Thursday, June 19, 2014

Country Roads and The Place I Belong by Nancy Herkness (reviews)


4.5 stars

Country Roads by Nancy Herkness is a contemporary romance story that explores the cascading effects of one woman’s decision to take control of her life.  Successful artist Julia Castillo has evolved her style to paint darker versions of the horses that she has become known for, despite strong opposition from the benevolent uncle who manages her career and her life with a somewhat tyrannical single-mindedness.  Her radical decision to make a stand accompanies her arrival at the aptly named town of Sanctuary where she encounters attorney Paul Taggart, who has his own suffocating responsibilities.  They must decide if they are going to be a brief temporary escape for each other and keep their secrets from one another or whether they will have the courage to find freedom together.  Perhaps an abused horse named Darkside will be able to show them both how to trust again.

This lovely story gives an interesting look at the effects of fear on one’s life even as it provides an inspirational look at what can be accomplished when fears are faced.  There are several characters who have been circumscribed by past events and forced to stagnate unless they find the courage to change.  The parallel that is drawn between the recalcitrant and dangerous horse  that becomes Julia’s symbol and her life is a great allegory and the misunderstandings and misconceptions that plague both provide a great basis for the conflicts and opportunities for growth of both the horse and the woman who identifies with him.  There is a mystical element that also pervades the story which does an excellent job of providing both an enjoyable read and an inspiration for each of us to overcome the obstacles in our lives, no matter what those around us may inadvertently attempt to prevent in a misguided attempt to help.  This is a wonderfully romantic and inspirational story and I look forward to reading more stories in the series.


4.5 stars

The Place I Belong by Nancy Herkness is part of the delightful contemporary romance ‘Whisper Horse’ series and features Dr. Hannah Linden, a veterinarian who is taking care of her colleague Dr. Tim Arbuckle’s patients in the town of Sanctuary and attempting to find a comfortable place to practice after a serious upheaval in her life. Adam Bosch, owner and head chef of the famed exclusive local restaurant The Aerie, has plenty of his own personal issues to deal with, including a teenage son he never knew existed and he must exert all of the persuasive charm he can muster to convince Hannah to become involved in his life. A lonely pony named Satchmo provides a bridge that will connect all of them but there are many obstacles to overcome before it can be proven that Satchmo is going to continue the tradition of the equines in his stable and become known as the newest ‘Whisper Horse’ of Sanctuary.
This heartwarming story is an excellent addition to a wonderful series that explores the bond between animals and humans and the healing power of love. There are plenty of serious issues which are explored, including alcoholism and libel, but the gently unfolding relationships that grow as the story progresses are delightful to observe and cause one to experience the emotional highs and lows right along with these characters. It was intriguing to watch Dr. Linden investigate the cause for her patient’s maladies and wonderful to see the benefits of the interactions between both the two-footed and four-footed characters. I love both the way Adam’s passion for food and attention to detail translates into a demonstration of his care for those around him and the correlation between the lives of two very different people who find they complement each other beautifully as they work through their respective demons. I have enjoyed exploring the town of Sanctuary through this book and another in the series, Country Roads, and I look forward to meeting more ‘Whisper Horses’ and the humans they help heal.

Copies of these two wonderful titles were provided in exchange for an honest review.

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