Awkwardly Titled Slow Burn Hallmarkie Romance. This is one of those romances where it feels like Naigle was leaning perhaps a bit too hard into her Hallmark stories – as this one is dang near a cross between a Hallmark movie and something similar to Great American Country’s Heartland. If you like small towns and saying your prayers and going to church… yeah, this story is going to be right up your alley. If you’re opposed to any of the above, and particularly if you’re strongly/ vitriolically opposed to the above… maybe just skip this one and save yourself some time and spare the author a bad review over something that was never going to be a good fit for you to begin with.
But for those who *do* enjoy this type of story – and clearly, there is a large enough segment of the population to make a comfortable career within this space across several different mediums of art – this is a pretty solid story that goes down pretty well how you expect. A lot of small town interaction, some ranch riding, some will they/ won’t they (even though this is a romance and you *know* they eventually will), and being that this is of the “good Christian story” type, you know there isn’t going to be anything beyond a light kiss or so.
No, the biggest real criticism of the book is, as some others have mentioned, the titular venue only plays a minor role – which could be explained away more if this were Book 2 in a series, as it often feels that it is. And yet, from everything I’ve been able to see on Goodreads and elsewhere, this is truly a standalone book. Though *technically*, I suppose, the “Ranch” includes more than just the venue… including much of where this story takes place. So in a larger sense, it may actually work in the end. This still doesn’t excuse such *deep* backstory that seriously, this could have even been a Book 3, with Book 1 and 2 focusing on the creation of the venue and Book 2 focusing on some aspect of the friends in Raleigh. (Obviously perhaps not Lori herself, but the male friend – who features prominently in the couple here initially getting together and then again in the end of this tale – would make for a good center piece for one of these theoretical earlier book.)
Overall this is still a strong tale of its type, and well told. Very much recommended.
This review of The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle was originally written on November 18, 2022.
Sometimes People Are More Than What They Seem. This is another excellent entry in the O’Sullivan Sisters Saga, and now we’re at the halfway point in our overall world. I loved how both of our leads were fleshed out more than we had seen in previous books (as they had to be, since they had to carry this book), and I loved that they were shown to be much more than we originally were led to believe about them. If you’ve come this far with the sisters, you’re going to want to read this tale. If you haven’t been introduced to them yet, go back to book 1 and be glad you now have four books to read already. 🙂 Very much recommended.
This review of Snowed In With The Mountain Man by Sophia Quinn was originally written on July 1, 2022.
Seemingly Destined For The Small Screen Via Hallmark or Up. Up front: For those that have issues with anything at all that mentions Christians/ Christian values/ actions (blessings before meals, childhood prayers before bed, attending church, etc)… you may as well skip this one and spare the author a negative review due to your own hangups. Similarly, those ultra-conservatives who think even a peck on the cheek kiss is scandalous… there’s going to be things in this one you don’t like too, though I think you’ll find this book more palatable than those staunchly opposed to all things Christian.
For everyone who finds themselves somewhere in between those two extremes… this is a standard Hallmark type tale in book form. And thus, your enjoyment here will largely depend on how much you like those types of tales. The particulars of this one are ranching and rodeo, unexpected/ unknown parenthood / single parent, and escape from corporate life – but let’s face it, for those that enjoy these types of tales, those particulars are largely irrelevant. 😀
One of the more interesting things here, and a wrinkle that is genuinely rare in these types of tales, is the presence and even emphasis on barn quilts – which is just the thing needed to separate it from the pack just enough to say “go read it for the barn quilts” or “go read the barn quilt story”. Very much recommended.
This review of What Remains True by Nancy Naigle was originally written on May 1, 2022.
This week we’re looking at a solid third entrant into what will hopefully be a seven book series that breathes new possibility that this could well happen. This week we’re looking at Only A Country Doctor Can Save This City Rose by Sophia Quinn.
