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22 July 2014

Review: Runaway by Renne Donne

Runaway by Renee Donne
Imprint: Romance
Release Date: July 29, 2014



Blurb:
After Marianne discovers her bankrupt stepfather sold her into marriage to the highest bidder, she flees Philadelphia and heads west to start a new life.

Unfortunately for her danger follows.  First, a stage coach accident leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere – with an injured driver. And henchmen, hired by her spurned would-be husband, are hot on her trail, threatening to return her to Philadelphia and the man who is determined to own her.

Just when things seem hopeless, Marianne is rescued by a handsome, cowboy who offers temporary refuge.  Knowing she can’t refuse, yet wary of his intentions, Marianne finds herself drawn to this quiet, enigmatic hero. But is he someone she can trust?


My Review

Marianne Fhinnerty runs away to Texas after discovering her step-father has betrothed her to sixty-year-old Maxwell Halsted. She is rescued from a stagecoach accident by the handsome Aaron Smith, but it soon becomes apparent that trouble has followed her …

Runaway is an enjoyable first novel. It was shorter than the books I usually read, barely longer than a novella. The short length meant there wasn’t a lot of scope for character development, particularly with regard to Aaron. This was a weakness, as I never felt I understood his motives, and without that he was almost too good to be true. Marianne was a better character, but she too would have benefited from more fleshing out.

The writing was solid, although there were a few typos, and the faith elements were subtle and well-presented. Renee Donne shows potential as an author.

Thanks to Anaiah Press for providing a free ebook for review.

Author Bio:
Renee Donne is a native Floridian with a penchant for writing books with a western theme. In her head she's a world traveler and an amateur chef. In real life, she's a hometown girl with an affinity for fine wine and good friends. Her favorite place to write is sitting on her veranda, overlooking the beach.

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21 July 2014

Author Interview: Renne Donne

Today I'd like to welcome debut author Renne Donne to Iola's Christian Reads. I'll be reviewing her first novel, Runaway, tomorrow. Welcome, Renne!




First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I‘m from St. Petersburg, Florida. I love to go for long walks on the beach, relax with friends and like to “escape” into a good book or movie. I enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes/dishes on my friends. I have a little chihuahua rescue dog, that is my constant companion when I am home.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

I guess my favorite genre would be romantic suspense, but I also like historical romance, YA and speculative fiction. If it draws me in, I like to read it. Some of my favorite authors are Janette Oke, Dee Henderson and Frank Peretti.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

Unspoken, a romantic suspense by Dee Henderson. Yes, I would recommend it, I have not read anything by her that I would not recommend. She creates strong, believable characters that are easy to identify with and this book is no different.

I enjoyed Unspoken as well, although I will admit to preferring her True Heroes series.

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

All of my writing is faith-based. The main characters are either strong christians or are finding their faith. Runaway, due to be released July 29th, is a historical romance, set in the old west. I also have a YA that is scheduled for release through Anaiah Press this fall, and am currently working on a romantic suspense.

Tell us about your latest book. Who will enjoy it?

I hope anyone who likes historical romance will enjoy reading Runaway. It has everything, danger, excitement and hero who comes to the aid of a lady in distress.

What was your motivation for writing Runaway?

I have always loved westerns, and once I started developing Marianne as a character, there had to be a hero cowboy out there somewhere for her.

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

I guess I have been influenced by other historical romances and westerns. Marianne came first, and I wanted a valid reason for her to leave a life of comfort and head out west on her own; Halsted seemed the perfect villain to give her that reason. Aaron was easy to pen as the cowboy to save her.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

My favorite character is Aaron. If I were a damsel in distress, I would like to meet an Aaron.

What motivated you to start writing? When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you signed your first publishing contract?

When I was in high school, my English teacher sent some poems that I had written, for an assignment, to a local newspaper and they were published. I realized that I really like writing and have been writing ever since. I had several good story ideas and started some, finishing a couple. I still have some unfinished manuscripts that I might go back over. I wrote and reworked Runaway numerous times, and it is the first book that I felt like I could submit to a publisher or agent.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

It is who I am. While I hope that my books will succeed in the secular market as well, I cannot write the kind of books that readily sell in that market.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

With Christian fiction you can count on reading a good story, without the sex and foul language, or excessive violence that is found in most secular fiction. I have found Christian books to not only be inspiring, but to also have the kind of characters that I can identify with.

What made you choose Anaiah Press as your publisher?

I can identify with their goals, and I felt that the direction I want my writing career to go fits perfectly with what they are doing.

What kind of support does your publisher give you? What are you expected to do yourself?

I am assigned an editor to work with, to develop my story. I work with the editor on developmental and content edits and also review the line edits and proof the galleys. Anaiah Press provides the cover art as well as the marketing materials associated with the release and publication of my book. Anaiah Press also assigns a publicist to help with the pre-publication promotion, book a blog tour for me during my release, and also help connect me to further promotional opportunities.


What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?

There are so many things involved, it depends on what aspect you are looking at. Writers block can be a big issue, when you know you need to write but can’t seem to get into it. Then when your manuscript is accepted by a publisher and the editing begins, you see your work picked apart. It is hard to not take it personally when scenes are revised or removed, etc. but you realize that it really is in the best interest of the book - the changes only improve upon your story.

Thanks for visiting, Renne, and best wishes for the release of Runaway.

Blurb:
After Marianne discovers her bankrupt stepfather sold her into marriage to the highest bidder, she flees Philadelphia and heads west to start a new life.

