Storm Thompson wants to be anywhere but Liberty Ridge. Especially since his hometown also contains his childhood nemesis, Colleen Gardner. With a young daughter and mentally ill mother to care for, he struggles to simply make ends meet. Every day, his goal of owning an organic farm slips further out of reach.
Psychiatrist Colleen Gardner has her sights set on starting a retreat to help veterans suffering from PTSD. She's done well but her small town fundraisers just aren't enough.
"The Great American Scavenger Hunt" TV show offers a million-dollar prize, and Colleen and Storm are selected as competitors. Both resolve to do whatever is needed to win, even using the other to get ahead. Storm and Colleen compete to fund their dreams, but their already tattered relationship becomes more strained. Only one will win the money. But will love prove the ultimate prize?
Multi-award winning author Laurie Winter is a true warrior of the heart. Inspired by her dreams, she creates authentic characters who overcome the odds and find true love. She keeps her life balanced with regular yoga practice and running with her dog, Shadow. When not pounding the pavement or the keyboard, she's likely fueling up on wine, cheese curds, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Follow Laurie as she lives out her dreams at lauriewinter.com, home of Warriors of the Heart.
After reading and enjoying the first three books in the Warriors of the Heart series, I was more than willing to dive into Winner Takes All. It has a different feel to it than the first three books, but it was just as addictive to read.
With Winner Takes All, we have another read that deals with heavy topics. The topics aren’t quite as heavy in this one, but the impact is just as strong. In many ways, the impact hits on a larger scale than the prior books, and that is one of the things contributing to the different feel.
Another thing contributing to the different feel is the type of story we’re given in this one. With Winner Takes All, we have a story that involves a game show, which made for a lot of fun. There was a lot of focus on what the characters were doing, on the things they were trying to achieve, and the romance wasn’t quite as strong because of it. I certainly enjoyed watching the romance develop between the two characters, I loved the way things grew between them, but the majority of my enjoyment came through watching the events of the game show play out.
Although this is the fourth book in the series, it works perfectly fine as a standalone novel. If you’ve read the prior books, then you’re going to love getting Colleen’s story. If you have yet to read any of the prior books, then you’re going to finish the book wanting to find out more. It sucks you in deep, makes you fall in love with the characters, and whether you’re a new or an old fan it leaves you desperate for more.
As ever, Laurie Winter has left me eager to get my hands on her next release.
First I would like to Thank the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with the ARC of this novel for my honest review.
I loved everything about this book! The characters were loveable and I was pulled into the story from begging to end. The excitement of the race challenges and the relationship between Colleen and Storm...Amazing! Definitely recommended!
I was in desperate need of a good book to take me out of a weeks-long reading funk. Of the nine books I’ve read so far this year, three of the last four were 2 stars for me, and that fourth was a DNF. I had my fingers crossed that Laurie Winter and her fourth Warriors of the Heart book would give me some relief from the dread reading has caused me the past couple of weeks.
Thankfully, Ms. Winter pulled through! Winner Takes All was a sweet, fun, whirlwind adventure of a story with a truly unique plot.
Colleen Gardner grew up as the mean girl of Liberty Ridge, a small town in Texas. Often times, the object of her cruel treatment was Storm Thompson, the son of a single, hippy mom who lived on a commune. But now it’s over ten years later, and Colleen has done a lot to set things right with many of the people she wronged in school.
One person she hadn’t had a chance to apologize to was Storm Thompson, who left the day before their high school graduation and never returned. When Storm moves back to Liberty Ridge to care for his mentally unstable mother, he’s not pleased to discover his high school nemesis lives there as well. Not only that, but everyone in town seems to love Colleen now, leaving him to wonder how they all have such a short memory of the terror she inflicted on so many. He has no choice but to give her a wide berth and keep his head down, working towards his goal of purchasing land so he can get custody of his young daughter and start an organic farm. When Storm is selected for a television reality show/scavenger hunt with a prize of $1 million, he finally has a way to make his dreams come true.
The only problem is that Colleen is also selected as a contestant on the same show, competing for the same $1 million. She’s spent the past several years slowly raising money - through bake sales and raffles - to open a retreat/treatment center for veterans with PTSD.
Both worthy causes. But only one can win.
The great thing about this book is that I almost felt like I was on a trip across the country with Storm and Colleen. As they raced from Washington DC, all the way to San Diego, it was fun to envision them racing from one landmark to the next, completing all their tasks.
