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review 2017-11-11 06:54
Thoughts: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

Close to Heaven
by Pamela Clare
Book 5 of Colorado High Country


A few days prior to publishing this book, Pamela had written a blog post about how Close to Heaven was supposed to have been a Christmas novella, but that it ended up being long enough to be novel-length.  So rather than being a Christmas novella special for the Colorado High Country series, it is now the fifth installment of the series.

As I finished the second half of the book, I couldn't help but wonder whether, maybe, this story would have worked out better as a shorter, novella-length work.

This isn't to say that the book was terrible, but I certainly felt like it dragged on the last half of the story.  I easily saw Pamela's vision and direction for Close to Heaven, but I'm not sure it was necessarily a smoothly executed one.

Nonetheless, even with my misgivings and conflicts about how this novel was presented, I can't deny that, as usual, Pamela always creates a great story, story premise, and characters, with a lot of heart.


The Story:
It is about a month before Christmas and Scarlet Springs is expecting a wintry snow storm in the next few days.  Rain Minear has been feeling lonely ever since her daughter left for college, and she hasn't been able to catch the eye of her boss, Joe Moffat, whom she has been in love with for the past twenty years.  During the night, she starts to wonder if maybe it's time to move on with her life, and maybe start over in another place away from her childhood home of Scarlet Springs.

What she doesn't expect is that her roof would collapse because of the heavy snow, and she would be left without a home, all too suddenly.  Fortunately for her, Joe is generous and caring, and offers to house her at his home until the snow clears and she can find a place to stay.  Unknown to Rain, though, is that Joe has also harbored the same feelings for her these past twenty years, but has never felt right acting on them due to his own rules for not messing around with his own employees.  On top of that, a sordid family history has also influenced Joe's outlook for his own future.

This Christmas, however, it seems that life has some other plans for the both of them.


My Thoughts:
The first thing that came to mind, surprisingly, was the fact that I had thought Rain was younger--the way she'd been described from the first book, I had had the impression that Rain was in her early twenties, or something.  Apparently, I was a little off, or just didn't really pay attention, even though she was one of the side characters I'd hoped to see a story for.

So when the summary came out that this was Joe's and Rain's love story, I was intrigued.  Throughout the series' first few installments, Joe is clearly an older man--which, at least I didn't mistaken his age.  I wondered how this relationship would play out, my mind thinking that Joe Moffat, in his forties, had at least twenty years on Rain, whom I'd thought was in her twenties.

Then Rain was introduced in this book as thirty-seven years old.  Okay, not as young as I'd thought, but still ten years younger than Joe, according to the narration.  It's still a bit of an age gap, so we can still play on that age gap thing.  Or at least, for a while, it was one of the reasons Joe gave for not making a move on Rain.

Even though that particular reason seemed to NOT be a reason, left behind and forgotten.  It was still a significant factor, of course--Rain had gotten pregnant twenty years ago, with a man ten years her senior, who then proceeded to abandon her.  So Joe didn't want to come off like that jackass.

Then, reason after reason came out for why Joe never made a move on Rain for the past twenty years...  TWENTY YEARS.  And we'll come back to these reasons, but, really, I know Rain has her own misgivings, but twenty years is quite the time for two adults to be lusting after each other NOT to notice.  And twenty years is also a long time for Rain to hold a crush on a guy and not do anything about it--she seems like the straight-forward type, and certainly she held no misgivings about making any moves during the course of this story.

I guess that's why we have a story.  And maybe all it took was for her to have a random opportunity.  Like, say, maybe being stuck living in Joe's home while she awaited her insurance claim, and for the snow to melt off her crumpled property.  And maybe for Joe to get a few hard-ons while she's around so she could finally conclude that maybe Joe was interested in her as much as she was interested in him.

I don't know.  It just seems overly convenient a plot.

Anyway, as for Joe's own issues:  He pretty much refuses to make a move on Rain for so many reasons.  His ancestor was a terrible, terrible man who had taken from people, murdered, and forced sex on his own female employees.  And Joe was of the notion that he didn't want to be anything like his ancestor, Silas Moffat.  In fact, Joe's guilt and shame, brought on by all the horrible things that ancestor Silas had done when the man first settled in Scarlet Springs about a century ago, has even made Joe feel like the Moffat name should die with him.  After all, according to him, his grandfather was also a horrible person, and so was his own father.

Somehow, Joe came out the decent man in the Moffat line.  And he's worried that he'd end up starting a family, giving birth to a son, who ends up inheriting previous Moffat male characteristics for evil-doing.  Apparently with all the knowledge and smarts that Joe has, he hasn't figured out the concept of "Nature versus Nurture."  Nor has he stopped to wonder that he was able to become different from his previous male relations.

So Joe refuses to make a move on Rain because she's his employee and he's ten years her senior; he doesn't want to abuse his authority over her.

