Friday, July 31, 2015

Recent Read

Why This One: It was on for a good price and it looked interesting and I love a blue collar hero
 
Genre: Contemporary
 
Level of Steam: If this were a real cup of tea (tea just goes with reading better than coffee) it would be the perfect temperature. 
 
Outline: Some things are sexier the second time around.

Cal Payton has gruff and grumbly down to an art...all the better for keeping people away. And it usually works. Until Jenna MacMillan--his biggest mistake--walks into Payton and Sons mechanic shop all grown up, looking like sunshine, and inspiring more than a few dirty thoughts.

Jenna was sure she was long over the boy she'd once loved with reckless abandon, but one look at the steel-eyed Cal Payton has her falling apart all over again. Ten years may have passed, but the pull is stronger than ever... and this Cal is all man.

Cal may have no intention of letting Jenna in, but she's always been his light, and it's getting harder to stay all alone in the dark. When a surprise from the past changes everything, Cal and Jenna must decide if their connection should be left alone or if it's exactly what they need for the future of their dreams
 
My Thoughts: What a treat this book turned out to be.  I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one.  I’d barely heard about it, I didn’t see much buzz, but whatever I was expecting, this book more than made up for any expectations.  I enjoyed it so much that when I saw the author at a signing at RWA I simply had to go over and tell her how much I enjoyed this book.  I don’t normally do that as I don’t do well at signings in general, but I am that pleased with this book.
Cal and Jenna were high school sweetheart and had a deep connection but Jenna wanted more out of life than what small town life offered and took off for the bright lights of the big city.  But as the outlines says, she’s come back and the sparks are still there and she wants another chance with Cal.  But he’s ten years older now and has come to the conclusion that a wife and family aren’t for him any longer.  His mother left him and his two younger brother years previously and Cal did most of the raising of them.  His relationship with his father is most contentious.  They work together at the family garage and Cal’s dad stifles any kind of expansion or changes that Cal wants.  With such a poor example of family himself, Cal doesn’t want to risk it.  And then when another person is added to his responsibilities, he really doesn’t want to get involved again with Jenna again.
I loved, loved, loved Cal.  He’s exactly the kind of hero I read romance for.  He’s a good guy who while on the outside seems to not want the obligations in his life, on the inside he dearly loved his family.  The sparks flew between he and Jenna and while he was pretty broken up when she left, he doesn’t hold onto bitterness, he understands why she did what she did even though it hurt very badly.  And the reader just knows he would make a great husband and father.  He’s a car mechanic and not afraid to get his hands dirty.  Oh I just love him.  Even doing this review makes me want to read the book again.
Time got away from me between reading this book and then this review so it’s a few weeks apart and Jenna isn’t quite as vivid a character as Cal, but I really did like her too.  She knows what she wants, she wants Cal back and she sets about getting him back, not in a sneaky underhanded way but in a “I was young and didn’t really know and appreciate what I had back then and now want a second chance’ kind of way.
And I just got back from a break at work and opened Dirty Thoughts and noticed that Ms. Erikson has another book she wrote where the hero of that one was Cal’s brother, Make it Right.  You can guess what I did right after that!  So now I have a plan.  I’ll read Make it Right and then reread this book.  I also noticed she had quite a nice back list which I will be diving into.  Consider me a happy reader, I love finding new to me authors
 
Grade: 4.5 out of 5
Would I read it again: You betcha, I already have plans to.
Grade: 4.75 out of 5
 
'til later
 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Afterthoughts on RWA


Jessica wrote a Most Excellent Post on the economics of attending RWA.  There is no question it’s quite costly and I do wonder why I am willing to pay that much money when I’m not an author and at this point in time don’t have any plans to be one.  I do write though, I love to write.  That’s why I started blogging so many years ago.  I didn’t and still don’t have the talent, time or ambition to write a novel.  That’s one reason why I admire so many authors even if their works may not work for me.  They are driven to write and I appreciate that.

