Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Western Winter Wedding Bells~Anthology

Harlequin Historical October 2010

288 pages by Cheryl St. John, Jenna Kernan
and Charlene Sands.


Christmas in Red Willow by Cheryl St. John

Chloe Hanley must save the town church. But only if she can convince reclusive carpenter Owen Reardon to help repair the broken heart of the community and open his own up again— in time for Christmas!

The Sheriff's Housekeeper Bride
by Jenna Kernan

Running from her past and a crime she didn't commit, Eliza Flannery bumps into her future—all rugged six-foot sheriff of him! Single father Trent Foerster mistakes her for his housekeeper, but there's no mistaking his desire for a mistletoe kiss from this mysterious miss…

Wearing the Rancher's Ring by Charlene Sands

Cooper Garnett is shot and left for dead near Double J Ranch when widow Rachel Bodine comes to his aid. Could his unexpected arrival be the best Christmas gift ever— a second-chance family for Rachel and her little son?


Cheryl whips up another heart warming tale set in a Christmas/holiday backdrop. Chloe Hanley is determined to restore the church her grandfather used to preach in. But Richard Reardon has other plans, he wants it razed to build a hotel. It is decided in front of the town council, that a deadline be set to have it restored, if its not met, it will be torn down. Enter the hero, Owen Reardon, Richard's younger brother. He is a typical Cheryl St. John hero, tall, broad-shouldered, quiet, stoic and honorable. And he happens to be a carpenter. Quiet contemplation oozes from Owen.
Chloe talks him into helping her restore the church. Her passion moves him, in other ways as well. So he says. Working together, they grow closer, Chloe loves his family, the warm, cozy feeling she always lacked in her life, but so desperately needs. Chloe is concerned she is falling for his family, not the man himself.
This is a rather low-key story, not much heat, as only a few chaste kisses are exchanged. Secondary characters nicely round out this satisfactory read. But I felt there wasn't much spark between the hero and heroine. A little sizzle would have added some spice to this semi-sweet tale.

2 and 1/4 stars out of four for this story


Eliza Flannery is in a heap of trouble, running from the law, she runs straight into the broad muscular chest of Trent Foerster, waiting on the train platform for the housekeeper he hired, a Mrs. Guntherson. "Are you her?" Eliza sees the railway police hot on her heels, she says she is.
Trent takes her home, and Eliza immediately falls for his daughter Addy. Both father and daughter are still grieving the loss of Trent's mother. Trent, an imposing figure of a man, is immediately attracted to Eliza, but also confused, he thought he hired a widow woman around his late mother's age.
Imagine Eliza's shock when she discovers that not only is Trent the sheriff, but expects her to cook and bake. Her mishaps in the kitchen are engaging, and Trent find himself drawn to her. He has her stay at the hotel at nights, having a lovely young lady in his home would get tongues wagging.
Eliza learns of Trent's broken heart, the lying, deceitful woman who was Abby's mother, which makes her feel terrible that she is lying to him, and when the real Mrs Guntherson shows up, it all hits the fan.
It is ultimately the story of two lonely people, drawn together around what can be a lonely time of the year, Christmas. Again, I was surprised at the lack of any sizzle. Trent was a wonderful hero, great dad, great kisser, but I wished for just a little more. And the ending was tied up a little too tightly, but overall, a satisfactory read.

2 and 1/2 stars out of four for this story


This is my favorite of the three stories, and not just because this one had actual love scenes. Rachel Bodine is a widow with a toddler, running a ranch, she is strong and plucky, and lonely, still hurting from the senseless death of her husband. Enter Cooper Garnett, shot, robbed and abandoned on her property. The hired hands bring him into the house to recover.

When Cooper awakens, he sees Rachel and her son Johnny, he briefly thought it was his dead wife and son. Cooper is the tragic hero in spades. We learn he is out for revenge, for the man who burned his ranch, killing his wife and son. The attraction between them is immediate and well drawn, now this couple, sizzled. The longing looks, the passion filled kisses. Again, two lonely people, drawn together against all odds. Cooper is extremely handsome, and of course, well built, but Charlene describes his inner pain in a heartbreaking manner that you will fall for him, too.
Cooper keeps trying to push Rachel away, he has no time for any relationship, he is out vengeance, he can think of nothing else.
Rachel has only one Christmas wish, to have Cooper be part of their family. For him to forget his revenge. Move on, Can he? The conclusion was well done and believable, answering all the questions. I really liked Cooper and Rachel. Nicely done.

3 stars out of four for this story

OVERALL RATING FOR BOOK: 2 and 3/4 stars out of 4

KOVER KUDOS: Very wintery, and love the red and green outfits on the models. Very yuletide.

3 out of 4 stars for the cover

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