Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Most men can’t handle Hazel. But her best friend Josh isn’t most men. Don’t miss New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren’s new novel about two people who are definitely not dating…no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren is the best contemporary fiction novel I have read in a long time. At first, looking at the cover, I thought it was be okay. But it proved me wrong on so many levels. The novel was out of this world good. Stunning, engaging, heartfelt, and well-written…It was super easy to get lost within Hazel’s and Josh’s world. Both were so interesting, that I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know more about both of them. Hazel is the typical ordinary girl who felt like a loser due to her lack of trouble. She is always having some kind of embarrassing thing happen to her. I felt a deep connection to Hazel. She’s full of life. Funny, real, and entertaining to be around…while Josh was kind, clever, and charming. Two completely opposite people coming together in unexpected ways. I loved following their story. Overall, I would recommend it to readers worldwide.

Review: Dancing with the Sandman by L.T. Garvin

Dancing with the Sandman

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The Sandman cometh dancing to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll, blasting the turmoil of the Sixties. And where are you? West Texas, of course. Billie Jo Dunstan confronts her past, traveling back to the 1960s through a decade of turbulence and swirling color memories, contemplating life growing up in rural Texas. Tragedy and comedy come alive, preserving the past and a portion of small town life that will survive beyond super highways and the ratcheting progress of time.
***
Garvin’s (And They Came, 2017, etc.) latest novel offers a reflection of one girl’s coming-of-age in small-town Texas in the 1960s. … Garvin is at her best when offering these cheeky nods to the past, never getting bogged down in nostalgia.

A winning narrator enlivens a charming tale of a town facing modernity.–Kirkus Reviews

Rating: 4-stars

Review: 

Dancing with the Sandman by L.T. Garvin is about a rural town losing its history due to the world. The writing was entertaining to follow and easy to get lost within… Places are always changing yet the same people are still there. The writer gives a deeper look into the protagonist’s past and present life. The pages are fill with humor, memories, and life. It was like watching a movie through Billie Jo’s eyes. Her intake on the past and present made it enjoyable. Overall, this was a heartfelt women’s fictional piece that I do recommend to others. It was fun traveling to Texas with Billie Jo Dunstan.

Author Interview with Andrea Thome

House of Belonging by Andrea Thome

ULM: When did you first begin your writing career? 

AT: My mom was a published poet, and when she passed away a few years ago, I really started to feel that time was of the essence.  I knew that if I was going to embark on this second career of mine, I’d better get started. So I started writing my first book Walland in January of 2016, published it later that year, and never looked back.  My daughter tells her friends that I’m like Alexander Hamilton; “writing like I’m running out of time.”

 

ULM: What inspired you to the Hesse Creek Series? 

 

AT: I’m inspired by lots of things, but I think my two biggest inspirations are travel and music.  If I’ve visited a place that I feel connected to, you can bet it will end up in one of my stories.  Case in point: I spent five weeks in Southern California last summer, and loved a particular seaside community there so much, I decided to write that one of my characters had grown up there.  Music is a huge motivator for me too. It happens often that a lyric will hit me just the right way, sometimes while I’m driving, and I’m sent scrambling for my pen and paper to jot down the birth of a new plot line.

ULM: How has your career in broadcast journalism helped you with creative writing?

 

AT: I was a broadcast journalist for years, covering both sports and news, and it was a very interesting profession.  I wrote most of my own scripts in the newsroom and out in the field, and the tight deadlines pushed me to become a stronger writer very early on in my career.  That said, I absolutely prefer fiction writing. It’s much more fun to tell these kinds of stories, with the goal of making people feel good at the end of it all.  I’m not a fan of cliffhangers or depressing endings, because I spent so much time covering that stuff as a member of the media. I’m a big fan of a “happily-ever-after.”  There aren’t enough of them in the real world.

ULM: Describe the feeling when you became an award-winning author.

 

AT: I couldn’t believe it when I heard that my first novel Walland had won the National Indie Excellence Award for Romance.  It was surreal, but also a real validation of my work that was completely unexpected but not unwelcome.  My second book Seeds of Intention went on to win multiple awards, including a Ben Franklin Award and another NIEA award for Chick Lit.  I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for House of Belonging.  The third and final book in the Hesse Creek Series is a book that I’m so proud of.

 

ULM: How did you chose the Rocky Mountains as the backdrop to your last novel, House of Belonging?

 

AT: I personally feel most alive when I’m in the woods, hiking near a river or stream.  I really didn’t have any idea that my second book Seeds of Intention would take me to the Rockies when I started writing it, but as it often happens, the characters and their story made that decision for me.  House of Belonging picks up a year after Seeds ends, and it afforded me the luxury of really spending some literary time exploring Aspen, which is one of my favorite towns on earth. I simply go where the stories and characters lead me.

 

ULM: What was it like creating both Logan Matthews and Laina Ming? 

 

AT: In Laina Ming, I tried to create the kind of friend with personality traits that I value the most; Laina is strong, independent and funny.  She was a dream to write. Logan was a character that carried over from Seeds of Intention.  I didn’t see him coming, and when he showed up near the end of Seeds, I knew his story had to be mined a little more deeply, and I immediately knew there would be some intense chemistry between he and Laina.

ULM: Using only three words, how would you describe your style of story telling.

 

AT: Sexy, Classy, Inspiring

 

ULM: How did it feel when you finished writing the last novel, House of Belonging, for the Hesse Creek Series?

 

AT: Finishing that last chapter of House of Belonging was very emotional for me.  I was thrilled with how it all came together in the end, but sad to say goodbye to these characters who had grown to feel like members of my own family.  That said, I’m ready to move on to create something new. I hope my readers will stay on board.

 

ULM: Where can readers find both you and your work online?

 

Readers can find me all over social media, (links below,) and I also have a personal website with lots more information.

http://www.andreathome.com

http://www.facebook.com/andreathomeauthor

http://www.twitter.com/andreathome

http://www.instagram.com/andreathomeauthor

ULM: What other works are you planning to complete, if any?

 

AT: I’m working on the first book in a brand-new series about three brothers, which will primarily be set in the Pacific Northwest.  (At least that’s the plan for now…who knows where my imagination will take me?)

 

ULM: What is your advice to aspiring writers?

 

AT: Be prepared to invest time and a lot of effort.  It might take you a few books to get some traction, unless you’re a leprechaun or you’re in the right place at the right time.  Keep doing it because you love to write. Soak up every moment of the joy that it brings you. Because the writing is the easy part.  There is so much more to building a career as an author.

You should make it your business to learn how to be social media savvy, and be prepared to post interesting and thoughtful things across all platforms daily.  Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Pinterest. And don’t forget about managing a website!

 

Authors should also find an excellent literary publicist to help guide the way, if budgets allow.  I’ve been so lucky to have the best people helping to show me the way.

 

It doesn’t hurt to invest in some fun book-related swag to send out to the incredibly generous bloggers and media that go out of their way to help spread the word about you and your work. Book-loving people are generous.  They want to help you. Make sure to thank them at every opportunity.

 

And be sure to hit the gym.  You’ll be carrying boxes of books in and out of events, particularly if you’re an indie author.  My arms have never looked better. ☺

Review: On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman

On Turpentine Lane

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It’s a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancé is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state.) And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he’s Chagall. When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence . . .

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman is a romantic comedy for 30-year-olds. Faith is engaged to a man named Stuart. Stuart appeared to be nothing more than a douchebag as the cool character, Nick said. I had to agree. Honestly, I could not fathom why Faith allowed her fiance, Stuart, to travel alone with her credit card/card number. He never tried to contact her. The few times he did, it was like hi and bye. I felt no romance from him to Faith. Faith was just as her name suggested. She was faithful to her fiance. Stuart made me hate him with every page. Faith for some reason stuck with Stuart longer than I would have liked. However, she had to find herself, juggle her dysfunctional family, and a friendship that turned into more. Nick is the best character in this read. He was likable from the beginning to end. Overall, the plot was quirky, entertaining, but very slow.

Review: Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn

Miramar Bay (Miramar Bay #1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

In the tender, heartwarming tradition of Nicholas Sparks, this compelling novel of two strangers in a small coastal town marks a romantic tour de force for internationally bestselling author Davis Bunn.

He had not come all this way just to break another woman’s heart.

When Connor Larkin boards a late night bus in downtown LA, he’s not sure where he’s going or for what he’s looking. Putting his acting career and his fiancee on hold, he’s searching for something he can’t define, a part of himself he lost on the road to success. Once he dreamed of being a singer in the classic style of Sinatra and Bennett. But his lean good looks soon landed him in movies as the sexy bad guy and in the arms of a famous young heiress. Now, with his wedding day approaching, Connor finds himself stepping into the sleepy seaside town of Miramar Bay where one remarkable woman inspires him to rethink all of his choices.

She needed to know his secrets, and to see if he’d tell her the truth.

Sylvie Cassick is nothing like the pretentious starlets back in Hollywood. The daughter of a nomadic painter, she’s had to work hard for everything unlike Connor’s fiancee. When Connor hears familiar music drifting out of Sylvie’s restaurant, he feels as if he’s finally come home. Sylvie isn’t sure what to think when this impossibly handsome stranger applies for a waiter’s job. Yet once he serenades her customers and slowly works his way into her heart she realizes there’s more to him than he’s letting on. And Connor realizes he’s found his destiny.

But as the outside world encroaches, threatening their fragile bond, Connor will have to risk losing everything to gain the life he longs for, and be the man Sylvie deserves.

Filled with bittersweet longing, Miramar Bay is an unforgettable journey through doubt and desire to the truth that can be discovered along the road less taken.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Miramar Bay by Davis Bunn is similar to novels by Debbie Macomber, Sheila Roberts and Sherryl Woods. It was about a woman wanting to spend time with her father and own a restaurant without the debt. She also wanted to know what it felt like to have a man love her. I could totally relate to the last one. Then, there was Connor. He’s a man on a mission. His life is missing something and he doesn’t stumble across it until he meets, Sylvie. Sylvie is a strong ordinary woman working her butt off to live. Unlike, Connor and his former love. Two opposites found each other making something beautiful. The plot was engaging but felt too slow for me. Otherwise, it’s a great contemporary tale.

