Tag: romance

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Sea Glass Cottage, by RaeAnne Thayne

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the sea glass cottage
Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

Title:  The Sea Glass Cottage
AuthorRaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

I don’t read much in the romance genre—it’s not that I’m against it, I just burned myself out on years ago—but RaeAnne Thayne is one author I’ll definitely pick up without question (along with Nora Roberts sometimes and Debbie Macomber always). And I’m certainly glad I picked this up.The Sea Glass Cottage takes us back to Cape Sanctuary—this is a small town I’d love to visit—with Liv, who moved away years ago to start a life in the city. But city life isn’t all she thought it would be, with her anxiety almost overpowering her. When she heads back home to take care of her life. Everything comes back to her.

Liv’s struggles with the past—the death of her father, memories of her addict sister, her lonely childhood—are relatable and well-drawn, making it easy to put myself into her shoes. I loved how all three women’s struggles are woven together—and how they find their way through. I definitely recommend reading this!

New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma, by Patricia Davids

the amish teacher's dilemma
Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

Title:  The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma
AuthorPatricia Davids
Genre:  Inspirational fiction, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Taking a schoolteacher position in another district is just the change Amish spinster Eva Coblentz needs. And with her new neighbor, blacksmith Willis Gingrich, struggling to raise his three orphaned siblings, Eva is determined to help them heal. But when her relatives insist she come home, Eva must choose between the life she left…and the one she’s growing to love.

I haven’t read the first two novels in The North Country Amish series, and that wasn’t a problem at all. I liked Eva from the first paragraph and admired her strength and determination to make a life for herself. Willis’s little sister, Maddie, and her imaginary friend, Bubble, were wonderful, and I enjoyed every scene the little girl was in. She definitely has a way of saying things that should not be said! I felt very sorry for Willis, who has struggled with dyslexia his whole life—and never knew it—and only realizes there’s hope for him when his youngest brother faces the same struggle. This is a lovely, feel-good read that’s both inspiring and uplifting.

Patricia Davids is a bestselling author. The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma, the third novel in her The North Country Amish series, is now available.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Love Inspired in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Grace Kelly Dress, by Brenda Janowitz

the grace kelly dress
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Grace Kelly Dress
AuthorBrenda Janowitz
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly—look-alike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice, one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

I enjoyed every page of this novel! Usually, when reading a book with alternating points-of-view like this, I have a favorite viewpoint character, but not this time. Rose’s story was absolutely fascinating, and I loved her strength and determination to do the right thing, no matter how painful. Joan’s story was also interesting, set amidst the contrasting worlds of doing what everyone expects you to do and doing what you want to do. And Rocky was an awesome character! She’s so sure of herself and who she is—until faced with planning a wedding and the dress. I loved how these three women grew in the course of the novel, and their stories laced together to form the history of the dress and their family.

Brenda Janowitz is an author and the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. The Grace Kelly Dress is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2), by Emily March

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Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2)
AuthorEmily March
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Gillian Thacker owns the bridal salon in Redemption, Texas. She lives for weddings—and her own is coming up soon, so she should be blissfully happy, right? But she and her fiancé can’t seem to see eye-to-eye, and a chance encounter with a handsome stranger only highlights those differences…differences Gillian intends to put firmly out of her mind, along with the stranger.

Tucker McBride just left the military and was on his way to family in Redemption when he encountered damsel in distress Gillian. Now the fiery bridal salon owner is all he can think about, but she’s happily engaged, so he keeps a respectful distance. Until Gillian finds herself single and hurting—then it’s every man for himself as Tucker steps in to try to convince Gillian to take a leap of faith—for just once in her life—with him.

I do enjoy a good series romance set in a small town, and I’m enjoying these books set in Redemption, Texas. (I’m Texas-born and raised, so I loved all the culturally accurate references and setting-details…I miss Dublin Dr. Pepper, too!) Gillian has two sides to her personality:  the independent, take-charge wedding guru, and the indecisive, unsure jilted woman, so I found myself wishing she’d just make up her mind already…but that indecision felt spot-on for her. And Tucker…well, don’t we all wish we had a Tucker?

