Tag: romance

Book Review: How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center

how to walk away
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   How to Walk Away
Author:   Katherine Center
Genre:   Fiction, romance
Rating:   4 out of 5

Margaret Jacobsen was on the cusp of everything she’d dreamed of:  her dream job, a fiancé who’s absolutely perfect, and her wonderful life about to start. Until a plane crash leaves her burned and paralyzed, and that wonderful life disappears from view.

In the hospital, Margaret has six weeks of healing time; after that, she must go home, and the optimal healing time has passed, meaning if she can’t walk by then, she never will. So Margaret throws herself into her efforts to heal, with the help of a surly physical therapist who pushes her to do her best—and whose bad attitude is a challenge.

Along the way, Margaret must deal with heartbreak, family secrets, and the realization that life sometimes doesn’t turn out like we plan—and that’s okay.

I enjoyed this so much that I read it straight through in just a couple of hours! Margaret is an inspiring person I’d love to hang out with. What she goes through after the plane crash is captured in blistering detail, and I can relate to the mental reevaluation that’s necessary when you wake up in the hospital with your whole world changed. If you like smart fiction with a bit of romance, a heroine whose determination will inspire you, and a quirky family, this book is for you!

Katherine Center lives and writes in Houston, Texas. How to Walk Away is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

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Book Review: Song of Blood and Stone, by L. Penelope

song
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   Song of Blood and Stone
Author:  L. Penelope
Genre:    Fantasy
Rating:   4.5/5

Jasminda lives in an isolated cabin in Elsira, where her Earthsong, though weak, makes her an outcast—as does her being half Elsiran and half Lagrimaran. She has no one, and she prefers it that way, as too many people have always treated her like trash. When a dangerous group of soldiers from nearby Lagrimar invade her home to escape a storm, she must convince them she’s not a danger—and that she’s one of them.

Their prisoner, Jack, captures her attention. His mission to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall at the hands of the True Father almost cost him his life. Only Jasminda’s power kept him alive, and now he needs her help to escape, and to save all Elsira.

As the power of the True Father grows stronger, Jasminda and Jack must uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps if they are to stop his despotic power from overwhelming their land. But the enemies they face are not just outsiders, and they must choose between what they want and what they must do if they are to survive.

Because I choose to read books on whether the plot is appealing to me (okay, and depending on how much I like the cover), I didn’t realize going in that this book is, as the author says, “a fantasy romance about brown people.” I also didn’t really pay attention to this fact while reading it, and only noticed while reading some of the publicity surrounding it, and the author’s site. However, the truth of what it is lent the story some incredible nuances and layers that brought the entire world to vibrant, shimmering life.

I was hooked from the very first page. Jasminda is a strong character, but she’s hiding her hurts behind many protective layers because society just isn’t receptive to her existence. So, she lives alone, survives on her own, and is determined to continue living life the way she sees fit. Until fate steps in and turns her world upside down, when she meets—and saves—Jack, a soldier on an undercover mission, pursued by enemy soldiers, who turns himself in to keep Jasminda safe.

The worldbuilding is complex, and I love how the history is layered in with flashbacks. This helps to give a very real feel to the setting. I loved the diverse cast of characters and read this straight through in one sitting. Can’t wait for the second book!

Leslye (L.) Penelope is an award-winning writer. Song of Blood and Stone is her debut novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Suitors and Sabotage, by Cindy Anstey

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Image belongs to Swoon Reads.

Title:   Suitors and Sabotage
Author:  Cindy Anstey
Genre:   young adult, historical romance
Rating:   4.5/5

Shy Imogene Chively hated the Season, but she had a successful one, gaining a serious suitor, Ernest Steeple. Now the aspiring artist just wishes to get to know Ernest better before he proposes. When Ernest and his brother, Ben, arrive earlier than expected for their visit, Imogene finds herself in over her head.

While Imogene and Ernest get to know one another, charming Ben reveals his dark secret:  he’s an architect apprentice who can’t draw. Fortunately, Imogene is an apt teacher, and the two work together as Ben learns to draw.

But a series of suspicious accidents lead them to believe that someone is out to get Ben. The only suspects are Imogene’s friends and family, so Ben, Ernest, Imogene, and her friend, Emily do their best to uncover who means Ben harm. Along the way, Imogene realizes she has feelings for the wrong brother—feelings that could break Ernest’s heart and alienate her from her demanding family.

Suitors and Sabotage was a fun, light read full of sassiness, humor, and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! It had the feel of Jane Austen mixed with a modern romcom, but the characters showed some surprising depths and the identity of the saboteur surprised me completely.

Cindy Anstey loves to travel and write books inspired by Jane Austen. Suitors and Sabotage is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Swoon Reads in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Lion of the South, by Jessica James

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Image belongs to Patriot Press.

