Maddie's Choice

Maddie's Choice

by Joyce Zeller

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Romance writer Maddie Taylor is fed up with New York City. She is getting nowhere with her latest manuscript and does not believe true love exists outside of her imagination. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his Arkansas cattle ranch, she sees the chance for a new beginning. Jonah has also left behind two orphaned great-grandsons desperate for affection and an accounting book in the red. The other half of the failing ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah's grandson, who believes all capacity for love was torn from him during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon is the enthralling physical manifestation of the hero in Maddie's current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his. As she senses the need behind Gideon's rough and unwelcoming exterior, Maddie acknowledges her own yearning for love and family. Jonah's will requires Maddie to stay on the ranch for three months. When that time is up, will she return to her comfortable but emotionally barren existence or embrace the challenges of her new life, which include cattle rustlers and drug dealers? Maddie's choice proves to be far from simple.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148674283
Publisher: Camel Press
Publication date: 09/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 274
File size: 383 KB

About the Author

Joyce Zeller has written articles for a magazine and a cooking column for a chain of suburban newspapers north of Chicago. She has written five books and published two, The Hidden History of Eureka Springs, and Accidental Alien, a work of science fiction, both available on Amazon. Her short story, “Love is a Seed,” is featured in Embrace: A Romance Collection, (2012 Goldmine Press). Joyce has served in the United States Army. As a professional perfumer (School of Perfumery, London, England) and an aroma-therapist, she made custom fragrances in her store. Her creation, Mountain Air, was declared the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Fragrance in 1965. Her latest achievement was getting elected as Alderman to the Eureka Springs City Council. Maddie’s Choice is a romance with her favorite theme, that being human is a lonely business, but for everyone there is somebody to love. It’s a matter of finding them. There will always be kids and animals in her books, and always, humor, “because life without humor is unthinkable.” You can find Joyce on the Web at Joyce really likes to hear from her friends. Write her at author (at)

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Maddie's Choice 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Chrissy_W More than 1 year ago
0 stars - DNF Where I stopped reading: Page 90 on my Nook, Chapter 13. Why I stopped reading: This book just wasn’t for me. I know this is a romance book, but I was thinking it was going to be more like chick lit romance, not the “normal” romance-type book. I don’t need to hear how hard Maddie made Gideon three times in one thought from him. The romance was cheesy and unrealistic. I don’t buy that the rough, cowboy/Army special op., tough guy would tell a woman that she “radiates passion,” that it “comes off [her] in sparks.” Not realistic at all for me. The other thing that got me was that the reader would be in one of Maddie’s book scenes all of a sudden. Some kind of font change or italics would be nice to let the reader transition a bit easier. I was confused during the first writing scene at the ranch. I thought Maddie was the one running. It’s just not my kind of book. I wish it was but it wasn’t. What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for Maddie’s Choice is 4.25. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 5 stars. There were 3 5-star and 3 4-star reviews on Amazon. At Barnes & Noble, there is 1 5-star and 1 4-star review. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you may not. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes a cover really doesn't do a book justice. When I first saw the one for "Maddie's Choice," I immediately thought of those TV commercials for Farmers Only. So boy was I mistaken, when chapter one started things off in a posh Manhattan restaurant. The juxtaposition was a little jarring, but I went with it and I'm so glad I did because the novel was great. Zeller made a creative move by turning her setting into a personality trait. In New York, Maddie's mind is rushed, cluttered and confused. She puts up with a lot of crap, thinking she has to deal with it, when she really doesn't. The limp fish boyfriend. The endless waiting in line. The incessant city noise. No wonder the girl has writer's block. Once she escapes to rural Arkansas, her life doesn't necessarily slow down. She's still busy planning barbecues for the whole town, and turning the ranch into a bed and breakfast, but she's happy doing these things and it shows. Plus it doesn't hurt that the rancher/soldier she's sharing a roof with is providing her with plenty of material for her new novel about a special ops hero. Yes, life is good until it's invaded by the violence of the outside world. Men are shot. Women are beaten. War is revisited. The bucolic nature of this isolated setting is interrupted by drug deals, domestic violence and motorcycle gangs. Maddie thought she was safe in a place far from the reach of urban decay, but instead she finds a whole new level of criminal activity that's intermingled beneath the croaking frogs and dusty cowboy boots. From overdue bank debts to mental disorders, reality infiltrates Maddie's little slice of heaven. Zeller creates a nice balance between the fiction Maddie formulates in her mind versus the tumultuous events occurring outside of her head. One inspires the other so to speak. She draws on what's happening around her to enhance her storytelling abilities, adding a flourish here and a dash of excitement there. But when her own life is in danger, she suddenly wishes these types of things only existed on the page and not in real life. She'd rather keep them trapped inside of her imagination than experience them for herself. On the whole, Zeller expertly makes use of all the details her setting provides in order to sell her story. From the small town diner to the indistinguishable dirt roads, the book's sense of place really anchors it allowing the characters room to breathe and grow. The wide open fields, the lofty barn, the studio apartment - all add up in seducing the reader into taking an authentic jaunt through rural America.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitely one of those comfort reads that you can curl up with and devour in one sitting. I was taken from the moment I read the description on the front cover, "An author with writer's block finds her muse in a disheartened war hero." I live for books like this. They are the kind of hidden gems that resonate and stay with you long after reading them. "Maddie's Choice" didn't disappoint. It was even better than I expected it to be. I knew going in that a more sheltered woman would try to heal a world weary man through her writing. But I wasn't anticipating just how hot and steamy it was going to get. What an added bonus! I was blown over by the way Maddie and Gideon meet. She's pondering, "how that hard body might feel against her own," and he's thinking, "all it took was one flash of those killer green eyes and he was hard as a rock." That's when I knew I wasn't just going to like this book. I was going to love it! The plot had some unique twists that I didn't see coming. There's a whole "Breaking Bad" meth cooking subtext that added a heightened level of danger to the mix. The vigilante style of justice also had shades of Elmore Leonard's "Justified." This is more than just a simple love story. There's a lot more going on in Arkansas cattle country than meets the eye. Zeller weaves a tale that's rich in local color and multi-faceted in its approach. It's certainly not one note. There are many layers from the sumptuousness of down home recipes to the squalor of trailer park life. Zeller covers it all in one grand swoop. The flow of the story moved at a good pace, and it really picked up at the end with a no holds barred action sequence. The narrative was building up to an epic conclusion as Zeller dropped hints along the way, but how it all played out had me rapidly flicking through the pages. In terms of the romance factor, it was obviously lust at first sight for Maddie and Gideon, but I liked how Zeller opened up the story by introducing more of Gideon's past like the time he spent painting with his late grandmother and how he coped with the loss of his parents as a young child. It added a dose of depth and understanding that would have left a head-scratching, gaping hole if not included. I liked how Zeller connected the dots fleshing out the true motivations behind this tortured soul. What a thrill ride from start to finish! From a suggestive knock at the bedroom door to the flashbacks of war torn Afghanistan, this is a story that delivers on all fronts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maddie Taylor is one of those complicated heroines. She's dealing with a lot of serious issues - crippling