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veterinarian

REVIEW:  Wingspan by Karis Walsh

REVIEW: Wingspan by Karis Walsh

wingspan

When architect Kendall Pearson finds an injured osprey on her property, she expects to simply drop it off at a local wild bird rehabilitation center and be done with it. Quick and painless, like every other relationship she has. But wildlife biologist Bailey Chase has other plans for Ken. First, as surgical assistant, and second, as the designer for her new raptor sanctuary.

Bailey protects her privacy with the vigilance of a hawk, hiding in her rescue center where she has complete control over her life and her work. Isolated on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, she’s surrounded by natural beauty and plenty of solitude. Until sexy Ken Pearson walks in with a wounded bird and Bailey finds her life has been invaded by more than just an extra beak to feed.

Sometimes pain is invisible, and only love can soar over protective barriers and heal a wounded heart.

Dear Ms. Walsh,

I’ve mentioned in several of my past book reviews that I enjoy reading about characters with different hobbies, jobs, or careers. Since I turn into a big, old softie when I read about wild animal rehab efforts, I immediately requested a copy of your book when I saw it on Netgalley.

Kendall – known throughout the book as Ken – and Bailey are each wounded souls who have closed themselves off from the world. They are so separated from others it’s almost as if they’re surrounded by a force field, a brick wall and a moat.

Ken has submerged herself into looking like everyone else, acting like everyone else and seeking out girlfriends and lovers who fit the profile of whom an upwardly mobile, young professional lesbian should be seen with. Never mind if she feels stifled – the order of the day is Thou Shalt Not Stand Out. Yet every once in a while her actual personality insists on rearing its head as when she can’t resist the vintage Vette or the lovely piece of undeveloped property way out in the country.

Bailey has known since childhood that the world views her as an oddball. Her parents volatile marriage drove her into the woods around their home where she discovered a kinship with birds that she finally turned into her life’s vocation after graduation from Vet School. The world is welcome to bring her injured birds but after that she prefers that it go the hell away and leave her to do what she loves and does better than most.

The way these two are brought together is both realistic as well as an organic utilization of their professions. Ken finds an injured osprey on her property and Bailey is the closest as well as best rehabber around. Bailey has reluctantly accepted funding from the WSU Vet School but that also entails a new annex being built on her land to allow for students as well as interns being sent to work with her. When architect Ken gets assigned to design the new flight cages and building, the two are thrown together.

Ken’s and Bailey’s solo and joint journeys back from their strict isolation is fairly obviously laid out and followed through. Though it felt real and was handled well, there were almost no surprises along the way. Point B followed point A which lead to point C even as I guessed what would happen when the story reached section D. But that’s not to say the story is boring or badly written as I enjoyed reading about the struggles behind successfully helping injured birds – but I’ll pass on feeding an owlet mouse bits no matter how cute he might look – and the bursts of genius behind inspired buildings which are more than a box.

Bailey and Ken are central to the self change of the other – and I do like that each woman reached her own decision to begin to alter her life and accept love into it rather than being driven to it. Bailey is a bit more open to it but there were times when I wanted to shake Ken out of her martyrdom. It was also a bit too easy that one or two major confrontation was all that stood between these two finally coming to grips with their years long issues. I did enjoy the book but I just wish the storyline wasn’t quite so easy to see coming. C+/B-

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Hope Flames  by Jaci Burton

REVIEW: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

 

Dear Ms. Burton:

Generally speaking, small town romances work for me only in small doses, but given that I’m a big fan of your writing, I was immediately intrigued when I read the excerpt of Hope Flames. Emma Burnett has returned to the town she grew up in equipped with her veterinary license, a ton of college debt and a new veterinary practice. When Officer Luke McCormack comes into her office one evening, just as she’s closing up with his police dog, Boomer, Emma is immediately attracted. Boomer sprained his leg in pursuit of a suspect, and Luke wants him looked at right away. Emma and Luke engage in some very light flirtation, but neither are looking for any sort of relationship, so they leave it at that.

jaci burton hope flames.Luke is four years out from a disastrous marriage to a woman who seemed to be everything he wanted, right up until they got married, and she decided she didn’t want a cop for a husband, didn’t want to live on Luke’s family’s ranch, and certainly didn’t ever want children. To say he’s gun-shy would be an understatement. He’s all about finding a nice girl, showing her a good time, and ending things on friendly terms. For her part, Emma is back in town after fleeing an emotionally abusive relationship where she completely lost her sense of self for a man. She’s determined to never fall in love again, and certainly never allow any man to have any sort of hold on her.

