Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

Stuck Together by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers, 3rd June, 2014

Bestselling Author Mary Connealy Delivers Laughs, Romance, and Western Adventure

Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel's only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.

But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is suffering signs of dementia. And his surprise sister immediately falls for one of Vince's best friends. Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.


Mary's books always turn up just when I'm needing something light and funny after having read something brain heavy - it's always the right medicine. I loved what I saw from Vince and Tina in the previous book in the series Fired Up and in Stuck Together their chemistry jumped off the page.

Essentially both Vince and Tina use other people's perceptions of them to hide who they really are. They like people to view them a certain way, so that no one sees the hurts they carry deep down. Unfortunately Vince's estranged father, mentally ill mother and the sister he didn't know existed turn up in Broken Wheel and throw his life into a tail spin. Throw in his and Tina's constant bickering and we've got one confused hero.

Tina feels rejected her whole life and when Vince appears to reject her, her brother decides he's in love - the rejection hurts all the more. So she clings to her causes and being a woman who can look after herself. She learns that like Vince, she's been hiding too, longing for love and acceptance. Both characters find it in God and each other by the end of the book.

For me Stuck Together wasn't quite as funny as the previous two books in the series, but still offered a lovely and amusing diversion. I did feel that Tina's insecurities around her brother could have been alleviated if he'd only explained to her why he didn't stop by and see her when she was growing up - that didn't happen, so Tina was left in the dark there.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It made me smile and chuckle here and there.

Looking forward to another one Mary!

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review: Undetected by Dee Henderson

Undetected by Dee Henderson
Bethany House Publishers, April 29th, 2014

When asked what he does for a living . . .
Commander Mark Bishop is deliberately low-key: "I'm in the Navy." But commanding the ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada, keeping her crew trained and alert during ninety-day submerged patrols, and being prepared to launch weapons on valid presidential orders, carries a burden of command like few other jobs in the military. Mark Bishop is a man who accepts that responsibility, and handles it well. And at a time when tensions are escalating around the Pacific Rim, the Navy is glad to have him.

Mark wants someone to come home to after sea patrols. The woman he has in mind is young, with a lovely smile, and very smart. She's a civilian, yet she understands the U.S. Navy culture. And he has a strong sense that life with her would never be boring. But she may be too deep in her work to see the potential in a relationship with him.

Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn't see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best--ocean science research. She's on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop's perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she's figured out is only the beginning. If she's right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.


I liked the blurb when I read it and with some reservations from having read Unspoken, I plunged into Undetected. I read it in two days and that's usually a good thing. I kept waiting for it to get really good, waiting and waiting until I found myself at the last page and I was still waiting.

It appears with her latest three books: Full Disclosure, Unspoken and finally Undetected a real pattern has emerged. Ms. Henderson likes her women to be unrealistically accomplished, usually wealthy and so complicated that the it would take about fifty years to decode them. All three women in the books seem to be emotionally unavailable, to the point of exasperating. I get it, they've all had hard lives (especially Charlotte from Unspoken) in some way or another and this makes them put up walls, walls so thick that they usually aren't knocked down much by the end of the book.

The men in these books are perfect - they are patient, calm, forthright without entering pushy boundaries (although Mark Bishop gives it his best shot in the badgering department regarding his romance with Gina), they are logical and methodical in how they approach love that the spark from the romance never gets a chance even start. 

This is the case with Undetected. As I was reading the book, the addition of an extra character to make things interesting was great. I was really wondering how Ms. Henderson was going to sort out the mess (a good storyline mess) she'd created.  Once it was resolved, I kept waiting for the next problem to come along and challenge this couple. It didn't happen sadly. So instead of watching a potentially great couple weather the storms of military life with a genius spouse thrown into the mix, we get lots of science information and lots and lots of information on the ins and outs of submarine maneuvers and life on such a vessel. I know the author does her research and it shows - a little too much. Information overload was happening for most of this book. I'm an average reader and my brain was tired from all the science and technical information - not all of it added to the story either.

I wanted more development from Mark Bishop, I wanted him to show a range of emotions that are realistic of a man - he doesn't appear to have a temper, get irritated, get frustrated or even be vague like some men I know. He's just focused on the task ahead and finding the best way to make the outcome happen. I found him at times to be a little patronizing of Gina (he doesn't mean it, but he can't see that he is at times) and I wanted to hit him a few times for his almost badgering the poor girl into a romance with him.

I liked Gina and understood her better than the other heroines in Dee's two previous books. Gina is easily lead and I get why. She's a genius, she is so far ahead of those in her own field that she likes to fit in and is socially on the back foot. She doesn't know how to be different but she wants to at the same time. She's been different her whole life and she worries that she'll never find her place outside the science world. I think if she had more time with Mark before the badgering started, I could have believed in this relationship more. Give Gina the time to really settle onto the decision and getting to watch her fall in love would have been magic. I didn't see her fall in love, not really as much of the book is from Mark's POV, but she somehow did.

I wanted more from this book as I saw more than it offered. It had the potential to be really, really good, instead it was average and this made me sad. Will I keep reading Ms. Henderson's books? Yes, because I'm an eternal optimist and very loyal.


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.