30 November 2013

Blog Makeover

My blog has gotten a makeover! Just on the outside, the color palette. Oh, and the name! See, now that I'm fifty years old, I felt like I needed a more grown up persona. And, you know, I'm in the October of my life, or, something equally inane. No, I don't really know what I mean either. Just go with it.  

28 November 2013

An Accidental Hero & An Accidental Mom


AN ACCIDENTAL HERO: Struggling Actress Cammi Carlisle is leading a life of bad luck. When fate throws her and Reid Alexander together, though, things start to look up. Still, Reid harbors a terrible secret that the pregnant Cammi may not be able to forgive...

AN ACCIDENTAL MOM: Any glimpse of Max Sheridan, her long-lost love, has always made Lily London sparkle. Then Max, now a widower, returns to Amarillo with his young son. Max doesn't think the girl he left behind can handle a ready-made family – it's up to Lily to prove him wrong.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Love Inspired Books, 2011; 508 pages; bought at Wal-Mart.

My thoughts: I've only read one previous book by Loree Lough, OUT OF THE SHADOWS, in 2009, before starting this blog. In my journal entry on BookCrossing I wrote:
I finished this last night and got teary eyed a couple of times reading. Not because of the main characters love for one another, or for the hero finding his way back to God, but because of the sub-plot involving a little girl with a heart condition. All in all a pretty standard romance book that really hooked me towards the end.
So when I saw this omnibus some time later at Wal-Mart and recognized the author's name I decided on impulse to buy it. Plus the cover caught my eye with the horses. But then Love Inspired books almost always have beautiful eye-catching covers!

In AN ACCIDENTAL HERO, Cammi is coming home to Amarillo after a brief marriage to a Hollywood stuntman left her a pregnant widow. She is dreading facing her father, who disapproved of her moving to California to try to be an actress, and who does not know she married while she was away.

Reid returned home to Amarillo fairly recently himself. Recovering from a rodeo injury, he came back to the ranch he grew up on when he learned that the man who took him in and raised him as a young boy has ALS.

As Cammi drives into town, she runs a red light and crashes into Reid's truck. What a way to meet someone!

Cammi and Reid have a connection to each other, though neither realizes it at the time. When Reid inadvertently learns who Cammi's father is, he is convinced that once Lamont London tells Cammi who Reid is she will want nothing to do with him. It's kind of hard to go into the plot details any further without giving away too much.

Cammi and Reid are both pretty angst filled and wrapped up in their problematic lives. Both have lost faith, which is a major theme of the story, a little more so than I normally care of, but it also suited the story and the characters withoutu being hit you over the head. I loved Reid. He was often cranky, which, while not necessarily appealing in real life, I do love a cranky hero on paper.

AN ACCIDENTAL MOM picks up several months later, giving us the story of Lily London, Cammi's younger sister. Lily had a huge crush on Max back when she was twelve and he was eighteen. But he married and moved away to Chicago, where he became a successful CPA. Now a widower, he's back in town with his four year old son, Nate, to help run his mother's diner while she recovers from a broken leg.

Lily is sweet enough, but it was hard to believe (for me anyway) that after twelve years she is still pining for Max. She's never married, and didn't appear to have ever even had a real boyfriend. As soon as she sees Max again she is pretty much head over heels again, even though she thinks he never really noticed her back in the day. Well, that's because at eighteen he knew he was too old for her, and being a good guy even then, he did what he thought was right and got out of the way of temptation.

Max and Lily are both appealing characters, but I didn't connect with them as well as with Cammi and (especially) Reid. Max has much more angst than Lily, going back and forth in his head about his feelings for her, and whether or not he should stay in Amarillo or go back to his life in Chicago. When Lily visits him in Chicago, he acted very stupid and naive and I was quite irritated with him. Nate very much wants his father to find a new wife and a mother for him, and he takes an instant liking to Lily. He was a cute kid but thankfully not over the top precocious. 

Loree Lough's writing flows smoothly, and she's good with a turn of phrase. One of my favorite lines from the first book:
"Her sigh filtered through the wires, kissing his eardrum.” (pg 50)
I already have the third book in my TBR pile, AN ACCIDENTAL FAMILY, about Cammi and Lily's father, and anticipate enjoying it.

21 November 2013

Plain Jane


Synopsis: Back in college, Jane Lewis would have given anything to be like homecoming queen Connie Bryan. Instead she was just Plain Jane – overweight, frumpy, and painfully shy. That was then. Today, a lovely and confident Dr. Jane Lewis has a thriving psychotherapy practice, her own radio talk show, a beautiful old Louisiana mansion, and her affectionate, nutty dog, Olive, to keep her company. The only thing missing is someone to share her life.

Jane has never forgotten Michael Sorenson, the boy she'd admired from afar in college. Now, he's inspiring her to hope for a future together. She's also never forgotten the brutal, unsolved attack that ended Connie Bryan's life – and haunts Jane still. Suddenly, the present collides with the past, as she finds clues into the identities of Connie's attackers – clues that send her into a world of risk and excitement, challenging her to become a truly extraordinary woman...if she dares.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, published by Kensington Publishing Corp, 2001; 345 pages; given to me by a BookCrossing member.

My thoughts: I've only read two other books by Fern Michaels. The first one, LATE BLOOMER, I loved. So much that I read it in one day, and then immediately looked up Ms. Michaels' back list and added all of her books to my wish list.

Next I read FINDERS KEEPERS, and I liked it for the most part, but I didn't love it the way I loved LATE BLOOMER.

I still had high hopes for this third book, but they were dashed pretty quick. The prologue moved quickly, as Jane and Connie are walking from the library to their dorm together one night at the end of their senior year, and are attacked by a group of boys who rape Connie. Connie insists that Jane not tell anyone what happened, and Jane, against her better judgment, agrees to keep the secret. She later finds out at graduation that Connie had committed suicide.

Fast forward to the present day. Jane is now a successful psychiatrist, and is still burdened by the guilt she carries around for never going to the police or telling anyone what happened to Connie.

I never connected with Jane. She was likeable enough at first, but as the book progressed she became shrill and demanding and self-centered, and I had a very hard time liking her or caring about her. She begins seeing a new patient, a man who's wife had been raped, and he's been unable to deal with it. Talking to this patient brings back all of her memories, and her guilt, and eventually a determination to find the men who raped her friend in college and see that justice is served.

The building relationship with Mike is about the only believable plot line. Jane's godmother, Trixie, adopts a retired police dog, and her antics with the too smart to be true dog are just so out there. He's depressed, and she decides he misses working, so she buys an old police car and hides baggies of marijuana on her property and then takes him out at night, lights flashing and sirens blaring, so he can look for them. I know they live out in the country, but I still can't believe there isn't at least one neighbor close enough to complain about the sirens.

Jane also has a dog who is unrealistically capable and intelligent, and there is the ghost of a teenage boy living in Jane's home, appearing to her when she thinks she must be asleep and dreaming, which I found a little creepy.

Between Jane's efforts to track down Connie's rapists, Trixie and her police dog, the mystery of the ghost boy's death, and a couple of other side stories that have Jane sneaking around peeking into her new patient's windows trying to get a glimpse of his wife and punching another therapist in the face...convoluted is the only word I can think of.

Will I give up on Fern Michaels? No, I won't. Because based on that first book of hers I read I know she can please me. Just not with this one. But she has so many others, I'll keep searching for another winner.