Hope you had a great week-end. Mine was pretty good :) Now that curling is over, I finally had a chance to clean my messy room. It wasn't spring cleaning, but almost LOL.
One of my favorites author is Jodi Thomas. She had a new release last month in her Harmony series. Here's my review. Enjoy!
***Warning: This review contains spoilers for this book and previous installments. Read at your own risk***
Betting the Rainbow by Jodi Thomas
published by Berkley in April 2014
Sisters Abby and Dusti Delaney have spent their entire lives on Rainbow Lane, but they dream of something bigger. So when a poker tournament comes to town, Dusti is determined to win enough money to leave. Enlisting expert Kieran O’Brian to teach her the game, sparks begin to fly as they play their hands. But Kieran refuses to stand in the way of her dream, even if it means losing her forever...Genre: Contemporary romance
After a year of traveling, Ronny Logan is settling into a home on Rainbow Lane, but that’s all the settling she’ll be doing. Ronny refuses to fall for anyone, regardless of the chemistry she has with her neighbor Austin Hawk. Yet something undeniable begins to grow between the two loners—if only they can let their barriers fall and open their hearts...
Series: Harmony, Book #7
The Story: There are actually three storylines going on in Betting the Rainbow. The first one is about Ronny who comes back to Harmony after a year of traveling. She settles into a cabin on Rainbow Lane where she'll figure out her future. Her neighbor, Austin Hawk, is also in want of solitude. He came to his grandfather's cabin on Rainbow Lane to recover from his injuries. Both have suffered losses and are numb inside... but strangely, they seem to come alive in each other's presence.
The second storyline is about Dusti Delaney. She and her sister live on the family pecan farm on Rainbow Lane. Both had to give up their dreams to come home and take care of their parents and the farm. With money being so tight, it seems they'll never be able to pursue their dreams - Dusti's photography and Abby becoming a nurse... until Dusti hears of the poker tournament taking place in Harmony. The winner of this tournament will have the opportunity to participate to another one in Las Vegas where the rewards will be bigger and sweeter. The only problem is Dusti doesn't know how to play... and that's why she enlists Kieran O'Brian's help. Kieran used to spend his summer at Rainbow Lane with his grandmother when he was a boy. He's always had a crush on Dusti... He's willing to teach poker to Dusti if she is willing to go on a date with him.
The last story that is not mentioned in the blurb involves Reagan Thurman. She's once again waiting for her high school sweetheart Noah who's been on the rodeo tour. She knows that Noah loves her, but she wonders when he will come back home to her for good. When will he stop chasing the big money, when will it be enough. Also, lately, she's noticed that Noah has been more distant, not coming home nor calling her as often... and she finds out why when a woman shows up on her doorstep, leaving a package for Noah...
My Opinion: By now, you all know how much I love and enjoy Ms Thomas' writing as well as the town and characters she has created. As such, I'm going to skip the gushing - except to say that Betting the Rainbow continues in the same vein :) - and jumps straight to my thoughts on the stories.
I'll be honest and say I was a bit disappointed when I read the blurb of the book. I've been waiting for Ronny's story for such a long time. I really enjoyed her storyline in The Comforts of Home, witnessing her growth and her first love with Marty... and my heart broke along hers in Can't Stop Believing. Sigh. So I was really happy to get her story in Betting the Rainbow, but was disappointed that she had to share the attention with another storyline. Of course, I should have been expecting it though since this has been Ms Thomas' pattern... but really, if I could have had a book focusing solely on Ronny, I would have been happier ^_^; Anyway, complaint aside, Ronny's story was nice and enjoyable. After Marty's death, I was wondering what kind of man would provide Ronny's HEA ending... and I have to say, I really liked Austin. I thought he matched Ronny well. Despite becoming more independent and friendlier, there's always been this lonely side to Ronny. Perhaps it stems from having been an observer for too long instead of being a participant and Austin seems to share this trait. He seemed to be a man of few words and enjoyed the solitude at his cabin. Despite not being very social, it was shown that he cherished the friendships he had and was very loyal and that was very similar to Ronny. Also, I felt Austin and Ronny were on a more equal footing, that they had more of a partnership and understanding between them than Ronny and Marty. Oh don't get me wrong, I loved Ronny and Marty together and wouldn't have minded if things had gone differently and they had ended up together... However, their relationship always leaned more towards mentor-mentoree, even in their romance, than two equals together. It wasn't bad, but what Ronny discovered with Austin was different in a good way. I'm glad that Austin and Ronny really had a connection, making each other feel alive after their losses. As you can see, I did really enjoy Austin and Ronny's romance :) The one thing I would have liked was a bit more development on Austin, a bit more background to understand him better.
I was taken by surprise when I discovered Reagan and Noah had a part in Betting the Rainbow and I have to say, I wasn't too crazy about reading the latest in their saga. I love the two characters, especially Reagan, since she's been so central to the series... but unfortunately, I have to say Reagan and Noah's romance has been a bit redundant. You know they love each other, but they just can't seem to stay together, to make it work. Throw in the latest twist and you really wonder if they will ever :( To make matter worst, it has been hard to watch the man Noah has grown into. Gone is the cheerful and friendly teenager :( It's not that Noah is a bad man, but he's definitively not the same. He's more deluded and despite his success on the rodeo tour, it never seems enough. And it's been hard to see him taking Reagan for granted and making her wait for him. So yes, I wasn't excited to read their storyline... but at the end of it, I was hopeful. Hopeful that they'll finally get their HEA ending, that this time, it'll be the right one. And I'm so glad that Noah seems to finally grow up and become the man that Reagan has been waiting for and deserves. And I'm glad that Reagan put her foot down this time around.
Finally, Dusti and Kieran's storyline. I didn't know what to expect about this one and unfortunately, I didn't really connect with it. Although I think it has more to do with me being too invested with Ronny, Reagan and Noah than Dusti and Kieran's characters and storyline ^_^; I think it wasn't fair that Dusti and Kieran had to play second fiddles to already known and beloved characters... Anyway, Dusti and Kieran were likable characters and they had a good chemistry together and made a cute couple. However, I just never got pull into their storyline. Aside from my attention being focused elsewhere, another problem was that this storyline is that it was a bit unbelievable. I mean, the whole idea that Dusti has never played poker, but plans to enter one and win it to make her and her sister's dreams come true is just too Disney-ish :( Perhaps if the players have been restricted to Harmony's townies, but with people coming from neighboring town... Even if Dusti turns out to be an amazing player, it still seems a bit too far-fetched. Luckily though, Ms Thomas pulled back the reins a bit and didn't make the result over the top. It's too bad because I liked the idea of Harmony hosting a poker tournament to raise funds :) It was actually really something I could see happening in Harmony :)
My Grade: B. Betting the Rainbow had some flaws, but at the end of the day, it was still a very solid installment and it made me happy to be back in Harmony :) Ms Thomas' next book will be how Harmony came to be and that should be very interesting... Looking forward to it :)