Search

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Category

Romantic Mystery

Volunteer Firefighters Have The Heart . . . #romanticmystery #volunteerfirefighters

“Every quirky girl doesn’t have to be the best-friend character. It’s a very limiting and self-fulfilling prophecy. People only write things that will get green-lit, so they write to those stereotypes.” – Felicia Day

But Then . . .

“Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest. When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart.” – Ed Koch

The author of “A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” has tried very hard to stereotype herself and her work, to fit  into a very narrow, very self-limiting pigeonhole.

Pigeonhole: Verb (used with object) to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system:
to pigeonhole new ideas.

Trey Duvall is a rancher, proud as can be of his Wildcat Ranch. He’s also the top volunteer firefighter of Wildcat Bluff, the town that pulls out all the stops for its Christmas festivities. Misty Reynolds pulls into town just in time to help Trey put out a suspicious fire, leading him to dub her his “Christmas angel”. Unfortunately, Misty’s past has left her with terrible memories of fire, and of Christmas time. As the two are unwittingly thrown together again and again, can Trey win Misty’s trust — and her heart Misty’s trust — and her heart? Texas volunteer fire departments as part of Assistance to Firefighters ...

Sigh. I hate when this happens. You see, like other books I have reviewed, and suggested a wider audience consider, this book doesn’t fall into the “Only Read If You Like Mushy Romance” category. The characters shouldn’t be typecast as “Hunky Hero” and “Insipid Pseudo-Heroine” with a “Hero Rides in on His White Horse and Saves the Day” insipid sort of blurb such as this book is stuck with. It needs something more along the line of pointing out that the town of Wildcat Bluff is filled with quirky, unusual characters who care deeply for their town, their people, and their history. An important part of that sense of community is their volunteer fire department and all it does to keep their community safe.

“There are bad things happening in Wildcat Bluff just before their Christmas in the Country celebration. Arson fires are spreading in the tinder-dry countryside, exasperated by the ongoing drought, and cut fences and grass fires are threatening Trey Duvall’s historic cattle ranch. When Misty Reynolds rolls up to a grass fire Trey is putting out in his pasture and he runs out in front of her to try and stop her for help, he has no idea that she is actually there as a troubleshooter for Texas Timber, the company that has had a Christmas tree farm burned already, and had others threatened. Finding the arsonist means that Misty has to stay undercover and spend time questioning, and suspecting, everyone in town. And when she learns that Trey has a bone to pick with Texas Timber, he moves straight to the ‘suspect’ column.”

housefire-kitten3
Volunteer firefighter saving the life of a kitten with a pet oxygen kit. Please as your volunteer fire department if you can help with a benefit for Pet Oxygen Kits to help save pets caught in fires! Thank you!!!!!!
https://i2.wp.com/www.petoxygenmasks.org/assets/images/logo.gif
Because the Pet’s Life They Save May Be Your Own™ Click the logo to visit the “Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative” to make a difference! Thank you!!!!

OK, I am not known for my stellar ability to write blurbs, I give you that. But mine gives a better feel for what is going on. Misty isn’t a blond bimbo, Trey isn’t a hulking Alpha male bent on getting into every woman’s pants he can hold down long enough, and the people of the town are as important to the character list as the two main characters. There are important messages in the book about community, about overcoming horrors in your childhood that carry over into adulthood, and about the ways in which power and greed can destroy everything a community tries to build. The people of Wildcat Bluff are kind, they help one another, and the volunteers literally risk their life every time they go out on a call. The community has pulled together to form a strictly volunteer department, put on bake sales to buy equipment, and are proud of who they are and what they do. That deserves a lot more credit than it gets – either with the cover, or with the blurb.

 

Memorial Service for West, Texas (my old hometown) volunteer firefighters killed while fighting the April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. The memorial service honored those first responders and two civilians who tried to fight the fire and were posthumously named volunteer first responders.

If you like books that highlight a sense of community, that include a mystery, suspense, a few thrills – and yes, a good romantic storyline – overlook the blurb and the cover and give this one a try.

You will note I didn’t post the cover of the book in my review – any of the photos on this page give more respect to the book than the totally lame cover does. I am disappointed that the publisher tried so hard to minimize, pigeonhole and lower the impact of the book. I hate seeing that happen to books with such promise, that many will simply skip over based on poor art and a poor blurb.