Title:  The Lion of the South
Author:  Jessica James
Genre:  Fiction, historical, romance
Rating:  4/5

Julia Dandridge grew up in Virginia. On the estate of her father’s friend, she ran wild, learning to ride and fish from Landon, who finally made Julia feel she was part of a family. Until she turned sixteen and Landon’s mother shipped her off to an aunt and uncle she’d never met, where she grew to adulthood in Washington society. Amid the Civil War, everything changed.

Now Julia is back, desperate to escape the prying eyes that keep tabs on her in Washington. She is also eager to see Landon, but finds the bitter, drunken man a far cry from the compassionate, noble young man she knew.

With everyone desperate for news of the Lion of the South—a heroic figure whose daring exploits bring hope to the Confederacy—Julia finds herself forced to choose between loyalty to the society she grew up in and the brother she adores.

The Lion of the South is set during the Civil War, but it leaves the issues behind the war  strictly alone, focusing instead on the lives affected by war and its impact on society. This is a simple, sweet novel that reminds me rather strongly of The Scarlet Pimpernel. The book is a bit predictable but is a light and easy read nonetheless.

Jessica James is an award-winning author. The Lion of the South is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Patriot Press in exchange for an honest review.)

 

More reviews at <a href=” https://tamaramorning.com/”>Tomorrow is Another Day</a>

Book Review: The Heart Between Us, by Lindsay Harrel

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Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Megan Jacobs spent her life being careful, being in the hospital, and watching her sister, Crystal, live life to the fullest, while Megan dreamed about the future, what she would do when she was no longer sick. Three years ago, Megan got a heart transplant, but she’s still playing it safe, living with her parents and working at the library while she yearns for more.

Then, Megan’s heart donor’s parents give her their daughter’s journal, and Megan finds someone she identifies with in the pages. She also finds an unfinished bucket list and decides to fulfill all the items on the list, pushing past her comfort zone as she fights her tendency to play it safe.

When Crystal decides to come with her, Megan hopes they can repair their fragile relationship. With Crystal at her side and her old friend Caleb—a fellow heart transplant recipient—encouraging her, Megan thinks she has all the support she needs to complete her audacious journey. But will she be able to overcome her fears and embrace her new heart?

I related to Megan so much. Her fear of change and of new things is so familiar, as is her desire to travel and to write. So familiar. She’s been through so much, and it’s easier to coast along with the status quo, than to risk failure. Even when Megan has stepped out in faith, she still falters, but the love of those around her propels her forward. This is Crystal’s story, too, the “perfect” sister who is driven by her ambitions even while her marriage is failing. Stepping out in faith and changing is just as hard for Crystal as it is for her sister, but the two don’t even realize they have this in common. I loved this book and highly recommend it!

Lindsay Harrel writes inspirational fiction. The Heart Between Us is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Coincidence Makers, by Yoav Blum

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Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:  The Coincidence Makers
Author:  Yoav Blum
Genre:  A mix of several:  mystery, romance, literary fiction-ish.
Rating:  3.5/5

We’ve all had something happen “by coincidence,” like running into your childhood best friend on the side of the street when you have a flat tire. Or meeting someone new in a coffee shop after you knock your drink off the table onto their shoes. But what if those things don’t just happen by chance?

Guy, Emily, and Eric are Coincidence Makers:  they work for a secret organization, creating the coincidences they are assigned through complex manipulations and machinations. Sometimes, they create a love match. Sometimes, they just give someone the push they need to live their dreams.

Guy used to be an Imaginary Friend, and he fell in love with another Imaginary Friend. He’s never forgotten her, and thoughts of her haunt every day, so he tries his best to ignore Emily’s overtures. But when Guy is assigned a coincidence that’s higher than anything he’s done before, he realizes even his hidden world has deeper secrets.

I liked this book. The concept is unique and fascinating—even if the “science” is sometimes a bit over my head. Guy, Emily, and Eric are characters I liked, and they would be fun to hang out with. The book is dreamy, and reading it felt like floating…or I probably would have enjoyed it more (not the right type of book for my mindset at the time), but it was a good, creative read.

Yoav Blum is an Israeli author and software developer whose novels have become international bestsellers. The Coincidence Makers is his newest novel.

(Galley provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Mesmerized, by Candace Camp

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Image belongs to harlequin/HQN.

Olivia Moreland, one of the “Mad Morelands”—what society names her eccentric, independent, and forward-thinking family—spends her days trying to expose mediums for the charlatans she believes them to be. She knows all their little tricks, from phosphorescent gloves to hidden music boxes playing the dearly departed’s favorite tune, and she thrives on shining a bright light on their shady practices. Until one night, Lord Stephen St. Leger accuses her of conspiring with a medium—and they both end up kicked out of the party.

Stephen’s apology means nothing to her, until, a few days later, he asks her to help him expose the medium preying on his own mother, and she finds herself in a house party at the St. Leger estate, Blackhope Hall.

