#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “The Rancher’s Redemption” (Book Three: Return of the Blackwell Brothers) by Melinda Curtis [of a five book series!]

Posted Saturday, 29 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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In keeping with the change of name for my Romance & Women’s Fiction Twitter chat [@SatBookChat previously known as @ChocLitSaturday] – I am announcing a change of features here on Jorie Loves A Story. Since January, 2014 I carved out a niche of focus which I named #ChocLitSaturdays as I have felt the best time to read romantic and dramatic stories are the weekends. This spun into a Twitter chat featuring the authors of ChocLit whilst I supplied weekly topics which would appeal to readers, writers and book bloggers alike. We grew into our own Saturday tribe of chatters – then, somewhere round the time of my father’s stroke in late [2016] and the forthcoming year of [2017] I started to feel less inspired to host the chat.

I had new plans to re-invent the chat in its new incantation as @SatBookChat but I also wanted to re-invent the complimentary showcases on my blog which would reflect the diversity of stories, authors and publishers I would be featuring on the chat itself. As at the root and heart of #ChocLitSaturday the chat were the stories I was reading which complimented the conversations.

After a difficult year for [personal health & wellness] this 2018, I am beginning anew this Autumn – selecting the stories to resume where I left off featuring the Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I am discovering to read whilst highlighting a story by the author I am chatting with during #SatBookChat. Every Saturday will feature a different author who writes either Romance or Women’s Fiction – for the remaining weeks of October and most of November, I will be featuring special guest authors during #SatBookChat whose stories I have either read, are reading or hope to read in the future if their newer releases. The reviews on Saturdays might inspire the topics in the forthcoming chats or they might be directly connected to the current guest author.

Our holiday break for the month of December will find us resuming #SatBookChat the week after New Year’s, 2019 where new guests and new stories will lay down the foundation of inspiring the topics, the conversations and the bookish recommendations towards promoting Romance & Women’s Fiction.

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Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this Summer to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a five-book series from Harlequin Heartwarming entitled “Return of the Blackwell Brothers”. This differs as each of the reviewers and book bloggers who are committing to this review tour are posting at different intervals as each of the five novels release which is also co-dependent on the format we are signed on to review.

My reviews will be showcased from August 2018 through January 2019 beginning with the first novel by Carol Ross. Only the first and second novel will showcase the book synopsis, author photograph and her biography as the rest of the tour will only feature the serial information which is also seen on this post. Each of us had the flexibility to choose when we are posting our reviews which was another added bonus to this particular review tour. I elected to post mine on Saturdays, as for the past four years Saturdays have been happily focused on Romances (previously strictly by ChocLit) and I am going to continue to expand this featured part of the week encompassing more Romances by both ChocLit and different publishers. Except for when I needed to post during the week in lieu of Saturday due to health issues or life in general.

I received a complimentary copy of “The Rancher’s Redemption” direct from the author Melinda Curtis in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I continue to feel attached & connected to the Blackwell Brothers:

After concluding The Rancher’s Twins, a bit more was revealled about Big E – the grandfather giving all kinds of strife to his grandsons and giving the impression he was no longer interested in running the family’s ranch. The shambles this man left things was wicked awful and yet, at the end of the last installment, not everything we were perceiving as readers was exactly the way we felt we were being lead to believe – as there was a bit of a unique cliffhanger right at the very end of the novel! That particular dose of insight gave me a newfound respect for the Blackwell Brothers series as it added a hidden layer of depth to the evolving story-lines – one I hadn’t foreseen coming and one which it would appear is still becoming hinted about in The Rancher’s Rescue. At least, I hope it is will continue to thread into the background of the stories – as Big E is one grandfather no one will soon forget!

Meanwhile, whilst we re-focus off Big E (as we had previously) and re-focus on the son who returnt home at the request of his brother – we find Ethan less than enthused to be home! He cares about his work and his career as a Equestrian Vet but beyond that, he has no inclination of staying longer than necessary; something I had a feeling was going to change, as how often does life go according to our plans? It was good folly finding Ethan and Jonathan at odds with each other – they didn’t quite agree on their plan of attack to sort out the ranch’s crises but they respected each other enough not to let that draw a wedge between them too.

I truly like Grace – the accountant who works at the store where the Blackwells purchase everything they need for their ranches. She has a winning personality but she also doesn’t put herself first – she tries to find the middle ground, work with people and still find time for herself. What was interesting I thought is how she was hiding she was in her first trimester – as when she first came on scene in front of Ethan and her parents, I was half expecting Grace to be far enough along to be ‘showing’ and thereby, raised eyebrows would have been on Ethan. Mostly as they had been separated for awhile now and he would be instantly surprised by her condition. Though, this isn’t how it came about and as she isn’t showing outright, the baby was as secreted in her heart as it had been at conception!