Emily March is an award-winning author. Tucker (Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas #2) is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Highlander in a Pickup, by Laura Trentham

a highlander in a pickup
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  A Highlander in a Pickup   
AuthorLaura Trentham
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Anna Maitland is ready to show everyone in Highland, Georgia what she’s capable of. Her best friend, Izzy, can’t run the Highland Games in their hometown this summer, so Anna is happy to do it. If she succeeds, her bid for mayor will be sure to succeed, so she’s not letting a single thing out of her control—except the animals. She’ll need help with that, because a dance instructor in a tutu knows nothing about sheep and cows. Fortunately, there’s a man in a kilt who can handle the animals.

Ian Connor is used to being the strong, capable man everyone turns to when they need something physical done—and then abandoned when they don’t. He grew up at lonely Cairndow Castle, where he’s expected to take over as groundkeeper from his father. But now he finds himself in Georgia, to help plan the Highland Games—if a certain controlling dance teacher will ever admit she needs help.

I love that Ian isn’t the typical handsome, suave romantic lead. He’s awkward but nice and goes out of his way to help people. Anna was a little harder for me to like, as she was prickly and a bit too bossy, but the interactions between the two were fun to read, as was the further development of Highland, Georgia. This was a quick, enjoyable read.

Laura Trentham is an award-winning author. A Highlander in a Pickup is the newest novel in her Highland, Georgia series.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Whiteout, by Adriana Anders

Whiteout
Image belongs to Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Title:  Whiteout
AuthorAdriana Anders
Genre:  Romantic suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Angel Smith has been in Antarctica long enough. She came there to get over a tragedy  in her past and found a group of people that helped her get ready to live again. Now, on the day she’s going to return to civilization, the remote research station is attacked, and people are murdered—leaving her with only irritating glaciologist Ford Cooper.

Ford Cooper just tried to avoid Angel—and everyone else at the research station—but after the attack, he knows it’s up to him and Angel to get themselves to safety—and  keep their attackers from getting their hands on the virus. But the odds—and the elements—are against them, and  he’s not sure even he and Angel’s newfound bond is strong enough to survive.

Whiteout is a solid suspense read—and, frankly, made me cold (not a fan of cold weather)! The setting comes to eerie, frigid life, and I was never quite sure what would happen next. Just enough suspense to keep me turning the pages to find out what happens—and I’m interested in reading the next book in the series, too!

Adriana Anders is an award-winning author. Whiteout is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Sourcebooks Casablanca in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine, by Rebecca Raisin

the little bookshop
Image belongs to harlequin/HQN.

Title:  The Little Bookshop on the Seine
AuthorRebecca Raisin
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Sarah Smith loves her little bookstore in tiny Ashford, Connecticut. She swears her books talk to her, and she’s happy with her life, her tight-knit group of friends—and their pastries—and her boyfriend, globe-trotting journalist Ridge. Except he’s gone so much, and Sarah is a little bit bored. So, when her Parisian friend Sophie offers a six-month bookshop exchange, Sarah finds herself flying to Paris to take care of Once Upon a Time, a famous, and popular, bookstore on the Seine.

But Sarah’s dreams of quiet time spent reading, forays to explore Paris, and getting to see Ridge as he travels the world fade quickly once she arrives in Paris. The staff at the bookshop are suspicious and uncooperative. The customers are rude. There’s barely time to breathe, much less read. And instead of spending time with Ridge, their relationship is reduced to occasional quick phone calls. But Sarah has had enough. Christmas is coming and she is determined to get things sorted out, no matter what.

