Wednesday, February 20, 2019

#TBRChallenge 2019: Saved by the CEO

The Book: Saved by the CEO by Barbara Wallace

The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Romance #4507, 2016, Eighth (and final) book in The Vineyards of Calanetti continuity series, out of print, available digitally.

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: 1) I'm a sucker for the Harlequin Romance line 2) I tend to enjoy Wallace's books and 3) I picked this up at an RWA conference...because of course I did.  It was a Harlequin and not tied down.

The Review: Never let it be said that Wendy half-assed the "Series" prompt for this month's challenge.  The eighth and final book in a multi-author continuity series when, you guessed it, I haven't read a single entry preceding this one.  I'm happy to report that while, yes, it's glaringly obviously that this part of a series, Wallace did a good job of keeping an ignorant newcomer engaged, and there's enough past characters here that I think those already familiar with the series will be happy.

Louisa Harrison went through a publicly humiliating divorce.  As a naive 21-year-old she fell for her older, rich boss.  She thought she was Cinderella, finding her Prince Charming.  Turns out the Prince was emotionally abusive, isolated her from everybody she loved, and in his spare time was running a Ponzi scheme.  Never mind that Louisa was the one who unearthed the evidence against him and hustled it straight to the authorities - as they say, never let the truth get in the way of good gossip.  After a messy divorce, where the tabloids crowned her "Luscious Louisa," she runs off to Tuscany, where it just so happens she inherited a distant relative's falling down palazzo.

Nico Amatucci is the successful vintner who grew up in the shadow of the palazzo, watched it succumb to neglect until the American heiress could be bothered to show up, and keeps the vineyards operational.  Well, more than that, he's turned them into a raging success - in no small part to his wine being the talk of the recent royal wedding that was hosted at the palazzo.  Sparks have been flying since he met Louisa, with tension aplenty, and it spilled over during the wedding when they shared a steamy kiss.  Then she got spooked and ran.

He finds out why she ran over the course of this story.  Thanks to the royal wedding Louisa has been found by the tabloid press and her reputation as a gold-digging hussy who led her "poor husband" to ruin is coming back to haunt her.  Nico, with his take-charge attitude, along with the fact that he's smitten, wants to protect her - not realizing that his "take-charge attitude," coupled with her ex's isolating, emotionally abusive ways, is going to send Louisa running as far and as fast as she can.

As already mentioned, this is the final book in a long-running continuity, but it doesn't take a genius to realize that the chemistry between Louisa and Nico has been simmering for a long time (especially since two previous books featured his siblings as main protagonists...).  So fans would be more than primed to finally get this romance.  As a newcomer, Wallace did a great job of introducing past couples without them sucking the energy out of THIS romance and I never felt like they were unnecessary filler to keep fans happy.  Every past character who shows up serves a purpose in this story.

I also really liked the world-building.  Wallace made me believe in this small, romantic Tuscany village that was seeing an uptick in tourist traffic thanks to a royal wedding.  The atmosphere was really lovely, to the point where I'm half tempted to run away from home.

What didn't work?  Well, this is one of those books where I felt like the characters needed a good therapist before a romance. Nico, bless his heart, is only doing what well-meaning Alpha heroes have done since the dawn of time. As the reader I knew he was only doing what he thought best because he cared for Louisa.  But to Louisa, who has lived through her nightmare of a first marriage?  She sees it as Nico wanting to control her.  She's wrong, of course, but you can see why she would jump to those conclusions. Which signals to me that she's still unpacking the majority of the baggage from her Evil Ex and yes....she needs a therapist.  She's got friends, but nobody she's felt comfortable enough to confide in until the paparazzi ferret her out.  And then she, naturally, confides in Nico.

For his part, Nico has baggage from his parents who had a love/hate/make-up/break-up relationship and he has vowed to never let "passion" rule his good sense.  He found a nice, steady, low-drama girl, got engaged, but when she got tired of being treated like a potted plant, she broke their engagement.  And Nico?  Well, he didn't love her, was mostly with her because there wasn't any of that messy ol' passion, and has pretty much resigned himself to being alone...because he doesn't see it being any other way.  Honestly?  I get it - but damn, I felt sorry for his ex.  I mean, she never shows up on the page, but she sounds like a positively lovely, low-drama kind of gal.  I hope she's somewhere in Italy getting her groove thang on.

