Becka's Book Review - SNOW ANGEL by Diana Bold
As you may or may not know, Diana Bold is one of my favorite authors. She writes with heart and emotion, and makes me believe I'm there with her characters, no matter the book. You might have heard me crowing hither and yon about her book THE MAIL ORDER BRIDE, a fabulous book for any Western lover.
Last week, Diana gave me a most wonderful Christmas gift. Her latest book, SNOW ANGEL, which is set to release on December 18th at Cobblestone Press. I'd been wanting this book ever since I first saw the cover (pictured above), because nothing is more exciting, to me, anyway, than a Western romance in a cave in the snow. Throw in an outlaw, and how can you go wrong??
Needless to say, I was very excited to read this book.
With that said, I will try to give Ms. Bold a fair review, even though I am a confessed fangirl. :)
I'm going to start with the cons and end the review with the pros. :) First of all, a nitpick. The book opens in "Northern New Mexico" in the year 1871, as if New Mexico is already a state. In fact, New Mexico didn't win it's statehood until a few years into the twentieth century--1912, to be exact. Therefore, I felt the word "Territory" was left out. I'm not at all sure if contemporaries of 1871 would call it the "New Mexico Territory" or simply "New Mexico", but on the first page, Ms. Bold refers to the "Colorado Territory", so I feel this is merely a clerical error.
This book is a Christmas story, however, I felt it was light on the Christmas theme. It could have merely been a story set in winter and it wouldn't lose much. There is mention of a tree and gifts given, but beyond that, no trepidation about missing the holiday from the heroine (she was on the stage from Denver to Texas to be with her sister during the holidays). There was no "memories" from the outlaw/hero about Christmases past with his previous family, which might have upped the angst factor.
Also, the hero and heroine seemed deeply in love with their former wife and husband (the hero is a widower while the heroine is a widow), that is, until they made love with each other. Then we find out about the heroine's seemingly inept-in-the-bedroom husband and the hero's equally "cold fish" wife, who probably would have made the perfect couple themselves. Of course, there's the sexual awakening on both the hero and heroine's parts, since she'd never reached the big O, and he'd never had a partner who'd enjoyed it quite so much. Perhaps it's just me, but I found this part of the story to be a bit melodramatic. As a romance author myself, I do understand the dynamic of the plot, that unwritten rule that states the hero and heroine must experience a love with each other that they've never experienced before with another living soul. However, it seemed laid on a little thick here.
Despite the above, let it be known that I loved this book. The title alone is excellent, as SNOW ANGEL is powerful and poignant. It conjures images of new beginnings, of serene beauty, and a childlike innocence. It fits this story so perfectly, that I wish I'd thought of it. :) And the cover is to die for. KUDOS to the cover artist for capturing the story so perfectly, and for the gloriously drawn hero. I usually don't care for hand-drawn covers, but this one takes the cake. I probably would have bought this book based on the title and cover, regardless of the author, and if a book can do that at first glance, you know you have a winner.
The romance between Zach and Bethany is very touching. These two have nothing to lose, and they each need to be comforted in their own way. Despite the short length of the book (it's a novella), I felt their romance didn't seem rushed, and in fact, makes sense when you're faced with a life-threatening situation. Most of the time, two people who share a traumatic experience feel very close to each other, even if they don't know the other from Adam. So their closeness in the cave right off the bat made sense to me. I particularly liked the first love scene, as Ms. Bold wanders into uncharted territory for a romance author (in my experience). I don't want to spoil anything for potential readers, but that very first encounter is something I haven't read in another romance. And that difference was wonderfully refreshing. It made sense, too, for a man who's been locked up for years.
I also loved the reason why Zach had been locked up in the first place. His plight reminded me of Christian Bale in the movie "3:10 to Yuma". While Mr. Bale's storyline wasn't quite so desperate, that's what I kept picturing. If you haven't seen "3:10 to Yuma", you should. It's a good movie. :)
And I couldn't help but wonder how Ms. Bold was going to give her characters a "happily ever after", since Zach is an escaped convict. But the "out" they get is actually kind of cool, really, as I didn't even see it coming. I probably should have been able to predict it, but the fact that I didn't pleasantly surprised me. Some of you might predict it, but I sure didn't, and that made it all the more enjoyable for me.
So, Ms. Bold, you get 4 1/4 stars from Becka for SNOW ANGEL. I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it to anyone who loves snowed-in westerns with outlaws as much as I do. :) It is a fun, sexy read for anyone who wants to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy a winter romance from the warm, cozy couch of their own home. The pros of this book definitely outweigh the cons, and SNOW ANGEL is a book I will read again and again.