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review 2015-07-09 13:51
Review: The Bridge to a Better Life
The Bridge To A Better Life (Dare Valley) (Volume 8) - Ava Miles

The Bridge to a Better Life (Dare Valley #8) by Ava Miles should be a winner of a romance. It has so much to offer with appealing characters, great setting, a too good to be true hero (who is also a sexy retired NFL football player still head over heels in love with his ex-wife), and a cute beagle named Touchdown. The big blaring issue with his book that almost made me DNF is the heroine and her reasons why she divorces her loving prince of a husband. That premise is a big fail whale because of the heroine, who is overall one of the most annoying heroines I’ve read this year so far. Natalie doesn’t deserve Blake,. The way the author tries to explain why Natalie turned away from him and became distance doesn’t make sense at all. She shuts down in every which way because her sister-in-law, her brother’s wife, and her best friend has died of cancer.

 

Instead of The Bridge to a Better Life dealing with a still married husband and wife trying to save their marriage, and the heroine working through her grief, we have a confusing and ridiculous plot point to cause too much unneeded tension for the main couple and the long road the poor hero has to take in order to get back his wife, who treats him horribly. Because of the heroine’s selfishness, I couldn’t believe in their HEA at all.

Blake is a mega NFL superstar (think Tom Brady) who retires from the NFL right in the middle of an outstanding career. The reason is because he wants to get his ex-wife Natalie back who divorced him 2 years ago after her sister-in-law, Kim died of cancer.

 

Because Natalie is so grief stricken, she divorces Blake for reasons that don’t make any sense. Blake moves to the small town she now resides in, even moving into the house next to hers and building an actual bridge between their properties. He will do whatever he can to get Natalie back. Why? Because he loves her so much and they belong together. He takes baby steps with her by becoming her friend, which she accepts, and then going on innocent dates, until their attraction for one another can’t be ignored. Natalie still loves Blake, but can’t be with him, stringing him along because she is still suffering over the loss of her sister-in-law. It’s cruel of me to say this, and people deal with death of family and friends in different ways, but it’s not like Natalie lost a child or even a parent. Maybe if we had flashbacks of Natalie and Kim’s relationship, it would make better sense. But because we are only told about Kim, and not shown, there is no sympathy toward Kim, her husband, and Natalie’s feelings. I felt Natalie was beyond selfish. Her actions and motivations aren’t noble or admirable. She’s a heroine I can’t connect with or would want to. I wanted Blake to find someone else more worthy of his love.

 

I would have given The Bridge to A Better Life a solid B grade aka 3 stars because if not for Natalie, it really is a nice romance. The writing grabs you, there are nice moments of humor, and Blake is a near perfect book boyfriend. But this fails on the delivery because of Natalie, a heroine who isn’t what I feel a heroine should embody. I wish this would have been about Blake moving on from his selfish ex-wife and finding a woman who completes him and respects him. Very disappointing. Pass on this one.

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review 2015-06-23 20:35
Daring Brides (Dare Valley) - Ava Miles

There were, of course, plenty of romantic moments, but there were also some very tender moments between kids and their new dads. This is one of my favorite series and it was great to see the weddings of some of the couples from Dare Valley! Can't wait for more romance out of Dare Valley!

I received an ARC for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.

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review 2015-06-14 22:13
Coffee and Romance what else Could You Want ?
French Roast (Dare Valley) - Ava Miles

Fantastic audiobook, the narrator nailed the voices and emotions perfectly. I won this not knowing this author's previous work but wanted to give her a try. I loved her pacing, characters and style. This was a perfect second chance read for the hot days of summer.
Romance, Coffee and Steam

Count me as a fan

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review 2015-05-22 02:11
The Bridge To A Better Life (Dare Valley) (Volume 8) - Ava Miles

I recommend you have tissues handy while reading. Blake and Natalie's story is heartbreaking and emotional, dealing with the loss and grief of family members as well as their marriage. Blake is such a sweetheart that I had trouble understanding how Natalie could have left him. He has no problems expressing his feelings and the lengths he goes to in order to win back Natalie are amazing. Natalie was bit harder to like, but she worked through her issues with Blake's help. Blake's football buddies are great and bring humor to the story. I'm hoping that at least one of them (Sam), gets a story of his own. Beautiful romance about the power of love and second chances.

 

I received an eBook copy from the publisher for the purpose of an honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own.

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review 2014-08-11 21:41
Review: Ava Miles' The Dare Valley series is a heart-warming, inspiring, sexy romance must-read
Nora Roberts Land - Ava Miles
French Roast (Dare Valley) - Ava Miles
The Grand Opening (Dare Valley) - Ava Miles
Holiday Serenade - Ava Miles
The Town Square - Ava Miles
The Park of Sunset Dreams - Ava Miles
When I look at my virtual bookshelf there are quite a few authors on my must-read favorite list. To list just a few: Jill Shalvis, Donna Kauffman, Beth Ciotta, Kristan Higgins, Laura Florand, Deborah Smith, Laura Kaye, Molly O'Keefe, Adrianne Lee, Pamela Claire, Jessica Scott, Rachel Grant, Lora Leigh, Lara Adrian, Laurann Dohner, Maya Banks, Mariah Stewart, Susan Mallery, the grand dame herself, Nora Roberts, and Ava Miles.

 

I’d never heard of Ava Miles before last year. Why? Because the first book she published was released on 2 July 2013.

 

Yes, just a little over a year ago. If you haven’t heard of Ava Miles yet, I’m going to tell you to go out and pick up one of her books. Yes, books. Since last July she’s published six books in her Dare Valley series and, as of Tuesday next week, two books in her spinoff Dare River series (I’m not counting the cookbook or songbook here). Yes, in just a little over a year, she has published eight titles that all should be on your must-read shelf.

 

In this review, I’m going to focus on her Dare Valley series, set in a small college town in Colorado. Miles has an open and easy style of writing that is truly inviting to readers. So inviting that the reader can just dive into her books and not want to leave. Ever.

 

In addition, her stories are imbued with an optimism, hopefulness, and faith - without being preachy. Reading them makes you happy. Yes, when you read an Ava Miles book your friends will know because you’ll probably be smiling and sharing the joy that the stores evoke with all of them.

 

That’s not to say that these romances aren’t sexy, passionate or complex. They’re HOT. However, these aren’t books that focus only on the bed chamber, but on all the dynamics that go into creating successful, long-term relationships.

 

Yes, these are romances that Ava Miles’ first book heroine would be able to read and find a hero to dream about, encouraging the belief that true love exists - just like in Nora Roberts titles.

 

THE DARE VALLEY SERIES, Books 1 - 6

Book 1 NORA ROBERTS LAND BY AVA MILES

CreateSpace 978149052751 $4.99 $0.00 2 July 2013
 

Last fall I fell in love with a book. It was by a new-to-me author, Ava Miles. I’ll admit this upfront, I picked the book up for the title. I mean, how could I resist reading a book called Nora Roberts Land. I dove into this book and from the acknowledgements and dedication section onward, I couldn’t put it down. Miles noted in the acknowledgements that she based a bit of the story on her sister’s own experiences. Knowing that, perhaps gave the story more depth, but truly it stands on its own.

 

Like its namesake’s books, Nora Roberts Land, is a sweeping story that will find a permanent home on romance lovers bookshelves. Why? Because of the land Miles introduces us to - Colorado’s Dare Valley; the protagonists - Meredith Hale, the newly-divorced heroine out to reclaim her identity and, Tanner McBride, a slightly burnt-out international journalist who might be Meredith’s second-chance at love or not, depending on his agenda; the inhabitants of Dare Valley including Meredith’s sister Jill and her grandfather Arthur, a Pulitzer-winning newspaper proprietor. Each of these elements engage us from the moment they’re introduced on the page.

