Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Tour for The Doubting Heart by Brenda Gayle (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Those looking for a bit of suspense in the rugged countryside will find today's guest providing just what you're looking for.  Keep reading to learn about suspense and Brenda Gayle's The Doubting Heart, as well as the chance to win some goodies......

Romance Vs. Suspense.....

I am slowly coming to terms with being called a romantic suspense writer. I tend to think of myself as a contemporary romance writer who uses suspense as a plot device to advance the love story between the hero and heroine, but I guess that’s too long a description in today’s 140-character-or-less world.
I was initially hesitant when my editor told me The Wild Rose Press wanted to publish my latest release, The Doubting Heart, under its romantic suspense imprint, Crimson Rose. “But there’s no special forces, no cops, no underworld crime lords,” I said. “Shelby and Chad are just ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary situation.” Okay, that situation is investigating a disappearance that the heroine is convinced is a murder. And sure, Shelby’s life is in jeopardy as she gets closer to learning the truth about what happened to her friend. But all that is just to bring Shelby and Chad together so they can fall in love. I write romance.
Yet, when I look at each of the books I’ve written, they’ve all had elements of suspense, often involvingkidnappings, shootings, mistaken identities, murders, and so on. Even my recently published short story, Father of the Bride?, has a surprise twist at the end.  I just couldn’t help myself.
It’s not that I don’t think a hero or heroine can meet, fall in love, and live happily-ever-after without the adrenalin rush of a life-or-death situation—it happens all the time—I’m just not sure how to write those stories. I like pushing my characters beyond their comfort zone—not just emotionally, but mentally and physically, too. I like to have more going on in the story—more for the reader to think about—than simply how the couple is going to eventually get together (because you know they will). The addition of a suspense plot can put the characters into desperate situations that allow them to reveal things about themselves that wouldn’t be possible in a conversation over dinner.
In The Doubting Heart, Shelby feels Chad has betrayed her and, even knowing her life is in danger, she rejects his help to find her friend’s killer. A doctor, Chad’s greatest fear is that he can’t save the people he loves. He’s afraid to stay and watch helplessly as Shelby puts herself in mortal danger, but how can he leave her? The dilemma forces him to dig deep and find the strength fight the demons of his past in order to protect the woman he loves.
Would Chad and Shelby have gotten together eventually without the life-and-death urgency of the situation? Probably (I like to believe in the inevitability of true love). Would Chad and Shelby have had to recognize the intensity of their emotions for one another if they hadn’t had to battle their personal demons to do so? Doubtful.
Romantic suspense is a very broad genre and can include everything from books with heavy suspense and a little romance to those with heavy romance and a little suspense. How much suspense do you like with your romance or vice versa? Do you have any favorite authors or series you could recommend?

A woman determined to prove her friend was murdered questions her sanity when his look-alike appears.
When Shelby Holt convinces a friend to work at Wildhorse Pass tourist ranch, she never imagines he will die there. The police say Michael's death was accidental, but Shelby doesn't believe it. Haunted by guilt, she puts her academic career on hold to investigate.
Just back from the Middle East, Chad Graham is guilt-ridden over Michael's death too. He poses as a ranch hand at Wildhorse Pass to investigate the woman claiming his cousin's death is suspicious. Were the police wrong? Or is Shelby hiding something?
Shelby knows she can't trust her heart, but when it comes to Chad, she can't trust her head either. He looks uncannily like Michael. Yet even as their distrust deepens, sensual attraction simmers between them. The closer Shelby and Chad get to answers—and to each other—the closer they get to danger…and to a killer who will stop at nothing to avoid discovery.


“Don’t…say...a…word,” Chad spat out between clenched teeth. He grabbed her chin and turned her head from side to side. And then, satisfied, turned away and spoke to Pete. “Get up, you. Go wait by the horses for the rest of the group to return.”
Pete obeyed, scurrying through the brush as though he couldn’t get away quickly enough.
“Just what in hell do you think you were doing?” Chad turned back to Shelby, anger still distorting his face.
She felt the prickle of tears behind her eyes. She was so relieved—and so mortified. She shook her head, unable to speak.
“Do you have no sense, woman? You can’t spend the evening drinking and flirting with a single man on vacation and expect he’s going to leave it at the door. Not to mention the fact he’s a guest at the ranch. No fraternizing with the guests, remember?”
Shelby’s humiliation was quickly being replaced by her own anger. “Who do you think you are to lecture me on my behavior? You and Charisma can’t even keep your hands off each other for one evening—and in front of all the guests and their children. Besides, I could have handled Pete. He’s just a little drunk, that’s all.”
“Really? Well then next time, I won’t bother,” he said.
Neither moved as they locked eyes, each daring the other to look away first. Finally, Chad turned. “Let’s go.”
Shelby wiped away a traitorous tear with the sleeve of her jacket. Who was she kidding? She couldn’t have stopped Pete by herself. Chad was right. She had allowed a situation with an unfamiliar man to accelerate out of her control. She didn’t want to consider what would have happened if Chad hadn’t come to her rescue.
Oh, God! It’s starting all over again.


Every now and again I get in the mood to read something suspenseful and after reading the blurb to Brenda Gayle's newest release, The Doubting Heart, I was greatly intrigued.  After turning the final page I'm left a bit disappointed though.  There were many good aspects about this book but some things just didn't work for me.

What worked for me were the scenic descriptions.  Coming from a rural background I applaud the author on the rich and realistic descriptions of ranch life and the rugged men who work there.  It was easy to get immersed into this world.  To go with this rugged world is a truly sexy hero who I found myself enamored with.  Chad's a strong leader, a reliable hero, who's been through the emotional wringer and he definitely deserved a HEA.  I just wish his chosen heroine had been more worthy.

I never warmed up to Shelby.  I found her rather weak and unthinking at times in that she carelessly put herself in jeopardy and expected others to save her.  I also never felt that passionate spark between her and Chad which led to very little sexual tension between them and a rather clinical sexual interlude.  The suspense part of the story was a bit predictable and the ending felt a bit rushed but with its intriguing premise I felt compelled to continue to the moderately satisfying conclusion.

As the second book in the Heart's Desire series this book can definitely stands on its own.  With its warm romance and sure and steady writing style The Doubting Heart will appeal to those looking to read a story that doesn't require much thought.  Just sit back and relax in a reading haze.  Though this book didn't work for me on every level I will gladly return to Ms. Gayle's library to see what other storylines grab my attention.

My rating for this is a C+

*I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.



A writer all her life, Brenda Gayle returned to her love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications—although some might argue there is plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. She holds a Master's degree in journalism and an undergraduate degree in psychology. A fan of many genres, Brenda is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys creating deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense.



Brenda will award one commenter at every stop a a free digital download of Father of the Bride?, a short story being released by The Wild Rose Press, and one randomly drawn commenter on the tour will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

-To be entered, leave a comment answering the question Brenda poses at the end of her guest commentary, ALONG WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDY.
-A winner will be chosen randomly from all comments made throughout the tour, so the more you comment the greater your chances of winning.  A list of all participating blogs can be found here.
-Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM CST on 3/18.


  1. I love different genres, a great paranormal series that I love is the Mercy Thomson series by Patricia Briggs, I love that it plays with the idea that all fairy tales could be real and some of the mystical creatures come out to the humans. Mostly it's a mystery series, but it also has romance and some interesting fairy tale characters.


    1. Thanks Hope. I haven't heard of that series, but it sounds intriguing. I'll definitely be checking it out. I'm a big fan of the TV show Once Upon A Time. I think the writers have done a great job of integrating the fairy tales into the modern story.

  2. I like a little suspense in the romance stories I read, but not a lot. The excerpt here was interesting. I thought the review was very honest. It actually made me more interestedin reading the book.

    1. Thanks MomJane. I thought the review was very fair and honest, too. Our pleasure in reading specific books is subjective. I appreciate constructive critism--it only serves to make my writing better and it helps readers anticipate whether or not they'll like a book.

  3. I like a little suspense but not too much. One of my favorite authors is Judith McNaught, I love her books.


    1. Hi Ingeborg, I agree, Judith McNaught is terrific. I like her Regencies, too.

  4. Romantic Suspense, Romantic Thriller, just plain Romance...Why quantify? I'd just call it romance and be done :) Thanks for sharing!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

    1. Excellent point. That's what I tell my editor every time I submit a manuscript that doesn't fit neatly into one of the imprints. Unfortunately, marketing has other ideas.

  5. Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. You are most welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. It depends on a story, but I do like more suspence in my story, rather than less :)


  7. I like Carol Berg, her books have a lot of suspence :)


    1. I've noted her name, Lyra, and I'll definitely check her out. I love getting recommendations for new authors. Thanks.

  8. I love the series by JR Ward.


    1. I agree 100%. I love her Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

  9. I would second Carol Berg, her books are a bit darker but definetly never boring, if one likes fantasy.


    1. Wow, a double recommendation. That seals it.

  10. Hm, I like both and as for a rec, for fantasy I love Tad Williams and Robert Jordans Wheel of Time series. Genie Gabriel's Legacy series is a nice romance/mystery.

    moonsurfer123(at)gmail Dot com

  11. Thanks Anas. My husband is a huge Robert Jordan fan. I'm not sure how he's going to cope now that he's read the last in that series. I'll give the others a check, too.

  12. Thanks to The Scarf Princess for hosting me today. It's nice to see some new faces and some familiar ones. You guys have been great following me along this blog tour and I really appreciate the author/series recommendations.

    As a thank you for your support and interest, I have a surprise. In celebration of Read an eBook Week, The Wild Rose Press is giving away free books each day. Tomorrow only (March 5) you can download The Doubting Heart free.

    AND, although you don't have to read the first book in the series to read this one, if you're like me and prefer to read a series from the start, you can get The Hungry Heart at a 50% discount for the duration of the blog tour.

  13. Don't have a preference. I like Elizabeth Lowell's books.


    1. Yes, she's very good--and very prolific. Imagine writing in so many different genres.

  14. Oh, thanks I'm going to pick that up!

    I love Robert Jordan's books as well.

    galaschick78 at gmail dot com

  15. I like to have quite a bit of suspense in a story usually.
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  16. I am very much a romance reader, so in any genre I read I like the romance to be more prominent than anything else :-)
    I adore Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, which I've just gotten into!


    1. Hi Chelsea, the best thing about getting into the Stephanie Plum series now is that if you really like it, you'll be set for a while. What's Evanovich up to now, 22?

  17. I like about half & half when it comes to Romantic Suspense. I don't have any absolute favorites, but it's a genre I do love to read.


    1. My preference is for light suspense and I agree, about half-and-half is pefect.

  18. It will depend on my mood as to how much suspense I want. Sometimes you need a nice clean romance with typical relationship hurdles, sometimes you want some mystery built into that struggle.

    It's definitely a balancing act :)

    carrie dot rogozinski at

  19. Thanks for stopping by, Carrie.

  20. Thanks to the Scarf Princess for hosting me on my blog tour for The Doubting Heart and to everyone who commented—you made this fun. I’ve used to generate the winner of my new short story, Father of the Bride? The winner is Ingeborg. I’ll be in touch with the download instructions.

    You can find who all the winners are, including the grand prize winner of a $50 Amazon gift card, on my web site: