Book Review: His Convict Wife

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Title: His Convict Wife

Author: Lena Dowling

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 5 (4.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

For Irish convict Colleen Malone, being framed, transported to Australia and forced into prostitution seemed like the worst that life could throw at her. Then she fell pregnant to a client and was sent back to prison by her cruel owner. Now, her only hope of a decent life for her and her baby is to find someone to marry.
Widower and former London businessman Samuel Biggs arrived in Australia hoping to put his grief behind him. When James Hunter offers him a job on his Parramatta farm, he accepts eagerly. He’ll put his back into his new work, and bury any thoughts of new love and marriage in the rich earth of his new home.
However, all plans are compromised when Samuel is manipulated into visiting a workhouse to choose a new housekeeper, and Colleen seizes her chance — literally grabbing Samuel and begging for her life. The only way Samuel can oblige is by marrying her, but on one thing he stands firm — there is no way he will fall in love…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have to admit, I was more than thrilled to have the opportunity to review another of Ms. Dowling’s novel’s. I was even more thrilled to see that yet again, it was another historical romance. Though the author has a definite talent for writing, I have found in my experience that her historical novels really stand out as exceptional writing. Again, I wasn’t disappointed.

This novel came to me on the tail of a series of lack-luster fiction I’d read recently, so opening the first page I was already mentally worn out and though I’ve enjoyed Ms. Dowling’s previous novels, I was hesitant to dive into what could potentially be another mediocre story. Instead, after just the first line of the novel, I was grinning from ear to ear.

“May the little people come in the dead of night, wrench your evil eyes out from their sockets, and fry them on the griddle for breakfast for what you’ve done.”

Colleen Malone may yet be one of the best heroin’s Ms. Dowling’s written to date. She’s a spitfire of a character who’s stubborn, straight-forward, and hilarious. Colleen is a character that despite playing the role of a woman of ill-repute, manages to convincingly keep hold on her innocence in a way I wasn’t sure was possible until I encountered her. The author’s given her a moral boundary that served to separate the role she’d been given in life with her personality, and I think it’s a testament to Ms. Dowling’s writing skills that she managed to draw that line and convince a reader like me that it’s possible for someone so lost in the dregs of society to hold on to their innocence and morals. Despite the position Colleen found herself in, I believed she was at heart a good character.

Was the story formulaic? Yes. As with most of these types of romances, I wasn’t truly surprised at any point in time with where the story was going – but I don’t consider that a failing mark. With these types of books I think being a bit formulaic and predictable is part of what makes these romances a good read. It’s comfortable knowing that in the end everything is going to turn out all right… like reading a fairytale that always ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. It certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.

The story was full of tension between not only the main couple, but also the minor, side, and other lead characters, and that helped to drive the story onward. I didn’t feel rushed, bored, or confused, and I never had a moment where I sat back and went “really? That’s what’s happening right now?” The characters were very convincingly written, and from a technical standpoint, the writing was clean, fast-paced, and well-written.

Was it a book to break the boundaries of the genre? No—but it was certainly a good book, and one I’m happy to be setting on my “Keeper” shelf. I think anyone who enjoys a good historical romance will enjoy this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s new to Ms. Dowling’s work.

Book Review: His Reluctant Rancher

ImageTitle: His Reluctant Rancher

Author: Roxanne Snopek

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis: The last place city girl Desiree Burke expected to find herself was living at and working on a ranch, much less butting heads with the ranch’s sexy cowboy owner, Zach Gamble. But that’s exactly where she ends up after an incident at work leads her to her best friend Rory’s doorstep. Desiree is a gifted physical therapist, and Rory knows exactly where her brand of tough love is needed the most.

Zach’s been through hell and back. A devastating car crash left his brother gone, his father paralyzed, and him with mental scars a mile wide. His survivor guilt alone makes him sure he doesn’t deserve to find love. But as Des works her way into his ranch, his family, and his life, suddenly the last person who belonged there is the only one he believes belongs…with him.

WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW

I picked up this novel on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and let me tell you; I had no idea what I was in for. I’m a big fan of what I call “Sure-Read”s.. That is, formulaic, well-written romance. Why? Because I know what I’m going to get when I go into it. I don’t care if the plot is cliche because that sense of romance I get from the book is familiar and cozy. So understand that when I picked up this book, I thought I was going to get a familiar, cozy, but predictable read out of it.

I was wrong.

This book was very well written. At first, I didn’t particularly like the main female lead, Desi. Like some of the characters in the book, I felt her fake-Latina persona was phony and not endearing. That may be because I live in a heavily Latin-influenced area. (I live in El Paso on the border of texas/new mexico/mexico). However, as the story wore on and that fake-side of her personality started to melt away, I learned to like her more and more. It added a depth to the story that I wasn’t expecting. As the other characters in the story grew close to Desi, so did I. It was a unique experience, and though I’m not sure it was planned, I really enjoyed the outcome.

This story was full of characters with unique personalities and complicated emotions. I really enjoyed Joe, Desi, Zach, and Rory just to name a few. They were funny, witty, endearing.. I could go on and on. And though at first the plot seemed to be like every other sure-read I’ve come across in the past, it quickly turned into a very unique and personal tale of these character’s lives that were basically torn apart by tragedy… and how they worked to overcome it. There were a lot of endearing, heart-warming moments, but I’d like to share one of my favorites:

“Maybe this will change your mind.” Rory took a small cardboard box from next to the door.

“Zach just dropped it off.”

Her heart started to thump wildly. She untucked the top flaps. A little gray head popped out. Attached to his neck was a loose bit of twine, with a note attached.

You forgot your cat.

I mean seriously, how can you read that and not go “awwwwwww”? He gave her a freaking kitten. Okay maybe it doesn’t have the same impact when it’s not in context, but it certainly had me smiling.

There was a definite feeling of attraction and passion between the main couple, Desi and Zach. I’ll admit sometimes I wanted to shake my fist at them because they both seemed so clueless, and a lot of times they made obvious bad decisions, but I have to say, the end to this book was absolutely PERFECT.

I don’t cry when I read books. I’ve read so many romances that I’m completely immune to their effect for the most part. I teared up with this one. Even just thinking about it makes my throat grow tight. I cannot put into words how epic and endearing this love story was. If you’re going to pick up a romance anytime in the near future, pick up this one. You won’t regret it.