The Week: 30th April – 6th May

Blue Sky Autumn Sunshine Canberra Australia 24 Degrees Sonya Heaney Eucalyptus Tree Gum Tree 1st May 2018 Garden Nature

Still looking beautiful in Canberra, even though it’s the last month of autumn!

My review of A Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society #2) by Madeline Hunter

A Devil of a Duke (2018) (The second book in the Decadent Dukes Society series) A novel by Madeline Hunter

My review of Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Release Day for Mary Balogh

Someone to Care (Westcott Family #4) by Mary Balogh

Tribeca Film Festival Gives Russian Propaganda Film Major Award

Make Tribeca Film Festival Deprive Anti-Ukrainian Movie Of The Award Phone Duty Russian Propaganda Movie

Fund in Honour of Miranda Neville

Miranda Neville Frances Mallary Historical Romance

Release Day for How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

How I Resist Activism and Hope for the Next Generation

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

The Rancher’s Temporary Nanny

Laura Lee has longed for a child of her own—but she never expected one would suddenly appear on the school steps. With a note begging her to raise the baby girl, the teacher must find a new home since there’s a rule against children in the boardinghouse. Her only option is becoming a temporary live-in nanny for a rancher.

Widowed single father Clint Shepard needs a nanny for his daughter immediately—even if hiring Laura means he’ll have to find someone else in a few months when school starts up. But after spending time with her and the little girl she’s raising, he starts falling for them, and wishing their arrangement could be permanent.

Baby on Her Doorstep by Rhonda Gibson

I started this book a little distracted, as the heroine shares her name with one of publishing’s most famous erotic romance writers. This wasn’t the best choice for a chaste Christian book!

Baby on Her Doorstep has all the hallmarks of Harlequin’s Christian romance line: the abandoned child, the match of convenience, the single father trying to make ends meet in the 19th century Wild West.

I struggled to connect with the story in the beginning, because all the plot points seemed to be happening in a hurry, before we got to know or like these characters.

In the space of about an hour:

  • The heroine finds an abandoned baby, with a note attached telling her to care for her.
  • She meets with the sheriff, who gives her permission to keep the baby (it occurs to nobody to find out why the child was abandoned, or to find the mother).
  • She meets the hero and his daughter.
  • The hero offers her a job.
  • Hero, heroine, and both children go out to lunch.

After that there’s a time jump where we discover she has accepted the job and is moving in with him.

If you like books with these themes, there’s nothing wrong with this one, but it felt more like paint-by-numbers than others I’ve read in the Love Inspired Historical series.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 12th – 18th December

summer-roses-canberra-australia-sonya-heaney-12th-december-2016-flowers-pink-garden-nature

Our summer roses, still managing to grow, despite some hot, sunny days.

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Summer Sunset

So, this week, after more than 1.5 years, Daniela’s murderer and rapist was sentenced, after finally being forced to confess (and after being filmed running from police after being recognised). He didn’t get the worst sentence, but he did get a couple of decades.

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Good to see this week that the frighteningly pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian (even after MH17!) Dutch finally ruled the large collection of ancient gold artifacts from Crimea, that were on display in the Netherlands when Russia invaded Ukraine, must go back to Ukraine. Sure, it’s about the only thing anyone has done to help since the invasion and annexation of Crimea, but it’s something – for once.

so-another-year-of-russian-aggression-and-another-year-our-christmas-cards-to-relatives-cannot-reach-the-warzone-where-russia-is-still-invading-ukraine-not-that-it-makes-the-news-anymore

Another year, and another set of Christmas cards to Ukrainian family returned because of the war with Russia.

My review of More Than Friends (Kendrick Place) by Jody Holford

more-than-friends-kendrick-place-by-jody-holford

My review of Pony Express Christmas Bride (Saddles and Spurs) by Rhonda Gibson

pony-express-christmas-bride-saddles-and-spurs-by-rhonda-gibson

Book-Based Christmas Movie

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What I’ll be picking up this week.

under-the-christmas-tree-a-virgin-river-novel-by-robyn-carrbring-me-home-for-christmas-a-virgin-river-novel-by-robyn-carr

Cover Love

Bound by a Scandalous Secret

One of the funnier titles with “Christmas” in it…

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Pony Express Christmas Bride (Saddles and Spurs) by Rhonda Gibson

pony-express-christmas-bride-saddles-and-spurs-by-rhonda-gibson

Want-Ad Wife  

Mail-order bride Josephine Dooley’s trip West was supposed to end in marriage to her intended groom—not with the discovery that he hadn’t actually placed the bridal ad! Now her only choice is to convince Pony Express rider Thomas Young to wed her anyway to save her from her scheming uncle. 

A bride shouldn’t be a surprise package, and when Thomas finds out about his meddling brother’s ruse, he plans to send his would-be wife packing. However, when he realises Josephine desperately needs his help and a marriage of convenience is the only way he can protect her, he vows to become the husband she needs. But he quickly learns that it will be hard to keep his new bride at arm’s length…because Josephine is his perfect match.

