RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: A Life Rebuilt by Jean Brashear

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Title: A Life Rebuilt
Author: Jean Brashear
Publication Info: Harlequin 2012
ISBN: 9780373717873
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book A Life Rebuilt This RITA® Reader Challenge 2013 review was written by Sassy Outwater. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Best Long Contemporary Series Romance category.

The summary:     

Special Forces veteran Roman Gallardo is a ghost. With the nightmares of his past weighing him down, the best thing he can do is keep to himself.

So when a heroic act forces him out of solitude, he's not expecting a connection to a woman as vibrant and alive as Jenna MacAllister. Or as determined to help other people, no matter how hopeless, no matter the cost to herself. He can't explain it, but he's drawn to Jenna and the rebuilding project she's started.

And the more he works with her, the more he wants to leave his past behind and act on the intense attraction between them. The temptation is so strong, this could be his second chance at life…at love.

And here is Sassy's review:

My taste in books could be best described as gourmet. That's not meant to sounb as snobby as it does–I mean, at Starbucks, I'm not the one ordering the skinny frappe latte white chocolate soynilla with four pumps of cinnacream and five shots of caramel and two squirts (just two!) of whipped cream (Not too much!) with a skidge of ice and a… *Tunes out of person in front of me and checks Twitter* Not me. I'm the one who orders the Green Tea Lemonade, easy ice, no sweetener… not your average Joe coffee gal, but not the 20 minute latte order either. So in some weird twist of fate, my book tastes and my drinking habits mirror each other. I like my Starbucks like I like my books: a little off the beaten path, not overblown, not plain Jane, not syrupy and just a little on the refreshing, edgy side.

This book? Not my thing. It was a cute date for a night, but won't get a call back for the next book in  the series.

This book is the average cup of morning coffee at your local diner, cream and sugar (just sugar, not Splenda or anything else). If it were ice cream, its characters would come in two flavors: chocolate/vanilla (okay three) and strawberry. Strawberry blond, specifically, like the heroine's head. Not her hair, her head, which the hero fixates on watching get in and out of cars.

The book is short on show, long on tell, crammed with over-protected broody men and chipper Texas ladies eager to “do the right thing.” Setting is almost an after-thought; everything centers on the characters and their interactions. And lots and lots and lots and LOTS of back story! Did I mention lots of info-dumpy back-story? Just checking. Somewhere in the middle of the story, the back-story all gets told and the current story gets moving. It stumbles and falls a few times, but if the book went to a Yoga class like the characters do, it might find its balance.

So plot: returned war vet with PTSD is prowling around one night trying to evade his inner demons, stumbles upon do-gooder heroine saving the world, rescues her from the evil gangster, disappears into the night and leaves heroine a bit bereft. But in classic stalker-hero behavior, he can't stay away from her and comes to the house her foundation is building for a family in need. See, the heroine is all about saving the lost, the poor, the needy. Including the young boy whom she caught stealing wire from her construction site. Heroine and hero both take an interest in the homeless boy and employ divergent methods to “reach” him. And in doing so, kiss, fight, kiss again, fight again, and on it goes. Hero, meanwhile, is battling flashbacks of the war, and children who died in his arms under enemy fire. Heroine is battling her over-protective family bent on treating her like a helpless, rather naive kid sister. And when her family kind of turns out to be right, will the hero come save her again in her hour of peril?

This book touches on some wonderful themes, such as healing from war trauma, familial bonds, trust, and hope. The author is a talented writer, and does a solid job with her point of view. The writing is poignant, vivid and I can see why it earned the nomination. But every time I start getting into the book, I trip on another tangled pile of back-story. This book is a continuation of a series, I believe. Am I interested to read the rest of the series? Like I said, this isn't my cup of coffee, but it might be yours. The book has some great moments amidst the back-story.

I'm giving it a C. If I chopped off the first half of the book, I'd be able to give it a B. C for tropeyness: men who have to protect women and the 100 or more pages devoted to conversations between these men and the heroine about how much protecting she needs and how stupid she is for thinking she doesn't need protecting. And in the next page the author notes the character's determination to be stubborn and strong-headed. The equation doesn't add up for me. I know Harlequin Superromance is all about the big and the bold, but a shot of believability in there somewhere would help me swallow it without wanting to punch the book.

There's this underlying nagging idea that women can't protect themselves, and only men are strong enough to stand up to men and come running to save their women? Scuse me, I call bullshit! I know it's a romance novel, where the damsel is supposed to feel safe with her prince, but I guess this book taught me I like my heroines with a little less sun and a few more balls. But I did kind of like this heroine too. It's a tough book to grade because at the end of the day, even though it wasn't for me and I knew that early on, I kept on going because there was something about the unbelievability of it that made it cute and touching.

So if you like cute and touching with a dose of suspense and a lot of back-story, grab your coffee, sugar and cream and get reading.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1

    Well put.  Love your descriptions and comparisons…. why is it that I now want to go to Starbucks?

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