Tag: romance

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.)

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Book Review: Isaiah’s Daughter, by Mesu Andrews

isaiah's daughter
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title:   Isaiah’s Daughter
Author:   Mesu Andrews
Genre:   Biblical fiction
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

After she loses her family to war, Ishma—desolation—is a child grieving and frightened when she is taken in by the prophet Isaiah and his wife. She grows up in their home but fear still lurks when she sets eyes on a soldier. Since Isaiah is out of favor with the king, he has been tasked with teaching the young noblemen, and Ishma is introduced to young Prince Hezekiah when he is traumatized from his brother’s ritual sacrifice.

Ishma and Hezi are close friends as they grow up, but his father’s evil reign separates them for years, despite their love for each other. Until Isaiah adopts Ishma and gives her a new name, Zibah, delight of the Lord, which also makes her one of the nobility—and eligible to marry the prince. But Zibah must overcome her fears and learn to trust in the Lord if she is ever to end up where she truly wishes to be.

I’ve only read two of Mesu Andrews’ books—so far—but I love how she brings stories from the Bible to vibrant, breathing life! As Ishma grows from a frightened, traumatized child to a loving and faithful adult, the reader is drawn along on her journey—and learns truth along with her. I cannot recommend Mesu Andrews and her novels enough!

Mesu Andrews has been writing since her chronic illness over 20 years ago. Isaiah’s Daughter is the first in the Prophets and Kings series.

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

Book Review: Blow: A Love Story, by Tracy Ewens

 

blow a love story
Image belongs to Tracy Ewens.

Title:   Blow: A Love Story
Author:  Tracy Ewens
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Millie Hart has spent her life writing happy endings, but now she’s decided to write a “serious” book:  one that will impress even her aloof, condescending father. So she rents a cottage in a small seaside town, betting the dark and gloomy oceanside town will inspire her new novel. Instead she finds a quaint community that comes with a loud—and annoying—soundtrack. Not to mention the new neighbor who’s big on crankiness, not understanding.

Drake Branch barely escaped the accident six years ago with his life. Now he’s got his life together, he’s moved on, and he loves his job at BP Glass Works. When he lets a struggling metalworks shop move in next door, he’s not prepared for the PTSD triggered by the screeching noises—so he compensates with loud music. Not ideal for the writer who just moved in next door.

I haven’t read any of the other books in this series—sadly—but I really enjoyed this one! Millie has her issues, but she’s such a great character, and her struggle with her feelings towards her father is so heartfelt and painful. Drake just thinks he’s a tough guy who’s recovered from his tragic accident, but when he meets Millie, he realizes he isn’t healed at all. I loved the characters, the setting, everything about this book!

Tracy Ewens lives and writes in Arizona. Blow:  A Love Story is her newest novel.

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

The Best Books I Read in July (2019)

So…normally, I pick the top three books I read in a month. This time, that’s just not possible. Because I read some really good books in July.

the secret life of Sarah Hollenbeck

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, by Bethany Turner. This was from my TBR pile, so I didn’t review it. What happens when a steamy romance writer gets saved and falls in love with a preacher? This made me laugh so much, as, apparently, Sarah and I were separated at birth.

ayesha at last

Ayesha at Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin. This also didn’t get a review, as it was my cultural book of the month. Pride and Prejudice in a Muslim community? Yes, please! I enjoyed this immensely, and I loved the look at a Muslim community. And, of course, a good Pride and Prejudice retelling does not go amiss.

three ways

Three Ways to Disappear, by Katy Yocom. This book was emotional, full of family drama, and tigers. And so good!

the mcavoy sisters

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, by Molly Fader. More family secrets and drama, but a much happier ending. Life on a Great Lake, secrets from the past, and a troubled relationship between two sisters.

 

the book charmer

The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins.  If i could physically give you a copy of this book—I would! I don’t even like small towns, and I’d move to Dove Pond. A librarian who hears books talk to her, a town in trouble, and the outsider who’s the only one who can save it. Please do yourself a favor and read this!

the merciful crow

The Merciful Crow, by Margaret Owen. Have you ever read a fantasy novel that sucked you in from the very first page, that made the culture come alive, and had characters that lived and breathed on the page? This is that book. I’d have read this straight through except work. I could NOT put it down!

Book Review: The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins

the book charmer
Image belongs to Gallery Books.