I enjoyed the setting, the world-building is very good, and I loved spending a few hours getting swept off my feet.  I poked a few holes in the romance, but this was still very much a Calgon Take Me Away sort of read.

Final Grade = B-

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reminder: #TBRChallenge is February 20!

Hey, hey, hey!  For those participating in the 2019 #TBRChallenge, a reminder that your commentary is "due"on Wednesday, February 20.  This month's theme is Series (book that is part of a series)!

A reminder that, as always, the themes are completely optional.  Although, let's be honest, the theme this month should be ridiculously easy to follow.  I mean, isn't everything a series these days?  But if a series title isn't gonna cut it and you find a mythical stand-alone book in your TBR calling your name - that's totally cool!  The goal is to read something, anything, that has been languishing in your TBR.

If you're participating on social media, please remember to use the #TBRChallenge hashtag so people can follow along.

And it's not too late to sign up!  Simply leave a comment on this reminder post.

You can learn about the challenge and check out the full list of blogging participants on the information page.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Review: Texas Legacy

I started "seriously" reading romance in 1999.  That's 20 years, a lot of books, and Lord knows I can't tell you what I ate for breakfast this morning but I can tell you EXACTLY when and where I was when I read the Texas trilogy by Lorraine Heath.  It was 2001, I was a wee baby Super Librarian working in Michigan, and my employer sent me to San Francisco to attend the 2001 ALA conference to check out new ILS systems (for you non-librarian types - basically a new catalog system).  This was before ebooks and I took all three books in the trilogy, in print, with me and read them back-to-back-to-back.  I was punch drunk by the time I returned home and deeply in love.

Fans of the trilogy have been, quite literally, waiting for Texas Legacy for 20 years.  It's Rawley Cooper's romance.  Rawley, the abused boy that Dallas Leigh adopted in Texas Glory.  Rawley, who had the world's worst childhood and ultimately was destined to hook up with Dallas' biological daughter, Faith.  I had mixed feelings when Avon made the announcement that this romance, this book, was finally happening.  1) OMG LORRAINE HEATH IS WRITING A WESTERN AND IT'S RAWLEY'S STORY AND OMG SQUEEEEE!  2) Wait a minute, Avon Impulse. Shit, it's a novella and 3) It's been 20 years since I've read the trilogy, will I have time to do a reread?

Ultimately I ditched the idea of a reread.  Look, fans have been waiting for 20 years and a lot people haven't read the original trilogy - frankly this novella needs to sink or swim on it's own merits.  I didn't do a reread even though my recollections of Rawley as a character had largely faded from my memory (seriously, do you know how many books I've read in the last 20 years?).

Did this sink or swim?  Well....it mostly floats.  It's definitely a novella for fans and I think readers who recently read the original trilogy will get more out of it but...

Meh.  I rewrote this story in my head the entire time I was reading it.  Which...not the greatest sign.

It's been six years since Rawley took off for parts unknown to "find himself" - but a letter from the woman he considers his mother has him coming home.  Dallas Leigh has a had a bit of a medical scare.  Meeting him at the train station is Faith Leigh, Dallas and Cordelia's biological daughter, the woman that Rawley has always loved but has felt is way too good for the likes of him.  And who should happen to meet him at the train station?  Yeah, you guessed it.  And her welcome home present is to sock him right in the jaw.

Rawley left six years ago without so much as a by-your-leave, so yeah - Faith is a tinch hurt and upset.  They grew up together.  She idolized him.  For him to just take off, without a word?  But Rawley's about to find out a lot has changed since he left the Leigh ranch.  Namely, Faith is not the innocent, young girl she once was...

So where did this go wrong?  Namely, in the fact that this is a novella.  And I say this as someone who LIKES novellas.  Heath writes a handful of chapters in flashback to detail why Rawley left six years ago, with the rest of the story taking place when he comes home.  You know what would have been great?  A full-length novel opening up with several chapters before Rawley left, a few chapters covering the period right after Rawley left, and then the final half of the book detailing Rawley coming home, reuniting with Faith, dealing with their respective baggage and living happily ever after.  Instead, as a novella, we get a climactic finish that strains credulity (really, the bad guy has been gone for SIX YEARS and suddenly just decides to show up right at the moment when Rawley decides to come home?) and a rushed romance that relies heavily on the fan's nostalgic feelings for the original trilogy.