I loved this book! I didn’t realize until I finished it that Rebecca Raisin also wrote Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop, which was also a lovely read…but it all makes sense now. The Little Bookshop on the Seine made me want to visit Paris, which has never been on my Places to Go list, but I’d pack right up for a chance to work in Once Upon a Time, and Sarah, with her love of books and reading contrasting with her desire to experience life is so me that I related to every page. I highly recommend this!

Rebecca Raisin loves books. The Little Bookshop on the Seine is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Heart of the Rebellion, by Sian Ann Bessey

the heart of the rebellion
Image belongs to Covenant Communications.

Title:  The Heart of the Rebellion
AuthorSian Ann Bessey   
Genre:  Historical, romance
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

With the English King Richard II dead, Rhys ap Tudor and his brother Gwilym are free to return home after three years’ service to the king. Home to North Wales, where their younger brother has been taking care of their family and lands in their absence. But the new king, Henry IV, is demanding more taxes from people already beset by poverty, and the land is ripe for rebellion.

Lady Catrin Buckley is daughter of an English lord and a Welsh mother. Catrin misses her mother so much, it’s hard for her to embrace her mother’s heritage, but when she is betrothed to a man she’s never met, a man intent on erasing every bit of the Welsh from Catrin herself, she is drawn to the Welsh people—and Rhys ap Tudor—at the heart of the rebellion against English rule.

I enjoyed The Heart of the Rebellion. It’s set against the backdrop of a larger conflict, but the close involvement with a handful of characters makes the struggle personal. Catrin’s growth from a girl occupied by her own sorrows to a woman immersed in the lives and cares of those around her is wonderful to read, and I enjoyed every page.

Sian Ann Bessey was born in England, grew up in Wales, and attended college in the U.S. The Heart of the Rebellion is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Covenant Communications via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Smoke Screen, by Terri Blackstock

smoke screen
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Smoke Screen
AuthorTerri Blackstock
Genre:  Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

Nate Beckett is a smoke jumper. He’s always busy fighting wildfires, and he certainly doesn’t have time to come home to the town that believed the worst of him. Fourteen years before, Nate’s father and the preacher got in a very loud, very public argument, and when the preacher was murdered that night, everyone believed Nate’s dad killed him. When the church burned to the ground, everyone believed Nate did it—and rather than stay and fight, he just left.

Fourteen years ago, Nate and the preacher’s daughter, Brenna Strickland were in love—until the night his father was accused of killing her father. After that night, Brenna thought things couldn’t get worse, but now she’s fighting an ugly custody battle with her ex-husband and his younger trophy wife—and his daddy’s money and influence. Brenna turns to alcohol to cope, but when the custody battle grows heated and new information about the murder years before comes to light, Brenna and Nate must work together to find out the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed Smoke Screen. The things Brenna struggles with are enough to drive anyone to drink—even the preacher’s daughter. Her ex-husband and his daddy were enough to make me want a drink sometimes. The growth of her character through this novel was inspiring. Nate, too, grows a lot in this book. Being the son of a convicted murderer cannot be easy, but he handles himself with class and strength through it all.

Terri Blackstock is a USA Today– and New York Times-bestselling author. Smoke Screen is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Starborn, by Katie MacAlister

starborn
Image belongs to Kensington Books.

Title:  Starborn
AuthorKatie MacAlister
Genre:  Fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

After all the danger, fighting, and wars, peace now reigns in the seven lands of Alba. But Allegria and Hallow want to rescue their friend Deo, trapped in the shadowlands of Eris. And to do that , they need the three moonstones hidden years before.

As they search for the moonstones, they realize things aren’t quite as peaceful as they seem. Their captain—lifebound for many long years—warns them against heading to Eris by ship, but they are determined to rescue their friend. Even if it means their own deaths.

The banter and snarky humor make this a fun read, but I did feel some of the action was a bit rushed. I enjoyed the read, but it wasn’t as engrossing as the first one was, although if you need a dose of snarky humor and sarcasm, this is a sure bet.

Katie MacAlister is a best-selling author. Starborn is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Kensington Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)