Friday, January 3, 2014

Book review of Fired Up by Mary Connealy

Fired Up is book 2 in the Trouble in Texas series. I did not have a chance to read book 1 but feel book 2 is sufficient as a stand alone. There are some plot issues that occur in book 1 relevant to book 2 however Mary Connealy does a fine job of keeping you abreast of the information you need.

Fired Up Cover
Publisher's Blurb: Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner--never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent.

Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

Let me break this down as simply as I can: I really struggled with this book. I did not enjoy it like I had hoped to. Previously I've read the Kincaid Brides Series and positively reviewed two of her books (here and here); but this one was not on par with my earlier experience.

However in light of that, I have read many other bloggers who have posted reviews of Fired Up and there have been several four and five star reviews. So let me do my best to give you precise comments from my opinion to help you with your decision. 

Let me start with what I did like. 

The characters in the story were interesting. I especially enjoyed the Regulators. Although it took me quite awhile to keep straight who was who (this may have been easier if I'd had the chance to read book 1), their story lines were very complimentary. I loved the way they supported each other and brought different strengths to the team. I also appreciated Dare's core struggle of being a Doctor without any formal schooling and feeling like a fake. Mary Connealy did a great job of his arc throughout the story. The ending and resolution came along too quickly though. I really needed to see him wrestle through the steps of the acceptance of his calling.

I also enjoyed her settings - the drastic and often unforgiving rock wilderness was a treat to picture. The town and the locations felt very realistic and easy to imagine.

The plot of the story Fired Up is based on a woman trying to stand on her own two feet after several painful relationships and a man struggling with his calling in life to be a doctor - though not properly trained.  I liked the premise stated on the back cover of the Dr having to clean up her "cooking mishaps". However when the story started to unfold the plot premise was weak. Men were returning for horrible food day after day because ... she was pretty.  Even the Good Doctor himself ate her food in order to ... look at her.  I needed a much deeper motivation. 

Once the flow of the story took over and the threats against the Doctor's life began taking shape the read became easier to follow. Yet the story arc of Glynna felt unstable as well. She flitted back and forth between swooning over the doctor and resisting the Doctor. I didn't "feel" her much. I did like the reason behind her flits - her angry son - desperate to protect his ma. Yet, this needed to be explored deeper than just a short fuse in the boy. His big hurts in his little life must be so deep and so raw and so complex. The story wraps up too quick at the end with a fast proposal and a run for the preacher. The boy seems to just give in and allow it and then they live "happily ever after". I would have loved to see this fleshed out.

In the past I have enjoyed the easy flow of Mary's writing. It has been for me a fun, quick read that doesn't take too much work with lots of humor. This book didn't have the same easy feeling. The thoughts seemed choppy and repetitive. The writing felt forced feed. Perhaps if I hadn't struggled so much with this I would have enjoyed the entire book a lot more. To me this was the deal breaker. I am not interested in reading book three. However, I have not given up on Mary Connealy's books altogether. I will look forward to a new series coming in the future.

Reading (and writing) is such a personal experience. Please peruse other people's opinions and make your own decision. 

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

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