Tag: romance

Book Review: The Bake Shop, by Amy Clipston

the bake shop
Image belongs to Zondervan.

Title:  The Bake Shop
Author:    Amy Clipston
Genre:  Christian, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Christiana Kurtz loves to bake but using her family’s kitchen to run her roadside bake stand is a bit hectic—and customers stop by the house even when the bake stand is closed. When her mother encourages her to move her stand to the local marketplace, Christiana agrees. She’s eager to spend time with her cousins, have more room—and a little bit of freedom.

Jeffrey Stoltzfus has the leather and woodcraft shop next to Christiana’s bake shop. He opened his shop while still reeling from a personal tragedy, and he knows he’ll never get over it. Now his shop is failing, and the crowds for the bake shop are blocking him even more. Jeffrey’s never been good with words, and everything comes out all wrong when he tries to talk to Christiana about a solution.

Eventually the two become friends, but when Christiana’s father makes a surprise visit to the marketplace one day and realizes Jeff uses electricity for his personalization machine, he forbids Christiana from speaking to Jeff again. Between that and the fire in the marketplace, there are far too many obstacles for Jeff and Christy to overcome on their own.

I enjoyed The Bake Shop so much and can’t wait to read more stories in the series. I’m fascinated by Amish romances—and this one was sweet, simple, yet complex. The characters struggle with their pasts, their families, their insecurities, and their culture, resulting in a compelling and uplifting story.

Amy Clipston was born in New Jersey but has lived in Virginia Beach and North Carolina. The Bake Shop is her newest novel, the first in the Amish Marketplace series.

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

Book Review: We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis

we met in december
Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title:  We Met in December
Author:   Rosie Curtis
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

At 29, Jess has finally gathered the courage to leave her safety net behind and move to London to chase her dreams. She misses her grandmother, but she’s scored a fantastic deal on a flatshare in Notting Hill, and she’s eager to start her new life. At a dinner thrown by her new landlord, she meets Alex, the guy she’ll be sharing her floor with, and there’s a definite connection.

Jess daydreams of growing closer to Alex and of love blooming between them, but when she returns from a holiday with friends, she finds Alex has started seeing the beautiful Emma, another of their flatmates. Now Jess is forced to watch the man of her dreams chase someone else—from the room next door.

This was such a cute read! I think we can all relate to Jess and her high hopes and dreams for the future, which get bludgeoned with reality. The interactions between all the flatmates were fun to read about, and Jess and Alex have such a great friendship, with both struggling with their feelings for one another while trying to keep said feelings a secret.

Rosie Curtis grew up in the Scottish Highlands and now lives in England by way of Melbourne. We Met in December is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, by Stephanie Butland

the curious heart of ailsa rae
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Author:  Stephanie Butland
Genre:  Women’s fiction
Rating:  5 out of 5

Ailsa Rae was born with a heart that didn’t work right. Her whole life was spent in protecting herself, being sick, and praying for a transplant—not really living. When she was 28, that wish came true, and now she has a new heart. What she wants is a new life.

Ailsa lost her best friend/boyfriend Lennox when he did not receive the liver transplant he so desperately needed, and sometimes it feels just wrong that she has a new lease on life and Lennox…doesn’t. So Ailsa talks to her blog and asks it for help making decisions, and she talks to her new heart, Apple, as they learn to live together. Ailsa’s rock has always been her mom, Hayley, but some of the dreams Ailsa has are things her mom doesn’t approve it.

Ailsa knew dying was hard, but she never imagined that just living was even harder.

I enjoyed this book so much! I know a good amount about kidney transplants (family history + my job) and a bit about pancreas transplants, but next to nothing about heart transplants. Ailsa was so much fun to read:  her voice, her attitude, her just-like-everyone-else-but-afraid-I’m-different hopes and dreams. She’s incredibly strong from her experiences, but she’s been sheltered her whole life, so she’s like a colt taking its first wobbling steps into the world. An excellent read!

Stephanie Butland is a breast cancer survivor and an author.  The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is her new novel.

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

Book Review: Christmas Angels, by Nancy Naigle

christmas angels
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  Christmas Angels
Author:    Nancy Naigle
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Liz Westmoreland spent summers growing up the in the little town of Antler Creek, where her grandparents ran an inn. When they sold it, it broke her heart, although she treasured the memories. When she stumbles upon a listing for what looks like her beloved inn, she buys it sight unseen, and is horrified when she finds her new purchase in disrepair, making her wonder if the place will ever shine like it did in her childhood.

