Review: Big Sky Wedding (Parable, Montana, Book 5) by Linda Lael Miller

big sky weddingReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Zane Sutton has come home to his ranch. And it’s not long after that he meets Brylee Parrish. I’m impressed with Brylee she’s a self-starter businesswoman. And she’s not impressed with Zane. This is one thing that held my attention – make the man work at catching the female’s interest.

You can almost sense that this is a story about family and all the different kinds of family that there are. As you read, you may even be able to relate to a few. But it also had me wanting to get on a plane and go check out Parable, Montana. Now that Fall is in the air, this would be a perfect time to get away. We have a local fair going on – I’ll have to go over and check out the cowboy boots and hats.

Having realized that this was the fifth book in the series, I was glad that this book could be read as a stand-alone (since I haven’t read the other four books). But if you loved this book as much as I did, you may just want to go back and read the others. If you don’t want to add them to your personal library, remember that you can go visit your public library to see what they have available.

Linda knows how to lasso the reader and not let go until the story is over. There are certain books that I feel are better to read in their original form (paperback) instead of e-book and this fits in that category. You can always tell when a paperback is well loved – an e-book, not so much. Got to love a bookshelf showing off some well-loved books. If you’re a fan of Linda’s than this is a series that you will most certainly want to follow. Yeehaw!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Big Sky Wedding

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Dogs and Horses

CounterfeitCowboyGuest blog by Gail MacMillan, author of Counterfeit Cowboy

I’m a world class dog and horse fancier. Since my earliest memories I’ve loved and admired these animals. Therefore, it’s no surprise that both frequently appear in my stories and romance novels. In fact, my fascination with horses led me to follow a lifelong dream I’d never been able to previously achieve.

At the venerable age of fifty, I began to take riding lessons. No, there’s no amazing story to follow. I didn’t go on to compete in the Olympics. In fact, I barely managed to learn to stay in the saddle at a modest lope on a mare that definitely had to be at the top of her class in gentleness and patience. But it did plant the seed of an idea for a story, one I’d later entitle, “Counterfeit Cowboy.”

Then other forces came into play to push the plot further. In the course of writing dog stories, I met via e-mails an amazing British Columbia rancher. Both of us having intense interest in dogs and horses, we became long distance friends. (I live on the east coast of Canada, she lives on the west.) When one especially beautiful little filly was borne on her ranch, she allowed me to name her. I chose to call her Fancy and through e-mails and photos, Fancy became a special part of my life. With her silver mane and tail and charcoal body, Fancy was breathtaking beauty on the hoof as she ran wild and free in the mountains of northern British Columbia. One day when she was mature, she’d come back to the ranch buildings where she’d been borne and begin her life under saddle and bridle but until then she was a free spirit.

Fancy had only just passed her second birthday when a horrific ranch accident claimed her life. I was devastated. Beautiful Fancy would never again race through the mountains with her herd. She’d never grow up to belong to my friend’s granddaughter and win at gymkhanas. Her memory had to be honored.

Fancy’s death caused that seed of an idea of writing a romance set on the horse farm where I’d taken riding lessons to begin to germinate and sprout. My long-suffering instructor became its heroine who had to teach a country music star who couldn’t ride a carousel to handle a horse within a six week time frame for his movie debut as a cowboy. A fictional Fancy would play the starring role of most beautiful mare on the farm.

Although she’s no longer with us in body, her spirit gallops gracefully through the pages of “Counterfeit Cowboy” and (I hope) into the hearts of readers. This book is my tribute to her.

Buy: Counterfeit Cowboy

Review: Jake (Wyoming Sky, Book 3) by R.C. Ryan

jakeHero: As a kid, Jake Conway wanted to be a veterinarian. He was always good with animals, especially those in need of serious tender-loving care. If it was wild, even better. That hasn’t changed as an adult and nobody is more wild or in need of TLC than the new neighbor next door!

Heroine: Meg Stanford inherits more than her estranged father’s ranch after he died. She also gets a younger brother she never knew she had. If figuring out what to do with the ranch and the kid wasn’t enough of a problem for this Washington D.C. city girl/attorney, a series of nighttime break-ins have Meg flustered and running to her sexy neighbor.

Review: The relationship between Jake and Meg was stifled and I didn’t feel the chemistry. There were a few cute moments, but overall it left a bland taste behind. I would recommend this book if you had read the others in the series, love romances featuring cowboys with tender hearts, or like romances featuring a strong mystery element.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Jake (A Wyoming Sky Novel)

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Review: Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley, Book 1) by Jane Graves

Cowboy Take Me AwayReviewed by Patsy F.

