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Posted May 28, 2013
The Sweet Spot was an unexpected pleasure for me. I knew that La
The Sweet Spot was an unexpected pleasure for me. I knew that Laura writes more "women's fiction" rather than "romance" but the book cover looks like a romance novel so I guess I forgot.
In the first chapter you find out that this is the story of a couple who has been married for a long time, but are no longer together. You know it has something to do with their young son (and the back cover copy tells you he died, so I'm not giving anything away), and you start seeing that the story will be about whether or not they can give their love and marriage a second chance.
What I liked most about Laura's writing is that it never felt like "just a romance novel." The story felt real, like I was reading about real people. It's set in Texas in the world of Pro Bull Riding (PBR), so there's lots of cowboy-like stuff and, being Texas, there's some to-be-expected Southern manners and Bible-belt story elements - her friends and pastor calling to see if she's okay, her putting them off, etc.
I also liked that the husband's point of view seemed like what a man would do and feel and how he would talk to his friends, not just a woman's idea of what she wishes a man were thinking. (If you read a lot of romance novels, you know what I mean!)
There are also lots of interesting secondary characters and the story lines that go with them. There is a really interesting element of "on the outside looking in" for many of the characters. I don't know if Laura did that on purpose, but the main couple are struggling with not being part of their usual social circles now that they're divorced, and there is a New Yorker trying to fit into this small Texas town, and a teenager trying to figure out who he wants to be. For me, the best part is that all of them find a place for themselves.
Another thing I loved is that Laura put a quote at the beginning of each chapter. They kind of foreshadow what might happen in the chapter, and sometimes I laughed out loud when I read the quote because I knew something about what was going to happen now. It added to the anticipation. Plus I liked the quotes - Winston Churchill, Abigail Van Buren, Rita Mae Brown, lots of people I've never heard of, and even a quote from a pamphlet from the fictional county health group. It was fun.
If you're a romance reader, you'll love this book even though it isn't a boy-meets-girl romance. If you like deeper stories with lots of other issues, you'll definitely love this book! There are so many things going on in these people's lives that it feels like the author must've experienced them all in some way because it just seemed so doggone real. I'm almost embarrassed to say that there was something in at least half the chapters that made me cry, but I also laughed and smiled a lot, too. This was the first book in over a year that made me stay up past midnight to finish it. I loved it!
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Posted July 29, 2014
Posted July 24, 2014
Posted April 5, 2014
The back cover reads: Charla Rae Denny was the perfect wife with
The back cover reads:Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Charla Rae Denny was the perfect wife with a perfect life, content to keep the home fires burning while her husband, JB, competed as a champion bull rider. Then their son died in a tragic accident--and everything fell apart. Divorced and saddled with a hill of bills and a failing ranch, Charla must now cowboy up to put her life back together.
James "JB" Denny doesn't stay where he isn't welcome. So when Charla shut him out of her grieving heart--and their home--a year ago, he took comfort where he could find it. Now after seeing beautiful Charla again, he wants it all back. She can't work the ranch alone, and deep in his heart he knows he can be the man she needs. But after so much history and heartbreak, can JB convince Charla to take a risk and give their love a second chance?
I was drawn to this story because it's not your typical man-meets-woman-woman-fights-falling-for-man-but-does-anyway sort of romance. I liked that they were once married. I liked that the worst thing I could imagine was what blew a canyon between them. (Not that I relished in that tragedy, mind you.)
The story opens with Charla occupying herself in a homemaker sort of way. Fighting the draw of her addiction that began with the death of her son. Boom! She already has a vulnerability that affects her daily life, making other life struggles that much more difficult. And she is faced with another almost immediately: money. And that's where JB comes in.
JB spends almost the entire book trying to convince his ex-wife, who so obviously still loves him in some tucked-away treasure chest in her heart, that he has grown as a man. He's trying to show her how much he still loves her. To regain her trust.
And Charla turns him away at every turn.
But she is changing and growing, too. She has a ranch to run, after all, so she pushes through old fears to take care of what takes care of her. She makes a new friend who knows nothing of her past, helping her to move into the future.
Laura Drake's The Sweet Spot is a Romantic Times Top Pick and won "Best Debut of 2013" in the 2013 Curvy Book Awards. And there's good reason for that.
