Review: Now & Forever and Fire & Ice (Wild At Heart series) by Mary Connealy

October 30, 2015 Christian, historical, Mary Connealy, romance 9

now and foreverMatthew Tucker survives a grizzly attack by jumping over a cliff into a rushing river. Unexpectedly, Shannon Wilde takes the plunge with him. Going through a series of waterfalls and rapids turns into a bonding experience.

By the time they battle their way back to civilization, Shannon has been thoroughly compromised, and only a wedding will do. A mountain man who loves to wander in the wilderness far from other people finds himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As they learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon’s land. Someone evil clearly wants to drive them off, but whoever it is apparently didn’t count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad–and trying to hurt the woman he’s falling in love with sets off something even Matthew never expected.

Mary Connealy’s “Wild at Heart” series follows the three Wilde sisters (who pass themselves off as men to appease their grieving father) and their misadventures in homesteading. I have to confess that I didn’t especially take to the first book, Tried & True, a reaction that both surprised and disappointed me as Mary Connealy has long been one of my go-to authors. I almost didn’t read the next two books, but after hearing such good things about them I figured I really should give the series one more try.  Oh my goodness, what fun I would have missed!!!  Lesson learned: trust your go-to authors!! I should probably go back and re-read Tried & True – maybe I was just in a bad mood that day lol.

Anyway… I digress.

my thoughtsAfter now reading all three of the Wild at Heart books, I can unequivocally say that Now & Forever is my favorite of the trilogy.  This second book is Mary Connealy at her best! Madcap adventure, hilarious dialogue, toe-curling kisses, and characters that you wish you could invite to dinner.  Well… I’m unsure about that last one.  Shannon’s idea of a meal and mine are quite different, and while my tastes align much more closely with Tucker’s he has that one bath a year rule so…. yeah.  Maybe I should amend that thought to “characters that you wish you counted as friends”.  There.  That sounds somewhat safer on both my beet-sensitive constitution and my sense of smell.

One of the things I enjoy most about Mary Connealy’s books is her writing style – the narrator is inside the characters’ heads and informs us of their thoughts with wry amusement.  Sometimes, she bypasses wry amusement and goes straight for out-and-out hilarity! Tucker’s ponderings to himself about Shannon and his feelings thereof …. and his attachment to his pants (it would take me too long to explain here – you just have to read the book) waver between those two categories and were responsible for many chuckles from yours truly as I read.  Speaking of chuckles… watch for a scene where the mountain men are planning their strategy for how best to retell the tale of Tucker and Shannon’s river adventure. Outside of the romantical scenes and the kisses that Tucker kept planting on Shannon, that particular scene was one of my very favorites in the book.  Pure comedic gold. I could see it playing out so clearly, and I’m pretty sure Tim Conway was one of the mountain men in my mind.

Bottom Line: In between all the laughter and the kissing (and ooo-la-la, are there some good ones!), Now & Forever brims with suspense and tenderness and warmth.  I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who loves romantic comedies, westerns, or historical fiction.  As I said, it’s Mary Connealy at her best – and it has a little something for everyone!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

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fire and iceBailey Wilde is one of the best new ranchers in the West. She’s been living disguised as a man for a while, but when Gage Coulter comes to drive her off her homestead, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with a woman–a very tough, very intriguing woman at that.

Gage is an honest man, but he didn’t make his fortune being weak. He won’t break the law, but he’ll push as hard as he can within it. Five thousand acres of his best range land is lost to him because Bailey’s homestead is located right across the only suitable entrance to a canyon full of lush grass. Gage has to regain access to his land–and he’s got to go through Bailey to do it.

Spending a winter alone has a way of making a person crave some human contact. In a moment of weakness, Bailey agrees to a wild plan Gage concocts. Can these two independent, life-toughened homesteaders loosen up enough to earn each other’s respect–and maybe find love in the process?

my thoughtsThis book had some fun moments too – I don’t think it’s possible to have a Mary Connealy book without some laughter 🙂  Probably my favorite scenes involve Gage’s reactions to his mother – both the idea of her pending arrival and the reality of it.  Again, as in Now & Forever, these bits of the novel were made all the more hilarious because the narrator is inside the characters’ heads.

You would expect a book with a title like Fire & Ice to have some romantical heat in it.  You would not be wrong in this case. Gage and Bailey’s … banter?… I’m not sure that’s the correct word for their early “courtship” as Gage calls it in later chapters but you can definitely sense some sizzle behind the irritation.  And when Gage discovers an injury that Bailey has suffered, he morphs into ultra-protective mode and … well, suffice it to say you may need a fan 🙂

Bottom Line: Besides the humor and heat, there’s a lot of suspense, some agonizing turns of events, and overwhelming tenderness. While each of the three books in the series can be read as a stand-alone, they are better appreciated together. I highly recommend the Wild at Heart series to fans of Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, or Melissa Jagears.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

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About the Author:

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedies about cowboys.  She’s the author of the acclaimed “Trouble in Texas” and “The Kincaid Brides” series, as well as several other series.  Mary has been nominated for a Christy Award, was a finalist for a RITA Award, and is a two-time winner of the Carol Award.  She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.  They have four grown daughters and a little bevy of spectacular grandchildren.

Connect with Mary online at:

her website

Seekerville

Petticoats & Pistols

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Carrie

9 Responses to “Review: Now & Forever and Fire & Ice (Wild At Heart series) by Mary Connealy”

  1. Pam K.

    I recently finished both of these books (I’d read book one awhile back) and enjoyed them very much. Reading a Mary Connealy book is such fun! Her books always go on my “wish list” which turns into telling my kids that’s what I’d like for my birthday and/or Christmas.

  2. Yvette - Bookworlder

    Your reviews make me want to reread the series – so much fun! And when I eventually do, I now have the added fun of imagining one of the mountain men as Tim Conway 😀
    Your recommendation is spot on! I’m a fan of all three. I’m thoroughly hooked & will be reading more Mary Connealy.