Title:   The Book Charmer
Author:   Karen Hawkins
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   5 out of 5

Legend has it that when the Dove family has seven daughters, something special happens. Sarah Dove is that seventh daughter, and since she was seven years old, books have whispered to her. They tell her which person in town needs them—and the books are always  right. So when a cranky old book tells Sarah who is going to save Dove Pond, she listens.

Grace Wheeler moved to Dove Pond because dementia is encroaching on her beloved mother, and she hopes that returning to her mother’s hometown might slow its progress. She also has her niece to care for and giving up her high-powered financial job to move to a small town and take care of family wasn’t in Grace’s plans.

The town of Dove Pond is in trouble, and Grace may be the only one who can save it. But she’ll need the help of Sarah, Travis—her gruff neighbor—and everyone else in Dove Pond if she’s to pull it off.

I loved this book! I grew up in a small town (much smaller than Dove Pond) and have always been grateful that I no longer live there, but I’d move to Dove Pond. The town is such a character in this story. Its people are vibrant and quirky, and I wanted to hang out with all of them. Especially Sarah. As much as I love books and reading, she’s someone I could absolutely be friends with. And Grace is so strong. She’s like a force of nature. I cannot wait to read more of this series! This is labeled as romance, but that’s a secondary plot here, as the book is much more about friendship, family, and saving Dove Pond.

Karen Hawkins is a bestselling author. The Book Charmer, the first book in the Dove Pond series, is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour: A Highlander Walks Into a Bar, by Laura Trentham

highlander
Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title:   A Highlander Walks Into a Bar
Author:   Laura Trentham
Genre:   Romance
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

Isabel Buchanan wasn’t really expecting her mother to bring back a souvenir from Scotland, much less a handsome new boyfriend. The trip was only two weeks long, after all. So Isabel is immediately suspicious of Gareth—and his intentions. But Isabel is too busy worrying about the Highland Games—which she and her mother host every year to support the local community—to waste too much energy on worry…until Alasdair arrives.

Alasdair Blackmoor has been sent to drag his uncle back home and away from a greedy American’s clutches, but when he arrives in Highland, Georgia, he finds Gareth hasn’t told anyone who he really is—and Alasdair wonders just what Isabel and her mother could be up to. Georgia awakens feelings Alasdair thought had died—Georgia and Isabel. Her fiery temper and tendency to say whatever pops into her head makes Alasdair laugh, but soon he’s feeling much more than amusement—and he’s determined to stop the trouble he’s brought to her door.

This book made me laugh so much! Isabel’s speak-first, think-later tendencies lead to some hilarious conversations. I related to her feelings of awkwardness so much ,and the town of Highland was so quirky and so charming! The occasional hot Scotsman in  a kilt didn’t hurt, either. Isabel and Alasdair’s attraction grows so naturally and so comfortably, and I loved seeing how it developed and the challenges they overcame.

Laura Trentham is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance, including Then He Kissed Me and The Military Wife. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina. Her newest novel is A highlander Walks Into a Bar.

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

Book Review: The Seekers, by Heather Graham

The Seekers
Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title:   The Seekers
Author:   Heather Graham
Genre:   Mystery, suspense, paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Kerri Wolfe writes meticulously researched books about crimes of the past, but she’s been invited to join The Seekers, a team of paranormal investigators, as they investigate a supposedly haunted old inn. In the 1920s, the inn was the site of brutal ax murders—and that investigation uncovered even more ghastly crimes.

Kerri wants to find out the truth about the old murders. She’s not there for ghosts. But when the team discovers a horrifying—and recent—murder scene in the basement of the inn, she finds herself involved in a murder investigation in the present. What she really wants is an explanation for the apparition she keeps seeing.

Joe Dunhill knows how she feels. As the newest member of the Krewe of Hunters, he’s still adjusting to being able to see and talk to the dead. The small town where the inn is located is full of old rumors, legends, and superstition, and he’s not sure how to find the murderer without knowing the truth of the past.

I rarely read anything creepy or scary—because I’m a chicken—and the beginning of The Seekers is a bit of both…but I made it through. The setting was fascinating, although I’ve no plans to stay in a haunted inn anytime soon (or ever).  Lots of threads tangled together here, past and present, and this was an engrossing, thrilling read.

Heather Graham is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. The Seekers is her newest novel, #28 in the Krewe of Hunters series.

