A Romance Review: Wild Rescue

I bought Sarah Urquhart’s book Wild Rescue after reading her novella Sweet Abandon. She’s an Albertan author who uses Alberta as the setting in her story. I love it! Originally I found Sarah Urquhart on the Romance Authors Of Canada website. This website is great for folks looking to support Canadian romance authors. And once I saw the “AB” next to Sarah Urquhart’s name, I knew I needed to check her out. I’m so glad I did!

Poppy McKenzie just wanted a getaway in the woods with her friends. That’s how she ends up in Firebrook. But with her angry ex-boyfriend on the trip, Poppy finds herself in need of rescue in the woods. In walks (literally) Wyatt Greer. But it’s not just her body that needs rescuing, it’s her heart as well (of course!). Wyatt will do almost anything to keep Poppy safe, especially with murderers wandering around. And especially because Poppy is his fated mate. Now, how to tell that to Poppy.

Wild Rescue is a paranormal romance that looks at the role of Fate. Once love makes a connection, is there really a choice?

My favourite moment was the reference to The Princess Bride, one of my all-time favourite movies. As Wyatt carries Poppy to safety, she can’t help but break out a reference to Fezzik. (“Fezzik? I look nothing like him.” He pretended to be offended, scrunching his face.) I was brought back to the scene in the movie were Fezzik climbs up the Cliffs of Insanity carrying Inigo, Vizinni, and Buttercup. Although Wyatt might not be as big as Andre the Giant, the moment made Wyatt’s bear shifting more believable. (Yes, Wyatt is a grizzly bear shifter.)

What I enjoyed about this book was the paranormal. Urquhart gets her readers wondering about Fate. Are we all destined for something if we pay attention to nudges from Fate? When destiny shows up, are we left without a choice? Does Fate bring to us what is best for us, even if we don’t see it right away? Well, maybe Urquhart doesn’t have her characters as angsty as I am leading you to believe, but the idea of Fate definitely raises some excellent questions to think about as you read about Poppy and Wyatt and the choices they make when Fate blows into their lives.

As an editor, I appreciated the pacing of Wild Rescue. Editors are constantly looking for a balance between narration, dialogue, and action. Too much of one element can change the speed of the scene, and not enough can make a scene drag. I thought that Urquhart knows how to pace her writing and keep her reader flipping the pages without rushing any moments. As well, equal attention is given to the romance and the external plot. The story didn’t drag or sag in the middle. It was the opposite: I couldn’t put the book down. The build up of events, the climaxes, and the after moments kept me reading later into the night than I was planning to read.

One recommendation I would have as an editor would be to get another set of eyes on the work before publishing. There were some typos that a proofreader would have caught. I can imagine that for indie authors, the budget is something to keep an eye on, so one alternative to hiring a proofreader is to build a group of writer friends who would be willing to exchanges services to help each other out. But honestly, the typos didn’t stop me from enjoying the book because it was well written.

Here are some of my favourite lines from Wild Rescue:

  • “It’s okay. I’ve got you, little bit.” He shouldn’t be calling her anything but her own name–not until he had her back to town and safe–but the endearment spilled out.
  • Firebrook was more than a place. More than a home. It seemed like it had parts that made up a living, breathing soul. Wyatt was one of them.
  • He smiled. Oh hell, that smile was fantastic. His eyes sparkled and crinkled.

If you’re looking for a paranormal shifter romance set in Alberta, this is the book. Enjoy!

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A Romance Review: Time to Shine

My sister introduced me to Rachel Reid years ago. I think I’ve read every book in her Game Changers series at least three, but less than five times each. They are that good. Her book Time to Shine is a stand alone novel, still about hockey, but not in the same universe as the Game Changers series. I’m grateful that my sister loves reading as much as I do, and that she shares her best finds with me!

Casey Hicks has it all: a loving family (including a former NHLer as a father), an amazing start to his NHL career (he’s the top goal scorer on his team), and great friends (fellow Calgary Outlaws players). What he’s missing is someone to fill his giant house (and LOVE!). Enter Landon Stackhouse. His family is complicated, he’s a bit of a loner, and he’s the newest backup goalie on Casey Hicks’ team. He also could be sent back to Regina any day (if the regular goalie gets healthy). As these two teammates quickly become roommates, they find out that love is worth risking it all–even a career–if it’s for the right person.

Time to Shine is a slow burn romance where a hesitant bromance turns into the cutest romance.

What I enjoyed most about this book was Reid’s love of hockey. She knows hockey. She’s a fan, and has clearly done research into hockey players’ lives. I think she nails the hardships of being on a farm team and getting called up with the ever-present threat of being sent back down at a moment’s notice. The topsy-turvy feelings she develops as Landon experiences this part of the game are so believable. And something to note, a goalie getting called up happened this year to the Calgary Flames, so it was hard for me to keep the story out of my mind while watching the games. (Go Wolf!)

As an editor, I was impressed with how polished this book was. From the structure to the grammar, I think this book was well crafted. It’s a labour of love to polish a book this well, and Rachel Reid clearly finds the time to put out books of really high quality for her readers. And I’m so happy for Reid that she was picked up by Harlequin. I’m sure that having some of that powerhouse behind her has helped her career. Yeah for editors and publishers! Especially after she announced in December 2023 that she has Parkinson’s Disease: “Because I knew almost nothing about Parkinson’s before I was diagnosed, I like the idea of finding some community around it. And also, I suppose, there’s no reason to hide it. It’s a part of who I am now, and it always will be… As far as how it’s affecting my writing, besides my being pretty overwhelmed by this life-changing diagnosis, mechanical things like typing, writing with a pen, and using a mouse have become challenging. I feel bad for my editor haha.” I hope that she’s able to write more books, because she’s really really good at it!

One recommendation I would have as an editor is to fact check a bit more about the setting (Calgary). And this is just a nitpicking note, and I wouldn’t have known any different if I didn’t live in Calgary. But in the book, Landon’s parents come to visit and they head downtown for the day. Oh boy. Downtown Calgary is a ghost town until lunch hour when all of the office towers spill out onto Stephen Ave. Some better neighbourhoods to check out while in Calgary are Kensington, Inglewood, the Beltline (and 17th Ave and Victoria Park), and Marda Loop. But if that’s the only issue I have with the book, then it’s a good book!

Here are some of my favourite lines from Time to Shine:

  • He wanted to just be with Landon at the party, and then be with him some more when they got back home. And then later in bed. And then the next morning. And maybe every day and night after that. 
  • There had never been anyone Landon had trusted enough to relax that way. To experience pleasure in being touched, and in being watched. In sharing something intimate with another person. Casey had made it easy. Or, easier, at least.
  • It was nice, being in love. Casey was into it.

If you’re looking for a super cute Christmas slow burn that is written by a hockey fan, Time to Shine needs to go on your TBR list immediately!

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