Review: Last One Home by Debbie Macomber

Last One Home (New Beginnings #1)

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Growing up, Cassie Carter and her sisters, Karen and Nichole, were incredibly close — until one fateful event drove them apart. After high school, Cassie ran away from home to marry the wrong man, throwing away a college scholarship and breaking her parents’ hearts. To make matters worse, Cassie had always been their father’s favorite — a sentiment that weighed heavily on her sisters and made Cassie’s actions even harder to bear.

Now thirty-one, Cassie is back in Washington, living in Seattle with her daughter and hoping to leave her past behind. After ending a difficult marriage, Cassie is back on her own two feet, the pieces of her life slowly but surely coming together. Despite the strides Cassie’s made, she hasn’t been able to make peace with her sisters. Karen, the oldest, is a busy wife and mother, balancing her career with raising her two children. And Nichole, the youngest, is a stay-at-home mom whose husband indulges her every whim. Then one day, Cassie receives a letter from Karen, offering what Cassie thinks may be a chance to reconcile. And as Cassie opens herself up to new possibilities — making amends with her sisters, finding love once more — she realizes the power of compassion, and the promise of a fresh start.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Last One Home by Debbie Macomber is a story about forgiveness, moving forward, and new beginnings. Central themes were focused on family, love, and second chances. The tale was both sad and sweet. A young woman made some bad mistakes and learned how to move beyond them. Cassie is strong, independent, and smart. I liked her personality. She felt both lost and deserted by her family when they too, felt the same way about her. Loss, grief, and hope were shown here, too. Cassie and her family might have a chance at redeeming themselves and being a family again. Overall, this women’s fiction novel was great.

Review: Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz

Among the Red Stars

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz is a heart breaking tale. One of war, loss, and grief. But with that also comes hope, love, and strength. A young woman bravely goes into the air force knowing the risks. Her male friend is also fighting on the front lines. Danger, nightmares, and risks await them both. Their friendship never fades even as the war breaks out all around them. Hope keeps them both going.

Females are being allowed to fight in the war as pilots. Valka is one of them. She defies all the stereotypes that go against women during that time. Valka is brave, smart, and a good woman. I like her. Her personality makes this sad journey more enjoyable. I easily got lost within the pages. The relationship between both Valka and her male friend, Pasha, is heartfelt. Missing opportunities before the war, now have the chance to happen. But only if they both make it out alive. Overall, I would highly recommend this historical/women’s fiction novel to all.

 

Review: The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles

The Air You Breathe

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The story of an intense female friendship fueled by affection, envy and pride–and each woman’s fear that she would be nothing without the other.

Skinny, nine-year-old orphaned Dores is working in the kitchen of a sugar plantation in 1930s Brazil when in walks a girl who changes everything. Graça, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, is clever, well fed, pretty, and thrillingly ill behaved. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over shared mischief, and then, on a deeper level, over music.

One has a voice like a songbird; the other feels melodies in her soul and composes lyrics to match. Music will become their shared passion, the source of their partnership and their rivalry, and for each, the only way out of the life to which each was born. But only one of the two is destined to be a star. Their intimate, volatile bond will determine each of their fortunes–and haunt their memories.

Traveling from Brazil’s inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Lapa in Rio de Janeiro, from Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood back to the irresistible drumbeat of home, The Air You Breathe unfurls a moving portrait of a lifelong friendship–its unparalleled rewards and lasting losses–and considers what we owe to the relationships that shape our lives.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Air You Breathe by Frances de Pontes Peebles delivers a Brazilian historical tale that is rich in culture. It also features two women going against the present life to find something better for themselves. They go away from their community’s expectations and soar higher than they can dream. Music, slavery, and unwavering friendship make this an interesting read. Frances de Pontes Peebles captures the time periods perfectly. Readers, like myself, will travel back in time to World War II era. The writing style is unique and gives a clear voice to these Brazilian women. It is both sad and fun to explore.

Inside this book, I got to watch as two women went on to begin their own future. They quickly became best of friends with a talent in the music industry. This road leads to a roller-coaster of jealousy, love, and loss. Both need the other one for support. To them, it was like they couldn’t operate well, unless they were together. However, despite their need for each other, they also have this push and pull relationship. Each gave their support to the other one yet at times they were competitive and cruel. The Air You Breathe is an emotionally engaging story. It is easy to get swept into the characters’ lives. Overall, I recommend this women’s fiction novel to others.

 

Review: Maybe for You by Nicole McLaughlin

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooperon a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot?

Rating: 5-stars

Review: 

Maybe for You by Nicole McLaughlin is both sad and a happy journey. A young woman loses her parents, and then her fiance. Alex feels like she can never love anyone for fear of losing them. Yet she is falling in love with her best friend, Jake. Jake is known for not having relationships. But with Alex, it feels right. Being with her, Jake feels happy. He now has to prove to her that they’re made for each other. Happiness can exist once more. But the journey will be totally chaos.

Nicole McLaughlin’s book made me cry and laugh. The characters just have a way of pulling my heart into their life story. They swept me up into their beautiful chaos. Love, fear, and new beginnings…that’s what this book explored. Plans can be difficult. One path closes but another one opens. Alex is a strong yet determined woman to show that she can move forward. Losing a loved one is never easy; however, she held her own. Jake was the good man. Always being there for her, Jake made me swoon from page one. He is this irresistible man that every woman dreams about…overall, I highly recommend this romantic tale to all readers.

 

Review: Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Second Chance At Two Love Lane

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer, comes Second Chance at Two Love Lane, a fast-paced tale about the intoxicating effects of fame and what happens when a past romance is rekindled behind the silver screen.

Sometimes love is waiting in the second act…

In her professional career, Ella Mancini plays matchmaker at Two Love Lane but, in her personal life, she takes the stage at the Dock Street Theatre. Now she has a chance at a new role in a Hollywood movie that happens to be filming in Charleston—one that features a big-name actress, Samantha Drake. Long ago, Ella passed up a major audition while awaiting a marriage proposal. Not only didn’t she get the role; she never got the ring, either. Instead, her boyfriend Hank went on to become a huge film star…leaving her, and all her dreams, behind.

But now Hank’s back in Charleston, cast as the male lead in the same movie Ella’s in. In spite of the dramatic tension off-screen, he and Ella try to stay cool onset. But when their old feelings start to heat up—at the same time leading-lady Samantha tries to play cupid—all bets are off. How can Hank convince Ella, after all this time, that she’s the one he really wants to be with in real life—and that some happy, rom-com endings really can come true?

 

“Readers who enjoy works by Nora Roberts and Luanne Rice will want to give Kramer a try.”—Library Journal

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Second Chance at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer is a sweet heartfelt story of second chances. New beginnings await a young pair. Their future lies in their hands. I loved the father-daughter bond. It was engaging…and brought me a little closer to the main protagonist. I felt her passion for theater, as well as her love for her father. Ella is a woman who leaves people liking her. Her personality if warm. Determined and ready, Ella leaves to tackle a college career. She will be the first to get a degree in her family. I felt the happiness bloom inside of her. A young guy catches her attention early and it is from there that they have a connection. Love on the horizon…or is it? They proved they have the heat and attraction, but they need more if there is to be a future together. Overall, I loved the fiery banters and chemistry that was displayed on every page. Tugging at me heart, I will never forget this story.

 

Review: An Enlightening Quiche by Eva Pasco

An Enlightening Quiche

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Two headstrong women in their forties coming from different moral directions clash:

AUGUSTA BERGERON: Dysfunctional. Deceptive. Demure. More than meets the eye at face value, and stuck in a holding pattern, the town siren engages in reckless behavior she attributes to maternal abandonment, until she eggs-humes her mother’s quiche recipe.

LINDSAY METCALFE: Pedigreed. Privileged. Proper. Mourning the recent death of her mother, the historian-in-residence hailing from Boston, sets out to preserve the legacy of an impoverished mill, but gets more than she bargains for when taking a self-centered adolescent under her wing.

Their alternating first-person narratives relate how an heirloom quiche recipe and baking rivalry between two bosom buddies redress erroneous assumptions, misdeeds, unleashed secrets, and malicious intent—all of which wreak havoc, altering the lives of those affected from the fallout of a tragedy.

Rating: 4-stars

Review: 

An Enlightening Quiche by Eva Pasco is a contemporary fiction novel set for women everywhere. The drama of the two ladies inside is enough to keep readers, like myself, interested. A rivalry between bakers is fun to follow. The plot quickly escalates. It grew more intense with every page. There was a lot of depth added to this tale. This made it rich and more realistic. I found it quirky yet emotionally engaging to read. Each woman has something to add and take from this story. I love anything that digs into food, community, and secrets. The writer easily gave me the side of each protagonist. I could figure what each one was thinking. Their perspectives showed me how they might proceed with what was happening. It made it easier to follow their actions, and it made me feel like I was there witnessing it all. People can jump to conclusions all the time, but overcoming the obstacles and differences made this a good book. Overall, I would recommend it to other readers.

Review: Cooper’s Charm by Lori Foster

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

One summer, two sisters and a chance to start over…

Before the burglary that shattered her confidence, Phoenix Rose had a fiancé, a successful store and a busy, happy existence. After months spent adrift, she takes a job at the lakeside resort of Cooper’s Charm. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, friendly colleagues and a charismatic, widowed boss, Phoenix is slowly inching her way back into the world.

Visiting Cooper’s Charm to check up on her little sister, Ridley Rose impulsively agrees to fill in as housekeeper. Still reeling from an ego-bruising divorce, she finds satisfaction in a job well done—and in the attention of the resort’s handsome scuba instructor.

For Phoenix and Ridley, Cooper’s Charm is supposed to be merely temporary. But this detour may lead to the place they most need to be, where the future is as satisfying as it is surprising…

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Cooper’s Charm by Lori Foster is about second chances. Friendships, fresh starts, and a bit of romance can be found on the pages. The story is sweet, steady-sometimes slow, and engaging. I felt it tug my heart in some places. Other spots in the book dragged a little. It felt like there were more details than was needed. The main female character seemed sad and distant. Her new job was just the thing to stir up her life. It like she came back to the living. Cooper, her boss, was real likable. He had this way of dragging me further into the plot. Charming, hard-working, and kind, Cooper was a great character to follow. Overall, it was a good story about letting go of the past and moving forward.

 

Review: House of Belonging by Andrea Thome

House of Belonging (Hesse Creek #3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: 

Who can we count on? The family we’re born into, or the one we create for ourselves?

