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Brenda Minton

REVIEW: Rekindled Hearts by Brenda Minton

REVIEW: Rekindled Hearts by Brenda Minton

Dear Ms. Minton,

0909-9780373875481-bigwThere is a lot of stuff you are trying to cover in this book. Some of it is done just right, some of it is skimmed too quickly for me and some of it just seems to be on an eternal repeating loop.

The small Kansas town of High Plains is still digging out from and attempting to recover from a horrific tornado. Buildings were demolished, possessions were scattered across the county, an unidentified little girl was discovered in the aftermath and town police chief Colt Ridgeway and town vet Lexi Harmon are unsure whether their decision to divorce two years ago was the right one. But have they dealt with the issues that drove them apart? Or is any attempt at reconciliation doomed?

The small town of High Plains seems like a wonderful community. It’s been hit by hardship, not everyone is getting back to normal at the same rate but neighbors are not only willing but eager to help each other. Sure, being known since birth by everyone and his brother has its drawbacks if you want to keep your business to yourself but the “we’re in it together” spirit makes it worthwhile to me.

There are two previous books in the series and we must be caught up on what happened in them and what is now happening with those characters. I feel this was well done and truly appreciate that you don’t drag each of these characters into this book. Where they appear, they’re there for a reason.

But as for the relationship issues between Lexi and Colt, it’s lots of the same thing over and over. Colt feels guilty, Lexi still loves him but can’t face any continuation of the way he was that ended their marriage, Colt still loves Lexi but doubts he can be the man she wants, etc, etc. And more etc.

Oh, wait, there is one unusual aspect to this inspy book and that is that the main couple were divorced from each other. But over and over the main aspect of the plot is how Colt pushed Lexi away due to his guilt. And how he pulled away from her and ended their marriage because he couldn’t bear to see her hurt if anything happened to him because of his job as a policeman. So, yeah, break her heart to save her pain and, since she still loves you, if anything does happen to you, she’s still going to be hurt by it. Sorry, but I find this romance plot increasingly problematic and unworkable for me. No one is guaranteed tomorrow no matter what your occupation so be aware, be as safe as possible and get on with life.

The town wants them back together and contrives ways to push them together. Lexi and Colt resist. But still care for each other. Both wonder if their divorce was a mistake and daydream about being together and wonder if it could work…oh, wait we have to drag our heels and procrastinate some more.

I love the advice Jill gives to Lexi about how the perfect man only exists in the daydreams of fourteen year olds. Everyone’s got flaws and if you trade in the flawed one you have, you’ll just end up getting another with different flaws.

There’s bits about the town rebuilding, how everyone pitches in, and an “oh who’s ring is that?” mystery but most of the book is Lexi and Colt dragging out a reconciliation with lots of endless musing, sorrow over what they lost and being urged to pray.

I do like that as with “Marrying Minister Right,” there’s no hard sell on God. Colt is urged to pray and try and reconcile with God but no one drags him to church nor berates him for his lack of faith. He does feel a little guilty at first and so attends services a time or two for that reason but then he starts to feel true faith.

When a new plot element is introduced in the second half of the book, I wondered if we’d see a showdown related to Colt’s police work and past but this is all taken care of off page. This is a surprise. The way it’s used to highlight an aspect of Lexi and Colt’s relationship that still needs work is done well. But at this point, I was so tired of Lexi and Colt’s two steps forward, one step back dance that any diversion would have been nice.

I would also have liked to have seen a little more “hands on” of Lexi’s career as a vet. She also seems to have a lot of free time to help with the community work for a woman in solo practice.

This is a nice book but there’s a lot of navel gazing and retreads of the same issues, and same thoughts about the same issues and I found myself skimming as the book progressed. Some future couples in the series are obviously being set up but I’m not sure I’ll carry on much further with it. C+


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REVIEW: A Cowboy’s Heart by Brenda Minton

REVIEW: A Cowboy’s Heart by Brenda Minton

Dear Ms. Minton,

0209-9780373875177-bigwI’ve just recently begun to watch bull riding on ESPN. Wow, I can see why it’s called one of the most exciting yet dangerous sports today. I’ve also put a few DVDs about the sport in my Netflix queue and was happy to see some of them featuring interviews with and information about the stockmen who supply bulls for the rodeos. It’s easy to see that these people take their job seriously and take care of the animals in their charge. So when I saw the description of your book, I knew I had to read it.