Summary: The story begins and continues throughout to be very atypical. It begins when one of the main characters (Luke) returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his father. Luke had not spoken to his father in years and had a tumultuous relationship with the man.

Luke runs into ex-girlfriend (Shannon) and falls in love again. Shannon is drawn toward Luke now that he has grown and tries to fight her feelings. As he tries to pursue his dream of being in the rodeo circuit, he soon feels compelled to help Shannon at her animal rescue shelter. Soon he realizes that when he left town years ago, he left a piece of himself that he had long ago forgotten about. He soon misses the small town atmosphere and the heartfelt relationship of the townspeople.

He does get his shot at the bull riding championship, but is this what he really wants or does he want the life he could have with Shannon in their small hometown?

Review: This is a very sweet contemporary romance. It truly is a love story, but has no real surprises and no real mystery. As the story progresses, you can almost assume what is going to happen. If you like soft romances with a focus on family you will like this book.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Cowboy Take Me Away (Rainbow Valley)

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Review: Not Quite Dating (Not Quite, Book 1) by Catherine Bybee

not quite datingHero: Jack Morrison is ready to find a woman who will like him for himself and not for the family hotel chain. The point is made especially clear to him when he runs into an ex who is clearly delusional and thinks they will get married and mouths off when he informs her otherwise. He’s decided that the perfect woman for him will love his preference to be laid back – beat-up truck, cowboy hat, and all.

Heroine: Jessica “Jessie” Mann is a single parent trying to make ends meet while helping put her younger sister through college. No easy feat on a waitress’s tips. She’s decided to finally take her mother’s advice on love, namely that “loving a rich guy is as easy as loving a poor guy.” So while Jack is cute, his seasonal job at a fancy hotel and his dreams and goals combine to make him entirely unsuitable.

Review: A cute story that is light and fluffy and goes down easy. I enjoyed the big misunderstanding plot twists, yes plural. Good thing these two both had busybody sisters to step in and get their heads on straight. More sexy time would have been great.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Not Quite Dating (Not Quite series)

Review: Mistletoe Cowboy by Carolyn Brown

MistletoeCowboyCVR.inddReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Elizabeth “Sage” Presley is driving in her van on a very nasty night. But she needs to get home, storm or not. Creed Riley bought a ranch in the middle of winter. Seems like a strange time of year to buy a ranch. Then he finds out that he has a couple of house guests. One happens to be a dog they name Noel. It’s a beautiful name for a dog that appears around Christmas.

I find it interesting that Carolyn has given Sage and Creed some things in common. But it does raise the question; will this bring them together or pull them apart? Will the holiday work some magic on the couple?

Sage is an artist and Carolyn had me wishing that she had some illustrations in this book. I would have loved to have seen some of Sage’s work. I will just have to use Carolyn’s words to paint the pictures in my mind.

There are several things in Carolyn’s book that I can connect with. One thing is that Sage’s grandmother, Ada, plays my favorite card game. It was a game that my grandparents taught me and it brings back great memories. If you like to play cards, you may have played it or like to learn.

Music plays a part in this book. I hope you will put on some holiday music as you read. If you are a country fan, there is some great country Christmas tunes out there. One song that you may wish to listen to is “Mary Did You Know”. My favorite rendition of this tune was by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd. Another song that you may want to listen to is “On This Winter’s Night” by Lady Antebellum..

If you are looking for any holiday themed romance books, I hope you will add this to your list. It’s a very sweet story with some scenes that will heat things up. If you love animals, you will even get that fix here. If you have your own animals, and they love to cuddle with you, what better way then while you are reading Carolyn’s book. Happy Holidays!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Mistletoe Cowboy

Dear Santa

Guest Blog by Carolyn Brown, author of Mistletoe Cowboy (Spikes & Spurs)

Hi y’all!

Thank you for inviting me to stop at your site and visit with you about my newest release, Mistletoe Cowboy. Just looking at the cover and reading the copy on the back of the book says that it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, doesn’t it?

Speaking of Christmas…it’s not time to put up the tree just yet even if the stores are already decorated and ready for the holidays. But it’s never too early to think about writing the Dear Santa letter because he does need time to make sure he can deliver the items mentioned in the letter.

So while we’re waiting on Thanksgiving to come and go, we can be working on the letter and trying to stay off that naughty list that he carries around in his hip pocket.

Dear Santa,

First of all I have been a very good girl. Not one time did I drink too much at the Romance Writers of America Conference this past summer. And I did not pout more than five minutes when I didn’t win the RITA on Saturday night…well, maybe fifteen, but no more than that, I promise. I’ve met all my deadlines this year and only cussed a few times when the computer was a real b#$%#ch and decided to reboot right in the middle of a chapter I had not saved.

