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Monday, August 2, 2010

Ambushed! by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Ambushed! by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (217 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Morgan O'Connelli hated the restless lifestyle she'd had as a child. All she wants now is to create a real home in small-town Wyoming. So first she hangs up her real-estate agent shingle…then she promptly borrows the horse of the hottest cowboy in town!

Cutting-horse champion Gabe Chance is blown away by the feisty redhead who unexpectedly lands right in his bed…and, soon enough, his heart! Morgan's perfect for him in every way. Until he realizes that while she's turned out to be everything he never knew he wanted, he's got everything someone in her profession has ever wanted…his family's ranch.

And that's a legacy he's just not willing to give up—not even for the sexiest woman he's ever fallen for…

A blast from his past will shoot this cowboy into his future if he’d just get on his horse and ride.

Well, that’s what Gabe wants to do, ride his horse into the Hall of Fame. A few things are in his way however. But it’s a figurative type of riding I’m referring to. I had a rollicking good time reading this book and I enjoyed every page turn.

First, I want to say that this book is part of a series about three brothers. I didn’t get to read the first but in no way did that detract from my reading Ambushed!. It stands on its own strengths which are all about Gabe and Morgan.

As for Gabe, he’s a man who has a dream and has been pursuing it for a long time. At this point in the story, he finds that everything he’s worked for is about to be derailed from an unexpected source and it’s causing havoc. I got to see Gabe’s character grow in this story. He has to face uncertainty and adversity which force him to reconsider his place in the family, his goals in life and what actions he is willing to take to make what he wants happen. I saw his strength and integrity when he stood up to those who would beat him down, or attacked the character of another person. Another aspect of Gabe I enjoyed was his sense of fun, daring and his sometimes goofy dialogue. Of course the one thing guaranteed to make a focused man act loopy is a woman, and what a woman she is.

Morgan is that blast from Gabe’s past that I referred to earlier. She’s the high school cutie who he’d have approached if he’d been a free agent but never got the chance. She is the girl who had a wicked crush on him back then and is about to find out if it was puppy love or something more. The only trait that Morgan and Gabe’s courtship shares with a puppy is its cuteness and “awww” factor.

Morgan embodies fun. Her character totally delighted me and that included how she came to have her last name, O’Connelli. It’s as unusual as she is and she is the perfect opposite to Gabe. They do have one thing in common however and that is the ability to focus on a goal and make it happen. Her dream is a bit more emotional and sad. All Morgan wants is a home, a place where she can set down roots because she’s never known what that feels like. She’s upbeat, stubborn and usually can roll with the punches. She’s noble too because she’s willing to do whatever it takes to do the best thing for the man she loves, even if it hurts.

Ambushed! is not all full of angst and mired in self-destructive behaviors. The conflict is mostly internal between Gabe facing what he wants for his future and Morgan’s place in it; and Morgan’s wanting everything but being willing to settle for less just so she can have a home. I’ll let readers find out what kinds of things she’s willing to keep or let go. Again, her choices illustrate what a really wonderful person she is.

One of the aspects that Ms. Thompson imbued this book with is humor. I’m talking the knee-slapping, giggling, snickering kind of humor that will cause a reader to laugh out loud no matter where they are reading this book. I caution a reader to not sneak reading this at work because of it. I even re-read the scene with the bug spray more than once because it had great comedic timing and I could see it so vividly in my mind. It has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read about using simple bug repellent. I enjoyed the scene where Morgan got a little tipsy and she opened her door to a very shocked Gabe. And that thing with the horse and goat was pure genius. It’s a good thing I didn’t have food in my mouth at that point, I would have choked from the sudden onslaught of giggles. It had a warm romantic feeling about it as well, but it was overshadowed by the sheer hilarity of the moment. It was a stellar piece of writing. I think what made it so powerful wasn’t the descriptions so much as the dialogue, both vocal and internal. I could see Gabe actually talking like that, saying those words and doing those things. Well done.

The only burp I found during reading what was otherwise a flawlessly edited book was actually found in a critical sentence issued by Jack towards the end of the book. I think they missed putting in the word, ‘not’ because with it the sentence has the meaning I think the author intended for Jack to say. If other readers mentally add that then they’ll be all set.

The secondary characters are a treasure. I loved Gabe’s mom and eventually even his brother, Jack. There is a sense of family and community that comes through and I enjoy those types of scenarios. It makes the reading experience richer and fuller. Ms. Thompson has a great writing style, voice and her characters always make me want to know them. The romance between Gabe and Morgan is sultry hot and yet humor is never far away. I loved the wrap up to the happily ever after because it tied together all the threads in a nice and satisfying manner. I laughed, I sighed, it moved me and it’s going on my keeper shelf. Ambushed! is a definite recommend from this very happy reader.