Blackhope Hall has secrets dating back hundreds of years, and when Stephen and Olivia both start seeing visions from the past—visions where they are living the lives of a pair of star-crossed lovers—the skeptical pair start to question if the supernatural world really exists. Is the dark spirit that haunts the Moreland family responsible for the death of Stephen’s brother, or is the psychic who does his bidding to blame? Stephen and Olivia must work together if they are to stop their visions from the past of coming true again, and only love is strong enough to combat the darkness.

Mesmerized was a well-plotted read twining romance and paranormal together in a Regency setting. Olivia, at first too rebellious against the customs of society, learns that she can still be a smart, independent woman, even if she does her hair and wears feminine clothing. Stephen, determined to save his family from more hurt, is close-minded about anything that falls outside his realm of experience, but exposure to Olivia softens him up a bit. The secondary characters, especially the “Mad” Morelands, are vibrant and entertaining, adding depth to the story that I enjoyed.

Candance Camp lives in Austin, Texas and loves writing about the Regency era. Mesmerized is the first book in The Mad Morelands series, re-released on December 26th.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/HQN via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Lilac Lane, by Sherryl Woods

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Keira Malone raised her three kids alone when their father decided drinking was more important. When she finally allowed herself to love again, her fiancé died of a heart attack. Now she leaves Ireland behind for Maryland to spend time with her daughter and new granddaughter, and to help her son-in-law with his Irish pub.

She butts heads with Bryan Laramie, the moody chef at the pub, and more than sparks fly as the two try to decide who knows best. Once they reach a truce, Bryan’s long-lost daughter shows up, and he must deal with unresolved issues from the past, when he last saw his daughter as a baby. And Keira has her own issues:  having been so unlucky with love twice, is it even worth the effort? While the two try to sort out their problems, the rest of the town takes sides for the upcoming Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, where they will match up to decide who’s really best in the kitchen.

Sherryl Woods is the author of more than 100 novels. Lilac Lane is her newest novel, the 14th book in the Chesapeake Shores series.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/MIRA via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Select, by Marit Weisenberg

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Image belongs to Charlesbridge Teen.

Julia Jaynes is part of a group of highly-evolved humans living in Austin, Texas. Rich, beautiful, and powerful, they keep to themselves and try not to draw more attention to their media-popular circle. Then Julia saves her sister from drowning, and the media attention she causes makes her powerful father punish her by sending her to public high school.

There Julia meets John, a tennis prodigy and a nice, regular guy. When Julie discovers she can read his mind—sometimes—she uses the power to encourage John, and her feelings start to grow. Living with the regular humans isn’t as bad as she thought, but Julie is desperate to get back in her controlling father’s good graces, before their circle disappears from society for good.

So…the cover of this book is what caught my eye first, and the premise is fantastic. I read all of it, but Julia was a bit too erratic for me. Does she hate her father? Does she love him? Does she want to stay with the super humans? Does a life of freedom with the regular humans sound more appealing?  What is really going on with the evolved humans and Julia’s powerful father? And why did he separate the younger members and try to destroy the more powerful ones’ talents?

I don’t actually know the answers to any of these questions, and that bothers me. Julia can’t make up her mind, and a first-person narrative should have some insight into the character, but it doesn’t. (I saw several comparisons to Twilight in other reviews, and that is sadly accurate.) I loved the premise of this book, but the execution and character development was lacking.

Despite her name, Marit Weisenberg is only a quarter Norwegian. She lives in Austin, Texas. Select is the first book in the Select series.

(Galley provided by Charlesbridge Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Merry and Bright, by Debbie Macomber

merry and bright
Image belongs to Ballantine Books.

Merry Knight doesn’t have time for dating. Between a big project at work with her demanding boss, helping her mom, and spending time with her brother, who has time for dating? Sure, it would be nice, but she has more important things to worry about right now. Then her well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for Merry, and dating looks like it just might happen.

Soon Merry is chatting online with a charming stranger, and hopes to get to know him better. Until they meet in person, and she finds out he’s the last man she could ever actually date. Now Merry is torn between the kind man she knows online—and the all-business person she knows in real life.

I’m not going to lie:  the only reason I read this was because of the author. I generally avoid Christmas tales, because the commercialism of the season disgusts me, and the fact that stores put Christmas decorations out in September drives me up the wall. But this was a very sweet, satisfying read, with some touches of humor. Merry’s family, especially her brother, add so much to the story, and I actually finished reading this in just a few hours. (I’m ashamed to say I didn’t catch the significance of the title until I finished the book.) A lovely, uplifting story, that just might get you in the Christmas spirit.

Debbie Macomber is the best-selling author of many books, including non-fiction and romance.  She loves to tell stories. Merry and Bright is her latest novel.

(Galley provided by Ballantine Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)