Is this "bad?" No, it's not bad. It just could have been so much better. A historical western set in the early 20th century as civilization began altering the landscape even more (motion pictures, motor cars, oil men carving up Texas etc.).  It could have been so much bigger, more sweeping, and instead it's like a nice little novella love note instead.  Hey, nothing wrong with that necessarily, but it feels like Heath has wrapped up her saga with a postcard, as opposed to a letter. 

It's fine.  It's nice.  But....meh.

Final Grade = C

Monday, February 4, 2019

Epic Spoiler Review: Sadie

Settle in kids: I need to talk about Sadie by Courtney Summers.  When I started listening to this on audio, I was all set to be singing its praises on my blog.  I thought, "Wow, could Sadie be my 2019 version of Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone?"  Yeah, no.  No, she is not.  Because after all the promise, after the thrill ride, after the clever framing device - what I'm left with is a book with NO G-D ENDING!!!!!!!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, if the title of this blog post didn't clue you in - I'm going to be giving ALL the spoilersALL OF THEM.  There's no way for me to talk about this book, my disappointment in this book, without talking about the ending.

Also, trigger warnings for childhood sexual abuse.  I wouldn't describe it as graphic, but it is upsetting which...of course it is.  Now, on to my rant...

Sadie Hunter has been on her own since the day she was born to a drug addicted mother.  When she's six, Mom gets pregnant again, giving birth to Mattie.  Sadie adores Mattie.  She's the kind of golden child that everyone dotes on.  Mom favors Mattie and neglects Sadie (for reasons) but that doesn't mean she's a competent mother to Mattie either - so Sadie, already struggling with a severe stutter that Mom refused to get her help for, is raising herself and Mattie with some help from a kindly grandmother figure who lives in the trailer next door.  Then, one day, Mom abandons them for parts unknown, Mattie is found dead in a field, and Sadie takes off to find the man she knows is responsible.

Sadie takes off without word, worrying the kindly grandmother figure next door who can't deal with "another dead girl."  Entering stage left is a NPR-style journalist, West McCray, who overhears the story of Sadie and Mattie and decides to work the angle of the missing Sadie into a podcast called "The Girls."

The audio book is a multi-narrator extravaganza and the book is broken up between chapters from Sadie's point of view, to podcast chapters of West reconstructing Sadie's trail months after the fact.  It's clever, engrossing, and if you're a fan of true crime podcasts you will likely love it.  I cannot recommend the audio production highly enough.  I'm normally not wild about multi-narrator (thank you erotic romance for killing that for me...) audio books, but wow.  This one is great.  A+ all the way around.

So where did it all go horribly wrong?  The ending.  You've got a 19-year-old girl on a vigilante mission to find the guy who sexually abused her as a kid (one of Mom's horrible boyfriends, because, of course), and finds a nest of snakes everywhere she goes.  This guy had blown back into town right before Mattie's murder, so Sadie KNOWS (again, for reasons) that he's the guy, he has to die, and she's going to be the one to kill him.  So what happens?

She finds The Bad Guy.  And then we're back to the podcast.  What we know?  The Bad Guy came home disheveled and dirty telling his new girlfriend he just had to sleep.  She finds him about 24 hours later, dead from a knife wound in his side that became infected.  What happened to Sadie?  Did she get away?  Did he bury her somewhere?

WE NEVER FIND OUT!!!!!!  She's still missing at the end of the book.  Great, the bad guy is dead.  Huzzah.  BUT WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO OUR MAIN PROTAGONIST?!?!??!!?!?!?!?

Will there be a sequel?  Oh who the heck knows at the this point.  I DON'T FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO SADIE AND NOW I WANT TO SMASH THINGS AND THROAT PUNCH EVERYBODY!!!!!!

So what started out as an engrossing read, a YA thriller that I would have killed for when I was a teen, turns into WTFBBQ JUST HAPPENED AND I HATE EVERYBODY!