There isn’t anything quite like a small towne where everyone knows what is happening before it actually happens! Such is the case as we cheekily get a purview of the kind of life Ethan would have if he wanted to stake a claim to come back home, live in his hometown and actually find that these neighbours of his wouldn’t mind what his finances said, they only wanted to support a Vet they could personally rally behind to do a job they felt was being left undone by their current in-towne Vet. For Ethan, it was a bit of a wake-up call to how many food centered invitations you could accept in a small space of time and still feel as if you were accomplishing something you never set out to do once you were home. I had a good chuckle of a laugh over how no one who called him cared if he was licensed and only wanted to have a conversation with him ‘friend to friend’.

As we shift through this installment – we gather more questions than answers about Big E – he’s this elusive character threading in the background of the series, even though I realised in the first story he’s the catalyst of the changes in the Blackwell brothers lives, the hardest part is finding rationalisation. I had a sneaking feeling Grace’s parents were going to be understanding when it came time for her and Ethan to finally have their heart-to-heart conversation. The way she is herself you can tell a bit about how she was raised and the kind of parents she had. It would have felt much more awkward if this had been written in a very stereotypical way; I was so thankful Webb took this route instead!

OOh and just as I had hoped – we get more insight into Big E himself right at the ending of the novel – I am always full of big smiles from reading this series! The ways in which the characters are drawing closer together, re-affirming their own life goals and dreams whilst the balance of one family’s future is still slipping in and out of the safety zone – there is an overwhelming uplift to read the Blackwell Brothers series! You come for the heartache, the family drama and the budding relationships but what stays with you the most is the enduring nature of the characters who populate the series! This is there story – where each new installment is a delightful new piece of the puzzle which knits out their legacies!

-quoted from my review of The Rancher’s Rescue

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Return of the #BlackwellBrothers:

The Rancher’s Twins by Carol Ross → August 1st
The Rancher’s Rescue by Cari Lynn Webb → September 1st
The Rancher’s Redemption by Melinda Curtis → October 1st
The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée by Amy Vastine → November 1st
The Rancher’s Homecoming by Anna J. Stewart → December 1st

The Rancher's Redemption
Subtitle: Return of the Blackwell Brothers
by Melinda Curtis
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Heartland Fiction, Ranches & Cowboys, Western Fiction, Western Romance

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335633811

Also by this author: Montana Welcome

Also in this series: Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, The Rancher's Twins, The Rancher's Rescue, The Rancher's Fake Fiancee, The Rancher's Homecoming, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 2nd October, 2018

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin

& #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers

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About Melinda Curtis

Prior to writing romance, award-winning, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Curtis was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty. After grabbing her pen (and a parachute) she made the jump to full-time writer. A hybrid author, Melinda has over 60 titles published or sold, including 40 works to Harlequin and five to Grand Central Forever, mostly sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy. One of her books – Dandelion Wishes – was made into a TV movie. She recently came to grips with the fact that she’s an empty nester and a grandma, concepts easier to grasp than movies made from her books or jet-setting on a potty.

(Biography updated: November, 2020)

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my review of the rancher’s redemption:

If I felt the Blackwell brothers had more drama and inconvenient adversities arising in their lives previously, nothing quite compares to being on the fringes of losing your inherent water rights! Water is a premium in the country – especially on ranches such as theirs – as you have to secure enough access not just for crops or livestock but for those years where there could be storms or droughts; anything can alter your security on a ranch, which is why the kind of rights being put on the line here are the kind that would make any rancher question if they had enough security on their water resources as they ought too.

My first impression of Ben Blackwell was about a close cousin to Rachel’s – he was brass, he was full of himself and he had only put miles in distance between his past and the present; he never had actually taken the time to heal emotionally from how he was wounded. That in of itself was a bit telling – as he had a boiling temper under his persona of a city lawyer who hadn’t the time nor the inclination to deal with a country lawyer such as Rachel. The fact the two were interlinked in their past was just another spur in his boot to be frank!

Rachel had her fair share of hard knocks – the fact she had a louse for an ex was only half the story, her dedication to her daughter Poppy is what shined out of her will not to lose her composure. For Rachel, you could tell she was trying to make the best choices she could – not to focus on the choices she had regrets over nor on the prospects of what a future could yield. Everything was a bit too far away for those kinds of considerations when you have a custody dispute where your wings are clipped and your options are running on empty. You feel for her because she’s a hard-working single Mum who has the unfair disadvantage of having her daughter’s father more concerned with legalities than the actual duties of being a father! Aye.