Renowned chef Laina Ming walked away from the culinary spotlight and an unhealthy relationship—one that still haunts her a year later. She’s trying to start fresh in the Rocky Mountains, opening a concept restaurant on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, where she hopes she’ll be able to express her passion for food and bury her heartache.

Horse rancher Logan Matthews moved to Aspen to be near his sister and her husband, grateful for his newfound family. Since a chance meeting with Laina the previous summer, Logan’s been enchanted. But she doesn’t want anything to do with him—which makes her all the more appealing.

Despite Laina’s efforts to protect her heart, Logan has been on her mind, too—and he has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places. Can they learn to trust one another and finally find the sense of belonging they’ve both been searching for?

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

House of Belonging by Andrea Thome is so much more than it appears. I thought it was about a woman or women overcoming an obstacle and moving forward. Yes, it was about that. But it had more depth and emotion than I knew. The journey that each character went through to get to where they ended up was heartfelt. I could not be happier. They were so realistic. I felt as if I lived right beside them for years. Sad, funny, and charming-Andrea Thome hooked me. I couldn’t stop reading. One chapter turned into several and then I was finishing the whole book. Love, new beginnings, and a promising future were shown here. I enjoyed it. Overall, I would recommend this inspirational and heart warming tale to fans of Hallmark, Debbie Macomber, and Susan Mallery.

 

Review: Cottage by the Sea by Debbie Macomber

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A seaside town helps one young woman rediscover hope and healing in a brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

After tragedy strikes, Annie moves in to the summer cottage where her family vacationed when she was a child. Soon Annie finds herself making new friends, even developing a romance with a quiet and mysterious painter. And as she becomes part of the community, Annie learns that the surest way to heal is by making a difference in the lives of those around her.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Debbie Macomber has created a perfect read in, Cottage by the Sea. It was heart lifting, inspiring, and emotionally charged. Anyone who wanted a sweet, yet clean romance will find it here. I love how the writer engaged me into her character’s roles and lives. Their troubles come tumbling after just like the waves that crashed the beach shore. Sometimes they just needed to embrace their struggles and fears, before they could move forward. Love, peace, and healing are included as themes for this book. The choice between a successful career and a caring place to call home are a temptation. Annie chose one. Cottage by the Sea was entertaining. The characters were realistic. I felt like I have known them for years. This story felt like Hallmark channel movie. I fell in love. Overall, I would recommend this title to all readers.

Review: Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward, or face an unknown future without him.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Where Hope Begins by Catherine West is one of the most heart wrenching tales ever. I was quickly absorbing this novel and the characters were like real people to me. Their struggles, sadness, hope, and disappointment scratched at my heart. Leaving behind tiny marks. Love is so powerful it can destroy everything the main character believes in or gives her the strength to find her way through it all. It appeared that God left the woman featured in this story. Yet as I dug further, that became less true. Sometimes our paths get distorted and lost along the way. Then, they become clear again. But until we can see clearly, patience and hope is required.

Savannah lost her husband of twenty years due to common issues that most couples face. Loss, grief, and broken marriages. But what they had before their loss and grief was love for each other. And faith in God. However, that all came crashing down when they suffered and lost their way. Savannah lost her faith when her husband broke her heart. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she stumbled like a lost soul in a desert storm. Then, hope came in the form of Brock and his daughter. Together they help Savannah heal and find the strength and peace in her life once more. Overall, I loved this story. It felt realistic and was engaging from the beginning. It was easy to relate and connect with all the characters. In the end, I recommend this stunning emotional journey to all readers.

Review: The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  •  FEATURING AN EXCLUSIVE NEW CHAPTER

GoodReads Choice Awards Semifinalist 

“Moving . . . a plot that surprises and devastates.”—New York Times Book Review

“A masterful epic.”—People magazine

“Mesmerizing . . . The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.”—USA Today

Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is an outstanding tale. One that brings me back to the past during the start of WWII. The lives that were lost, held captive, and tortured during this time brings back an unforgettable sadness. Families torn apart and gone…with only their memories living on…

I am a huge historical buff especially for WWII. Hitler is by far one of the worst devils ever presented to this world. How it went on for so long…still bugs me. The lives of the characters is amazing. The Holocaust and the German support of Hitler are explored on these pages.

Three women who are strong, determined, and battling their future head on…I instantly was taken with each of them. Their stories were so real. It was like I was living through each one of them. Brilliant story telling on Jessica Shattuck’s part. Her book carries a lot of history as well as entertainment. Themes of survival, hope, and love are found in this novel. I highly recommend it to all readers.

Review: A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson

A Lady's Guide to Selling Out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A brilliant young woman navigates a tricky twenty-first-century career—and the trickier question of who she wants to be—in this savagely wise debut novel in the tradition of The Devil Wears Prada. 

Casey Pendergast is losing her way. Once a book-loving English major, Casey lands a job at a top ad agency that highly values her ability to tell a good story. Her best friend thinks she’s a sellout, but Casey tells herself that she’s just paying the bills—and she can’t help that she has champagne taste.

When her hard-to-please boss assigns her to a top-secret campaign that pairs literary authors with corporations hungry for upmarket cachet, Casey is both excited and skeptical. But as she crisscrosses America, wooing her former idols, she’s shocked at how quickly they compromise their integrity: A short-story writer leaves academia to craft campaigns for a plus-size clothing chain, a reclusive nature writer signs away her life’s work to a manufacturer of granola bars.

When she falls in love with one of her authors, Casey can no longer ignore her own nagging doubts about the human cost of her success. By the time the year’s biggest book festival rolls around in Las Vegas, it will take every ounce of Casey’s moxie to undo the damage—and, hopefully, save her own soul.

Told in an unforgettable voice, with razor-sharp observations about everything from feminism to pop culture to social media, A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is the story of a young woman untangling the contradictions of our era and trying to escape the rat race—by any means necessary.

Rating: 3.5-stars

Review:

A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out by Sally Franson has some promising parts to its story. However, other parts just fell flat. I loved the book cover. It was pretty to the eye. The book blurb also caught my attention made me think, OMG-This book is it!  But the main character was just going through the motions without any effort on her part. It appeared she put effort into not being the same kind of sell out yet she was just that.

Casey is a main protagonist that made me want to like her. However, I was only half-way liking her. There were her attempts to be good that made her likable. She just didn’t accomplish it on any scale. Casey is supposed to be the hero…

Anything with books or about writing in fiction has caught my full interest. This tale had the ingredients but they weren’t used right. I just did not feel emotionally attached at all to Casey. Yes, I loved how she loved books etc…and her romantic relationship with the Ben was the best part of this novel. Overall, it was good but could have been better.

 

 

Review: Goodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton

Synopsis:

Named after her beloved tabby, Deputy Donut, Emily Westhill’s donut shop in small-town Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, is doing so well, she’s expanding into catering weddings. But a killer is about to crash the reception . . .

Normally, Emily’s eyes tend to glaze over when prospective brides go on about their wedding plans. But when the owner of the clothing shop, Dressed to Kill, asks Emily to design a donut wall for her reception, she’s immediately sweet on the idea. With the help of her father-in-law and business partner–the former police chief of Fallingbrook–she hangs the treats from dowels on the wall so guests can help themselves.

But that night, when the groom ends up on the floor with signs of poisoning, Emily suspects someone has tampered with her treats. When the groom dies, there’s no way to sugarcoat it: she’s got a murder on her hands. Despite a list of suspects as long as the guest list, Emily vows to find out who created the killer confection to save her shop’s reputation and keep the bride out of handcuffs. She’ll have to move fast . . . before the poisoner takes a powder.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Goodbye Cruller World by Ginger Bolton is one of the best cozy murder mysteries I have read lately. The characters are so real. The cast of characters are funny, charming, and deadly if crossed. Themes of family, love, and food can be found inside this book. Ginger Bolton created an a very entertaining piece of fiction.

The main question was how far does our love push us and how far is too, far? An older sister takes raising her younger sister way too seriously…Jenna was right in saying, that her older sister, Suzanne, is smothering her. When one cannot be allowed to marry a man whether he was decent or not, is not up to anyone but the bride. Yet things do not go as planned and get sticky pretty fast.

Emily is the main protagonist. She owns a bakery with her father-in-law. Emily lost her husband and her interest in weddings isn’t high. But then, she was asked to do a baking thing, and Emily is all in…until the groom is found dead eating one of her creations. Who poisoned him and why? Emily will work hard to find who the killer is to save her business and her friend aka the bride.

Another lovable character is Brent. Brent is a police officer who is deeply interested in Emily. Emily likes Brent, too. Plus, her feline cat, Dep, likes him as well. Brent ran miles just to get to a deadly scene where Emily is involved. The man deserved happiness and medals in my book. His personality is fun.

Overall, I would highly recommend Goodbye Cruller World to all readers. I got swept up immediately. The danger made it fast-paced. Ginger Bolton’s writing was engaging to follow. I truly loved her characters and how the scenes played out in the end. It was amazing. Never a boring moment and plenty of action.

Review: Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Lee Hollis begins a delightful new series in which Poppy Harmon and her friends find that life after retirement can be much busier—and deadlier—than any of them ever anticipated . . .

When Poppy goes from complacent retiree to penniless widow in a matter of weeks, the idea of spending her golden years as the biggest charity case in Palm Springs renders her speechless. With no real skills and nothing left to lose, Poppy uses her obsession with true crime shows to start a career as a private eye . . .

But after opening the Desert Flowers Detective Agency with help from her two best friends, Violet and Iris, Poppy realizes that age brings wisdom, not business—until she convinces her daughter’s handsome boyfriend, Matt, to pose as the face of the agency. It’s not long before Matt’s irresistible act snags a client desperate to retrieve priceless jewelry burglarized from an aging actress at the Palm Leaf Retirement Village. Or before Poppy stumbles upon the bloodied body of the victim’s arch rival . . .

In a flash, Poppy’s innocent detective gig is upstaged by a dangerous murder investigation riddled with slimy suspects and unspeakable scandal. As she and her team uncover the truth, Poppy must confront the secrets about her late husband’s past and swiftly catch a killer lurking around the retirement community—even if it means turning her world upside down all over again. 

