Saturday, February 24, 2018

Mini-Reviews: Any Day Now and No Limits

I know readers who have completely sworn off small town contemporaries - they're literally that sick of them.  I'm getting to that point - sort of.  I will read small town contemporaries all day long and twice on Sunday - when in the category universe.  Give me a Harlequin SuperRomance or Special Edition set in a small town and I'm there.  But I'm getting to the point where I need to swear off the single titles.  Why?  Dear Lord, the filler.  The endless, mindless, pointless filler that serves no purpose other than the author to sequel-bait the heck out of the story.  Which brings us to Any Day Now by Robyn Carr, the second book in her Sullivan's Crossing series.

Sierra Jones is nine months sober and at loose ends, so she decides to temporarily settle in Sullivan's Crossing to be near her favorite brother, Cal, and his new (and pregnant) wife, Maggie (see the first book in this series, What We Find).  Sierra works on her sobriety by attending AA meetings, gets a part-time job as a waitress, and moves into one of the cabins at Sullivan's Crossing (Maggie's father's campground) where she meets hunky firefighter, Conrad "Connie" Boyle.

Conflict?  What conflict?  Nothing happens in this book for the longest time.  It's all Small Town Series Cutesy.  But, you know, we have to fill up 300+ pages somehow - so Carr starts with boring, moves to repetition and then decides to throw in a suspense thread about Sierra being stalked (that feels totally out of left field compared to the tone/feel of the majority of this story).  Zzzzzzzz.

I weeded out a huge chunk of the single title contemporaries from my TBR within the past year or so.  It's a decision I'm not regretting in the slightest.  The older I get the more brutal I am with my mental red ink pen (Cut it! Cut IT ALL!!!!).

Final Grade = D

Blaze is one of the Harlequin lines I've always been a little indifferent about.  There have been a few over the years I've really liked, but the ones that "stick with me" tend to be few and far between.  But that has never stopped me from picking one up when the blurb intrigues, which brings us to No Limits by Katherine Garbera, the first book in her Space Cowboys series.

Astronaut Jason "Ace" McCoy has been temporarily (he hopes!) grounded by NASA.  After spending a year on the International Space Station, he's suffering from osteopenia.  He's working with doctors, following a special diet and exercise regimen, but his bone density is still cause for concern.  His superior tells him to head back to Cole's Hill, Texas - back to the ranch where Ace spent his teen years after his mother died.  The closest thing to a father figure he had, Mick Tanner, has died unexpectedly and left half of his ranch to Ace.  The other half?  Yeah, went to Mick's daughter, Molly.  The girl he's never been able to forget.

Molly, of course, has had a thing for Jason since she was a girl - but this is a man whose future would not be deterred.  He focused on space travel with a single-minded determination to the point where it's become his whole life.  Now she has to figure out how to save the only home she's ever known (the ranch is in trouble) and not lose her heart to a man who will surely leave the moment he's medically cleared.

There's a deeper theme of grief that runs through this story that belies the Blaze reputation (Fun! Sexy! Lots o' Naughty Times!).  Molly adored her father and his sudden death has left her reeling.  Jason is coming to terms (rather poorly) that he may be permanently grounded - unwelcome news since his dream is to be part of a new project involving manned missions to Mars.  Naturally, their attraction is too strong to ignore and sexy shenanigans ensue.  But Jason belongs to the stars and Molly's place is on the ranch.  It will never work, will it?

I liked this, but didn't love it.  I spent the whole time wishing this were a Special Edition or a SuperRomance - a line where the author could have really sunk her teeth into the larger themes and emotional angst.  As it is, this is a Blaze so there are a number sex scenes that, while well-written, felt a little too "surface" to me.  I wanted the deep dive and got the wading pool.  Also, the conflict peters out at the end and it all feels a bit too pat.  On one hand I appreciate the author for realizing there was a simple solution to be had, but on the other?  I was left with a "that's it?" feeling.

If you're a space nerd or a big Blaze fan, I think this is worth reading.  Garbera sets up her series really well and I'm interested in reading the next book.  It didn't send me into orbit, but it was a nice way to kill a few hours.

Final Grade = B-


Rowena said...

I had my eye on the Carr book after coming across it on GR and it's been ages since I've read anything by her but hmm...maybe I'll pass on it. Thanks for the review, Wendy!

Wendy said...

Rowena: To be fair, I forgot to mention that the heroine rescues a dog from a mean camper and twists her ankle necessitating the hunky firefighter carrying her through the woods ::eyeroll:: There's nothing wrong with the book per se, other than it's boring and lacks any sort of conflict until the half-baked stalker suspense thread kicks in.

azteclady said...

I don't mind low-conflict, low-angst romances (particularly right now), but repetition, then out-of-left-field suspense thread, all to reach a minimum page count? Yeah, that'd be a no, even if it were not a Carr title. I gave her up after reading several too many of her Virgin River novels (::cough::)

Wendy said...

AL: OMG, I just read your post. I haven't read a single Virgin River book (my disenchantment with small town single titles has been festering for a while...) - and yet it was like deja vu all over again. There are shades of most of that in this book - and it's only Book 2 in the Sullivan's Crossing series.

azteclady said...

Save yourself, Miz Wendy, steer clear of Carr's 'small town' series.