Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Annie Jones

Dear Author

REVIEW: Marrying Minister Right by Annie Jones

Dear Ms Jones,

First off, kudos to whoever chose the title of the book. It’s cute, inspired and totally fits the subject matter of the story.

Heather Waters has made a life for herself running a Christian charity after that disastrous day ten years ago when she discovered two things. One that her father wasn’t her real father. And two that the man she was going to marry didn’t love her enough to commit to their relationship. It didn’t help her pride any to find out the first truth from the information dug up by the private investigator hired by her fiance’s family. Or to learn the truth about John Parker when he didn’t show up for the ceremony.

Sure that their mutual best friend, Michael Garrison, had known all along yet let her walk down the church aisle without trying to stop her, she hurled some harsh accusations at him, along with her bouquet, and stormed out of town. But the town needs her help after suffering a devastating tornado. Home is home and the pull is strong so Heather answers the call. Will she and Michael, who’s now a minister there, to be able to work together as well as help Michael’s troubled teenage niece? Or are some things too late to be overcome?

I know this is part of a group effort series and I’m not sure how much, if any, of the plot or outlines you were given and had to follow but some things just don’t make too much sense. Heather obviously doesn’t live that far from the town of High Plains so why has she never once been in contact with seemingly anyone from home in those ten years? No other friends or chuch contacts have taken the time or made the effort to call her or see her? No one who could assure her that the town doesn’t see her in the negative light she sees herself? When she does return, she appears to get a nice welcome and it didn’t seem like people disliked her while she was growing up.

And if Michael loved her so much then, why didn’t he try and contact her? I know he was supposed to be young and a little unsure of himself but then these three people were best friends and Michael still loves Heather as much now as he apparently did then so again, why no effort to set her straight?

What’s happened to John Parker? His family is/was so prominent in town but there’s no mention of him or them living there now. Almost
no mention of them in relation to the town at all until the very end. I kept expecting him to pop up when Heather first goes back to town. With the book being so short, I can see why you left him out, for the most part, of physically being in the story but some mention that he’d moved away would have helped. However, I do like that story focuses on Heather and Michael.

Big Misunderstandings are everywhere. Heather thinks certain things about Michael and he hasn’t a clue that she does. I can somewhat see misunderstandings ten years ago, when Heather was initially so hurt. But now…they talk about Avery. They talk about the town. Why not talk about themselves? Guess it just must take time to work up the courage in the face of being together for the first time in ten years.

I liked Michael’s niece Avery and feel that her occasional sulks and anger make sense in a teenager, in her eyes, torn from her home and sent to this hick town for the summer. But her issues seemed to me to be resolved almost too quickly though this might be due to page count demands.

After thinking about it a little, I guess the real reason Heather was so mad at Michael is because she felt more for him all along than she thought so it’s natural that his “betrayal” would be the one that cut her most and stuck with her all these years. She’s almost forgotten John and his reappearence makes no impact on her but it’s Michael who can move her to tears of laughter and pain.

Michael seems like a down to earth guy who’s still maybe growing in experience as a minister. Perhaps the issues with his niece will help him become a better counselor and youth minister. And maybe finally learning that he needs to speak up when he thinks it necessary will keep him from having too many more misunderstandings with Heather. I guess deep down, most of us have our moments of personal cluelessness despite being able to readily give advice to others about what they should do.

I know I commented on “Somebody’s Hero” about the speed of the relationship but here it felt right to me. These two already know each other and now that they’ve finally worked out what happened ten years ago, and seem to have their communication channels open, I think they’re going to be just fine.

A series, with each book written by a different author, can be a mixed bag. Here I didn’t feel too much like I’d been dropped into the middle of the action with no clue as to people or places or relations. While I wish you’d had a slightly longer page count to fill out more details, overall it was time well spent in reading “Marrying Minister Right.” B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

REVIEW: Somebody’s Hero by Annie Jones

REVIEW: Somebody’s Hero by Annie Jones

Dear Ms Jones,

somebodys-heroEvery once in a while, a sweet, lovely story like this crosses my path and I’m always a better person and lucky reader for it. By rights, the blurb shouldn’t have grabbed my attention as it features a widow with a child, striking out on her own and is obviously the last book in a series. I should have been running for the hills but something about the cover wouldn’t let me. So go cover artists at Harlequin!