Pony Express Christmas Bride (Saddles and Spurs) by Rhonda Gibson

This is the second book in this series I’ve read, and while there are many things I really like about them (and I find the whole Pony Express thing fascinating – not something we learn about here!), I have the same issues the second time round.

As for the good? Despite being part of a series, this book has a relatively narrow focus, and yet I thought it went by quickly. I didn’t think there was any point where the story dragged.

I also thought that the Christmas-themed parts were subtle, and definitely not cheesy.

These Christian historical romances often have an early marriage to make sure the hero and heroine can be together a lot of the time, but because sex is not allowed in these books, the author has to jump through hoops to find ways to keep them from having a proper relationship.

Usually this annoys me, but I thought the setup for this one was really good. The heroine is a mail order bride, and so she was hardly going to jump into bed with a man she’d only known a few minutes.

My problem is that the characters are all constantly distrustful and angry. Every man in this series (see my other review) seems to hate or at least distrust women just because – for no real reason. They go on and on about how women aren’t to be trusted, and I find that pretty offensive – especially for romance books written by and for women.

As for the women in the book, the heroine – and at one point also the hero’s adoptive mother – are fly-off-the-handle angry for no reason, all the time. People make a joke or an offhand comment, and instead of being normal and laughing about it, they go crazy mad. The heroine also held a spiteful grudge against her brother-in-law that lasted past the 50% mark, which I thought was nasty. It made her hard to like.

Then there was the judgemental religious stuff. For example, when hero and heroine first meet, she explains that she ran away to join the Pony Express to escape a forced marriage to a murderer. And the hero responded like this:

Didn’t she realise she had lied by omission of the truth? She’d led everyone who worked for the Pony Express to believe that she was a boy. That was the same as lying to them. He understood why she’d done it, but it was still deceitful.

Thomas didn’t know what to say. It wasn’t his place to judge her, and if she’d confessed to the Lord her wrongdoing, well, that was between her and her Maker.

She saved herself from being murdered! If anyone wonders why I’ve become more and more of an atheist in recent years… This is not the thought process of a romance hero; or at least not any man I’d ever want to know.

I do think the year the book is set can be a difficult choice. It is 1860, and only just before the US Civil War broke out, and when I read this series, it’s always in the back of my mind that these men might have been off to war shortly afterwards.

I’m no US history expert, but a simple Google search tells me that the book’s setting – Wyoming – didn’t even exist until eight years after the book is set!

There is plenty to like in this book; the problem is I didn’t LIKE the characters most of the time. Everyone took themselves too seriously, and unfortunately the religious aspects made them nasty and narrow-minded instead of accepting and kind.

I think I’ve read enough of this Pony Express series now. A fascinating topic, but not when done with a “Christian” theme.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Pony Express Hero by Rhonda Gibson

Pony Express Hero by Rhonda Gibson

Bound by a Child

Pony Express rider Jacob Young is a man of action, which is why when he sees a little girl caught in the middle of a stampede, he races to her rescue. And he soon discovers the child is the half sister he hadn’t known he had. The more time Jacob spends with adorable Daisy and her beautiful guardian, ranch owner Lilly Johnson, the more he realises they’re filling all the lonely corners of his heart.

Wary Lilly can’t deny the cherished feelings that overcome her when Jacob vows to protect her and Daisy from any harm. And she can’t help but hope that maybe they can put their past hurts aside and forge a future together as a full-fledged family.

Pony Express Hero by Rhonda Gibson

I often enjoy these little historical romances from the Love Inspired (Christian, but not preachy) line. They’re usually set in the United States around the 1860s-80s and make for a solid, quick read.

Pony Express Hero is set in 1860, which had me wondering if these characters were going to survive the upcoming war! It’s the way I always feel when reading romances set immediately before a major conflict.

My favourite part of the story was the little girl, even though I’m not one for over-the-top cute kiddies in books. Yes, she was definitely Romance Novel Cute, but she had a personality that beat everyone else in the book.

I liked many aspects of this story, but the hero was a jerk. A misogynist. His conflict (I guess) was supposed to be learning to trust women, but because ONE woman in his past treated him badly doesn’t give him a free pass to dislike and distrust every other woman in the world!

Despite his birth mother being less than perfect, he was adopted by a wonderful woman who raised him as her own, and now he is presented with the heroine, who is nothing but kind to him. But all he does through the first half of the book is think nasty things about her and make grand generalisations about all women.

I wondered why he wanted anything to do with his sister when she was just going to grow up and also be one of those “awful” women!

Now, as for this sister, I didn’t think it was squicky, but I’m sure some will. Both hero and heroine are half-sibling to her…

There are other parts of this story to like, and I do like the frontier (or whatever it would be called) setting.

One other niggle was some of the language. Thee constant use of “Can I? Yes, you can.” instead of “May I? Yes, you may.”, for example – this IS back in the day when people cared about those things. I had a little old granny’s voice in my head, correcting their speech throughout!

I didn’t hate this book by any means, but I came extremely close to hating the hero.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.