It is still available for request on Netgalley.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please take a moment to “Like” my review on GoodReads. Thank you!

“A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” is in preorder status until publication on October 6, 2015.

 

vfisoftexas

In case you haven’t noticed – this has a “Save the Kitty!” aspect – and I couldn’t resist adding a couple more “Firefighter Saves!!!!” Photos. Firefighters RULE!!!

I was SOO SCARED!!! And Then! And Then! This FIREMAN showed up!!!!!

Thank you, Mr. Fireman!!! Kisses!!!!

About The Author

Kim Redford draws her inspiration from a Texas lifestyle of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, rodeos and small towns to create her bestselling novels. When she’s not writing steamy romances, she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider. She divides her time between Texas and Oklahoma. A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas is first in her Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series with Blazing Hot Cowboy coming soon.

I don’t know about the “bestselling novels” thing. Her site is nonexistent, and goodreads shows only this book, set to publish October 6, so maybe she is writing under a pseudonym? If this is indeed her first book, I hope she will widen her audience by moving away from sticking herself into a single cubbyhole with her publication, marketing and cover strategy. The whole “steamy romance” thing is self-limiting when she can write good stories that encompass a wide ranging storyline such as this book exemplifies.

Review: Mocha, Moonlight and Murder by MaryAnn Kempher

Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder by MaryAnn KempherSometimes, as I have pointed out possibly too many times, one simply needs a simple read. Cozy romantic mystery can very easily fill that spot, allowing for a relaxing read on a rainy day. And “Mocha, Moonlight and Murder” had the potential to be quite enjoyable. Katherine O’Brian, the heroine, has had it rough lately. Kate is newly divorced from a cheating scum-bag of a husband, recently orphaned, and trying desperately to build a relationship with a sister she barely knows. Throw in going back to school as an adult student and witnessing a shadowy figure pulling a blanket-wrapped body from the trunk of a car and the stress is almost more than she can stand.

The ideas are good, however the execution left a bit to be desired. One of my least favorite things is the old, worn-out “triangle love affair”. Irritates me to no end. Of course, that is a personal issue, so if you like that sort of thing you will like this. The other thing that bothered me is that the mystery wasn’t handled well. I was rather ‘fumbling’ though the idea was good.

The romantic aspect was totally irritating – it took a full star away on its own. I found it stiff and unrealistic, though there were some funny moments. The culmination was awkward – but giving any more info will possibly give too much away, so I will just leave it that it didn’t feel realistic or smooth.

Finally, as the book is already published, I can’t help but wonder if that means the grammatical errors made it through to publication? I received my copy of this book from Netgalley.com in return for a realistic review, so that is something I have to consider.

Overall, it will be more enjoyable for the proper audience. I simply couldn’t really identify with the characters.

Review: Midnight Sun by Rachel Grant

I am told that there is a proverbial phrase among the Inuit: ‘A long time ago, in the future.’ Let the children see our history, and maybe it will help to shape the future. – Romeo LeBlanc

Rachel Grant is a professional archaeologist and four-time Golden Heart® finalist, a writer of contemporary romantic suspense with “archaeological and historical storylines”. When I was asked to read Ms. Grant’s Midnight Sun I was excitedly looking forward to reading a story filled with Iñupiat history, characters and the landscape of the lands of the Midnight Sun. I was disappointed. It isn’t a bad book. Standard “contemporary romantic suspense” – girl meets boy, boy saves girl, HEA the end.

I expected more from a trained archeologist. Quite a bit more. Heck, even meeting some of the actual Iñupiat people would have been nice. The concept was good, and had great potential. An ancient mask pushes a museumologist to return it to Alaska to its Iñupiat tribe from which it was stolen. The magical and the ghostly is there, but otherwise the book didn’t really grab me – in all likelihood because I expected more based upon Rachel Grant’s training. Of course, now that I look at the cover, I don’t know why I am surprised. Sigh.

Not a bad book, just nothing special. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Review: Heart Of Africa By Loren Lockner

 23355539Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. – Coco Chanel

 It’s estimated that across Africa 100 elephants are killed for their tusks every day. It takes nothing more than simple math to get to what that adds up to in a year, and it’s a distressing figure. – Graydon Carter


The unmerciful sun refused my commands and set unconcernedly behind the dry acacias, stealing with it any remaining warmth of the day.

