Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Romance, Sob-Inducing Stories, Tule Publishing

Responding to Reading: Tempting the Deputy

Heidi Rice‘s Tempting the Deputy

514-qCHh8eL

Tough, taciturn and wounded in ways that no one else knows about, Marietta rancher and part-time Deputy Sheriff Logan Tate is a man in total control of his life. Until he catches British photographer Charlotte Foster hitchhiking and ‘insists’ she gets a ride into town in his squad car… 

After her run-in with Deputy Hardass, Charlie Foster is ready to ride her thumb right back out of Marietta the very next day. But that night, a trip to Grey’s Saloon fires up her imagination – and her wild side – when she overhears the town’s first responders panicking over how to come up with the money needed to repair Harry’s House in just 90 days. 

Charlie has an ingenious solution to their problem, that might just require her to photograph twelve smokin’ hot guys naked. And, as luck would have it, also involves getting some much needed payback on Deputy Hardass–who isn’t too enthusiastic about participating in the calendar shoot.

But as he spends more time with Charlie, Logan can’t ignore the chemistry sizzling between them. Can a man who lives by the rules fall in love with a woman who breaks all of his?

So I’m not entirely certain why it’s taken Heidi Rice so long to write a cowboy hero.  As heroes go, they’re usually fairly alpha – without fitting into the overbearing Christian Grey mould – fit as f— and are part of a close-knit community; all traits that I’ve seen in previous Rice heroes…but Logan is her first.

And is he a good one?

The short answer is yes.  He’s a great hero.  He’s kind, a little clueless about his own feelings at times (which I find unbelievably adorable) and has a backstory that makes your heart ache.

How about our heroine?  Charlie Foster’s a British photographer, passing through the adorable town of Marietta, who takes on a photography project to raise some money for a local cause.  Of course, it means she has to see certain male members of the community in various states of undress, but she’s not particularly complaining.  They’re all fairly easy on the eyes, and it’s good exposure for her work.

But the thing I really like about her, is her frankness.  She’s straight talking and there’s a scene where they’re out in the “wild”, with her taking photos of him, when she starts telling him what she wants to do with her.  Aside from it being rather hot (which all the sex scenes are – my eReader almost combusted in my hands!), it’s also something innately honest and open.  And there’s nothing quite as alluring as the frank articulation of desire.

The story itself has great heart.  There’s a moment when Logan comes in the door and smells Charlie cooking a dish his mother used to cook him, and that really resonated with me.  The smell and taste of food is something that can resurrect memories both good and bad, and I love how that simple moment was woven into the narrative.  It encapsulated all that Logan had lost, and all that his life could be.

And the ending made me cry.  This isn’t something that’s unique to this book – Rice is to blame for a large number of tears shed over the years – but it’s something that I appreciate nonetheless.  It’s the kind of catharsis that Aristotle refers to in Poetics that makes me very grateful for the romance novel.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Lake Lovelace

lake-lovelace

Vanessa North‘s Lake Lovelace series is a small town series that has its own wakeboarding competition and its fair share of local athletes.

Ben Warren used to be a wakeboarding champion, but it’s not until he meets Davis Fox in  Double Upthat he starts to embrace life again. Davis is trying to build bridges with his estranged brother by entering the competition, but he can’t wakeboard and soon Ben finds himself coaching the newcomer!

In Rough Roadwealthy flirt Eddie Russell finds himself rescued by a man half his age when he runs his Mercedes off the road! Wish Carver is fascinated by the duality of Eddie’s personality – even if the two of them seem to be on opposite sides of a local issue…

Tina Durham’s adjusting to life after her divorce in Roller Girlbut everything seems to be going wrong – from her career to the washing machine that’s flooded her kitchen! Thank goodness for Joanne “Joe Mama” Demario. Not only does she fix the offending washing machine in question, but she also invites Tina to join her roller derby team and really doesn’t care that she’s transgender. But soon sparks between them begin to fly; will coach and player be able to keep things strictly professional?

It’s a wonderfully intersectional romance series, and North’s ability to create charming and amusing characters works wonders!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Unspeakable

51hkletbjql-_sx316_bo1204203200_

Abbie Rushton‘s Unspeakable  follows Megan, who hasn’t spoken in months. She even communicates with her mother through writing little notes, but in some ways it’s for the best. Because if she started speaking, goodness only knows what secrets would come selling out.

The last thing she expected was bubbly new girl Jasmine to pay any attention to her; certainly know one else expected it, but gravitate towards her Jasmine does and this makes for fascinating reading, with us hearing Megan’s internal responses to Jasmine’s chattering dialogue…

The romance itself is heart-warming and brightening, especially when we slowly begin to realise the enormity of the trauma that’s caused Megan to stop talking in the first place…

#WeNeedDiverseBooks, All About Pride, Romance

All About Pride: Not Otherwise Specified

513qy2dqt4l

Hannah Moskowitz‘s Not Otherwise Specified is a coming of age novel that follows Etta as she struggles with the categories that people want to put her in…

She’s not quite tiny enough for ballet, she’s not quite gay enough for her group of friends the Dykes – even though she’s always been open about being bisexual – she’s not quite sick enough for some people to take her anorexia seriously, even if she is in recovery, and she’s a black girl in a whiter than white Nebraska…

And it isn’t until she’s drawn to straight, white, Christian Bianca in her therapy group that she starts questioning her role within the labels that people have assigned her.

