Good Together by C.J. Carmichael #Review

Good Together by C.J. Carmichael #ReviewGood Together by C.J. Carmichael

Series: #2 Carrigans of Circle C
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Tule Publishing on February 3, 2015
Pages: 246
Format: eBook
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three-half-stars  

Saw the blurb on this one and grabbed it. I was curious to read the story of a middle-aged woman who thought her life with husband, children, and ranch was perfect until her husband just walks away from her telling her that he doesn’t love her anymore and he doesn’t want to work the ranch. She has to pick up and start over and there is a handsome, good man on the next ranch over who has been in love with her for a long time.

For some reason, I had the wrong end of the stick when I got this story because I was expecting a strong romance, but instead got something different. I had to adjust not just my expectations, but adjust for the very different mood of the story. Basically, it was the difference between reading Contemporary Romance and Women’s Fiction.

This is book two in a series about four sisters, but it can easily be read out of order or as a standalone. There are scenes with the sister from the previous story, but the plot is independent.

Mattiie Bishop is at a new bend in the road of life. She has just sent her twin girls off to college and her husband is set to leave the rodeo life to work quietly on the ranch with her, even take off for some much needed time together. This would be good because lately she has felt a distance open up between them and she is sure it has to do with Wes processing the death of a younger friend in a rodeo accident.

Knowing this still doesn’t prepare her for the hits that come when Wes returns and tells her that he is selling out and leaving. He doesn’t want to ranch and never did. The biggest blow was to learn that he is leaving her because he doesn’t love her any more. Mattie is devastated and hits a really low point when her kind, understanding neighbor, Nate, helps her pick herself up and go on. Nate had his wife leave him, too, so she knows he understands.

The blows keep coming. Wes is silent to her refusing to give her a why or share his plans, but is quickly liquidating everything and pulling her very life out from under her. Mattie relies on Nate up to a point and as time goes on even learns to appreciate and accept her attraction to him, but Nate is reluctant to take her up on what she is offering. She can’t understand what holds him back, but assumes he only wants a friendship. In the meantime, she works through the loss and change to come out on the other side a stronger woman.

Alright, so this was definitely not what I was expecting and the change wasn’t welcome on some levels. I didn’t expect it to be light since its the story of a woman whose husband leaves her and leaves her in a cruel way because he’s dealing with his own demons. That said, I wasn’t expecting that 90% of the story would be about her emotional journey of healing and recovery and just a little bit romance with a rushed ending. In fact, several times during the story, I wondered if she was meant to get back with her husband or move on with Nate the way things didn’t develop with the romance and quite a ways along she was still hoping to heal her marriage. If I mistakenly picked up a fiction story, I would say this disappointment and confusion was on me, but since its a romance then not really.

Beyond the disappointment of wanting more romance in my romance book, I will say that this is a fantastic story. I can’t imagine going through what Mattie went through and getting up, dusting off, and moving on like she did. Granted, she had too, but still she didn’t rant to her daughters about their dad and she didn’t go running home to her family. She had her moments of pain and sorrow, but she recovered. A few times Nate got the narration and so the reader understood why he was holding back from Mattie even though he loved her dearly and had for years.

I think knowing Mattie and Nate were both such wonderful characters is exactly why I was disappointed by the lack of romance and then that rushed ending for them. Just to be clear, these two didn’t cheat. They did nothing wrong before Wes left. In fact, Mattie was a faithful and good wife and Nate never let his feelings cause him to do or say anything inappropriate. They were two tough yet tender people who loved ranching and the land. They might be middle-aged, but their passion was still burning bright and they felt it.

A strong piece to this book was all the lessons Mattie had to learn as a result of her marriage ending and how it opened her eyes to her relationships. Mattie is a product of her own upbringing. She put her mother on a pedestal and refused to believe that her dad might have had reasons for being emotionally distant and strict with his children. In the course of the story, she learns to reach out socially and have friends and other interests. She learns to value her family particularly her sisters as well as see her daughters as grown women. I loved watching her come through all she has to learn and be better for it.

I had an interesting reaction to Wes. I didn’t end up hating him. Get really angry at him, most definitely. I think my reaction was pity for him and disappointment. He was in crisis and nobody seems to realize this not even him. It felt like a soldier who engaged in combat and saw a buddy killed. The soldier returns from war different and even broken in some ways. This was Wes. He had the symptoms of PTSD and this was allowed to stew for a year when everyone went on with their lives and pretended that he would just get over it. Mattie knows he was affected, but she stays busy with the ranch. He distances himself emotionally and she stays busy with the ranch. He finally broke and it resulted in a mess for his wife and daughters. I got the feeling that if he ever recovered that he would definitely have regrets and that is why I pitied him.

In conclusion, this was a fantastic story if you pick it up and treat it like women’s fiction, but not so enjoyable if you are looking for Contemporary Romance. There is emotional depth, nice description, strong characters, and growth. I would definitely read more from this author.

 

Romance Roundabout #298 CR

Mt. TBR #100

New to Me #129 author/series

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I’m glad you found interesting things in that book, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be for me. Thanks for the review 🙂

    • It is one of those that will not be universally appealing. I almost set it down a little ways in b/c it was so depressing, but then I was curious about a couple of things so kept reading.

  • I read book three in the series, and it had more of a women’s fiction vibe to it. I’ve been trying to get around to reading the rest of the series but haven’t had the time.

    • I have book one still on my TBR pile. I know what to expect now so I’ll wait until I’m in the mood for Women’s Fic.

  • Oh man, the guy just ups and leaves? That’s a bowl full of awful right there but it sounds like it all works out in the end and that’s always good.

    • Yeah, most of this book was really sad and depressing, but then it got better as she learned to move on and reach for her second chance.

  • I love books involving siblings and even though the romance wasn’t as heavy as you wanted this does sound like a great series.

    • Once I adjusted to the feel of it, I thought it was pretty good. But yeah, I wanted more romance. 😉

  • Sorry you’ve been duped coz this does sound like it’s women’s fiction than romance. I do like the plot though, with the divorce and healing, I find those themes captivating to read. I guess I consider it a survival story of some sort

    • Yes, exactly! A survival story is a good way of putting it. It worked well once I treated it like fiction instead of romance.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I’m not a big fan of woman’s fiction. I am more of a romance reader myself, although I do love a book with wonderful characters and life lessons. Lovely Review Sophia!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • That’s how I am so it was a tough adjustment to read this one though it was heartfelt and well written.

  • I kinda have to be in the mood for a story like this, but it does sound interesting. But I do hate rushed endings!

    • Same here! The mood was an issue and just when I got into it, the ending rushed up. Grrr! Haha!