Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pink Heart Picks: A McKaslin Homecoming

PHS Editor Donna Alward takes a look at the March pick, and snags a new series Romance from her TBR for April!

In March we read A McKaslin Homecoming by Jillian Hart. This is the first book of Jillian's I've read, and the first Love Inspired I've read in a while. Here's the cover and blurb:

When contacted by her long-lost grandmother, Lauren McKaslin wanted to reconnect--with all the warmhearted Montana McKaslins. For too long, she'd relied solely on herself and her faith. But mistrustful lawman Caleb Stone stood in the way, and his questions about her were intimidating. Was his attention more than a protective instinct? Now that she believed in family again, perhaps this was also the time to believe in true love.

I really enjoy the Love Inspired books when they are inspirational but not preachy. In this case, the family is a good living family, go to church, believe in God, pray. When inspy works best for me, it's when faith is intrinsically part of the characters' lives, rather than feeling "pushy". Hart does a great job of this! For that reason alone, I'd read another of her books in a heart beat. I love how the faith element is interwoven so seamlessly into their every day life.

Caleb is a GREAT hero. You kind of forget he's a cop because throughout most of the story he's a cowboy. And the extended family is great, very individual and memorable. It was a really enjoyable read, and can totally stand alone even though it's part of a really big series. That being said - Hart also does a great job with the other characters. She gives just enough insight to make the reader wonder about THEIR stories. That balance can be really tricky to achieve when you're writing a family/town series so major kudos to Hart for doing such a great job of it, at least in my opinion!

If I have one gripe at all, it's about conflict. And this is something I come across in many of the inspies I've read so I don't think it's limited to Hart's writing at all. The characters are so GOOD. Which I know makes sense in an inspirational romance, and of course you don't want to have characters who are unlikeable or unsympathetic. There are certain dos and don'ts I'm sure, having to do with the promise to the reader, etc. But when I looked at Lauren's family, everyone, with the exception of Spence, welcomed her with open arms. I kept waiting for something to be awkward, painful, tense, but it didn't happen. There are hugs and PJ parties and clothes sharing, which is all great but each time Lauren met a new member of her family I was waiting for it to be difficult. It was hard to see their flaws, although I know they must have had some somewhere. And I think for me, as a writer, I was probably more sensitive to this than maybe readers are. I tend to let my characters show the good, bad and ugly, so I did find it harder to buy into because everyone was so perfect.

But on the whole...that's a teensy issue for a heartwarming, memorable story. Have any of you read it or read other books in Hart's McKaslin series?

And now....drum roll....and a pause while I head on over to my bookshelf to pick a book for April.....

TADA! The read for April is HER BEST FRIEND by Sarah Mayberry!

I have never read one of Sarah's stories and I see her name EVERYWHERE. I actually have three of her books on my tbr: Home For The Holidays, Her Best Friend and The Last Goodbye.  I picked Her Best Friend because I just saw this title on the DABWAHA site in the 3rd round and I figure anything that gets that many votes has GOT to be good.

Plus, there's the flash on the cover: He's back, he's hot and he's single...oh, my!

So come back on April 28th to talk about it and find out what I'm reading next!

Donna's latest release is HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER, available now from Mills and Boon and available from eharlequin starting April 1! You can read an excerpt and see the latest news at her site,


  1. Hi Donna,

    I have that Sarah Mayberry book in my TBR. I just finished reading two of her Supers and I really enjoyed them. Looking forward to chatting about your new pick next month.

  2. PS. I will be ordering your book on April 1 st.

  3. I liked the warmth of the family - I know wha you mean about the lack of conflict but sometimes I think there's only so much you can cope with in real life at once, and a bit of nice escapism is very welcome at present!

  4. I don't mind the lack of conflict. I read Inspies for that lack of conflict.