But the light flirtation has made Luke wonder about Emma. She’s certainly gorgeous, and smart and funny. When she calls one night as a break-in is in progress in her clinic, Luke is the first on the scene. The suspect got away, but Luke likes the feel of Emma in his arms, so he asks her out as friends:

“Let me take you out.”

Her head jerked up and her gaze met his. “What?”

Yeah, what exactly. He couldn’t believe he’d said that. But now that he had . . .

“You heard me. Let me take you out. We’ll go out somewhere and eat. Use forks and knives. Have a nice conversation and a drink. Then I’ll take you home, walk you to your front door, and call it a night.”

She had this wary look on her face that would have made him laugh if he wasn’t sure she was taking this so seriously.

“That’s it?”

He grinned at her. “Well, that’s not how I usually do it, but for you, sure. That’s it.”

She frowned. “How do you . . . usually do it?”

“Look, Emma. I’m not the dating type. But I like you. And I can see you want to ease into this. I want to help. I want to be your friend.”

Her gaze narrowed. “My friend.”

“Yeah.”

“But I’m not your type.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You implied I wasn’t the type of woman you typically did . . . whatever it is you do with women, since you just said you’re not the dating type.”

He resisted rolling his eyes. This is why he didn’t like having extended conversations with women. It usually led to him getting in trouble for something he said that he didn’t really say, but the woman thought he meant what he didn’t say in the first place.

Women drove him crazy.

“I didn’t imply anything. I just asked you out on a date.”

She crossed her arms, only this time it was in irritation, not defensiveness. “I don’t need a pity date, Luke.”

Shit. Foot-in-mouth struck again. “I don’t pity you. I like you.”

“You already said that. As a friend, of course.”

He clenched his jaw. “Is there something wrong with that?”

“No. I love being your BFF. It’s exactly how I want you thinking of me. Thanks for the offer, Luke, but I’ll pass. If you have any more problems with Boomer, don’t hesitate to call me.”

Needless to say, Luke leaves. But he can’t stop thinking about how much he genuinely likes Emma. Despite her frustration with him, Emma likes him too. They have a lot in common, and they finally agree to go to a minor league baseball game with their dogs on a non-date date. They have a blast, and at the end of the date, Emma invites him in for dinner. Next thing you know, they’re all over each other. Of course, Luke isn’t looking for a commitment, nor is Emma. But they so enjoy each other’s company, and next thing you know, Luke is having dinner with Emma’s parents, and going to her vet clinic’s adoption day, and inviting her to his family’s ranch. Being that they’re both adults, they recognize quickly that the attraction might be more than “just” dating. They don’t run from it, they step cautiously into building a relationship.

I really liked this book. As I stated above, I like small town romances in small doses, but this one works while also not being saccharine sweet. It’s at turns funny and always entertaining. The leads have serious chemistry and both are eminently likable. I also appreciate that they both act like grown-ups. No one acts like a jerk, and no one throws a fit. If they have an issue, they talk about it. It’s refreshing, considering how many romances are predicated on a big misunderstanding. I also enjoyed the relationships each lead had with their friends and family, and thought that there were some possibilities for sequels without it being overt. I just recently re-read this book for this review and found that my enjoyment of it hadn’t diminished a bit. I’m looking forward to the next entry in the series. If you’re looking for a sweet, hot, small town romance, Hope Flames fits the bill perfectly. Final grade: B+.

Kind regards,

Kati

 

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