Tag: romance

Book Review: Once Upon a Mail Order Bride, by Linda Broday

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Title: Once Upon a Mail Order Bride
Author: Linda Broday
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Accused of crimes he didn’t commit, ex-preacher Ridge Steele is forced to give up everything he knew and make his home with outlaws. Desperate for someone to confide in, he strikes up correspondence with mail-order bride Adeline Jancy, finding in her the open heart he’s been searching for. Upon her arrival, Ridge discovers Addie only communicates through the written word, but he knows a little of what trauma can do to a person and vows to stand by her side.

Addie is eager to start a new life with the kind ex-preacher and the little boy she’s stolen away from her father–a zealot priest of a terrorized flock. As her small family settles into life at Hope’s Crossing, she even begins to find the voice, and confidence, she’d lost so long ago.

But danger is not far behind, and her father will not be denied. While Addie desperately fights the man who destroyed her childhood, a determined Ridge races to the rescue. The star-crossed lovers will need more than prayers to survive this final challenge…and find their way back to each other again.

This is the fourth installment in the Mail Order Brides series. I haven’t read the others, but it’s a standalone, so that’s no big deal. I thought this was a solid read, a standard HEA-romance. I enjoyed the setting, and I’d probably read the other books in this series if I had time, as I enjoy linked standalones and getting glimpses of characters’ lives after I finish reading their story. Addie and Ridge are both interesting characters, and I enjoyed reading their journey as they struggle to overcome the scars of their past.

Linda Broday is a bestselling author. Once Upon a Mail Order Bride is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Claiming the Rancher’s Heir, by Maisey Yates

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title: Claiming the Rancher’s Heir
Author: Maisey Yates
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0

Wren Maxfield hates Creed Cooper, but now she’s working with the wealthy rancher over the holidays! Those strong feelings hide undeniable chemistry…and one wild night results in pregnancy. Now Creed vows to claim his heir. That means proposing a marriage in name only. But as desire takes over, is that a deal they can keep?

This was a quick read, but that’s about the only truly redeeming quality I found. There wasn’t any explanation for the Hatfields-and-Mccoys style feud/hatred the Coopers and the Maxfields had for each other. Wren’s main personality trait seemed to be confusion/being erratic, and Creed’s was being an alpha male. Everything here seemed strictly superficial, without getting close to the characters or examining why they did things.

Maisey Yates is a bestselling author. Claiming the Rancher’s Heir is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A California Christmas, by Brenda Novak

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Title: A California Christmas
Author: Brenda Novak
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Up-and-coming TV anchor Emery Bliss can’t imagine anything more humiliating than the sex tape her ex revenge-posted online. That is, until it causes her to lose her job on top of her self-esteem. Seeking solace—and anonymity—in Silver Springs, Emery isn’t looking to get involved with another man anytime soon. But when she’s thrown back into contact with Dallas Turner, she sees something that his many detractors have missed.

Being home for the holidays and his adoptive mother’s wedding isn’t where mountain climber Dallas feels most comfortable. Thanks to his troubled childhood, he’d rather be on a rock face alone than trying to connect with people. Emery, however, makes him want to overcome his past…somehow.

Both Emery and Dallas had been planning on a quiet, solitary Christmas, but the sparks between them are lighting a fire strong enough to last—possibly forever.

I thought this was well-written and I enjoyed the small-town setting, but I did have some issues with the characters. Both Emery and Dallas came across as childish and petty. Emery was the victim of something awful, but her texts were manipulative and dishonest, and I didn’t care for that. Dallas…had some issues—understandable ones—but he showed zero growth during the course of this novel. None.

Again, this was well-written and I enjoyed the read, but I found the characters mostly-unlikable.

Brenda Novak is a bestselling author. A California Christmas is her newest novel.

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

Blog Tour and Book Review: Delayed Justice, by Shirlee McCoy

Image belongs to Harlequin.

Title: Delayed Justice
Author: Shirlee McCoy
Genre: Romance, Christian
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Detective Bradley McGregor and his K-9 partner, King, come to the rescue when journalist Sasha Eastman’s targeted by a shooter who looks just like her mother’s murderer. But that killer supposedly died years ago in a shootout with the police. Now it’s up to Bradley and King to protect Sasha…but how can they stop a killer who’s already dead?

