Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilyDrama BLIND TURN by @CaraAchterberg

Today’s team review is from Jenni, she blogs here

#RBRT Review Team

Jenni has been reading Blind Turn by Cara Achterberg

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I suppose this review should start with a disclaimer: I’m a Texan.

Not only am I a Texan, I’m a northeast Texan. I was born and raised roughly 50 miles from the city of Jefferson, where Cara Sue Achterberg’s Blind Turn nominally takes place. This setting is what drew me to her novel in the first place, despite tight family drama’s like this laying way outside my usual genre.

For fellow Texans out there looking for loving descriptions of the historic red brick post office, the Beauty and the Book hair salon, Big Cypress Bayou, or the annual Krewe of Hebe Mardi Gras parades, I’m afraid you will have to look elsewhere. Achterberg’s “Jefferson” is a kind of Anytown USA, rather than specifically Jefferson TX, zip code 75657.   

For me, the weakness of Achterberg’s work can be found in this. In a novel where one of the biggest hurdles is that the entire town turns their backs on the protagonists, the absence of that uniquely Jefferson spice is felt keenly. A weekend jaunt through Jefferson, the B&B and antiquing scenes are fabulous!, or even an afternoon stint on Wikipedia would have helped lend the novel local flavor and enriched the setting and the story immensely. When someone tries so hard to write a generic small town, they lose some of the DNA that makes every small town unique.

That said, there are some universal truths in Achterberg’s novel. Truths like small towns are places were “people mistake proximity for intimacy”, and frequent musings on the “invisible and impossible ways” people’s lives intertwine. There is beauty in these universalities, and in the ways that a mother’s love can transcend even doubt about her child’s innocence, in the redemption and of a flawed father, the generosity of a near-stranger who becomes a part of a family, and the maturing of a teenager.

There is beauty in forgiveness, of the self and of others, and that too lies at the heart of this very human novel full of very human characters.

The great strength in Achterberg’s work lies in this humanity, in the ways she makes her characters stumble and fall as they struggle to grow into themselves. There are no perfect people in this novel, but they’re all trying, and damn do we love to watch them try.

When Jess runs away from home, all of sixteen and crumbling beneath the weight of the world, our hearts run with her. She has been through so much, physically and emotionally, how can we begrudge her this escape?

And when she comes home? When her parents find her and finally realize how much hurt their child has been hiding and they break with the weight of it? How can an empathetic reader not break as well?

Despite the story taking place across several months, Blind Turn is a rapid read. The inciting incident, a horrific car crash that upends everyone’s lives, happens about page three and the punches keep coming from there. Courtroom drama, complicated family dynamics, small-town histrionics, and workplace politics all come into play in Achterberg’s story, just as they do in real life.

And just like in real life, the ending is messy. A man is killed in the opening car crash and there is no un-ringing that bell. Jess, who was driving the car, her parents, who have alternately fallen together, apart, and together-ish again throughout the novel, the dead man’s widow, and the town as a whole all have to learn to live with that. Lines of love and loyalty are tangled, but everyone we care about as readers is working towards better. Working towards being whole.

There’s no riding off into the sunset here, but there is satisfaction in the conclusion both in redemption well earned, and in completing a story well written.

3.75/5 for fellow Texans who see what it could be with a little research.

4/5 for everyone else.

Book description

In the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident, a mother and daughter must come to terms with the real meaning of forgiveness.

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter. Jessica is an honor-student, track star, and all-around good kid. So how could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she once rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband. Jessica faces her angry peers and her own demons as she awaits a possible prison sentence for an accident she doesn’t remember.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #RomanticSuspense TEMPESTUOUS TAURUS by Trish Jackson

Tempestuous Taurus (Zodiac Series)Tempestuous Taurus by Trish Jackson

3 stars

Tempestuous Taurus is a romantic suspense novel set in Texas. Tara has inherited her parent’s equine therapy centre along with her siblings, but her sister is missing and her brother isn’t interested in being a part of it.

The centre has recently been run by Tara’s aunt after her parents were viciously murdered, but now her aunt has passed away too and Tara must come back and face some emotional hurdles. One of those is renewed acquaintance with her childhood sweetheart Jared; the man that was once accused of killing her parents.

The story starts well and I enjoyed the first half of the book, with chapters mainly alternating between Tara and Jared. Then suddenly there is a chapter from Tara’s missing sister, for me this jarred the flow of the story and I didn’t think it added anything to the main theme at this point. Later chapters contained a mix of paragraphs from different characters with no indication that the narrator had changed, which was confusing to the extent that it felt as though the editing had ended at the half way point.

I liked Tara and Jared when I first met them, but I thought that the author missed opportunities to develop them into rounded and believable personalities as the story developed. Tara’s sister is described as being autistic, but sadly I was never convinced of this in any of her characteristics or actions. Overall, I liked the idea of the story but it lost its way after a good start.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

A gruesome murder, a loved-one’s betrayal, and her missing sister are more than enough for Tara-Grace to contend with. Now she’s forced to come back to her hometown to claim her inheritance―the family home and equine therapy business.

Bizarre and disturbing events, a child who can’t talk, and the threat of imminent danger are enough to push anyone over the edge.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

#NewRelease #Historical #Romance My #Bookreview of Winds Of Time by @lillygromwriter

Winds of TimeWinds of Time by Lilly Gayle

4 stars

Winds Of Time is a historical romance set in Texas around 1871.

In modern times, Selena Tillman has a locket from an ancestor, Mary. She has also inherited Mary’s property. But a family mystery and possible haunting surrounds Mary’s death, so Selina travels to Texas to try to find some clues. A couple of objects in the house, when touched, give Selina visions about the past, and an urgent message, from Mary herself, comes to Selina just as a tornado blows through the property.

The tornado deposits Selina at the property a year after Mary’s disappearance back in the late 1800s and Selina believes she now knows how Mary died and why no one found her body. But she’s immediately met by Major Davis and Captain Casey. Selina poses as a relative of Mary’s who was due to inherit the property. She must convince the men about her theory surrounding Mary’s death and in the process save an innocent man.

This was an enjoyable story. Selina was particularly tested when she tried to integrate with the era and not everyone believed who she was. She confused Casey on several occasions, but her resolve to rescue him and her feelings for him won him over. The novel included lots of information about the war with the Native Americans. It also showed the prejudices of the time against women and inter-racial marriages. I would easily recommend this to readers who enjoy historical romance.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The past is her future, the future, her past, but can she save an innocent man’s life before history repeats itself?
As long as Selena Tillman dreams of her ancestor, Mary, who disappeared without a trace in 1872, she’ll never find peace. As long as she dreams of the half-Native American army scout accused of killing Mary, she’ll never find love. Hoping to end the dreams and learn the truth, Selena goes to Texas where Mary and the scout died and sees more than ghosts. She sees a tornado kill Mary in real time before it jumps to the twenty-first century to pull Selena into its vortex and send her back to the nineteenth century. Selena believes she’s fated to prove Dylan’s innocence and save his life, but Dylan isn’t just the man of her dreams; he’s her destiny.
Fed up with the army, bigotry, and women—especially white women, Captain Dylan Casey dedicates himself to solving the mystery of Mary’s disappearance, proving his innocence, and trying to stop a war between the whites and the Indians. Then Mary’s cousin shows up, claiming a tornado killed Mary. Dylan doesn’t trust Selena, but she’s his only ally in Canyon Creek. Yet despite their common goal, growing mutual attraction, and a Comanche shaman’s prophecy of a white woman who will change his destiny and foretell the fate of the Indian Nation, Dylan refuses to take a chance on another spoiled, white woman—until fate changes his mind.

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