I think what’s truly remarkable about this book, is the strength of Etta’s voice. She’s funny and witty and goes off on tangents in a way that is really very endearing. Moskowitz approaches the darker issues with levity and practicality, and shows light onto the shadow. Utterly charmed by this book!

Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Fortuity

desert-dogs

Cara McKenna‘s Desert Dogs series marries motorcycles with murder as a suspicious death jumpstarts a narrative that revs into life!

In Lay It Down, we’re introduced to Fortuity, Texas, and Vince Grossier.  When the town’s new mayor invites a casino development to town, and then Vince’s good friend turns up mysteriously dead, he decides to look into it himself.  Kim Paget, the photographer hired by the developers might hold a clue, but soon Vince finds himself becoming more and more drawn to her…

Raina Harper owns the only bar in town, and she’s not prepared to give it up in Give It All.  But when the casino developers’ fixer, Duncan Welch, needs someone to help clear his professional name, Raina can’t seem to turn him away – especially when he’s so damn sexy!

The prequel novella, Drive It Deep, looks at the romance and entanglement that Raina and Miah had before the series began…

When Vince’s brother, Casey, comes home settle down in Fortuity in Burn It Up, he cleans up his act and becomes co-owner of Benji’s Saloon.  But his new bartender, sweet single mum Abilene, needs help when the violent figure who haunts her past returns to Fortuity…

The series is gripping, with the murder mystery plot line running across all of the books, and I simply can’t wait to read the final book in the series!

Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection, Tule Publishing

Small Town Perfection: Jumbuck Springs

outback-heat

Amy Andrews‘ Outback Heat series follows four siblings as they grow up and start developing more relationships; as well as running sidelong with a narrative about forest fires and the impact that it can have on small rural communities.

In Some Girls Do, Lacey is fed up of being stuck out in the city.  Her mother has recently died and she wants to go home – even if her brothers are insistent that she finish design school!  So when she gets Cooper to bring her home, she finds herself pretending that she’s pregnant, in order to stay.  The only thing she didn’t expect, was for Cooper to stand up as her fake baby daddy!

Jarrod hasn’t really had a proper relationship since Selena left, all fifteen years ago.  In fact, when she comes home in Some Girls Don’t, he doesn’t want anything to do with her; so when they finally meet, that spark of chemistry is a shock to both of them.

Some Guys Need A Lot of Lovin’ sees Marcus batting PTSD after one of the young boys he coached dies in the forest fire that decimates their local community.  The last thing he wants, is to have to see a psychologist – even one as sexy as Juanita…

JJ grew up with Ethan, and she’s been in love with him for just as long!  But when they end up sleeping together in Some Girls Lie, after his ex-wife gets remarried, she’s terrified that they’ll have ruined their friendship.  But with her abusive ex back in town, and his ex wanting custody of his daughter, a fake engagement may be the best way to resolve all of their issues!

I think one of the real strengths of this series – aside from the writing and its deliciously sexy scenes – is its ability to engage with risks that real Australian rural communities face.  Outstanding.

Mills & Boon, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Larkville

larkville

The Larkville Legacy follows the aftershocks of a letter that affects the ranching Calhoun family in Larkville, and New York high society family, the Pattersons…

In The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer, Jess Calhoun’s been avoiding men in Stetson’s since her young son’s father left them, but when Johnny Jameson swaggers into town, she can’t help but notice him!  Their attraction is fiery and soon Johnny starts wondering whether he could put down roots in the quiet town of Larkville, of all places…

When ex-ballerina Eleanor Patterson discovers that her family history is a lie, she heads to Larkville for answers in Nikki Logan‘s Slow Dance with the Sheriff.  But she’s not exactly country material and ends up getting rescued from a herd of cattle by handsome Sheriff Jed Jackson…

In Marion Lennox‘s Taming the Brooding Cattleman, Alexandra Patterson heads to the Australian outback to work with stallions on a ranch.  Only rancher Jack Connor’s in for the shock of his life when the man he thought he hired, Alexander, turns out to be Alexanda!

Holt Calhoun hasn’t said anything other than “no” since his marriage ended.  But in The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie, that’s put to the test when he’s faced with pregnant Kathryn Ellis, who’s determined to get him to save the local clinic…

After years of hiding in the shadows, Megan Calhoun finally reaches Hollywood in His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone.  Her role as costume designer brings her together with A-list actor Adam Noble, and soon their chemistry threatens to deconstruct the facade he shows to the world…

In Lucy Gordon‘s The Secret That Changed Everything, a devastating family secret sends Charlotte Paterson to Italy, fed up of being in the shadow of her prettier, more popular sisters!  But when she seeks solace in the arms of widower Lucio Constello, their one night of passion has more consequences than they could possibly have imagined.

Soraya Lane‘s The Soldier’s Sweetheart sees Special Forces soldier Nate Calhoun return to Larkville, accompanied by traumatic memories and bourbon.  It’s only his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Anderson, who can see the pain beyond his gruff exterior…  Will racing horses and relaxing together on the ranch bring old emotions back to life?

When Matt Patterson, businessman extraordinaire, finds himself guardian to baby Bella in The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier, he needs help – and fast!  Social worker Claire Kincaid agrees to help out, but soon Matt finds himself drawn towards their fake little family…

Even though not all of the books in the series are set in Larkville, the impact of the letter and secret on the two families resonates through every book.  Utterly charming.