Category: Romantic Suspense

Blog Book Tour | feat. Empire State series by Elizabeth Camden, especially “A Dangerous Legacy” (book one, audiobook), “A Daring Venture” (book two, audiobook) and “A Desperate Hope” (book three)

Posted Friday, 1 March, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

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 enquired 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.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Desperate Hope” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The Digital Audiobook copy of “A Dangerous Legacy” and “A Daring Venture” were available via my Scribd subscription. My ruminations on behalf of the audiobooks (books one and two) are being shared for my own edification and to help introduce my readers to the series overall whilst sharing my own journey in its discovery. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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70 Authors Challenge Badge created by Jorie via Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Brigitte Tohm. (Creative Commons Zero)How my love of INSPY reads inspired my choice to participate on this blog tour:

When I first started blogging, I was going to set out to read new authors of INSPY Lit I hadn’t had the pleasure of reading previously. It was through my visitations with Casey Herringshaw’s blog which inspired the list I had developed of seeking out new and established INSPY authors who were drawing the eye of book bloggers like Ms Herringshaw and readers alike. It was through reading her blog rather extensively I found the list which was then developed in the final #70AuthorsChallenge.

Elizabeth Camden happens to be the 67th author out of my original #70AuthorsChallenge List.

Curiously, like most book bloggers our good intentions when we first start joining the exciting world of the book blogosphere and the bookish side of Twitter, our personal reading goals can sometime be cast aside. This is why I haven’t made an extensive dent in my readerly goals for my INSPY Reads and why I am intending to make more head-way on them this year as I feel it will be a healthier year for me all the way round. The past few years especially were marred a bit with personal health afflictions but this year, as I move into March, I feel more hopeful I might have sorted out a way to ease the frequencies of my chronic migraines and by doing so, perhaps for the first time since I started my blog I’ll have a greater freedom in being able to read whenever the mood strikes rather than having to wait out the after effects of a migraine.

I wasn’t sure where to begin reading Ms Camden’s novels – as part of the list of choices I originally had made from Ms Herringshaw’s blog went lost before I could upload those titles to my list here on my blog. (*le sigh*) However, there are a few I’ve noticed are currently available to be listened to via audiobook on Scribd – of those, these are the ones I’d like to explore next: Against the Tide and The Rose of Winslow Street.

My love of reading INSPY Lit extends back to childhood – as I’ve been a hybrid reader of both mainstream and INSPY Lit since the origins of when I first became a reader. Finding several blog tours this year focusing on these authors and their stories was a treat of bookish joy as I dearly want to expand my knowledge of the stories being published from both Major Trade and Indie Publishers within the INSPY realms of interest I enjoy reading. This particular blog tour felt like a step in the right direction.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Friday, 1 March, 2019 by jorielov in 19th Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Family Drama, Family Life, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Mental Health, Prism Book Tours, Psychiatric Facilities, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Scribd, Siblings, the Gilded Age

Blog Book Tour | “A Duel for Christmas” (Book Three: Jacob Pevensey Mysteries) by Rosanne E. Lortz

Posted Monday, 8 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary ARC copy of “A Duel for Christmas” direct from the author Rosanne E. Lortz in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What I previously enjoyed about listening to ‘To Wed an Heiress’:

The drama behind this situation is etched out through Lortz’s characters – as each of them are entering into the despair from different perspectives. Even the cousin, Eda has a role in the aftermath as this effected her the most by all rights and then, of course, the mother, Lady Angelsford who only wanted the best for her sons. Lortz showed the grief in Lady Angelsford by how she acted around Eda and how she hoped against the drastic measures Haro was considering to fix what her husband had left for them to resolve.

Ms Lortz has a keen eye for the fashions of the Regency – the way Ms Westbrook described the fashions within this installment of the series was a true delight! I loved how she brought to life the clothes Ms Lortz featured on her characters but also, of how classy she selected the clothes to fit the personalities of her characters. Each of them had their own unique style and that particular style brought out who they were in personality; as it rightly should but in this instance with the narrator moving us forward into the context of the story itself, it all came together rather beautifully.