The vexations mounting on Rachel’s spirits were reaching new layers of angst – especially as you could definitely feel the energy in her unravelling. Here she was trying to hold everything together – carrying the weight of the family’s ranch on her shoulders, inking out an honest trade as a lawyer and juggling her ex in her life to boot! Something had to give and it felt like this old timer ranch hand Henry was past his date of retirement! There is nothing worse than someone who doesn’t see the urgency in what is needed to get done and that is what was vexing Rachel the most. Here she was trying to make do with what she had – work an honest day and still sort out the ranch which hadn’t been properly managed since her father’s death. You had to just give the girl credit for not wanting to take the easier route out and sell.

The more we get to see Rachel and Ben interacting with each other, the more complicated it all feels as these are two best friends who had become jaded in life. It wasn’t entirely their fault, even Ben is being placed in a bad spot by his grandfather Big E (who hasn’t?) and that was leading into a nightmare of a situation involving Rachel as she was trying to defend her own ranch against the rights his family has had all these years. If you looked at it from the outside – they were two individuals caught in the quicksand of bad choices others had made but were now the only people who could attempt to put things back to rights. And, there’s the rub – how do you remain angry at your former best friend?

It isn’t often you get a wicked brilliant supporting character who can cut a man’s ego down – this is exactly what happened when Ben went up against Judge Edwards and happily lost. Judge Edwards might have a slightly minor role in this novel but one thing she has plenty of is spunk! I loved how she had the upper hand the whole time, even using inside knowledge to her advantage and taking Rachel off-guard by how she could unnerve Ben! The whole sequence was a dish of joy because it was showing how despite his appearances, Ben isn’t as confident in his abilities as he appears. There is a fracture there underneath his persona – you can tell a bit of that starting to erode when he almost hesitates to see if he’s gotten away with something. Almost like he’s waiting for someone to call him on his behaviour. (as they should!)

The intricacies of water rights and the dearly agonizing worries of ranches are played out well, as Curtis takes us closer to understanding how big ranches like Ben and Rachel’s are able to be run. The irony for them is that they started off as frenemies and are drawing closer towards the friends they used to be for the sake of their ranches. It also speaks to the way a small towne operates – as there is more going on behind the water dispute than their squabble over the rights which affect their properties directly. This points to how land owners have to stay in constant and resolute observation of what is happening around them because something that is writ in iron one year might be reversed during another without giving much lead-time to fix.

I am still curious about Big E – we get glimmers and glances at what he’s thinking about and where he’s currently living – but overall, he takes so many absences from his family, I keep hoping by the final conclusion in book five we’ll have some resolution for him. Or, at the very least, understand what motivated him to make choices that not only affected his own family but the towne he lived in for so long. He has a lot to answer for and I’m unsure if there is enough time to give him that allotted time to explain.

Being a caregiver in your family isn’t easy – Rachel is shouldering so much personal stress it is a miracle she can find any sense of peace for herself. She tries to keep things from her grandmother and mother, even if they push her last nerve by finding unique ways to add to the stresses already buckling her under – what you gather the most is how much she loves her family but she wishes they understood their current situations a bit better. From her point of view, everything in her world was just becoming too consuming – the weight of it all was going against her and you gathered the feeling that if something did not radically change soon, she’d succumb to the negative thoughts she kept brushing away from her conscience. Rachel had a lack of self-esteem when she felt she was pushed against the wall – you just wanted to rally behind her and send her encouraging words of praise to help her get through this ordeal.

True to form by the time we reached the finale we are given more bread crumbs about Big E – he’s one elusive character, that’s for sure! The mystery he’s keeping secret about his whereabouts and why he’s going where he’s going is still in tact. His misguided sense of redemption and restitution for his grandsons is quite incredible and Curtis did well in this installment to prove that despite the odds in life there is a measure of honestly about how the truth does set the past free from the pain of regrets. Curtis took us on a dramatic ride through legal arguments and family crisis; where you had to sort through the details to find what was truly dividing the Blackwells and the Thompsons. In doing so, you realise just how much this series relies on rebuilding trust and strengthening the bond of family.

on the contemporary rom styling of Melinda curtis:

What I found most interesting is how Ms Curtis talked about how due to her own experiences of being in a large sibling group herself, she could understand how the Blackwell brothers were finding it difficult to come back together – to heal and find redemption out of the times they spent apart. I oft wondered what it would be like to have a lot of siblings and I think that is one reason I love reading series like this one and the Rocky Mountain Cowboys! I truly love reading stories in fiction that focus on home, hearth and family!

