Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Series - One Author: MAGGIE SHAYNE

Every so often I need to take a break from reading mysteries - cozy or otherwise.  This time of year, I have a soft spot for Christmas themes and romance.  I happened on a series - the prequel to a series really by Maggie Shayne.  I also grabbed a two-fer - the first in two series, also by Maggie Shayne. 

I discovered that in addition to The McIntyre Men, The Texas Brands, and The Oklahoma Brands, Shayne has several other series including The Immortals, Shattered Sisters, Wings in the Night: Reborn, and too many to list here but you can check them all out at SHAYNE AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Let me share my thoughts on the three I read: 


Maya Brand has promised herself that she will never fall in love with a man and be betrayed the way her mother was - she doesn't date and as she is about to turn 30 is still a virgin.  By some twist of fate, Caleb is having an identity crisis and gets a flat tire in this same small town. Maya wants to lose her virginity and he obliges. When Maya is pregnant, the townspeople can't quite figure it out.  It isn't until Caleb's picture is in the paper that Maya even knows his real name and she already feels betrayed. She insists she doesn't want to tell him he's about to be a father, but one of her sisters thinks differently. 

No suspense here other than how Caleb and Maya can get their worlds to do more than collide. The Brands women are definitely unique in personality - at least mother Vidalia and the three sisters Maya lives with. The fifth daughter, Edie, escaped the small town and is modeling lingerie in California - another scandal for small town Oklahoma and the Brand family. Then there's Caleb's crotchety father, the public relations expert who puts a spin on everything, and digging up a Christmas tree to replant in the spring so a tree doesn't have to die. Christmas babies, romance, and magic (or one of Selene's spells) and 1st in series of 6. 


Sophie - or as she prefers to be called, Sophia - is reeling from a disastrous marriage to a drug dealer that threatens her license to practice medicine and may result in legal action against her. There's some concern of backlash as well and the McIntyre brothers ask their friend Darryl to keep an eye on cousin Sophie. Darryl is dealing with his own issues and effects of a blast. 

Sophie's Aunt Vidalia (of the Brand family) prompts Sophie to write a letter to Santa - to write down her wishes and hopes. Sophie's not very optimistic that this will work, but she no sooner writes the letter and some of her wishes are coming true.  She senses Darryl needs some hope as well and prompts him to do the same. This is a story of hope and new beginnings...with a few surprises thrown in.  So far the McIntyre Men series has the prequel and Books 1 and 2 --- all with a Christmas theme. 


The seemingly gruff Sheriff Garrett Brand finds a baby - named after him - on his doorstep. He's pretty sure he's not the father and soon finds out that the mother's been murdered and, well, his father's not a good guy and wants his son. The aunt shows up and she wants to take her nephew, but the father wants her dead so no one can contest his claim for custody.  Not a good idea to mess with the Texas Brands - Garrett has 4 brothers and a sister and they don't go down without a fight.

This one has suspense and romance, but it also has a gentle giant in Garrett, a positive - but not perfect - family dynamic in the Brands, and the negatives of an abusive childhood for Chelsea and her sister. The characters are well-developed and the plot flows quickly but not without surprises. Good to know this is the first of 9 books...  No Christmas here, but I think I liked this one best.

Bottom Line: What I liked most about all these books are the characters and the small town feel. Drama, romance, and humor all nicely packaged with a strong sense of family winning out over abusive relationships. Some old-fashioned views balanced with strong women in Chelsea and Jessie.  There is offensive language and sex, but these are not overdone and don't detract from the story. There's good reason why the books in these series have such high ratings! 

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