Sunday, 3 February 2013

Roses in Ecuador Blog Tour: Review, Author Interview with Heather Huffman, and Giveaway!

Today I'm so psyched to have Heather Huffman, author of Roses in Ecuador (along with many other books!) here on the blog. I love her writing, and so it's no surprise that I fell in love with Roses in Ecuador immediately.

Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida before moving to the beautiful state of Missouri. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is working the land on their homestead in the Ozarks and tending to her horses, chickens and goats with her three boys.

Find Heather on:

Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Unknown to each other, they each escaped to the heart of Ecuador to make the world a better place, having sworn off the possibility of love… but disaster pulls them together.

Jane Russell is certain she’s had enough heartbreak for one lifetime, and love is the last thing on her mind when she arrives in Ecuador. Focused and determined, she settles in to write a book on the local jaguar preservation.

Devon McAllister, the wealthy and handsome son of a corporate mogul in the U.S., has broken his share of hearts despite his best intentions. He moved to Ecuador to escape his father’s destructive greed and pursue his passion to do good in the world, opening a fair trade rose plantation.

When the jaguar preservation comes under attack by what appears to be a group of angry locals, Devon jumps in to help Jane fight for the animals they love. As the danger grows, the motives of the attackers are revealed to be much more sinister than either could have ever imagined.

Unsure of whether they’re more frightened by the prospect of love or the danger to the jaguars, they must decide whether they can open their minds–and their hearts–to trust again.

I absolutely loved this book. Heather Huffman pulls me in with every one of her novels, because they're all so refreshingly different! Roses in Ecuador is a beautiful story of love, loss and hope. This book captured me right from the start, and didn't let go until the end.

Roses in Ecuador follows Jane Russell as she strives to save the jaguar preservation she loves so much. Her journey leads her right into the path of Devon McAllister, the owner of the rose plantation next to the preservation. Against all odds, they decide to team up in order to save the jaguars. Along the way, however, they can't stop their feelings for each other from getting in between their goal.

I connected with Jane immediately; she's practically impossible to like. Strong, determined, stubborn, and an animal lover - how can you not love her? She grows a lot over the course of the novel, and learns to open up to people. Especially Devon. Jane's had her heart broken once, and she now guards it behind walls so thick that no one except Devon has managed to shatter them. Jane's love and concern for the jaguars is really admirable, and the lengths she goes to, to save them, are incredible.

Devon is, in my mind at least, perfect! Even though he has a reputation of being a womanizer, he's a changed man now, and he desperately wants Jane to see that. He's so very kind and compassionate throughout the book, I almost had tears in my eyes in some scenes! He's also incredibly romantic; he even named a rose after Jane! I loved how protective he was of her, despite the fact that she's perfectly capable of taking care of herself. Devon and Jane have a lot of ups and downs in this book, but the fact that they got past all of that shows how powerful their love is. Here are a couple of quotes that I really loved from this book. The first one is said by Devon, the second by Jane.

“You’ve been the ray of sunshine in my dark world. You’re what gives me hope that it’s not all pointless.” 
“I didn’t know how my world could ever be right again. But I’ve decided the darkness doesn’t get to win. I’m not going to let it. I’m going to enjoy this place of joy we’re in now, but when the darkness returns, I’ll remind myself to hope. Because if it looks like darkness is winning, that just means the story isn’t over yet.”

Heather's writing truly is beautiful. I can't get enough of it! Roses in Ecuador was filled with action and suspense, as well as a lot of romance and humour, too. There was a great balance. What I love most about Heather's books are her characters. They're all so unique and inspirational.

The minor characters were exceptional as well. We get to meet Alex (Devon's sister) and her husband Daniel, who make a reappearance in this book from
Ring of Fire. I haven't read that one yet, but I am definitely going to, after seeing Alex and Daniel in Roses in Ecuador. Alex seems like just the kind of protagonist I'd love, and I'm desperate to read about how Alex and Daniel got together!

I'm a sucker for happy endings, and
Roses in Ecuador does not disappoint! Even though there are dark parts in the book, Jane and Devon manage to overcome it and get their happy ending, at least for now. That doesn't mean there wasn't loss, though. Because there was, and some parts were heartbreaking to read. But that's what makes the book so amazing - that you can move on even if you've gone through some really bad stuff.

All in all, I loved this book. I think it's my favourite book by Heather Huffman so far. But I still have to check out some of her previous ones!
Roses in Ecuador will make you laugh, cry, and swoon, and you'll love every second of it. I read this book in one go, and I literally could not put it down until I finished. It's perfectly paced, with just enough suspense to make you desperate to know what happens. My highlight, of course, was Devon, and I think that's enough reason to want to read this book! I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves a great action and romance novel. Heather Huffman has created yet another masterpiece, and she's already made her way to the top of my favourite adult author list!

