Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pink Heart Picks Book Club: Bachelor Sheriff by Paula Graves

This month for our book club selection I went to the Harlequin Intrigue line. I don't read a lot of Intrigues. I know I say that a lot about a lot of lines, but honestly I do tend to move around a lot and read a little of everything. And since one of the purposes of the club was to read something different that I might not normally pick up...it's all good, right?

I picked Paula's book for a few reasons. One, I liked the blurb. Two, I've "known" Paula since before she made her first sale but I've been a poor pal since I have yet to read any of her books. And three, I knew this was part of her Chickasaw County/Cooper Justice series and I was curious to see how she handled a book in the middle/towards the end of what is a long series in the category romance world. Paula can set me straight but I think it's going to be six books in all.

I really liked both of the characters in this book - Aaron and Melissa were good people trying to do good things and who got caught in the middle of something nasty. I like protector type heroes so Aaron fit the bill just right. He was gentle with Melissa too, and she needed it.  Melissa's a great heroine.  She has good reason to try to stay under the radar but she doesn't.  She doesn't hide away but uses her experiences to help other people. She's gutsy. I like that.

The first chapter really hooked me in and Paula did a great job of adding red herrings to the story. Just when you think you sort of know who the villian is, something happens that makes you just a bit unsure. She did keep me guessing. She also did a great job of escalating the danger, building up to the climax at the end. Melissa was in danger from the first page, but at the end she's really in trouble, and I LOVED how it echoed a defining moment from her past.

There were a few things that I would have liked to have seen and I know very well how word count constraints make it tough to include everything, so I wonder if that might have been why a few things felt unfinished.  Melissa's dog plays a large part in the first few chapters, but then we kind of lose him and it would have been neat to see the same kind of symmetry with the dog as we did with the ending.  I also wish that Melissa's father had explained his past to her. He does say he is going to when the time is right. It made me wonder if that right time will be in a later book. And the last thing is a red herring and don't read this if you're attempting to stay spoiler free (I'll put it in white, drag your cursor over the end of this paragraph to see what I've written).  When Melissa's ex arrives on the scene, it felt a little coincidental. He was a great red herring but he wasn't anchored to anything else. I think it would have been way cool if he'd been hired by the villian to do some of the dirty work. It certainly would have added to the deviousness of the bad guy!

My favourite part? When Aaron is running through the woods calling for her to stop. I could really see that unfolding and hear his voice as he was shouting "Baby, it's me!"

So tell me - did you read this month's selection?  What did you think? Do you regularly read the Intrigue line? Do you like the balance of action to romance? And for you Intrigue readers and authors, is this a normal heat level for Intrigue or do they run the range from sweet to smokin'?  I think my daughter would like the Intrigue line for the action but she's not quite into the hot stuff yet...

You can check out the book's page at eharlequin HERE.

And now for October's Pick:

In October we're reading Jeannie Lin's historical debut, BUTTERFLY SWORDS! Come back on October 26 to chat about this author's first sale and the innovative settting of China! Jeannie is also joining us for a blog during the month so you're not going to want to miss it!


  1. Donna--great review! I love that you guys are reading across the lines here on PHS.

    I haven't read this particular Cooper Justice book yet, but I loved Paula's "Forbidden" series for Intrigue. I remember judging her first book in the Daphne du Maurier Contest, and knew she had a great story, and was thrilled to see her get published.

    I can answer your question about the heat level in an Intrigue. I would say that 99% of the books do have a love scene--but the sensuality factor varies from author to author and story to story. Some have 2-3 love scenes and can get steamy (never as graphic as a Blaze, though, for example), while others are more traditional, with metaphoric descriptions or closing doors. Maybe closer to a SSE or HAR?

    You'd have to read a few Intrigues to see which authors' level of steam you're comfortable with. I don't know how old your daughter is, but I've had high-school girls read my Intrigues, and they (and their moms--I asked!) were fine with that.

  2. Thanks Julie! And my daughter is 12. She has found a few of my fellow Harlequin Romance "voices" that she likes (not always mine, lol!) as things are pretty "behind closed doors".

    She's still at an age where she finds explicit stuff "yucky". The idea of it- fine. LOL Wonder how much longer THAT will last?

  3. I enjoyed this story more than a couple of the previous ones - maybe because there's a really zippy plot that draws you along, with all the things that happen (and boy, Melissa REALLY wasn't having a good week, was she?).
    I thought the characters were a bit more realistic, again, and it was intriguing to have the heroine more 'scrambled' than the hero, who was delightfully - how can I put this? - normal.
    I do feel, with 'series' books, that it's maddening to only get a tiny bit of the others' stories - I think I said before that I can actually read earlier books and forget what happens. SO I have made a resolution that I will collect a series but only read it when they're all out, so I can actually remember between books what happened.
    (At the present moment I have the attention span of a goldfish so not even this might work, but we'll see...)
    And I'm really looking forward to reading 'Butterfly Swords' - I've heard so much about it!

  4. Alison - you're right. The characters did seem like ordinary people caught in an extraordinary circumstance, you know?

    It might be a bit spoilery but Melissa's past reminded me of a news story from where I live that happened a couple of weeks ago. Only the person here fell accidentally and it was 7 floors. And yes, she lived.

    Thanks for joining us again - it's been very cool to see you reading and commenting each month!

  5. Oh, I really enjoy the challenge of reading in different series, and it's opened my eyes a lot to all the great titles out there (maybe too much, since I'm getting so many titles added to my TBR pile, byt hey...!)

  6. Hi, y'all! Thanks so much for featuring Bachelor Sheriff! I'm sorry I've been absent the last couple of days--I started coming down with a stomach virus very suddenly Tuesday afternoon and I've spent the last 24 hours doing a lot of moaning and groaning on my sofa.

    By the way, Cooper Justice is a seven book series. The final three books, Hitched and Hunted, The Man from Gossamer Ridge and Cooper Vengeance will be out back to back to back April, May and June of 2011.