Sunday, November 5, 2017

Book Review: 'Wyoming Brave' by Diana Palmer

There’s nothing like watching an ornery rancher and a tenderhearted lady find common ground amidst chaos, some of which they create themselves. Then there is the chaos from being prey to a contracted killer – just how safe can Ren keep Merrie? Seeking the answer is one of the reasons that kept me flipping the pages of Wyoming Brave.
I missed reading the story about Merrie’s sister, Sari, but this book about Merrie has made me want to know more especially seeing how hard it was for the heroine to not only find love but to feel as if there really was a future in store for her. After reading about how Merrie was treated by her father, it’s a wonder she didn’t have even more trust issues than she did. As the novel unfolded, I experienced various levels of horror as I realized just how cruel and scary the heroine’s childhood was. It explained how a woman in her early twenties could be so untouched and vulnerable, yet strong in unusual ways. What I mean is that Merrie had a knack, a gift, and a remarkable talent with animals. I suspect that pain recognized pain and her empathy as well as her deep well of untapped love was sensed by all the furred and feathered characters in the book.
Ren is initially a grumpy bug. He’s scowly, prickly and hard to get along with at first. You see, the hero has had a huge blow to his self-esteem, his trust and his heart. He’s gotten used to a certain type of woman in his life so Merrie, who should have been a breath of fresh air, got under his skin and made him act more growly than normal. Not that being contrary is normal, it’s really not for Ren, but he’s hurting and he wants to keep the heroine at arm’s length. Yeah, you know how well that works, right? Ren can’t help himself because every time the heroine does something unexpected she inadvertently gets past the barriers around his heart. She makes him want to trust again, to feel, to have hope and that gets him mad all over again. Good thing slow and steady wins the race. I’m not saying the story is slow, it’s not. Merrie is a gentle force of nature but one to be reckoned with. Ren didn’t stand a chance.
I am pretty sure I caught a glitch in the book about Merrie’s dancing ability. There’s an unnecessary repeat and I was surprised it wasn’t fixed. Another thing that didn’t jive with me 100% was the slippery smoothness of conflict resolution. What should have been bumpy, scary or at least viewed with wariness and caution somehow turns sunny, positive and everything turns out fairytale perfect. I guess for readers who are in the mood for light drama but want to stay away from truly dark themes, then this book reaches a good balance. For others who want the depth of the main characters to grow through detailed and focused adversity that they overcome, they’ll be left wanting. For all the potential for action and adventure based on the skill set of the alpha men that Merrie and Sari are surrounded with, the violence is understated and mostly inferred, not actual. So, depending on your mood, this book could really be a perfect read.
I know that I rated Wyoming Brave as spicy for the heat level but it’s more spicy-lite. Their physical expression of their passion was clear but muted. It was not graphic with lots of intimate detail; their touching and loving was more sensual, seductive and romantic but with just a tad of purple prose, if you know what I mean. It’s like I was peeking around the bedroom door to satisfy my belief that their chemistry was combustible but didn’t come all the way into the room to watch. I was fine with that level of heat.
The secondary characters that surrounded Ren and Merrie sure were colorful. They contributed important elements in the novel that made it work. Not surprisingly, Merrie endeared herself to a villain by finding within him that spark of decency and she reaped unexpected rewards. If any reader has seen Disney’s movie Pollyanna then they’ll have an idea of Merrie’s effect on the people around her. It’s like that.
Wyoming Brave was a one day read for me. I settled down into a comfortable chair and lost myself within its pages. It’s a nice story with some sharp edges to sink your teeth into. I liked Ren and Merrie together. The final chapter acted like one giant epilogue that wrapped up the HEA to perfection. This was a fine book and enjoyable. It’s a recommended read especially for fans of Ms. Palmer.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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