Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders

From the Cover:
            With a broken-down truck, miles to go and little money, single mother Melanie Hunter needs help.  It comes in the handsome form of rancher Gabe Davidson.  He’ll pay for the three-week repair job and provide lodging for her and her boy—if she’ll take coordinating the town barbecue off his busy hands.  Melanie accepts, figuring she’ll soon be on her way to her new life.  But as she gets to know the kind townspeople—and the hardworking cowboy her son adores—she realizes she’s found her home.  Now if only her Rocky Mountain Hero will ask her to stay.

            This is the debut novel of an author I’ve come to know via the Internet (and whom you will find if you look closely at my list of followers—thank you Audra).  I won an autographed copy of her book in a giveaway at Seekerville.

Liked:
  1. Gabe notices Melanie right away, and sparks fly.  “A spear of awareness shot through him…” (pg. 11) as he tried to extract her from the mud.  I’ll let you read for yourself what his distraction cost him.
  2. Ms. Harders takes clich├ęd descriptive phrases and makes them her own.  In so doing, she gives the reader a glimpse into the rugged gentleness that defines Gabe Davidson.
    1. This one simply must be shared, “A dripping T-shirt encased her slender frame like shrink wrap around a gasket” (pg. 13)    He noticed her form, as any man surely would.  But the simile here lends an innocence that is missing from the typical “wet t-shirt” description. Only a man's man would think of auto parts at a time like that. I think it’s brilliant.
    2. Gabe, noticing Melanie's lovely eyes, “…blue eyes the color of mountain columbines in full bloom and lashes as thick as the foxtails that grew around them” (pg. 11).  Is he a marshmallow under all that “cowboy,” or what? Not just blue eyes, or even "bluer than blue." This is a beautiful description.
    3. “Skin as soft as the belly of a new born foal…” (pg. 22) I’m thinking “cowboy poet” here.  This might be called the "rancher's twist" on the well-used "baby's bottom" cliche.
  3. Melanie has some good observations of her own, “He took off ahead of her and picked a trail down the mountain, his broad shoulders dipping with each confident step.  Melanie tried to watch her steps, but her gaze insisted his well-worn jeans and crisp cotton shirt were far more enticing, not to mention the wave of thick hair at his collar.”
  4. The fish cleaning scene.  I loved it, especially Gabe’s line, “After this fish.” And Melanie’s line at the very end, “Just cleaning fish…” Yeah, right!”
  5. This one may be a spoiler for some…proceed with caution. They don’t fight the attraction.  One thing that always irritates me is when the hero and/or heroine fight the growing attraction until the last minute.  Given the three-week timeline in which most of this story takes place, it would have been a natural route for the author to take.  But she didn’t! And I can’t thank her enough. Gabe allows his attraction to grow naturally, and Melanie allows herself and her son to jump into small-town life with both feet.  Both know Melanie will be leaving soon, but they decide to enjoy the time they have, knowing that if they have to they’ll live off the memories for years to come.
  6. Melanie is open to the correction of the Holy Spirit when prodded concerning her relationship with her parents.
  7. The author builds up the romantic tension to the point where I was pulling my hair out with every “almost kiss.”
  8. Nice little shout out to fellow Seekers Ruthy, Janet, Missy, Cara, and possibly Mary.  Did I miss any?
I could go on and on, but if I did this post would be entirely too long…

Disliked:
            Grace Davidson:  Well, not all of her, just her pushy-ness.  In the early scene with Melanie I found her to be a little pushy and presumptuous.  When Melanie took her words well, and managed to act positively on them, I decided to forgive her. Then later, she stuck her nose way too deep in Melanie’s business, and I was aggravated at her even though everything turned out well.  Sometimes I think God works things out in spite of our efforts rather than because of them.  This felt like one of those times to me. I was a little dissatisfied that Grace managed to “get away with” interfering.
            That said, I’ll give Grace credit for trying to do the very best thing for the people she cares about.  If it’s in Grace’s nature to be a little pushy and over-step her bounds for the good of her loved ones, then Melanie can take it as a sign that she’s well-loved by the whole Davidson family.
The following line implies that this is not a new issue for Grace and her sons: “Gabe had stood by and watched his mother orchestrate the lives of his brothers.  The result? Both were gone and had few plans on returning” (pg. 186).  Perhaps this is a bit of foreshadowing into future stories.  It gives me hope that this issue will be resolved to my satisfaction in a later book.

LOL moments:
  1. Martin Davidson, patriarch of the family reminded me of my step-dad with this line about the white rice being served for dinner, “Well, maybe we can squirt some ketchup on it and make it look better.”
  2. Hank the ranch had has this to say about surviving in the wild, “…if you don’t make good coffee, you’re a dead man, not matter how you look at it.”  I like how Hank thinks!

Overall:
            An amazing debut.  If an author gets better with each succeeding book…well, the sky is the limit for Audra Harders.  To me, one sign of a good writer is when even the things I don’t like about a story make enough sense that I can’t truly say they should be different.  That is definitely the case in Rocky Mountain Hero. I find myself impatient for the next sweet story from this wonderful new author.

*****5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Oh my good, Andrea! I'm speechless. What a wonderful review! As I was reading through your analysis, I reread lines and thought, "really, I wrote that? Wow." LOL! You made me see my book in a whole new light : ) Thanks!

    ACFW conference is in St Louis this year. Hoping to meet you then????

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