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

Nancy Warren

REVIEW:  Just One Night by Nancy Warren

REVIEW: Just One Night by Nancy Warren

Dear Ms. Warren:

In flipping through the Blaze ARCs sent to us by Harlequin, I picked up your book first. I’ve read and enjoyed you in the past. For 2/3 of the story, I felt like this was a book I could recommend to Dear Author readers but it kind of fell apart at the end; however, aside from the odd suspense element introduced which served as the relationship ex machina, this was a charming love story.

Just One Night by Nancy WarrenRob Klassen is a photojournalist, injured by a bullet wound during his last excursion near the Ras Ajdir border between Tunisia and Libya. His editor is putting him on sick leave until Rob can run a 6 minute mile so, as his boss puts it, “the next time you have to run for your life you can make it.” Rob has no real home or roots. His only relative, the grandmother who raised him, recently passed away and his adult life has been spent traveling to one location or another to take photos for World Week magazine, one of the premiere news magazines in the world. He decides to retreat to Bellamy House, the home that his grandmother bequeathed him in Seattle.

Hailey Fleming is an up and coming realtor whose heart has been broken too many times.  I never knew what age Hailey was and I didn’t know why she wasn’t more established in her career. This is an important component because Hailey argues she doesn’t have time for dating because she is trying to become a success as a realtor. She also states that she’ll think about dating in one or two years. Yet later in the book she states that if she was wooed by a local she would be interested. Color me confused. Her emotional arc wasn’t as consistent as Rob’s and at times felt like it was merely constructed to provide a sense of conflict.

The end where it unravels for me inserts a romantic suspense element that may have been vaguely foreshadowed but used up valuable page space that could have been put to better use exploring how the two parties could enmesh their different lifestyles.  The two had somewhat similar backgrounds in that they were both rudderless youths.  Rob’s was more traditionally dire but using that as an excuse for Rob’s inability to settle down wasn’t well juxtaposed with Rob’s real love for photojournalism.  In other words, I didn’t buy that Rob’s desire to be in the thick of things arose out of his shitty childhood or that it would dissipate just because of the love of Hallie.

Hailey’s desire to build a career in Seattle and Rob’s desire to continue taking amazing photographs in far flung places weren’t two entirely incompatible desires so long as separation was feasible.  Yet, that option wasn’t even considered.  It seemed like Hailey believed that in order to be *with* Rob, she had to physically be by his side in wartorn countries, holding his camera bag.

There is a secondary storyline involving Julia, Hailey’s best friend, and her aborted attempts at internet dating. It was kind of a reverse makeover story (gender reverse) and at times I thought it was cute and others I thought it was overly shallow.  Hallie and Rob’s was a tender love story and I liked the love scenes, the gentle humor, and just the tenderness that Hailey and Rob exhibited toward each other, even when they were apart.  C+

AmazonBNSonyKoboHQNARE

REVIEW: Face Off by Nancy Warren

REVIEW: Face Off by Nancy Warren

Dear Ms. Warren:

Face Off by Nancy WarrenIn keeping with our unintentional sports week here at Dear Author (what with the reviews of Icebreaker and Huddle With Me Tonight and my Ode to Donald Driver), I thought I should go ahead and post a review of your latest Blaze release. In the past couple of years, I’ve really come to look forward to your Blaze books. They seem modern in tone and I’ve liked that you’ve included multicultural characters in your books. Unfortunately, in Face Off, I felt like the space constraints really limited the stories you were trying to tell and ultimately the romances suffered for it.

Ice Time

Face Off is a compilation of three shorts focused on the romances of the three McBride siblings. First up is Jarrad McBride, a former hockey star whose last body check left him with reduced peripheral vision and ended his hockey career. Jarrad’s despair over no longer being in the NHL is compounded by the fact that his swimsuit model wife divorced him and hooked up with an NBA star (trading up or so say the tabloids). At the urging of his best friend, Greg, Jarrad returns to his hometown in Vancouver to help Greg and his fellow policemen and firefighters field a hockey team to play in the The World Police and Firefighter Games hockey championship. Shortly after arriving back home, Jarrad finds himself inept at coaching but his troubles are soothed by meeting Sierra Janssen, an elementary school teacher at the hockey rink. Sierra has been roped into learning to play hockey with some girlfriends. (I guess they have girls’ leagues in Canada?).

The problem isn’t the setup. I could buy the setup. It’s that the story is told in fast forward. We go from meet and greet to bed to I love you in a whirlwind matter of hours it seems. Whatever emotional trauma either were suffering was a convenient overlay on top of two or three scenes that provide the basis for the romance. Unfortunately this might have been a story I could have really enjoyed had it been more than just a sketch. Both Sierra and Jarrad were drawn as sympathetic characters but the romance was unbelievable and contrived to me in the tiny space it was allotted. D.

In The Sin Bin

Samantha McBride stars in the second novella. She is a hotshot lawyer whose high school sweetheart is her brother Jarrad’s best friend, Greg Olsen.   Greg had once proposed to Sam on the eve of her leaving for law school but instead of viewing it as a romantic proposal that would cement the relationship that they had built since they were teens, Sam viewed it as Greg’s attempt to control her and a sign of his belief that she wouldn’t be faithful to him.

Despite living in the same city since she became a lawyer (or is it barrister in Canada?), Sam and Greg have managed to avoid each other but neither stops thinking of each other.   Reunited lover stories almost always work better in a short space and I think because there was past emotion that the reader could fill in, this story worked better.

However, I wasn’t sure that whatever had been the main problem between Sam and Greg was ever resolved ten years later.   Was Sam afraid Greg wanted to control her? He never evinced any such desire.   He was never, even in reminisces, portrayed as an overbearing control monger.   Was it that Sam just wasn’t ready to be married and now she was?   It appeared that most of the story was told from Sam’s point of view and thus Gabe’s emotional arc was a definite afterthought.   C

Breakaway

This last story worked the best for me but ultimately lacked the proper build up like the others.   Taylor McBride has been invited to participate in a charity event wherein he will dance with silver Olympic figure skating medalist Becky Haines, Canada’s Skating Sweetheart.   Taylor is on the farm team, trying to make it to the big leagues like his big brother.   Becky is working on winning the gold.

The two go from meeting to sniping to meeting in a bar to the bedroom.   In one day, I believe, although it’s not explicitly laid out as such.

Becky’s entire life is regimented from the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed by her mother who arranges for her publicity events to her militant coach.   Yet, despite being told this, Becky is shown slacking off her duties to have sex with Taylor almost immediately.   There was no indication previously that she had anything but the gold medal in mind.

Taylor had almost no sibling rivalry with his older, more successful brother.   His only concern was dropping Becky.   I really, really appreciated how much respect he had for Becky and her athletic endeavors.   I found that refreshing.

Ultimately, though, I struggled with the love relationship of the two and thought that the epilogue was overly treacly.   Two weddings in the planning stage and one more to come!   I mean, I appreciate the solidity of the HEA but I think I wished that the words had gone to building up the relationships so that we could have figured out the epilogue without it being explicitly stated.   C

If a reader can set aside the need for emotional buildup and accept the relationships as they are presented, these stories provide a short, fun read. I liked all the characters. I liked the setup.   There was believable conflict and backstory.   Essentially there was a ton of promise, but I was terribly disappointed in how everything seemed to be getting the short shrift from emotional development to character arc.

Best regards

Jane

Book Link | Kindle (Kindle link not working at this moment) | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony| KoboBooks