So again, why am I willing to spend so much money?  I spent years when my kids were small doing vacations I hated.  Camping.  After spending all those years doing what I didn’t like, I want to do what I do like, no, not like but love.  To be surrounded by romance people is like nirvana for me.  I have found going a very empowering experience.  While I once hid my passion for romance from everyone, now I’m proud romance reader and have no problems telling people where I go for that week in July.  I couldn’t have done that before.  But listening to speakers, talking to fellow romance fans and meeting authors has made me proud to be part of the community.  And a community it is.  My time at RWA proves that.  Not once in all the conferences I’ve gone to have I felt out of place.  It took a while to figure out what to say when someone I’d never met asked me what I wrote.  Then the answer came to me – I don’t write romance, I write about romance.  I AM what authors write for.  I completely realize that for many of them RWA is also a time for business and I think that’s part of the appeal.  There is a professionalism underlying the conference.  I’ve been to RT and it’s a different vibe.  For me, I like the RWA vibe better.

I am thrilled beyond belief when an author recognizes me.  I didn’t get to spend as much time with authors as previous years, but the interaction, brief as it was, was like a balm to my soul.  I didn’t talk to her, but Nalini Singh waved at me when I was checking in.  Julie James came to our table for a short while one night.  Tessa Dare was thrilled to see me when I went to her line at a signing.  Really, it’s the other way around.  And Lisa Kleypas is a very special person to me.  When I saw her, well, that moment alone made me glad I had spent the money and gone.

Reconnecting with friends again is so very, very special.  Wendy, my roomie, Rosie, LB Gregg, those are the people I hang out with the most and even though it’s a year that passes between spending time with them, it feels like only a few months.  Every time there is that instant connection.  Nath and Ames were there.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve spent time with them, but within moments it was like that time wasn’t years, but only months.  Instant connection again.  I know I’ll forget if I start naming names, but I enjoyed each and every conversation I entered more than I do many normal conversations with my RL people.  For me that’s priceless.

At the beginning, I’m being honest, part of the appeal was all the books.  I would pick up so many books it would seem to offset much of the price I was paying but as I said earlier, I cut way back on the number of books I picked up this year.

I kind of think of it as a fantasy camp in some ways.  I get to interact with the stars and bright lights of a profession I get so much enjoyment from.  I’m not sure how much a fantasy camp costs but I imagine quite a bit.

And while I’m not an author and find the conference a way to renew my desire to write a book, I do find it my desire to renew my desire to blog is intensified.  I had so many great ideas for blog topics while I was there.

Despite all the good and wonderful things about attending the RWA conferences, there are a few things that, while I certainly won’t say bad, are a bit discombobulating for me.  I live by myself, me and my two cats Finn and Munch (who were less than excited when I was watching Law and Order and pointed out Finn and Much the police detectives to whom they were named after).  Being surrounded by so many people while WONDERFUL, is still a bit unsettling after a while for someone used to living with only 2 cats.  In order to remain sane, I have to take more down time than I would like.  I would like to be go, go, going all the time as the hours in a day when I can connect with others is limited, so even as I unwind I resent the fact that I have to.  But if I don’t, I’d be like a robot who goes into overload and just shuts down completely.  Claustrophobia is connected with this somewhat and it’s getting a bit worse each year.

In addition, I wasn’t in the physical shape I should have been.  One of the side effects that takes a loooong time and is one of the hardest to overcome for me when I’m in a depression is weight gain.  I’d lost over 50 lbs and sadly put it all back in my lost year last year.  But I’m going to go into training and plan to be much shapelier – in more ways than one – for the next conference I go to.  Again that limitation was very frustrating.  My back, my feet and other parts of me were breaking down by the end.

But despite these couple of issues, for me, attending RWA is worth every penny.  I’m fortunate as I have a nice disposable income, I make pretty good money, my house is all paid off and my husband left a very nice pension.  Plus I live rather frugally most of the year.  So for me to attend RWA is a time of empowerment, a time to connect again with people dear to me, to express appreciation to authors for the time they have entertained me and made me happy, to drink and talk books, to not have to go to my job every day, to mingle and absorb atmosphere and to truly appreciate the wonderful community I am a part of.
 
'til later

 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

RWA Day 2, 3, 4, 5 and afterthoughts

Another post with no pictures.  I can't keep doing this!!!  I can't!

