Genre: Romance Fiction

#Sponsored by FaithWords (Publisher) | #SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “Fatal Mistake” (Book One: White Knights series) by Susan Sleeman

Posted Saturday, 20 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

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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 am a reviewer for Hachette Books and their imprints, starting with FaithWords which is their INSPY (Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction) imprint of releases focusing on uplifting and spiritual stories which are a delight to read whilst engaging your mind in life affirming and heart-centered stories. I found Hachette via Edelweiss at the conclusion of [2015] and have been wicked happy I can review for their imprints FaithWords & Center Street.

This book review was sponsored by Hachette Books who provided me with a complimentary copy of the book “Fatal Mistake” direct from their imprint FaithWords (an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: All my posts and/or reviews since May 2018 I am featuring on behalf of Hachette Books now states this is ‘sponsored’ by the publisher. Kindly refer to my Review Policy where I disclosed the reasons why this new language of disclosure is being added to [jorielovesastory.com].

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When it comes to Romantic Suspense, I find myself pulled in by the writers who truly know how to knit out a story rooted fully into the Suspenseful arc but hug us close to the romantic overtures which might have to wait til there is a resolution.

This was especially true in July as I read stories by Laura Scott and Lenora Worth – two authors I championed as writers part of the #LoveINSPIRED Suspense imprint of Harlequin. Elizabeth Goddard is a favourite of my Mum’s I still intend to read before the close of the year and with this particular novel by Susan Sleeman I am starting to find out how much I am enjoying her approach to Suspense and Thrillers; even though I have a few of her Love Inspired Suspense novels which are also waiting my eager eyes to be read!

Rom Suspense for me works best when we are fully encased in the thrilling realities of the characters – of what went wrong and what led them to needing support of the law to help them overcome the situation(s) which have placed their lives in danger. I prefer to read the stories which are writ rather clean and despite having a heavy psychological suspenseful edge to them are not the kind of stories which would lead into having nightmares afterwards! I want to read the stories which at some point have an upturnt in how the resolution resolves in such a way as to make you feel uplifted rather than soul crushed!

I was hoping for the same kind of experience as I move through the White Knights series – the only thing which surprised me is when I visited Ms Sleeman’s website, the way it was eluding too about this particular series is that this is strictly a duology – rather than a full-on series?! I’m unsure how the whole series can evolve and resolve through two installments as more than the first half of Fatal Mistake felt like such a well-conceived world to be inclusive of ‘more stories’ than just the two – however, sometimes I know series are either cancelled or are strictly set as duologies. This one just felt ‘larger than’ the space it appears to occupy and I am curious if it really is a two book series or if there could be more installments lateron for the White Knights?

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Notation about the Cover Design: I personally love the cover art for the trade paperback edition vs the audiobook edition of this novel. As for me, I felt the characters were better captured on the paperback than on the audiobook. I am sure others might differ in their opinions but I felt the audiobook showed Cal Riggins quite a bit too rough and ready – whereas he really is a highly trained agent, there is also a softness to him – where he’s not all brawn! I felt the balance was better on the paperback for showing his likeness and how I found him to be within the print edition.

#Sponsored by FaithWords (Publisher) | #SaturdaysAreBookish Book Review | “Fatal Mistake” (Book One: White Knights series) by Susan SleemanFatal Mistake
by Susan Sleeman
Source: Direct from Publisher

An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman's riveting romantic suspense novel.

Each day could be her last...but not if he can help it.

Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan--to stay alive for another day. She knows he's coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months--to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf's bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they'll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781455596461

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense


Published by FaithWords

on 9th May, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 400

Published by: FaithWords (@FaithWords)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #RomSusp, #SusanSleeman, #Contemporary #Romance

About Susan Sleeman

Susan Sleeman

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a bestselling and award-winning author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website TheSuspenseZone.com. Susan currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a retired church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #20BooksOfAutumn 2018
  • #FraterfestRAT 2018
  • #SpooktasticReads 2018
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Posted Saturday, 20 October, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Near-Death Experience, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Vulgarity in Literature

#SaturdaysAreBookish | Book Review featuring @SatBookChat’s 13th October Guest Author | “Indecision” (Part One of a duology) by Brittany Fuller

Posted Saturday, 13 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish created by Jorie in Canva.