It just seems like a lot of wasted time, you know.  Twenty years goes by, and even while the two of them are good friends and colleagues, working well together to run the bar, restaurant, and brewery, known as Knockers... well, it just seems like a lot of wasted time where someone could have made a move, or someone could have recognized feelings, whether lust or deeper.


Close to Heaven is up to Pamela Clare standards as far as characters, writing, and heart are concerned.  The schmaltz factor is more subtle in this book.  However, the ending half felt a little dragged out, even after our couple finally acknowledge feelings.  Because then we're just spending time slowly ambling towards that Happily Ever After as the days move forward towards Christmas.  Like, that maybe Christmas was the ultimate end location for this story, and everything from the mid-mark where Rain and Joe finally reciprocate feelings, moving forward, was just filler until the time was right.

I'm not saying it was terrible or anything.  It was sweet and enjoyable and heart-warming--probably what our lovely author was aiming for.  But I just felt like maybe that section of the book could, maybe, have been shortened a little bit.  Because I couldn't help but get the feeling that that latter half of the book went on forever.  And it makes me feel bad, because I DO love a great Pamela Clare romance novel, and Close to Heaven was, once again, very sweet, even if a bit frustrating on Joe's part since he was being so stubborn about Rain.

I mean, for crying out loud, she practically jumped him, and then paraded around naked in front of him, and he STILL thought he'd be the one in the wrong if he made a move.  Even after Rain tells him that she wants him.

And so, props to rain for not letting herself get stuck on this relationship.  After a couple of rejections, she finally just moves herself on and stops her own advances.

But enough of that.  The Happily Ever After happens, feelings are reciprocated, and the book was enjoyable on certain levels.  I'm satisfied enough.


***

The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

 

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/11/thoughts-close-to-heaven.html
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review 2017-11-03 02:26
Finished: Close to Heaven
Close to Heaven: A Colorado High Country Christmas - Pamela Clare

This was another enjoyable installment by Pamela Clare, but I can't entirely say that it was her best work.  Still, it's hard for me to completely dislike something by Pamela Clare, and I can kind of see where she was trying to go with this book.

 

Anyway, it was a lovely little Christmas story for me to kick off the holiday season with, as well as finish my first 16 Festive Tasks with.

 

A full review will be coming soon.

 

 

16 Festive Tasks -- Yuletide

 


I read Close to Heaven for Square 9 -- YuletideA book that is set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter.  Most of the book takes place during a big snow storm that pretty much closes down the entire little town of Scarlet Springs.

Meanwhile, as I was reading this book, I found how many other squares this book would fit.  Although being that this book is the fifth in an ongoing Contemporary Romance series, I don't know how much this helps.

  • Square #1 | Calan Gaeaf:  There is a supporting character named Rose.
  • Square #4 | Penance Day:  Our MC, Joe spends most of the book struggling over his guilt over the terrible things his ancestor had done to people over a century ago, and feels that he needs to give back to the community what his ancestor took from them.
  • Square #5 | Advent:  There is a Christmas tree showing in the background of this book, which, of course, is a pine tree.  I don't know how much of a stretch this would be since it's a little hard to see unless you look closely.
  • Square #7 | Saint Lucia's Day:  Obviously, snow features as one of the main events in this book, which is kind of what gives our couple a reason to end up stranded under the same roof.
  • Square #10 | Pancha Ganapati:  There is red on the cover.
  • Square #11 | Soyal:  This book is set in Colorado.
  • Square #13 | Christmas:  The MC is named Joseph Moffat.
 
This book also takes place leading up to Christmas, if that will count for one of the Holiday Book Joker options.

 

 

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review 2016-04-01 19:22
Country Heaven (Dare River #1) by Ava Miles
Country Heaven - Ava Miles

A down-on-her luck cook uses food’s magical properties to tame a beastly country singer after he hires her under false pretenses to restore his image.

When famous—and infamous—country singer Rye Crenshaw saunters into the diner where she cooks, Tory Simmons is certain she’s got him pegged. He’s a bad boy who indulges himself in all things, women included. But while she couldn’t care less about country music or arrogant men, Rye makes her an offer she can’t refuse when he asks her to be his private chef on his multi-city concert tour. The job is the answer to all her prayers: it will clear out her debt and finance the fresh start she desperately needs.

Rye is certain his sassy new cook is the last woman who’d ever tempt him, but spending time with the wholesome girl next door will do wonders for his damaged public image, whether she likes being forced into the spotlight or not. Her food also happens to be the best he’s ever eaten, both comforting and seductive. But spending time with Tory on the road shows him a new side to her—one that’s as impossible to resist as her food. And when an emergency in his family whisks him home, he does the one thing he’s never risked: he lets a woman into his heart…

Soon the emotions Rye faked for the tabloids become all too real, but will the country heaven he’s found in Tory’s arms survive in the real world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Review:

Country Heaven is sweet, funny, and I really liked following Rye and Tory's story.

