Friday, August 12, 2016

Spring in Snow Valley

I've wanted to move to Snow Valley since the first story collection came out. This newest installment was like going home for a nice visit. There are new characters to love, glimpses of past characters, and some nice surprises. Let's break it down, story by story.
From Goodreads and My Take:
Spring is in the air and so is romance in the small town of Snow Valley, Montana.

Operation—Kiss the Girl, Cindy Roland Anderson

Ivy Baker is doomed to marry a man she only pretends to be in love with to save the family ranch. Since she isn’t marrying for love, Ivy secretly creates a kissing wish list composed of scenes from the romance books she loves to read. She hopes to experience at least one kiss from her list before she becomes officially engaged and seals her fate. When she travels to Snow Valley to help her aunt recover from knee surgery, Ivy finds herself falling for Kellen Thomas, an irresistible cowboy she should avoid. By chance Kellen finds Ivy’s list, and decides to make it his mission to help her fulfill her bucket list, turning her world upside down and making Ivy want to choose her heart over duty. 

Ivy is the quintessential martyr. She's the only girl in a family of cowboys, and although her brothers love and care for her, her father has made her feel like her only purpose is to marry a jerk to get the water rights back. I'll admit I didn't like her dad at all even though he had already died by the time this story started. I found myself frustrated with Ivy for not telling her brothers what was going on, and with the brothers for being so clueless. Having said all of that, I can see something like this happening. Guys are clueless. Especially when it comes to their own sisters. The real star of the story for me was Kellen. I've wanted his story ever since Caytie and Jace got together. Kellen is such a good guy, working through his own issues after being wounded in Afghanistan. When he stumbles upon Ivy's "places to be kissed" bucket list he makes it his goal to check as many off as possible for her. This story made me smile and of course, the rat Corbin gets his in the end.

Love Coming Late, Jeanette Lewis

Cynthia Eddington never thought she'd return to Snow Valley after a string of bad luck forced the sale of her beloved farm there. But here she is, about to start a new life with her children, Jackson and Anoria. Cynthia plans to focus on her career and her family; she's not looking for romance and she's definitely not looking for sexy cowboy, Colby Schroder.

This was one of the first pleasant surprises. Although I love stories of new love, it was refreshing to have an older couple getting a second chance at love. Cynthia is a widow with two almost grown kids. Colby is a little younger, divorced and the father of an adorable little girl. First, I liked the fact their ages didn't match perfectly. Life rarely fits into the neat packages that often become the template for romance novels. So, yay! I love that the issues keeping these two apart are also real, valid concerns in situations like this. Cynthia's daughter likes Colby, and even though the distance between their ages is greater than the distance between him and Cynthia, it creates quite the puddle of quicksand. The scene that made me love this story more than anything is the dance scene when Cynthia lets go. I can so relate to that scene! 

Running from the Cowboy, Cami Checketts

Missy Horman escaped an abusive marriage and returns to Snow Valley to help her father deal with her emotionally disturbed mother. Volunteering to teach a youth Sunday school class seems like a good way to get out of her comfort zone—until she ends up kissing Porter Wilson in front of a bunch of teenagers. Embarrassed, and secretly thrilled, by the kiss, she writes Porter off as a playboy. But, Missy wasn't the only one affected and Porter's new mission in life is to prove that there's more to him than flirting and world-tilting kisses. He wants to show her that a true cowboy knows how to treat a lady and, if Missy can't keep her wits about her, she might just let him.

Squee! The Wilson boys are back! Last we saw Luke falling for Annie while Missy was left to recover from an abusive marriage. I liked that Missy stepped out of Annie's way because she recognized their love and wasn't going to be one of "those" women. Now Luke's brother Porter is noticing Missy. The very first chapter is a hoot and the excitement just keeps going full steam ahead! Porter pulls out all the stops to convince Missy that her "no more cowboys" rule should fly right out the window. LOVED IT! 4.5

The Bet, Taylor Hart

When Destiny Morningstar gets blackmailed into spending her spring break in Snow Valley, the last thing she’s looking for is a date, especially not with Adam and Chase Moon—two attractive and athletic brothers. But soon she finds herself tangled up in a dating spree that includes a flag football game, swinging around the barn dance, and hiking to Snow Valley's romantic hot springs with the town's most eligible bachelors. At every turn she's within kissing distance of one of the delectable Moon men. When she discovers she’s been part of some bet fueled by sibling rivalry and overactive egos she has to make a decision—forgive them both or miss out on the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

Where to start?? Boy, brothers especially, are so crazy! Adam and Chase have both set their sights on Destiny. Both tried to call "dibs" but when neither is willing to back down they decide that the first one to kiss her wins. It's a fun and confusing ride for Destiny to be sure, but when Adam doesn't kiss her simply because it means more to him than the bet, things go downhill fast. Can Adam convince her it always meant more to him than winning? LOVED IT! 4.5

Sealed with a Kiss, Kimberley Montpetit

Jessica Mason and Pastor James are struggling to make their long-distance relationship work between Snow Valley and New Orleans where Jessica dances with the local ballet company. When April Murphy, a war widow with a child, shows up in Snow Valley, James reluctantly begins to wonder if he and Jessica are really meant to be. April would make the perfect pastor’s wife and he’d have an instant family and the stability he craves. But he can’t get the spitfire Jessica out of his mind and when she returns to Snow Valley to accept an inheritance, her male ballet partner in tow, the love triangle takes on a new edge. Can Jessica and James figure out how to create a family while living in two different states—or do they allow their hearts to move on and forget the passion they once shared?

This is Jessica and Pastor Jame's continuing story. It's been almost two years since they met and they've been doing the long distance relationship thing. Jessica is doing much better, but she's still a bit broken inside. It's like she just can't decide what it is she really wants. To be honest, this was my least favorite story. It's still good, but I thought Jessica was a jerk a lot of the time. Even though she talks about others deserving better, she doesn't really act like she cares about anyone's feelings but her own. It's probably just that I don't understand physically torturing yourself for a dream that isn't making you happy. 

Romancing a Husband, Lucy McConnell

Natalie Lawson is at a crossroads.

This was the other really great surprise of the collection for me. How many times do you get to see a married couple struggle to find love again? The pain of this story was so real. So crippling to all involved. And yet you have some wise friends giving advice that in the end gives Natalie and Eli the strength and courage to step back and try again. Natalie has to learn to stop tip-toeing around the problem and understand it's not her job to make Eli happy. Eli has to learn that just because he's out of work doesn't mean he's unworthy of Natalie's love and affection. I love stories that are true to life, but come with a happy ending! 4.5

I give Spring in Snow Valley a solid 4, with some individual stories a 4.5.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

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