 

Yes, Ava Miles breathes life into the characters so that when reading this book it is as though they are speaking directly to us. Ava Miles is a fabulous writer and Nora Roberts Land, her debut book, is just outstanding. In addition to the romance there is also quite a bit of intrigue. If you haven’t already read this bestselling title, you’re in luck. For a little while longer you may download it for free from many eRetailers, including Amazon.

 

Book 2 FRENCH ROAST BY AVA MILES

CreateSpace  9781492110156  $3.99  7 August 2013

I was really looking forward to reading the second book in the Dare Valley series, French Roast, but will admit to not being as engaged in this story as in Nora Roberts Land.

 

French Roast is the story of Meredith’s sister Jill, the proprietor of Dare Valley’s go-to coffee hangout, and her high school crush and boyfriend Brian McConnell. Brian, a chef, returns to Dare after making it big in Manhattan. His reasons are a bit sketchy (and you’ll find out why), but soon he and Jill are trying to reconnect as friends and plan a restaurant together.

 

As a foodie romance lover, you’d think this would be my favorite book of the series, but it’s not. Frankly, I think it’s because Ava Miles did just too good a job about creating the character of Brian. He has all the negative qualities of chefs I’ve worked with - arrogance, self-interest, slipping morality - and some of his actions, well I find them hard to understand. In contrast, Jill’s over-the-top enthusiasm is sometimes wearing.

 

By the conclusion of the book, both characters have evolved somewhat, but unlike Nora Roberts Land, I was able to put this book down several times.

 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t read it. You should.

 

Once again, Ava Miles’ beautiful and addictive prose overcame my angsty feeling with her protagonists. And as I could tell I was investing myself in the series, this book served as an introduction to characters and understanding of Dare that I knew would be helpful for understanding future books.

 

I’ll let you in on a secret. As the series has progressed, I’ve come to enjoy the characters of Jill and Brian as they mature. But this is very much a New Adult-themed romance, in contrast to the more evolved characters of Miles first book.

 

 

Book 3 THE GRAND OPENING BY AVA MILES

CreateSpace  9781492271017  $4.99  4 September 2013

The Grand Opening, the third book in Ava Miles’ Dare Valley series, was the first that I received to review (though I waited to read it until I finished books one and two) and is my absolute favorite of the series.

 

Yes, I wanted to know more about the new deputy sheriff in town, single mother and straight arrow, Peggy McBride. It was clear from their brief interactions in the previous stories that Mac Maven, whose plan to restore the old mountain hotel to its former glory includes top-level poker tournaments, and staunch anti-gambler Peggy have definite sparks flaring between them. So, I couldn’t wait to read “their” story.

 

Miles creates two wonderfully complicated and fascinating protagonists in Mac and Peggy. Long after I turned the last page and closed the book, I reflected on the challenges to their romance. The levels of trust and leaps of faith that each of them had to face. But most of all recalled the inspirational quality of their bond. This is the book, to me, that showcases Miles as a writer. If you were to read no other book by her, choose this one. (And I’ll guarantee you’ll read all the others too.)

 

After reading The Grand Opening, Ava Miles was added to my “must-buy” list and her books have a permanent home on my virtual shelf of treasured titles to reread. Yes, The Grand Opening resonated strongly for me. Not just for all the points I mentioned, but also for the tightness of the story, the added mystery and intrigue, and for creating the character of Mac Maven, who has to be one of my favorite book boyfriends.

 
 

Book 4 THE HOLIDAY SERENADE BY AVA MILES

Ava Miles, Inc.  9781940565026  $3.99  16 October 2013

The fourth Dare Valley book, The Holiday Serenade, is a novella focusing on Mac Maven’s best friend Rhett Butler Blaylock and Mac’s sister Abbie.

 

Professional gambler, Rhett, a larger-than-life character complete with poker babes, stole every scene when he appeared in The Grand Opening. Once again, Miles let us know that there would be a story to be told about Rhett and single mother, Abbie. So I was eagerly anticipating "their book."

