Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Joyce Zeller - Maddie's Choice - Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Romance writer Maddie Taylor is fed up with New York City. She is getting nowhere with her latest manuscript and does not believe true love exists outside of her imagination. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his Arkansas cattle ranch, she sees the chance for a new beginning. Jonah has also left behind two orphaned great-grandsons desperate for affection and an accounting book in the red.

The other half of the failing ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah’s grandson, who believes all capacity for love was torn from him during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon is the enthralling physical manifestation of the hero in Maddie’s current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his. As she senses the need behind Gideon’s rough and unwelcoming exterior, Maddie acknowledges her own yearning for love and family.

Jonah’s will requires Maddie to stay on the ranch for three months. When that time is up, will she return to her comfortable but emotionally barren existence or embrace the challenges of her new life, which include cattle rustlers and drug dealers? Maddie’s choice proves to be far from simple.

My Review

This is definitely one of those comfort reads that you can curl up with and devour in one sitting. I was taken from the moment I read the description on the front cover, "An author with writer's block finds her muse in a disheartened war hero." I live for books like this. They are the kind of hidden gems that resonate and stay with you long after reading them.

"Maddie's Choice" didn't disappoint. It was even better than I expected it to be. I knew going in that a more sheltered woman would try to heal a world weary man through her writing. But I wasn't anticipating just how hot and steamy it was going to get. What an added bonus! I was blown over by the way Maddie and Gideon meet. She's pondering, "how that hard body might feel against her own," and he's thinking, "all it took was one flash of those killer green eyes and he was hard as a rock." That's when I knew I wasn't just going to like this book. I was going to love it!

The plot had some unique twists that I didn't see coming. There's a whole "Breaking Bad" meth cooking subtext that added a heightened level of danger to the mix. The vigilante style of justice also had shades of Elmore Leonard's "Justified." This is more than just a simple love story. There's a lot more going on in Arkansas cattle country than meets the eye. Zeller weaves a tale that's rich in local color and multi-faceted in its approach. It's certainly not one note. There are many layers from the sumptuousness of down home recipes to the squalor of trailer park life. Zeller covers it all in one grand swoop.

The flow of the story moved at a good pace, and it really picked up at the end with a no holds barred action sequence. The narrative was building up to an epic conclusion as Zeller dropped hints along the way, but how it all played out had me rapidly flicking through the pages. In terms of the romance factor, it was obviously lust at first sight for Maddie and Gideon, but I liked how Zeller opened up the story by introducing more of Gideon's past like the time he spent painting with his late grandmother and how he coped with the loss of his parents as a young child. It added a dose of depth and understanding that would have left a head-scratching, gaping hole if not included. I liked how Zeller connected the dots fleshing out the true motivations behind this tortured soul.

What a thrill ride from start to finish! From a suggestive knock at the bedroom door to the flashbacks of war torn Afghanistan, this is a story that delivers on all fronts.


Maddie's Choice can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Pages: 274
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: September 1, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Joyce Zeller has written articles for a magazine and a cooking column for a chain of suburban newspapers north of Chicago. She has written five books and published two, The Hidden History of Eureka Springs, and Accidental Alien, a work of science fiction, both available on Amazon. Her short story, “Love is a Seed,” is featured in Embrace: A Romance Collection, (2012 Goldmine Press). Joyce has served in the United States Army. As a professional perfumer (School of Perfumery, London, England) and an aroma-therapist, she made custom fragrances in her store. Her creation, Mountain Air, was declared the Arkansas Sesquicentennial Fragrance in 1965. Her latest achievement was getting elected as Alderman to the Eureka Springs City Council. Maddie’s Choice is a romance with her favorite theme, that being human is a lonely business, but for everyone there is somebody to love. It’s a matter of finding them. There will always be kids and animals in her books, and always, humor, “because life without humor is unthinkable.”

Links to connect with Joyce:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Carol, thanks for the review! Glad you found it to be such a gem :)

  2. Your generous review has overwhelmed me. Thank you. You understood what I wanted to give my readers--new friends to carry with them when life starts getting to be too much. Just pick up Maddie and start reading again.