This is a genre book.  Genre = readers want a g-d ending.  This open-ended garbage needs to die in a fiery pit the heat of a thousand blazing suns.

Yeah, I'm a tinch annoyed.

Final Grade = D

Monday, January 28, 2019

Mini-Reviews: More Short Erotic Reads

I had the laziest Sunday in recent memory.  How lazy?  I did nothing but read all day (OK, hold up - I did a load of laundry).  Part of the binge were three short, erotic stories.

First up is Flinch by L. Setterby, whose full-length erotic romance, Breathe, was one of my best reads in 2018.  I downloaded this story right after reading Breathe because I had to have more and...well, it was short and free (it's still free as of this posting - at least on Amazon).

David still isn't over his ex, so much so that she's a favorite topic of conversation when he sees his therapist.  David is a masochist and Ann-Marie...well, let's just say she's sweetness and light and David is filled with just enough self-loathing that the thought of corrupting her bothers him.  So because he can't talk about what he wants and needs from her, and she's annoyed that he doesn't trust her enough to open up to her, their relationship withers on the vine.  So it's complicated when he runs into her at a business conference.

This is a very short story - clocking in around 30 pages.  For that reason, it works as erotica.  As a romance?  It's hard to say.  I have no doubt David and Ann-Marie care for each other and are miserable apart - but in the long term can their relationship work?  I'd like to think so - but there's not enough of a word count here to definitively convince me.  But heroes like David aren't exactly thick on the ground in Romancelandia, so for that reason I'm calling this one successful. Plus it gives a good introduction to the author's voice if you've never read her before.

Final Grade = B

Under Her Uniform by Victoria Janssen is one of the slightly longer Spice Briefs and while I dug the setting, this is an instance where author "voice" didn't really click for me.  Isobel Hailey has disguised herself as a man ("Bob") to serve in the British Army during World War I.  Why?  The money is apparently good and she has a mother and younger sister to support.  She's having an affair with two men (one is bisexual, the other gay) who know she's really a woman, but otherwise it's secret.  So her lusting after Corporal Andrew Southey is really pointless.  But it all gets complicated when she's assigned to a top-secret mission and Southey is named her partner.

This one just didn't flow for me.  After I finished it I realized why.  Isobel was a secondary character in the full-length historical erotic paranormal, The Moonlight Mistress.  There's a number of characters on the page and it took me a while to settle in.  I think this is an instance where this short will work better as a companion piece to readers familiar with the full-length novel.  For me?  Janssen writes the setting very well (oh man, the trench scenes are really fantastic) - but otherwise it left me feeling pretty meh.

Final Grade = C

Ritual: Shibari by Saskia Walker was originally published by Spice Briefs in 2012 under the title Forbidden Ritual (which is the edition I had in my TBR).  Imogen is a high-powered executive having a torrid affair with her younger colleague, Giles.  She's submissive to his Dominant, but he knows she's holding back.  When Giles suggests shibari (rope bondage) she's initially hesitant, but ultimately succumbs - only to have her world rocked.

This story has been in my TBR for 7 years and a lot has changed in 7 years.  Namely female sub + male Dom = Wendy snoozefest.  I mean, it's been done.  Ad nauseam.  I'm bored with it.  Let's move on.  But....

Walker can write y'all.  She's probably one of the most under-appreciated, under the radar writers of erotic romance and she writes the hell out of this story.  Imogen is a powerful woman who loves her job and she's 40 (oh thank you baby Jesus!).  Giles is 8 years younger, totally smitten with her, and while he is a Dom, I never felt like he wanted to "break" her.  He wants her to soar - and he knows her holding herself back will keep that from happening.

Look, this still isn't my thing and I'm still pretty well over female sub, male Dom BDSM erotic romance, but this was a very well done short, erotic story.  It also reminds me why I tend to one-click Walker's books.

Final Grade = B

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Mini-Reviews: A Mini Molly O'Keefe Glom

Outside of inhaling the shorts for this month's TBR Challenge, I've had trouble setting a reading rhythm at the start of 2019.  Case in point, after the Challenge I promptly DNF'ed two books.  When this happens I always fear that the problem is with me, so I decided to stop futzing around and read a Molly O'Keefe already.  It worked for me in January 2018, surely it can work one year later.  And it did.  While both Bad Neighbor and Baby, Come Back are full of problematic elements, I fell so hard into this world that I pulled out 24 hours later feeling a mixture of drunk and hungover.

