Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A Promise of Home (A Lake Howling Novel Book 1) by Wendy Vella (2015)





Best Selling Author Wendy Vella 
Description
When Branna O'Donnell heads back to Lake Howling, Oregon, she’s not sure what to expect. It’s a place that holds plenty of memories, both good and bad, but Branna is determined to find some peace there from the demons of her past. However, she soon realizes that living in a small town again comes with complications, and one of them is named Jake McBride.
Once the town golden boy, Dr. McBride has returned from Iraq angry and, like her, shouldering a few emotional scars. They strike sparks off each other from the outset, and Branna knows that if she gives in to the attraction between them it’s going to result in a world of pain. The problem is she's not sure how to walk away


How could I possibly fall in love with a whole fictional town and its inhabitants?! But that's exactly what happened when I picked up A Promise of Home by Wendy Vella. 

I put this book to the side for a little bit under the misguided notion that I'd be reading another 'middle of the road' sweet romance novel about second chance love with a childhood friend. The cover art didn't do much to sway me from this preconceived idea. 

Thankfully, I was very wrong! It only took a few pages to confirm in my mind that this book was great and that I was seriously hooked. Lake Howling and the people who live there were so real in my mind as I was reading that if someone suggested going for a visit I'd jet off in a flash and probably stay there for good.

Sparks fly between Branna and Jake right from the outset and their banter and sarcastic comments made this story humorous and addictive. I loved how grumpy Branna was. If the author had simply concentrated on these two characters overcoming their emotional traumas and hangups whilst getting to know each other I'd be telling you what a lovely, simple and sweet romance this is.

However, the story twists and turns so well that the romance is just one aspect. There is a whole town full of people and drama to pull you in even further. With its rich list of characters there is a real community spirit in Lake Howling and you can't help but feel part of it when they gossip and interfere in each other's lives. Jake has his buddies, Buster and Ethan, who are adorable, witty and protective of each other. Their insulting jibes and teasing made me laugh.
Branna has a smaller social circle but it soon extends as she adjusts to small town life. 
However, it is not all laughs and witty banter as behind closed doors not everyone is living a happy and quaint small town life. There is a disturbing, darker element at play.

Branna and Jake's back stories were an interesting read and I could sympathise with and understand their fears and motivations. Branna's relationship with her father added an extra element of drama and angst. 
I enjoyed the little bit of mystery and suspense that occurred towards the end of the novel. I wasn't expecting the story to veer in that direction but I was excited when it did as I love it when my favourite genres mix together.

I was sorry to get to the end of the book but delighted that the second had already been published. So at one o clock in the morning, ignoring my TBR list of books to review and happy in the knowledge I had the following day off work, I downloaded The Texan Meets His Match. By five o clock I sadly had to say bye bye to Lake Howling but I will definitely be back when book 3 is published.


I received a copy of A Promise of Home in return for an honest review.
It is free to download with Kindle Unlimited. Amazon



Description 
Annabelle Smith has never had it easy, but she's a survivor. So when her brother cleans out her bank account, she reluctantly turns to the one man she'd vowed to stay away from. Ethan Gelderman is a hot, sexy Texan, who has more numbers in his black book than most men have socks, and placing her trust in him is one of the hardest things she's ever had to do. Lake Howling is home to Ethan's closest friends, and it's also where Annabelle "firebrand" Smith lives. Sassy, beautiful and pricklier than a cactus, she's never made it a secret that she wants nothing to do with him, but he sure as hell wants something to do with her. Lord knows, it’s going to be hard to earn her trust, but Ethan’s never backed down from a challenge yet, and he soon realizes trust is just the beginning of what he wants from Annabelle. 
The second in the series delves into Ethan's background. He comes from a wealthy oil family with a very overbearing and nasty father. Ethan got out of his control as soon as he was old enough and used his own money to carve out his own successful business life. He has been friends with Jake since their time in Iraq. He is charming, rich and good looking but he also has the reputation of being a ladies man which rules him out of Annabelle's book straight away. Ethan doesn't let this deter him. They have the same circle of friends and their paths cross a lot. Annabelle always has a quip or an insult at hand for these occasions. 
It is only after when Ethan helps her out of a spot of bother that she takes the time to get to know him better. There is much more to the happy Texan persona he presents than meets the eye. 

Annabelle has a quick temper but is articulate with it and I enjoyed reading the parts where she replied with a sarcastic comment or gave Ethan's father and brother a dressing down.
The suspense in the second novel centres round Annabelle's brother who is a gambler and heroin addict. In his desperation he steals from Annabelle to pay off some of his debt with Vegas crime lords. But it isn't long before his dealings catch up with him and puts Annabelle in danger. 
A good, enjoyable read. 

Both books are available in print and digital.
The Texan Meets His Match is Free to download with Kindle Unlimited
AmazonUK

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