I’m not asking for one of those fancy new computers that does everything but tell me bedtime stories. Or six extra hours in every day so I can write a few thousand extra words each day. I’ll make do with my trusty old computer and the hours I have if you’ll just keep the coffee pot full and those little chocolate kisses in the candy dish.

What I really, really want is a cowboy Christmas. I deserve it because I wrote Creed and Sage’s story and they got all the glory. Okay, okay, I got my name on the front in great big sparkly gold letters but that was my consolation prize. Creed got top billing with the picture of his sexy self on the front cover and Sage, well, Santa, she stole the show with her sassy attitude and beauty.

Now before you go hum-hawing around and telling me that you can’t possibly build a cowboy Christmas in less than two months, I’ll explain exactly what I mean.

I want a cowboy who wears his jeans just right, sets his hat at just the right angle and his boots are scuffed because he’s a real cowboy and works on the ranch every day. He can even have spurs and I do like a flannel shirt.

He needs to be tall dark and handsome, know how to two-step and it wouldn’t hurt if he could play the guitar and sing.

You can deliver him any time you want so that we can go to the woods and chop down a real Christmas tree, just like Creed and Sage did in Mistletoe Cowboy. That way I can enjoy him all season. Could you please make sure he knows how to cook, too? I’m going to be real busy working on the Christmas book for next year, The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby, and if my Christmas cowboy could make gingerbread and sugar cookies, that would be great.

Whoa! What do you mean you can’t find a cowboy like that? Hey, I know they exist because I just wrote the Spikes & Spurs series and you just go ask Jasmine, Sage, Pearl, Austin and Liz about those cowboys down there on the Texas side of the Red River.

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, I expect while you are getting my cowboy Christmas ready, you’d best go on and make up several of them. There’ll be ladies of all ages standing in a mile long line just to get one. Be prepared for lots and lots of cowgirls to sit on your lap at the mall and ask for a cowboy Christmas.

Tell Mrs. Claus hello and that I’m sending her a copy of Mistletoe Cowboy. If you have any questions about how to fix a cowboy Christmas you just ask her about Creed. She’ll fill you in with plenty of details and after she reads it you just might find a cowboy hat and boots under the tree in your size.

Merry Christmas,

Carolyn Brown

So what would you want to incorporate in your Christmas letter if you were asking for a cowboy Christmas? Would you just want the cowboy or does he have to have certain special qualities?

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Mistletoe Cowboy. 1 winner, US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment! Last day to enter November 16, 2012.

Buy: Mistletoe Cowboy (Spikes & Spurs)

Review: Courting a Cowboy by Patricia McLinn

Courting a CowboyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sophie Vandercook works as an instructor at Mrs. Forestell’s Academy. She tells friends about having an absent husband and plans to convince them by trip to Wyoming. She’s actually using the trip to go visit her brother.

Nate Abbott has been corresponding with Sophie. But when she walks into the store he’s in, he doesn’t recognize her. Then eventually the light bulb clicks on for us, as we read their interaction. But something is amiss. The ranch hands will have you chuckling. They remind me of the male version of the ladies of River City from “The Music Man”.

The ranch hands think of Sophie as part of their family. How the ranch hands feel about Sophie is like how the lost boys felt about Wendy. And yet everything they know about Sophie, up until now, was based on letters that they received. But Sophie doesn’t realize what a flim-flam her brother was. The ranch hands respect her and don’t want to let her know the truth.

Nate seems to be a man that keeps his feelings close to the chest – makes me wonder if it was because of a woman. Sophie is as stubborn as they come. It will be interesting to see who wins this war.

I love the character named Doughy. I grew up watch Bonanza and thinking that Doughy would fit right in. He would be just like Hop Sing. My family watched the show religiously and I could picture Doughy cooking up a storm for the Cartwright family.

I love how Patricia describes the surrounding landscape. She’s like an artist putting bold colors on a canvas – but her canvas is paper. She also has a way with words. Sophie, at times, uses some pretty big words. I have to wonder if Patricia had to keep a dictionary or thesaurus handy. It also has me wondering if Sophie uses the big words so that people won’t get too close. I also get the impression that Patricia knows quite a bit about ranch life.

I fell in love with everyone at the OS. Sophie has a couple of women that she writes to at the Academy where she works. I wonder if Patricia will continue the adventures of the OS and have the story revolve around Alice. It will be interesting to see if she gets her own story.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Courting a Cowboy