🐎🏡🏞️ "Aspen Crossroads" (Whisper Canyon Romance #1) (2021) 🏞️🏡🐎 - Blog Tour
Welcome to the Blog Tour for Aspen Crossroads by Janine Rosche, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: Aspen Crossroads
Series: A Whisper Canyon Romance #1
Author: Janine Rosche
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Genre: Western Romance
Thank you in advance to the author, Janine Rosche, for providing a complimentary review copy of the book through JustRead Publicity Tours. A positive review was definitely not required or requested in any way; all words are my own.
This is my first introduction to the author’s writing; however, it certainly will not be the last. I am eagerly awaiting a return to Whisper Canyon. How could I not with the stunning cover and that beautiful couple holding hands to face what life deals them. Even reading the description on the back, I was drawn to the story like a moth to a flame. And, I knew what I was getting into.
Unlike some reviews where I warm up to the hard stuff – trigger and content warnings, this is one book where it needs to be done right off. Even the author addresses the content of the book right off.
While this is a beautiful, inspirational fiction/romance story; it deals with sensitive and traumatizing topics that might be difficult for some readers. These topics are:
🔹 Human Trafficking
🔹 Sex Trade
🔹 Sex Workers
🔹 Sexual Assault
🔹 Promiscuous Behavior
🔹 Childhood Sexual Assault
While there are not explicit details, even the characters’ backgrounds can be triggering for some readers. The author takes care to note that some victims’ experiences are far darker and grittier than depicted. And, as readers can see, there is a lot packed into this novel which is 335 pages worth of story.
Despite the “busy-ness” that this novel seems; Rosche is able to craft a beautiful, endearing, edgy, emotional, gripping, richly intense, realistic, and inspirational story that has some humor sprinkled in. There are also some TV references as well. One part that wasn’t funny, but was in one respect – when Daniel takes Haven to an interview. He doesn’t want to go inside as he doesn’t want to give a prospective serial killer 2-for-1 victims. Note: there is NO serial killer in this book.
The characters; are perfectly and deeply developed. The good ones became like family as I was reading this. The bad ones? Bad indeed. I also loved Rosche’s use of unusual names for the Haviland girls.
There are a lot of characters in this book –
🔹 Elijah (Sonny’s 3-year old son)
🔹 Mayor Trent Garrison
🔹 Bo Radford (nickname from Dukes of Hazzard – TV show given the time period)
🔹 Haviland Family – Daniel (Haven’s twin); Rarity (sister); Dash (sister); Valor (sister); Nina (deceased mother); Michael (father)
🔹 Garrison Family – Elaine (Trent’s wife); Samuel (Trent’s Father); Aiden (Trent’s Brother)
🔹 Horst Family – Reverend Horst, his wife, son Jimmy
Despite all the characters, this is told from Haven and Jace’s POV.
This was, for the most part, a quick read. Not because of the subject material. But, Rosche’s use of short chapters and engaging story-telling, moved the story forward and I had to keep reading to see what was going to happen next. It definitely had a rapid pace, but not so much that it feels rushed or hurried.
Rosche not only sets the background for the story, the town, but the characters. But, she does so in a way that it is relevant and doesn’t look like “fluff” or “filler”. Each background micro-story is carefully woven into the main story as a connection.
By the end of chapter 3, I HAD to know more. After a while I found this hard to put down as I was drawn in so much I felt like I was inside the book.
The Haviland kids, more specifically Haven, are constant sources of gossip given their mother’s past deeds. It’s clear she has hurt a lot of people with her promiscuity. At a farmer’s market Haven happens to see a poor little chick with a deformed foot. She names her “Audrey Hepburn”, but a nice man buys the little one and dubs her Audrey Henburn. That man? Jace Daring.
Jace has his own secrets when it comes to Whisper Canyon, a place he never wanted to return to after his mother’s death. Yet, it has been chosen for a farm-to-table restaurant that will help Jillian, Rosalie, and Sonny permanently leave behind the world they were rescued from – the sex trade.
While only the mayor knows the real story behind Aspen Crossroads, there are rumors of a polygamist cult or harem. And, it’s clear that no matter what is going on there – the mayor doesn’t want them there. In fact, he is quite blunt and honest about it.
Jillian, one of the “saved” girls, has a “thing” for Jace. That puts him in the uncomfortable spot of discouraging her. If he does, he is shaming her or rejecting her. And, it is clear there is no right way to do it.