And it was sweet to see Colleen and Storm's relationship develop.
Colleen desperately wants to earn Storm’s forgiveness. Even though she’s come to terms with her past, she still wants approval and love. She just doesn’t know if she can trust Storm right now. Are his kinds words and actions because he’s forgiving her, or is he using her to win the money? Storm, even though he’s come a long way, still harbors anger and many of the insecurities from his childhood. Trust isn’t something that comes easyily to him, especially where Colleen is concerned.
As they race across the country, they form a tenuous alliance to beat the other contestants, and both start to believe that maybe something deeper and lasting is forming, something that could continue after the winner has been declared.
Truth be told...I had a really hard time deciding who I wanted to win the money! I was anxious to find out who would win, and if they would be able to work through the fallout of one of them having to give up their dreams.
I’m not one who usually enjoys the enemies-to-lovers trope, but this one really worked for me. The characters are compelling and the plot is unique. And I LOVE that they despise each other, and act like it. Well, I don't like that they despise each other, but usually we get this whole "I hate him, but he's so hawt he makes all my girly parts tingle" malarky and there's NONE OF THAT thank goodness!!! The storytelling didn’t get completely bogged down in repetitive thoughts about the past, about how good looking the other was, or whether or not they could be together once the competition was over. But it sometimes got close… I was sitting on the proverbial edge of my seat, wanting to know what challenges they’d experience during their journey, who would win, and how they would get their happily ever after.
I can’t decide how I feel about the ending, though. Part of me thinks things ended a little abruptly, a little simply. Was all forgiven too easily, on both sides? The other part of me wants to stop analyzing it and just be thankful Winner Takes All was such an entertaining, moving story. FINALLY!
I’ve enjoyed this series, and I’ll be looking forward to the final book in this series. Actually, I’ll be looking forward to all of Ms. Winter’s future books. She’s proven herself to tell great stories without falling into some of the traps many current writers use - like having her heroines wax poetic about how hawt the hero is, and having repetitive inner monologues by both hero and heroine. I’m so glad this author didn’t let me down and was able to get me out of my reading slump!
* thank you to NetGalley and The Wild Rose Press, Inc for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Winner Takes All is the fourth book in the Warriors of the Heart series. I have not read the previous books in this series, but that was not a problem - as this can be read as a standalone.
When I read the synopsis of the book, it felt as though I had read this particular book previously. I knew this couldn't be the case, as I was provided an Advance Readers copy prior to publication. I'm truly happy that I decided to continue on and read the book. While it had some similarity to another book, Winner Takes All was actually better written and I enjoyed the story line more.
Colleen and Storm have been best friends since kindergarten. They loved to prank each other during their growing up years. That all ended the night before high school graduation, when one prank went a little too far and emotions were involved. Fast forward 20 years, and they find themselves living in their hometown, both single. Both have an opportunity of a lifetime to be on a new television game show with a million dollars at stake for the winner.
Both have great causes for the winnings. Both are very competitive. I loved that the game show was much like the Amazing Race, and it took them across the United States. The competition as well as the story line had me reading in anticipation of the next page. I could not get enough of this book!
The characters are well-developed and lovable. I truly enjoyed reading this story as I, too, have recently been re-acquainted with a love after 20 years. Another bonus for the book is that it is a clean and wholesome romance - something that makes the story that much sweeter.
"Received an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for a fair review" I was immediately pulled into this story which kept me absorbed until the end, captivated by Laurie Winter’s writing style and narration – what a lovely way to enjoy my leisure time. Storm and Colleen are great characters, full of flaws and imperfections, but trying to do the best they can. Storm is such a stubborn man, a bit imperceptive where Colleen is concerned, but that is understandable because of their troubled past. I loved how Laurie Winter wrote this hero full of contradictions: a loving and tender father and son, but so suspicious of the heroine and often acting like a “world-class jerk”, that sometimes I wanted to shake him. Colleen is a wonderful heroine too, strong and smart, with her own vulnerabilities though. I also loved how the author interwove the childhood crush and longing with the present, rewriting the characters’ history and ties and building a heartfelt romance. I enjoyed the travelling, the competition and the realistic balance between both MC’s goals and dilemmas while competing against one another. I'm grateful to the publisher, The Wild Rose Press, and NetGalley for providing a free copy
Loved this book! The development of the characters is thoroughly enjoyable. Storm and Colleen, and their relationship, are completely relatable. The journey they take physically and emotionally is one that sucked me and wouldn't let go until the book was done. Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!
Thank you to NetGallery, the publisher and author, Laurie Winter, for the opportunity to read and review the arc of “Winner Takes All,”. This is my honest and true review. Really enjoyed the trip across the United States with Colleen and Storm as they vied to win $1 million. Each has their personal reasoning for wanting to be the final winner. I had a hard time deciding who I wanted to win! Though I do think the ending seemed quite abrupt... I wanted more to it. Very sweet, full of action, romance........ just a very sweet read.
This book had a great mix of Americana meets game show meets love! The trip across the U.S. was fun to read about and the budding romance was well done and realistic. A feel good ending made this all a pleasurable read!
Winner Takes All has a little different feel to it, especially in relation to the other books in this series, but I absolutely loved the opportunity to join Storm and Colleen as they take on The Great American Scavenger Hunt. It was a little like reading a recap of an early season of The Amazing Race, which was one of my favorite series when it first came out,. All of the fun of a road trip without ever leaving your chair :) I was a little unsure about how the timing matched up, and there was a few places where it definitely felt weird, but overall it was a great ride. And I loved how it gave Colleen and Storm a chance to connect as adults and remember how close they were once upon a time.
Although the fourth in a series, I feel like this one is easily a stand alone story. We have gotten to know Colleen a bit, especially her past and how she treated others, which probably helps readers understand better the person she is today. But I think it also works if you are getting to know the new her through Storm's perspective. Winter does a great job of throwing Storm and Colleen together, forcing them to have to address their own issues as well as their thoughts about each other. The high stress, intimate time together doesn't give them much chance to hide from each other. Or themselves.
**Review given honestly and freely after receipt of a reader copy. This opinion is completely my own and was not influenced in any way.**
In this entertaining, feel-good read, the main characters were both very sympathetic and appealing. Their goals were worthy and sincere. Their unhappy past haunts them despite a stubborn attraction that will not disappear, creating a strong conflict. It felt just a bit too perfect when they both ended up contestants on the show, eyes on the big prize. I found myself rooting for them both but also a bit short of fully believing the situation. Otherwise Winner Takes All is a sweet and enjoyable tale full of small town ambiance. It is a stand alone book though part of an ongoing series linked by related characters resident in the town. Gaye Morgan-Walton “AZGaye” Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance and More Full Review @ Coffee Time Romance & More
This is a tricky one to rate and review. There are parts of it that where great, and different to a lot of the sweet reads I've been reading lately. The setting plays a big part in that - it's very Amazing Race, but as individuals. That was fun.
But I also just really struggled to connect to the characters...which is so strange as both were developed and grew during the course of the book. I suppose it's because a lot of the interactions and motivations each attributed to the other was in miscommunication central. And just the utter blindness to how they real feel about each other -_- I did enjoy the nicely wrapped up ending - it's always nice to see a bit of the happily ever after.
I liked that the author used an adventure reality show as a premise for Colleen and Storm's story. It made the story fun and thrilling in anticipation of who was going to win the big price. Both Storm and Collen have compelling reasons to want the money and I was routing for both. Colleen raising funds to build a retreat resort for veterans suffering from PTSD. She joins the contest in the hopes of winning the 1 million so she can realize her dream but doesn't count on her mixed feelings for Storm, a boy she helped bully as a kid. Storm resents Colleen for using his crush on her to torment him but once the race is on he discovers he never stopped loving her. I enjoyed reading their banter and seeing their feelings turn from hate to love. I still felt Storm went from totally hating Colleen to loving her a bit too abruptly. We could have benefited from more gradual scenes. Even so it was an enjoyable, clean romance. Thank you Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is my first book by the author. It is a unique story between Storm and his high school tormenter and hometown riches girl Liberty. They meet again both grown-ups both changed especially Liberty who deeply regrets her behavior from the past but Storm is still full of a grudge. They both have big dreams but in a need of money and they both applay to a reality show. It was a lovely written story I just didn't get whole reality because the cameras were not 24/7 on the contesters. Both Storm and Liberty were great characters especially Liberty and we see how big was her heart at the end. Their HEA is very heartwarming. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly