Sunday, May 17, 2015

Recent Reads

Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Why this one:  I answer this question further down

Genre: Western

Steam Level: Warm, but not too warm

My Thoughts:
My favourite book by this author and one of my top 10 all-time favourite reads and top 3 Western reads (if not the top) is coming out as an ebook in a few short weeks so I wanted to immerse myself in her world once again.  I’ve read quite a few of her books but I think this one is fairly new and I hadn’t read it before so it was a natural fit.

The book opens with a bang.  Elizabeth Wainright is escaping something bad.  She is fleeing west on a stage coach when it’s attacked by thieves.  All on board except for Elizabeth are killed but she is saved when lawman and vigilante Mitch Brady, who patrols the area as part of his job, rescues her, kills some of the outlaws and captures the others.  He’s taken with Elizabeth right from the beginning; with her beauty and her innocence and he knows she’s running away from something.  He takes her under his wing, seeing she gets help with her injuries, her lodging and her looking for a job.  He wants her to trust him with her secrets as he knows instinctively that she is innocent of whatever she is running from but she is so scared she won’t trust him, especially at first, with even her real age.

But slowly over time and as she begins to see what kind of man he really is, Elizabeth begins to trust Mitch and return his feelings, and finally tells him all, including her real name, Emma.  She’s running from her step father who is framing her for the recent death of her mother in order to claim a family heirloom because of his gambling habits.

While not as emotionally draining as some of her earlier stories, I still really enjoyed this book.  Ms. Bittner really does write great Westerns, she really seems to have a feel for the time and the setting.  Her books, including Desperate Hearts, are gritty and as the old west was a gritty time, so they should be.  I found the fact that Mitch was part of a vigilante group interesting.  The setting is Montana before it was a state and there was no official “law” in the territory.  And they enacted vigilante justice in the book.

Thankfully Mitch is an honest man, albeit a hard one.  He’s so gone for Elizabeth/Emma and so protective of her.  I love that kind of hero.  He is one heck of a yummy hero.  And I liked Emma also, though I did find her a bit slow to trust Mitch.  But then considering what she has gone through, it’s not really surprising.  She was raised in a privileged and wealthy home in New York and she was so out of her element in the old west it was almost a different planet.  Everything she knew was different.  She makes friends with a woman of ill repute.  She’s still in deep mourning over the death of her mother, a death she knows she is being accused of.  Her dealings with her step-father were horrifying.  So I didn’t wonder that she almost didn’t know which way to turn.

As I said, it’s not the best I’ve read by her, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot, look forward to seeing more of her older books being reissued and ebooks and I’m in countdown mode now for Outlaw Hearts

Grade: 4 out of 5
Trust Me by Ella Sheridan
Why this one:  I loved the first book in the series and it was a given I'd try this one.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Steam Level: Very, very hot!
My Thoughts:  The first book in this new series, Teach Me, was such a great find, that I was excited to read the next one, Trust Me.  I read it and now I’m trying to put my thoughts into words and sometimes it isn’t so easy is it?   This book gets the dreaded – “it was OK.”  I don’t know if it was because I had such high expectations after the first book, whether this one was too similar or what exactly, but I wasn’t nearly as impressed.
It was a good book, don’t get me wrong, but it suffered from “but quite as good as”.  I really liked Jack – but he was not quite as good as Con for me.  The heroine, Maddie, was not bad once we got to know her though she was kind of tough for me to like at first as she came across as rather cold and emotionless.  But she wasn’t quite as good as Jess from the first book.  The stories were very similar (too similar) but the one in Trust Me wasn’t quite as good as Teach Me.
We first met Jack in Teach Me.  He is a very good friend and business partner of Con from book one.  This takes place a little while after the first and Con and Jess are happily married.  Jack is feeling somewhat left out and envious of his friend.  He’s at his local watering hole, in a real shitty mood when a ruckus breaks out and the newest bartender he hasn’t yet met gets involved.  This of course, is Maddie.  When she takes on the customer harassing one of the waitresses, Jack thinks this is hot, while at the same time wanting to take on the situation himself.  He and Con run a detective type agency and they specialize in women in distress. And it doesn’t take him long to figure out that Maddie is in distress though she comes across as tough as nails and not needing anyone.
As the book continues on, we discover she has been horribly abused by her husband and she’s deep in hiding.   She knows he’s trying to find her and she’s terrified that he will.  At the same time, she is trying to find a young teenage girl who she figures has been taken by her ex and his cronies and she wants to find and rescue this girl.  By a strong coincidence, Jack is doing the same thing though they don’t realize it until much later in the book.  They finally join forces and try and catch the bad guy with the help of Con and another buddy who is being set up for his story next book.
This is too similar to the first one – poor but brave heroine who has suffered major abuse at the hands of an ex, rescued by a caring, wonderful hero.  While the villain in book #1 was chilling, villain in book #2 is almost cartoonish in his evilness.  Maybe I’m being too harsh, but this one just didn’t work like the first book I read by this author.
And I read the synopsis of the next book and the hero of that book has a twin brother and it seems they both share the love of the same woman and if it goes where I’m wondering if it might, I just won’t be going on that journey.  It’s a little bit too much for me if that is the set-up.
Grade: 3 out of  5
and more to come

'til later


Lover Of Romance said...

I am hoping to read Bittner soon, and I loved your thoughts on this one. I do love westerns, and I love those gritty romances.

Wendy said...

I didn't like Desperate Hearts quite as much as you - mostly because it featured one of my least favorite western tropes (Ignorant City Girl Runs Away To the West Without Actually Thinking It Through) and it was a bit too "rescue fantasy" for my tastes. I like my western heroines to be a bit more self-reliant.

There was another book before this one (not a series - a stand-alone) - Paradise Valley. Very gritty, pretty typical for Bittner. A vigilante story where it's the heroine out for revenge. Dark though. I mean the book opens with the hero finding the heroine, who has been raped, digging a grave to bury her murdered husband. So....not exactly light and fluffy. Again, Sourcebooks - so you can probably get a digital copy for a reasonable price.

I'm looking forward to Outlaw Hearts! I read it years ago and it landed somewhere in my B range back then. Anxious to see if it holds up well for me :)

Kristie (J) said...

Lover of Romance: We are very close now to the release of Outlaw Hearts. I'm starting to quiver.

Wendy: *chuckle* I have Paradise Valley and plan on starting it very soon. Right now though it's Patricia Potter's Westerns that have a hold on me - after I finished Morning Glory - Review above - which pushed it's way to the top.