Lortz brings an equal balance between the upstairs and the downstairs climates – letting us peer into the way the staff see their positions and the people they serve whilst we benefit from Ms Lortz dual perspectives of her settings. This was something I loved and championed about her approach of story-telling within the pages of The Duke’s Last Hunt and I was most thrilled to see was inclusive to her first installment To Wed an Heiress as it has its own appeal of realism for the Regency to find these perspectives brought forward.

To Wed an Heiress is the kind of Historical Romance I can honestly disappear inside as there is a keen sense of the prosperity and propriety resplendent of the Regency – as soon as you start listening to the audiobook: you are swept back into the years of balls, marriage markets and where the ton were unforgiving when it comes to changes in circumstances and status. You get caught up in how she’s set the stage for this first entry into the series – as there was an urgency running through the narrative. Of how time was of not just the essence but it was the one thing Haro could control if only in small ways to stem the effects of his errant father. He had the chance to find a way to circumvent the damages but it was time he needed to best sort out the right way forward – yet, Ms Lortz shows how sometimes when your young and determined, time is not something you want to forestall. You simply want to find the answer, act on whatever you need to do to ensure it and pick up your life from whence it was starting to take a downward ‘pause’. Even if of course, taking such a rash course of action might not yield the outcome you were most hoping to seek out?

This is how Lortz entices you into the folds of her Regency Romances – where they are equally divided between the allure of a Romantic Suspense and the keen sensibility of a Regency Romance – the benefit being your taking a lovely stroll of insight backwards into the Regency, populated by characters who are as realistic as the voices given to them by Ms Westbrook and of whom, you become immediately attached too. I love her innate style for these captivating mysteries but also for her cunning sense of how to give us new stories in the Regency which grab our hearts, our minds and our imaginations. She truly has a well-rounded style of Historical Romance to where you neither want to see one of her stories end or be too far away from reading your next installment!

-quoted from my review of To Wed an Heiress

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Notation about the Cover Art Design: In a word it is smashingly brill! I was in love with this cover art design from the very first moment I saw it! Seeing it up close as I pulled the ARC out of the bubbler mailer was a true delight as the snow in the background seems to burst to life even though it is not 3-Dimensional nor raised to feel textured under your fingertips. The bloke on the cover has such a fierce presence you almost instantly felt you knew of him even if you did not and what can I say? I love architectural design and ambiance – this cover is just smashing! They even made it a lovely addition to a book blogger’s library as this ARC has a special graphic on the cover itself but they also included a black and white inside copy of the cover art, too! Such a posh edition, truly! Only thing missing was a note from the Editor!

Blog Book Tour | “A Duel for Christmas” (Book Three: Jacob Pevensey Mysteries) by Rosanne E. LortzA Duel for Christmas
Subtitle: A Jacob Pevensey Mystery
by Rosanne E. Lortz
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

After seven long years in Devon, Lady Maud Worlington returns to London to reclaim life on her own terms, but a nefarious shadow and the prospect of financial ruin dog her steps. An impulsive and unforgettable kiss under the mistletoe creates a connection with Geoffrey, the handsome, young Duke of Tilbury. Yet as pleasant as it is to have a suitor, Maud is not sure how a boy of one-and-twenty can prove an equal partner in life and the equal of all the forces mounted against her.

The Duke of Tilbury considers himself as adept at managing matters as he is at swordplay, but his beautiful new acquaintance Lady Worlington has other ideas about how to manage her complicated life. Intrigued by their stolen kiss, Geoffrey pursues Lady Worlington’s affections, only to be foiled by the lady’s own doubts, by rivals for her hand, and by a sudden death that affects both their families. When Jacob Pevensey, the investigator from Bow Street enters the scene, the duke becomes a prime suspect in the murder case. Truths are unearthed that Geoffrey would rather keep hidden, and the twelve days of Christmas race toward a perilous end.

This novel takes the medieval events surrounding the sinking of the White Ship and transposes them to Regency London.

