Series: Dare Valley #1
Published by CreateSpace on June 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Journalist Meredith Hale's ex-husband claimed her Nora Roberts addiction gave her unrealistic expectations about marriage, and she believed him. All dreams of happily ever after or Nora Roberts Land as her mother calls it—went up in smoke. But when her family asks her to temporarily help their Dare Valley, Colorado newspaper, she decides it’s time to change her life and prove her ex wrong. She's determined to find her own small-town Nora Roberts hero, prove that true love exists, and publish a story about her quest. War correspondent Tanner McBride has just returned stateside to work for a major newspaper, and the last thing he expects is blackmail. Yet, before he can even unpack, he’s headed to Colorado. His assignment? Make his boss’s ex-wife fall for him and then break her heart. Her article about discovering love à la Nora might air dirty laundry about her marriage to the media mogul, threatening his senate run. The mogul wants Meredith stopped, and he makes sure Tanner has no choice in the matter. When the two meet, the sparks between them are undeniable. Meredith, who vowed never to date another journalist, begins to succumb. Could Tanner be her Nora Roberts hero? As they work together to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death, the depth of their feelings unfolds and both realize they've kept their secrets for far too long. But before the truth can be revealed, their investigation takes a deadly turn, one that might make Meredith's personal Nora Roberts Land go up in flames.
The set up
Meredith Hale is still reeling from her recent divorce. Her slimy ex-husband accused her of having unrealistic expectations from their marriage because of her “obsession” with Nora Roberts romance books. She hasn’t read any since the divorce, her confidence shaken and believing maybe he was right. Now he’s planning a U. S. Senate run and wants her to keep quiet about the details of their split, insinuating publicly that she was the problem. Now she’s out to prove her romance novels aren’t fantasy and she’s going to publish an article about her experience in her high profile newspaper.
Tanner McBride, an international correspondent who just returned from Afghanistan, is hired by Meredith’s husband and blackmailed into wooing her and then dumping her. Problem is Tanner is really falling for Meredith and the two of them are also working closely together to uncover a drug ring in Dare Valley. It’s dangerous business and Tanner is caught in a vicious situation.
What works about this story
The story takes place in Dare Valley, Colorado, Meredith’s home town, and the small city dynamics work well (she decides her chances of finding her HEA are better there than New York City). Her grandfather, a nationally renowned newspaperman, and her younger sister, Jill, are strong personalities that make things even livelier. The family presence is important to the story and not just props or window dressing.
When I started this book, I was unaware of the suspense element and it was a very nice surprise. It added lots of tension and was woven very well with the romance and the mystery surrounding the drug ring. Tanner and Meredith worked as a couple, not lacking for steam or sensuality, and she made him work hard. And, the payoff was excellent.
Of course, there were many references to Nora Roberts titles and characters so if you’re a fan, as I am, it’s a pretty nice trip down memory lane.
Why not 5 stars?
Meredith drove me a bit nuts with her insecurities, considering she was an accomplished journalist in a high profile job and from a well known newspaper family. I had a tough time seeing her in that role given how easily she lost confidence and fell prone to panics. Not a big nit, but it was there.
The bottom line
I loved this story! Honestly, I thought it might be a little cheesy (NOT) and couldn’t be happier to have discovered this gem. It’s well written with strong character development, an interesting plot and plenty of emotional tension. I am so utterly addicted to this series and am almost finished with the second book. And, I plan to jump right into the third.
I also love to talk about books. There’s nothing more exciting than to finish a great story and cover it A to Z with other people, exploring different perspectives and points of view. So, if you see something on my shelf you’d like to talk about, send me a message and we’ll talk!
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