depression, writer's block, lackluster sex. Even though she's a successful romance novelist, her Manhattan lifestyle doesn't equate to the passion and excitement found in her books. Her lonely reality pales in comparison. In fact, she's on the verge of believing she has no life. All of her hopes and dreams are confined to the page. Maddie knows she's lost her way, so she uproots herself to rural Arkansas. Due to an unexpected inheritance, she becomes co-owners of a farm with an Army sniper turned cowboy. But Gideon's better than any leading man residing in her imagination. Too bad, he frustrates the heck out of her. He's a male chauvinist to the nth degree, and he doesn't want to share his financially strapped cattle ranch with anyone, let alone her. He wastes no time in insulting and demeaning her, making it clear that the only thing he's interested in is a roll in the hay and nothing more. Maddie knows she needs to let more people into her solitary existence, but she picks a hell of a guy to take a chance on. Gideon's dealing with a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder from his time in combat, and he's stuck trying to make ends meet for his two orphaned nephews. He's not exactly ready and available for a tortured soul like Maddie, but she makes the best of what he has to offer. It seems her attraction to Gideon is too strong to ignore. She even turns the tables and takes sexual advantage of him during a moment of weakness, making him take her on the floor of the barn 'like a b**** in heat.' She continually battles Gideon for dominance in their relationship resorting to calling him childish names from 'ungrateful worm' to 'arrogant cockroach.' At times, she acts immature when squaring off against a guy with such a massive superiority complex. Deep down, Maddie's character is determined by her confidence level. When she's feeling sure of herself and on top of her game, she acts nobly, unafraid to follow her heart when she aims her horse at a fence and soars right over, leaving Gideon with his mouth hanging open. When she second guesses herself or is made to feel uncomfortable in her new surroundings, her decisions aren't as admirable like when she starts flirting with another man on the dance floor in front of Gideon. Overall, Maddie's at her best when she tries to help Gideon, instead of taunting him. Her ultimate choice is whether or not she can put someone else's needs ahead of her own, while refusing to offer herself up as a doormat. It's a tricky balance, finding equality in romance, but by the end she comes pretty darn close.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maddie is a city girl, who inherits half of a ranch from a man she hardly knows. The stipulation is that she has to spend a month there to see if she could adjust to that way of life. She goes and toughs it out under some difficult circumstances that don't usually accompany country living. Especially when she comes up against Gideon, the one who owns the other half of the ranch. She finds him to be the most complex man she has ever come across. Maddie is determined to stay, but she soon finds herself falling in love with him. To me certain pivotal scenes reminded me of "Gone With The Wind" at times. I could definitely see Gideon and Maddie embodying the roles of Brett and Scarlet. You can guess what the outcome will be, but the interesting part is how they get there.
Bookworm_Babblings More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. Gideon Spartman tried his best to run away from his past. He and his brother were raised by their grandparents after their parents dropped them off one day at the ranch and never returned. Gideon fought for his grandfather’s acceptance but Jonah only had room in his heart for Gideon’s brother Zeke. Now Jonah has passed away, leaving Zeke’s boys without a guardian. Gideon, having just left the army is forced to return to the ranch, not only run it but also raise his nephews. Jonah has also left half of the ranch to romance author Maddie Taylor. A woman he has only met once during a blizzard. His requirement, she has to stay there for three months. When she meets Gideon, it’s an instant attraction. Will Maddie be able to go beyond his rough exterior to find that soft spot in his heart? This was a sweet romance. Maddie is a great main character; she had to overcome quite a bit to open herself up to the possibility of love. All of the characters were easy to connect with and you’ll find this book difficult to put down. This was a heartwarming story with a mystery in the background. You never know if you can love someone unless you make yourself open to the idea.