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ISBN: 9780996264877

Also by this author: The Duke's Last Hunt

Also in this series: The Duke's Last Hunt, To Wed an Heiress, A Duel for Christmas


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Madison Street Publishing

on 1st October, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 383

Published By: Madison Street Publishing (@MStPublishing)

Jacob Pevensey Mysteries:

To Wed an Heiress (see also Review)

The Duke’s Last Hunt (see also Review)

A Duel for Christmas

Converse via: #HistoricalRom, #HistoricalSuspense, #Regency, #RomSusp
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and E-Book

About Ms Rosanne E. Lortz

Roseanne E. Lortz

Rosanne E. Lortz is a writer, editor, teacher, history-lover, and mom to four boys. She loves to read, sing, draw, compose, write, and create. Education is one of her passions, particularly a classical, liberal arts education. She has taught English composition and grammar, Latin, history, music, and various other subjects for ten years at both the elementary and secondary level and is currently the Director of Academics and Admissions at Paideia Classical Christian School in Gladstone, Oregon.

Rosanne’s first book, I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince, was released in 2009. This book explores the tumultuous landscape surrounding the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death and is a tale of arms, of death, of love, and of honor. In 2015, Rosanne began her Pevensey mysteries, novels of romantic suspense set during the British Regency (with inspiration from medieval characters and events). The first three titles are: To Wed an Heiress, The Duke’s Last Hunt, and A Duel for Christmas.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 8 October, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Castles & Estates, Clever Turns of Phrase, England, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, London, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, the Regency era

Audiobook Review | “To Wed an Heiress” (Book One: Pevensey Mysteries) by Rosanne E. Lortz These are the Regency Romantic Suspense novels I simply find #unputdownable and blissfully engaging!

Posted Tuesday, 2 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “To Wed an Heiress” direct from the author Roseanne E. Lortz in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

What I previously enjoyed about reading ‘The Duke’s Last Hunt’:

How oft are you privileged to enter a carriage whilst a discussion is slowly starting to dissolve into a bit of a row? (here, I refer to a heated argument!) Not oft, you say? I do agree with you – yet this is how we came to meet our lady heroine Eliza and her disagreeable Mum and Da (Lady Malcolm and Sir Arthur). Not surprisingly, the topic of the moment is encompassing the ill fate of Eliza’s 3rd London Season without much hope of a bid on her hand, save for one – from an awkward suitor  the Duke of Brockenhurst – titled prospects are keenly sought after in regards to those wishing to either marry into or stay married inside the ton (the upper elite of society; the aristocracy). Eliza herself is not convinced this is a wise placement – she finds the bloke more than tiresome and without much joy in conversation.

One of the joys for me about period dramas and Roms, are the upstairs/downstairs dichotomy where staff, residents and guests are having to side step each other at times and at different intervals remind themselves they can be cordial with each other; shaking off some of their reserved formality. I was not shocked when Eliza took the staff off-guard by her conveyance of pleasantries upon arrival at Harrowhaven; as such exchanges are very rarely the norm! This did nothing to assuage the anxiety Eliza felt upon being at the estate, knowing what was at stake. Her misgivings were more directed towards her (potential) suitor’s mother – a woman she never met and of whom left her waiting to meet. Not exactly instilling the best of confidences! Eliza read between the lines of their guide the enigmatic housekeeper Mrs Forsythe, who was also at times quite evasively vague in her responses!

Segued from Eliza and her parents arrival, we find the dear Duke has a bedeviled brother named Henry! His oats are not nearly sown quite yet but his scorn for his brother is palatable even in short distance! Most of his consternation is the fact that he was passed over on inheritance and had to live underneath his brother – by both means and title. Inheritances were quite wrought with folly back then; they either burdened you, freed you or gave you a nightmare of patience to endure whilst siblings quibbled about what was fair and what was just in regards to procuring a proper disbursement of funds! Thus, for whichever reason, Henry decided to add his hat to the fray – dropping in on his dear mother and brother at the height of their ‘house party’ of which the Malcolms were invited but without explanation (although you could gather Sir Arthur had a singular mind towards what he hoped it would be inclusive of). Henry’s intentions of vexing his brother something fierce left me in a chuckle! Such a rat! Laughs. He’d prefer to cause a scene and disrupt the order of the estate than to take a more tactful approach to resolve his grievances! Despite his flaws, he made one keen observation – the Duke rarely keeps acceptable company! Perhaps this is a subtle nod to hint towards a hidden secret to why his brother would pitch for Eliza’s hand?! Perhaps not as straight-forwarded of an offer as Eliza dared hope?

