Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ransom Canyon by Jodi Thomas

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendant of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.
Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.
Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.
Title: Ransom  Canyon | Series: Ransom Canyon # 1| Author: Jodi Thomas | Publisher: HQN | Release Date: September | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: MLM Media Relations | Rating: 2.5

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Staten Kirkland has suffered the loss of his wife and his son so for five years he has sought comfort—sometimes sex, sometimes conversation—with Quinn O’Grady, the woman he’s known since he was young and who was best friends with his late wife. Staten enjoys the time he spends with Quinn but his time and body is all he can offer her because he doesn’t feel as though he has any love left to give.
Quinn O’Grady has loved Staten all of her life yet, because she was friends with his late wife, she never felt that she could voice those feelings although when she discovers she’s pregnant with Quinn’s child, she realizes she wants more from Staten and their odd realtionship. And when a dark secret from her past comes to light, she realizes she has no choice but to face it with Staten at her side.
Lucas Reyes wants more out of his so he’s determined to study and work hard to achieve his dream of going to college and making something of his life. Although his life changes as an abandoned house collapses around him and his friends bringing him closer to Lauren, the daughter of the sheriff.
Yancy Grey has just been released from prison and he’s settled in Ransom Canyon intent on casing the place, taking what he can, then leaving. Yet he soon finds himself becoming friends with those he thought to take advantage of.
Ransom Canyon, had the potential to be an amazing reading—and parts of it were great—yet the book was all over the map and it didn’t live up to its full potential.
Staten and Quinn
I really liked Staten and Quinn. They’re both in their forties. He’s hurt and damaged, most people think he’s cold and uncaring yet with Quinn he’s warm, kind, and gentle. Quinn keeps a lot of things bottled up, I think it stems from the secret that she’s carried around since she was in college, although I really wanted to see her voice what she was thinking. She finally does manage to find her voice, but it takes a while.
While I liked Staten, he definitely had his arsehat moment when he flipped his lid when he found out Quinn was pregnant. And Quinn grated on my nerves when she told him. Honestly, that entire scene had me rolling my eyes.
“I’m pregnant.” She sat up and reached for his sandwich.
“How is that possible?” It wasn’t registering. “Didn’t you use protection?”
“Didn’t you?” she answered.
He sat up, put his feet on the floor and tried reason. “I thought you couldn’t have children. That first night I came over, I asked. You said not to worry.”
“Apparently I was wrong. It took five years, but you proved me wrong. I am going to have a baby.”
Change, he almost screamed. I hate change.
Even if she claims she can’t get pregnant, there’s always a chance of pregnancy when you spend five years having sexy fun time sans condom.  Quinn goes on later to say that the reason she thought she couldn’t get pregnant was because she had irregular periods. Once again, I found myself rolling my eyes.
Lucas and Lauren
I liked Lucas. He’s in high school getting ready to go to college early and he’s determined to make something out of his life. He’s a good kid and ends up really coming through for his boss, Staten, in the end.
Lauren’s mother walked out on her and her father, who is the sheriff. She’s not really had a lot of boys interested in her because of who her father is although after Lucas saves her from a collapsing house, the two of them grow closer. I never really felt as though I truly got to know who Lauren was. It felt as though she was just kind of thrown in as a match for Lucas.
He’s a criminal that’s just been released from jail. He’s going through some personal issues and when he arrived in Ransom Canyon his thoughts are still bent towards criminal activity. Although it was interesting to see him slowly turn his life around. While Yancy does change, it was a slow process and most everything he did came off as selfish.
I really wanted to like this book and I did like parts of it. At the start, I was completely hooked on Staten and Quinn’s story. I do love damaged heroes, and Staten was very damaged. Although right when I started getting interested in their story, the book switches to another story and made the pacing and plot feel off kilter.
I wouldn’t have minded duel stories, when done right they can add depth and insight, yet this sort of came off as a jumbled mess. If the stories of Lucas, Lauren, and Yancy would have been woven into Staten and Quinn’s story, the book would have had a more complete feel. Although instead, it switched from one story to another, then another, then back again.
Overall, this one just didn’t work for me. It came off as disjointed and left me wanting more.  

