Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review of Get To Me by Lara Van Hulzen

Aimee can identify a killer.
Dane can keep her safe.
But is he willing to face his past to do it?

When Aimee Jansenn stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad she comes face to face with a killer. As the only witness to a crime, she falls into a deadly situation and is in need of police protection.
Dane Scott has sworn off women. Until a fireball named Aimee enters his world. Telling himself they’re just friends, he vows to protect her. Can his heart follow suit or will she change his mind about love for good?

Book Two in the Men of Honor Series, titled Get To Me was so much fun. Lara Van Hulzen's characters were so much fun to follow around and it was hard to close the book. It all revved up quickly in a fiery fun first chapter. If you can make to the end of page 18 you are hooked. I was.

Get To Me brings out the stories behind Dane and Aimee. Dane is the cop partner to Ben from story one. Aimee is the sister to Tess from story one as well.  However, that's all the connection necessary to book one. From there on Get To Me can stand alone.

The romance is more intense in this story. And a tad spicier too. That may be more due to the personalities in the story. Aimee is a red head full of life. In fact, she is described by Dane as "sunrise mixed with fire". Her spunk leaps off of every page. Dane seemed a cool, levelheaded, take life a step at a time kind of guy in book one. But apparently he isn’t when he has feelings for a woman. And he definitely has strong feelings for Aimee.

Lara Van Hulzen has a talent. I couldn't put my finger on it fully in book one but it was there page after page again in book two. I'm still struggling to put words to it. For book one, Remember Me, I worded it like this:
"The suspense plot of the story takes a bit to get going, but I never felt bored or impatient. There was a lot to sort out between the two characters and the author did a great job of keeping the story entertaining. Once the suspense plot of the story gets into action, the reader is in for a ride." Book Review of Remember Me
Get To Me dives head strong into the action thread of the plot by chapter 3. From there on the story is moving along a white water ride to the end. Yet Van Hulzen has a knack for slowing everything down just enough to develop the characters and their inner stories. I think that is a writing gift. Anytime you slow down the plot you risk losing your reader. But she never lost me. Not once!

As the story charges to the end, a new character is introduced. Keith, is Dane's brother. Massive in size and  also in "broodiness", he enters the story and immediately sparks fly between him and Torie, Aimee's roommate and friend. Excellent set up for book 3!

Overall, the story is alive and vibrant with bright, interesting characters. The tension is strong with suspense and romance. Again, as in book one, I felt the ending came abruptly with a quick resolution leaving me feeling a little jolted. However the ending is good; realistic and entertaining. Obviously this is not by mistake and more of the stylistic voice of the author.

I'm looking forward to book three (I think it's titled Rescue Me) to be released later this year I believe. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, check out Lara's website, her goodreads author page and her book! You can get it off her site, or by visiting amazon(.ca), amazon(.com) or Barnes and Noble.

A Great Summer Read!

Thanks to the author for a free copy of her book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book Review of Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

How exciting is it when you discover a new author? I think it's fun! And even better when you really like them!
I was asked to review a book from an author I had never heard of before. But she she's not a debut author.  So graciously the author offered me both book 1 and 2 from her current series. And I devoured them both.

Lara Van Hulzen may not be a new name to you, but if she is ... read on! Her tagline is Romance with a Twist of Faith and she definitely delivers.

Book One in Van Hulzen's Men of Honor series is titled Remember Me. It is a fast moving, twisting tale of lost love, redemption and renewal in God's economy.

Publisher's blurb:
Detective Ben Russo is in trouble.
He just can’t remember why.
When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger.

After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancĂ©, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own.

Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love?

This story was fascinating to me from the start. Tess is thrown into such a tail-spin from page two on. The action and tension picks up instantly and moves you quickly through the entire story.

I enjoyed the characters immensely. Tess, although shaken by being left at the alter is confident and capable. She is a hard-working nurse, her faith in God is strong and she is surrounded by a tight-knit support system. All of that make the story believable as she tries to sort out what to do with this "lumberjack-of-a-man" who just tromped unknowingly back into her life ... and heart.

The suspense plot of the story takes a bit to get going, but I never felt bored or impatient. There was a lot to sort out between the two characters and the author did a great job of keeping the story entertaining. Once the suspense plot of the story gets into action, the reader is in for a ride.

The romance of the book is strong and compelling. Even though the reader should dislike Ben for ditching Tess at the alter, I didn't. I rooted for him from almost page one. I loved that there wasn't open hostility between the two characters - as Tess knew Ben didn't know who she was there was no point in being angry towards him.

