Friday, December 11, 2015

Aloha to Elizabeth Hoyt and ONCE AND ALWAYS - Book Review



Small town cop Sam West certainly doesn't mind a routine traffic stop: speeding ticket, stern warning, and sayonara. With a whopper of a blizzard closing in, that's all he has time for. But the lawbreaker he pulls over is anything but typical. From her mile-long legs to her razor-sharp wit, Maisa Bradley is like nothing Coot Lake, Minnesota, has ever seen . . . and she's about to take Sam on the ride of his life.


Whoever said blood is thicker than water probably wasn't related to a former Russian mobster. But an innocent mix-up and rumors of stolen diamonds soon have the Russian mob taking an unusual interest in the sleepy little town-and Maisa facing heated scrutiny from a certain tall, dark, and handsome deputy. Sam's dazzling blue eyes beg her to reveal all her secrets, but how much should she tell? Getting snowed in with the sexiest lawman in the frozen north may not be the worst way to decide . . .

Dogsledding in Ely, MN
Image from

The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. - Thomas A. Edison

Deputy Sam West keeps trying one more time to win over Maisa Bradley.  Each time she visits her uncle in Coot Lake, Minnesota, he pulls her over.  Sam tries to charm her and even reminds her of the passion they shared one hot summer night ... but Maisa keeps her distance.   She content with her budding custom dress business in St. Paul ... and she knows they would mix like oil and water.  Her uncle is a retired Russian mobster hiding out in the boonies ... and Sam is a decorated Army veteran. Yet Maisa herself cannot deny the spark between them.   

A blizzard traps Maisa in town along with a mobster's accountant on the run.  Coot Lake erupts into a battleground when the mobster himself comes looking for the accountant.   Sam draws upon his combat experience and enlists local mushers to save the town from the carnage ... and Maisa from her own mobster heritage.

ONCE AND ALWAYS is Northern Exposure meets OK Corral with an ensemble cast ala Ocean's Eleven.  Hoyt starts with a small town romance and infuses action, suspense, and redemption.  Sam is a juxtaposition with a swagger - he confidently pursues Maisa but resists the sheriff's efforts to groom him as his successor.  One deadly patrol in Afghanistan continues to plague Sam.  Yet he relies on his Army training when the Russian mafia arrives in Coot Lake.  He proves to the townsfolk, Maisa, and himself that anyone can overcome bad history.

Глаза́ боя́тся, а ру́ки де́лают. 

Eyes are afraid, but hands are doing the job.

I received a print copy from the author during the Forever Romance book signing at the RWA Annual Conference.

Palisade Head on Lake Superior
Released to Public Domain (link)

I am giving away a book choice from my convention stash to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about Minnesota - what do you know about the Land of 10,000 Lakes?  

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 20.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Learn more about Julia Harper aka Elizabeth Hoyt at  


Other books from Julia Harper ... which I also enjoyed!


  1. My aunt lives in Minnesota. I remember one time flying over the state and seeing so many lakes. I can see how it has its nickname.

  2. I know nothing about Minnesota except it is very cold during the winter.
    Natalie's Mama

  3. I don't have a clue, know nothing about Minnesota...

  4. Apart from cold winters I know nothing about Minnesota.

  5. Not much except one of my cousins and his wife moved there sometime ago

  6. Sad to say I don't know anything about Minnesota :(

  7. Mayo Clinic is in's cold and my good friend lives there.

  8. Minnesota has weather just like we do here in Canada...helps that we're fairly close to it :)

  9. I haven't paid much attention but a few of my favorite athletes (hockey players) hail from there! They are the State of Hockey for a reason!!

  10. Canoed in Boundary Waters many, many years ago... Lovely state!!

  11. I have not been to Minnesota except in passing. I know it has a lot of lakes.

  12. We went there as a family when I was young. Only reason I know that is I have a souvenir from there. Haha!

  13. I've never been to Minnesota, and know absolutely nothing about it, except that it gets really cold there in winter.

  14. I don't know anything about Minnesota.

  15. I loved Once and Always!

    So, Minnesota.... It has lots of lakes and is WAY to cold in the Winter for me to consider living there. Oh and from what I hear from friends who do live there in the (very brief) summer they have monster mosquitoes!

  16. I think it gets kinda cold there!

  17. I have never been to Minnesota, but the picture of Lake Superior is beautiful. Unfortunately it is much too cold for me.

  18. Not much - it's the home of the Vikings and it's cold. Love her books!

  19. Only that their winters are freezing.
    Patty B.

  20. I just know it gets mighty cold there.

  21. Aside from my brilliant editor, Judy Brunswick, in Minneapolis, my favorite Minnesota haunt is Lutsen, home of the coldest ski area on the planet. Take two runs and then inside by the fire for some Gentleman Jack :-)

  22. I was just in Minneapolis earlier this month! They have a wonderful tram system that gets you from downtown to the airport in 1/2 and hour for only $1.75!

  23. One of my best friends lives there! And that's about all I know *grins*