Matt Hardy missed out on buying the inn, but he just hopes the new owner won’t make thing worse like the last ones did. When he realizes his childhood crush is the new owner, he’s eager to help her restore the inn, even if she doesn’t quite remember him. But when an accident has Liz questioning if she’s even meant to turn the inn around, he and the residents of Antler Creek must come together to convince her she’s found her home.

Christmas Angels was a sweet romance read, even for someone who doesn’t like Christmas stories months early. The author captures the small-town feel well, although I wonder if places so completely uplifting and friendly even exist (I mean, everyone supported and liked her, which seems unlikely). I thought the romance resolved itself a little too quickly and seamlessly, but this was a cute read.

Nancy Naigle is a bestselling author. Christmas Angles is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Widow of Rose House, by Diana Biller

the widow of rose house
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Widow of Rose House
Author:    Diana Biller
Genre:  Historical fiction, romance
Rating:  5 out of 5

In 1875, Alva Webster has spent three years developing a tough hide and learning how to ignore the whispers and gossip going around about her. When she left her abusive husband, he crucified her in the press, and the sordid tales followed her from London back home to New York, where she longs for a fresh start. She bought Liefdehuis, an abandoned mansion, in the hopes of repairing it and her hopes for the future.

But rumors of ghosts haunting the mansion make her task impossible, until eccentric professor Samuel Moore turns up, eager to study the phenomena. Sam’s family is famous for its love of science, and Sam himself is beloved by the press—and women—all over, so Alva wants no part of him, no matter how charming and caring he is. But Sam is her only hope of solving the mystery of the ghost in Liefdehuis—and unlocking the secrets in Alva’s heart.

I feel like Sam—and his family—are the stars of this book, although Alva is pretty incredible herself. But Sam…he’s like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, except caring, considerate, and funny. I loved him from his first introduction and am quite impressed that Alva resisted for as long as she did. There’s a lot of humor in this novel, a little bit of fright, and it all adds up to an entrancing read.

Diana Biller loves ballet and hiking. The Widow of Rose House is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Library of Lost Things, by Laura Taylor Namey

the library of lost things
Image belongs to Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press.

Title:  The Library of Lost Things
Author:    Laura Taylor Namey
Genre:  YA
Rating:  5 out of 5

Darcy Wells is a literary genius. Her name is Darcy, after all. As long as she can remember, she’s found comfort and solace between the covers of her beloved books—and escape from her mom’s hoarding. But when a new property manager starts making changes at their apartment complex, Darcy is afraid the complex balancing act of her life will topple.

Darcy’s vibrant best friend is the only one she lets in—to her secrets, her life, and her apartment. But when Archer Fleet walks into the bookstore where Darcy works, she finds herself drawn to the wounded guy. He’s experienced a life-altering accident, and he’s struggling to make sense of his new reality, but he truly sees Darcy—who is, for once in her life, at a loss for words.

Darcy wants to let him in—but can she overcome her fears to take a chance on life and love?

I loved this book from the first page! Darcy is a wonderful character:  flawed, struggling, and so strong it breaks my heart. Marisol’s and Darcy’s friendship made this book, but the rest of the characters were fantastic, too. From Mr. Winston (the bookstore owner) to Tess, Darcy’s mom, Archer’s best friend…I loved all these characters, and though the book’s portrayal of mental illness was spot-on. I could not put this book down!

Laura Taylor Ramey is a former teacher who writes young adult novels. The Library of Lost Things is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin TEEN/Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lies We Tell, by Debra Webb

the lies we tell
Image belongs to Harlequin/Mira.

Title:  The Lies We Tell
Author:    Debra Webb
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Rating:  4 out of 5

A serial killer is after her. Dr. Rowan Dupont knows this. And she’s ready for the waiting to be over. But first, she wants answers. She was just a child when her mother took her own life, and now she realizes she didn’t know her mother at all. How well did the killer know her mother? And what secrets was her mother hiding?

When a bizarre double murder leads to even more horrible discoveries, Rowan works with her lifelong friend Billy, now chief of police, to uncover the truth. But Rowan’s childhood home—a Victorian funeral home—has seen more dark secrets than Rowan can imagine. And her desire for answers only leads to more questions.