Tribute_Books_Reviews More than 1 year ago
The sexual tension in this book is off the charts, and I love that it's written by a feisty grandma who just so happens to be one hell of a romance novelist. Kudos to Joyce Zeller in penning a story that gets the pulse racing and the heart pounding. Maddie and Gideon are a couple you won't soon forget. The electricity between them will have sparks shooting out of your e-reader. Maddie's the isolated writer, depressed and alone in the teeming metropolis of New York City. Gideon's the rugged, chiseled cowboy just home from the war in Afghanistan. They're both dealing with mental health issues to varying degrees. Maddie needs some fresh air in the great outdoors, not to mention some companionship. While Gideon needs a shoulder to cry on and someone to unburden the guilt he's been carrying after the atrocities he witnessed in combat. They're two battered souls looking for safe harbor from the dark clouds hovering above them. For a girl who's never even been to Wal-Mart, Maddie is hoping to impress with her bright red boots and her take no prisoners attitude. But she's bowled over when she has a 'time stands still' kind of moment, worthy of any romance novel, when she first lays eyes on Gideon. He feels it too, but instead of flirting, he resorts to sparring with her. He's afraid of experiencing any kind of emotion, and he tries ever so hard to keep her out of his heart. But to no avail. Maddie's already daydreaming about what it would be like to spend the rest of her life with him. In her mind, she can't help comparing him to every other man she encounters. Gideon craves her affection, even though he tries to deny himself. He's been bottled up for so long, it's like he's a ticking time bomb ready to go off. They have an awkward first attempt at expressing their love, getting lost in their utter neediness. The second time around, they're both ready for it. Gideon overcomes his fear of hurting her and Maddie experiences a new awakening. Zeller sums it up best by saying, "She'd written this scene in a dozen books. Finally she got to experience it." Maddie and Gideon come from two completely different worlds, but together they just work. For once, Maddie doesn't feel like she's in a temporary situation. It feels permanent. She can set up roots with this man after breaching his defenses. He's no longer lost in his world of death. She saved him from that. And he brought her out of her fantasies and back into the real world by interweaving her life with his. Now they're determined to take care of each other, and there's nothing more romantic than that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that you stay up late reading because you just can't let go of the characters and the story. Gideon is a man that has seen a lot in life. He suffers from PTSD. He is sure that love is not an option for him in any aspect. That was true until the day Maddie walked into his life. No matter how hard he tried, he could not deny his attraction to her. Maddie suffered from low self esteem. She is tired of her boring solitude life. She sees the opportunity to going to Jonah's ranch as just the thing she needs. Maddie does not know how true that really is. I loved to read how they each came out of their comfort zone to see if love is possible. You never know what you will find if you just open yourself up.  I highly recommend this book and give it a 5 out of 5. 
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
Maddie's Choice by Joyce Zeller I wanted to read this book after reading the synopsis. Sounded like a book that would explain about how a cattle ranch runs, something I'll probably never see in my lifetime. The story starts out with Maddie and how she lives in a condo in NYC. She had once traveled and at a diner sat and talked to Jonah and they kept in contact with one another over the years. Next thing she knows she's a published writer and things are not going so well in the boyfriend department. She gets a letter from a lawyer that Jonah has left her half his ranch. She goes to Arkansas and stays for some time til her condo is refurbished. She finds the boys, Abe and Mark and their Uncle Gideon who's now back home from the war with PTSD. She is able to cross paths with Gideon and she stays out of his way while writing in her new novel. She learns of the boys birthday, 16th and wants to throw him a bash and before she knows it the whole will come to celebrate. She has a gift for him that he's been wanting. Besides the work on the ranch I was able to learn about the new project Jonah was experimenting with. This is amazing because my father was hired to feed the steers here in town due to this new experiment. Liked learning about the cows and their significance. Things start going bad, rustlers stealing cattle and a bad gang might be connected. Action really heats up when some forces join. Hot steamy sex scenes. This is a great story on many different counts. Love how she is so strong she is able to pick up where Jonah left off-his dreams of the ranch. I received this book from Tribute Books in exchange for my honest review.
JeanieL1 More than 1 year ago
What a story! When you think you have it all figured out, God shakes His head and smiles. This is what happens to Maddie. This is what happens to so many of us. Maddie is a romance author with writer's block who finds out she has inherited a working cattle ranch in Arkansas. What does she know about cows or living outside of NYC? I found all the issues she runs into to be so realistic and ever so profound: orphans, hot ex-Marine, cattle rustlers, drug gangs and TRUE LOVE. God never gives you anything you cannot handle with HIM. I highly recommend this novel for its inspiration and determination alone. My hat is off to Joyce Zeller! MORE~