(had to do it - couldn't not do it)
I meant to blog a bit each day about what I did, but it didn’t quite turn out that way.  I find the conferences to be either Very High Energy during which times there is no time for blogging or, in my case, sprawled full out in a chair barely able to move, thus physically unable to blog.  My roomie Wendy could manage a couple but then she is years  younger than I am.  So the first few days will be from memory and that’s pretty faulty these days.

Day 2 – so it was a calm day for the most part.  Wendy was in Librarians Day all day – being the SuperLibrarian that she is.  I kind of wandered for the most part.  Wandered across the street for brunch, wandered around the hotel, wandered, wandered, wandered.  It would have been a good time to do a blog post except I didn’t really have anything to say.

Then it was time for the literacy signing.  I always find these very difficult.  First off, as I find authors above me in the pecking order of the romance world, it’s very strange to be looking down as they are sitting in their chairs and I’m standing.  It just doesn’t seem natural to me.  I very rarely know what to say.  I’m not an autograph collector AT ALL so their autograph, while appreciated, doesn’t mean as much to me as to many others.  I doubt I would even ask Richard Armitage for an autograph.  A wet, slow, French kiss maybe – but not an autograph.  I’m semi-claustrophobic, meaning I’m OK for a certain length of time, then I MUST get out – as soon as I can.  If I have books to pay for and there’s a long line to pay it can be a tough one.  And the noise!!!  You get a crowed ballroom size room with so much talking, I’m lucky I can hear a single thing.

I was in the room for 10 minutes before the claustrophobia hit this time, not long enough to pick up any books.  I had to leave for a while.  I did go back and picked up a few books.  But every year I think I will skip it this year – but so far haven’t followed through.

But if the Literacy signing was tough, what came after was the opposite.  A bunch of us met in the bar.  Now if I forget someone – it’s not intentional, it’s my faulty memory.  But there was Blythe and Lynn from AAR, of course my roomie Wendy.  There were the other two of the main quartet of us, LB Gregg and Rosie.  Then we had Nath, Ames, Kim (from Hawaii though now she’s back on the mainland) a few other people who I hadn’t met before and Jessica sat at a table close by.  I cant remember if Limecello was there that night or not but I did have some chat time with her too.  We are both fans of So You Think You Can Dance and tweet during the playing of.  It was ever so nice to see her in person.  I just adore her and was so glad to run into her a number of times.  Talk of books and all things romance related was wonderful.  Being surrounded by like-minded people is almost like something out of a dream.  I got to bed late that night with a wee bit of an alcohol induced glow.


ETA:
Hilcia!!  How could I forget Hilcia.  Old age is my only excuse.  To see what I'm talking about you must keep reading.  I'm doing this edit on my IPad and it won't let me go to the bottom of the page.  Neither can I figure out how to do links.  But I will fix this when I get to work tomorrow.

And Christine.  I'm going to be doing this all night, I just know it.
 


Day 3 started off early!  Instead of lunches now, RWA has breakfasts with speakers, the speaker of this one was Barbara Freethy.  So we had to be up and out of the room early as it started around 7:30.  Amazingly we found Nath and sat with her.  Breakfast was buffet style and pretty good and I quite enjoyed the speech Ms. Freethy gave.  I’ve read some of her books but none for a while.  An author back on my radar – always love that.  She self-publishes now which makes the books somewhat less expensive.  One thing they always have at the RWA speaker meals is free books from whichever particular speaker there is so I got a free book to try.

Then it was off to a workshop.  They have a plethora of workshops – something for everyone.  The one I chose was how to get a blogger to help an author.  Now that won’t work in my case.  I don’t take or do requested reviews, never have, never will, but that is my own personal choice and I do think that reader blogs can be great for authors.  But I did enjoy the workshop and agree with much of what was said.

Then after that the publisher signings got under way.  I’ve since lost track of what publisher when but this year was going to be different!  I wasn’t planning on getting any books except for a few for close friends as I read mostly ebooks now.  And while I did cut down CONSIDERABLY, I couldn’t resist a few more than I planned for myself.  I’ll have to get out my reading glasses as I need them for print books now.

