Thursday, April 8, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Christmas in Whitehorn By Susan Mallery

NOTE: I had to turn on word verification for comments because I was being spam-botted big time. Sorry for any inconvenience.

This is just my opinion, my personal take on any given book, use as a reference. I will not be overly gushing. I will also endeavor not to give too much of the plot away.
I will not hand out 4 star ratings for every book, or try not to.*

Harlequin Silhouette Dec 2009 (reprint)
Original released Dec 2001

This edition: 250 pages By Susan Mallery

VISIT Susan's website HERE


Detective Mark Kincaid was worn to the bone after his years on New York's tough city streets. Upon his return to Whitehorn, all he wanted was peace and quiet--not some sweet, adorable do-gooder messing up the sanctity of his brooding existence.

His neighbor Darcy Montague was all sugar and spice, endearing herself with loaves of pumpkin bread and intimate dinners for two. Mark kept up his guard, knowing from experience that he could be hurt beyond repair. Was Darcy Montague too good to be true, or just the woman to make his heart come alive?

This speaks volumes on the height and breadth of my TBR pile (To Be Read) that I am getting to books that were under my Christmas April. Yow. And I just won 2 books in the last two days, AND a Harlequin order just arrived...I think I have a sickness, too many books, too little time. I may need to join RB Anonymous...(Romance Books) There is no such thing? Then I should start a chapter!

Also, just a reminder around Christmas time, publishers do re-issue Christmas books and anthologies more than any other sub-genre, so be sure and check the copyright date inside, for you may have read the story before.
Ok, to this book. I do like Susan Mallery. First was introduced to her through Harlequin Historical, her westerns are amazing. One of my fav's was "Justin's Bride" (1995) that I bought second hand. She has since written many, many books (close to 100!!) for multiple lines for Harlequin.

I am not real big on contemporary romances, so this will be a rare review.

Mark Kincaid has come home to Whitehorn, Montana after living in New York City as a hardened police detective, we learn he was shot in the line of duty and is lucky to be alive.
He is keeping to himself, no doubt licking his wounds, both professional and personal. He now works for the Sheriff's Department in Whitehorn.

He frequents the Hip-Hop Diner for breakfast everyday, and the waitress, Darcy Montague breezes up to his table and begins to berate him for his daily choice of a western omelet and bacon, lecturing him on the evils of cholesterol and heart disease.
Mark is annoyed, and frankly so was I. This is the heroine??
But I have to say, Darcy grew on me fairly quick. Yes, I actually came to like a heroine in a story for once!

We learn she is struggling to make ends meet, working as a waitress and trying to get the diner among others to buy her baked goods as a side line. She even waves some pumpkin bread under Mark's nose. 'I don't eat vegetables before noon' he growls.
She isn't put off by his snarly demeanor, and sensing his lone wolf status, impulsively invites him for Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of other people or 'strays' as Mark succinctly puts it.

Guess what, Darcy and Mark are neighbors. In a Duplex. How convenient. But, it's cute. At least Mark does not have far to go for his feed of turkey. One by one, all Darcy's guests beg off for one reason or another until it is just she and Mark left with a 24 lb free range organic turkey.

Darcy stutters and tries to explain that she didn't plan this on purpose, and Mark feels stirrings in his heart (and to other regions) for the first time in months. Mark is described as a cross between Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, kind of ages the book a bit, but we get it that Mark is a stunner. And built. And Darcy has had a crush on him since she moved there 6 months ago.
And before we know it, Mark and Darcy are on the sofa having sex. Of the incredible and hot variety. For a moment, I thought I was reading a 'Blaze', because it seemingly came out of nowhere.

But Darcy is shocked at her own behavior, she never acted so impulsively before, And Mark, is also stunned, by the intensity of it all. So much so, he shows up on her doorstep at dawn the next morning, and they wind up in the shower. Whoa.

Mark, we find out, had a terrible relationship in New York, I won't go into details, it would give too much of the plot away, but, it has made him wary and determined to guard his heart. All he wants from Darcy, is sex. Mark is brooding, but he has good reason.

Darcy wants more. Friends. Because innately, I think she senses they are both lost souls, and can help each other. For Darcy has a secret of her own. One she feels she cannot share with Mark, which makes him suspiscious of her and reminds him of his past, the betrayal of a woman he thought he loved.

A subplot including a money-laundering scheme at the diner was middling at best, just made Mark all the more wary and suspicious of Darcy and her motives.

What made this a satisfying read on many levels was the slow building friendship between the two, interspersed with what is an intense physical relationship. The disillusioned Mark becomes quite taken with Darcy's generosity of spirit and giving nature, (a good thing to have in a Christmas story).

Susan is a master at rich, deep characters and builds the love here so slowly, while keeping the flame of passion burning bright. Darcy and Mark are engaging, real and delightful, for all their faults. And it was an enjoyable ride to get to their HEA. (Happily Ever After) Only one thing at the ending had me rolling my eyes in disbelief, but, this is a fantasy after all.
All in all, I quite enjoyed this, more than I thought I would. Maybe I should give some more contemporaries a try! (oh no...more books!)

3 and 1/2 stars out of 4

KOVER KUDOS: Awww, isn't this cover just adorable? The female model is just as cute as the dickens, and fits the physical description of Darcy to a Tee. The male is flashing that Tom Cruise type grin, he also fits the bill as Mark. Love the Xmas tree in the background.

3 and 1/2 stars out of 4


Deb said...

Geesh, Karyn, maybe you'd better start having a GR or something since I seem to comment first a lot of the time, LOL!

The cover of this book is sweet; I like it. I don't read a lot of contemps either and am a little shocked the h and h have sex right away. But, I'll look for it--I value your opinion. :)

Karyn Gerrard AKA~Drew said...

Deb, and I do appreciate your comments!!

I was surprised, but I think it was a matter of two lonely people needing human contact, that's what made the slow growing friendship and love so engaging, I thought.

And Cheers about my opinion, that means a lot!