Lortz balanced this Rom Suspense with a potboiler of a drama – slow building like a wicked good stew, where each new ingredient towards the reveall was well worth the wait to appear! She writes a Regency you immediately love reading in other words!

-quoted from my review of The Duke’s Last Hunt

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Audiobook Review | “To Wed an Heiress” (Book One: Pevensey Mysteries) by Rosanne E. Lortz These are the Regency Romantic Suspense novels I simply find #unputdownable and blissfully engaging!To Wed an Heiress
Subtitle: A Novel of Romantic Suspense
by Rosanne E. Lortz
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Narrator: Verona Westbrook

Haro Emison, thrust into his new role as Earl of Anglesford, discovers that his late father has left the family teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Intent on rescuing the estate, Haro abandons his long-held interest in his cousin Eda and searches instead for a wealthy heiress. But when pride and jealousy cause his plan to spiral out of control, he begins to wonder if he has made a dreadful mistake….

Eda Swanycke is enjoying her first season in London when her debut comes to a crashing halt. Jilted by her cousin, she suffers the indignity of watching Haro’s new intended lay claim to his person and position. But when a brutal murder upends the household with Haro as chief suspect, Eda must put her wounded pride aside, match wits with the investigator from London, and try, at all costs, to save Haro Emison’s neck from the gallows….

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Find on Book Browse

ASIN: B071J91QN8

Also by this author: The Duke's Last Hunt

Also in this series: The Duke's Last Hunt, A Duel for Christmas, A Duel for Christmas


Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance


Published by Madison Street Publishing

on 2nd June, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 7 hours, 30 minutes (unabridged)

Published By: Madison Street Publishing (@MStPublishing)

Pevensey Mysteries:

To Wed an Heiress

The Duke’s Last Hunt (see also Review)

A Duel for Christmas *forthcoming review

Converse via: #HistoricalRom, #HistoricalSuspense, #Regency, #RomSusp
Available Formats: Paperback, Audiobook and E-Book

About Ms Rosanne E. Lortz

Roseanne E. Lortz

Rosanne E. Lortz is a writer, editor, teacher, history-lover, and mom to four boys. She loves to read, sing, draw, compose, write, and create. Education is one of her passions, particularly a classical, liberal arts education. She has taught English composition and grammar, Latin, history, music, and various other subjects for ten years at both the elementary and secondary level and is currently the Director of Academics and Admissions at Paideia Classical Christian School in Gladstone, Oregon.

Rosanne’s first book, I Serve: A Novel of the Black Prince, was released in 2009. This book explores the tumultuous landscape surrounding the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death and is a tale of arms, of death, of love, and of honor. In 2015, Rosanne began her Pevensey mysteries, novels of romantic suspense set during the British Regency (with inspiration from medieval characters and events). The first three titles are: To Wed an Heiress, The Duke’s Last Hunt, and A Duel for Christmas.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Tuesday, 2 October, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 19th Century, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Castles & Estates, Clever Turns of Phrase, Deception Before Matrimony, England, Family Drama, Father-Daughter Relationships, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, London, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, the Regency era

Blog Book Tour | “A Cowboy’s Pride” (Book Four: Rocky Mountain Cowboys) by Karen Rock Whilst feat. reviews of “Christmas at Cade Ranch” and “Falling for a Cowboy” books one and two in the series!

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

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I would imagine your curious about this post – specifically, why it is a bit more unique than my usual blog tour reviews!? I had the chance to read the first book in the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series – ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’ and the second in the series ‘Falling for a Cowboy’ ahead of reading the newly released fourth novel ‘A Cowboy’s Pride’. Try as I might, I was not able to secure a copy of ‘Bad Boy Rancher’ through my library ahead of the tour, so for now, that is the only novel in this series I haven’t had the joy of reading!