 Poor Mandy Phillips. Dismissed as worthless by her mother and cousin since she was a child, she is shy, introverted, and never speaks up for herself, much less having an adventure. But when her up-and-coming physician fiancé decides to toss her over for 19-year-old blonde floozy, Mandy has had enough. So, she decides to take an even more adventurous trip than the African honeymoon they had planned.

I wish to book a trip to Africa, but not to Kenya. Perhaps you could recommend a destination full of intriguing sights and wild animals? A first class safari to… um… somewhere else?”

Such begins Mandy’s Big Adventure. An adventure that will take her beyond the boundaries of Kruger National Park and into the wild in a desperate race to survive. A race through a land where every step may mean her death.

This is a beautiful book. The world building is amazingly gorgeous, filled with the life of Africa, the joy and the heartache, the poverty and pain, and the overwhelming beauty of a country ancient beyond belief, the home of humanity and of life itself. And where humans think nothing of killing a rare rhino for its horn, leaving the animal to rot in the sun, and a simple misstep can cost your life.

While this is a romantic suspense, it is much more than that. The romance portion is well done and believable – the hero is not perfect by any means, nor is the heroine. But that is what makes everything so perfect. They have to fight every step of the way simply to survive. But it is the reality of the suspense that made this such a special book. Well, and the beauty of Africa, the birds and beasts, the flora and fauna unlike any other. It fills the book with wonder, tugging my heart to its mysterious shores. There is pain there, poverty and death, but overall it is a country which calls to the soul. Lockner blends and weaves the country and its people into a story of love and survival which will touch your heart, and open your soul to adventure beyond any you might image.

Highly recommended!

Review: Lost In New Falls: Lost In Love #1 By Cherie Marks

newfakksSometimes, one needs a happily-ever-after, and from the beginning of Lost in New Falls you know you are going to get one. But the path to the end in this particular book is funny, charming and also deeply sad, but with a thread of hope and caring through it all.

Kate Delaney is the character many of us can identify with great ease from our own childhood experiences. The ‘friendly fat girl’ all through school in New Falls, Tennessee she and her brother Reese find themselves in the care of their beloved grandfather when their parents are killed in an accident. Tagging along after Reese and his best friend, Quentin Taylor, Kate spends her childhood and teen years being just one of the boys. When her growing attraction to Quentin leads to heartbreak, her path takes her to Hollywood, where she ghostwrites, writes for the occasional television show, and is now climbing her way to success. With a famous producer now wanting her newest script, this should be the happiest time of her life. However, her beloved grandfather is close to death, and she must return to Tennessee to be with him in his final days. Of course, with email, she can still finish her script in the cabin her grandfather once called home. Oops.

Returning to the cabin after a visit to her grandfather in the hospital, Kate discovers that her cabin has been robbed, her laptop, flash drive backup gone, and even her underwear drawer cleaned out. What happens next is funny in a mildly slapstick way as Kate attempts to ship off the rough paper copy of her work to her agent, only to wind up in a game of pass-the-football with her treasured screenplay. Everyone in town seems to be reading her work, but whether it gets to her agent is another question.

Cherie Marks characters are funny and charming, thought the whole “Hillbilly Red Neck” situation comes into play, but not in a grating way. The chase for the burglar is well done, and quite realistic overall, and the thief was a shocker – funny as all get out in the end, though the acts weren’t themselves funny at all.

This is a great summer read. I accepted the book as I admire Cherie Marks, a breast cancer survivor like myself. Now, I am glad I did simply because I enjoyed the book and want to read more of her work.

I receive this book in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Get The Book:

bambnbuyBuy-Now-Button_Amazonpowells
bookdepository

alibris amazon.caamazon uk

idreambookslogo
About The Author:

It all started with an old fashioned typewriter. When my family brought it home, all those stories and characters rolling around in my head could finally get out. The press and click of the keys satisfied in their own right, but when I pulled out a finished page, I knew this was for me. Since then, I’ve graduated to a laptop, but the stories still find a way out.
I’m a breast cancer survivor, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and from the very beginning—a storyteller. Always a hint humorous and honest to a fault, I love to make people laugh and smile. My goal in life is to achieve tact and stop procrastinating. The battle wages on.

newsletter

google+blogger-iconfacebook logo twitter logo Logo_Booklikesaddtogoodreads

Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