Saturday, May 30, 2015

My Review: Now & Forever

I'm really enjoying the covers for this series.  They are a bit different and stand out from Mary's previous books - plus, the backs are gorgeous!  Just a really pretty book, and I love the model's expression. :)
Shannon Wilde is the middle sister--and the one who loves animals. She's established her own homestead and is raising sheep for their wool. Things are going fine...until Shannon gets swept over a cliff by Matthew Tucker!
Tucker seizes every opportunity to get away from civilization, but one particular walk in the woods ends with him sprinting away from an angry grizzly and plunging into a raging river, accidentally taking Shannon Wilde with him. Their adventure in the wilderness results in the solitary mountain man finding himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.
As Tucker and Shannon learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon's land. Someone clearly wants to drive her off, but whoever it is apparently didn't count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad--and trying to hurt the woman he's falling in love with sets off something even he never expected.
About the Author:
Mary Connealy is an award-winning, bestselling author known for her fun and lively historical romantic comedies. An author, teacher, and journalist, Mary lives on an eastern Nebraska ranch with her husband and enjoys spending time with her four daughters and three grandchildren. Learn more at

My Review: 4.5 stars
Now & Forever is the second book in Mary Connealy’s Wild At Heart series. I’m a big fan, so of course, I was super excited to read this book, especially after loving the first one! I generally have the same expectations for all of Connealy’s books - humor that makes me laugh, an adventure that keeps me guessing, and characters that come alive. I’ve added a new one with this series - a seriousness that gives the story a new depth. Many of Mary’s books are light or what some call “fluff,” but with this series, she’s stepped away from that adjective a bit. Possibly because the Wilde sisters all served in the Civil War, but while there is humor in these, there is also sorrow. I really appreciate that she isn’t glossing over the pain of war, or forgetting where the sisters earned their tough exterior. Particularly with this story, Shannon’s pain is almost palpable at times, drawing me in until I almost cried with her at the imagery of what those in the war suffered.

Mary definitely excels at descriptions. Using just a few words, she can paint a picture that comes to life and fills my mind. I love the little details that aren’t one hundred percent necessary, but that add another layer to my understanding of the setting and the world around the characters. Her writing is very straight-forward, something I really enjoy. I had to laugh several times at the just honestly blunt manner of the dialogue and the characters’ thoughts. She also does an excellent job of giving each of the characters a unique voice. I enjoyed getting into the head of the villain, as I got a glimpse of their plan and it increased the sense of intrigue and suspense. I never felt the story lagged, though it does end a bit abruptly (more about that later). It flows very quickly and smoothly, holding my attention from the very first page. I did not want to put it down and would pick it up again as soon as possible.

Shannon Wilde may be my favorite of Mary’s heroines, to date. She’s the middle sister, in more ways than one. She’s strong, but she also learns how to be weak and lean on others. She is brave, but knows her limits. She is sensitive and hurting, but doesn’t let that stop her from doing what needs to be done. She, like her other sisters, served in the Civil War, which left her with scars. For me, this one fact set her apart. Even though her world seems to be falling apart, she learned how to be strong and keep moving. I’ve read many books set during the war or just after, but not many have had the depth this book does in just one scene.

Matthew Tucker is a bit more of Mary’s stereotypical hero, though I honestly didn’t mind. He’s strong, stubborn, set in his ways, and determined. But he is also gentle with Shannon, something that surprised me a little bit with him being a “mountain man.” Though his pride is stomped more than once, he is still willing to let her take the lead now and then. He’s also very protective, though he tries to give her space. He also has a strong faith, something I found fascinating.
Though God is an integral part of all of Mary’s books, this one takes it a step further, with a conversation about Shannon’s doubts. She’s not sure God hears her, or even still exists, and those doubts keep her walking in her fear. Though this is a bit deeper than her other books, unfortunately, it became glossed over with everything else going on. So, I applaud her for making the effort to incorporate more serious subjects in her stories, but I’m also a little disappointed that they were forgotten for the sake of keeping the story moving.

I’m honestly never quite sure what to say about the romance in Mary’s books. They definitely aren’t typical historical romance novels. The heroes aren’t soft spoken, or poetic. They tend more toward blunt and sometimes a little dense. I did really enjoy their relationship, as they both learned what it means to be married and depend on someone else. While I wouldn’t say there was a huge amount of romance, there are a few sweet moments, sometimes sprinkled with humor. I also appreciated the realistic take on marriage, as they both have to strive toward making it work.

I have to confess that I found the ending to be a bit abrupt and rather anticlimactic. I was expecting something else to happen, so when it just kind of stopped, it was a bit of a let down. I didn’t want it to end! I would have loved another chapter or two, to kind of tie things up and give the characters a little longer to work things out.

Despite my negative comments, I will say that I really enjoyed this book. Mary’s books are always good for a laugh and a break from reality. I am anxiously anticipating the final book in the series and finding what becomes of the final Wilde sister!

*I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

I hope you enjoyed my review!  Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read it!  I actually enjoyed this book so much that I'm planning to buy a paper copy as soon as it hits my store!  I'm excited to hold it in my hands!  And may I add that waiting for the final book, which releases in . . . (looking it up) October, (seriously?!) is killing me?  LOL  I hate waiting for new books, but that's the price a reader pays, when they adore an author, right?  They wait (maybe not so patiently, but they wait) for the next book in the series, then the one after that, then the one after that, and so on.  Anyway, thanks again for dropping by!  :) 

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