As you might already know – I have a fierce passion for reading novels in sequence when it comes to book series. I can’t always do this – sometimes I have to skip around the order or other times, I might pick up a book I hadn’t realised was a series in-progress – generally, this oft-times happens when it comes to Harlequin series – either through this lovely imprint (Harlequin Heartwarming) or the Love Inspired Suspense imprint which you might remember this past July I was talking about rather exclusively!

Therefore, a few things to note – I am reviewing the fourth novel for the blog tour, however, before I share my thoughts on what I found inside the fourth novel, I wanted to take a moment to talk about what I loved inside ‘Christmas at Cade Ranch’ & ‘Falling for a Cowboy’! If you missed my author interview with Ms Rock last year, you might not have realised I read the prequel to this series ‘A Cowboy to Keep’ – of which this was my key takeaway on behalf of how Ms Rock started this lovely series of hers:

You’ll notice a thread of interest in the Romances I love to read – they are supporting what I call ‘relationship-based romance’ wherein the heart of the relationship and what curates a connection amongst those who are dating strengthens the appeal of reading the stories themselves. Reading Romances like I do, I get caught up in the lives people are living – some make hard choices which I cannot always relate too but are right for them, therein, each time we read, we’re not only ‘time travelling through our own living histories or the historic past’ we’re stepping into different pairs of shoes of people who are living wholly unique lives whilst attempting to pursue a relationship where both parties are standing on equal ground. Romances are a lift of joy to read – even if the circumstances turn dramatic or suspenseful – if at the heart of them, there is hope for the couple at hand, odds are I am a ready fan of how the stories are being written – across publishers and imprints.

As we progress through how Jackson and Dani continue to intercede on each others’ behalf, we start to see how the seeds of their romance were firmly planted in their hearts. They each had a toll to weigh against the yearnings of their hearts but it’s how Rock shows their individual growth towards a resolution the reader rallies behind to see happen is what makes the story hold it’s salt against the ‘dangers’ lurking in the shadows. You truly want all the soul wrestling on both their parts to be for ‘something’ and as the concluding chapters show – redemption might take awhile to receive, but it’s the journey towards it that is somethings more important than how it arrives!

There were some intense moments where you weren’t sure if Jackson or Dani were going to get out of this alive – where the job of being a bounty hunter was shown exactly how dangerous of a livelihood this is to maintain countered against the will of a woman’s heart to do what is right even if she knows she might be jeopardising her future. You grieve for them both – for the past they both cannot accept without further anguish and for the futures they both are seeking which they never felt either of them deserved! There is a lovely ‘twist’ in the ending – one even I hadn’t thought of as I thought for sure this was going to play out differently – my gratitude to Ms Rock for keeping me on my toes straight til the ‘end’ as it was the sweetest reward!

This is one reason, Ms Rock stood out to me – as she’s one of the Harlequin authors I genuinely enjoy to read – she has a way of capturing what I love about the essence of a Contemporary Romance but with the ease of knowing I won’t be flinching for word usage or language issues. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reprieve in that regard!

She dives straight into the heart of what is affecting the well-being of her characters – from the psychological groundwork to the soul wrestling angst of trying to own up to your own mistakes whilst sorting out how to live at the same time. She’s tackled hard issues affecting her characters lives but does it in a humbling and honest way – seeking to share the truth of their choices whilst countered by the truth of the circumstances which has led them to this conclusion on where they individually stand.

-quoted from my review of A Cowboy to Keep

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Borrowed Book By: I made a purchase request at my local library for “Christmas at Cade Ranch” as I had previously ILL’d (inter-library loaned) the ‘prequel’ “A Cowboy to Keep” as a way of understanding the foundation for the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series. This is the first time I’ve had the chance to read and share my thoughts on behalf of this first novel. I was not obliged to post a review and decided to share my thoughts with my readers for my own edification. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Christmas at Cade Ranch by Karen Rock

Synopsis for “Christmas at Cade Ranch”

The Christmas they never had.

James Cade has one priority: keep the family ranch running smoothly in the wake of his younger brother’s death. With Jesse’s ex, Sofia Gallardo, and her young son, Javi, stranded at Cade Ranch over Christmas, this task just got a lot harder. The longer Sofia and Javi stay, the harder it is to imagine the ranch without them. James couldn’t save his brother from his inner demons, but he can give his nephew a secure future. Maybe more—if he can figure out how to trust Sofia, and stop feeling like he’s betraying Jesse. Because trying to stop thinking about beautiful, determined Sofia is impossible.