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Poppy Harmon Investigates by Lee Hollis is an interesting twist to a new mystery series. It’s similar to Miss Fisher and Murder She Wrote. I love murder mysteries with a strong woman sleuth. That’s exactly what I found here. Poppy Harmon is the new detective lady in town and she’s definitely worth following in this book.

The book cover led me thinking that Poppy Harmon was in her tense ties when she is in fact, in her 60’s. I can picture Poppy dressing like the woman pictured on the cover except for the heels…considering her age.

Poppy Harmon is a retired actress left with no money. She then works on finding an income and the choice she makes will make readers laugh out loud. Poppy decided to run her own detective agency with a little help from friends and her daughter’s boyfriend. Like most women sleuth just beginning their epic journey, Poppy lands herself in trouble. Mayhem, murder, and humor are displayed across these entertaining pages.

Overall, I would recommend this new series to all readers. There is plenty of action, intrigue, and peril moments that adds to the suspense of the plot. Fast-paced with exciting characters, Lee Hollis sucked me into her world of fiction. 

 

Review: Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From Barbara Delinsky, the New York Times bestselling author of Blueprints and Sweet Salt Air, a brand-new novel about a woman in hiding finding the courage to face the world again.

Mackenzie Cooper took her eyes off the road for just a moment but the resulting collision was enough to rob her not only of her beloved daughter but ultimately of her marriage, family, and friends—and thanks to the nonstop media coverage, even her privacy. Now she lives in Vermont under the name Maggie Reid, in a small house with her cats and dog. She’s thankful for the new friends she’s made—though she can’t risk telling them too much. And she takes satisfaction in working as a makeup artist at the luxurious local spa, helping clients hide the visible outward signs of their weariness, illnesses, and injuries. Covering up scars is a skill she has mastered.

Her only goal is to stay under the radar and make it through her remaining probation. But she isn’t the only one in this peaceful town with secrets. When a friend’s teenage son is thrust into the national spotlight, accused of hacking a powerful man’s Twitter account, Maggie is torn between pulling away and protecting herself—or stepping into the glare to be at their side. As the stunning truth behind their case is slowly revealed, Maggie’s own carefully constructed story begins to unravel as well. She knows all too well that what we need from each other in this difficult world is comfort. But to provide it, sometimes we need to travel far outside our comfort zones.

From a multimillion-selling master of women’s fiction, Before and Again is a story of the relationships we find ourselves in—mothers and daughters, spouses and siblings, true companions and fair-weather friends—and what kind of sacrifices we are or aren’t willing to make to sustain them through good times and bad.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Before and Again by Barbara Delinsky is a fast paced plot. The story is about a family’s life that gets turned upside down when they loose their only daughter. A five-year-old girl, dead on impact of another car hitting them. The mother was driving the car. Since then, life has beennothing but hell for the parents. A divorce, separation, guilt, shame, and grief immediately consumed me. I felt an instant sympathy for the family, especially the mother. It was intense. Sad, horrifying, and just one big emotionally charged journey. What started out as a sad and dark road, soon proved to hold some hope and light for this couple. I loved how realistic and how I was shown what was happening.

The situations were not easy but I could easily see all of this happening in real life. It’s difficult to lose a loved one, especially one that was so young and in the mother’s care at the time…the physical and emotional trauma would be hard. Yet Barbara Delinsky showed that there is always a light at the end of the long dark tunnel. We may lose ourselves but not all is lost. There is hope for a future…overall, I would recommend this to readers everywhere.

 

Review: The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Lenoroa Meriel

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Heartbreak and transformation in the beauty of a Ukrainian village

For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river.

All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.

Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?

Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.

“A strange and beautiful novel” – Esther Freud, author of Mr Mac and Me, Hideous Kinky, Peeless Flats

“Readers looking for a classic tale of love and loss will be rewarded with an intoxicating world” – Kirkus Reviews

Rating: 3.5-stars

Review:

The Woman Behind the Waterfall by Leonora Meriel is a deep emotional tale. One that reads like poetry. It was a bit too slow and stretched out for my tastes when it comes to the pacing. However, the story presented was interesting. Reading this novel, made me sad. It felt like everything was crashing down around the mother and daughter. The mother made some wrong choices and feels regret. Her daughter is a ray of sunshine and innocence. Their love for each other is all they have. This book was different than what I usually read. Not exactly what I expected but unique. Overall, those looking for an emotional yet strong theme on family may love reading this.

Review: Crime & Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After splurging to buy her childhood home in the Catskills, recently widowed Mikki Lincoln emerges from retirement as a freelance editor. With her ability to spot details that others fail to see, it’s not long before Mikki earns clients–and realizes that the village of Lenape Hollow isn’t the thriving tourist destination it was decades ago. Not with a murderer on the loose . . .

When perky novice writer Tiffany Scott knocks at her door holding a towering manuscript, Mikki expects another debut novel plagued by typos and sloppy prose. Instead, she finds a murder mystery ripped from the headlines of Lenape Hollow’s not-too-distant past. The opening scene is a graphic page-turner, but it sends a real chill down Mikki’s spine after the young author turns up dead just like the victim in her story . . .

Mikki refuses to believe that Tiffany’s death was accidental, and suspicions of foul play solidify as she uncovers a strange inconsistency in the manuscript and a possible motive in the notes. Then there’s Tiffany’s grandmother and husband, who aren’t exactly on friendly terms over the local area’s planned rejuvenation efforts . . .

Unable to convince police that they are focused on the wrong suspect, Mikki must rely on her keen eyes to catch the truth hidden in Lenape Hollow. As she gets closer to cracking the case, only one person takes Mikki’s investigation seriously–the cunning killer who will do anything to make this chapter of her life come to a very abrupt ending . . .

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Crime & Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett caught my attention with just the title alone. I was immediately drawn into what the plot may have held. Once I started reading, I was even more curious. The book quickly introduced me to the main protagonist. Mikki Lincoln is an older widowed woman who moves back to her family home. A home that needs major improvements such as updated plumbing for modern use. Her money is fading…and then, she begins work as a freelance editor. That’s when the story really starts. A young client approached her with a new book. One that holds more history than fiction. But what Mikki will soon find out is that it may contain the details she needs to solve a current murder investigation and an older one.

Kaitlyn Dunnet’s writing was well-done. I could visualize the the older woman as she worked to solve the crime committed. Her home was easy to see as well. The plot spun fast once the freelance editor finally dug into her client’s novel…after that, I was swept into a journey filled with danger, suspense, and chaos. It was engaging to read. I liked Mikki. Yes, she was older than a I would have liked for her character in this type of story, but she made it work. The trouble that came with her client’s death was fun to follow. Overall, I would recommend this title to readers everywhere.

Review: Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler’s Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue—the twelfth novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s New York Times bestselling “series that seems to get better with each entry” (Wall Street Journal).

It’s early 1938, and Maisie Dobbs is back in England. On a fine yet chilly morning, as she walks towards Fitzroy Square—a place of many memories—she is intercepted by Brian Huntley and Robert MacFarlane of the Secret Service. The German government has agreed to release a British subject from prison, but only if he is handed over to a family member. Because the man’s wife is bedridden and his daughter has been killed in an accident, the Secret Service wants Maisie—who bears a striking resemblance to the daughter—to retrieve the man from Dachau, on the outskirts of Munich.

The British government is not alone in its interest in Maisie’s travel plans. Her nemesis—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death—has learned of her journey, and is also desperate for her help.

Traveling into the heart of Nazi Germany, Maisie encounters unexpected dangers—and finds herself questioning whether it’s time to return to the work she loved. But the Secret Service may have other ideas. . . .

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear is a historical novel that took me back to Nazi Germany. It would have been more beneficial to me, if I had read the previous books in this series. I would have loved getting to watch the main protagonist, Maisie Dobbs grow and work her way through each plot. This journey had its filling of danger, intrigue, and mystery. The focus was on the secret service and their recapturing of a war prisoner from Germany. This is where famous Maisie Dobbs came into the factor. She is sent to retrieve that prisoner being released from Germany.

Maisie Dobbs has worked as a detective and nurse. Her knowledge is great. She has been avoiding her family. Loss, grief, and moving forward are just a few of the things Maisie went through in this story. I was able to connect with the character. She was strong, determined, and restless mostly. Always needing something to preoccupy herself.

I enjoyed the historical time period and how it was captured for my entertainment. I felt like I did get sent back into time. However, the government spies and handling was strange. It didn’t feel like it was good representation of how they operated. But still, this was a work of fiction, and thus, it could be anyway the writer wanted it. The gossip and other minor characters were fun to follow. Priscilla is an interesting lady. I really liked her. She made me laugh and feel like I was right there the whole time. Journey to Munich offered action, adventure, and suspense. I was happy with the plot. It wasn’t fast-paced but it was steady enough that I did not give up on it. There were plenty of risk that made reading this novel worth it. Overall, I recommend it to readers everywhere.

 

 

 

Review: Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family’s enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn’t know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt’s beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original “turtle lady,” Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe is a great read featuring family, relationships, commitment, and love. A family torn by traditions and new beginnings is found inside these pages. A daughter who went to college, earned her degree, and is home looking for a job. Her father is pushing her to work for him. Her brother is forced to go to the same college as his dad and to work for the family business. This caused a tidal wave that is felt by the whole family. The mother is wanting her daughter to uphold the same principles she holds for the family. Then, there’s an aunt who lost her love, adopted a baby, and is tackling on a new relationship. In the background, are the sea turtles that come back every 2-3 years to build a nest and lay new eggs. I loved how an older sea turtle came back to the beach and was found to have survived a shark atrack. The aunt in the family is finally returning back home to her beach house to stay. Her niece helps with babysitting while finding her own way in life. The plot was engaging, realistic, and steady. There was action, romance, and a destructive family force to be dealt with…but it was dragged out a little too much for me. Choices are presented and will be made. Where the characters and future of the sea turtles lie, is a journey for readers to find out…overall, it was a good story.

Review: I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.

Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?

The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.

Rating: 3-stars

Review:

I’ll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable sounded like an interesting story according to the plot summary. Yet, it was too dragged out and too slow for my taste. The mystery of who was the young woman’s father and when she finds out was just stretched out too much. I wanted there to be more action and more of an emotional journey. Sure, I was able to understand the protagonist’s frustration and determination to find answers. But I really could not connec with her. The ending made me connect to her finally but it was still was not the best.

The plot was heartfelt, sad, and sent me traveling to the past. Secrets and mystery combined to create a story of love, hope, and peace. Women who loss loved ones  are connected by blood. Figuring out the real father of a young proved harder than one thought. There was a promising future for this tale but it fell flat to me. I had to push myself to keep reading it.

Review: Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Becoming the Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden is an awe inspiring tale of the bond between two sisters. Being an older sister, I can relate to these sisters. My baby sister has moved away to pursue her dreams, and I felt like we drifted apart. But we still love each other and are there when we need each other. The same can be shown in this book with the Talbot sisters. Their aunt passes away and that starts their reunion in becoming closer. From there their journeys become messy, complicated, and scary. But they now, have each other in their lives again and from there they learn and help each other. I loved the protrayal of the sister bonding moments, the emotional rollercoaster each one took, and the sacrifices they made. It was a steady piece of fiction. The plot was heartfelt and realistic. Overall, I recommend it to readers.

Review: Louisiana Catch by Sweta Vikram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A grieving daughter and abuse survivor must summon the courage to run a feminist conference, trust a man she meets over the Internet, and escape a catfishing stalker to find her power.
Ahana, a wealthy thirty-three-year-old New Delhi woman, flees the pain of her mother’s death, and her dark past, by accepting a huge project in New Orleans, where she’ll coordinate an annual conference to raise awareness of violence against women. Her half-Indian, half-Irish colleague and public relations guru, Rohan Brady, who helps Ahana develop her online presence, offends her prim sensibilities with his raunchy humor. She is convinced that he’s a womanizer.

Meanwhile, she seeks relief from her pain in an online support group, where she makes a good friend: the mercurial Jay Dubois, who is also grieving the loss of his mother. Louisiana Catch is an emotionally immersive novel about identity, shame, and who we project ourselves to be in the world. It’s a book about Ahana’s unreliable instincts and her ongoing battle to determine whom to place her trust in as she, Rohan, and Jay shed layers of their identities.

Louisiana Catch is a triumph. In Ahana, Sweta Vikram has created an unforgettable character, strong, wise, and deeply human, who’ll inspire a new generation struggling to come to terms with their identity in a world of blurring identities.” –KARAN BAJAJ, New York Times bestselling author, The Yoga of Max’s Discontent

“In Louisiana Catch, Sweta Vikram brings life to the complex human rights issue of violence against women. Through one woman’s journey to make sense of her past and ultimately heal, Vikram shows us that yoga can reconnect us to ourselves, and that by empowering others, we transform our own lives.” –ZOE LEPAGE, Founder, Exhale to Inhale

Louisiana Catch perfectly captures what it means to be human in a digital world, where support groups meet online, love interests flirt on Twitter, and people get confused with personas. Equal parts tender and playful, moving and hopeful, Vikram’s prose connects us with timeless truths about grief and redemption in a satisfyingly modern way.” –STEPHANIE PATERIK, Managing Editor, Adweek

Learn more at http://www.SwetaVikram.com
From Modern History Press, http://www.ModernHistoryPress.com

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Louisiana Catch by Sweta Vikram is like a drug. It pulls you into its depth and hooks you inside of its journey. This was one epic path that the writer lead me on…I was intrigued. A woman, Ahana, finds herself in one of the most complicated and dangerous situations a woman should never be found in, yet Ahana does. She lost her mother and she soon becomes a victim to her husband’s brutal sexual torment.

Rape is ongoing issue women worldwide still face. This issue should be solved yet so many fall victim. Some never survive that form of destruction, both physically and emotionally. I found myself crying for Ahana. Her losses are so great and many. People she should be able to trust turn out to be the worst. I felt the fear, the risks, and the danger as the plot carries me from beginning to end. Ahana is a strong female protagonist. She may loose her way occasionally but eventually finds it. No one is perfect. Life is messy.

Sweta Vikram captures my attention with the devasting events and the suspense of what will come from it. I felt sympathy and a connection instantly to Ahana. I really liked her. Her colleague, Rohan, is another great character. He was there helping her. Or trying to help her when she was in a bad situation. From the beginning to end of her journey, Rohan supports Ahana. Ahana at times made me want to shake her, for her carelessness but she has grown into a wonderful woman at the end of her journey. This is one unforgettable character that will forever live in the minds of readers like me and countless others. There are so many things that drag readers into Ayana’s sad yet powerful story. Overall, I would recommend this novel to all women including those who have been abused. It shows that even though the world is a dark place, there too, is a light that will eventually shine bright.

Review: Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have decided to put life’s disappointments behind them. At least in theory. Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, while Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget the longing for motherhood set deep in her heart. But when Betsy’s free-spirited younger sister Jenna drops her young daughters off at the farm to attend a two-week art retreat in Florida, Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As those two weeks stretch much farther into the hot Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world and revel in a home that’s suddenly filled with the sound of laughter and life. Meanwhile, record heat promises to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She’d once been free to travel and pursue a career in photography, but all that changed with the appearance of two pink lines on a plastic stick and a boyfriend who hit the road. At Halcyon art retreat, she finally has the time and energy to focus on her photography. As the summer continues, she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home with her two children.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims her steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that could affect both her and her children’s futures, and Betsy and Ty find themselves protecting their beloved farm as well as their own hearts.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Hurricane Season by Lauren K. Denton is a fascinating women’s fiction piece. Here, are two sisters with different lives. One wants children the other feels pulled down by her children. As one sister and her husband deal with two girls in their home, a season of storms brews ahead. This season of storms is both a physical and emotional journey. Both sister are experiencing storms in their personal lives as well as the physical ones threatening their lives. I found interesting. The story was realistic and heartfelt. I felt sorry for the sister and her husband who were trying to have children. The characters and their struggles tugged at my heartstrings. Overall, I recommend this beautiful engaging tale to all readers.

Review: The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Weekenders comes a delightful new novel about new love, old secrets, and the kind of friendship that transcends generations.

When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons attorney Brooke Trappnell to her 20,000 acre barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never actually met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter, but why enlist Brooke and not the prestigious Atlanta law firm she has used for years? Brooke travels to Shellhaven and meets the cagey Josephine, whose home is a crumbling pink mansion at the edge of the turquoise sea.

Over the course of a few meetings, Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, dark secrets, betrayal, and a long-unsolved murder. She is hiring Brooke for two reasons: first, to protect her island from those who would despoil her land, and second, to help her make amends with the heirs of the women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth, and Varina. To fulfill a dying woman’s wishes, Brooke must find Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met. But in doing so, Brooke unleashes the makings of a scandal that could make someone rich beyond their wildest dreams…or cause them to be in the crosshairs of a murderer….

The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best: a story shrouded in mystery, Spanish moss, verandah cocktails, 1940s dinner dances, love lost, and possibly…love found.

Praise for The Weekenders:

“This book has all the makings of a beach read…The perfect blend of drama, humor, intrigue, and just a touch of murder.” —Bustle

“Andrews has this ‘perfect beach read’ label down pat—and then some. The Weekenders is not just good, it is beyond good… Summer doesn’t truly begin without a Mary Kay Andrews book in your beach bag, so here is another winner and Top Pick just for you.” —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

“Andrews’ novels…are the epitome of relaxing yet involving summer reads, and her latest is no exception.” —Booklist

Rating: 3.5-stars

Review:

The High Tide Club by MaryKay Andrews is a good read. It goes back and forth a lot between the last and present moments. This switching sort of lost me on what was happening. I felt bad for the characters. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. Usually, I love the characters that I meet. Here, I felt sorry for them but didn’t really care that much. The thing she that happened in the past shouldn’t happen to any young girls. But it did. The story was sad, intense, and heartbreaking. Themes of friendship, loyalty, and consequences are found inside this book. A group of girls keep a secret and it costs them in the process. Now, years later, most of them are dead but their children live on…it’s up to the last remaining friend to set things right. Secrets come out and so do the tears.

Review: A Bicycle Made for Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The first in the new LOVE IN THE DALES romantic comedy series, set in a beautiful Yorkshire village.

Chock-full of colourful characters, bawdy wit and a bit of love and passion for good measure.

In a lost corner of the Yorkshire Dales, Lana Donati runs a medieval theme tourist trap restaurant with her brother. As a distraction to help them get over losing the father they loved dearly, and as a tribute to his passion for the beautiful area they live in, Lana hatches a plan to boost business for everyone by having the Grand Départ route pass through their village.

But this entails getting the small community to work together to convince the decision-makers that their beloved village is Tour material. Not an easy task when the people involved include Lana’s shy, unlucky-in-love brother Tom, the man-eating WI chair Yolanda, bickering spouses Gerry and Sue, arrogant celebrity Harper Brady, and Lana’s (attractive) arch-nemesis, former pro-cyclist turned bike shop owner, Stewart McLean, whose offbeat ideas might just cost them everything.

From the author of The Honey Trap and Meet Me at the Lighthouse, this is a rural romance for lovers of Fiona Gibson, Sue Moorcroft and Penny Parkes’ Larkford series.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

A Bicycle Made for Two by Mary Jayne Baker is an emotional story. It is both sweet and sad. Some humor is planted within this romantic journey. The path of pain, loss, grief, and healing are told here. Family, second chances, and love are the other major themes featured in this novel. Lana is a strong female protagonist. Her dad is is constant pain due to terminal cancer. Her and her brother Tom, end up losing their father. While working the family business, Lana meets Stew. A cousin of a jerk. Their romance has its ups and downs like a real life relationship. I was not sure what the final outcome of their relationship would be. Mary Jayne Baker kept me entertained. I loved her plot. It was steady, heartfelt, and realistic. Overall, I recommend this women’s fiction tale to all readers.

Review: Man of My Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

She wants to make him pay. But will it cost her everything she’s ever wanted? After spending over a decade in the Air Force, Staff Sergeant Elena Garcia is more than ready to ditch her uniform for some girlie clothes and high heels. Starting over in a quaint town in Washington, her dream of becoming a romance writer is finally within her reach. But when a rival from her past comes barreling back, Elena will stop at nothing to make Captain Daniel Grant pay for making her life a living Hell seven years ago. With destiny on her side, Elena plans her ultimate vendetta. Feeling fate has answered his prayers, Daniel is ready to show the sexy and feisty staff sergeant what kind of man he can truly be and finally make up for his past mistakes. But can Elena let go of the past to find a future with the one man that she vowed to destroy?

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Man of My Dreams by Stephanie Aviles is an entertaining romantic story. I loved the main characters. They were strong and charming. Their personalities made it easy to connect with them. Both characters were amusing to follow. One is attracted but is fully set to make a man pay for his mistakes. The other is attracted but wanting to make up for his past mistakes. It seems like their plans just got messy, complicated, and hotter. Romance, women’s issues, and second chances are discussed in this novel. I enjoyed the electoral charge that came from the characters. This book was more character driven. Their actions made me enjoy reading their dilemmas. Fate is partially cruel and partially not. Man of My Dreams is full of heat, emotions, and action. Overall, I recommend this fascinating romance to all.

Review: The Perfect Hope (book 3)

Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts introduces you to the Montgomery brothers – Beckett, Ryder, and Owen – as they bring an intimate bed-and-breakfast to life in their hometown.

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out – with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a toolbelt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except, apparently, Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be – except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

While the inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome – and embarrassing – appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him…

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Hot, sexy, and sweet!

The Perfect Hope by Nora Roberts was exactly that. It felt so real and believable. The deeper I got into the story, the more I wanted to keep reading it. The beginning and middle sort of felt slow/steady that I didn’t realize how fast the ending got u till I was done. The characters are out of this world charming. I love them all. Feisty, unpredictable, and entertaining to follow. Ryder and his woman were my favorite couple featured in this whole series. Overall, I recommend this sexy romance to all.

Review: The Last Boyfriend (book 2)

Synopsis:

Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist – and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers give him grief for his compulsive list making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery MacTavish….

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation — and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of BoonsBoro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected — and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last….

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts is the next book in this great series. This part continues where the other left off. I followed Avery and Owen as they took their relationship further. Only it feels like their relationship is being stretched into three books. I love the story and the characters; however, I would have preferred if their story was told in one book. Owen knows exactly what he wants. Avery seems to be holding out and that frustrates me like crazy. The question I kept asking is why. The plot is sweet, engaging, and fun to read. But it’s their relationship that isn’t going at the speed I’d wish. Other than that is still a good read that I recommend to others. Romantic, family orientated, and tasteful.

Review: The Next Always (book 1)

Synopsis:

The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour – one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new – and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . . .

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Next Always by Nora Roberts is a sweet heartfelt story. Her characters feel real. Beckett is remodeling an older building into a hotel. He’s very attracted to a single mother of three boys, Clare. Clare is just as attracted to Beckett. Hope, new beginnings, and second chances at a happily ever after are major themes of this book. It is entertaining. It engages me further into the characters’ lives. Overall, I would recommend this romantic book to all.

Review: Murder in an Irish Churchyard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The village of Kilbane in County Cork, Ireland, has a new garda–and her first case is a grave matter indeed . . .

It’s official! Siobhán is now Garda O’Sullivan, and her five siblings couldn’t be prouder. While brother James runs Naomi’s Bistro, Siobhán is doing her part to keep the village safe. Of course, Kilbane is pretty quiet compared to a place like Dublin, where Macdara Flannery has gone to be a detective sergeant.

Then one night the local priest summons Siobhán to the church cemetery. There’s a dead man in the graveyard–aboveground. He lies shot on a blanket of freshly fallen snow, hand stretched out toward a nearby headstone. He’s a stranger, but the priest has heard talk of an American tourist in town, searching for his Irish ancestor.

A detective sergeant is dispatched from Dublin to assist with the case, and as fate would have it, it’s Macdara. After his parting, things are awkward between them, but they have to work together. They learn the victim was from Dublin–Dublin, Ohio, that is. And when his family members are located and told of his murder, the plot thickens. Siobhán begins to dig for a motive among the gnarled roots of the family tree. But as long-buried secrets are unearthed, she and Macdara will need to stay two steps ahead of the killer or end up with more than one foot in the grave.

Rating: 4-.5-stars

Review:

Murder in an Irish Churchyard by Carlene O’Connor is the third installment to this enjoyable cozy mystery series. Humor, family drama, and an Irish heritage are woven into this book. Siobhán is the leading protagonist and sleuthing detective. I really like her personality. She’s reliable and well-known for solving crimes. This time, an unknown person ends up dead in the church yard. No one knows who he is. Siobhán gets called in by the priest to check it out. She hasn’t even started her new career officially and yet Father wants her to head this murder case. Father is also another likable character. Easy to love him. Carlene O’Connor heats up the story as Siobhán takes the case. I was hooked. The plot is intriguing and the who done it theme kept going through my mind until the mystery was solved. I had to keep reading! It was fun getting lost within this third novel. I would love to see more of these wonderful characters…overall, I highly recommend this mystery to all readers.

Review: Hearts Entwined (Anthology)

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Love Knot,” Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister’s arrival by train. Mary Connealy’s “The Tangled Ties That Bind” offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers “Bound and Determined,” where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears’ “Tied and True” entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory.

Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

Hearts Entwined is a super sweet collection of historical romances. Each story bares a different cast of characters as well as hardships. These writers have unique writing styles.

The Love Knot featured a story of one sister receiving her sister’s baby via train carried by her past lover. Claire gets the surprise of her life. From there, loving her nephew like her own child and working on her relationship with her love, Claire has her hands full. It was heartfelt. I love Claire. She’s a good woman.

The Tangled Ties that Bind featured two young lovers who grew apart. Now, one of them returns back home to pursue his heart. Yet his love isn’t interested. The suspense of what happened next between the two kept me hooked. I had fun following this story. It tempted me. Conor thought he did the right thing. While Maggie felt like her left her for good.

Bound and Determined was really interesting. It involved a heard of camels! That was rare in a story such as this one. Two young people meet in this journey. One is a young man needing to mature, so he is assigned military work. The other is a daughter of a military man. Both find a lot more than they were expecting.

Tied and True featured a love between a poor man and a rich woman. Both are strong, independent, and stubborn. In this tale, the woman did the chasing. She also went a long way, to try and catch her love’s heart. I felt connected to her. Her hope and determination made me like her all the more.

Review: The Lost Castle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Launching a brand-new series, Kristy Cambron explores the collision of past and present as she discovers the ruins of a French castle, long lost to history.

A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France’s picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother’s bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty–the castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale–and unearth its secrets before they’re finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods–the French Revolution, World War II, and present day–The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron is an interesting historical journey. A young woman is wanting to learn everything she can about her family history. Her grandmother provides the clues but is slipping away fast into Alzheimer’s. The clock is ticking fast, and Ellie Carver must find the answers. Soon, I was following her as she traveled to a castle that has holds so many secrets. Many generations of women, and their historical time periods were brought to life in this engaging tale. Captivating and intriguing, I was hooked. The Lost Castle peaked my interest. What were the women’s lives like…and how it all ties in with the present, kept me reading. Ellie is a good character. Her personality makes her easy to like. Overall, I enjoyed traveling back in time with The Lost Castle. I recommend it to all.

Review: A Passionate Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband’s new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah’s cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

Rating: 4.5-stars

Review:

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith is a wonderful Jewish tale of love, hope, faith, and forgiveness. During this time period, the struggles were harder. Especially, when their coveted ark disappears. Yet they still remain hopeful and obedient to God. I liked how Hannah turns to prayer when life brings her curveballs. She is strong, independent, and faithful. She is an inspiration to all women. Jill Eileen Smith’s historical fiction is well-written. It engages me to follow Hannah as her life dramatically changes for good to problematic to good again. Her love of her husband and God are strong. Hannah felt sad, angry, and hurt when her husband married another women. I wanted to hug her immediately. Her pain is real. It is easy to connect with her on many levels. The title is exactly what this book is about…and I recommend this read to others.

Review: Phoebe’s Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she’s doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a “minder” on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary’s journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe’s shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way–just in time.

In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Phoebe’s Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher is an enlightening Quaker journey. I love historical novels that take me back in time and hold me captive. The main cast of characters were interesting. They felt three-dimensional. The Quaker language and cultural is captured on every page. Phoebe wanting a different life than the one she has on land leaves for a life at sea. Until she leaves home, Phoebe does not realize just how much being on land means to her. Marrying the sea captain brings a whole new adventure to her life. Quipped with a journal from her great-grandmother, Phoebe learns a lot. Phoebe is wanting an adventure. That is exactly what she gets. Matthew is another main character that was easy to like. He’s a good man. Phoebe’s Light is inspiring in many ways especially, to women. Secrets, murder, and an emotional rollercoaster ride…all inside this intriguing story. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

Review: The Recipe Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Bestselling, beloved author of The Charm Bracelet spins a tale about a lost young woman and the family recipe box that changes her life.

Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha “Sam” Mullins felt trapped on her family’s orchard and in their pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star’s New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.

When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family’s orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life–including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family’s history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.

As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman is a heartfelt journey. Themes of family, love, and second chances are brought to life on these pages. I felt connected to the characters instantly. It was like I knew them for years. The pacing was steady yet emotional. The struggles were believable. Sam is a young woman who left her comfort to find her way in life. Only it did not turn out the way she had hoped. Frustrated and broken, Sam returns back home to find herself. Being back home, gave Sam all she needed. It was sweet, inspiring, and beautiful. Overall, I recommend it to all.

Review: Last Stop in Brooklyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to a far corner of Brooklyn: Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man’s brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but her true killer was never found. Once again it’s up to Mary to make right the city’s wrongs.

New York City’s untouchable head of detectives, Thomas Byrnes, swears he put the right man behond bars, but as Mary digs deeper, she finds corruption at the heart of New York’s justice system, involving not only the police, but the most powerful of stock titans. Disturbing evidence of other murders begins to surface, each one mimicking Jack the Ripper’s style, each one covered up by Thomas Byrnes.

As Mary pieces together the extent of the damage, she crosses paths with Harper Lloyd, an investigative reporter. Their relationship grows into a partnership, and perhaps more, and together they must catch a killer who’s still out there, and reverse the ruthless workings of New York’s elite. It’ll be Mary’s most dangerous, most personal case yet.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy is an interesting plot. I was curious who was behind all the jack-the-rippers killings and how far the corruption went. Murder, danger, and risks are shown here. I liked the main protagonist, Mary. I found it unusual for a woman during her time to be a PI but still it was good. A bit of romance is hinted in the relationship between Mary Harper. Both of their careers made this even more engaging to read. After reading this novel, the question of why the police are always terrible at catching the bad guys has seemed to frightening. I see a pattern of this happening in the real world as well as the fictional one here. Overall, this story had every hook that kept me intrigued until the last page. I would recommend this historical murder mystery to others.

