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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 2017-11-07 04:14
Little Heaven
Little Heaven: A Novel - Nick Cutter

Why, why, why, does someone like me, who is terrified of horror movies and books, keep choosing these books from NetGalley? To be fair, I have not chosen a lot of them, and they all have one commonality — they were all written by Nick Cutter (or Craig Davidson, who uses this name as a pseudonym.) I don't know what it is about these books, but I've said it before (here) and (here), I just find Cutter's writing completely compelling. This time, I didn't even tell my husband about it, I just went ahead and read it without the horror-shaming that usually comes first from him. And guess what? I loved this one too, more than The Deep, and a teensy-bit less than The Troop. Maybe next time I'll try a Davidson book, so I won't have to sleep with the lights on for a week after I finish.

 

Honestly, that's all I'm going to say about this, you don't need anything else from me. Get the book and read it for yourself. You will not be disappointed. Freaked out, confused and sleepless, but definitely not disappointed.

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review 2017-11-04 11:32
Very satisfying conclusion of the trilogy
Heaven's Queen - Rachel Bach

I really really enjoyed this.

 

I loved the very original universe-building, the Alien races, the conflict and also the unravelling of all those hints from the first two books.

 

I loved the development of the female protag - loved also what happened with Rupert over the cause over the whole three books.

 

She was strong, but not perfect. And she was aware of herself, of her strengths and her weaknesses. She always did her best - I really liked that.

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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 2017-11-02 15:56
V.C. Andrews - the Casteel series
Heaven - V.C. Andrews
Dark Angel - V.C. Andrews
Fallen Hearts - V.C. Andrews,Andrew Neiderman
Gates of Paradise - V.C. Andrews,Andrew Neiderman
Web of Dreams - Andrew Neiderman,V.C. Andrews

While I felt that the Flowers in the Attic was a excellent book, I think that the Casteel series is overall the best (at least, the parts written by VC herself) I have read Heaven 7 or 8 times, and I never get tired of it. And this book is only the beginning of a excellent series, so if you're looking to spend a good amount of hours reading something wonderful, then start with Heaven!

You can't help but feel bad for this poor girl since she is so mistreated by her father for something that was not even her fault! You wonder why things happen the way they do, but much like Flowers in the Attic, the story of Heaven continues through a series, and the Heaven series is just as enjoyable, with VCA's writing talent but a different story from Flowers in the Attic so that this series isn't repetitive or boring. Enjoy!

 

At 4.5/5 stars, Dark Angel serves as an excellent follow-up to 'Heaven' - a book that I have read at least 8 times already - and is a good chronicle of Heaven's further adventures. I am just sad that Kitty destroyed Leigh's doll in the previous book, but Heaven should have confronted Tony about it, it wouldn't have hurt to press the issue (especially after finding out what Tony and Leigh had done) More of the doll's origins are revealed in the fifth Casteel book, 'Web of Dreams', but it still would have helped this story to see Heaven ask Tony about the doll and seeing how he reacted to it.

Heaven's idea to screw around with Luke's mind was a great idea. After the mistreatment he gave her, he deserved it though I felt bad about what happened to Tom. Tony's revelations about Leigh are shocking, but the truth is revealed in future Casteel books, so this makes a good installment in the series. Overall a decent continuation of Heaven Casteel's story.

 

Doubtless Fallen Hearts might have been a bit different if VCA had been able to finish this story before her untimely death. Neiderman didn't keep all the facts straight from Dark Angel, as the exact details of Troy's death/return, and nearer the end of Fallen Hearts, the writing feels a bit more distinctly different.

However, this is still a decent continuation of the Casteel saga. Having the truth revealed (that Leigh wasn't the little tramp that Troy made her out to be) felt good. I know some VCA fans might disagree, but it felt somehow appropriate to me that Heaven would be with Troy one last time. I was disappointed that Luke suddenly died, though. It seemed like such an 'convenient' death so Neiderman wouldn't have to work with him anymore. A definite good read even if not up to the par of a 100% VCA book.

 

While not as good as the other Casteel books (possibly because it was finished by Andrew Neiderman after V.C. Andrews's death), this book is still an enjoyable read in some parts. The ending felt a bit rushed, but if you read the first three Heaven books and want to see how the saga closes, pick up this book. There's not as much action in here since it's supposed to be the end of the Casteel saga so the ending might feel cliched and I definitely think it could have been better, and this just adds to the tragedy of V.C. Andrews's death.

 

Personally, I find the title Web of Dreams a bit off, as it doesn't fit in with the rest of the series titles. But Leigh's story is good, and gives a LOT of explanation as to how Heaven's life turned out the way it did. Tony had told Heaven that it was Leigh's fault, that Leigh was the seductress, but this book shows that not only is Leigh a victim of Tony's unrestrained lust, she is also a victim of her father's neglect and her mother's willful ignorance. In Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts, it's hard to not feel sorry for Jillian as she falls into madness, but in this book, you cannot help but think that Jillian got what she deserved, for being so selfish to Leigh.

The business with Leigh's questioned paternity was a completely unnecessary detail in this book and would have been better left out. Two other things always bothered me - that in the beginning as Annie is going through her great-grandmother's things, she finds Leigh's diary. If Leigh ran away with Luke and took the diary with her, then Jillian wouldn't have been in possession of the book (and thus she would have known of the truth), and the letter at the end reveals that Tony was aware of Heaven's existence long before she came to Farthinggale Manor, since he had a detective track Leigh down. Why did he choose to leave the baby girl up there? Yes, Tony was a slimeball for what he did, but leaving his child up in the mountains without even checking up on its welfare?

It seems that these flaws are Andrew Neiderman's making, since VCA was unable to finish this book, and Neiderman had to finish it for her. He uses the snotty schoolgirl cliche in here that he has used in future books, and in this book, the school drama was really unnecessary. These flaws are what keep this book from being 5 stars, and it would have been great if Neiderman had paid more attention to VCA's detail to make sure he didn't contradict or retcon anything, but what's done is done and you'll just have to take this book as it is. At least it was better than Gates of Paradise.

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