The secondary characters were lovely as well. Tess's friends that walk beside her through the entire ordeal are well-rounded and fun characters. As a prequel maybe Ms. Van Hulzen could share with the readers their love story. :)

Anyway, a very nice lead into story number two in the series, as both main characters reach out to other family and friends to help solve the storyline. Once Ben remembers who he is he involves his police partner Dane in trying to keep Tess safe. And Tess reaches out to her vibrant and lively sister Aimee. Fireworks fly instantly. However this happens quite late in the story so not to distract from the current love story. It sure was a fun addition though.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this story. My only disappointment was that the story wrapped up super quickly. The tension and suspense is high throughout and then it was suddenly over and resolved. That felt a little off to me. But in the end it didn't deter my positive ratings!

That's all for Book One. Stay tuned for book two review to follow right away. However, if you're new to the name Lara Van Hulzen, take a moment to visit her. Her website and Goodreads author page are full of information.  She also has a blog where she shares her thoughts.

Thank you to the author for a chance to read and review this book. I received the book free of charge in exchange for honest review.

If you are into e-books, this title is excellently priced right now and available at amazon.ca and amazon.com and barnes&noble. Go get your copy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Review of A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

A Love Like Ours is book #3 in the Porter Family Series. It is also the fourth book of Becky Wade's I've read. (That's all she's written :))

One of the things I love best about Becky Wade's books is the honest way she writes. Numerous times I caught myself blushing and thinking - I can't believe she said that! This one is no exception!

Publisher's Blurb:
Cover ArtFormer Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?
There is so much to say about this lovely book. In my mind it reaches out to so many different reader-types. But before we dig too deep I have to say I love the cover! And then I read the Prologue and loved it!! Favorite line that only makes full sense in context of the entire story : "That was his job, to keep her safe. And that's what he would do. She was his favorite person."

Now ... let's get to the (really) good stuff.

First of all it is a story of love, hope and redemption. Jake Porter is one wounded guy! And he has pretty much committed his life to staying away from people, happiness and God. Horses he can deal with. Everything else- including his loving family- should be treated with much caution. I have to admit I am a sucker for a wounded soul. Especially when that wounded soul is on God's radar and He isn't backing down. This part of the plot was fantastic. Wade delves deep into the issue of PTSD and what war has done to so many fine young men. At one point in the story, the heroine's mother, a counsellor, tells Lyndie that Jake's condition isn't curable. But that doesn't stop God (and Becky Wade) from infusing hope into every crevice possible. Loved it!

Next, this story is a romance.  Whoa! Cover your eyes ... or ears ... or don't. But be prepared for some spice. I can remember being a tad shocked reading Wade's first book My Stubborn Heart when the main characters started commenting on her "boobs". Can you say that in Christian Fiction? Yet in context of the story it felt real and very life-like. So I moved on.

Now, after several more Wade stories under my belt I still love the authenticity and realness she gives her stories and characters. But I was also caught off guard with her latest shocker. "Bedroom eyes" Will. A secondary character who I'm hoping will be the main character in the future. As you can tell by now, I read almost exclusively Christian Fiction. (Otherwise those words wouldn't snag me.) So, this is my one warning to potential readers. There is no explicit information in this book, nor did I find it uncomfortable or inappropriate. However, if there is a line in the sand for you on what you want (or don't want) in your fiction, be aware. Becky Wade is wonderful at bringing to life a fact of romantic life that sometimes is overlooked in Christian fiction. Passion and attraction are real and there is a way to write it with modesty and truth. (And spice!) Fans of Julie Lessman will know what I mean here. If there was an award for kissing scenes - I'd give it to Becky Wade ... or Jake Porter ("Tall, Dark and Brooding"), however you want to see that one. Phew! Moving on ...

Next this story tackles the issue of disabilities and gifts. There is a sweet sub-plot moving throughout the story that adds such depth and character to the main story line. And I love how Wade made this thread work on both sides of the characters and mirror the main plot. Fantastic!

First we have Mollie, Lyndie's younger sister who is non-verbal and blind suffering with cerebral palsy. But Lyndie believes God gave her sister the power to heal others. Then we also have the horse, Silver Leaf, a horse with potential that only a few can see. This raises the complex topic of God's grace and His healing hand. Why would God not heal Mollie, but use her to heal others? And why would a horse that can't or won't win any horse races be useful to anyone? And why would God take a broken, wounded man and bless him with an optimistic, life-breathing woman that won't give up?

There are so many more aspects to this book but I realized how long this blog post has gotten already.

Bottom line: this is an interesting, thought-provoking, heart-stirring and blood-pumping good novel. Go get yourself a copy. If you're not sure yet, Becky Wade has provided a free excerpt on her website. And on YouTube Becky Wade talks about her book and giving some background to the writing process.

And just for fun - a perfect fit for the soundtrack: Sticking with You by Addison Road. Check it out.

Be sure to check out the other books in this series, Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine.

Thanks to Bethany House and Baker Publishing for a chance to review this book. I received a free copy in exchange for my opinion. I am not required to rate it positively.