Roses in Ecuador by Heather Huffman
I purchased the ebook from Barnes & Noble.
When Jane Russell's jaguar preserve is attacked, her gorgeous neighbor-- Devon, the owner of a fair-trade rose plantation and a reputation for being a playboy-- offers her and her colleagues a place to stay. As they try to discover who was behind the attack and why the preserve was targeted, Jane and Devon realize that they may be in over their heads in both the local conflict and their attraction to each other.
Like Huffman's other books, this one is Christian-lite. Themes of redemption, mercy, and second chances permeate the story, and there are a few explicit references to faith and Bible verses, but much less heavy-handed than you would find in typical inspirational fiction. The characters read as real, living people, which helps the reader to suspend disbelief as they fight bad guys and jump off of cliffs and whatnot. Huffman refers to her books as "romantic suspense," but I think of them as "romantic action/adventure." The relationship develops pretty quickly, but I find that to be the case in most romance novels.
The book is well-written. It has not had the benefit of the buffing and polishing of a major publishing house's professional editor, but it is absolutely readable. I recommend it for readers who are looking for an action-packed romance with a double-shot of optimism mixed in.
I have been a big fan of Heather Huffman's since I got a freebie copy of her novel Throwaway (which I definitely recommend reading!). She donates a portion of every book's proceeds to the fight against human trafficking, an issue that makes an appearance in most of her books, as well.
When I first discovered her, the ebooks of her first few novels were actually free and she asked only that you consider making a donation to a charity that aided the victims of human trafficking. How can you not love that?! So I do have a hard time being objective and unbiased when it comes to her work.
Brutal honesty: Her books could benefit from the spit-and-polish of a really great editor. She's a talented writer and I do truly find the books enjoyable and readable as they are. I just think that a highly-skilled editor could give these books that nudge up into the big-time. But I really admire her for going the self/indie-pub route and maintaining more control over her works. It also keeps the costs down for her readers.
I can't think of too many publishing houses that would let her write the way she does; secular publishers would find her "too Christian," and Christian publishers would not like that her characters swear, drink, and sometimes have sex before marriage. I personally love that. I love a book that talks about God but acknowledges the way that most people really live. I don't think it's right to have sex outside of marriage, but I think it makes her books much better when her characters sometimes do. Real people, even real-life Christians, often do sleep with people they aren't married to, so having her characters follow suit just makes them more human and and more believable.