And, it is his “need” that Haven helps fill – in-house behavioral counselor.
Given where the interview is, Haven’s twin brother takes her there. And, after a tense introduction – Jace tells Haven what the job entails. He warns her that an association with Aspen Crossroads will tarnish her reputation with the town.
Still, she takes the job. And, it is clear – the mayor is going to be trouble. He threatens her siblings and her father, and she decides to quit before starting. That is until Jace finds out and like the others – offers to keep her safe after he hears her own story.
Haven’s job at Aspen Crossroads isn’t easy. Rosalie sees her as a bestie, Sonny doesn’t need her, and Jillian sees her as competition (despite Jace not wanting anything to do with Jillian). And, Haven takes an interesting approach to get them to open up – she moves in.
Despite not wanting to get involved as he’s going to be moving on, Jace develops a special relationship with Haven.
The restaurant faces several hurdles and it clear to everyone that the mayor is behind it.
In between the restaurant and the relationship, Haven is also helping Jace discover his origins and his mother’s story there in Whisper Canyon. It is during a horse ride that he learns the truth – the name he knew his mother by wasn’t her name. And, then he learns of a connection to Aspen Crossroads.
That was a SHUT THE FRONT DOOR moment for sure. But, Rosche is nowhere near done with this story. I loved how she had a big reveal at the end of chapter 25 (page 195) then picks up in chapter 26 like there was nothing there. I wanted to ask “are we not going to discuss that”? No, she didn’t want to.
Haven and Jace meet up with Bo, who reveals where he got his nickname and why – the similarity between him and a character from Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985). He knew and grew up with Jace’s mother.
It is Bo who gives them information that eventually leads Jace to his mother’s aunt who tells him the remaining information needed.
The community stands up and behind Jace and the girls after a rather unpleasant incident. But, they’re not the only ones “outed”.
I absolutely adored the ending with Audrey (the chicken). I thought it was actually adorable.
I have to give it to Rosche, this was one book that was packed with “one thing after another” but didn’t have a cluttered feel or that it was trying too hard to entertain. There were certain elements that took me by surprise and others I saw coming. Rosche gives just enough realism with the sex trade in establishing the characters’ history without overwhelming or pummeling the reader.
The only part I had issues with was Jillian’s attitude, and while not surprising, it was a bit annoying. Her character growth came at nearly the end. It was a surprising turn, yet in some ways, it could’ve been predicted. And, what she reveals is surprising.
I definitely related to Haven while she was waiting for Rosalie. I’ve read in a car while waiting (as recently as this January), but I had my coffee with me. I understood how Valor felt about mimes. I have a deep problem with them as well as clowns. And, with what Rosalie did with Skittles (one of each), I tend to do that with M&M’s. It was fun to see characters with those little traits.
I also loved the reference to The Smith’s song “How Soon is Now”. For those who don’t know, it was the theme to the series “Charmed” that ran from 1998-2006. I have fond memories of seasons 3-5, as well as a very special episode in season 7.
One thing that impressed me was Jace taking Garrison to task with regard to Garrison’s attitude towards the women that Aspen Crossroads was helping. Garrison stated that the people of Whisper Canyon wanted “virtuous, righteous, and pure” referring to the women as “prostitutes”. Jace’s response was spot on …
“If they are godly people, then they’d know that no one besides Christ is perfectly virtuous, righteous, or pure. If they own a bible, they’d understand that Christ didn’t mind eating or spending time with prostitutes”. This was referenced in the short-lived TV show – G.C.B.
That cannot be repeated enough. And, I love the author’s courage in expressing that sentiment which not many people espouse.
Despite the gritty reality of the sex trade, this is considered “inspirational romance”. There is mention of God, church and bible quotes. There are tones of forgiveness, grace, and second chances.
Fans of the author and those who enjoy a deep read, won’t want to miss this one! I’m ready for the second book in this series!
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Goodreads
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – BookBub5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Personal Rating (see rating explanation in this blog: https://readingexcursions.blogspot.com/2020/01/rating-system-2020-changes.html)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
(1) winner will receive a Society 6 Mountain Morning Tote, Live By Faith Journal, & “Stay Home or Go Roam” Hoodie from the soon-to-be-released Love Wander Read apparel collection!
Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight September 7, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on September 14, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!
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