The chef thing was a little eh... but why not? I still liked Tory and I liked that it turned our man whore (or so you think) in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

 

My Rating:

 

 

 

 

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Disclaimer:
Krissys Bookshelf Reviews received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

Source:
Received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review from The Author

Note:
If any of Krissys Bookshelf Reviews has been helpful please stop by to like or let me know what you think! Thank you!

 

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review 2014-08-12 02:57
Review: Ava Miles' Dare River series offers a down-home country embrace
Country Heaven - Ava Miles
The Chocolate Garden (The Dare River Series Book 2) - Ava Miles
Ava Miles' Dare River series, a spinoff of her Dare Valley books, offers a slightly more down-home style of romance. Centered around country sensation and good ol' boy, Rye Crenshaw, who's best friends with Mac Maven and Rhett Butler Blaylock from the Dare Valley series, Dare River gives Miles a chance to add a Southern flair to her stories.

 

 

Southern is a good fit for Miles' feel-good romances. At the heart of her stories is the sense of family, faith, and forever - values that somehow seem to resonate a bit more loudly in our Southern states. It's interesting to switch between books of either series and go from a crisper diction in her Colorado-based stories to the more laid-back drawl of her Crenshaw family novels.

 

Beyond family ties, Miles has also used a small mystery to tie the series together with the subplot of searching for a tabloid leak. Miles has just published, The Chocolate Garden, book two in the Dare River series, and I'm already looking forward to reading the next story, where I'm guessing more will be known and explored about that leak - among other things.

 

If you've never read an Ava Miles book before and you love romances with a dash of Southern hospitality, then this is a good series to start with. Yes, you'll see references to characters from the Dare Valley series, but this can easily be a stand-alone series. But if you enjoy these books as much as I do, you should read Dare Valley too. (See my review.)

 

Foodies and gardeners will love these books too. Miles uses her experience as a chef for the story of Country Heaven. I'm certainly not the only gardening fan that will take great pleasure in reading about the planning of the Chocolate Garden. Plus for country music fans, there's enough Nashville backstories in both novels to hold your interest. When I start reading one of Ava Miles books, I know there will be a happily-ever-after. But beyond that, I know the journey to that place will be filled with interesting details and background, compelling characters, a bit of mystery or intrigue, and love. Yes, Ava Miles is on my must-read, auto-buy list and these two Dare River novels perfectly illustrate why.

 

Miles dishes up some irresistible country love!

Book 1 Country Heaven by Ava Miles

Ava Miles, Inc ⎜ 9781495443046 ⎜ $4.99 ⎜ Feb 8, 2014

When I began reading the first Dare River novel, I wasn't sure what to expect from the character of country music star, Rye Crenshaw. From his appearances in previous Miles' novels, I knew he was a good ol' boy who loved good food, but beyond that not much more. Without a doubt, I was curious and had a feeling that soon he'd be having his own story, but hadn't anticipated a spinoff series.

 

Quite cleverly, Miles had placed his Nashville home along the Dare River, so what could be a more effective brand tie-in than Dare Valley and Dare River. However, reading Country Heaven, I wasn't thinking of branding or cute names, but was enjoying the freedom that Miles was having in telling the story of Rye and Tory Simmons, the gem of a cook he found in a roadside diner.

 

Remember, I mentioned he loved to eat. Well, once initial prickliness was set aside and he experienced Tori's cooking, this graduate student soon had a job as his personal chef. Tori is a strong, salt-of-the-earth character who dispenses wisdom and love with every meal she prepares. Like her grandmother, whose recipes she wants to use to turn into a book, Tori's warmth and kindness is clearly evident. I love her take-no-prisoners attitude with Rye when she walks into him relaxing - along with a groupie - and when she refuses to wear the see-through apron that his former cook/mistress had left behind.

 

It was evident that there was romance to be dished up between Rye and Tori, but the journey to that point is what makes this book so fun to read - along with Tori's recipes that Miles includes. Before I even finished the book, I was planning what meals to recreate. (I guess I was not alone in this as Miles has published a stand-alone cookbook, see my review.)

 

In addition to the romance, Country Heaven also focuses on family - and what family really means.

 

Once again, I cried and laughed as I read Miles' story, but when I turned the last page a bit of happiness stayed with me. Yes, that's the true magic of reading an Ava Miles book, she shares her happiness with her readers and it's quite a wonderful gift to receive.

