Review: Sarah M. Anderson’s ONE RODEO SEASON

One_Rodeo_SeasonSarah M. Anderson’s hokey-titled One Rodeo Season is anything but. What starts as a fun little rodeo-meet-cute between Ian Tall Chief, bullfighter, and Lacy Evans, stock contractor, turns from a “no-strings” relationship to friendship and love, from rom-lite to considered romance novel about identity, cleaving to others, and negotiating commitment. Ian Tall Chief works as a bullfighter when he’s not working at the S. Dakota Real Pride ranch. Lacy Evans is a rodeo stock contractor when she’s not at the Wyoming Straight Arrow ranch she recently inherited from her parents. From their first meeting, Ian is Lacy’s protector and defender. She’s threatened by a powerful rancher, Slim Smalls, and hit on by a slimeball. Ian rushes in where “angels fear to tread,” his former-football muscles standing between Lacy and a world of hurt. But Lacy is a tough cookie, and comes at Ian from the get-go: “Who was she? Someone tiny and fierce and unafraid of him.” Lacy is “fierce,” gauche, a loner, but the attraction between them is undeniable. Except. There be inner turmoil for Lacy and Ian. The inner turmoils’ sources are deep and troubling. They make building a commitment-based relationship unfeasible. Ian charms and gently compels skittish Lacy to a friendship. While Lacy vehemently declares her ability to care for herself, she knows Smalls’ threat and her own precarious emotional state dictate she accept Ian’s help and protection. Ian and Lacy are one of Miss Bates’s favourite couple-combinations: Ian is charming, funny, and knight-in-shining-armor. He has a wide circle of friends, makes friends easily, fits comfortably in his huge clan, and is a looker. Lacy, on the other hand, is solitary, awkward with people, lacks social graces, and plain.
Continue reading

MINI-REVIEW: Sarah M. Anderson’s HIS FOREVER FAMILY

His_Forever_FamilySarah M. Anderson’s His Forever Family has a dramatic opening and an intriguing premise. Chicago billionaire hero, Marcus Warren, and his executive assistant, Liberty Reese, are jogging along Lake Michigan. They’re sharing a near-banterish conversation about Marcus’s attendance at his ex-fiancée’s wedding. Liberty is urging him to find a date, then intuiting that he really doesn’t want to attend. Marcus is insistent on attending (because his mommy wants him to) while resisting selecting a date from the list his uber-efficient assistant compiled. He hits on the idea of taking Liberty. The reader senses that Liberty is afraid of Marcus’s social world, but we’re not yet privy to the reasons. Anderson balances witty dialogue with character revelations. We learn that Marcus is nervous about being attacked, distant from his self-serving parents, and yearns for love and belonging. We learn that Liberty’s beginnings are as far removed from her role in Marcus’s world as Lake Michigan is from Alaska. Into this complex little scene, Anderson drops a – BABY! – an abandoned baby, a foundling. Nearing Chicago’s famous Buckingham Fountain, Marcus hears a mewling and notes some strange movement. He drops to his knees, thinking it  might be an abandoned kitten. He is shocked to discover ” … an African-American newborn in a shoe box by the trash can.” Liberty to the rescue! She cradles and croons to the baby, cools him off with their water bottles, and evokes warm, fuzzy, protective, and desirable feelings in Marcus.
Continue reading

REVIEW: Sarah M. Anderson’s FALLING FOR HER FAKE FIANCE, Or How to Write a Romance Novel

Falling_For_Her_Fake_FiancéMiss Bates side-eyed Sarah M. Anderson’s Falling For Her Fake Fiancé: 5th in the Beaumont Heirs series … how tired can that get? She wasn’t keen on #3, A Beaumont Christmas Wedding (didn’t read #4). Miss Bates is a lover of pie, particularly humble pie, and especially when she has to eat her words. 😉 She had to read Falling For Her Fake Fiancé because alliteration and near-marriage-of-convenience, two elements irresistible to Miss B. She went in doubtful and emerged glowing with reader satisfaction. Hero Ethan Logan is CEO of Beaumont Brewery, dealing with redundancy, raising the “bottom line.” He takes sick companies and makes them well; then, on to the next corporate patient. Nothing’s working for him at Beaumont and his fixer pride smarts: employees wage a calling-in-sick campaign and production is down, thanks to their loyalty for former owners, the Beaumont clan. Enter stunner Beaumont sister, Frances, with cleavage and charm, sharp-tongued, armed with donuts. In a heartbeat, the employees are eating donuts and out of her hand. Ethan’s savvy businessman’s pragmatism, not his raging attraction to Frances, no, not that, finds him verbally sparring, lusting, and proposing a marriage-of-convenience. With this connection to the Beaumonts, employees will co-operate, Ethan does the job, and gets the hell out of Dodge, well, Denver. What’s in it for Frances? She is used to men’s adulation and attention, but her professional life, an online art gallery, went bust. At 30, she lives at home, feels like a failure, and wants her family’s place in the sun back. If not that, then, a little coy revenge would go a long way to assuage hurt pride. What she doesn’t count on? How nice Ethan is and how he makes her want things she never considered.
Continue reading

REVIEW: Sarah M. Anderson’s A BEAUMONT CHRISTMAS WEDDING, Or Flirting and Forgiveness

Beaumont_Christmas_WeddingSarah M. Anderson wrote two wonderful category romances, the first two in the series “Lawyers In Love,” A Man Of Distinction and A Man of Privilege. Miss Bates is not a lawyer as heroine, or hero fan, not even Julie James charms her. Anderson, however, did not exactly charm, but convince her with terrific characterization and believable conflict. Anderson didn’t pander to Native American or cowboy stereotypes, nor glamorize the lawyer-corporate world. She centred her characters in issues of identity and confronted them with ethical dilemmas about self-interest and “doing the right thing.” With so much goodness preceding Miss B’s reading of Sarah M. Anderson’s latest category romance, A Beaumont Christmas Wedding, Miss B. was surprised at how … well … flummoxed some of the novel left her. 

It had a few points against it going in: third in a Denver-set wealthy-family saga, truth be told, Miss Bates is no fan of the “rich-family saga,” too much Dynasty in her youth. The hero, Matthew Beaumont, is chief marketing officer for Percheron Drafts Beer, the family business of a family that already has too much money and expends most of its energy on outlandish shenanigans. Just the word “marketing” is enough to put Miss B. off: but Matthew is also the “good son” who puts out fires of notoriety and scandal. He’s squeaky-clean and successful, nothing goes wrong on his watch; he’s in PR charge of his brother’s, Phillip’s, wedding to Jo Spears. Into Matthew’s well-orchestrated Christmas Eve wedding fairy tale walks heroine, Whitney Maddox, aka Whitney Wildz, former child star and disorderly teen of the scandal sheets, and Jo’s maid of honour. The chip on Matthew’s shoulder grows into a log … Continue reading