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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-06-26 07:00
Review: Bluebonnet Bride
Bluebonnet Bride - Caroline Clemmons

Title: Bluebonnet Bride [Men of Stone Mountain Book 3]

Author: Caroline Clemmons

Genre: Historical, Western, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

buy4._V192207739_goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Description/Synopsis: He’s a by-the-book Texas sheriff; she’s on the run from a murder conviction...

 

When a tornado provides Rosalyn with the opportunity to escape the gallows, she collects her daughter Lucy and flees. They travel far enough West that Rosalyn believes she’s gone to the ends of the earth. She hopes she and Lucy will be safe in this remote North Texas town where she embarks on a new life as a dressmaker. If only she could avoid contact with people, especially the handsome sheriff who pops up every time she turns around. She fears either she or her chatterbox daughter may slip and reveal too much.

 

Joel Stone has been content with his life, even if it’s not the one he’d dreamed. His younger brothers are married and living nearby, his aunts have moved to Radford Springs, and he is respected for the efficient job he does as sheriff. When he meets the new widow in town, his instant attraction staggers him. She appears uninterested, but he is determined to win her hand in marriage.

 

But life doesn’t turn out the way either Rosalyn or Joel plan. They overcome temporary obstacles, but what of the secret she protects? Can he save her from the gallows?

 

WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW

 

Once again, let's start with the cover:  it's another cut and paste job, only this time it's super-obvious. The white background behind the model can still be found like a halo around her head. Unfortunately, she's also a completely different model (and much older) than the one represented on the back cover.... and despite the fact that they're supposed to be living in historical times, they both have massive amounts of makeup on. Sigh.

 

That being said, like the book before it, I found this one to be a bit of a mixed bag. It's clear, easy to follow, and interesting... the plot is a good one: woman escapes from nearly being hung for a crime she didn't commit, and finds herself fleeing to the middle of nowhere and falling in love with a member of the law who at any moment may discover her deep dark secret. It's a good premise. Unfortunately, like the other books in the series, the characters lacked a sense of depth, and the events in the book were a little too convenient to be believable.

 

I think my least favorite character was probably Joel. Here's this guy who's a Texas sheriff, seems to have his life pretty much well in order - he takes care of his brothers, he's good in the community, and he has a big ole house he's working on renovating. He obviously had all his ducks in a row and was a responsible, level-headed guy. Right? Except nearly the moment he meets Rosalyn and her daughter Lucy, he's smitten. We're talking full-out puppy-love where he practically invites himself into her company and goes all gooey-eyed. He acted like a 40-yr-old virgin, desperate for affection. It wasn't endearing, and it wasn't sweet, it was roll-your-eyes "are you serious?".

 

Rosalyn, on the other hand, was probably one of my favorite characters, because she looked at Joel pretty much the same way I did "Really? Back off dude." All she wanted to do was raise her daughter in anonymity, and run her struggling dress-shop. She was a hard worker, practical, and cautious. It fit her situation, and I loved her for it.  Unfortunately, circumstances were against her, and it seemed that at every turn, something drastically awful was happening to her. It started with a hurricane that leveled the jail she was waiting in (though didn't harm her), then the fire... that burned her dress shop and endangered her daughter's room, but didn't harm anyone in the family, and she was able to salvage some of her shop-equipment/materials, thereby forcing her to move in with the sheriff. Like I said, it all seemed just a little too convenient.

 

Also, I think the secondary characters were a bit too much like props and too little like actual people. They all either seemed to love Rosalyn and Lucy or they hated their guts and wanted them crushed. They showed up for brief mentions here and there, but really didn't have much impact on the story (even when it was obvious the author was using them to drive the plot... like the angry school teacher that burned down Rosalyn's house). I found their hatred of her to be very manufactured.  It was a convenient way to make events happen, but the attempt at tension fell flat for me.

 

So did I like the story? Yah. I did. It was a fun afternoon read, and while it wasn't "great writing", it did hold my interest, and there's something to be said for that. Would I recommend it to other people? Maybe if they needed a book to read at the doctor's office... but I don't think I'd be shoving the book in their hands shouting "READ THIS!". If you like sweet, happy ending historical romances, then give this a try. It's cute, and it's a great afternoon read.

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review 2015-06-25 07:00
Review: High Stakes Bride
High Stakes Bride - Caroline Clemmons

Title: High Stakes Bride [Men of Stone Mountain 2]

Author: Caroline Clemmons

Genre: Historical, Western, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

buy4._V192207739_goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Description/Synopsis: Mary Alice Price is on the run from dangerous men. She had known that when her stepfather died, she would have to hurriedly escape her stepbrothers. Hadn’t she heard them promise her to the meanest man in Texas as payment for high stakes gambling losses?


One misfortune after another devils her until she links up with Zach Stone. He looks sturdy as his last name and invites her to his ranch where his two aunts will chaperone them. She figures life finally dealt her a winning hand.

 

Zach Stone has the sweetest ranch in all of Texas, at least he thinks he does. All he needs is a wife to build his family of boys and girls to carry on his ranch and name. He’s been jilted and vows he will never even speak to a woman again unless she's a relative.


Then he comes across Alice Price and comes up with a crazy plan. He’s figured everything out, and is sure nothing can go wrong with his plan.


But life holds many surprises for Alice and Zach...

 

WARNING - SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT - REVIEW BELOW

 

First off, let's start with the cover: It's not that the cover was bad--considering the multitude of really awful covers I've seen on self-published book this past year, this one was actually decent (other than the huge amount of text)... that is until I got to the back cover. Someone had the ingenious idea to copy and paste completely unrelated photos of a model and a little boy dressed up in a cowboy costume, and his little dog. I know that as a writer, we all need our little "headshots" of models to use as reference for our characters. I love the practice, but it'd be nice if those random photos weren't used in lieu of an actually planned cover. It came across as cheap and home-made. I would have preferred a blank back cover with only a synopsis to what amounted to clipart.

 

As for the story...it was a mixed bag--and don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad book. Like the previous of the series that I read, the writing was clear, fast-flowing, and engaging. Unfortunately, it was also convenient.

 

 Things just seemed too easy for the characters, and it lacked a lot of the tension that I loved about the first book in the series. Here's this man who need a bride, and poof! There's one available (though the author did try to make it seem as if the main male lead wasn't ever going to consider her). He wants a family? Poof! There was a orphaned boy who needs a home and just happened to be living on his property. 

 

Do you see where I'm going with this? The characters didn't seem to have to work hard to get to any of the main points of the story. Things just fell into place around them, and while that was cute and endearing at times, it lacked the active punch and draw of having struggled to get those things. Also, the use of the term "forever home" really irritated me. It's a very modern, fluffy way of saying "permanent home" that I'm 100% sure wasn't used in historical times. To hear the characters use it... well, it stuck out as sloppy. If you're going to write a historical story, I honestly believe the lingo of the day and age (however non-politically correct we find it now) should be used. It adds a level of depth to the storytelling that is sorely needed in this type of book and was absent in this one.

 

The romance, at least, was much better in this book, I felt than the previous book. There was a definite attraction to the main characters, and it was fun watching them struggle to fit together despite their circumstances. In the end, was it my favorite western historical romance? Not by a long shot, but it was a good one, and I'd still recommend it to anyone looking for a light afternoon read with loveable characters.

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