Rating: 4 stars out of 5
This story was a delightful surprise. Though it started out slow, and I was a bit concerned I might not like the story when I read the first chapter, it quickly picked up pace and I found myself making excuses to take a break from my usual work to get back to reading it.
Noah Kinley is the author behind the pen name of Julie Velazquez, a highly popular author of a romance mystery series. Originally Noah took his friend Julie’s name because his agent told him he’d never get an offer using a man’s name. When the books picked up in popularity, Noah was stuck, and by then Julie was making public appearances as the author, and neither felt they could reveal the truth.
Fast forward a few years and Noah is getting close to being agoraphobic at his secluded cabin in Vermont so he decides to do a holiday house swap with a family who own a southern plantation-type home, complete with horse farm, in Virginia. Traumatized after the flight and stress of travel, Noah is soaking in the Jacuzzi with soft holiday music playing, a bottle of wine at his side, and munching on cheese and crackers when suddenly a soldier aiming a gun in his face is in the doorway. Turns out the owner of the house is retired USAF Major Connor Harrison, not his brother who pretended to own the home and engineered the swap with Noah.
Once his heart settles, the two spend time together straightening it out, and Noah starts to think this might not be a bad vacation after all. The story takes a while to build, and both men have family issues and career issues that need to be resolved so the story is interesting as everything unfolds. There’s a lot of information about horse ranching, training, and breeding so those who enjoy that topic should definitely pick this up. But over and above that, there’s plenty of time for romance, and for a host of complications arising out of Noah’s continued refusal to reveal his real identity. But everything comes to a head at an impromptu holiday party Noah and Connor throw for family and friends.
I’m trying not to reveal spoilers here, but suffice it to say it was a highly entertaining story, full of tension, both sexual and career-oriented, and had plenty of plot twists and turns to keep readers interested. It also had a brief, but totally unexpected and sweet ending, quite fitting for an author of romance novels.
If you enjoy holiday stories, retired military, horse farming, and/or a sweet contemporary romance, I recommend you try this one.
Cover by Brooke Albrecht shows a handsome man lying with his head on a pillow, both superimposed over a quaint rural snow scene. As it’s highly likely that’s Noah daydreaming about the beautiful countryside, it’s a very fitting cover for this story.
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 21st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635330939 (ISBN13: 9781635330939)