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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.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Acquired Book By: One thing I love about being active in the bookish side of the twitterverse is being able to interact with authors. This is how my path crossed with Ms Fuller – where in a random encounter led to chattering about her debut Contemporary Romance being a duet, the first installment of a duology; of which I was most excited to learn more about as the format of dulogies interest me greatly since I first started discovering them as a book blogger. Ironically or not, I did not read as many as a reader prior to having my bookish blog! I credit this to the wider net of awareness I have gained as a book blogger and the more routes of interaction I’ve become blessed within the book world to actively be more ‘aware’ of the uniqueness of releases which are not traditional series, limited series, mini-series and/or non-sequential series – or even, series rooted by theme, setting or supporting cast but rather, a duology – one half of a whole spilt into two individual volumes which once read together compliment and complete each other.

Thus, I agreed to accept a complimentary copy of “Indecision” fully aware of the fact it was the first of a duology release by the author Brittany Fuller in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why I was keen on reading ‘Indecision’ knowing it was a duology:

It truly began about a discussion with Ms Fuller about readers and duologies – about the misconceptions about duologies and how sometimes readers feel short-changed by them. For me personally, I wouldn’t feel upset if a novel I was reading turnt out to be a duology – as I’ve read stories I felt were stand-alone novels which ended on ambiguous final chapters without a hint of a whiff of a sequel or anchouring novel to accompany them.

One quite infamous read of mine where I was honestly in such bereavement and ached for a sequel was when I had borrowed a novel called The Golem and the Jinni by new author (that particular year) Helene Wecker! I was emotionally distraught as I had taken this arduous journey, emotionally gutted and the ending,.. ohh, dear how to even describe it? It felt like a new beginning or a regeneration of what could be plausible or possible, but an ending? No, it didn’t feel quite like that to me,… if you visit that particular review you’ll see how I learnt about the (forthcoming) sequel and how happy I was to interact with Ms Wecker in the twitterverse, as it truly became a ‘journal’ of a passionate reader,…

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, where you are unsure of a connective sequel wherein either writer anchours the first story to a limited series, a mini-saga or series, or a non-sequential series where your reading stories linked by setting, theme or characters – you have the option of soaking inside a duology. I, personally would never feel disappointed if I read a story and it turnt out to be a duology – even if I wasn’t previously attuned to this being the case, as I have had the unlucky habit of finding myself in the midst of full-on serials wherein I have to back-track to find the originating stories and/or find which stories are still available in print (for purchase or borrowing) in order to re-adjust the continuity, gather the thoughts of how the author set the tone for the series overall and generally feel in confluence with the stability of the evolving story (or saga).

Speaking on behalf of the previous duologies I’ve read, I have a high level of respect for how writers write them. Mostly as you are being given half of the evolving arc of narrative, half the journey of the characters both major and minor and have to have felt you’ve resolved or have come to a conclusionary ending by the time you put down the second half of the duology. For those writers who have continued to inspire me and give me a ready story for which I love reading anchoured in this unique fashion, I am forever humbled and blessed to have had their stories cross my bookshelf.

Thereby, when it came time to decide if I wanted to dive into the world in which Indecision lies in the midst of a ‘duet’ – I daresay, dear hearts, I dove right in!

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Notation about the Cover Design: There are a few moments where I stumble across cover art and design which speaks directly to the heart of the story – most cover art designs today strike to find a balance between what is marketable and what is relevant even if sometimes I think they (ie. publishing & PR) err on one side of the ledger vs the other – in this particular case, what was so very striking about the cover is how it truly represents both characters: Evelyn and Noah. Specifically as to why the pier would be of ‘importance’ and what that important ‘revelation’ on behalf of a character would mean in regards to being ‘clued in’ to understanding ‘them’. In essence, I love when a cover of a novel is a glimpse of a portrait of the story the author has written – I much prefer these kinds of covers than a marketable gamble on aesthetics!

#SaturdaysAreBookish | Book Review featuring @SatBookChat’s 13th October Guest Author | “Indecision” (Part One of a duology) by Brittany FullerIndecision
Subtitle: He gave up everything to be with her but is she willing to do the same.
by Brittany Fuller
Source: Direct from Author

Noah knew one thing in life, he would never let a woman rearrange his world ever again. After giving up his future once for what he thought was true love, only to end up alone with what little pride he had left, he headed out towards the West Coast and sunny California in hopes of putting his past behind him. After one year trying to fit into the fast-paced lifestyle, he’s ready to pack up and head back to the south, and his old Kentucky home, even if it means crossing paths again with the demons he left behind. That is, until he meets her. The one girl he can’t help but be drawn to no matter how hard he tries. As he finds himself ready to surrender everything once again for a future with the one woman he knows he will never be able to live without, he’s suddenly forced to realize she just might not be willing to do the same.