Drake's prose is poetic, using fantastic imagery to take you from your sofa on to the Denny ranch in east Texas. Her metaphors are an Indian summer to the hackneyed phrases of the past decades. The dialog feels real, true to the characters speaking. The characters are so full, even the minor ones, it feels like you know them personally.
But I think my favorite thing about this book was the emotion. Drake pulls you into the the lives of Charla and JB and makes you feel what they feel: the heart-wrenching pull of the damaged love between husband and wife; the terror of losing a child so young; the fear of rejoining society in a small town. All of it. I lived this story when I read it, like it was happening to me or my closest friend. I even had tears running down my cheeks at one point.
Their stories are true-to-life ranching stories. The details are what make it so real: the way a cutting horse "turns on" when a cow is in front of them; birthing a calf stuck in the wrong position; a harsh bit in a horse's mouth. Drake obviously knows what she's doing.
It was a leisurely read. One I didn't feel rushed to finish like the fantasy novels I've read. I think that made it more enjoyable in ways that fast-paced books can't grasp. The next book in the Sweet on a Cowboy series (love that title!) will be released January 28th, and you can bet I'll be at the store to pick it up. I've been searching for real "cowboy" stories for a long time. Laura Drake has provided what I've been looking for.
Posted January 6, 2014
I love books that begin with a seemingly insurmountable situatio
I love books that begin with a seemingly insurmountable situation. Char and JB Denney have lived through the worst horror, the death of their eight-year-old son. Instead of bringing them closer together, the tragedy tears them apart. Char retreats to grief and Valium. JB abandons Char for the arms of another woman, an unforgivable betrayal. Or is it? I also love books where right and wrong are woven in shades of gray, and the reader is allowed to decide for herself. An added bonus/bonuses? Drake's beautiful writing and a peek inside the world of cattle ranchers and championship bull riding. Well-done!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 20, 2013
The Sweet Spot grabbed my attention from the beginning and held
The Sweet Spot grabbed my attention from the beginning and held on to it all the way through to the end. Laura Drake has written a book with characters that are so compelling and charismatic that I could not stop turning pages. This is such a wonderful story full of strong emotion that deals with the pain of loss, the joy of finding a second chance at love, family, and friends. This story really tugged at my heart. With the loss of their son, the loss of their marriage, her father's illness & and finding their way back to each, there is a lot of drama and excitement that kept my interest.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Charla Rae Denny's life completely fell apart and she just didn't know how to go on with life after the death of her son. Life continued but not in any way she was use to. She found herself in charge of everything from her Dad's health problems to the animals on the ranch. I don't want to give out to much of the story but one of my very favorite scenes is when Charla has to help one of the cows give birth to her calf. I admired her for the courage it took to stick it out and get that calf born alive. Charla has a lot more strength than even she knew she had. To me I think this was the turning point for Charla. Having helped with the birth process of a calf myself I know what she was going through. I think I also bonded a little more with Charla at this point.
JB Denny tried to reach out to his wife, Charla after they loss their son, it just didn't work. What I loved about JB is after he found his heart still belonged to Charla he didn't give up. He looked for ways back into her heart. JB may have done some things he's not proud of but he knows he has to earn the trust of his wife back in order to make it work. I just love a cowboy that goes after the girl he loves!
Another aspect that I really liked about this book is that both Charla and JB found friends that were able to support them and guide them along the way. I got a kick out of Charla's friend Bella. Bella is a city girl that has moved to the county, and this city girl adds some really humorous moments to the story.
If you enjoy a good second chance at love story I think you will enjoy this book, however you very well may want to grab that box of Kleenex. I really enjoyed Laura Drake's writing style and I look forward to reading more of her work. I can't wait to see what story she has in store next.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book to read in order to share my opinion with you. It has been my pleasure to share my thoughts with you on this touching story.
Posted June 19, 2013
In The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake, Charla Denny is barely making
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In The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake, Charla Denny is barely making it through each day after the loss of her beloved son Benje and a subsequent divorce from her husband JB. She's been in a medicated fog cooped up inside her house with her elderly father while JB has been taking care of the business end of the ranch. When they fell in love in high school, she never would have believed that they would be torn apart over their grief of losing their son and that JB would take up with a girl half his age when they separated. Charla fights back the day he brings another young girl to the ranch by telling him to leave the property and to never come back. She'll deal with the business and chores. Being a rancher's wife meant she has taken care of the house and all it entails for years, but she had left everything else to JB. She is terrified of making a mistake that will cost them money and maybe even lose the bucking bull business they've built over the years. Char also has to wean herself off the valium that has been her lifeline since her son died and try to help her father deal with his advancing Alzheimer's. She makes an unlikely friend in the newest member of town, New York transplant Bella, who lends a helping hand and a sympathetic ear to Charla. It's this connection to Bella that helps her finally start to take ownership of her life again.