Bad Neighbor finds our heroine, Charlotte, bailing out her beautiful, impulsive twin sister, Abby, yet again.  Their entire relationship has been like that.  Charlotte the mature, responsible one with social anxiety.  Abby, the one who skates through life on her looks, manipulating men along the way, and always going to her sister to bail her out with the heat gets too intense.  Well, Abby has done it now.  She's fallen for a bad man - a mob enforcer who she saw kill a man.  Charlotte, not even blinking an eye, prices her condo to sell, gives Abby half the money to take off, and moves into a seedy apartment complex near the airport.  That's where she meets her smoking hot new neighbor, Jesse, who puts the grump in grumpy asshole.  Who fights in underground MMA matches that are held in the complex's equally seedy basement.  Oh, and guess who is older brother is?  Yep.

The conflict does rely on an amazing coincidence, especially given the story takes place in the Bay Area, but I was able to roll with it.  O'Keefe has a knack for writing asshole heroes who aren't too far gone, and Jesse resides in the same zip code as Dylan from the Everything I Left Unsaid series.  Charlotte is innocence and light to Jesse's dark and scary - their respective baggage makes them a good fit as a couple and you understand why they are the way they are and why they would be attracted to each other.

After finishing Bad Neighbor, there was no way I wasn't starting Baby, Come Back right away, even though I knew it was going to be choppier waters.  Abby is on the run and Jesse's big brother (the mob enforcer), Jack, is determined to find her.  Jack was forced into the life to pay for his degenerate father's gambling debts and who he really is has been slowly eroding away.  This book opens prior to the events of Bad Neighbor, when Abby first meets Jack and does all the stupid crap girls like her always seem to do.

Ultimately it's my own baggage that kept me from enjoying this story as much as the first one.  Girls like Abby get on my last hot nerve.  Girls who play the part, manipulate, throw their hair around, because the gods have gifted them with beauty. Yes, society plays a part in this. And yes, for girls like Abby life isn't the sunshine and roses girls like me necessarily think it is. Time and again Jack tells her he's not a good guy.  Time and again she doesn't listen.  And when she's confronted with what Jack and her instincts have been telling her all along?  It's like some great big ol' shock to her.

Our hero murders a man.  He's a bad man.  A very, very bad man. But murder him he does. That's, um, a little hard for me to reconcile.  Looking at other reviews, it doesn't seem to have been as much of a problem for other readers.  Depending on the type of reader you are?  Mileage is gonna vary.

Anyway, once we're past the set-up then the book moves into Jack finding Abby and them working through "stuff" and hello happy ending.  Did I swallow it as a reader?  Well, I wanted to, so I did but....problematic.

I'm making this sound really gross.  It is...and yet it isn't.  Don't ask me how I'd grade this.  It sucked me in and I couldn't stop reading, but how does one recommend a book featuring a beautiful manipulator as a heroine and a murderer (even if you consider it justifiable homicide) as the hero.  I'm falling on the side of "liking this" because again, sucked in couldn't put it down, and at the end of the day it's totally OK to like problematic "stuff" if you're fully aware it's problematic.

Assigning one grade to the books as a pair: Final Grade = B.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Notable Unusual Historicals for January 2019

New Year, new you? Well, if you’ve already broken your resolutions, maybe not. But at least we can all look forward to a new year of historical romance. January brings us a long-awaited follow-up to a beloved late-1990s trilogy, a Wendy recommended reprint, an angsty new K.J. Charles (woot!), Vikings and an enemy-to-lovers story set against the backdrop of the Jacobite rebellion.

Any Old Diamonds by K.J. Charles 
Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, holds a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.  
The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.  
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman's most secret desires, and soon he's got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.  
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught. 
To be honest, reading this blurb doesn’t exactly scream “Romance!” for me, so it’s a good thing Love in Panels has already published Eva’s review. I’m a sucker for angst and this book sounds like it’s positively swimming in it. Also, I love the way Charles evokes setting, so I’m all in.

