perfect mother who insists Claire go with Jack to Catawah.

The book covers the marriages of three generations helping the couple rekindle their own love. A worthy read for the memorably drawn characters. More importantly is how the Jitterbug Lounge figures into the family’s history.

The Unforgiving Bride

Joan Johnston

A 1994 Silhoutte Desire, first in the Children of Hawk’s Way moving from the Hawk’s Way series.

Johnston’s first novel incorporating acute lymphocytic leukemia and by now the treatment is probably dated. Johnston takes on the high cost of medical care in America which is even more relevant today.

As a romance writer she uses Falcon Whitelaw’s ‘guilt’ for killing Mara’s husband a year before to seek an unsecured loan to save her sick young daughter without having to travel from the stability of her first real home. Treatment would be available at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN if she were willing to travel from Texas to Tennessee.

A freewheeling inheritor, Falcon has squandered away most of his inheritance in five years. The only help he can offer the angry and somewhat bitter woman is health insurance her daughter would be entitled to use if the couple marry.

It is a sparse well-written story of second chances.

Shattered

Joan Johnston

Johnston is deep into a multigenerational saga on which she has built a loyal following. She uses leukemia, again. This time a couple’s child needs a bone marrow transplant.

As Shattered is a longer book covering stories, let me say it builds on long-term love; crossover love; the things we do for love; just how stupid can a character be; and yes, you can get pregnant with unprotected sex more than once.

It is a fast moving book. Once again, only with a few changes we learn a young person had a fortune which was depleted in five years. This time a female married into a prominent family. The mother-in-law is the Texas Governor who wants to win the White House. It is her son who burned through the wife’s money. Saying more would give away too much.

My second objection to this book is that one man is planning to marry a woman only a couple years older than his child. Maybe no other reader will notice. 

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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

 

A Different Kind of Hero

Over the years, I’ve gotten more than the usual commentary on a few of my heroes who were considered a few steps outside the norm. The hero of my first book, WITHIN REACH, was Mexican. Another, in SOMEBODY’S BABY, was homely. ROGUE’S REFORM’s hero was a con artist villain of sorts from an earlier book.

That all sounds pretty tame now, doesn’t it? But at the times those books were published, those heroes were unusual, though well accepted. Plenty of readers were ready for something different from the rich, powerful, drop-dead gorgeous run-of-the-mill (for that time) hero.

I’m happy to say that in some ways, at least, times have seriously changed. I’ve done other minority heroes, and did another true-blue liar, cheat and thief hero who didn’t even raise any eyebrows.

I just finished reading a book with one of the two most unusual heroes I’ve ever read, both in historical romances. The first, from years ago, was SIMPLE JESS, by Pamela Morsi. Jess truly was simple, caused by an injury during birth, if I remember correctly. But he was an amazingly sweet and endearing hero. If you haven’t read the book, find a copy. It’s a lovely story.

The book I just finished is THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley. Ian is, basically, a savant. He doesn’t grasp a lot — can’t follow conversations, doesn’t understand much that’s said to him, learns how to respond to things by watching others — but he, too, is an endearing hero. He was such a refreshing change from all the smug, incredibly handsome, incredibly rich, (though he’s both of those, too), and incredibly accomplished/sexy/arrogant/etc nobles that populate most British historicals. It was a pleasure to watch him learn what love is and to realize that he, like everyone else, can feel it.

I like a good hero, but reading (and writing) as much as I do,  I sometimes feel as if I’ve seen them all too many times before. Heroes like Simple Jess and Mad Ian don’t come along often, so I’m thrilled when they do. Do your best to support their creators. Buy these authors’ books so we can have more great heroes.