An engaging, nuanced female awakening journey in the West.


First Rodeo

From the The Spur Series series , Vol. 1

On a trip to Wyoming, a divorced mother finds romance with a younger cowboy in this debut novel.

Divorced mom Kate Marino, 36, works at her dad’s St. Louis car dealership. She is astounded when her father, fed lies by jealous older brother James, accuses her of sleeping with clients and even doing drugs. The incident finally spurs Kate to take time off with her son, Sam, soon to enter kindergarten, and travel out West. Her father, the family member seemingly most traumatized by the years-earlier death of another brother (older than James) on the family’s Missouri farm, journeys with them part of the way. Then Kate and Sam arrive at Prickly Pear Ranch in Wyoming, and her life transforms. Ranch hand Jake McComb, 13 years her junior, is drawn to her, and they begin an intense love affair. Once her trip is over, Kate continues to commute between St. Louis and Wyoming to be with Jake, although their relationship has its ups and downs. The myriad challenges they encounter include Jake’s demanding new job at another ranch in a desolate town, where an attractive woman more age-appropriate for the cowboy lurks. Still, Kate buys wedding rings and then rents and makes moves to buy her own Wyoming cabin so that the couple can be together and she can pursue the painting and photography that she abandoned at her father’s insistence she join his business. Will Kate and Jake eventually find happiness together? Hennessey has crafted a narrative that effectively builds on the tropes of chick-lit and cowboy romance to take some deeper turns. While some of the main characters’ actions may disappoint romance fans, the author deftly presents the couple’s struggles with flaws and damage from their pasts throughout the tale (“Kate had seen a therapist, with appointments as frequent as her every-other-week manicures, but they seemed to be of little help”). This makes the plot’s last-act complications part of an established context. Additionally, Kate’s attempts to come to peace with her art and her new life out West ultimately come off as heartwarming as well as profound.  

An engaging, nuanced female awakening journey in the West.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943006-03-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

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Another success for the publishing phenom.


An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.


A successful businesswoman hires a smooth-talking bounty hunter to find a lead on her sister’s murder.

Kate Gallagher was the only one available to identify her younger sister Chrissy’s body after she was found dead, having run away from home two years earlier. Since Chrissy succumbed to drugs and turned to sex work to survive, her murder isn't taken seriously by the local homicide department. Kate is filled with grief and regret at not having been there for her sister, and she’s determined to find her killer as a kind of penance. Jason Maddox is the charming man Kate almost hooked up with at a local bar. He also happens to be on the payroll of the most successful investigation company in Dallas. He’s all too eager to help Kate out and spend more time getting to know the blonde he danced with at the Sagebrush Saloon. At first, Kate and Jason vow to keep things professional until the case is solved; there’s obvious attraction that they’re willing to pursue at a later date. But the increasing sense of danger mixed with Kate and Jason’s close proximity proves to be too heady of a combination. The tension never lets up as the pair visit seedy bars and interrogate unsavory characters. With a steamy romance and undeniably hot chemistry, the main characters are well matched. They’re both driven, slightly stubborn, and enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching criminals. Martin (The Conspiracy, 2019, etc.) doesn’t skimp on graphic, violent details as Chrissy’s murder leads her couple to something much bigger: human trafficking. Though not for the faint of heart given its weighty material, this is an un-put-down-able page-turner that’s sure to satisfy fans of romance and thrillers alike.

A romantic suspense that skillfully balances both elements.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00769-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin HQN

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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