Texas Legacy by Lorraine Heath 
For as long as he can remember, Rawley Cooper has loved Faith Leigh. But the cruelty of his childhood haunts him and he knows he’s undeserving of Faith. When she comes to him on the night of her nineteenth birthday, they both give into temptation. But the searing kiss reaffirms what he’s always known: he can’t have a lifetime of her in his arms. To protect his heart, he packs his things and heads west.  
Faith has always adored the boy her parents took in and raised. But she’s not certain she can ever forgive him for riding out of her life just when she needed him the most.
When an urgent telegram forces him to return six years later, Rawley discovers Faith is now a woman to be reckoned with.  
As old feelings are stirred back to life and new passions take hold, they both must confront secrets from their past or risk losing a legacy of love. 
Rawley was first introduced in Heath’s Texas trilogy, which means fans of that series have literally been begging for this story since 1999. I vividly remember reading the trilogy back-to-back-to-back in 2001 (I was traveling) but at this point, and many books later, Rawley has faded a bit (OK, a lot) from my memory. Crushing TBR Guilt keeps me from rereading, so I’m going to go into this one like a stand-alone and hope that Heath recaptures the magic.

Sent as the Viking’s Bride by Michelle Styles 
She’s the wife he doesn’t want…  
 …and the woman he needs!  
Desperate to escape her murderous brother-in-law and protect her young sister, Ragnhild agrees to marry an unknown warrior, and arrives penniless on his remote island. Only, Gunnar Olafson’s belief in love died with his family—he does not want a bride! But as yuletide approaches, Ragnhild transforms his isolated existence. Can she melt her Viking warrior’s frozen heart? 
A villainous brother-in-law, a wounded hero, a heroine in need of a safe haven and all out of options. Styles, who has written everything from ancient Rome to Regency, returns to Vikings, which is where she’s been the past several books.

The Highland Renegade by Amy Jarecki 
She is the daughter of his sworn enemy.
Famed for his fierceness, Laird Robert Grant is above all a loyal Highland clan chief. But when redcoats capture his rival's daughter, he sets aside their feud and races to her rescue. Aye, Janet Cameron is beautiful, cunning, and so very tempting, but a Cameron lass is the last woman he should ever desire.
He is her one hope of happiness. 
Janet refuses to meekly surrender, not even when surrounded by foes. She takes every chance to escape, first from the English soldiers and then from the wickedly handsome Robert. Yet with each day they spend together, his unexpected gallantry chips away at her reserve little by little. As danger and treachery loom, can she trust him enough to choose love over vengeance? 
An enemy-to-lovers story, this fifth book in Jarecki’s Lords of the Highlands series has piqued my interest thanks to review coverage I ran across at The Day Job. Library Journal calls it “beautifully done,” and that the “adventurous romance” is “greatly enhanced by an exquisite depiction of life in the early 18th-century Scottish Highlands.” A hopeful bit of teasing for readers who prefer their historicals to, well, read like historicals.

Winter Woman by Jenna Kernan 
She survived the winter alone…
After Cordelia Channing endures the lethal winter season alone in the Rocky Mountains, she is discovered by Thomas Nash, a solitary mountain man who wants only to hunt, trap and be left alone to grieve the woman he could not save. 
Cordelia aches to go east before winter but over the days and miles, Delia finds her battered spirit yearning for this self-reliant trapper, who stirs her longing and wakes her heart.  
With only few, vital months to hunt before the snows fly, Nash has no time to look after a woman. He is surprised as Delia transforms his life and gives him the second chance he never expected. But with fall approaching, she must face her resolve to escape another deadly winter, and he must confront his oath not to open his heart to love once more. 
A digital reprint that was first published by Harlequin Historical in 2003, I really enjoyed this story a lot when I read it back in 2005. Her preacher husband goes out hunting and ends up dead, leaving the heroine to survive winter alone in an isolated cabin. She’s found by peaceful Natives whose solution to finding a half-starved white woman is to take her to the only white guy they know - the trapper hero who isn’t much of a “people person.” A well-done romance and survival story, the setting is pre-Civil War (1835) isolated frontier and I ate it up.

What Unusual Historicals are you looking forward to this month?