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Catch a Mate by Gena Showalter

30 Aug

This is an exceptional find in the used bookstore I went to. I thought this was a fun and original story – I cannot wait until some screenwriter find this and makes it into a Rom-Com. For me, it took a little bit of time to get into the story, but once I got passed that, I devoured the book in a matter of hours.

The story opens up with a girl hitting on a guy at a bar, he immediately responds to her, flirting back. She turns the situation around on his bum when she calls him a lying cheater and walks away. Jillian, the woman,works for Catch a Mate. She is getting paid by women to see if men are willing to cheat. Catch a Mate is a business in Oklahoma, but is not about finding a possible date or relationship, but catching another’s mate in a precarious situation (or not) and reporting it back to the suspecting other.

Jillian got into the business because she hates men, she hates men because she works in this business. Vicious Cycle. Her life is thrown through the gauntlet when her man-hating boss sells the business to a man – and not Jillian. Worse of all, the moment she meets Marcus, she is attracted to him, and wants none of that. She is mean, vindictive, and cutting towards Marcus.

Marcus has similar thoughts a Jillian. He was spurred by a cheating wife, and considers women the evil sex. He runs the male version of Catch a Mate, so is more than willing to grow his business. The moment he meets Jillian, he feels the same attraction, but is repulsed by it. They bicker, fight, and make each others lives miserable. Before they know it, they are embraced in an affair with one another. They both fight their feelings and negotiate how to walk away from the other without getting hurt.

Gena Showalter has a great sense of comedy and characters. I both hated and loved the characters, and constantly felt the same pull they felt as they were figuring out their situations. The only part I did not like was how vicious Showalter made  Jillian. It was almost too much – too unrealistic. But as time went on, she found a balance for the characters. Her secondary characters  – and Jillian and Marcus’s interactions with them was hilarious – they made the novel.

While reading, and thinking about  it after, Catch a Mate reminds me of Jennifer Cruise, Carly Phillips and Sophie Kinsella. If you like to read them, I recommend picking up this.

If you want to see what else Gena Showalter as written (she varies so much – many paranormal) check out her website!


The Braeswood Tapestry by Robyn Carr

26 Aug

I was hesitant to read Robyn Carr for years. I thought she only wrote one series- the Virgin River series, and I was not too keen on getting immersed on a series with so many items. What I did not realize is that she writes beyond those romances, which is how I got my hands on The Braeswood Tapestry.  On my Nook, I always look for free books, and I always have a tendency to luck out and find a few good books to try. (for those with nooks, I highly recommend the Free Friday selection and just perusing the free items) I saw this Robyn Carr, and it was free, so I downloaded it.

I had no idea what to expect out of this book, but considering the cover, I was expecting a novel with a bit of Chaucer/Beowulf (the fight scenes…. obviously) and Mel Brooks’ Men in Tights (Romance… obviously). Don’t ask me how I created this idea in my head after reading the blurb, but I did.

The Braeswood Tapestry truly has very little to do with a tapestry. I just wanted to get that out there. What the novel is really based around is Jocelyn, a strong, determined, intelligent woman in the 1660s who take her and her families life into her own hands. Her father despises her because she is strong willed, and essentially banishes her when she tried to care for her brother, who is held captive by an evil lord.

She approaches the lords enemy, a returning lord with a mission; he wants to destroy the family who murdered his family, reclaim his wealth, and become a force in society. She uses him to free her brother, and he uses her a mistress. Not exactly a fair trade but whatever.  They both become more than just a physical partners, but with all the trials and tribulations associated with the hierarchy of that time, they both resist. Beyond their relationship, both struggle with issues that have put them beyond their comfort zone. Jocelyn attempts to adapt to a new life – completely different than her life as a farmers daughter. Trent needs to battle his own demons, and learn to find himself.

I suppose this could be considered a romance, but while reading this, it was more of a historical novel. The novel opens with the history of England at that time, the royalty and the wars that plagued the country. It was an interesting novel, and I think that walking into the sorry with no preconceived notions help (minus imaging Mel Brooks driving a cart around.)

As I said earlier, Robyn Carr is widely known for the Virgin River series, but she has written other books, there may be something that catches your interest, so check out her website!

Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock

25 Aug

If I were to ever live in a book, it would undoubtedly be a Dorothy Garlock novel. To be honest, I really wouldn’t care which one it would be either. Dorothy Garlock is able to bring stories to life in a way that creative and realistic. Most of her stories take place in the heartland of America, anytime between the start of the 1900’s through the 1980’s.

