I love reading novels that are set in Texas, especially when the author lives in the Lone Star State and knows how real Texans live and speak. So many times, authors set their story on a Texas ranch and insert “y’all” in every sentence of dialogue, which is completely unrealistic. Kellie Coates Gilbert dispels that notion and also shows that there are sophisticated and polished ladies and gentlemen in the Lone Star State. Not every Texan wears boots and a cowboy hat or drives a big truck or lives on a ranch.
In What Matters Most, Gilbert takes us into the hill country and the state capital of Austin, where political power and agendas provide a charged atmosphere for a Cinderella story. Leta Breckenridge has faced challenges and difficult choices in her life, but she has always kept her priorities straight. When she is offered a dream job with a huge salary, it is almost too good to be true.
Nathan Emerson is a young senator with deep roots and high aspirations in politics. His family and long-time girlfriend want to see him unseat the current governor, but Nathan is unsure if this is the right time to make his move. When he meets Leta, he is intrigued by her and her current situation.
This book gives readers an inside look into the inner workings of politics, while keeping the story light enough for a romance. What Matters Most asks the characters to make difficult choices based on what is right rather than what is easy or most beneficial. The moral of the story is one that could apply to anyone in almost any situation. This novel is well-written and interesting.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These thoughts and opinions are my own.
The final book of the Lassoed in Texas trilogy is set in a small town that lies at the end of the “orphan train”, and a single man named Grant adopts all the “leftovers”–the kids who have a disability, appear angry, look troublesome, or are too young or old, and haven’t been chosen by any family at any of the stops along the way. Hannah Cartwright, the new school teacher, fears for the safety of the children entrusted to the care of a single man, since she had been adopted by the same evil man as Grace Calhoun (Calico Canyon). Grant does his best to convince the meddling schoolmarm of his good intentions, but circumstances continually paint him in a poor light. Shirt Lady also complicates Grant’s life and adds to the mystery. Gingham Mountain ties up a few loose ends from the previous book while introducing an interesting cast of new characters.
Calico Canyon is the second book in the Lassoed in Texas trilogy and focuses on the new school teacher, Grace Calhoun, who was introduced in Petticoat Ranch as a severely prim and proper young woman. We learn in Calico Canyon about the man who has tormented Grace since adopting her as a child and who has now tracked her down to kill her. What will she have to do in order to escape his clutches?
Daniel Reeves, a widower with five rambunctious boys, accidentally brings home a new “ma” for his boys, and complete mayhem ensues when the local pastor comes calling. The dynamics between Daniel and his boys and their new ma make for a fascinating–and funny–story with a heartfelt ending.
As a book reviewer for Bethany House Publishers, I receive emails when they have new books to review, and I usually recognize at least one author, but a few months ago, I knew none of the authors on the list. Since I share all of the books with my mom, I asked her if she had a preference, and she said to request “anything by Mary Connealy”. Stuck Together was her newest book, and it was very entertaining. My mom then brought me several of Connealy’s previous novels, which I voraciously read and thoroughly enjoyed over the next three weeks. I will be posting reviews of these nine books over the next couple weeks.
Petticoat Ranch is the first book in the Lassoed in Texas trilogy and is set in the 1860’s. Sophie Edwards is a fiercely independent widow and mother of four young girls. She can hunt and provide for her girls and protect herself and them if need be. She’s smart, strong, and self-sufficient. One night, she and her oldest two girls bravely rescue a complete stranger, who looks oddly familiar.
Clay McClellan is searching for the murderers responsible for his brother’s death, but he discovers a family he didn’t know he had. He tries to do the honorable thing and take care of them, but he may have met his match.
God allows two men to hear Sophie’s silent prayers for help and sends them to West Texas, but will they reach her in time?
Petticoat Ranch had me laughing out loud and sharing short sections with my husband. Mary Connealy definitely wrote this series for women with its strong female characters, handsome cowboys, laughter, and tears. This is a very entertaining story, and my mom and I highly recommend it.
This was my first time to read a book by Mary Connealy, but it won’t be my last. Stuck Together is actually the third volume in her Trouble in Texas series, so I’ll have to go back and read the first two books–Swept Away and Fired Up. I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review, so I didn’t take the time to read the previous two books, but they tell the stories of some of the central characters. I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not reading the other books first, but I would now like to get to know the other characters better.
Tina Cahill is a sassy, young woman in a small town in west Texas in the late 1860’s, who has learned to take care of herself because she feels unwanted and unloved. She makes the sidewalk in front of the saloon her mission field and attempts to dissuade men from entering, which sometimes causes more harm than good. She is also the only single woman in town.
Vince Yates is a lawyer and the unpaid sheriff of Broken Wheel. He shares a close friendship with three other men in town. The four of them fought for the union in the Civil War and were held as prisoners-of-war at Andersonville. Through a series of events, Tina and Vince end up “stuck together”, much to their chagrin, on more than one occasion.
Stuck Together is a great summer read–light, funny, and fairly short. The characters were interesting and genuine. The setting was what you’d expect from a western, and the author describes the area vividly. The gospel is woven through a few conversations but doesn’t come across as preachy.
I learned something new in reading this romantic comedy about cowboys. I had never heard of Andersonville before, nor did I know that the South imprisoned POWs during the Civil War. After finishing the book, I did a little research and found the author’s depiction to be quite accurate. I usually enjoy learning something about our nation’s history, but there was nothing enjoyable about Andersonville. Men were lucky if they survived, or maybe the ones who died quickly were the lucky ones. The photos online of emaciated men reminded me of the photos of men in concentration camps during WWII. The book doesn’t go into much detail on this, so you can enjoy the light-hearted romance.