Saturday, October 29, 2016

No Way Up by Mary Connealy....There's No Way You Won't Finish it!

Mary Connealy's latest adventure No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy Book 1) takes you back to the 1880's New Mexican Territory where there's avalanches, new wills are read, lives changed, and danger threatens the owners of the Cimarron Ranch (CR).

Hired-hand Heath Kincaid's quick thinking rescued his boss Cimarron Ranch patriarch Chance Boden from an avalanche. Prior to boarding a train for Denver to save his leg (and his life) Chance demands that Heath read his new will to his 3 adult children and insists that it is to be enforced immediately.

 The new will states that Cole, Justin, and Sadie Boden are to all live and work at the CR for 1 year or the ranch will pass to a detested distant cousin. Both Cole and Sadie have moved into town away from the ranch. Cole successfully runs his father's mining business and Sadie works at the orphanage in town and feels that she has found her calling and purpose in life. Justin is the only Boden sibling who lives and works on the CR. A characteristic that all the Boden siblings share is stubbornness. But it was great to see how they came together despite their squabbling and differences to save their family's legacy.

I liked hero Heath Kincaid from the get-go. He is loyal to the Boden family, a man of action, equally stubborn as the Boden clan, and he's got a lot of gumption. Not only does he rescue Chance, but the family as well a few times throughout the story.

Heroine Sadie Boden can hold her own. She is the type of heroine that readers have come to expect and love from this author. Ms. Connealy manages to strike the perfect balance when it comes to her heroines. Most often, they are sassy and tough-as-nails, but they always maintain their femininity.

And of course it wouldn't be a Connealy Western without her romantic and sigh-worthy kisses between the hero and heroine.
"Heath's head dipped, and his lips met hers. A kiss. Her first kiss. It was perfect.
Lips slanted across her mouth. He raised the hands they'd joined until he laid hers on his shoulder. Then he let go and slid one arm around her waist. So gently, so mindful of where they were. But just as surely lost in the kiss as she was." (Connealy, 123-124).

Ms.Connealy maintains her fun, adventurous, Wild West storytelling that she's known for in No Way Up. The ending is gratifying, yet leaves it open-ended for more stories. I'm hoping that the Boden brothers, Cole and Justin will get their own stories because I'd love to re-visit the Cimarron Ranch.

I've been reading Mary Connealy's books for several years now and a unique attribute that I noticed is that her books and series always seem to be interconnected through her characters. She does this really's seems effortlessly and seamlessly done, but I'm sure takes a lot of planning and thought.  Hero Heath Kincaid is the youngest brother of Rafe, Ethan, and Seth from her Kincaid Bride series (Out of Control, In Too Deep, and Over the Edge).

If romantic comedies about cowboys tickles your funny bone look no further than Mary Connealy's novels because this genre is her specialty.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Double Indemnity (1944) Crime Doesn't Pay

Double Indemnity (1944) is one of those films that has been on my list of "must- see" classics and I have to didn't disappoint! From the opening scene to the end  Double Indemnity will keep the viewer on the edge of their seats.

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray teamed up in four films together and Double Indemnity was their second of the four and probably their most well-known. Their other films include: Remember the Night (1940), The Moonlighter (1953), and There's Always Tomorrow (1956).  If you're a fan of this pairing, I urge you to watch Remember The Night if you're looking for a rare Christmas film.
Remember The Night(1940)

Insurance representative Walter Neff (MacMurray) meets the lovely Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) an unhappy wife who convinces Neff to murder her husband and commit insurance fraud. The film title Double Indemnity gets it's name from a clause found in most life insurance policies that state in the case of accidental death the insurance company will pay the beneficiary twice the value of the policy. Edward G. Robinson plays second fiddle to MacMurray's character Walter Neff as his best friend and mentor Barton Keyes. Keyes (Robinson) suspects Phyllis of plotting her husband's murder with another man...he just isn't sure who the man is.
Obviously, I don't condone adultery or murder, but writer/director Billy Wilder draws you in and before you know it you're immersed in the story wondering how it's going to end.

One aspect of this film that interested me was the lighting and the camera angles. I thought they were very cleverly done and enhanced the suspense of the film.

Fun Film Trivia: Double Indemnity was director Billy Wilder's first thriller.

According to the American Film Institute, Double Indemnity was ranked #29 on the Greatest Films of All Time in 2007.

Both Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck were reluctant to play such villainous role, but Wilder eventually convinced both actors.

Double Indemnity is one of the best examples of film noir and if this genre appeals to you I'd add this movie to your "must-see" list.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Heart Most Certain was Compelling, Encouraging, and Convicting

You've heard the saying... "don't judge a book by it's cover?" This was true of Melissa Jagears newest work A Heart Most Certain (Book 2 in the Teaville Morale Society series). I expected to read a turn of the century romance with some conflict, but A Heart Most Certain didn't just scratch the surface, but went deeper. Ms. Jagears touched on societal views towards helping the poor, having a right heart and motives when helping others, and most importantly having a real relationship with God and not merely paying Him lip service and Sunday attendance.  By the end, I was encouraged, convicted, and inspired.

A Heart Most Certain pricks your conscience and stays with you long after you've read the last page.

Lydia King is sent on a mission by the Teaville Moral Society to collect a donation from the wealthiest man in town Nicholas Lowe. Lowe blatantly refuses her request.  He prefers that his donations/charitable work remain anonymous.
Her persistent in seeking a donation pays off. Nicholas agrees with some stipulations: Lydia is to write down three causes she believes should be funded without discussing them with the ladies' aide society and she is also to accompany him when he grants these requests.

Before reading A Heart Most Certain, I had only read one novella by Ms. Jagears:  Engaging the Competition (which is found in With This Ring collection.) and I discovered it to be a delightful novella with unique characters and an engaging story.   

One aspect of Ms. Jagears writing that I enjoyed was her references to other literary works. These examples were cleverly and skillfully placed throughout the story. The allusions enhanced the story and didn't detract from it.
"Lydia King took a tentative step into Mr. Lowe's hazy office, feeling like Bob Cratchit approaching Scrooge. Had Cratchit's heart pitter-pattered as fast as hers? Except his heartbeat wouldn't have had anything to do with Scrooge's looks- thin blue lips, pointed noise, and red eyes, per Dickens." (Jagears, 7)

I also appreciated that she had a spiritual element in A Heart Most Certain. Both characters experience some turmoil and testing of their faith. To me this made the characters more relatable and believable.

Ms. Jagears has found her niche in Inspirational Historical Romance and I look forward to reading more of her works.

~~A Heart Most Certain was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, for which I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone ~~