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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All the Right Reasons by Sandy James

All the Right Reasons by Sandy James
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (100,000+ words)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Snapdragon

Can love heal all wounds? Lucas Mitchell returned from Iraq a bitter, changed man, wracked with guilt over his friend's death. He buys an old mansion and deals with his injuries and grief by restoring his new home and rehabilitating retired racehorses.

Joy Kovacs falls in love with Lucas at first sight. Descended from gypsies who are still influenced by the lingering effects of the Holocaust, her family follows the traditional ways. A husband has already been selected for her, and her father insists she work at their ethnic restaurant. But Joy wants to use her talent and be an artist, and she wants no one but Lucas.

How can Joy find a way to help Lucas break out of his prison of grief? Although they've committed their hearts to each other, can the growing love and passion between Lucas and Joy survive her family's insistence that she marry within her culture?

"As a high school teacher, I've had to watch many young people, students whom I love, put on uniforms and head to Iraq. While I'm thankful they're all doing well, I felt there was a story to tell about them. Lucas Mitchell represents those students I've had the pleasure of knowing who make the noble choice to serve their country." ~Sandy~

Ms. James’ very readable third in her ‘Damaged Heroes’ series will engage readers, whether or not they have read the earlier books.

Lucas, the attractive once-soldier, enters Joy’s life quite casually – almost by a side door. She is intrigued by his looks, but values her separateness, and the peace some degree of isolation has given her. She understands damage to the soul – and Lucas Mitchell has most certainly suffered. We expect the two of them, from the first moments, to find one another – and to find both healing and joy through one another.

In a kind of timeless ‘romance’ way, of course their immediate challenge is trying to have their match accepted…but James added twists (and a thoroughly enjoyable villain) so that this theme did not make the plot entirely predictable. Perhaps, the references to the traditions, or the old-style family still bossing a young woman (Joy,) make this work seem like it should be happening in an older time, although there are enough present-day influences. This sort of point recurred, and plausibility became a tiny factor for me… it by no means detracts from the overall story. Details, from ordinary things like horse races and affection for kitties, to Joy’s pursuit of art, to her near-magic intuition, is always just-enough; believable and interesting. The sensual scenes were well-described and re-read worthy, every time.

The best hook for the readers here, is the exceptionally evocative nature of the work. The depth of attraction, then love, cannot be doubted. The strength of emotions, the suffering, guilt, and regret all make for a compelling read. You will be completely immersed in the characters’ emotions. Secondary characters –from young Chelsea to Joy’s oh-so-tradition bound family, also show interesting depth as well.

This very contemporary and timely work is immensely readable, with good character development and powerful emotions throughout. 4 books.