~Suddenly Jimmy looked up, his eyes locking on hers so quick that she knew he'd been aware of her the whole time. He continued singing as her heart slammed against her ribs; his unrelenting gaze left no doubt that his song choice was no accident. His low-set voice slowed, coming gentle from the speakers overhead, to settle on her.
" 'So when you look up with your eyes all blue and ask me, do I still love you? I do.' ~
JB keeps reappearing in Charla's day-to-day life, much to her chagrin. She can't let go of the heartache he caused her by cheating, and her mind of course always strays to their son when he's around. He makes a few feeble attempts to get back in her good graces but Char isn't sure there is any of the young cowboy she fell in love with left inside him. As they both struggle to move forward, she learns to like her new role running the ranch and the independent woman she's become. JB apparently feels the same way, telling her how much she's grown, and lets her continue to handle things on her own for the most part. She feels herself getting pulled back into her old feelings for him from before everything went horribly wrong. Char worries that her heart will be broken again if she trusts JB once more but has to decide if love is worth risking a second chance.
~Being alone with Little Bit last night brought it all back. How much he missed being her husband, the man by her side looking out for her, taking care of her. How much he missed the love and trust in her eyes. Touching her made him miss her, like a piece of him was gone.~
Jimmy 'JB' Denny feels like he's at just about the lowest point of his life. He's lost his son and his wife all within about a year's time. He was dumped by the young woman he got together with while he and Char were separated. And now money is so tight he's not sure how he'll pay for two households. He is shocked as he arrives at the ranch to pick up the bulls for the rodeo when Char comes out to the truck apparently outraged with him for bringing a young woman with him. She doesn't give him a chance to fully explain that he's just giving the girl a ride to the PBR event. She immediately assumes he's seeing her and flaunting it in her face. JB doesn't know how Char will handle the ranch by herself when she demands he leave the property but he intends to do what he can to help her out without her knowledge. He tries to keep tabs on her and eventually she allows him back to tend the training of the new bulls. JB realizes how much he misses Charla and the life they once had together. He will do anything to get back in her good graces and sets out to prove to her that he's still the same man beneath it all.
This is a sweet romance by Laura Drake that is filled with heart-wrenching emotions and second chances. My heart broke for Charla and JB in their grief over the loss of their son. They both dealt with it in such different ways that it drove a wedge between them. I couldn't help as I read this but to hope their love would be strong enough to help them heal and to bring them back together in the end. The secondary characters in the story all played a strong part in Charla and JB's lives and are quite memorable themselves, along with adding some funny, upbeat moments in an otherwise intense story. I would recommend this one if you enjoy a story about hope, personal growth and lasting love.
Posted June 2, 2013
I love romances and read them almost exclusively. The Sweet Spot
I love romances and read them almost exclusively. The Sweet Spot was the best kind of romance, a true romance.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
A long time married couple, Char and JB, have lost everything since the tragic loss of their son including each other. Each must first build something from their previous life before either can move into the future. How these two people discover new facets of themselves and confront their own failings that led to the break up of their marriage makes this a universal story. My life has been nothing like Char's life, but I relate to her on many levels. In JB Denny, Laura Drake has created a man that you can see how and why Char fell in love with him and built a life with him. The Sweet Spot shows how it can all fall apart, too.
I will not soon forget Charla Rae and James "JB" Denny, and the book is filled with other characters, Ben, Junior, Bella, Travis and Rosa to love. I cannot wait to visit Fredericksburg again and all of the friends and family of Char and JB which is when I know that I will read it again and again.
This is my first pick for my own best book of 2013 list, and Laura Drake's next book, Nothing Sweeter, releases in December 2013. I cannot wait to read it, too, and see if it ends up on the list as well. I think I may have found a new "must read" author. Woo-hoo!
Posted March 16, 2014
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Posted July 5, 2013
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