Friday, October 19, 2012

The Hungry Heart by Brenda Gayle (Review, Excerpt)

The Hungry Heart (Heart's Desire)Child advocate Nora Cross doesn't have time for the private cooking lesson her sister won at a charity auction. Hunter Graham, the young chef, is the last person she needs telling her she's forgotten how to have fun. So why can't she get the very hot, very eligible man off her mind?

After a stellar debut in New York City, Hunter's back in Santa Fe to open a new restaurant. He lives a charmed life and he knows it. He isn't interested in a workaholic who's glued to her smart phone. So why is he trying to convince Nora to relax and enjoy life—with him?
When Nora's apartment and office are ransacked, Hunter comes to her rescue, surprised to find himself playing knight-in-shining-armor to the uptight executive. But when it becomes clear Nora is no random target, Hunter realizes he'll do anything to keep her safe.

Brenda Gayle

Image of Brenda GayleBrenda Gayle has been a writer all her life but returned to her love of writing fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communication—although some might argue there was plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too.  A fan of many genres, she is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys writing deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense.  Her first book, Soldier for Love, was a recommended read by a number of reviewers. Her new book, The Hungry Heart, is the first in her Heart's Desire series, which chronicles the difficult road to finding love and family acceptance for the three Graham cousins. 

Brenda lives in eastern Ontario with her wonderful husband, two fabulous children, two Siberian Huskies, a rescued cat, and assorted aquatic wildlife. 

Connect with Brenda on her website,  Facebook, or Twitter.

The Hungry Heart:  An Excerpt

Whoever said a cold shower could cool your ardor didn’t know what they were talking about. Ten minutes of standing under freezing cold water had turned Nora’s skin blue, but it had done nothing to dampen her desire.

“Agh!” She allowed free rein to her frustration, not caring whether or not the running water covered her scream.

She turned off the faucet and sat on the edge of the tub. This was so unfair.

They had come so close. Hunter had wanted her—seemingly as much as she wanted him. She still wasn’t quite sure what went wrong.

Dammit, I should never have agreed to stay for dinner. This was her fault.

It wasn’t that she was in love with Hunter. She was too smart to allow that to happen. But she had made up her mind, made a decision that she would allow herself some pleasure—and why not? Then having done so, she had set out to try to make it happen. Not that she would have seduced him or done anything quite so bold. She’d just decided that she wouldn’t pass up any opportunities that came her way.

She knew he found her attractive. He had said as much, demonstrated it, too. He wasn’t a saint, and given his reputation it wasn’t unreasonable to expect him to make a move on her while they were sharing the same suite.

Only now they weren’t.

She inhaled deeply and willed away the threatening tears. No, she wouldn’t cry for him. It was only sex. She shouldn’t allow herself to feel this much anguish over one night.

She stood and towel-dried her hair. It was probably for the best, anyway. What was the point of one night of mindless sex?

She thought about Taylor and wondered what her relationship with Hunter had been like. Was she in love with him? Or had the sex been that good? Whatever the reason, the woman was still crazy about him, although he seemed to have little interest in renewing what they’d had.

Nora rubbed the condensation off the mirror and stared at the face looking back at her. She tried to be objective, but all she could see was a woman about to turn thirty-five. Tiny lines were beginning to form at the corners of her eyes—he’d called their color cafĂ© noir when they’d first met—and there were more lines just above her top lip.

Her age had never bothered her—in fact, she’d always felt she’d accomplished a lot while still quite young—at least professionally. But dammit, it would be nice to experience fantastic sex at least once before I’m thirty-five.

What was it about turning thirty-five that disturbed her so much? It was just a number.

Her lips were a rosy pink and slightly swollen. She touched them gently, remembering the feel of Hunter’s mouth as it grazed hers, and then the hard urgency with which he had kissed her in the garage.

Stop it.

She turned away, frustrated. This was getting her nowhere.

Forget it. Forget him. None of it mattered anyway. Tomorrow morning she’d be back in her real world, and all this would be nothing but a memory.

She heard a noise and paused to listen more intently. Was that banging?

She slipped on a robe—the scratchy generic one provided by the hotel, not at all like the luxurious plush one she’d borrowed from Hunter—and opened the bathroom door.

Yes, someone was definitely pounding on her door.

“Who’s there?” she called, tightening the belt of the robe.

