Friday, February 25, 2011

Trust in the Lawe by Stacey Joy Netzel

TITLE: Trust in the Lawe
AUTHOR: Stacey Joy Netzel
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 98k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $7.00

Kendra Zelner is on the run with her eight-year-old brother Noah. She only has to hide until her twenty-fifth birthday, when she gets her trust fund and can get full guardianship of Noah, away from the threatening influence of their half-brother. The one place she thinks they might be safe is at the ranch of the other half-brother she hadn’t even known she had until her mother’s death. On the way, she runs out of money and steals a man’s wallet from his car in a last ditch effort to make it to his front door. The man in question turns out to be her brother’s foreman, and Colton Lawe doesn’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth. Why should he? She stole his wallet and she’s obviously hiding something. When her brother allows her to stay, it’s Colton’s job to keep an eye on her and find out what is really going on…

This is one of those books that the whole is greater than its pieces. Taken apart, I shouldn’t have enjoyed this as much as I did. But it happens, even when I don’t expect it.

Twenty-four year-old Kendra Zelner is on the run with her eight-year-old brother Noah. Both of their parents are dead – their father when Noah was very young, their mother two years before the story’s start. Their older half-brother Robert is after them, and Kendra is determined to keep them safe until her birthday in a month when she gets her trust fund and can get full custody of Noah. She has no money, though. She can’t use her credit cards because Robert is tracing them, which leaves her few options. She decides to ask the half-brother she didn’t realize she had until her mother’s death for his help. She runs out of money in the town near his ranch and tries to steal a car to get there. In the glovebox, she finds a wallet, too, but the man she is robbing sees her from the window and comes out to stop her. She manages to get away with his wallet, only to discover that he works for her brother. Colton Lawe sees Kendra as a thief and doesn’t believe her story, but her brother clearly does, so Colton decides to just keep an eye on her until he can figure out what’s going on. He becomes her direct boss, and worse, ends up moving in the guesthouse with her. There’s definite chemistry between them, which surprises Kendra since she hasn’t been interested in any man since she was raped four years earlier. But she refuses to give in to it, and more, refuses to let Colton see her fail.

There are a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t like this story. Much of the conflict between Colton and Kendra stems from their stubborn insistence not to tell each other what is really going on in their lives. Each is keeping secrets, harboring guilt. Each is impulsive and quick to believe the worst, which ultimately means this book could have been a lot shorter if just one of them had chosen to be honest for a change. This translates into prickly banter between them, alternating with intense kisses and thoughtful moments when one of them lowers the wall for a split second. Yes, they’re all a lot of misunderstandings, but the pace is swift and the chemistry between them electric. I got swept up in spite of their frequent hardheadedness.

I also didn’t like Kendra at the start of the story. She’s a spoiled rich girl from New York and very self-centered (the only person she sees beyond herself for a long time is Noah). Her personal trauma doesn’t really do much to mitigate that, either. But she changes over the course of the story, growing from the sheltered upper class young woman into one that can take care of herself, facing down danger after danger. It got easier and easier to like Kendra, and better, to respect her. My one quibble – about both her and Colton – remained how stubborn both were about not telling the whole truth about what was going on. It would have easily shaved a third off the book.

But you know what? When I started reading the story, I could not put it down. I read past my usual bedtime, and every time I’d reach the end of a chapter, I’d glance at the clock and tell myself, “Just one more.” I didn’t stop until I reached the end. At four a.m. I got swept up in the story in spite of the issues I already mentioned (on top of the minor editorial problems, like confusing loose with lose, etc.). The ending was warm and welcome, and the passion electrifying even without being graphic. This is the second story by this author that I’ve enjoyed. While I haven’t been completely blown away, I’ve definitely been entertained both times. I’ll continue to keep my eye on her. Anyone who can make me not care about my personal peccadilloes and still finish a story satisfied with its romance deserves that.


8/10 – Minor editorial mistakes as well as formatting problems that make it seem like it’s headhopping were the only things to hold me back


7/10 – Impulsive and stubborn, but with a good heart


7/10 – Spoiled at first, but grew on me

Entertainment value

8/10 – Considering I couldn’t stop reading, this one ends up being greater than its pieces

World building

8/10 – The ranch world is warm and real, but I kept expecting more from her other world in order for the contrast to be sharper



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