I have not read the first book in this series, but that didn’t significantly detract from reading this one. I had no problem catching up with the backstory and settling myself into this story. Rowan is struggling with the horrors from her past—and there are a lot of them—as well as waiting for the serial killer she’s known for years to come after her. She knows he’s watching, but she can’t just not seek to find answers to her questions. This a is a solid suspense read, with just a hint of romance.

Debra Webb is an award-winning, bestselling author. The Lies We Tell is her newest novel, the second in The Undertaker’s Daughter series.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Mira via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Wedding in December, by Sarah Morgan

a wedding in december
Image belongs to harlequin/HQN.

Title:  A Wedding in December
Author:   Sarah Morgan
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Maggie White is looking forward to a family Christmas at home. Decorating, cooking—it’s her favorite time of year. Of course, this year she’ll have to tell her daughters she and their dad are getting divorced. Until a middle-of-the-night phone call reveals her younger daughter, Rosie, is getting married. Now the family is headed to Aspen for the ceremony, and Maggie and Nick agree to pretend to still be in love, for the sake of their daughter’s wedding. Will the pretense turn to reality?

Katie, Rosie’s older sister, just knows Rosie is making a mistake. Her sister is impulsive and changes her mind all the time, so how can she know this guy’s “the one” when she’s only known him a few months? Katie’s determined to stop her sister from making a huge mistake—getting married—but the best man, Jordan, keeps getting in her way. And her thoughts.

Rosie is getting married. She knows she loves her fiancé, but is she really sure? With her sister interfering and her parents acting embarrassingly in love, Rosie’s just not sure anymore, but she knows she has to figure out what her heart wants.

I loved the White family, and that this was really three romances in one. I fall somewhere between Rosie and Katie, so I could relate to both of them. The switches in viewpoint were seamless, and every character’s journey was absorbing. An excellent read!

Sarah Morgan is a bestselling author. A Wedding in December is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Coming Home for Christmas, by RaeAnne Thayne

coming home for christmas
Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

Title:  Coming Home for Christmas
Author:    RaeAnne Thayne
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Seven years ago, when Luke Hamilton woke up one morning, his wife, Elizabeth, was gone. She’d struggled with postpartum depression after the births of their two children and the loss of her parents, and she’d never found her way out of that darkness. Luke thought she was dead when she disappeared. Until a few months ago, when his sister’s fiancée tracked her down, living in a different state under a different name. Now Luke is about to be charged with her murder, so he goes to get her, knowing she is the only one who can prevent it.

Depression and grief weighed down Elizabeth’s very soul, then a car accident stole her memories and who she was. It took years for her to remember her children and her husband. Now she wants to mend those fences, but she’s been gone so long and done so much damage she’s not sure she can ever repair the damage.

I’ve only read one of the other Haven Point books, but these are linked standalone novels, so that’s no problem. Elizabeth has been through horrible difficulties, and this book explores what postpartum depression can look like and feel like. I enjoyed seeing things through her eyes and through Luke’s eyes, and the strength of both characters was a joy to read.

RaeAnne Thayne is the author of the Haven Point series. Coming Home for Christmas is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour: The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox

Today I’m pleased to be a part of the blog tour for Hester Fox’s The Widow of Pale Harbor.

 

widow of pale harbor
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The Widow of Pale Harbor
Author:    Hester Fox
Genre:  Gothic, romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Gabriel Stone is still mourning the loss of his wife, so he takes a job as minister in the small Maine village of Pale Harbor. Never mind that he’s not a minister, or that he doesn’t even know what his own beliefs are; he’s just glad to move out of Boston, haunted by memories of his wife.

Pale Harbor is not the sleepy village he expects. His very first day, he finds what appears to be an animal sacrifice, and hears tale of the widow who keeps to herself and  the castle on the edge of town, the widow who almost certainly killed her husband years ago. As the violence escalates, Gabriel gets to know Sophronia Carver, and soon realizes she’s the target of a deranged madman who’s obsessed with the works of the wildly popular new author, Edgar Allen Poe.

Can Gabriel figure out who’s behind the chilling and macabre acts before it’s too late?

I enjoyed Fox’s first novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, immensely, so I looked forward to reading this. This tale is dark and atmospheric—a fitting tribute to Poe’s works. Sophy is haunted by her regrets, but her loyalty tethers her even when it shouldn’t. Gabriel is loyal to his dead wife, but fascinated by Sophy, and soon realizes he’s the only one in the village who believes in her innocence.

Hester Fox has a background in museum work and historical archaeology. She is the author of The Witch of Willow Hall. Her newest novel is The Widow of Pale Harbor.

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