Friday, August 24, 2012

Review - Heart Of The Ozarks by LeeAnn Sontheimer Murphy

Title: Heart of the Ozarks
Author: LeeAnn Sontheimer-Murphy
Publisher: Rebel Ink Press, LLC
Publication Date: August 1, 2012
Length: 202 Pages
Heat Level: Sensual/Mildly Spicy

Purchase Links:

Amazon |Barnes and Noble | All Romance eBooks 


After St. Louis TV weathercaster Cole Celinksi loses his almost estranged wife and three children in a car crash, his boss orders him to take a leave of absence. Against his will, Cole leaves the city in late May to find the rest and relaxation everyone else thinks he needs. Without anywhere else to go, Cole heads for Lake Dreams, a resort on the quiet side of Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks he visited each summer as a child with his grandparents. Some of his best memories were made in the lakeside vacation haven with his summer friend, Maggie.

Upon his arrival, Cole learns Maggie now runs the place. Twenty years have passed but from the minute he returns, they reconnect and soon their mutual attraction ignites. He fishes in the lake, takes Maggie to visit some of the places he remembers and begins to find out who he truly is. Before he can heal, he must learn to deal with his loss and to see if he can create a new family with Maggie and her children. It’s a task he’s not sure he can handle but if he wants to be with Maggie, he must. A near tragedy brings them all together into a close knit unit and afterward, Cole may be able to make his dreams reality.

My Review:

Heart of the Ozarks by LeeAnn Sontheimer-Murphy is beautiful second chance romance between two young lovers who haven't seen each other in almost 20 years.  With likable characters and sharp dialogue, Ms. Murphy captured my attention from the first page and didn't let go until the end.  The emotional journey both primary characters, Cole and Maggie, undertake is full of heartbreak, sorrow and then hope.  Watching their re-kindled friendship and then romance come back to life was a joyful experience.  Part of the reason I wanted to review this book is because it's set in my home state and I've visited the Branson area several times, Ms. Murphy did a wonderful job capturing both the tourist attraction and small town vibe the area is known for and reading this book was somewhat of a stay home mini-vacation.

Cole Celinksi is a man who's lost everything; his wife and three kids perished in a car accident, which he feels guilty for.  Torn between guilt and loss, he's barely managed to keep his head above water.  When Cole is placed on a mandatory leave of absence from his job - he decides to head to Lake Taneycomo and the cabin where he enjoyed spending his summers as a child with his grandparents.  He knows he needs to make some changes and grieve for his family, but he never counted on an old friend helping him regain his zest for life.

Maggie Brown remembers her childhood friend and first sweetheart but isn't prepared for the changed man Cole has become.  Determined to help an old friend she hasn't seen in years, Maggie encourages Cole to release his pain and enjoy the time he's been given away from work.  Maggie knows a lot about pain and loss, she never planned on becoming a single mother or running the Lake Dreams Resort after her parents retired.  As Maggie helps Cole regain his zest for life and love, she rediscovers her love for her childhood friend.  

As Maggie and Cole become closer, Cole is able to let go of the pain and guilt which has taken over his life.  As he bonds with Maggie's kids, Keifer and Kaitlin, Cole begins to dream of a future with a new family.  When tragedy strikes, will the love Cole and Maggie have be enough to help them through the dark period they have to experience?  You;ll have to read Heart of the Ozarks to find out.  I loved this story and I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Murphy's work.

My Rating:  5 out of 5 Crowns