Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sun Kissed by Catherine Anderson

Image result for sun kissed catherine andersonSun Kissed by Catherine Anderson
Rating: 1 out 5 stars
480 pages

The last book of the Coulter Family series, Sun Kissed (January 2007), feature Isaiah’s older twin brother Tucker, long considered to be the toughest catch of the Coulter brothers in the previous novels. However, when we meet Tucker in this book he turns out to be quite the nice guy, especially when he meets Samantha Harrigan, a horse breeder who turns to Tucker to help her figure out what is causing the mysterious deaths of her prized quarter horses. The mystery is not really a mystery because the obvious suspect is Samantha’s ex-husband, who was abusive to her and used her for her wealth. After Tucker and Samantha meet at a local rodeo and get arrested for trying to stop a drunk from beating a horse, the plot goes completely downhill.

After reading the first five books in the series, everything sounds very familiar, from the malicious ex-husband to the sick horses to the scenery. Granted the setting is the same because the family lives in the same small town, but the plot isn’t strong enough to carry the sense of ennui and cliché that emerges rather quickly after the main characters are introduced. The love connection is barely palpable, and the whole story is unconvincing for a romance novel. Catherine Anderson offers a rare disappointment with the final novel of The Coulter Family Series, however that does not take away from the sense of completion readers feels when Tucker and Samantha marry in the end. There is satisfaction knowing that all the Coulter siblings have found spouses and it is fascinating to imagine all of their lives before and after the events took place in each book of the series.

Overall, The Coulter Family Series is a classic in the contemporary romance genre. There is something to take away from each book, no matter how hackneyed the plot may feel. Catherine Anderson provides us with a multi-faceted portrait of the human psyche and how people can work to overcome severe psychological misgivings or physical disabilities when they choose to let the right people into their lives and hearts.

The love stories of Bethany and Ryan, Jake and Molly, Zeke and Natalie, Hank and Carly, Isaiah and Laura, and Tucker and Samantha defy a lot of the substandard characteristics found in many of the modern romance novels because it deals with more than just physical attraction or the simple model of meeting, falling in love and marrying. Each of these relationships endures situations that put the characters to test and enable them to create deep spiritual bonds and a strong foundation that the audience can truly believe will last a lifetime. Anderson can really make people feel optimistic about love with the novels in this series, even if they don’t want to.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Sunshine by Catherine Anderson

Image result for bright eyes catherine andersonMy Sunshine by Catherine Anderson
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

432 pages

Catherine Anderson returns to form in the fifth novel of the series My Sunshine (January 2005). The youngest child of the Coulter family, Isaiah, has his life turned upside down when he hires Laura Townsend to work at his veterinary practice. Laura is suffering from a speech disorder named aphasia after hitting her head during a diving accident five years earlier. Although she was unable to continue her career as an environmental scientist, she remained cheerful and decided to start do part-time work taking care of animals. When she applied to work at the Animal Clinic she didn't expect to meet someone as charming and handsome as Isaiah Coulter.

Though Laura has strong feelings for Isaiah she doesn't feel like she is good enough for him because of her disorder. Isaiah doesn't care that Laura has a speech impediment, he sees that she is a beautiful person on the inside and out and is determined to help her realize that they belong together. There is some drama with a jealous co-worker named Belinda that has her eyes set on Isaiah, but it is obvious that she wasn't going to tear Laura and Isaiah apart. This love story is remarkably poignant, sweet, and touching. My Sunshine is a great read because it captures the essence of romance, has great characters and it informs readers of a rare speech disorder. This book is a true gem and a worthy addition to The Coulter Family Series. 

Bright Eyes by Catherine Anderson

Bright Eyes by Catherine Anderson
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars419 pages

Bright Eyes (June 2004) is the next entry in the Coulter Family series. This novel tells the story of Zeke Coulter’s romance with a struggling single mother of two named Natalie Patterson who lives next door. Zeke forms an attachment to Natalie after her son Chad vandalizes his property and he offers the boy an opportunity to work for him to pay off the debt. Natalie is an aspiring singer who develops a relationship with Zeke after seeing how well he handles her son. She has to juggle with her supper club that is soon to be bankrupt, her shady ex-husband, and her growing feelings for Zeke. As the story progresses Zeke becomes more involved with Natalie and her children, including her four year old daughter Rosie, and he even tries to get Natalie back into singing professionally.

The conflict that emerges towards the end seems a bit forced, as if Anderson needed something really dramatic to shake up the relationship between Zeke and Natalie. The romance in this story does not have as much depth as the previous novels in the series and by the end of the book Zeke and Natalie appear to be settling for one another because the chemistry is lacking. The stronger characters in the book are the kids Chad and Rosie, and that speaks to how uninteresting the romance is in Bright Eyes. Anderson stumbles in the fourth book of The Coulter Family Series, not because it’s a bad story overall, but because it pales in comparison to the previous novels.