– previously featured during an Author Interview

Christmas at Cade Ranch
by Karen Rock
Source: Purchase REQ | local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780373368617

Also by this author: A League of Her Own, Author Interview (Christmas at Cade Ranch) Karen Rock, A Cowboy's Pride (Spotlight w/ Notes), Winning the Cowboy's Heart, A Rancher to Remember

on 7th November, 2017

Pages: 384

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

My review of Christmas at Cade Ranch:

The first six paragraphs were originally shared on behalf of reading the chapter sampler of this novel – I’ve edited those thoughts a bit but they are still reflective of what I was thinking about as I started to read this novel for the first time straight-through.

We find Jewel (the spunky cowgirl heroine of Cade Ranch), Justin (Jesse’s surviving twin) & James are taking over the duties of Cade Ranch – trying to keep the place solvent and everything running as smooth as they can manage, despite the hurdles of trying to sort out how to ‘move forward’ after such an alarmingly tragic loss. You can easily ‘step back’ into the series – as the prequel did such a great job of ‘setting the scale’ of the series by placing you into the heart of what makes the Cade’s such a strong family!

Here — we get the fuller back-story about Jesse – even though his addictive habit did kill him in the end (due to circumstances his brother, had no way of knowing would impact his future) – it wasn’t the addiction which caused his death; it was something related to being an addict. Despite this, he left behind a girlfriend and a son; a son whose five years old now – meeting his grandmother, Aunt & Uncles for the very first time. This is where we find James – the reserved & cautious elder brother who wouldn’t trust you if you looked honest – he has find a way to validate your intentions, your heart & your motivations.

In so many ways, James reminded me of Jackson! Those two are alike the most of where they are the hardest to convince your on a better path in life – even if your first attempt to ‘make it’ proved to have some obstacles in the road to overcome. Dani & Sofia would love being sister-in-laws because they each had to fight hard for what they were getting out of life – they both made certain choices which affected their futures but what united them, was their hope & belief that second chances are never too late in arriving. Sofia is as jumpy as Dani, too! I don’t blame either of them – the Cade brothers are a wee bit scary due to how they appear to be unbending & unwilling to accept you ‘where you are’. Of course, that’s one fast way to short-change their personalities – but both James & Jackson don’t exactly have the best ‘bedside manner’ so to speak! Their affection might be hard-won but if James is anything like Jackson – his heart will soften long before he allows Sofia & Javi (her son) to exit his life for good!

Seeing this part of the story – how it’s unfolding to bring everything ‘back to centre’ at Cade Ranch – where it all began and where the future shall be written for the siblings – as this is land inherited through past generations – you can gather the fuller depth of where Ms Rock is taking the series! The continuity is wonderful – I feel like this is the best place to re-insert us into the series – it is on the foot-heels of finding out about Jesse from Jackson’s POV whilst opening the door for Sofia to tell her story – what is remarkable is how it feels like both time-lines are running nearly concurrent to each other, rather than having any gaps in the momentum of the ‘next’ section of where we alight into the Cade family’s journey.

One thing to note – is I agree with the sensitive way in which Ms Rock approaches her harder hitting subjects – in this instance, it’s with addiction & recovery. Previously, it was addressing being involved in a bank robbery (Dani’s story-line) — each time Ms Rock knits us closer to her characters, she does it with compassion and empathy. In many ways, I enjoy this aspect of her writings the most – she puts in a lot of thought & time to get the lives of her characters to not only be realistically pleasing to us, the reader, but to honour the real-life counterparts who might be living a similar life. Even the fragility of Joy, the Cade’s mother – is aptly described – of being stuck ‘betwixt & between’ – of not knowing how to proceed forward after losing one’s son. I could relate to this due to not only my own personal losses but the losses of others, of whom, have felt this muddling ‘inbetween’ feeling wash over them – to where they needed to find something to ‘focus on’ outside of their grief before they realised they could ‘transition’ through their sorrow.