Review: A Vicarage Reunion

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to Thornthwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings and surprises await the four Holley sisters…

Esther Holley, the eldest in the family, has always had her life firmly in control until a miscarriage knocks her off course. Two months later, still emotionally spinning, she separates from her husband Will, a sheep farmer and man of few words and moves back in with her parents.

Life as a singleton thirty something living in her parents’ house is miserable, but Esther is determined to re-boot her life, including going on a few unfortunate dates. She’s shocked when tight-lipped Will shows up on her doorstep determined to woo her back. They’ve been married for seven years, but Will wants to return to the beginning, dating and getting to know each other again.

New challenges face them as they start over–and new chances too. Can Esther and Will save their marriage, especially when faced with the hardest decision of all?

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

A Vicarage Reunion by Kate Hewitt is a heartfelt women’s fiction story. Romance, marriage, miscarriage and family life are put to the test. A journey that sucked me in from the first page. A young married couple have been suffering silently for a long while. Until one day, the wife decides she can’t take it anymore. Losing their baby, was the last straw for Esther. Esther is a daughter of a vicar. She knew her faith should be stronger but she felt broken, sad, and unhappy. Esther decided to leave her good husband Will. Only fate has plans that neither adult saw coming. Will loves his wife and alway will love her. He felt sad, broken, and unhappy that she left him. Worried about what he did to make her leave, Will goes about trying to woo his wife back into his arms.

It was so easy to like the characters. Relating to the married couple was like breathing in air. Their personalities made them believable. Heartache, fear, and their little flaws make way for a path of discovery, renewal, and acceptance. Both Esther and Will have a lot to figure out before they can get their lives back in-order.

Overall, A Vicarage Reunion, is sweet, thoughtful, and deep. I enjoyed following the protagonists as they fell and rose. Their dilemmas were understandable. The story was clean, well-developed, and engaging. I highly recommend this title to all readers.

Review: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

Synopsis:

I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do―work is paramount, absolutely no children―and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.

Rating: 3-stars

Review:

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas sparked my curiosity. The title sounded interesting but what it entailed was a young woman being snarled up by an unwanted journey of motherhood. Her husband wanted kids. But they made a pact-no kids…yet when it happens, her husband is so over joyed by the news that she just lets it go. I can’t sympathize with this woman. If she really didn’t want kids that much she could have had surgery done before this accident. Yet, she didn’t and it is consuming her inside and out…

Cherise Wolas is a great writer. Her words are good. I just did not feel connected to the main protagonist no matter how much I tried. She felt cruel and ridiculous to me. She really did not do anything to prevent her worst nightmare from happening. She blames her husband. Joan wants nothing but her career in writing. This tale is all about her regaining that direction again. A terrible marriage and an unlikable character made me distance myself from this journey.

Review: Maybe This Tme

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Maybe This Time is the next heartwarming contemporary romance from Nicole McLaughlin in her Whiskey and Weddings series.

Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life—and her occasional careless choices—have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take—and having it all, together?

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Maybe This Time by Nicole McLaughlin is sweet contemporary romance. Two young adults with completely different background have always crushed on each other. Turns out, that all this time, they still love one another. But neither one knew what the other was dealing with as they were teens.

TJ comes from a wealthy rich lifestyle. Yet, he’s super smart, hardworking, and a gentleman, TJ isn’t anything like his other male peers. He has always stuck up for Jen. Harbored a secret crush on her ever since they shared their first school project together. TJ had a mother who still lives with his jerk of a father. A father who sleeps with other men’s wives and thinks nothing of it. TJ’s mom loves him though. Jen is opposite of him in background and personality.

Jen can be super confident like TJ. Except that when it comes to TJ and his kind, she loses her confidence. Jen sees herself as this woman who still can’t control her life, is dirt poor, and can’t do anything right. Yet she handles her bar tending well. She can also, handle wedding clients at the Stag for her bosses. TJ is one them. Jen can sing and loves theater. Her personality is wonderful. Colorful at times when she’s feeling angry or hurt. But overall, she’s a strong independent woman who can do anything. Jen’s mom is going through cancer again…and Jen thinks her mom is going through medicine therapy to get well…only she’s not.

Maybe This Time is exactly as it presents itself. Maybe, the characters will finally get together forever. And maybe they can find their happiness. Love, work, and family are hardships they both share. Together, they can get through anything, if they let themselves. I laughed and cried while reading this book. Nicole McLaughlin writes well. I fell fast for the characters. Colorful, bright, and what an exciting journey! Overall, I recommend this novel to readers everywhere.

Review: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery is funny, realistic, and the most engaging women’s fiction novel, that I’ve ever read. This, is a story about the relationships between mothers and daughters. Quirky, sweet, and heartfelt were these pages. It felt like it was nonfiction but entertaining like fiction. Yet, it really is fiction…which made me like it even more. Susan Mallery captured life between these women perfectly. They fought, cried, and laughed. But in the end, they love and respect each other. No matter what, the were there for each other.

First, there is Harper. A forty-two-year-old divorced woman. Harper is raising her daughter on what little her ex gives and what she can make as a single mother. Life isn’t easy to balance. Harper works so much she forgets to listen and spend more time with her daughter. Her daughter feels like Harper doesn’t love her anymore. She never listens. Just works all the time.

Second, there’s Harper’s mom, who forced Harper to give up her dreams and live the life she lived. Harper’s mother is always telling Harper how to raise her own daughter and how she’s lacking as a mother figure. Harper and her sister always have to tiptoe around their mother. Fear of not having their mom happy or proud of them keeps them having secrets.

Third, is Harper’s sister, Stacey. Stacey is a lab researcher. Super smart and gorgeous, Stacey is happily married and expecting. Only her mother doesn’t know…then, there’s the fear of her not loving her own child and not being a good mother. Stacey’s husband defends her and is willing to stay as a stay-at-home dad. He loves Stacey. Yet she fears she lose both him and their child.

Fourth, is Harper’s daughter. This girl has had it rough as a teen. Her parents divorce, her friends move, and another friend accuses her of being boring. She feels like her mother doesn’t listen to her at all. Her grades are slipping in some classes and she’s not sure what she wants to study for college. Then, there’s her father who breaks his promises and doesn’t do anything with her. To make things even more complicated, there’s Lucas. He’s the next door guy. Always paying her mom for doing his stuff. He respects Harper and her daughter. In fact Harper’s daughter feels like a daughter he never had. I love the sweet moments when the girl tells him stuff that makes him uncomfortable and she needs advice….it was both funny and heartfelt. Also, a new guy her age moves in with her aunt. Ashton is super hot…and it’s not long before she crushes on him…

Overall, Sisters Like Us is amazing. It’s so easy to love and understand. The characters were believable. The scenes were interesting. There was a rollercoaster of emotions as the plot unfolded. I enjoyed reading this novel. After reading this, I can’t wait to see what Susan Mallery comes up with next. I highly recommend this to readers worldwide.

Review: Beneath the Summer Sun

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry, and with two men pursuing her, she doesn’t have to look far. But after the pain she’s experienced, can she open her heart to love?

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to shed her grief and remarry for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is it isn’t grief that’s holding her back, but rather a fear of a repeat of her abusive marriage.

Leo Graber has known–and loved–Jennie since they were children, and he’d hoped to court her when they were teenagers. But when he was fourteen, Paul’s father died suddenly in his arms. Ever since he’s been afraid of the searing pain of loss that comes from opening himself up to love. Now Jennie’s free again, and he’s fighting to have the courage not to lose her a second time.

Nathan Walker is a Mennonite book salesman who makes it a point to stop by Jennie’s farm as often as he can. He’s grown to care for her, but he knows he has no right to court her unless he resolves his own struggle with his faith. He will have to change everything about his life in order to join the Jamesport Amish community. But would he be embracing a new life or running from his old?

The path isn’t clear for any of them. These three people, drawn together by circumstances and God’s plan, must come to grips with their pasts in order to discern God’s plan for their futures and find peace beneath the summer sun.

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin is an interesting tale. One full of faith, hope, and love. Three protagonists have their own dilemmas to face. The question of them being able to move forward and find happiness caught my attention. Pain, loss, and fear cloud the characters as they struggle to face their issues. Clean and heartfelt, I felt like I was there with the characters.

Kelly Irvin has created a believable plot. Jennie is scared to love again after her abusive marriage. But with all of her kids, she needs a man in her life. Nathan is looking for love too, but he struggles accepting his faith. He must first find that before he can love anyone. Leo like Jennie has faced a loss. He lost his father and struggled with wanting to save others especially Jennie. But his fear of not being able to save someone he loves has him stuck in a rut.

A love mess with two Christian men chasing after one widow, made me smile. It gave a shed of lightness to Jennie’s dark marriage and to Leo’s loss. Having a third character brought out a little more in Leo. It gave me more of the push he needed to go after Jennie. Jennie is super easy to connect to…her situation made her likable. She felt real. I really liked her.

Beneath the Summer Sun was a sweet journey. A path to finding oneself and one’s heart. Having faith helped these characters face their lives in the present. Slow but steady, I think these characters will have found what they’re looking for in life. Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel.

Review: Alaska Nights

Alaska Nights: Daddy's Little Helper\Because of the Baby

 

 

 

Synopsis: 

LONELY MEN IN HARD LUCK, ALASKA, LOOKING FOR WOMEN.

OUR TOWN MIGHT BE COLD, BUT OUR HEARTS ARE WARM!

Location: north of the Arctic Circle. Population: 150 (mostly men!). But the three O’Halloran brothers, who run a bush-plane charter service called Midnight Sons, are heading a campaign to bring women to town.

Daddy’s Little Helper

Mitch Harris is a friend of the O’Hallorans, and he’s responsible for law and order in Hard Luck. He’s also the widowed father of a little girl, although he never talks about his marriage. But it’s not long before seven-year-old Chrissie decides that her new teacher, Bethany Ross, is the perfect candidate for wife and mom!

Because of the Baby

Matt Caldwell, Charles O’Halloran’s brother-in-law, is an easygoing charmer, and still in love with his ex-wife. Karen’s still in love with him, too. Her reaction to him the night of his sister’s wedding certainly proved that. It also left her pregnant Now Matt wants her to marry him again and not just because of the baby!”