“Room service.”

What? “I didn’t—”

She stepped up on her toes to peek out the peephole. Her knees felt like jelly and she leaned against the door, closing her eyes and murmuring a heartfelt “thank goodness.” Then she looked again to make absolutely certain her eyes weren’t playing tricks on her.

Hunter was magnificent in a fresh pair of dark khaki pants and a red golf shirt. His hair looked damp, as if he had just stepped out of a shower, too. In one hand he balanced a platter, covered by a large silver lid. 

He was impatiently shuffling from one foot to the other.

She pulled open the door and stepped back, waiting.

Hunter’s eyes widened and then he dropped his gaze to take in her bare toes. Slowly he raised his head. His appraisal of her was slow and intense. She felt exposed, and rubbed her palms against the fabric of the robe just to assure herself she had actually put one on. When he got to her face he paused, and then broke into his seductive, heart-stopping grin.

“I see you’re expecting me,” he said.

My Review
Overall, this was a great book. The story was good. The characters were interesting and true to life. No grammatical errors jumped out at me.
"It wasn't only the look of the man who held her that sent her senses reeling. He smelled 
like chocolate. Not the sweet milk chocolate candy, but a deep, dark, 
earthy cocoa that was complemented by the barest hint of something spicy."

I am not in the habit of reiterating the book blurb or spoiling the plot, so I won't start now. The story line has its typical playboy and the girl who doesn't realize how beautiful she is. It has  humor and suspense, although I was able to figure out the secrets soon into the book. But, that may be because I am an avid reader and figuring out plots is easy for me.

"I'm so sorry," Nora siad. "I'm not usually so accident prone."
"Somehow I doubt that," he replied, and lithely pushed himself to his feet. "Shall
we try this again?" He held out his hand.

Not to spoil the plot, but to give an honest opinion, there was a kidnapping and torture scene in the book that I personally felt the book did not need. I thought the book held its own without the addition of that part of the story line. It was not particularly gruesome, I just felt it was not needed. The story was good, but I thought that it could have been reworked a little and this particular part eliminated; it just seemed out of place.

"Let me introduce you to Miss Haversham," he said, leading her to the dapple-gray
mare. "Miss Haversham?" "Yes. My Grandmother Graham had two favorite authors -
God and Charles Dickens. Her children got biblical names and the animals are
all named after Dickens' characters."

Readers who love a good romance book will love this book.

"Can we go faster?" What? Oh man, get a grip. Nora was pushing Missy to go
faster, digging her heels into the mare's sides and whipping on the reins.
"Nora, no. Wait!" It happened so quickly he didn't have time to react. Missy
stopped suddenly, lowered her head and kicked up her back feet, throwing
her rider forward. Nora somersaulted over Missy's head and landed hard on her back.

If you found my review helpful, please consider voting yes for my review on Amazon by clicking on the link below. Thanks!

The Hungry Heart can be purchased on Amazon, BUT before you do that - enter the Rafflecopter for the chance to win an autographed copy of the book!:

  Wanna win a $50 gift card or an autographed copy of The Hungry Heart? Well, there are two ways to enter...
  1. Leave a comment on my blog. One random commenter during this tour will win a $50 gift card. For the full list of participating blogs, visit the official Hungry Heart tour page.
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest! I've posted the contest form below, or you can enter on the tour page linked above.

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  1. Great review, Donna. I'm so glad you enjoyed Hungry Heart. I'm planning on reading it soon once I get a little distance from Fifty Shades (which took me three months to finish). I'm looking forward to allowing the romantical genre to redeem itself with Hungry Heart! Thanks for joining us on this tour and for cross-posting your review :-D


    1. Thanks Emlyn. It really was a good book. Thanks for including me in the tour. Donna

  2. This sounds like a nice romance novel that I'd love to read. Thanks so much for the review!

    1. Karielle - Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed the book. There was great chemistry between the lead characters. Donna

  3. Thank you for your review, Donna. I'm so glad you enjoyd reading The Hungry Heart. It was so much fun to write about how such different people could be attracted to one another.

    1. I absolutely loved the book. Thank you so much for stopping by. Donna

  4. Thanks for the review! Torture scene? Eek!

    1. C - Not that big of a scene. I just thought the book stood alone with out it. Thank you so much for stopping by. Donna


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