What does irk your ire quite a bit though is how James won’t quiet the voice in his head over Sofia! She has enough anxiety coursing through her veins without his added input to cast more shadows over her head! It is like walking between lightning strikes and hoping your not going to be struck whilst you reach the safety of a building! He has a short fuse when it comes to tolerance – he pre-judges her based on his experiences with his brother Jesse and that isn’t half as fair as it might sound because no one should be judged against another person. Even if they both had struggles with addiction – every person is different and no one should have to feel that kind of oppressive weight bearing down on them; it is too much to bear really. Sofia needs reassurances in her life – adding more stress to shoulders already buckling under the pressures she puts on herself is not aiding her ability to move forward; if anything, it’s making her question if she is strong enough to overcome her past.

A good portion of the novel centres around the cyclic season of addiction and how addicts struggle to keep clean. Sofia and Jesse were both struggling with their own addictions but Sofia found a way through the worst of those storms – so much so, what infuriated her the most about James is that he did not or rather could not see what she’s accomplished thus far forward since she was able to maintain her sobriety. I think the hardest part for Sofia, as a lot of her issues stem from her father’s persecution of her existence (long story!) – being around James was like she had recaptured what she had escaped from her father.

Ms Rock does a great job of taking you into the heart of addiction – first through the opinions of family who feel they are being helpful but in reality their falling a bit short with a few good observations. Secondly, she takes you into an NA meeting to hear the stories of other addicts who are struggling just like Sofia to quash their innermost doubts and to remain above the pains of addiction whilst re-setting their lives free of the substance of their choice. It was in one of those meetings where Sofia felt both ashamed to be present and rather awkwardly at first, comfortable amongst those who she could relate too.

Ms Rock also highlights what it is like to have a controlling personality – someone who is unable to yield or bend – this was spoken about in regards to Sofia’s father but in the present time-line of the series it is mostly directed towards James who has a definitive way of ‘taking over’ and claiming roles he was not meant to lead because doing so would jeopardise another person’s sense of self.

One of my favourite parts of the story is how closely Sofia and Joy (the Cade siblings mother) bonded over being in such close quarters whilst she was recuperating. Joy still had quite a bit of spunk left in her and she had a right to want to keep living her life to the fullest she could. Sofia inspired her in equal measure of Joy inspiring Sofia to take new risks and to keep bettering herself for her future and her son’s (Javi). Javi was an impressionable child but he also understood what was important in his young life. I can see why Sofia stressed about how he might react around James and why being around James for both of them was proving to be a bit too difficult.

One of the beautiful things about this series is how redemption and second chances permeate through the stories. Erstwhile, you are becoming closer in acquaintance with the Cade family themselves – the ranch they live on becomes the anchour to their lives, the place where they gather and they grow; where love nurtures their present and where it breathes hope into the future. Each installment of this series builds on the last story in sequence – thereby, by the time you start at A Cowboy to Keep whilst reading each new story thereafter, you are given a wonderful portrait of a resilient family. A family whose honest about the hardships in life and where good or bad, this is a family who remains evermore true of themselves.

The only part I struggled with to be honest was which Cade Sofia felt had caught her affections as to me it seemed like the case had been proven against the match. So much so, I had hoped the ending was a bit different – where she would have struck out on her own, independently and perhaps had dated a different Cade brother as I wasn’t convinced even in the end, the one she felt she loved was the best one of the bunch. I think it is because of his personality but also, of how well Ms Rock showed both sides of the romance – she took a lot of time developing these characters and so for me, in the end of Christmas at Cade Ranch, I felt the character who had grown the most was Sofia. She truly had transitioned from the woman who was full of anxiety and fears to a self-reliant woman who embraced all the pieces of her life; including the bits she was not as confident about acknowledging. On the opposite end of the story, I felt James hadn’t transitioned enough and that was the rub for me in the concluding chapters.

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Posted Saturday, 29 September, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Action & Adventure Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Christmas Romance &/or Holiday Story, Contemporary Romance, Crime Fiction, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Farm and Ranching on the Frontier, Indie Author, Library Find, Life Shift, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Specialised Crime Investigator, Suspense, West Coast USA, Western Fiction, Western Romance