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Monday, September 24, 2007

Review: The Welcome Inn

The Welcome Inn
by Elaine Cantrell,

Julianna can’t stand Buck Abercrombie! He’s rude, chauvinistic, and exasperating, and he’s her new boss. Why wouldn’t the bank loan her the money to buy The Welcome Inn? As manager she has proved her worth.

Worse yet, Buck’s criminal brother Travis works for him, and her friend Melanie likes him!

This wonderful contemporary romance starts in an abrupt attack. This is not, as one might imagine, full of terror, but full of power, strength and the most admirable would-be victim one could imagine. Julianna, the main character is self-assured and from the first, her own person. The hero in this tale sort of slides into the picture, as an afterthought. Personally, he is pleasant enough, although physically, he really captures the interest. "His eyes were a penetrating blue, his feature's rugged..." are enough to get the heart pounding, if the early action doesn't do it for you.

As a main character, Julianna is a standout, not just for looks, but because of her strong personality. She is not a 'brat' heroine, she is not willful - but she is strongminded, resilient, and competent. It is fabulous to read a romance where not only the hero is an admirable person, but our heroine is, as well. Cantrell pulls off these strong characters very believably. Dialogue is sharp, realistic, and moves the story along. The action and interplay is lively, and make this a fast read. Cantrell spends little time on details of the setting - poolside could be poolside at any hotel - likewise inn rooms and offices. She does offer one very nicely detailed vision, of a blissful beach that seems a paradise. The very ordinary enterntainments - movies, a meeting for ice cream, a swim - all complete and round out the characters, by sharing their lifestyles.

Almost-steamy sex scenes do not merely exist in this work as window dressing, but add to the plot. The plot carries this story, and all the twists do not disappoint. A second handsome man enters the picture almost at once. Renovations, inn operations, employee interactions, and the competitiveness between the main characters all create a complex web that is both fascinating and puzzling. A smattering of sybling rivalry and the occasional recollection of past events all ratchet up the stress. So, when Julianna finds herself targetted for reasons she can't guess, sorting out that mystery is just one more problem on her list.

The Welcome Inn is an compelling contemporary romance with super characters and a complex, enjoyable, and frequently exciting plot.


Reviewed by Snapdragon