 

 

This garden grows with a little bit of magic, love, and faith

Book 2

The Chocolate Garden by Ava Miles

Ava Miles, Inc ⎜ 9781940565101 ⎜ $4.99 ⎜ Aug 12, 2014

One of the casualties of the last book was Rye Crenshaw's sister, Tammy and her two children. Remaking her life with him and Tori in Nashville is a bit scary, but quite exciting for this ever-so-proper Southern lady. Her evolution of inner freedom is a delight to read and the moment when her younger sister discusses cutting her hose to pieces, a revolutionary act like bra burning in the 70s, I was dissolving in laughter.

 

For me, the centerpiece of The Chocolate Garden was Tammy's inner transformation from down-trodden, stiff-upper-lip, country club wife to a woman of passion and confidence. Each step, from cutting her hair to choosing new clothes is lovingly depicted by Miles. Her ability to convey the societal strictures that had bound Tammy so tightly were most convincing - as was her portrait of Tammy's mother.

 

Tammy's children had captured my heart in Country Heaven and it was wonderful to see them spreading their little wings here.

 

But J.P. McGuiness (John Parker McGuiness) was the one who walked away with my heart. Oh my goodness, Ava Miles, you just keep writing the best book boyfriends any girl could wish for. Yes, this Nashville lawyer and college friend of Tammy's brother, is a guy any woman would want fighting on her side. It's clear from the opening pages of a wedding scene, that John Parker (as Tammy alone calls him) recognizes Tammy as his "one and only."

 

To me, that recognition is the mark of a brave and secure man. I love reading romances where the alpha hero fears love and commitment, but what really sends my book heart into a flutter is when the alpha hero is secure within himself. Yes, John Parker is that man and I had faith in him, from the beginning, that somehow this story would have a happily-ever-after.

 

There's plenty of conflict, between Tammy's desire to stand on her own, a crazy stalker, the search for the tabloid leak, and providing the children security when they feel their security ripped away. When Tammy and John Parker finally confront their desire for one another, oh my goodness, my eReader was sizzling!

 

Just as a bit of fairy magic is invoked to solve some of these conflicts and encourage romance, I think Miles sprinkled a bit virtually on the pages as this story just swept me away. With each plant that was chosen, I'd imagine the fragrance. The songs sung? Yes, I think I heard music too.

 

It's a real gifted writer who can achieve these magical leaps for a reader - and that's why with each book I add to my Ava Miles' bookshelf, I beam a bit inside. Yes, there's a shelf full of happiness in my eReader courtesy of Miles.

Source: www.fabfantasyfiction.com
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review 2014-07-22 00:00
Country Heaven Cookbook: Family Recipes & Remembrances
Country Heaven Cookbook: Family Recipes & Remembrances - Ava Miles Filled with comfort food that will top your chart!

If you’re looking for some recipes that you’ll add to those handed down in your own family, you should consider purchasing Ava Miles’ Country Heaven Cookbook: Family Recipes & Remembrances.

This relatively short cookbook (67 pages, including an excerpt from Miles’ novel Country Heaven) is chock full of the best in comfort food. Not only are the recipes from Country Heaven included, but also several from Miles own family.

In addition to being a bestselling author, Ava also worked as a chef. So you know that she’s made sure to test these recipes out and they’re so clearly written that it’s a sheer pleasure to follow them.

May I say, I was particularly delighted by this book as I had loved the inclusion of recipes in the novel, but they were hard to find (my little magnifier search icon was a bit overused as I searched for corn bread and some other favs). Now, I just open up this handy cookbook and all the recipes are there - and are indexed - so no more searching is needed.

These dishes are both fun to make and a joy to eat. I whipped up a batch of that cornbread last night and it was light, airy, and tasty… I was lucky to have enough left to toast this morning (one of my favorite breakfast treats) after some friendly locusts descended on it.

My friends unanimous taste test verdict? This was probably the best cornbread ever - and I take no credit for it. It’s purely Ava. Really, cornbread was one of my Nana’s (Dad’s mom) favorite things to make, along with Angel Food Cake for birthdays, and Lady Baltimore Cake for special occasions (yes, just like Ava’s family). But I have to say Nana's cornbread was much heavier as the proportion of flour to cornmeal was equal. This recipe shakes that dynamic up and the results are FABulous.

Some other recipes include fried chicken (and yes, this is the exact same recipe that was passed down in my family, even to the milk gravy), a lemon meringue pie that my father would have loved, cream puffs (I’ve never attempted these, but just may with this recipe), candied nuts that just look so tasty, a great BBQ dry rub, and, oh yes, buttermilk biscuits.

Ava makes reading these recipes fun with her personal interjections and humor. But for a cook, this is like a treasured gold mine volume of down home comfort foods.

I look forward to more books - and recipes - in Ava’s Dare River series. Next up is THE CHOCOLATE GARDEN (pub date: 12 August 2014). Chocolate and Ava, mmmm. Can’t wait!

Add Ava Miles' Country Heaven Cookbook: Family Recipes & Remembrances to your cookbook shelf. It's comfort food that will top your chart!
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