Ok so I am two for two on difficult library reads… Second Chance Match by Arlene James (of the Chatam House series) was a well written Christian romance but I had a bit of a struggle to get through it. I am not sure if this is because it is one in what I assume is the middle of the series or just the content didn’t speak to me, but I honestly got this book way before Fresh-Start Ranch and had struggled to completely finish it.
The main character is a single mom Jessa who has moved to a new town to start over with her young son. Sadly the home she has been promised has also been promised to Garrett. Both have a business plan for the old Victorian and are stubborn and strong people. Or at least they seem so on the surface.
I found that the idea of their businesses complimenting each other (wee bit of a spoiler) came to me INSTANTLY. I was not overly fond of the way the characters were written, but that may have been because BOTH parties had LARGE secrets they were withholding from each other. The element of a child was not unwelcome and the people around the main characters were definitely unique. I think I would have enjoyed this one MORE if I had read a previous volume.
There IS a strong faith element to the story and definitely multiple tense moments towards the end. So it does call to someone on the look out for these themes in a story. I just think this is NOT the story for me. But I did find some satisfaction out of the ending. If you DO read this story please let me know what you think, I am always curious to hear other opinions.
I have continued my random grab trend at the library and this time it was not filly I mean fully in my favour. I have to admit a bias… I have never been one of those little girls who wanted a pony. A library in my own home, a couple cats, a collection of roses… these are all things I had an invested interest in growing up (though I have since ditched the rose cliche with my middle name). So this story was a bit of a rough start for me. Fresh-Start Ranch by Leann Harris is a definite horse lover’s dream.
Tessa is a tiny spitfire with a good relationship with God, a deep love of horses and a degree as veterinarian. She has come out to New Mexico from Kentucky to start fresh and prove that she is an able bodied large animal veterinarian. With a hard past and an open future she is ready to face the world. Tessa’s backstory includes, well… horse, an alcoholic gambler of a father and the constant experience of being underestimated due to her height.
She meets Ethan (who apparently is in previous books by this author about this area in New Mexico) who is also a huge fan of horses and helps with a horse rescue… do you see my dilemma? There is a great faith element to this story, an overcoming of past mistakes and feelings of guilt which I did enjoy. BUT there is a huge emphasis on horses.
The characters around these two are endearing though only a few are really developed in this story. The main focus is really the internal conflict of our two main characters and the horse rescue operation. There is a tiny bit of a mystery and a nice romance. I find the resolution a tiny bit rushed but that happens occasionally with these Love Inspired stories. Definitely a good book for the horse lover. So do check it out. Be aware it does discuss gambling issues and an abusive parent though.
From highly supernatural to a taste of the unusual and the witchy… Romeow and Juliet by Kathi Daley is the first in the “A Whales and Tails Mystery”. Aptly named for the central family’s connection to both whales (a brother runs a whale watching company) and tails (cats, cats and more cats).
Straddling the line between a devote and conservative Irish Catholic family and friends who embody alternative Caitlin is a single girl on a mission. Running a cat sanctuary with her independent Aunt Maggie, trying to start a business with her best friend Tara (Coffee Cat Books… now there is a great idea – cats, coffee and books), and spending plenty of time with her quirky friends who include:
two witches, hippie neighbors, and a cat who apparently has some sort of magical powers.
I have only one minor beef with this book. I was somewhat overwhelmed with the sheer number of characters introduced in passing at the very beginning of the book. This does illustrate successfully what a large family (diverse as well) Caitlin comes from and has you taking peeks at a number of the eccentric neighbors, but I found it a bit daunting and my fingers itched for a spread sheet to write everyone out… just a little.
Once you get past the first chapter the characters quickly flesh out and start standing out. I especially enjoy the undercurrent of kitty romance between the stray Romeo who has adopted Caitlin and her neighbor Francine’s (used to be friend of Aunt Maggie now main competition for the city council spot) pedigree kitty Juliet.
Such a busy lady has little time for murder… until she walks in on a corpse and feels the need to figure out what happened. Enter TWO potential love interests – her first (and brother’s best friend) who ran off years ago to join the Navy and the bank manager (sexy, good with cats). There are multiple mysteries to solve, and only one is solved in this volume. The BIG mystery but there is a niggling little one that leads you into a definite wish for the next book! you really don’t feel a lacking in the ending, just an interest in continuing on to the next book in the series. Well played Kathi Daley… well played.
OH make sure you go to the end of the book… there are RECIPES!