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Maddie's Choice

Romance writer Maddie Taylor's career is in trouble. Convinced that true love does not exist outside of her imagination, she can't complete her current manuscript. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his cattle ranch, she seizes the chance to leave New York City. There is one catch: in order to inherit she must stay in Arkansas for three months. The other half of the ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah's grandson, a black-ops veteran whose humanity was torn from him in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon embodies the hero in Maddie's current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his with a "gold-digging bimbo" and resents having to care for his two orphaned nephews. But Maddie senses the need behind Gideon's rough and unwelcoming exterior. She must also contend with the two love-starved boys and an Angus bull who craves chocolate. The ranch is hardly the safe haven Maddie expected. It is operating in the red, and the area is plagued with drug dealers and cattle rustlers. Maddie can return to her barren New York existence or stay and fight to save the ranch and win Gideon's love. The choice is hers.
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"A bull hooked on chocolate plays the hero in this love story of two people struggling to restore their destroyed lives. Maddie's Choice is a touching family story that will have readers laughing and crying simultaneously. Zeller has created flawed but sympathetic characters and a bucolic setting that will appeal to readers of all ages. A must read for anyone who has ever dreamed of living on a ranch. As Maddie is fond of reminding herself, 'How hard can it be?' " --Velda Brotherton, author of western historical romances"Joyce has walked the walk with her Western romance set on a cattle ranch. Good read!"--Dusty Richards, Spur winning author of more than 120 western novels, many under the name, Josh Logan"This is a book about life and its content is very explicit at times. It's also about cattle rustling, drugs, and the way adults and kids go about getting what they want and need. I thought it was very well written. I give it a thumbs up."-Maryann Wakefield, author of A Gentle Sun Coming 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 opene "A delightful romance with likeable, fallible characters that quickly engage the reader. One of the biggest positives of this novel is the author's development of both the leading male and female characters. Often in romance novels there is a tendency to have a very well developed female character reacting to a dark, mysterious stranger. That's not the case here. Although Gideon is certainly sexy enough, his character is well rounded and contains enough human elements to make him truly vulnerable and likeable. Another pitfall in many romances is plot twists and turns that can become distracting from the primary romantic plot. Maddie's Choice does enlist the use of a mystery of stolen cattle and drug running, but the additional plot lines serve well to develop the romantic plot line and further engage the reader and do not undermine the romance. As an avid romance reader, I don't mind telling you that I finished this entire book in one setting and would be delighted to read additional books by this author." -Erika, Prey Species Blog

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