Here’s what I said on Goodreads:
Solid Entry That Breathes New Life Into Series. Coming out of Book 2 of this series (Gucci Girls Don’t Date Cowboys), we knew we were coming directly into Rose’s tale (though it is a bit spoilery to note *how* we knew). What was less clear at that time was just how the series would continue beyond that, as we had now dealt with the two primary sisters from the beginning of the series and had a semi-obvious plant for a male lead for a third book, but not too much obvious beyond that. With this entry, we get a solid romance that can stand mostly on its own (though seriously, read Books 1 (Pretend To Be My Cowboy) and 2 first) – but we also get a solid sense of how this series can continue at least through the next main subset of the O’Sullivan Sisters, with one obvious tale coming out of this one and at least a couple of possibilities for the male lead in the book beyond that one, dealing with the final sister of this subset (supposedly, I have no inside information here :D). As this tale is indicative of the generally strong, Hallmarkie type small town romance genre that this series very much plays into, this is a very good thing that we’re apparently going to get at least two more books into it, and this reader in particular is still hoping that we eventually get all seven. Very much recommended.
His Father’s Son. (And yes, that particular phrase happens in this book.) This was a solid ending to this trilogy, featuring the oldest son of the family – and the one to turn his back on the family ranch, yet still be there when needed. There is a lot going on here, both within the romance and with Zach finding out that he doesn’t actually know everything he thinks he knows, and while the romance was a fairly standard/ fairly comedic “cold stoic meets fiery lady who can’t help but be awkward in his presence” type, the emotions playing out here with Zach and his parents – and in particular his father, late – are easily the show stealers of the tale. Yes, for those who have read this series starting with Book 1 (or even 2, as I did), we finally find out exactly why Zach left. And, ultimately, we get a long view conclusion of a happily ever after. Truly a book that works well on all fronts and accomplishes everything it needed to both within its own tale and within the series. Very much recommended.
This review of Summer Nights With A Cowboy by Caitlin Crews was originally written on March 21, 2022.
For this blog tour, we’re looking at a fun romance with a very atypical… well, twang. For this romance we’re looking at The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell.
Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:
Romance With An Atypical Twang. Let’s face it. When you think of rodeo, you don’t exactly think of non-white dudes competing. Much less a non-white chick. Nor do you really think of “reality competition show”, despite that particular type of show being *so* overdone these days. And yet, in this particular romance, we get all of the above. We get the obligatory overt Garth reference or two, a more subtle Merle reference or two, and two non-white rodeo champions putting it all on the line in a rodeo-based reality competition show in order to save the things they love. And since this is a romance tale, yeah, that builds along the way too. For the clean/ sweet crowd… y’all aint gonna like this one. It only has two outright sex scenes, but one of them is about as far from blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as you can get without dragging the story or veering into erotica. Overall a well-done tale that sets up what looks to be a medium-coupled series – not so loose that the characters never appear in each other’s books, but also not so tightly coupled that future readers would be completely lost if coming into the series in later books. It will be interesting to see where Ms. Bell goes from here and exactly how she executes stylistically on joining the series together. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an except and the publisher details 🙂
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Wildest Ride by Marcella Bell”
Cowboy Bodice Ripper. This is one of those slow burn (ish) cowboy romances where you’ve got the busty-and-beautiful-but-no-one-knows-it-because-she-hides-it-all-the-time librarian meeting up with the playboy-that-can’t-escape-his-dark-past cowboy. The slow burn and banter through the front half of the book is great, helped along via a subplot involving a troubled teenager. And then you get to the (nearly requisite in the genre) sex around the 2/3 mark where suddenly both of our leads are very well endowed for their genders. Sure, why not. A bit typical, and a bit of a letdown because of it, but eh, when being typical in one particular area is the worst you can say of a book… it really isn’t a bad book. Fans of the genre will like it, those that aren’t fans of the genre won’t have any real reason to come to the genre via this particular book. For the clean/ sweet crowd, well, I already told you it has a sex scene, and there’s references to several others, both “onscreen” and off. Solid tale mostly solidly told, and it does in fact work as an entry point into the series despite being Book 2. Very much recommended.
This review of All Night Long With A Cowboy by Caitlin Crews was originally written on July 13, 2021.