As we re-align into this installment in the series, we are met head-first by the temper of Ben and the disillusionment of Rachel. Both of them have reached a cross-roads in their lives – though, I bet if you were to ask either of them, they might feel you were crazy! They each though had come to that pinnacle moment where nothing in their lives made much sense anymore. His career was on the outs, hers was barely viable – both had enough pride to repaint the county and neither of them wanted to admit when one of them was wrong. Not the kind of people to yield nor to concede, yet how they were going to work through this recent wrinkle of adversity Big E left on their doorsteps is a wonderment.

Curtis picks up the threads of the story quite well. By the time I was watching Rachel losing her resolve chasing after a loose cow, I knew she had sorted out her rhythm into the series. Curtis did a good job at bringing back all the craziness of Zoe (Big E’s younger wife) – from her improvements on the ranch, to her plans of turning into something other than a traditional operation and to her ornate style that raises more than a few brows on first impression. These reminders were part of the carry-over truths from the first two installments; each writer has done well at keeping serial continuity together. Not just for the Blackwell brothers themselves but for the series overall. You can re-enter and know your reading the story next in line after concluding one ahead of the current one your reading. That in of itself was a blessing – as without this kind of continuity it would have made it more difficult to read.

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a note of gratitude to ms curtis:

I would also love to acknowledge the fact that I was blessed by a few surprises along the way in receiving all five novels in this series – my #bookmail was quite a lovely experience, as the writers sent in little extras such as the beautiful series postcard Ms Curtis sent me and the keepsake bookmark she enclosed as well that not just stipulates the series name but it matches the green of the covers! Truly a delight when writers find little ways of lifting the joys of book bloggers! I am so very appreciative to have been a part of this journey with the Blackwell Brothers and only wish I could have read the stories a bit closer to the deadlines on the reviewer tour.

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A note of apology:

When I saw the reminder note coming from Prism Book Tours, I was a bit surprised – as I thought for sure this particular review was already released. It took a bit of time for me to chase down what was wrong – as this was meant to be shared at the close of December. I fell ill with a bad Winter virus three weeks before Christmas – it was the worst virus I’ve had in almost a decade. Even now, as the New Year has begun, I am still struggling day to day to shake off its effects. I’ll spare the details, but it is a walk in patience to come back from this – lately, I’ve been seeing messages by fellow book bloggers and/or writers who also succumbed to this horrid virus. I’m in my fourth week now – (the first week of January, 2019) – sorting out my blog is taking a bit extra time, as I was offline until the 5th. I’m sharing this review the way it was meant to be shared all along – apparently when your dealing with a virus, you do not notice a glitch here or there on your blog!

I’m going to be releasing the final two Return of the Blackwell Brothers reviews shortly hereafter – which will hug close to my first blog tour of the New Year: No Safe Place (on 8th of January). Sadly this was not the only review affected and I’m releasing three others that somehow were unseen or only seen briefly previously. Here’s to positive thoughts about this virus being the only one any of us have to deal with this year… it is a beast to put it plainly.

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Do you get equally as giddy as I do over limited series?

Do you *love!* #amreading Contemporary Westerns & Cowboy/Ranch narratives?

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This review tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Rancher’s Twins”, “The Rancher’s Rescue” & “The Rancher’s Redemption”, “The Rancher’s Fake Finaceé” and “The Rancher’s Homecoming” as well as the synopsis for “The Rancher’s Twins”, the author photo of Cari Lynn Webb and her biography; the promo badge for the Return of the Blackwell Brothers series and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SaturdaysAreBookish banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie


Posted Saturday, 29 December, 2018 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Indie Author, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance

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2 responses to “#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “The Rancher’s Redemption” (Book Three: Return of the Blackwell Brothers) by Melinda Curtis [of a five book series!]

    • Hallo, Hallo Shirley,

      I love them, too. The past few years I’ve truly grown into appreciating the Heartwarming imprint, as the Contemporary Romances they’re knitting into this line of books are the kind of Contemporaries I am keen to discover. I struggle finding Contemporaries I love to read (outside of INSPY) as there are a few key authors I’ve appreciated reading over the years but overall, outside of a few authors and/or publishers I trust for the content of the stories (ie. relationship-based romances) it seems to be an uphill climb. This is why I *love!* championing these kinds of series for Harlequin Heartwarming when I find them! The other series I’m dearly attached to is the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series by Karen Rock! You’ll be seeing more thoughts on that series coming up this Winter/Spring!!

      Which authors from Harlequin do you enjoy most?
      Which imprints do you gravitate towards yourself?

      Thanks for visiting!

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