Friday, July 3, 2009

Chasin' Mason by Stacey Joy Netzel

TITLE: Chasin’ Mason
AUTHOR: Stacey Joy Netzel
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 51k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $4.50

The death of his father brings Tripp Warner back to the ranch he ran away from eleven years earlier, to come face to face with the woman who drove him away in the first place. The last time he saw Regan Reed, she was fourteen, manipulating and lying to take his place in his father’s eyes. Finding out his father has left her a million dollars and nothing for him does nothing to shake his image of her, even if she claims that she’s changed. Except that’s not all the will says. It also orders Tripp and Regan to work together to bring in the stallion gone wild when Tripp ran away, in order for them to get joint ownership of the ranch. Otherwise, it goes to auction, and neither of them gets a dime. The ranch is all Regan wants, the only thing she cares about now that the man she loved as a father is dead. And she’ll do whatever it takes to get it, even work with the man who blames her for ruining his relationship with his father…

There’s a bittersweet charm to this short novel that drew me in almost from the beginning. It starts out just after the funeral of the man Regan Reed considers a father, and her grief as she has fled the others is palpable and gut-wrenching. It’s made even worse when a blast from her past shows up, the man’s son she drove away in her manipulative youth. Tripp represents the guilt she’s sublimated all these years, proof of her selfishness brought to delectable, tangible life. He’s bitter and angry about the years he’s lost, and more, about the woman he feels stole his place from him, and they lash out at each other so vehemently and cuttingly, it’s easy to leave marks. Added in with their grief, and it’s a lot of sharp emotion, almost from the get-go.

That emotion carries the story forward with a well-paced momentum, drawing the reader into caring about these two flawed individuals long before the ultimatum is discovered in the will. I did wonder how on earth they could ever get over their past. The betrayal was immense, even if they were just teenagers and there were valid reasons on both sides. Still, it didn’t get in the way of watching these two slowly open up and trust each other as they go out alone on their rescue mission, especially since Tripp was both sharp and appealing, and Regan suitably strong-willed without being over the top. When the turnaround finally came, however, it seemed to happen all at once, like a light switch had suddenly been flicked in their heads. That made it hard to believe in the romance after that, and while I still enjoyed the story, the lack of faith in the truth of their feelings kept me from investing too much more in their relationship.

One aspect that made it very easy to get involved in this story’s world was the attention to detail paid to the horses. From the very first page, it felt authentic, and the love both leads have for the land and the animals living on it seeps through every word. Believing in the world they inhabit helps smooth out the rough edges of the romance a bit, but more importantly, it creates a verisimilitude that builds faith in the author’s skills. I might not necessarily have 100% fallen for the romance in this story, but I did fall for the world, and that gives me confidence in the author’s future works.


8/10 – Well-paced and smooth


7/10 – Appealing, though his stubborn nature annoyed me more than once


7/10 – Gutsy and admirable

Entertainment value

7/10 – The turnaround in the romance was the only part I didn’t believe

World building

9/10 – The author really makes the horse world come alive




Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book for the most part. :) Thank you for posting the review and I wish you hours and hours of happy reading!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book for the most part. :) Thank you for posting the review and I wish you hours and hours of happy reading!