Avon, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Paradise Ranch


I blame Lizbeth Selvig‘s Seven Brides for Seven Cowboys series for my current fixation with cowboy romances; I’ve never really been sold on them before, but there’s something about Paradise Ranch, its inhabitants and the men who love them that’s converted me!

In The Bride Wore Denim Harper comes home to Paradise Ranch because she has to.  The plan is to get in and then back out, only she doesn’t count on falling for her older sister’s boyfriend.  Cole knows that artistic Harper’s got a life built in the big city, and he’s made his home on the land here in Paradise Ranch, but will that stop them from forging a path together?

High-powered surgeon Mia had everything in her life sorted, until it wasn’t.  The Bride Wore Red Boots sees her returning home and clashing heads with ex-soldier Gabe, and working with veterans suffering from PTSD, as well as taking on a challenge of her own with the one child who can melt her heart…

The Bride Wore Starlight sees Joely, who was injured earlier in the series, frustrated with being wheelchair-bound.  She feels sick at the prospect of rolling down the aisle as her sister’s bridesmaid, when Alec swoops in, and practically carries her down.  She can’t believe how interfering he is, until she discovers that he suffered an injury of his own…

They’re gorgeous books, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

#StrongRomanceHeroines, Avon, Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading

Respond to Reading: Good Guys Wear Black


Th final book in Lizbeth Selvig‘s Kennison Falls series, Good Guys Wear Black, is a fitting end to a series that I’ve loved (I even wrote about the heroine from Beauty and the Brit, Rio Montoya, in a piece earlier this year).

Once again, Selvig doesn’t shy away from thought-provoking topics and handles delicate issues with the deftest of touches.

There are two storylines that remain inextricably intertwined with the main romance narrative: that of Rose’s son, Jesse, and his struggle to adapt to life in a new town and school; and that of Banned Book week.

I’m going to start with Jesse.  He’s got Asperger’s Syndrome which is difficult to approach in any case, but Selvig’s appreciation for the struggles that both Jesse and his mother face ring true – particularly when you take into account the fact that there’s a lot of well-meaning but misguided advice being given by everyone from th hero to Jesse’s PE teacher.

There were a number of times when I had to check my own privilege when reading this; especially as coming from a teaching background in the UK where IEPs in education can be incredibly valuable.  I’d never stopped to think about the stress for both parent and student caused by having to sit tests that would only say the same things.

Either way, Rose’s clear bond and love for her son shone throughout the novel, and Dewey’s reaction to that was heartwarming.

And then there’s Banned Book week.

I’m irrevocably against banning books; if there are things you don’t want your kids reading, don’t let them read them.  That doesn’t mean that all books are suitable for all ages, but I do feel very strongly about freedom of speech.

I came up against myself in my brief stint as a school librarian where Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series were questioned by some parents as being suitable due to Pullman’s fairly staunch anti-religion sentiments.

It’s important to note here, that I was supported by a headteacher who stood by me wholeheartedly.  In the end, I moved the books from the Junior to Senior section of the library (bookshelves a full five feet across the room) and said that if students wanted to read them, no matter what their age, I’d let them (this was in a 11-18 school).

So when Rose, as new Head Librarian, is faced with a large group of angry members of a community she’s only just joined, due to celebrating Banned Books week, it’s pretty stressful for her and is dealt with by Selvig brilliantly.

Of course, it’s impossible to forget the blossoming romance between dewey and Rose.  I think it’s so easy to forget how external influences can have an impact on a new relationship in romance novels, but the educating of Dewey about Jesse, and his unwavering support of Rose over the library issues, made for delightful reading.

#StrongRomanceHeroines, Reading

#StrongRomanceHeroines – Being Tough

Rio – Lizbeth Selvig‘s Beauty and the Brit


“Her strength was in her ability to push back, to solve, be tough…”

Rio Montoya has looked after her two younger siblings for as long as she can remember.  She’s worked every job at every crappy restaurant in town, and she’s determined to earn enough to give her and her sister their dream of a ranch of their own.

Her brother, on the other hand, has been getting more and more drawn into gangs, and it isn’t until Rio realises that Bonnie almost got kidnapped because of his ties, that her world falls apart.

I think I love Rio because she’s tough.  Life throws so much at her – dead parents, siblings to bring up – and then her house is burnt to the ground and she and Bonnie have nowhere to go.

Even when David offers her a place to stay, she refuses to just accept the help.  She goes out, gets a job, helps on the ranch and with the horses and confounds expectations at ever turn.

There’s one moment where David is criticising tattoos and body art, and she oh so coolly points her own out.

She’s feisty and strong and comes from a background where she’s literally had to fight for her sister’s safety…and yet she’s still caring.

#StrongRomanceHeroines come in all shapes and sizes, and Rio’s gotta be up there as the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, who simply doesn’t let misfortune drag her down.