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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cowboy Boots For Christmas by Carolyn Brown Review

Title: Cowboy Boots For Christmas (Cowboy Not Included)
Series: Burnt Boot Series Book 1
Author: Carolyn Brown
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 978-1-4022-9605-5
Formats: Mass-Market Paperback, E-book
$7.99
Release Date: October 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
How I Read It: Mass-Market Arc from Publisher
Rating: 4.5 Crowns
 
‘Tis the season for…
Feasting
Frolicking
And…feuding?
 
ALL HE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS IS PEACE AND QUIET…
 
After two tours in Afghanistan, retired Army sniper Finn O’Donnell believes his new ranch outside the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas, is the perfect place for an undisturbed holiday season. But before he can settle in, an old friend shows up looking for protection and a place where nobody knows her name…
 
BUT THAT’S GOING TO TAKE A MIRACLE…
 
Callie Brewster must relocate to protect her young nephew, Martin, and the only person she trusts is her old Army friend, Finn. Burnt Boot seems like the perfect place to be anonymous, but it turns out a small town with big drama is no place to hide…
 
Finn O’Donnell purchased Salt Draw Ranch with the hopes of finding a place to call home and peace after two tours in Afghanistan as a sniper for the US Army. He never expected to see his spotter, Callie O’Donnell, the woman he trusted with his life, to arrive on his doorstep looking for a safe place for her and Martin, her nephew, to stay.
 
They soon realize that even though they lost touch with each other for a couple of years, the connection they shared is still there. Soon Callie and Finn fill Salt Draw with stray animals, children, and the ranches former owner as their relationship grows.
 
Cowboy Boots For Christmas (Cowboy Not Included) was one of the sweetest Christmas stories that I’ve read for a while.
 
Callie has seen the women in her life (her mom and sister) have relationships with cowboys that end poorly. And because of the way her sister, Martin’s mother, bounced from one place to another, Callie’s not sure if she has the ability to settle down.
 
Finn was betrayed by the woman he loved and thought he knew. He’s been hurt and what he’s gone through has left a mark on him he’s not sure he can erase.
 
While there is no denying that Finn and Callie are attracted to each other, they both have enough emotional baggage to sink the QE2. Although since both of their lives depended on each other during their time in Afghanistan, they know they can trust each other but it’s a bit harder trusting each other with their hearts than it is their lives.
 
The chemistry between Finn and Callie was amazing and given that they had a history together their quick starting romance didn’t feel rushed. They worked together because they knew the nightmares that each had endured and being together was, in a sense, a balm to their souls. They knew how to comfort each other because they knew what the other had been through.
 
The pacing was great. I didn’t feel as though the plot lagged or sped ahead. It had a nice rhythm to it that made it nearly impossible to put down.
 
While I truly enjoyed this book and thought it was a brilliant start to the author’s Burnt Boot Series (which I cannot wait to read more of), I wished there had been a bit more conflict between Callie and Finn.
 
What I like about Carolyn Brown’s writing is the fact she actually make me, a city chick who had never stepped foot in the country, enjoy the country life she portrays in her books. And if I’m being honest, she kind of makes me want a cowboy like Finn to call my own.
 
Overall, Cowboy Boots For Christmas has everything readers should want in a Christmas romance: an achingly sweet romance peppered with tenderness, laughter, joy, and a few miracles along the way.
 
One of my favorites from Carolyn Brown. Plus, I don’t think I will ever be able to get Joe, the parrot out of my mind.
 
Cowboys Boots For Christmas is definitely a keeper that I will happily revisit.



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Monday, October 20, 2014

Cipher by Aileen Erin

Author: Aileen Erin
Publisher: Ink Monster, LLC
ASIN: B00ISBH33A
Pages: 210
How I read it: ARC ebook
Genre: Dystopian, romance, science fiction
Rating: 4 crowns
Synopsis (from NetGalley): In the not-too-distant future, the color of your helix tattoo shows exactly how your DNA was modified—green for super-smart scientists, black for pumped-up warriors, white for the immortal Seligo—but Cipher’s red helix is a death sentence. It’s a sign of unstable DNA, which is probably the reason she can manipulate electricity. 

When she was eight years old, Cipher made the mistake of showing her uncle the tattoo. In return, he killed her parents and tried to kidnap her. 


She’s been on the run ever since, and twelve long years later, Cipher is tired of hiding. Survival isn’t enough anymore. She wants her life back.


Hacking into the Citadel mainframe is a huge risk, but it pays off when she finds a database on red helixes. Before she can copy it, she loses control of her power, charring her last processor, and the only person in the Arizona Voids that can get her back online is her oldest friend, Knightly. She hasn’t seen him in person since she started running, and Knightly 2.0 is fully upgraded with a six-pack and knee-melting smile.


For a girl like Cipher, trust doesn’t come easily, but Knightly makes her yearn for a life she knows she can’t have, especially when every secret she reveals endangers them both.


My Thoughts:
The first thing I have to say is "wow" about this book. I couldn't put it down pretty much from the moment I picked it up until I finished it. It didn't take long at all to read either. You can definitely tell this is meant to be part of a series and part of what kept it from being 5 crowns is because it's such a typical story arc (and didn't strike any brand new ground for a new twist to the expected "Save the world from the evil corporation running it" trope), but that causes no problems for reading this as a stand-alone book.

Cipher - Ahh, strong, brainy, and a total computer geek. Loved that she was a mega hacker...who had issues with electricity.

Knight - Working for the bad guys as a deep cover agent - great story line and angst when it comes to deciding whether to break his cover or not.

The world building was fantastic. I'm still not very clear how we got from the world as it is to the world as it turns out in the Shadow Ravens series, but that's not particularly crucial to understand. I really got behind the idea of the helixes identifying those who are a step above and in what categories. The double-helixes (like Knight) were a cool idea.

The romance between Cipher/Knight flowed nicely and definitely built on their original relationship as children. The one thing I have to say about that was when Knight was first examining his memories to refresh what he was looking for (he's been looking for Cipher all along), he sees that she should be tall and doesn't get why exactly she's not as tall as the programs projected she would be. The reason this bugs me is they make such a deal about the memories, especially the far-back ones like retrieved about young Cipher, are unlikely to be particularly accurate, yet the author goes out of her way for Cipher to explain she's short based on malnutrition. I failed to see why that mattered when they had an explanation already in place.

But, over all, this is a great book and having never read anything by Ms. Erin before, it was fabulous introduction. I can't wait to read more in the Shadow Ravens series.

Review also posted at Tory Michaels' Time Out.