Unfortunately for her danger follows.  First, a stage coach accident leaves her stranded in the middle of nowhere – with an injured driver. And henchmen, hired by her spurned would-be husband, are hot on her trail, threatening to return her to Philadelphia and the man who is determined to own her.

Just when things seem hopeless, Marianne is rescued by a handsome, cowboy who offers temporary refuge. Knowing she can’t refuse, yet wary of his intentions, Marianne finds herself drawn to this quiet, enigmatic hero. But is he someone she can trust?

Author Links:

Trailer:


Buy Links:
Amazon:  
Kobo:




18 July 2014

Review: One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

I prefer her romantic suspense...


Keith Watson is the workaholic assistant to David McMillan, owner of a large construction company and funder of the McMillan Charitable Foundation. Keith is assessing applications for funding assistance when he finds a letter from a child with an unusual request: she wants him to find the baby boy the neighbour lady gave up for adoption twenty-plus years ago.

Keith is reluctant to waste his time on such a matter, until he meets the child, Haley Summers, and her mother, Claire. He’s attracted to Claire, but she has loved one man who gave up his family to chase his career, and she sees the same ambition in Keith. But she needs help around the house, and he keeps showing up and offering to help …

I’m a big fan of Irene Hannon’s romantic suspense novels, but this is the first of her pure romance’s I’ve read. While One Perfect Spring is a solid romance, I have to say I prefer her romantic suspense novels. They’ve got that extra ‘zing’ factor that, for me, lifts them beyond the ordinary. It wasn’t that One Perfect Spring wasn’t good—it was—I just didn’t enjoy it as much.

My main problem was Haley. There’s a saying in TV that you should never act with pets or children, and while pets are usually winners in fiction, children are more hit-and-miss. Haley is supposed to be eleven, but a lot of her conversation and attitudes make her seem much younger. This, to my mind, detracted from the romance.

I also thought there was too much emphasis on Dr Chandler (the neighbour who was searching for her adopted child), and David MacMillan and his family problems. Yes, it all added to the story, but this took up valuable space where there should have been a suspense subplot (*wink*).

Overall, this was a solid romance (well, double romance), just not Hannon’s best.

Thanks to Revell and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Irene Hannon at her website.

17 July 2014

Review: Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris

Fast-paced Suspense

Mason Taylor has had a bad start to his day. His estranged father is dying, but he’s had a desperate phone call from Rafael Cerda, a teen he counsels from the wrong side of the tracks. Rafael’s younger brother has been kidnapped by drug lords, who are asking for a ransom of $250,000, money he can’t possibly find. And things get worse …

Emily Hunt is Rafael’s history teacher at the prestigious Dogwood Academy, where he is a scholarship student, but now she and her niece, Tess, are his hostages. Meanwhile, Mason works with Emily’s sister—Tess’s mother—to negotiate with Rafael before anyone gets hurt. But who is behind the kidnapping?

Fatal Exchange is fast-paced romantic suspense. Most of the action takes place over the course of a single day, and there are no end to the twists and turns as Mason and Emily work to resolve the situation from their different positions. The plot was excellent, and kept me reading.

Along with plenty of suspense, there is a sizzling romantic undertone between a couple who have known each other for years but have never dated because of Emily’s aversion to dating a cop—and because Mason didn’t share her faith. I thought the way their relationship was handled was excellent. And the teaser at the end … I’ll be waiting for the next book with bated breath.

Lisa Harris won the 2014 Christy Award for Contemporary Romance/Suspense for Dangerous Passage, the first book in the Southern Crimes series, and Fatal Exchange is every bit as good, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to Lisa Harris for the ebook, which I won in a contest hosted by SoulInspirationz. You can find out more about Lisa Harris at her website.

15 July 2014

Review: Firewall by DiAnn Mills

Underwhelming



Software developer Taryn Young has just become Mrs Francis Shepherd after a whirlwind courtship. She is about to board a plane with Shep for their island honeymoon when a bomb rips through the airport, and Taryn wakes up in hospital to find she and Shep are the prime suspects.

FBI Special Agent Grayson Hall has been assigned to interview Taryn to find the truth behind the fatal bombing. He and his partner are initially convinced she is guilty, but while she manages to convince them of her innocence, it soon becomes apparent that Shep is intimately involved in the crime. As the investigation progresses, Greyson finds himself developing feelings for Taryn.

There is something slightly ‘off’ about a romance plot in which one of the partners has only recently come out of a serious relationship (as in, serious enough that she married the guy). Even as teenagers we understood that rebound relationships never work, and while I’ve read some excellent novels about second relationships (Somebody Like You by Beth Vogt springs to mind), Firewall is not one of them.

Taryn’s emotions towards Grayson felt more like a bizarre kind of Stockholm Syndrome than real caring, and I didn’t think her emotionally-backward genius-level IT geek came across well (Ted Dekker’s Hacker on the other hand … brilliant). Bluntly, I found it difficult to care for her as a character. She felt more like a mash-up of clich├ęs than a real person. Yes, I know Firewall is fiction, but the beauty of great fiction is it makes me feel like I’m reading about real people. Firewall didn’t.

Despite the relative failings of the romance, the suspense side of the plot was definitely up to standard. It was chilling to watch the FBI investigation progress and see how thoroughly Taryn had been duped, and Mills did an excellent job in that I never saw Taryn as stupid or naive (let’s face it, even the most intelligent of women can make bad choices in marriage, Christian or not). The finale was excellent, as it pulled of a huge plot twist that tied up all the ends of the suspense plot. However, this was not enough to squelch my ‘yuk’ factor around the ‘romance’ side of the plot. Firewall is not a book I’ll be rereading.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Diann Mills at her website.