MINI-REVIEW: Nicole Helm’s CLOSE RANGE CHRISTMAS (Badlands Cops #6)

Close_Range_ChristmasI continue in my nostalgic pursuit of finding category romance. In this case, I read Nicole Helm, an author whose longer-form contemporary romance I enjoyed. And … nope. It wasn’t terrible, except for one puerile bit, but it also isn’t going to send me running to read more of this category. It didn’t help that I came in at #6: there were A LOT of previous book couples, with convoluted family histories, fostered, biological, and adopted, AND, it appears, six? seven? brothers from one ranch marrying the various sisters from the neighbouring one. Yeah, it was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers without the humour, music, or, well, the fun. Without overburdening my poor readers with the endless backstory, let’s give it over to the blurb for some plot and character filler:

Dev Wyatt’s worst fear has come true. Someone from the Wyatts’ dangerous past is stalking his family—and his best friend, Sarah Knight. When she asked Dev to help her have a child, Sarah did not expect her pregnancy would place her in danger, but now Sarah must take shelter on the Wyatt ranch. As she and Dev battle escalating threats, will they survive long enough to become a family?

Um, blurb-foiler: this sounds like it has forced-proximity potential. Au contraire, the Wyatt ranch is peopled with a gazillion brothers, their wives, children, and pets. The sexy times, given Sarah is nine months pregnant (not what we see on the cover), days from her due date, are strictly closed-bedroom-door and sparse, which is a-okay by me. As for the mini-village living together, with a grandmother to boot, I did not even try to figure out who’s who and who’s with who, or who begat who.  Continue reading

REVIEW: Irene Hannon’s TRAPPED, Or An Honourable Man Can’t Be Thwarted

TrappedMiss Bates never recovered from Jonathan Demme’s brilliant Silence Of the Lambs as the thriller par excellence, despite the critical controversy it garnered then and since.  And if Miss Bates hasn’t rallied (her discombobulation matched only by the effect of the Dutch film, The Vanishing … kept her sleepless for three nights) from Demme’s horror/thriller film, thriller writers haven’t either.  Irene Hannon’s contemporary, inspirational thriller, Trapped, runs in this vein.  It does not reach Silence‘s heights of horror frissons, portray the killer’s and pursuer’s psychological make-up with the same astuteness and precision, or wow us with penetratingly chilly dialogue, but it kept Miss Bates engaged and … poised and tense for the next scene.  The faith content was relatively minor; the romance, on the other hand, was more interesting than the suspense.  Hannon’s ideas about redemption, second chances, forgiveness, and hope are powerful, but their execution is clichéd. She could have told a more original story, but she did not fail to tell an interesting one.  Continue reading for Miss Bates’s verdict on Hannon’s romantic, Christian thriller