Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: Just Once by Julianna Keyes

Title: Just Once
Author: Julianna Keyes
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

Kate Burke is done making bad decisions. Thirty years old and belatedly determined to grow up, the successful travel writer and one-time party girl returns to work at the remote Ponderosa Pines Ranch to reassess her life.

Although her kitchen/cabin staff is lacking and the workload never relents, Kate's main challenge is Shane Maddox, the ruggedly handsome and doggedly stubborn ranch foreman. Instantly at odds, they battle over everything from ceiling fans to bothersome bats-studiously ignoring the sparks they generate with each confrontation.

They can't explain their explosive physical chemistry, but after a few frustrated weeks they can't deny it either. Their solution? Just once. They'll get past their inconvenient lust and move on.

Kate's been trying to think with her head instead of her hormones, but is this just another bad decision in a lifetime of careless choices? Has she really changed at all?

Set in the striking and serene hills of southern Colorado, Julianna Keyes' debut novel offers a sizzling and satisfying tale of unexpected chemistry and the power of second chances. Her characters will get under your skin and into your heart. Just once may not be enough for you either.

My review:

JUST ONCE is a book that most definitely got to me. I couldn't stop thinking about Shane and Kate - their chemistry was natural and explosive. Their shared journey of self-discovery is one I don't think I'll ever forget.

Kate is a woman who thinks she knows what she wants, but, as in real life, she doesn't know exactly what she's looking for. She's tired of the same old/same old. Travel and glamour had its time and place, but she's been there and done that so much that the shine wore off. 

She returns to the place where she felt safest - and later in the book, we discover why (no spoilers here). It's an event that, while scary, wasn't so scarring that she's sworn off travel forever, but it does make her rethink her life.

Shane is the strong, silent, stubborn type. He also experiences a great amount of growth in this novel; he falls hard for Kate, and he makes a (major) mistake when jealousy rears its ugly green head. His reactions to Kate, before she finds out about the transgression, had me first concerned, then horrified, then heartbroken for Kate. I experienced a pretty large range of emotions within just a couple of pages; my heart hurt within my chest and I had to stop reading for a minute to remind myself that this was, in fact, just a book. 

The supporting characters of this book aren't only for decoration; each one has a purpose and their own journey during the summer. I am (desperately) hoping Hailey gets her own novel; she and Brandon, one of the ranch hands, intrigued me and were most definitely left with unfinished business. I loved 18-yr-old Lisa who takes the summer to spread her wings; she breaks away from the "mean girls" and becomes involved with Pete, a rather slow (but super sweet) employee, and has that "I'm ready to experience life!" moment that makes life so fantastic, amazing and full of hope for a young adult. 

My favorite part of this story, however, was at the very end. Kate has such a joy about her, despite having lost/gained so much during the summer. She finally finds herself, and as a result of that, finds love. It's refreshing and wonderful to see the story end that way, instead of the other way around. 

Kate and Shane will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend this novel; the writing is descriptive without rambling prose and the ranch is somewhere I'd love to visit (and my idea of a cabin is one built by HGTV and designed by Vern Yip). The characters are complex, well-comprised, and ones I could relate to (despite the differences in career choice). Four and a half stars - I look forward to more from this author, and hers will be an automatic pre-order for me.

About the Author

Julianna Keyes is a Canadian writer who has lived on both coasts and several places in between. She's been skydiving, bungee jumping and white water rafting, but nothing thrills - or terrifies - her as much as the blank page. She loves Chinese food, foreign languages, baseball and television, not necessarily in that order, and will go to her grave swearing that 'ain't' is not a word. She has volunteered in Zambia, taught English in China, and dreams of seeing pink dolphins in the Amazon. It'll happen.

Click below to follow the JUST ONCE tour:

(Disclaimer: I was provided an digital copy from Irresistible Reads Book Tours for an honest and unbiased review.)

1 comment:

  1. Love a book that can yank your emotions around. Thanks for this review---sounds like my kinda book.