Willow Michaels has faced adversity for a lot of her life. Though born to a wealthy family, she learned early on that her hearing loss was a source of conflict and embarrassment to them. Her only true source of support came from her aunt Janie. After a failed marriage during which her husband also made her feel inadequate, she’s now seeing the results of five years of hard work to establish her own stock business. She’s proud of the bucking bulls she raises, the fact that she’s been accepted into this world and that she’s gained the respect of the people in it. What she doesn’t need is for her aunt to try and matchmake her with a cowboy Willow mooned over sixteen years ago.

Clint Cameron has his own set of problems to face. He’s worked for years in the oil fields of Texas for the money to rebuild the ranch his alcoholic father ran into the ground. And though at age thirty-two he’s old for the sport, he’s following another dream of being a pro bull rider. When his younger sister phones to tell him she’s been called up to Iraq, Clint adds the care of his two young nephews to his list. He’s always been a “fixer,” trying to help those he feels need a hand, but he’s just about at his breaking point. Dealing with a touchy woman who makes it plain she doesn’t want his help is something he’s happy to avoid. Or so he tells himself.

Willow is obviously hard working, conscientious and knowledgeable about her business. Even though it’s pouring down rain or six o’clock in the morning, stock needs to be cared for and Willow makes sure it’s done. Her duty to her bulls doesn’t end when they’re in the pens at a a rodeo and if the finicky bull who only likes distilled water is thirsty, Willow will gladly see to his needs. I’ll be honest and say I was hoping for more scenes of Willow at work on her ranch and at rodeo events. More “behind the scenes” kind of stuff. What you include shows attention to detail though, and I appreciate that.

Clint is a cowboy through and through. He’s not been home for a while but home has never been far from his heart and all he really wants is to work the land his family has owned for generations. He loves working with stock, rides a cowboy horse and when he sees something that needs doing, he does it with no fanfare. His boots are worn but not worn down, while his heart is a mile wide. I was sorry to read so little of his dream of riding bulls but after watching highlights of actual events, his injuries appear to be all too common among the competitors. This ain’t no sport for sissies.

I’ve said before that children, especially very young children, in romance books generally give me hives. Surprisingly, Timmy and David didn’t. They act and speak like four year olds. And they don’t lisp. I can’t express how much I appreciate that. They’re good boys who act up a little like even good boys will. They miss their mother and they hear far more than adults like to think. They also process what they hear as children will do and react accordingly. But even though I like the boys, I think too much time was spent on “aw shucks, that’s so cute” moments or “aren’t they brave little boys” scenes.

I can understand Willow’s reluctance to admit to her worsening hearing loss and her choice to put off learning more bad news, even if only to preserve one last weekend of happiness. I can be the queen of putting things off until tomorrow and have recently watched a friend struggle with hearing bad news over these past winter holidays. I think you show quite well her coming to terms with the issue and making the choice of how she’ll proceed from there. I also admire her desire to be accepted in her chosen field and how hard she’s worked for it. Her admission that accepting help might not make her look weaker takes a while but when it arrives, I can believe in it.

I like that Clint and Willow take their time with their relationship. It’s not instant “hearts in their eyes” with these two. Both are aware of not taking things too quickly and neither wants to see their friendship at risk. Clint finally finds a way to help Willow that still allows her to retain her independence while Willow sees that two can be even stronger than one alone. And when they talk about forever, I know that they’re prepared for the bumps in the road as well as for the smooth stretches.

There are some things I might wish for from this book but overall, I enjoyed it. It’s a nice, contemporary western that adds an underlying plot foundation rarely seen in romance books. I imagine that you’re going to tell the tale of Clint’s injured Army sister next and I have a good idea who her hero will be. I’ll be waiting. B-


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