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REVIEW:  Marriage Reinvented by Kat Cantrell

REVIEW: Marriage Reinvented by Kat Cantrell

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Spoiler (Possible trigger): Show

Alexia has endured a miscarriage.

To love, honor and betray…
After surviving the painful disintegration of her marriage, Alexia is finally ready to follow her dream. When she applies for a patent on the product she’s invented, she discovers someone has beaten her to it—her ex Jesse, the man she once loved beyond measure. The double-crosser is holding her patent hostage until she agrees to give their relationship another shot.

Till passion do us part…
Jesse wants to get back what’s his—Alexia. The deal is simple. If she lives with him for three months, he’ll sign over the patent. But as the undeniable heat between them explodes, old hurts and new secrets surface, compromising everything they thought they knew about themselves and their marriage.

For as long as we both shall clash…
Suddenly, the deal becomes a desperate battle to hang on to the only woman Jesse’s ever loved—and she’s not interested in another broken heart.

Dear Ms Cantrell,

While scrolling through the books which have been submitted to DA for review consideration, I came across yours. What got me to try it was the opening scene from the excerpt which promised humor, two strong characters and a contemporary already married marriage of convenience that I could pretty much swallow. I got mainly that but also a reminder that love hurts, marriage is hard and communication is a must.

First off, kudos to you for not actually describing what Alexia’s invention is. The name is enough and I have to admit that when I first read “Thigh Thing,” all I could think of was Suzanne Somers and that TV spot. I wish I could get that image out of my brain but it’s there for a while. I have a question though. Why is Jesse, who lives in T-shirts shown on the cover in a suit?

Both Alexia and Jesse are strong people who live to be in control. And while Jesse might come off initially as being the one in total control and browbeating Alexia into his proposition, it’s almost immediately obvious that he’s madly in love with her and desperate to get her back. Reasons are provided as to why he feels this is his only shot to achieve that but by that point I could see and accept that the power balance here is actually fairly well divided between the two of them.

It’s also evident from the start that just having gotten Alexia back into his life hasn’t solved all the problems of the marriage. No magic wand got waved, no stunning breakthrough occurred that cleared up all the issues and these two are going to have to work through a lot of grief and pain before they’re both on the same page. It was a good sign for me that while their sex was incendiary, what first got them together and what still acted as a powerful attractant was their mutual interest in business. Yes the smexy is abundant but business talk turned them on to begin with.

You certainly didn’t stint on giving them some heartache and issues to work through. An unexpected pregnancy followed by miscarriage complicated by misunderstanding and grief send these two tumbling over the cliff. Jesse’s last ditch effort to give them some breathing room turns and bites him in the ass. Meanwhile Alexia turns her pain against the company he holds dear and these two have the power to hurt and wound where it counts.

I like that both characters do seem to have learned from past mistakes and are on the road to a HEA. That is until something happens which causes Jesse to completely lose his mind. My goodness he was certainly willing to believe the worst of Alexia with no trial or chance for her to defend herself. It was scary to even read how white hot his anger could go in an instant. By the end of the book, they had worked things out and were in a place where they could come back from this pain but TBH, old Jesse might benefit from some meditation and relaxation classes. B-

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Baby, It’s You by Jane Graves

REVIEW: Baby, It’s You by Jane Graves

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With only the wedding dress on her back and her honeymoon luggage in the car, Kari Worthington is running away. Determined to put her controlling father, her rigidly structured life, and the uptight groom she left at the altar in her rearview mirror, she escapes to the Texas Hill country . . . and lands on a tall, dark, and gorgeous winery owner’s doorstep. All she needs is a job and a place to live until she can get back on her feet. So why is she fantasizing about losing herself in his powerful arms?

For Marc Cordero, freedom is so close he can taste it. He’s devoted his life to managing the family business and being a single dad. Now with his daughter away at college and his brother taking over the winery, Marc is ready to hop on his Harley for parts unknown-until a runaway bride bursts onto the scene. Free-spirited and tantalizingly sexy, Kari excites him like no other woman has before. But when irresistible passion turns into something more, will Marc give up his future to take a chance on love?

Dear Ms. Graves,

The blurb and what it brought to mind grabbed my attention when this book was offered to us for possible review. The idea of a runaway bride in her wedding dress made me think of “Smoky and the Bandit” with Sally Fields ending up in a car with Burt Reynolds while peeling off her wedding dress as they roar down the back roads of 4 southern states with Sheriff Buford T. Justice hot in pursuit. Okay so the book ended up having almost nothing more in common with the film but it did make me want to read it.

Well the actual book starts off great. I loved the humor, I loved the heroine, I loved the hero’s laconic way of speaking and acting which brings Kari up short – when pressed to help her out of her mud caked wedding dress with its millions of small buttons down the back Marc thinks a second and then replies that no …, no he really doesn’t have to. I loved the pet themed B&B Marc leaves Kari at and I adored Gus, the proprietor who is obviously storing up the whole encounter for the next day’s gossip sessions in this small town. I was floating on a happy cloud.

Then the cloud started raining just a little as things slow down a mite. Two one note villains appear – and really all the bad guys in the story are fairly one dimensional – but thankfully disappear soon after and never bother us again. Kari struggles to fit into a job she’s not suited for and while Marc begins to show more of his responsible side in helping her out, getting a plan for her life and dealing with her blistered feet, he’s not quite as funny to me as he goes about it. Then comes a scene that should clue in advanced Romance readers of a plot point to come. There’s a lot of talking going on among these people but not much listening.

Things then get really messy with everyone coming home to roost at various times which makes for life altering changes and seeing dreams/promises in a new light. I got mad at some of these characters. Well, I got mad at most of them but then I realized that the emotions and reactions are so realistic that my reaction is belief in what’s happening on the page rather than eye rolling. Real, strong emotions can get messy. Life is messy. Not everyone behaves well when things don’t go as they’d like, expect or think they want. So, this is good. Exasperating at times but still good.

The plot snarls get untangled quickly with the page count running out but it’s done in believable ways – Angela’s junior college plan, Daniel’s happiness at Marc finally acknowledging faith and pride in his IT accomplishments, Marc figuring out that the open road can be lonely and it’s nice to live around friendly faces who know him and whom he knows and that he’s excited about the future because he’s good at what’s about to come. Kari realizing she doesn’t want to leave Rainbow Valley – well, she’d kind of already realized that earlier. It’s a good lesson in what we think we want may not always be what we need or – even what we really want. After the book took a turn from the fantastic opening, I wasn’t sure I’d like the change but the story ended up being deeper and more realistic than it would have otherwise been. B

~Jayne

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