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

Book Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, by Molly Fader

the mcavoy sisters
Image belongs to Harlequin/Graydon House.

Title:  The McAvoy Book of Secrets
Author:  Molly Fader
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   5 out of 5

Lindy McAvoy was always the wild McAvoy sister:  always the talk of the town for her escapades, always into something. Seventeen years ago, she left town—and her mother and sister—behind in search of a better life in the city. Now she’s back in Port to visit her mother, who’s just had a stroke, and her sister, who’s now raising her own daughters.

Delia never even told her sister she’d had another baby, but now that Lindy’s back in town to visit their ailing mother, she knows she’ll have to talk to her—and Delia sees her rebellious sister in the eyes and actions of her own oldest daughter. The McAvoys have never talked about that summer seventeen years ago when their family fell apart and Lindy left town, but now that the family is back together, secrets from long ago fill the air and shape the family they are now.

I loved this book! Lindy and Delia’s relationship is complex and filled with years of history and emotion—not to mention secrets. The town of Port—and life on the shores of a Great Lake—was so vibrant and well-realized I felt like I’d grown up there. I loved all the intricate relationships, and, while the “secret” wasn’t a surprise, the gradual revelation of what really happened was enthralling and kept me engrossed.

Molly Fader lives in Ontario. The McAvoy Book of Secrets is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Harlequin/Graydon House in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Crashing the A-List, by Summer Heacock

crashing the a-list
Image belongs to MIRA.

Title:   Crashing the A-List
Author:  Summer Heacock
Genre:   Women’s fiction/romance
Rating:   4.5 out of 5

For an out-of-work editor, finding a new job isn’t easy. So, Clara sleeps on her brother’s couch while she collects unemployment and job-hunts. She signs on for a stint of cleaning out abandoned storage buildings, but she’s not prepared for the trash, the unidentified objects—are those eyeballs?—or the piles of paper. Then she finds the records of an old escort service—complete with the resume of Caspian Tiddleswich, a super-famous British actor.

Clara’s best friend thinks she should sell her find to the tabloids, but Clara can’t imagine doing that. Instead, she tracks down Caspian’s number and leaves a message assuring him his secret is safe. At least, that’s what she thinks she says. But Caspian shows up at her door, accusing her of blackmail—and the paparazzi gets a picture of their confrontation, and suddenly the two of them are news.

Caspian’s PR team jumps on the opportunity—and Caspian isn’t averse to a little blackmail himself, so Clara finds herself posing as his girlfriend to atone for her sins. But as she gets to know Caspian, she realizes there’s far more to the superstar than meets the eye, and their game of pretend becomes something else.

I read this straight through while in the car on a road trip, and I’m pretty sure my brother thought I’d lost my mind because of all the snickering and outright laughter. There’s a lot of profanity, but this story is hysterical! And, let’s face it, who hasn’t daydreamed about some dreamy actor? Clara was such a relatable character, and her best friend is awesome, too. And Caspian—well, there’s a lot of character growth there. You should definitely read this!

Summer Heacock is a writer, a mom, and a wife. Crashing the A-List is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Lunar Court, by Aileen Erin

lunar court
Image belongs to the author and Ink Monster LLC.

Title:   Lunar Court
Author:   Aileen Erin
Genre:   YA/ paranormal
Rating:   4 out of 5

Chris is the funniest, sweetest boy Cosette’s ever met. Despite the trauma he’s suffered, he still manages to brighten up everyone around him—even when he’s fighting a chapel full of demons. He’s exactly what Cosette needs in her life. He’s also a werewolf—and she’s from the Lunar Court, the only fey court with control over the werewolves, so she knows they can’t be together.

But when Chris goes missing, Cosette will do anything to find him and bring him home safely. Even if they can’t be together, she wants him safe and happy. She has no safety in her own life—not with assassins trying to kill her at every step and her mother trying to force her into marrying—but she wants Chris to have it. She finds Chris in the darkest of fey courts, where the truth is twisted and she can trust no one. It will take an archon to keep the two of them safe—and even that might not be enough to make sure everyone gets out alive.

I think I read the first two Alpha Girl books a few years back and enjoyed them but got distracted by something else. I need to go back and catch up. Lunar Court was a solid read, and I love the world here, combining my favorite creatures in intriguing ways. A solid, entertaining read!

Lunar Court is Aileen Erin’s newest novel, the eighth book in the Alpha Girl series.

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