Tag: romance

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.)

Book Review: The Dating Charade, by Melissa Ferguson

the dating charade
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  The Dating Charade
AuthorMelissa Ferguson
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  4 out of 5

Cassie Everson has figured out the perfect way to escape from a bad date, and she’s not afraid to use it. After the latest in a string of horrible first dates, Cassie swears off dating and gives up on the idea of having a family of her own. Although an accident years ago left her unable to have biological children, as director of Girls Haven, she’s surrounded by girls every day and that will just have to be enough. That and admiring the cute firefighter across the street.

Jett Bentley is a firefighter recently back in his hometown when he catches a glimpse of Cassie Everson on a dating app. The Cassie Everson, whom he had a crush on back in high school when he was an awkward freshman and she was a popular senior. After a great first date where they both claim they don’t want children, they each return home to find themselves with three kids dropped on their doorstep.

Becoming an overnight parent to three kids was never in Jett’s plans, and while Cassie wanted kids, parenting is tougher than it looks. Add in their fledgling attraction to each other—not to mention their separate decisions to keep their three kids—each—a secret from each other—and things just got a whole lot more complicated.

The Dating Charade is a sweet, funny book. I loved both Cassie and Jett and watching their parenting fails was definitely full of laughs—especially Jett’s bathroom fiasco. I enjoyed this book from the start and read it straight through in one sitting. It’s nice to read something so positive and clean, with characters that you can relate to and that make you laugh.

Melissa Ferguson lives in Tennessee. The Dating Charade is her debut novel.

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

Book Review: Lake Season, by Denise Hunter

lake season
Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title:  Lake Season
Author:   Denise Hunter
Genre:  Romance, Christian
Rating:  5 out of 5

After their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her brother and sister decide to make their parents’ dream a reality:  turning their historic home back into an inn. Molly will have to give up her dreams of Italy, but she knows it’s worth it to see her youngest sister finish high school at home in tiny Bluebell, North Carolina. Then Molly finds an unsent letter in the wall of the inn—a letter that tells of a love lost years ago in Bluebell. She wants to return the letter to its rightful owners but has no idea how to find them.

Adam Bradford, secretly bestselling novelist Nathaniel Quinn, is in Bluebell to research his next novel. Quiet and reclusive, he takes no chance on people finding out who he really is. But Molly and Adam become instant friends and soon he is just as fascinated with finding the lost letter’s recipient as she is. But Molly doesn’t know Adam is keeping secrets—and trust is one thing she holds sacred.

I loved this book! Sweet and simple, mixing the past and present together seamlessly as it explores Adam and Molly’s fears and issues as well as secrets from the past. I was invested from the first page, and I loved the characters—and the small town of Bluebell—as well as the family bond between Molly and her siblings.

Denise Hunter is a bestselling author who lives in Indiana. Lake Season is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Christmas Haven, by Cindy and Erin Woodsmall

a christmas haven
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title:  A Christmas Haven
AuthorCindy and Erin Woodsmall
Genre:  Romance, Christian, Amish
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Ivy Zook is Old Order Amish and is tired of milking cows when what she really wants is to leave her old life behind and get her party planning business off the ground. But it’s hard to build her business when she’s stuck without internet and other modern tools. Even worse, if she leaves too soon, she’s afraid she’ll ruin her sister, Holly’s wedding.

When a car crashes into Greene’s Pharmacy, where Holly works, things get even worse. The driver is Arlan, a Swartzentruber (ultra-conservative) Amish, and his sister Magda, who is very ill. Arlan and Magda are hiding a secret, but he’s determined to keep his sister safe, even if it means staying on the Zook’s dairy farm and working. Arlan wants to return to his home and Ivy wants to leave hers, but soon they realize what home really means.

I must admit, I had never heard of Swartzentruber Amish—I didn’t even realize the Amish had more sects than Amish/Old Order Amish, so this was an interesting read just for that reason alone. But the characters in this novel are wonderful, and I loved the journeys they all took:  Ivy, Arlan, Magda, and even Holly (I think I liked her strength, courage, and faith the best). A wonderful read!

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author who writes Amish fiction. A Christmas Haven is one of her newest releases.

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

Book Review: A Silken Thread, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

A Silken Thread
Image courtesy of WaterBrook.

Title:  A Silken Thread
Author:    Kim Vogel Sawyer
Genre:  Historical, romance, Christian
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Just a few short years after the Civil War, Atlanta is set to host the Atlanta Exposition, which will draw visitors to the city from far and wide. Eighteen-year-old Laurel, the youngest of seven, is expected by her siblings to stay home and take care of their mother. But Laurel dreams of a family of her own and hopes that operating a silk loom at the Exposition will give her the opportunity to meet a man wealthy enough to care for her mother as well.

Brendan Rochester, only son of a very wealthy family, wants to continue his drinking and carousing, but his father has given him an ultimatum:  settle down and get married or lose everything. Brendan doesn’t want that. He likes Laurel well enough and her beauty would complement his reputation, so he chooses to pursue her and decides nothing will stand in the way of getting what he wants.

Willie Sharp is poor and caring for his ailing father, so he takes a job as security guard at the Exposition. Willie’s friendship with his best friend—a black man—is normal to him, but results in hatred from others, and when a break-in at the Women’s Building at the Exposition happens, Willie is chosen to be guard there, to keep him away from the others. As he and Laurel become friends, his feelings for her change—but he has nothing to offer her.

I really enjoyed this novel. Although it dealt with subjects that I don’t like—racism, sexism—I think it’s probably an accurate portrayal of life in the late 1800s. I loved how all the characters seemed to learn and grow during the course of the novel, and I found the scenes from the Exposition and the Silk Room to be fascinating. If you’re looking for a sweet, clean read, this one is an excellent choice.

Kim Vogel Sawyer has published over fifty books. A Silken Thread is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: The Confession Club, by Elizabeth Berg

the confession club
Image belongs to Random House.

Title:  The Confession Club
Author:    Elizabeth Berg
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

A group of friends in Mason, Missouri start a supper club to talk, share recipes, and have dinner and wine. Except one night one of the ladies confesses something startling—and soon the weekly get-togethers are called The Confession Club, with all the ladies sharing misdeeds, regrets, and secrets.

Like one of the ladies is dating a charming new man…but he’s homeless. And another ran away from New York hiding a secret so big she doesn’t even know what to do with it. The Confession Club gives them a chance to talk about these things, but it’s also a place for love and support.

The Confession Club is a charming read. I haven’t read any of the other Mason books, but had no problems jumping in with book three. Despite being about a big group of women, I had no problems keeping them sorted out, and I was completely invested in their secrets and confessions. Thoroughly enjoyed this!

Elizabeth Berg is an award-winning author. The Confession Club is her newest novel, the third book in the Mason series.

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

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.)