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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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text 2017-09-29 01:11
Reading Update: 25%
Slow Burn: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Lexi turned to Vic again. “I saw him carry you to his SUV. Is something going on between you two?”

First Eric’s mother, and now Lexi. “Of course not! I’m done with men.” Vic must have been flustered because her mouth took off without her. “The last thing I want right now is to hook up with some sexy, handsome, strong, single firefighter who carries women with altitude sickness off mountains and mows his mother’s lawn.”

 

May I also just give a quick thank you to this cover. THANK YOU

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review 2017-07-04 23:22
Rambling Thoughts: Tempting Fate
Tempting Fate: A Colorado High Country Novel - Pamela Clare

Tempting Fate

by Pamela Clare
Book 4 of Colorado High Country


Basically, my first thought upon seeing this new Pamela Clare release was:  "Another historical?"  But then I realized this was the fourth installment of Colorado High Country and I freaked out!  Because, how did I miss this book's release?

Well, that situation got remedied real quickly.


The Story:
Chaska Belcourt and his sister Winona chances upon Naomi, wounded and unconscious after a struggle for her life from a pair of escaped convicts.  Because of a flippant challenge Chaska had given to the Creator, followed by their wolf companion, Shota, rushing off and leading them to Naomi, Winona believes that fate had intervened, bringing the "right woman" into Chaska's path.

But Chaska is hard pressed to believe that fate had anything to do with it since Shota was the one who found Naomi.

Meanwhile, as Naomi recovers from her injuries--a broken ankle, surgery, and a vandalized car--she is surprised to find how friendly and helpful all the residents of Scarlet Springs are.  Naomi had had to learn how to take care of herself after running away from her cult-like adopted family, a place where children are punished harshly for the smallest slights, and where her adopted father controls every aspect of everyone's life in his community.  This type of kindness is new to her, and the togetherness in which Scarlet's residents present is a novelty she slowly begins to hope could be part of her own life.

With Chaska and Winona offering her a place to stay until she can get back on her feet, Naomi comes to love her hosts as well as the small town of Scarlet Springs; and soon starts to believe that maybe she's found somewhere to belong.  Meanwhile, the attraction between Chaska and Naomi is unmistakable, and even Chaska has to admit that maybe his sister was onto something about fate leading him to the woman he was meant to be with.


My Thoughts:
Tempting Fate read like two stories in one, starting off with a semi-contemporary romance with a romantic suspense lingering in the background.  Naomi's escape from the convicts and then the hunt to find them.  Meanwhile, Naomi spends her time recovering in the Belcourt siblings' home, trying to figure out how to get her life back together while fearing that the convicts may come back for her.

The second half was straight up contemporary romance, and there is a very slight distinction between the two halves at the 50% mark.  The convicts are captured and now Naomi and Chaska's romance takes center stage.  In this portion, a lot of mundane, day-to-day activities and events occur, such as little romantic dates, a few Team rescues, and big team dinners, and of course, the steamy sexy times.

We could call it two parts of one story.

First of all, I love how our author infuses so much heart into all of her work.  Her characters are always good people, and her message is always positive.  This is a standard Pamela Clare story.

And alongside this, she also  always tries to bring awareness to a lot of different things; in this case, the Native American community, citing historical events and facts about places like Wounded Knee, or giving us a glimpse of what life is like living on a reservation.  Her infusion of the customs and traditions of the Lakota is definitely inspirational, while giving us a glimpse of a contemporary Lakota family and a couple, simply going about their lives, not restricted to stereotypes given by society or media.

It's certainly something to think about.

Tempting Fate is a sweet, lovely contemporary romance, written well, with a great set of characters.

I suppose if I had to complain about something, it would be the somewhat over-dramatic emotional scenes that Pamela will sometimes drop into her romances.  She has the tendency to go a little overboard with her character's emotional reactions to any and all events, which will sometimes make me picture her heroine in a sobbing voice almost 90% of the time, and her heroes always clenching their jaw at every negative slight he perceives being directed at his true love.

I sometimes also imagine swooning, and those old fashioned covers where the couple is barely dressed and there's wind blowing, for whatever reason.  I mean, all this particular cover is missing is a half-dressed woman, since we've already got heaving man-bosoms.

Add onto that the schmaltzy dialogue during love scenes, and sometimes I have a hard time suspending disbelief.  Not that I've ever been in a relationship before, but it just doesn't seem believable that people talk and act like that.

Then again, like I've stated, there is so much heart presented in Pamela's work that it's hard to stay frustrated with the little quibbles.  Instead, you just move on and enjoy the rest of the story.  Even if the story is a little disjointed, with most of the main conflict resolved before the halfway mark, and then the last half of the book simply filler material to slowly tie together all the loose ends.

Because, after all, all the characters are great characters, and Pamela is a great writer, regardless.  As I'd stated before, I honestly have and still enjoy her romantic suspense books much more.  And no matter the amount of schmaltz, I still find her books entirely enjoyable, if only because she understands when to cut the schmaltz so that it doesn't become too over the top.

Anyway...

I DID enjoy the little road trips that Chaska takes Naomi on, from one area to another along the mountain ranges, from one little town to another.  And I always enjoy seeing the day-to-day activities of the SAR Team.

Overall, this was an entertaining read, and I hope the next book will be about Chaska's sister.

 


***

 

Free Friday #3:

Page Count:  322
Cash Award:  +$6.00

Updated Bank Balance:  $137

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/07/rambling-thoughts-tempting-fate.html
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review 2017-04-24 10:38
High Cotton Country Review
High Cotton Country - Leta McCurry

Not what I was expecting

 

To be honest with you, I'm not sure what I was expecting from Women's Fiction. I guess it's an undefined genre like Young Adult. Let me just start by saying that the book was good after I finally got around to reading it. I found it absorbing witnessing the struggles that the main character, Cazzie Randle, went through in her life and accomplished. If you're looking for a book with a strong, balanced woman, this is it.

Note: This is the first review using my new format. Please see my blog for why I switched.

 

The Good

 

I enjoyed the struggles Cazzie went through as a single mother raising children. I thought it was well thought out and paced. I also like that some of the time she wasn't perfect because no one is. For example, a lot of the story is (spoiler ahead) based on the fact that she has a hard time letting people in. What happens in childhood can have quite ever-lasting effects on you.

 

The Bad

 

Sometimes I felt like the cut scenes were too harsh, and I had trouble getting into the story. (Spoiler ahead) For example, at the very start, we learn about Cazzie as a professional and wealthy individual, and then we cut to her mother from the point of view of some random guy. I mean - that ripped me from the story. But - once I got past it, I started to get a feel of how the story was forming. I also felt that the ending was rushed (compared to the rest of the story). That's why I'm taking a point off the rating.

 

Recommendation

 

As I said in the first paragraph, I really enjoyed reading this book. I will definitely check out her second book and tell the world about it here. Cazzie Randle is a great example of someone who lives with trauma and overcomes it in the end. So, if you're into women's fiction, please do get yourself a copy.

 

Note about this review

 

I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).

Source: www.amaitken.com/book-review/high-cotton-country-review
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