*Thank you to Heather Huffman and Aimee Hill at Booktrope for sending me an ARC for review*

Rating: 5/5

Roses in Ecuador
Goodreads | Amazon (only $0.99 from Feb 1 - 3!) | Barnes & Noble

And now, let's welcome Heather Huffman for an interview!

Interview with Heather Huffman

Me: Hi, Heather! It's great to have you here on the blog. Alright, first question. Describe Roses in Ecuador in five words.

Heather: First, I have to say thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog today, Richa! As for the five words, I think I have to go with: Beautiful, passionate, dangerous, funny and romantic.

Me: I totally agree! What made you decide to write about the jaguar preservation in Ecuador?

Heather: I have no idea really – that’s where the story took me. Like so many of my books, this one started with a dream. A lot about that initial dream is kind of fuzzy at this point, but I do still vividly remember the moment when Jane and Devon met – the final version of the book stayed surprisingly close to that dream.
The jaguars came from the initial dream – how my subconscious got there, I’m still not sure. As for Ecuador, while I was researching the book, it emerged as the country that worked for both the jaguar preserve and the rose plantation. I think it was providence that my editor’s husband was raised in Ecuador and could provide helpful insight into the country and its customs!

Me: It's truly amazing that the ideas for your novels come from dreams! Some of your characters make appearances or are mentioned in more than one of your novels. Why did you decide to incorporate this in your writing?

Heather: I’m not sure if it was a decision so much as it just sort of happened. As a reader, I love hearing about characters from a novel I’ve read. Even if I catch just a glimpse of them to see how they’re doing, it makes me happy. As a writer, I enjoy getting to revisit characters, getting to see them in a different way. For most of my secondary characters, I start thinking about what their story will be from the first appearance they make.

Me: Can you name some of your inspirations for writing this book or the characters in it?

Heather: As I said before, the book itself came from a dream. Once I started researching rose plantations in Ecuador, I found out about the deplorable conditions so many of the workers suffered through. I also learned about one plantation owner who went above and beyond to ensure the quality of life of his employees. I can’t remember the man’s name or even where I saw the story, but his compassion was the spark that would become Devon McAlister in my world.
While this book was still waiting its turn, I spent a lot of time thinking about its characters. I intentionally worked Devon into Suddenly a Spy to pave the way for Roses in Ecuador. I hadn’t intended for him to have such a role in Ring of Fire, but I found myself writing him into the book more and more. By the time I started work on Roses in Ecuador, I felt like Devon was an old friend.
In Ring of Fire, Devon’s sister Alex makes the comment that the woman Devon falls for will have to lead him on a merry chase. When it came time to write Roses in Ecuador, I started to really think about what kind of woman was capable of leading Devon on just such a chase, about what kind of woman would leave the comfort of her known world to live on a Jaguar preserve. The Jane who emerged was a woman of both strength and vulnerability; someone I could very much identify with.

Me: Your novels feature strong female protagonists. Do you have a particular reason for writing them this way?

Heather: I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amazed by the strength I see in everyday women all around me. Daughters, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives… I see them smile even when life throws its worst at them. I see women who dig deep to take one more step when they want so badly to give up. I see women who, despite life’s crazy twists and turns, still cling to hope, love and laughter. I’m amazed by them and I want to share their stories.

Me: Name a few of your favourite authors.

Heather: Eek. It’s hard to narrow this down! There are so many talented voices out there. I love the poetry of Sylvain Reynard’s work. His books are beautifully written. Jane Austen is an old standby. Janet Evanovich is always good for a giggle. There are so many good books out there – I always kind of freeze when faced with this question and trying to choose just a few!

Me: I know the feeling! Lastly, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Heather: Write! It’s so easy to let life get in the way, but if you really want to be an author, you have to make time to write. Sometimes, life’s so crazy that finishing the story means I don’t sleep for a few nights. I figure if I’ll lose sleep to sit up and read a good book, writing one shouldn’t be any different! I spent too many years thinking about the books I wanted to write and not getting anywhere with them because I didn’t make writing a priority in my life. I had to treat my writing with respect before I could expect anyone else to.
Another piece of advice I’d give is to recognize helpful feedback and listen to it – and do your best to ignore the stuff that isn’t helpful. Some of the feedback I got from agents, I listened to and it made me a better writer. Some of it, I knew in my heart was expecting me to fundamentally change my books, something I wasn’t willing to do. Even eight books into my career, I struggle to take it in stride when someone doesn’t like one of my novels. I still have to sift through the feedback to find the input that will help me be a better writer. You’ll hear no more than you do yes at first. Stick with it and you’ll find a home for your work! There are more avenues than ever to get your book in front of readers today.
Most of all – don’t forget to enjoy it!

Thank you so much, Heather, for taking the time to answer my questions! I love all your answers and the detail in them :)


I'm giving away an ebook of Roses in Ecuador to one lucky winner. The giveaway is international, of course! The winner will get 48 hours to reply to my email. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win, and good luck :)

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