Evelyn has had the same dream since she can remember. After her parents moved her to northern California as a pre-teen, she is determined she won’t rest until she can move back home to Orange County and somehow land a job at the LA Times. Vowing to never let anything stop her, and so far succeeding in making her goals come almost within reach, she will not compromise and will let nothing stand in her way. Although, the night a tall handsome stranger comes to her rescue in a dark corner of a downtown bar, her life is suddenly changed and forever rearranged. Noah soon has her questioning everything she thought she wanted in life. Suddenly, she finds herself torn between the life she always wanted, and the one man she’s afraid to live without. Although, when she’s offered her dream and the chance of a lifetime, does she take it, or does she choose him?

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0692153468

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by Self Published Author

on 7th July, 2018

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 272

Self-Published Author

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #Romance #Duology & #SecondChanceRomance

About Brittany Fuller

Brittany Fuller

Brittany Fuller has known one thing since as far back as she can remember, she wanted to be a writer!

Born in Orange County, California, she grew up scribbling notes and drawing stick figures on blank pages, stapling them together and calling them her latest book.

Her family moved to northern California when she was five, and throughout the years her writing has evolved to poems, songs and short stories.

Returning to college at the age of 28, after getting married and starting a family, she received a degree in journalism and recently took a leap of faith uprooting her life and moving to Kentucky where she works as an editor of a community newspaper.

Although, before leaving the West Coast, she took a chance and started to write her first novel in the hopes of fulfilling a dream she’s had since she was a little girl. To become an author.

With no plans to stop writing anytime soon, she is excited to embark on what she hopes will be a long career.

Busy planning, drafting, writing and reading any chance she gets, she loves to hear feedback and connect with not only readers, but potential clients as well.

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Posted Saturday, 13 October, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Near-Death Experience, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Vulgarity in Literature

Blog Book Tour | “NY Doc Under the Northern Lights” (#HarlequinMedical) by Amy Ruttan feat. a special message about #BreastCancer awareness & donation to fight the disease

Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2018 by jorielov , , , 1 Comment

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 enquiried 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 “NY Doc Under the Northern Lights” direct from the author Amy Ruttan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why this particular Harlequin story stood out to me to read:

I will admit, there was a time in my life where I could not get enough Medical Romances in my life or Medical Dramas for that matter! Whether I was seeking them out in fiction – yes, I’ve know about this imprint for Harlequin for a long, long time – including when the covers used to be featuring scrub green! – or whether I was watching television dramas like ER or Crossing Jordan whilst happily binge watching Quincy, ME. I would never watch Chicago Hope when it aired as that felt sacrilegious being an ER girl! Laughs with mirth. I even had a ‘chat’ group in my high school where every Friday whilst our Spanish teacher tried to get us to settle into our lessons, I was more keen on hashing out last night’s episode!

Then, somewhere round my early twenties when I discovered Strong Medicine, I started to notice the story-lines and the cases on the series were affecting me. To the point where seeing the shows were no longer my ‘joy’ but were becoming more intense to filter after seeing them. In essence, I knew my time with ‘medical’ anything was over – until of course someone called ‘Mark Harmon’ smittened my eye to start watching NCIS (later in my twenties) and I came to love a ME named ‘Duckie’ and a forensic scientist named ‘Abby’!!

I should also mention I streamed the first two episodes of New Amsterdam and had this series aired in the ’90s whilst ER was still airing, I would have been a bonefide fan! Now? I saw the writings on the wall why that kind of medical drama was for the girl I was yesterday and not the girl I am today. For one thing – did they have to use so much graphic scenes to empathsis conditions where less would have been more? Clearly those days are ‘over’.

Also, I exited ER after they killed off Lucy Knight – as that was the key episode where I felt the series went ‘too far’ even though they crushed my heart by taking off Hathaway and Ross!

Which brings me to why I thought I ought to read this particular release! Since I’ve been hosting for Prism, I’ve noticed I am finding new routes of interest into different imprints by Harlequin once again – I have had a healthy curiosity about the kind of romantic medical dramas authors might be writing for this imprint ever since I saw Candace Cameron Bure’s light hearted medical romance on Hallmark Channel where she moves to Alaska and wishes to be in New York at a major hospital?

A lot of what I love about Harlequin Romances has the similar appeal to my bookish heart as the kind of romances you find on Hallmark Channel. You almost know going into the stories you can not just survive reading them but you are going to feel uplifted afterwards! This was the key as somewhere in my wanderings of medical drama on television – my heart couldn’t take the drama anymore on scene as I was no longer feeling uplifted. Such as what happened when in syndication I reached that pivotal moment where M*A*S*H aired its final arc and goodbye? I was filling buckets with my tears and my heart was severely crushed. Those latter seasons were brutal to get through!

With a happy optimism I signed on for this blog tour to see if what I love about medical dramas and medical romance are now contained in an imprint I’ve been cautiously avoiding for more years than I care to honestly admit possible! Perhaps I have found a new entry into a category of interest I thought I had to leave abandoned! I fully admit I was keenly smitten with the idea of this novel being set in Iceland! A country who loves writers and story-tellers – the land of enchanting scenery, hot springs and a volcano which keeps everyone on their toes! It is truly a remarkable country (from what I’ve gathered from afar) and the Northern Lights are a phenom I’d love to visually take in one day for my own experience as I have read about them and seen them in films but ooh! To see them in person? I can’t even imagine!

When the novel arrived however, Ms Ruttan had a few cheeky surprises for me – especially in regards of how to give a book blogger a hearty chuckle of JOY when spying a rather dashing doctor stuck between the pages of a book she’s about to read for review!!

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An important message from the author:

I couldn’t wait to retweet this special s/o of charity proceeds stemming from the sales of the story I am reading for review today. This is an insidious disease and it affects so many people we either know personally or know indirectly – one of my Aunt’s in my family had it but more recently, the journey Ms (Susan) Spann is taking climbing the #100Summits in Japan was showcased on my blog to highlight the empowering survival spirit of those who can beat the odds and to give inspiration to those who are continuously fighting for their life.

Let us take a moment to send a note of support to Ms Ruttan and to help spread the awareness of how this novel NY Doc Under the Northern Lights is making a difference with each book sold!

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Blog Book Tour | “NY Doc Under the Northern Lights” (#HarlequinMedical) by Amy Ruttan feat. a special message about #BreastCancer awareness & donation to fight the diseaseNY Doc Under the Northern Lights
by Amy Ruttan
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

Escaping the big city…

For love under Icelandic skies

When surgeon Betty Jacinth’s heart is broken once again, she takes a job in Iceland for a change of scenery. She expects cold weather—but not the frosty welcome she receives from gorgeous but brooding Dr. Axel Sturlusson! Now father to his orphaned niece, Axel gradually thaws, and a flame ignites—but when Betty’s ex begs her to return, can she make the right choice for love?

Places to find the book:

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335663795

Also by this author: NY Doc Under the Northern Lights

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Books, Harlequin Special Edition

on 18th September, 2018

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 256

Published by: Medical Romance (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Formats Available: Ebook and Paperback

four-half-flames

I added a flame rating to this story as it goes a bit further than most of the stories I’ve been regularly reading by Harlequin (such as the Heartwarming imprint or even the Special Edition); though it is tamer than I would presume the Desire imprint (of which I’ve not yet read a story) but I wanted to simply say it has more heat inside than I was expecting to be contained within it. The two characters definitely share a keenly intimate interlude towards the last quarter of the novel which is quite detailed.

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #HarlequinMedical

OR #Harlequin w/ #MedicalRomance

About Amy Ruttan

Amy Ruttan

Born and raised just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Amy fled the big city to settle down with the country boy of her dreams. After the birth of her second child, Amy was lucky enough to realize her life long dream of becoming a romance author. When she's not furiously typing away at her computer, she's a mom to three wonderful children who use her as a personal taxi and chef.

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Posted Thursday, 11 October, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Adoption, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Iceland, Indie Author, Life Shift, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Nurses & Hospital Life, Orphans & Guardians, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Sociological Behavior, Sudden Absence of Parent

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.

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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 Riffle

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

on 7th November, 2017

Pages: 384

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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