And at this time I simply must give Avon a huge shout out.  Any who follows this blog at all knows by now that they are my favourite whipping publisher from their covers, to their limited genres to the prices they charge for ebooks.  I am very hard on them and deservedly so I reckon.  But here’s where I give them high fives and wish all publishers would catch up with them.  For every print book they had there for attendees, they also had a card to download a free e-book.  I stopped at a few authors tables and they almost apologetically said they had no books left, only ebook cards at which point I told them, no, that is exactly what I want!!  I didn’t want their print books so I was fine that they had run out.  I ended up picking up a large number of ebook cards and they barely weigh a thing.  Of course the next challenge with be to see if I can actually download them and make sure I do it before they expire.

So huge KUDO’S to Avon, I’m very grateful.

They had two signings in the mornings and two in the afternoon so much time was spent in line ups.

Now my memory begins to mist as I think I didn’t do anything in the evening, just a later dinner and then stayed in the room.

Day 4 was pretty much a repeat of Day 3.  The speaker on Day 4 was Julia Quinn.  She also did a fine job.  I did go to one workshop that was the best one I’ve been to in all the workshops I’ve attended.  And it wasn’t so much about the art or craft of writing, but more writing through depression.  That workshop wasn’t taped like any of the others so I’m not going to say anything about it other than I found it very moving and helpful.

I think we are at Friday now and if so, a group of us went out for dinner.  We had planned on going to Hard Rock CafĂ© but it was up to an hour and a half waiting time so we went to Guy Fierro’s instead.  Since I’m a big food channel fan, I liked going there better anyway.

Then again many of us met up at the bar.  There are so many good talks that go on at RWA it’s hard to pick favourites but this night was one of mine.  We were chatting about how the blogging world has changed over the years, that many individual voices have left blogging and how we as a community are missing them.  I’ve seen a number of new blogs spring up, but many are more dedicated to promoting authors with either book giveaways or author ‘tours’ and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with them.  But I am saying that the individual voices of bloggers who are in just for the sheer love of blogging and romance as a whole has declined and those who remain miss them.  I can’t say much as I was one who disappeared myself for a while but it wasn’t until I saw how many others were also gone that I realized how vital they are.  We debated on the reasons why.  Could it be Facebook or Twitter that have replaced them?  Has the drama that comes and goes discouraged some from continuing on?  Has RL got in the way?  I don’t know what it is exactly, but I know I miss them dreadfully and hope they come back to the rest of us.  Knowing how I feel without their voices makes me more determined to keep going myself.  If I got nothing else out of the week, I got the renewed vow to keep on blogging.

It was another late night and planned early breakfast

Day 5 was Saturday, the final day.  The morning speaker was Nalini Singh.  Earlier in the week I walked past her and she waved at me.  I was thrilled she remembered me from previous RWA’s.  And as with the others, I really enjoyed her talk. 

By Day 5 I was almost dying of exhaustion – I’m not as young as I was when I first started going and I confess, not in the best of shape.  I’m starting to train tomorrow night for next year.  I was telling people my feet broke on Thursday and by Saturday it felt like my back was breaking too!  But at least I made breakfast.  Roomie Wendy didn’t.  Her Super powers deserted her.

I was too tired to make it to the morning signing.  Right after breakfast was over I’d headed back to bed for a morning nap.  But I did eventually get up and started moving even if it wasn’t as quickly as I was moving at the beginning of the day.

All along I had planned on attending the RITA’s.  I had a never been worn fancy black dress, I’d just purchased an adorable wrist bracelet and I had even brought good shoes to wear.  But between being tired to the max and having to be up early on Sunday morning for a very long day, I decided to skip them this year.  Very reluctantly did I skip them.  The good thing was the live streamed then this year so I did watch as I packed.  But then the live stream gave up part way through Jill Shalvis’s speech.  I thought it was me that broke things but found out later that it went down for everyone.  I debated heading down to the bar for a final goodbye – and fell asleep while debating.  Since I didn’t have a cell phone (see previous post) and the wifi was down, I missed Wendy tweeting me that they were meeting up.  But as I was asleep then anyway, I still would have missed it.

