Monday, August 6, 2018

Review - - A Touch of Flame



A Touch of Flame
By: Jo Goodman
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Reviewed by Hellie




Newly elected sheriff, Ben Madison, has been sent to pick up the new doctor for Frost Falls, Dr. E. Ridley Woodhouse. It seems Doc, who retired in a hurry but reassured Ben that the new physician would be perfect for the role, neglected to mention one tiny thing: the new doc is a woman. Which, Ben will assure you, he noticed right away. Although Ben finds the new Dr. Woodhouse to be efficient and capable in her profession, the town itself is not yet willing to embrace the modern idea of a woman doctor. Even if it is almost the 20th century.

Dr. Ridley Woodhouse has her work cut out for her. She anticipated the town would not be eager to replace the vacancy that the well-beloved Doc had left, but she knew eventually they would have to come around. In the meantime, she would take a few key suggestions from the sheriff by making herself visible in the community and making house calls whether she’s been directly asked or not. Things might even go smoothly if not for one particular family, a married couple with children, whose husband is prone to domestic violence. The laws of the turn of the century aren’t protective of married women in abusive relationships; and both she and Sheriff Ben are frustrated by how little they can do to fix the situation. Still, sticking your nose where it’s not wanted--and without the law on your side--can be quite dangerous, and Ben soon confronts his greatest fear as he may lose the woman he has grown to love.

This book is intense with high drama (which Goodman is known for) and high stakes, but it was the humor that makes me give this one a Top Dish rating. Oh my God did I laugh. I laughed until I was sick. Ben Madison is the funniest, most unflappable male I’ve ever fallen in love with. From the minute he picks up the new doctor--who insists on being called Doctor Woodhouse--and allows the good doctor to assume he is just some lackey sent to pick her up at the station and not someone of such high station as the sheriff, to the time he has to help her dress for a funeral and is holding her corset, equating it to saddling a horse, to trying to guess what the E of her first name really stands for, Ben Madison is stubbornly good-humored and even-keeled.

Ridley is just starchy enough to not be so blessed with such a sense of humor, but this is easily forgiven since she pursued her degree in a field riddled with men who did not take her seriously, so she had to be twice so in order to get the respect she deserves. She is no nonsense, pragmatic, practical, and quick to call anyone on their bullshit. She’s just the kind of heroine we all want to be or be friends with.

This book has it all: sexy love scenes (that feel real and not gratuitous), constant real action that keeps a good pace without being exhausting, detailed setting and historical detail for any lover of historical novels, and well-rounded characters, not just the two main characters themselves. Jo Goodman makes it all look so easy; and it’s so readable it’s easy to appreciate. But as a writer, I know there was a lot in the background we don’t see that was nothing but hard work, as much as her own characters work, I’d say. It is a pure delight to read, a greater delight to admire.



21 comments:

  1. AH YES! Another book you have introduced and I believe I really need to read it. PJ, you have made this sound like a terrific read. Thanks - take care.

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    1. You do need to read it! Immediately...buy two and give one to your friend so you can read it together. (Okay, that's my friend and I did in college; we'd each get the same book and read together, going, "Did you get to this part yet? Let me know when you do.") This is the perfect book for that. *LOL*

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  2. I wasn't really into cowboy books until I read Lorraine Heath's "Texas Glory and Texas Destiny" books. Oh my, they were simply smoochy worthy. Now I can't wait for Austins story. Therefore, in view of how surprised, and happy I was to read Lorraine's books, I'm now going to have to read Jo's book.

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    1. I have Irish Eyes to thank for insisting I read that trilogy. Those were some GREAT cowboy books! Yes I'd put Jo's books on the same keeper shelf with my Texas series. :)

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  3. Another new to me author! Thank you!!

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    1. YAY! I love learning new authors, don't you? I hope you enjoy her. And there's a book before this one that has related characters (though each can be read alone) called A TOUCH OF FROST.

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    2. Thank you! Off to find them now!

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  4. Thanks for the great review, Hellie! It's obvious I need to move this book up my must-read list. I shouldn't be surprised though. I've been reading Jo Goodman's books for more than 20 years and she hasn't let me down yet.

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    1. I clearly need to find this woman's backlist. The Romance Dish has been raving about Jo for YEARS and I just kept putting them off. But I can't resist cowboys!

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  5. Wow! Another book that is going into my TBR pile.

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    1. I hope you get to read it sooner rather than later. :) Make sure you can carve out some time because I had trouble putting the book down once I started. Actually I had trouble doing house work, real work, answering the phone, showering...I was too busy laughing.

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  6. Now I have another to add to my tbr list. This sounds like a wonderful read. Thank you for the review.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it! I'm always happy to review!

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  7. I am looking forward to reading this one. Humor in a story is so important to me. Whether it is to relieve tension in a serious situation or to smooth over awkward moments in life. I do appreciate an author taking the time to include accurate historical details in their stories.

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    1. I think you and I probably have similar KEEPER bookshelves. :) Ben's humor is very much a cornerstone of his character: a strength as well as a bit of a flaw. And Ridley is a perfect "straight man" for his humor.

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  8. I do enjoy her books. Thanks for highlighting this one.

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    1. You're welcome! I hope you're able to read this one very soon if you haven't already.

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  9. Great review, Hellie! I think I tried reading the first one in this series and stalled. I'll have to pick it up again or better yet just move on to this one. Hahaha Thanks!

    Yeah, The Texas Trilogy by Lorraine Health tops my western romance list!

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    1. I did enjoy this one more than the other one in this series, just from the characters, but I understand. :) Maybe skip to this one.

      Lorraine is an autobuy for me forever now because of you.

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  10. Thanks for the spot-on review. I agree with everything you said. Jo Goodman is one of my top three favorite authors--she's that good and that consistent, but even she can top her best at times like she did with this book. I love her outstanding skills as a writer (while not making the reader aware she even has them at times since they seem so effortless), her characters, her story lines, but most of all her heroes, all of which I think I've absolutely loved. I haven't caught up with all of her older historicals, but she's writing westerns these days and I've read and enjoyed them all. Another favorite is The Last Renegade, which I highly recommend to everyone too if she is a new-to-you author.

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    1. I haven't had a chance to read THE LAST RENEGADE yet, so I'll be putting this on my TBR pile. :) I do agree, I think she topped herself with this one...but I think that's because humor is so subjective to readers and I think it's challenging for writers to do it really well. But I think Jo's demonstration of humor in this story made it look really easy and really universal, which is even harder. I just really admired her skills. The woman has skills!

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