 

Talk about book boyfriends, this Rhett would give Clark Gable a run for most charming gambler - ever! Abbie’s hesitance about trusting that charm is all too believable, but how could anyone not fall in love with him. (Yes, he’s Mac’s runner up in my book boyfriend list.)

 

I was totally involved in this story to the point that I turned the phone and wifi off, so I could just read it without any distractions.

 

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the need to keep a box of Kleenex on hand when you read Ava Miles’ stories. Along with her wit that effervesces off the page, Miles also channels the deep emotional hurdles her characters face in a way that takes you along - every step - with them. I’ll find tears streaming down my face at points when I’m reading her books. Tears, I’m unaware of until my cheeks are damp.

 

The Holiday Serenade is a book that traverses emotional highs and lows and does so with sensitivity and humor. I know that I gave this book to a few friends at the holidays to introduce them to Ava Miles' work as it truly encapsulates her style perfectly.

 

Book 5 THE TOWN SQUARE BY AVA MILES

Ava Miles, Inc.  9781940565033  $3.99  17 December 2013

Ava Miles channeled Doctor Who for a bit of time travel back to the 1960s for her fifth book, The Town Square, telling the story of Merry and Jill’s grandfather, Arthur, and his true love, Harriet.

 

I’m always a bit nervous when authors revisit characters in the past as sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t - at all. This was a time when the time travel worked - and worked wonderfully.

 

The back story of Arthur and Harriet is a must-read - and fits beautifully in the series where placed. Truly at the time when readers needed and wanted to know more about this grandfather of ethical journalism.

 

For Miles it’s a fairly short book (about 160 pages), but that’s because it’s so tightly written. There’s a bit of suspense and don’t forget those Kleenex’s as you’ll need them as well. If you love the era of Mad Men and Sean Connery as 007, you’ll definitely delight in the journey back in time to The Town Square.

 

Book 6 THE PARK OF SUNSET DREAMS BY AVA MILES

Ava Miles, Inc.  9781940565095  $4.99  20 May 2014

This spring, Miles released the sixth Dare Valley book, The Park of Sunset Dreams, that focuses on one of Rhett’s former poker babes cum dog walker, Jane Wilcox, and Merry and Jill’s cousin Matt Hale.

 

Matt, who recently moved back to Dare after becoming disillusioned with his work in a Denver law firm, calls on Jane to help him with a misbehaving dog he inherited from a client. He knows Jane can help him as he watches her each evening at the dog park where she walks Rhett’s attention-getting, dress-up, accessory dog as well as her own chocolate lab.

 

I love the fact that Jane, who considers her non-poker babe self to be a “plain jane,” is considered by Matt to resemble a young Audrey Hepburn.

 

Once again, Ava Miles creates characters that we can both relate too and enjoy a bit of a crush on. Yes, Matt is a good guy, a really good guy, and Jane, well she speaks for every woman she feels insecure about her looks and appeal.

 

If The Park of Sunset Dreams only consisted of their romance and scenes with the three dogs, this would be a fabulous book. But Miles throws in some additional twists and turns, including the deep secret of the poker babes’ identities, and this becomes a fabulously, fantastic book!

 

Yes, once again, Ava Miles has written a cannot-put-it-down page turner that grabs you by your heart and soul and won’t let go. When you get to the end of the book, you’ll understand the title - and all its layers of meanings.

 
Look for my review of Ava Miles' Dare River series and mark your calendar and travel back to Dare this fall, as Ava Miles will be releasing THE PERFECT INGREDIENT, the seventh Dare Valley book that tells the story of former poker babe Elizabeth and The Grand's new chef, Trent. 
 
In full disclosure, I received galleys of Nora Roberts Land and The Grand Opening from the publisher through NetGalley for use in the review. However, I also purchased each of these books to add to my permanent personal library.
 
Source: www.fabfantasyfiction.com
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