Sunday I was up at 7:00 am, on my way to the train station for a few hours train trip and then the real killer of the day – the six hour drive home.  I walked in my back door around 9:00 PM.


And now I’m finished.  Part 2, my afterthoughts coming up when my brain is all rested too.
'til later

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Made It - Day 1 at RWA

So I made it here to New York City.  My goodness but it's a big city with lots and lots of traffic.  I took the train from Albany, a train trip I HIGHLY recommend.  It's ever so much more relaxed than flying.  And the scenery!!  Most of the trip is along the Hudson river.  I wanted to put on the soundtrack from Last of the Mohicans and go back in time, but alas, my earbuds were packed away.

But when the train arrived at Penn Station, what a different vibe. The hotel is maybe 8 blocks or so away but I still took a cab since I didn't know where it was.  Took about 1/2 hour & cost $13!  Yikes.

I was thrilled that Wendy was in the room when I got here.  Right away talk turned to romance and it was like I just saw her a few weeks ago.

I did see Nath, Ames, Rosie & Naths sister who is here more to site see but they were headed to the Jimmy Fallon taping so we didn't get a chance to chat.

But the hotel is starting to fill up with romance people as we start trickling in from all over the place for this time I love to spend with my people.

Well, that's it for now but I'll be back.  Picturless I'm afraid, I'm doing this on my iPad and don't know how to do pics.  And I'm phone less so I kind of have to rely on Twitter.  But still, I'm here.



'til later

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Saga of the Cell Phone and Other Stuff Complicating my Life


I’m not a cell phone user.  I have one but it crapped out months ago and wouldn’t charge up again.  And I can’t say I really cared or noticed.  I had taken a few pictures and was just learning how to text, but for the rest – well, I couldn’t even really figure out how it worked.  But since I’m headed off to NY next week for RWA *happy dance* I need it again for its texting abilities and I decided I’d best start looking on how to get it fixed.  I scoured the internet – at work – for someplace that could fix it, tried a few numbers but they were asking an arm and a leg.  I finally got hold of one place that was reasonable and had been around for a while.  I drove quite a distance after work to take it there.  They took one quick look and told me it was obsolete and they didn’t have any parts for it.  Come On!!  I’ve only had the phone for about 3 years.  How can it be obsolete this soon!!


So I drove a long ways once again to my local Rogers thinking ‘the heck with it, if my phone is outdated, I may as well get another one and Rogers is the provider.
 

Well, I hit another nasty snag there.  I’ve had this plan I’m on for so long now, that I would have to get a new one if I were to get a new phone.  At present I pay $15/month, which for me is too much since I’ve gone months and months now without using my phone.  But if I were to get a new phone the monthly cost would jump to $80/month!!  And that’s not even with internet capabilities.  Well dang straight if I’m not getting my money’s worth at $15/month, I’m sure not going to pay $80!  So then he said the only other alternative was to buy a phone outright and transfer the info.  The lowest priced phone they had was $300.  I hate Rogers, hate them hate them.  I know they are in to make a profit and I don't begrudge them that. But what they do is highway robbery!!  
I looked at him, blinked a couple of times and then said “well, I don’t like either of those options”  I think I rather stumped him.  I was on my way out of the store thinking to myself ”shit! Shit, Shit!” when a young mother stopped me and said she overheard the conversation and said she had gone through the same thing and ended up getting a real good phone for a real good price on Amazon.  I thanked her but inside was thinking (I do a lot of thinking inside my head – and cursing too) “but I need it by Friday.”  I looked on Kijiji and Amazon last night but as for the most part I can’t even figure out how to answer my phone, knowing what to look for was beyond me so I quit in frustration and went on to watch So You Think You Can Dance.  It was rather funny as one of the peeps I tweet with sent me a private tweet asking if my phone number was the same as she’s going to RWA also and that’s the best way to connect.  So I’d hit the wall on the phone issue.
 