In Come a Little Closer Garlock sets her novel in a small Wisconsin town right after World War II, where Christina is begining the rest of her life. Christina went to school for nursing, and then became a nurse in Chicago for soldiers returning home from the war abroad. When the war ended, she took a job in this small town to assist the doctor, so she packed her bags and took the train to the unknown.

Moments after the train stops at the station, she is whisked away by the older doctor to the first appointment as an assisting nurse. That evening, she goes to the home of the doctor’s sister. There Christina me her two sons – one, Tyler, works on cars and has a chip on his shoulder, and the other, Holden, a soldier whom returned home with more than a physical disability because of the war. She spends more and more time with each brother, coaching Holden to stop retreating from the world, and to Tyler, that happiness is possible.

While Christina helps Holden overcome his issues, she also builds a relationship with Tyler. She needs to learn how to balance the two very distinct and strong personalities while adapting back into small town life and assisting those who need her help. But not everyone is as smitten with her and the other characters; Christina, Holden, Tyler, and the doctor all face demons within the town though. Some are personal demons, other are vindictive townspeople willing to do anything to do anything to get what they want, whatever the cost.

There were only two parts of the novel that I did not care for, but it did not deter me at all from enjoying, or giving this a “five star – stays on my bookshelf review.” The first is the fact that Garlock wrote nearly every character in the book with some issue, alcoholism, drug addiction anger management issues, she meets them all, and within the first hours of Christina’s time in Wisconsin. Secondly, Tyler appeared to whine fairly often about his life situation. While neither were detrimental, I considered them odd nuisances.

Dorothy Garlock does a wonderful job transporting the reader not only to the time period in which she is writing, but also created relationships between the readers and the characters. She is able to weave these intricate and detailed stories into a packed novel that I personally always enjoy reading. I have always appreciated the style that Garlock writes in. While there is a love story, the novel does not always revolve around the two characters fighting their attraction to the point where I roll my eyes at the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. She is always realistic, and drives the book with more than romance.

Dorothy Garlock has a website, if you are interested in this book, or any of her others, check it out!

Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas

20 Aug

Occasionally, I will read a historical romance book. While they are not my favorite (I can only read so many pages about petticoats) I will pick one up and give it a go. Lisa Kleypas has typically been my standby for historical romance (I enjoyed her Wallflower Series) but at the used book store, there is a plethora of historical romances, and I wasn’t interested in anything else at the moment, so I grabbed Love, Come to Me.

The novel is about Lucinda Caldwell, a young woman living in Concord, Massachhusetts after the Civil War – she helps in her fathers general store, and is waiting to finally marry her three-year-engagment fiance. One evening, when returning home early from visiting, she falls into the icy river and is rescued and cared for by a relocated Southern (he was a Rebel…) man named Heath. After he nursed her back to health and returned her home, they slowly began to see each other more – on the street, at social events and in the store.

Because of the severe distain for the South at that time, everyone treats Heath poorly, but most of all Lucy’s fiance treats him terribly. As Lucy and Heath grow closer and closer, Lucy and  her fiance grow apart. Then , one night Heath and Lucy get a little busy in the woods with the entire town right next to them and she is “compromised” and is forced to marry Heath. The book follows the pair as they negotiate life, marriage, the Reconstruction, and a move to Boston.

Most of the time I am over the moon about Kleypas’ books. This time, while I still mostly liked the book, there were some parts that I thought were uncharacteristic to her writing. She usually builds characters, romance and stories with a strong foundation, and keeps the reader engaged in the story throughout the novel. For some reason (maybe because it was one of her first novels? Different publishing company?)  She did not get to fully engage and develop the relationship between Lucy and Heath on a deeper level.

Kleypas brought history into the novel. While other people may not have been a fan of this component considering the genre of the novel, I did. And it was a history not romanticized – she wrote about the bloodiness of the war, the failing reconstruction, the perspectives of both the North and the South, and how there was so much depression because of the Civil War. I also like how she wrote about how old newspapers used to run. It was fun to read about the dynamics in the career.

While it was not Kleypas’ best work, it was a little different than her other works, which was interesting to read. If you read it, let me know if you picked up on her literary tip-of-the-hat to an author who lived in Concord at that time.

Kleypas writes novels beyond historical fiction – including contemporary romances and regular fiction. Check out her website.

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