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Alaska Nights by Debbie Macomber is a sweet heartfelt book. Containing two novellas inside, I was intrigued. Both stories were about second chances, new beginnings, and love. Love pops up even when the characters least expect it to…the, there’s secrets that are waiting to burst. A father never knowing he had a child and a woman who has yet to tell her ex about the baby they just created together. Funny, realistic, and steady. These characters bring a lot of drama, humor, and friendship wherever they go.

Daddy’s Little Helper was the cutest of the two novellas. A little girl goes about setting up her father and new teacher. Imagine an eight-year-old asking such serious questions about age, love, and marriage. Chrissie Harris wants a brother or a sister. But she cant have either one unless her dad marries. And she won’t stop trying to setup her dad with her brand new teacher, Bethany Ross.  Bethany Ross just moved out to Alaska. Her goal was to find out what her birth dad was like. It so happens her birth father is like her in many ways. Mitch Harris lost his wife when their daughter, Chrissie, was just a baby. He and his wife didn’t get along…marriage isn’t something he wants until, he meets Bethany Ross.

Because of the Baby is a novella about husband and wife trying to patch things up…Karen Caldwell, divorced her husband. Thinking he’s being just as childish as before. Switching careers, spending his entire inheritance, Bethany is worried he’s just like her father. But Matt Caldwell is nothing like Karen’s dad. Instead, he’s just trying to find the career he wants and will enjoy doing. Neither one expected him to finally find his calling. Then, there’s their marriage on the line. Matt is doing everything he can to win back Karen’s hand in marriage. However, there’s also a tiny surprise that might just be the fix they needed to bring them closer. A baby does wonders…

Overall, I enjoyed reading Alaska Nights. A book containing two stories in the Alaska series. Men needing women in their lives. Women who can’t resist the Alaskan men makes for an interesting journey. Debbie Macomber has proved that she can definitely write well. Her two fictional worlds felt so real. I recommend this collection to all.

 

 

Review: Because It’s Christmas

Because It's Christmas: The Christmas Basket\Merry Ex-Mas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Can Christmas bring the gift of a second chance?

The Christmas Basket by Debbie Macomber

Ten years ago, Noelle McDowell and Thomas Sutton fell secretly in love. Secretly because their mothers had been locked in a bitter feud for decades. But despite the animosity between Sarah McDowell and May Sutton, Noelle planned to elope with Thom. Until he jilted her.

This Christmas, two things happen when Noelle comes home to celebrate the holidays. The feuding mothers find themselves working together to fill Christmas baskets for charity. And Noelle and Thom discover they’re still in love. Can family rivalries be set aside? Will Sarah’s daughter have a second chance with Mary’s son? Maybe she will…this Christmas!

Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts

Cass Wilkes has been looking forward to her daughter Danielle’s Christmas wedding—until Dani announces that she wants her father, Cass’s ex, to walk her down the aisle. Then her friend Charlene arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She’s just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left a year ago when he ran off with the hostess from her restaurant. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!

And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren’t easy for Ella O’Brien either. Ella, newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell. The love is gone. Or is it?

Two delightful stories. Two writers known and loved for their Christmas novels!

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Because It’s Christmas by Debbie Macomber and Shelia Roberts is a great 2-1 book. Two wonderfully written novellas combined for this Christmas season. Each story featured lessons to learn, forgiveness, and love. Of course the obstacles for these characters seemed like they were never going to happen…but then with these writers’ talent, Christmas miracles may just come true.

The Christmas Basket by Debbie Macomber is about a feud between two mothers. Once best friends, now enemies. For years, they have antagonized each other over one simple mistake. It soon goes too far, creating a distance between their children who are in love with one another. It did remind me a bit of Romeo and Juliet but with a more positive telling than a deadly one. Here, the lesson of forgiveness, friendship, and rekindling love is open. I enjoyed the trouble between the mothers more than I did of the two love birds featured in this tale.

Merry Ex-Mas by Shelia Roberts wasn’t my favorite tale. It was more heartbreaking than the previous story. It was about broken relationships. Some were fixable while others were not. Even though some things couldn’t be fixed the theme of counting one’s blessings was huge. A mother is thankful for her kids even though she didn’t have a love in life. Couples facing dilemmas and having to make decisions was believable. The way it was told felt real. It was more like real-life than a fictional tale with a happy ending. Sometimes, there just isn’t a happy or sad ending but just a closure of finding a peace within yourself. That was what the ending was about…finding peace in the character’s life. Former exes bring trouble to the women in this novella.

Review: Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies

Synopsis:

Cooking a wonderful meal is an art. An act of love. An act of grace. A gift that affirms and gives life—not only does it nurture those who partake of the meal; it also feeds the soul of the creator. These are lessons Gina learns from her mother, daughter of an unfortunate French chef.

Gina is a young woman born to poor parents, a nobody keen to taste life outside the world she was born into. A world that exposes her to fascinating people gripped by dark motives. Her passion for cooking is all she has to help her navigate it.

She gets lucky when she’s chosen to cook at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where customers belong to a privileged class with money to spare for a dinner of inventive dishes costing hundreds of dollars. In this heady, scintillating atmosphere, she meets new friends and new challenges—pastry chef Marcia, filthy rich client Leon, and Brent, a brooding homicide detective. This new world, it turns out, is also one of unexpected danger.

Can the lessons Gina learned from her mother about cooking and life help her survive and thrive in this other world of privilege, pleasure, and menace?

Rating: 4-stars

Review:

Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies by Evy Journey is a contemporary readers like myself won’t forget. The plot itself is this dark edgy vibe to it with a hint of romance. It’s more dangerous than anything. Friendships are tested, broken, and destroyed. Romances begin so fast and end just as quick as they started. From a sexy filthy rich man to a regular average joe, the main protagonist has her hands full. Being seduced by a rich man can be nice…but with comes unwanted danger. Unexpected events occur and kept me intrigued. I felt both sympathy for the bad ones at first but I felt even more sorry for the protagonist. Her pain is both a physical and emotional one. What a rollercoaster…

Evy Journey has created three-dimensional characters. I could see, hear, and feel everything they did. It was crazy. One moment Gina’s work life goes from being busy good to a nightmare. Her past friendship comes out and it gets worse with each page. I felt connected to Gina. She’s a hard worker and a good person.

Gina comes from a poor family. Inherited her skills of cooking from her family, Gina works her butt off in the food industry. She has finally landed herself at a top star restaurant and her personal life unwinds completely. All it takes is for one rich customer and a former best friend to bring the unexpected and disasters to Gina. What Gina thought she knew will change as the course of events escalate out of control. Life threatening, deadly, and stunning…scenes kept me turning the pages.

Leon is the filthy rich customer who wants nothing but Gina. However, he’s dating her best friend. Talk about issues and complications. Here, this was the first warning bell for Gina,,yet she didn’t think things would turn out for the worse…

Imagine trusting a best friend one moment and then fighting for your life…

That’s what happened to Gina…not once but twice.

Pastry chef, Marcia, is the other best friend that Gina has. I really liked Gina until I noticed her crazy moment over the “brooding” cop, Brent. She was obsessed with him as hers until she learned he doesn’t like sweets. Luckily, Brent had that going for him…because Gina has a past that one doesn’t know until the unexpected happens…

Brent is the homicide detective that meets with Gina when the accident with her first best friend happens. From there, Brent and Gina have been in contact since. Brent soon becomes a little jealous because Gina is gorgeous and Leon is trying to take her. Brent knows something about Leon and try’s to tell Gina, but she still goes with Leon. Thinking Leon really loves her…

Romance, work, and friendships are deeply explored in this exciting piece. Evy Journey has captivated me from the beginning with this tale. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was worth reading every single last page. Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies is exactly what’s in this novel. There’s a little of all that inside…overall, I recommend this contemporary to readers everywhere.

Review: You’ve Got Fail

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

She’s driving me crazy. Or am I the one driving myself crazy? I can’t tell anymore. Ever since Scarlet Rocket showed up in the flesh, she’s turned my structured world upside down. My neatly ordered life, my hand-painted Aliens versus Vampires figurines, my expertly curated comics collection—none of these things provide any shelter from her sexy, sassy onslaught. It’s a disaster of my own making. She didn’t exist until I created her. Now, I can’t get her out of my mind, and all I want to do is get her into my bed. Never mind that she’s a thief, a liar, a con-woman. Every step she takes leaves chaos in her wake. And damn if I don’t want more of it.

Note: This is a full-length romantic comedy that will have you guffawing, or at least snorting hard.

Rating: 5-stars

Review:

You’ve Got Fail by Celia Aaron has the super funny, super hot, super fun factors down completely. I couldn’t get enough of the these exciting scenes and characters. Their flaws are what make them so irresistible. A nerd who has a degree in English Lit, is buffer than most jocks, and has a heart of gold is a keeper. Plus, his own blog writing is hilarious. That is Willis. And he has an issue. Everyone thinks he’s a woman due to his blogger name Scarlet Rocket. But that’s not his only growing problem…a woman con takes his name and everything Willis built into a career could go down if he doesn’t catch her soon…

Who knew that men who play with action figures and love fantasy movies could be so freaking hot? Daphne aka Scarlet Rocket was surprised with Willis. Willis being the real Scarlet Rocket blogger. However, once Daphne realizes what kind of mark Willis is, she can’t sop using his name…and if that fates have it, neither will her PR manager.

Willis is beyond furious that the woman stealing his glory is a beautiful redhead. He happens to be a sucker for redheads…and that isn’t helping his case in stopping her. Then, he finds out she’s a thief and wants nothing more from her. That was until his PR manager uses the fake Scarlet Rocket woman to work as a clutch for Willis. Willis new problems will be controlling his lust towards the beautiful thief, keeping his relationship completely professional, and watching her to make sure no trouble comes…

Yet, life is full of surprises and the more time they spend together the more their instant chemistry sparks out of control…

You’ve Got Fail is by far the best romantic comedy I’ve come across as a reader. This, hit the spot perfectly. Sexy as hell, fun, and one that pulls me into its pages. Wow! Hot geeky nerd and a gorgeous redhead thief kept me turning the pages. Absolutely , a must have for all TBR piles! I highly recommend it to all.

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