BUT

I was telling one of my co-workers yesterday about the problems I was having with the cell phone and she looked at mine and said she thought her son had almost the same one on his desk – several cell phones before.  And lo and behold didn’t she bring it in this morning for me just in case I needed it.  Bless her heart!!  I took out the charger to plug it in and get it charged up after changing SIM cards so all my info on the other phone would be in this one – including the phone number so she said and wasn’t it so not the right phone charger.  I don’t even know where I got the one I was carrying around.  And since I thought it was the right one for the phone, which means I’ve no idea where the correct charger is!  So I have a feeling my next hunt will be for a phone charger.  

*sigh*

Last time I went to the States to visit my sister, I somehow managed to get pulled over by New York States finest somewhere around Buffalo.  While I’m a very law abiding citizen in general, I do seem to have a need for speed when I’ve been a way for a while and I can almost smell the American/Canadian border and home.  I saw the flashing light and moved over the outside lane so he could pass me to get to the real criminal, only he didn’t pass me.

*sigh*

I was being pulled over for speeding.  Now this is where it gets strange.  He gave me a ticket but the ticket didn’t say how much I owed.  I was to enter my plea and sent it back.  Being a mostly law abiding citizen – except for my need for speed – I pleaded guilty and mailed it back.  And I’ve never heard from them since.  That was months and months ago.  Now I’m crossing the border again and in the back of my mind I’m terrified I’ll get stopped at the border for the criminal I am.  I tried calling yesterday so get it sorted out but talk about voice mail hell!!  Yikes!  By the time (20 minutes later) I got through to the proper place, the office had closed.  I did learn though that they closed the DMV in Buffalo which is where I would have gone.  And that you can pay on line with Master Card but I have Visa.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed now that they are busy at the border and backed up and they’ll just waive me through.

 


I have On Star.  I love On Star – one of the reasons I haven’t worried too much about not having a cell phone.  In case of emergency I can phone them through my car and if my car crashes and air bag deploys, they call me.  But the last couple of times when I’ve headed home, for some reason they can’t download directions home.  And I don’t remember exactly the route – it’s an 8 hour drive to my sister’s place.  The last time it was almost funny if it wasn’t so nerve racking.  I had a live OnStar person talking me through Troy New York while at the same time I had happened to have an old GPS that I ended up using too.
 

The live On Star person could hear the Garmin and was saying “yes that’s the way you go,” or “no, don’t turn that way” 
 
 
By the time I got onto the I95, it’s no wonder I was stressed and started to speed.  I just wanted to, like ET, go home.

 

 
'til later

Monday, July 13, 2015

Recent Read


Do Not Forsake Me by Rosanne Bittner

 

Why This One: I’ve just been waiting for it for-evah it seems

Genre: Western

Steam Level: Hot, hot hot!

Outline: Miranda Hayes' life was changed the day she faced down infamous gunslinger Jake Harkner...and walked away with his heart. Their fates have been intertwined ever since. Hunted by the law, fleeing across a savage land, their desperate love flourished despite countless sorrows. Now, twenty-six years later, their family has finally found some measure of peace...balanced on the knife's edge of danger.

Jake has spent his years as a U.S. Marshal atoning for sins, bringing law to the land he once terrorized. But no matter how hard he fights the demons of his brutal past, the old darkness still threatens to consume him. Only Miranda keeps the shadows at bay. But when outlaws looking for revenge strike a fatal blow, Jake risks losing the one woman who saw past his hard exterior and to the man inside.

He always knew there'd be the devil to pay. He just never realized he might not be the one to bear the ultimate price.

 

My Thoughts: I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time.  I’ve been simple mad for Jake and Randy from Outlaw Heats ever since I first read it twenty years ago and I was beyond delighted when I heard there was a sequel planned and preordered it the first moment I could.  When it came I set aside time to get back into the amazing love these two have for each other.  I finished it in about a day and a half.  So now the big question is what did I think?

