Excuse my dust while I do a little remodeling!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Top 5 Reasons to Love: Second Chance Ranch by Cindi Madsen

22392977Sometimes love is right where you left it.

Sadie Hart has a plan: return to her small town of Hope Springs so she can regain her confidence—and bank account—before giving one more shot to her country music dream. The dream that means more to her than anything. The dream she chose over her high school sweetheart, the brooding and sinfully handsome Royce Dixon.

Royce has moved on from his memories of the beautiful Sadie. Now he’s focused solely on running Second Chance Ranch, where he rehabilitates troubled teens through ranch work. But when he needs a new employee and Sadie’s the only one to volunteer, he has no choice but to offer his old flame a job.

Whether riding a horse with the wind in her hair or mucking out the stalls, Sadie can still get Royce’s heart beating like no one else. But Nashville is her dream, and Royce can’t settle for second best. ~ Goodreads


Second Chance Ranch
Cindi Madsen

1. Cindi Madsen + Contemporary Romance = Auto buy 

Cindi writes the sweetest romances and this one just might be my favorite!

2. Second chances

I love romances where the couple has a shared past to overcome. It brings automatic tension and sexual chemistry to the table. 

While it didn’t work for Sadie & Royce the first time around it had more to do with bad timing than lack of love for each other. 
These two sizzle on the page!

3. Royce.

Poor Royce gave his heart to Sadie when they were younger and she turned him down cold. He’s carrying a bit of a chip on his shoulder but is a really great guy. 

He manages the family ranch, takes care of his mom and runs a rehabilitation program fro troubled teens.

Despite his hurt feelings, he treats Sadie right and doesn’t hang on to his grudge for long. *swoon*

4. Sadie.
What an awesome female character! She left Hope Springs and Royce behind to follow her dream of becoming a country singer. 

While that did hurt Royce, I loved that Sadie had a dream and thought it worth following. Too often, female characters don’t choose themselves over romance. She wasn’t callus about it – just knew she had to give her dreams a shot.

Not everything went as planned and she’s understandably embarrassed but she doesn’t sit and whine for long. She’s a go getter – whether it’s her singing career, helping the kids at the ranch, or making sure Royce doesn’t get away again. <3 her!

5. Hope Springs & family.

The small close knit town of Hope Springs, the Second Hand Ranch, family and friends help round out this story nicely. 

Instead of being cloying busy bodies, they were supportive and loving – helping both Sadie and Royce find themselves and then each other. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Made for You by Melissa Marr

20419003When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling. ~ Goodreads

Source: Finished copy provided for my honest review

Review: I read Marr’s Wicked Lovely years ago. While I loved the writing, I stopped right there because that series was about the fae and love triangles – not my thing. I’ve always wanted to give her books another shot though and Made for You was a good fit for me.

Made for You is told in three alternating POV’s. Eva, the main protagonist and target of a serial killer, Grace, Eva’s best friend, and Judge (his true identity is a mystery), the killer.

Eva is from a wealthy, influential, southern family. She has the perfect boyfriend and reigns supreme as queen bee at school. What’s nice is that she’s a benevolent leader. She follows the southern code of politeness and tries not to make waves for her family's reputation but she’s not a mean girl. I really liked her loyalty and maturity. People just follow her because of who who is, not because she’s trying to control anyone. Her friendship with Grace was also nice to read about from both sides. Grace adds an interesting counterpoint to Eva, providing a better picture for what’s really going on.

Some people have called Eva shallow following her accident because she focuses on her looks. But I can’t think of too many young girls (or women for that matter) who wouldn’t be concerned when their face is scarred from injury, especially in a school where perfection is so valued. And it’s not like her world comes crashing to a halt because she doesn’t think she’s pretty. She’s just nervous about being seen at first. She’s still a strong, kind girl.

Her relationship with her parents was something that really irritated me at first and came off a little cliché but took a really interesting and welcome turn.

The romance was oh so nice. Eva and Nate have a past as (estranged) best friends so it gives them a good foundation for you to believe in them as a couple. I do wish Nate and Eva had more time to have the discussions needed to really develop this romance a little more. It is sweet, complex and hopeful though.

I am not a fan of villain pov’s. They rarely add anything to the story and are pretty much just a catalyst to facilitate the romance. Not only that, even though any murderer is scary, they tend to be of the mustache twirling, lay out the whole plan and you know he’s going down variety. There is no real tension. I typically skim these parts just so I have an idea of what’s going on but focus on the main characters instead. In this book Judge is a truly creepy individual. His motivations, actions and close proximity to Eva and her friends is chilling. Of course his theories and reasons are insanity but this is how stalkers/killers justify their actions.

I’m not sure how I feel about Eva’s ability to predict future deaths. It was written very well and facilitates the plot, so like the serial killer pov, it’s not just for filler but it fizzles out in the end. Eva is so smart, practical and cautious trying to learn what this power is and how it can help find the killer and then all of a sudden goes off half baked, putting herself and Nate in danger.  (mild spoiler ahead)

It’s difficult to write a mystery/thriller/romance while still developing the relationships with friends/parents and adding in a paranormal twist. It wasn’t perfect but I think Marr did an excellent job balancing it all while keeping me at the edge of my seat. I actually had nightmares from this book for two nights in a row. I don’t scare easily but serial killers freak me out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014