         He wasn’t even sure they were friends some days.  Maybe they were more.  Maybe less.  He looked down at his palm, remembering how she’d rubbed cream on it earlier and worried that all they had in common was loss and the need, now and then, to touch another human being.
The screen door creaked.  He turned as Quinn, wrapped in an old quilt, moved out into the night.
“I didn’t mean to wake you,” he said as she tiptoed across the snow-dusted porch.  “I need to get back.  Got a hundred new head of cattle coming in at dawn.”  He never apologized for leaving and he wasn’t now.  He was simply stating facts.  With the cattle rustling going on he might have to hire more men.  As always, he felt like he needed to be on his land and on alert.
She nodded and moved to stand in front of him.
          Staten waited.  They never touched after they made love.  He usually left without a word, but tonight she obviously had something she wanted to say.
Another thing he probably did wrong, he thought.  He never complimented her, never kissed her on the mouth, never said any words after he touched her.  If she didn’t make little sounds of pleasure now and then he wouldn’t have even been sure he’d satisfied her. 
Now, standing so close to her, he felt more a stranger than a lover.  He knew
the smell of her skin, but he had no idea what she was thinking most of the time.  She knew quilting and how to make soap from her lavender.  She played the piano like an angel and didn’t even own a TV.   He knew ranching and watched every game the Dallas Cowboys played from his recliner.
          If they ever spent over an hour talking they’d probably figure out they had nothing in common.  He’d played every sport in high school and she’d played in the orchestra.  He’d collected most of his college hours online and she’d gone all the way to New York to school.  But, they’d loved the same person.  Amalah had been Quinn’s best friend and his one love.  Only, they rarely talked about how they felt.  Not anymore.  Not ever really.  It was too painful, he guessed, for both.
          Tonight the air was so still moisture hung like invisible lace.  She looked to be closer to her twenties than her forties.  Quinn had her own quiet kind of beauty.  She always had, and he guessed she still would even when she was old.
To his surprise, she leaned in and kissed his mouth.
          He watched her.   “You want more?” he finally asked, figuring it was probably the dumbest thing to say to a naked woman standing two inches away from him.  He had no idea what more would be.  They always had sex once, if they had it at all when he knocked on her door.   Sometimes neither made the first move and they just cuddled on the couch and held each other.  Quinn wasn’t a passionate woman.  What they did was just satisfying a need that they both had now and then.
          She kissed him again without saying a word.  When her cheek brushed against his rough jaw, it was wet and tasted newborn like the rain.
          Slowly, Staten moved his hands under her blanket and circled her warm body, then he pulled her closer and kissed her fully like he hadn’t kissed a woman since his wife died.
          Her lips were soft and inviting.  When he opened her mouth and invaded, it felt far more intimate than anything they’d ever done, but he didn’t stop.  She wanted this from him and he had no intention of denying her.  No one would ever know that she was the thread that kept him together some days.
          When he finally broke the kiss, Quinn was out of breath.  She pressed her forehead against his jaw and he waited.
          “From now on,” she whispered so low he felt her words more than heard them, “when you come to see me, I need you to kiss me goodbye before you go.  If I’m asleep, wake me.  You don’t have to say a word, but you have to kiss me.”
          She’d never asked him for anything.  He had no intention of saying no.  His hand spread across the small of her back.  “I won’t forget if that’s what you want.”  He could feel her heart pounding and knew her asking had not come easy.
          She nodded.  “It’s what I want.”
          He brushed his lips over hers, loving the way she sighed as if wanting more before she pulled away.
          “Goodnight,” she said as if rationing pleasure.  Stepping inside, she closed the screen door between them.
          Raking his hair back, he put on his hat as he watched her fade into the shadows.  The need to return was already building in him.  “I’ll be back Friday night if it’s all right.”

Note from Jodi Thomas


Welcome to a taste of RANSOM CANYON.  When I began my series, I knew my first character would be Staten Kirkland.  He walked into my writing bunkhouse, sat down and began to tall me his story.  He’s a strong man who always tries to do the right thing, but life has dealt him his share of blows.
One rainy night, after losing his wife to cancer, his son, just 16, dies in a wreck.  Shattered in grief, he turns to a woman he’s know all his life for comfort.
Quinn O’Grady was his best friend.  She’s shy. Staten knows she guards terrible scars inside.  As their story of finding love and hope grows both must face their darkest hour.
Amid their story, Staten must stand against modern day rustlers.  He is surprised to discover an entire town stands with him.
RANSOM CANYON is the story of a small town at the crossroads between ranches where lives intertwine.

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Ransom Canyon Series

Winter's Camp (Prequel novella)

Ransom Canyon

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