Hmmm.  I am so glad that I read it but it’s not going to get quite as high of marks as Outlaw Hearts did.  The central love story was Amazing.  It’s so refreshing to see that Jake and Randy are just as much in love and passionate love at that as they were when they first met twenty six years earlier.  Their need for each other hasn’t dimmed not even one candle’s worth and I love that about them. Here’s a brief outline for those who haven’t read Outlaw Hearts – first piece of advice, READ IT!  Not because you have to have read it to read and understand this one, I don’t think you necessarily do, but Outlaw Hearts is such a wonderful book and the love story between outlaw Jake Harkner and widow Miranda Hayes is so compelling and so beautiful it would be a shame NOT to read it.

Jake Harkner was an outlaw, a bad guy who did bad things.  He and Miranda meet when he gets into a shootout in a general store and Miranda inadvertently shoots him.  He rides out of town and somehow ends up at her farmstead and when she gets home, she nurses him back to health.  She has plans to go west and once she gets to know the good and tender side of Jake that he keeps hidden, she asks him to take her.  He refuses and she sets off on her own but when Jake has second thoughts and worries about her, he follows and finds her in desperate circumstances.  He takes care of her and the love they share deepens and grows and much against his better judgement, they marry.  But his outlaw past comes back to haunt them again and again.  He spends time in jail and at the end of Outlaw Hearts, he has been released an ordered to become a deputy marshal and put the bad guys, of whom he used to be one.

Do Not Forsake Me starts a year or so later and Jake is now a full-fledged marshal and he and his son Lloyd are just headed back into a town in Montana with some bad guys.  During the arrest, they had to kill some of the outlaws and now they have become a target for revenge.  This is nothing new for Jake; he was a lot in Outlaw Heats too.  But Jake is getting older, he’s in his 50’s and he’s really starting to feel some of the injuries that he has suffered in his violent past.  He’s worried about his son Lloyd and his daughter Evie, along with his beloved wife Randy will be targets for those looking for revenge against him.  And he is right to be worried as one of them does become a victim.  Saying too much would be spoilers and I don’t want to do that so I won’t give any more away about the story.  Instead I’ll say what worked and what didn’t quite so well.

Jake and Randy.  I loved them both just as much in this book.  While Jake is still very much a gray character, he still kills without remorse those who deserve to die, Randy is his touchstone.  She keeps him from completely going to the dark side and he knows she does.  He needs her and he tells her that though out the story in so many tender and romantic ways.  Though tough on the outside, he’s so soft when it comes to his family.

Jeff Trubridge.  This is a character who has decided to write a book about the infamous Jake Harkner.  At first we don’t if he is shady or a good kind of writer.  But thankfully he’s a good kind of writer and he and Jake develop a very nice rapport.  Jake decided to bring him along with he and Lloyd so Jeff can get a personal and close up view of what they deal with as US marshals.  Jake likes him and there some humorous moments in times of great tension.  And I love Jeff’s observations on the complex man that Jake is.

The story itself.  It’s nice to follow up with characters years later and see where they are at.  As a sequel this works great.

Now for the things that didn’t work quite as well

Lloyd.  I just couldn’t warm up to him at all.  He did a few things I really didn’t like, one in particular that sent him to the dark side and will have repercussions I do believe in the next book, yes, Ms. Bittner has plans for another one in this series *fist pump of joy*.  I just couldn’t connect with his character.

Jakes smoking.  Now I realize that this was the old west and long before we knew the dangers of smoking, and I’m an ex smoker myself and I have no issues with a character smoking.  But it seems like he was constantly smoking  -  All.  The. Time.  I just wish she (the author) hadn’t written so much about it.

And that’s about it for what didn’t work so well for me.  A very short list isn’t it.  But there was nothing in Outlaw Hearts that bothered me at all, thus the reason that Do Not Forsake Me is graded slightly lower.  But I have no problems whatsoever recommending this book to those who love a good Western and even though who don’t, who just love a story about enduring love and a wickedly delicious gray hero.

 

Grade: 4.5 out of 4

Will I read it again: Oh yes, yes, yes
 
Happily - a hearty thumbs ups
 


Friday, July 03, 2015

Busy I have been

Just a quick update, I've been working the 12 to 8 shift and normally it's quiet ( and I get time to do some blog posts).  But alas, not this week.  It's been the week of  a full moon and things really do get strange.  I've been run off my toes all week and therefore, no extracurricular time.

But hopefully soon.


'til later