Renovating and selling her late husband’s cabin is just the chance young widow Charity O’Clare needs. With the money from the sale, she and her daughter can move to the city–away from her family! Of course, as soon as she gets to tiny Mt. Knott, South Carolina, Charity finds a whole new family stew. Jason “Lucky Dawg” Burdett may be the handsomest man she’s ever seen, but his meddlesome relatives are the last thing she needs. Still, Charity didn’t count on Jason becoming her daughter’s hero–or swaying her own heart. And now, she has to choose between old dreams of independence…and new dreams of love.

The Jason x Charity conflict is subtle but real. He has always taken care of or been asked to do for others and she’s the one person who doesn’t want anyone doing for her since her parents-in-law have smothered her that way. He is seen by his family as “lucky,” hence the name, but not one who really does much more than put out little fires and certainly not as an integral part of the family business. While Charity knows that this is probably her last chance to stand on her own or risk sinking into the caring quicksand of her in-law’s need to assuage their grief that they couldn’t help their deceased son during his downward spiral.

Her conflict with them isn’t unreasonable either and not the usual spouse vs in-law stuff we see. When you first introduced the fact that Charity was almost fleeing from her in-laws, I was afraid that they would be some kind of monsters hell bent on taking Olivia. I agree that this is probably just their natural tendency crossed with grief over the loss of their son. Since they couldn’t ‘save’ him, they’ll work twice as hard on the ones they have left, Charity, Olivia and their second son.

The death of his older brother will affect Davey, probably in different ways, for the rest of his life and his problems could certainly be natural result of this. A friend of mine lost a child years ago and her younger child has suffered from the grief for years. Her struggles to help this child let me better understand the dynamics going on in the O’Clare family.

Livie is a great child. She acts like 9 year old, getting very independent and forming/voicing her own thoughts and feelings. Yet she’s still in that exuberant stage as well. She’s also starting to realize that actions have consequences and beginning to grapple with how she’ll handle that fact as you show with the fishing contest.

I like Charity and Olivia’s relationship. How Charity encourages her daughter to try things and how she doesn’t take over at the first inkling that Liv might falter. She’d be no better than her in-laws’ smothering. Children hear more and understand more than parents or adults like to imagine they do. From personal experience, I agree with Charity’s policy of not lying or covering up things. It only confuses a child and in the end, the truth usually comes out anyway thus giving the parent an additional issue to deal with with the child.

Jason feels guilty about all the blessings he has, that he hasn’t earned them. Which ties in with Biblical admonishment that no one can “earn” God’s love or blessings. That God gives them freely and we should be good, but realize that we can’t “make deals with God” to earn more or be better.

The advice from Jason to Charity that she wasn’t “at fault” for the choices Sean made in life is good. That Sean was the one who chose how he dealt with his life and the opportunities he had. I like that she comes to realize that someone to have your back is a good thing. But also that she needs to stand up for herself, exert herself and take control of her relationship with her in-laws. Being passive just won’t work and will only lead to hurt feelings all around.

I’m glad you addressed the whirlwind aspect of this romance. This is one thing that does bug me in romance novels. Knowing you’re attracted to someone is one thing but getting ready to get married and spend, hopefully, the rest of your life with someone who you barely know is another. These two have seen each other in trying times and appear to have the basis for a good start. Though I hope their engagement is longer than 3 weeks.

I like the small town setting but agree, as when Charity questions Liv about it, that it would take some getting used to. Especially a town where you are part of a prominent family. Though this is the tale end of a series, I didn’t feel lost, nor overwhelmed with characters from past books.

I enjoyed Jason’s slow, easy going sense of humor. And that Charity shares it with him. That he’s willing to put her needs – for independence – above his own but that he’s got the courage to go for what he wants. I had a great time reading the story and hope to go back and catch up on the rest of the Burdett family. B+

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.