I enjoyed this much more than the last True Blue K-9 Unit: Brooklyn book I read. Solid writing, believable characters, and it wasn’t insta-love thankfully. Faith was worked naturally into the story and felt right for the characters, instead of being like checking off a box.

Of course, the dog is a big part of the story, and I always enjoy reading about these working dogs. They’re so smart! Sasha has been through some stuff, and she does make some bad decisions in this book, but she’s tough and smart, so it works out. Bradley is also a great character, and I enjoyed reading his point-of-view. This is a sweet, quick read with a hint of danger.

Shirlee McCoy is a bestselling author. Delayed Justice is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Autumn Skies, by Denise Hunter

Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

Title: Autumn Skies
Author: Denise Hunter
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

When a mysterious man turns up at Grace’s family-run inn, it’s instant attraction. But she’s already got a lot on her plate: running the Bluebell Inn, getting Blue Ridge Outfitters off the ground, and coping with a childhood event she’d thought was long past.

A gunshot wound has resurrected the past for secret service agent Wyatt Jennings, and a mandatory leave of absence lands him in Bluebell, North Carolina. There he must try and come to grips with the crisis that altered his life forever.

Grace needs experience for her new outfitters business, so when Wyatt needs a mountain guide, she’s more than happy to step up to the plate. As their journey progresses, Grace soon has an elusive Wyatt opening up, and Wyatt is unwittingly drawn to Grace’s fresh outlook and sense of humor.

There’s no doubt the two have formed a special bond, but will Wyatt’s secrets bring Grace’s world crashing down? Or will those secrets end up healing them both?

I’ve really enjoyed the Bluebell Inn Romance series, and this was no exception. I love the small-town setting, and Grace and her siblings are great characters. It was fun to see more of Molly’s and Levi’s stories, too, after reading their linked standalones.

Grace and Wyatt are a good match:  both struggling with tragedies from their past and trying to figure out where their futures are going. I loved watching these characters grow and change through the story, and I’d love to read more stories set in this small town.

Denis Hunter is a bestselling author. Autumns Skies is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Highlander is Coming to Town, by Laura Trentham

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: A Highlander is Coming to Town
Author: Laura Trentham     
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

You better watch out. . .

Holt Pierson is dreading Christmas. His parents absconded to Florida for the season and left him to handle the family farm which will be his one day—whether he wants it or not. Driven by duty, Holt has always followed the path expected of him. But lately, he’s been questioning what he wants and where he belongs. Will assuming the responsibility of the Pierson farm make him happy or is there something—or someone—else out in the wider world calling to him?

To Claire Smythe, the Scottish lead singer of a touring band, Highland, Georgia, is the perfect place to hide . . .until a very handsome and deeply curious Holt begins to ask all the questions Claire doesn’t want to answer. As Holt draws Claire out from under and into the fabric of small-town life, can Claire put the past behind her and embrace the unexpected gifts of the season—including the new and lasting love?

I’ve really enjoyed the books in the Highland, Georgia series, and this one did not disappoint. I liked the switch to the female lead being from Scotland, not the male. Claire’s scattered issues with the differences between American slang and Scottish were amusing, too.

This is another in the list of books I’ve read recently that make small-town life sound appealing. Highland, Georgia sounds like a charming—almost magical—place, and it truly comes to life on the pages of these novels. Claire and Holt are both flawed characters, but their imperfections make them relatable, and their chemistry is believable and compelling.

Laura Trentham was born in Tennessee. A Highlander is Coming to Town is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: A Heartfelt Christmas Promise, by Nancy Naigle

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Title: A Heartfelt Christmas Promise
Author: Nancy Naigle  
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Vanessa Larkin was supposed to be spending Christmas in Paris, France on a business trip she hoped to enjoy as a working vacation. Instead, she’s been assigned to Fraser Hills, North Carolina—home of the Best Fruitcake in the USA—to convert her company’s property into warehouse space and shut down Porter’s, the fruitcake factory. Offering retirement packages and selling locals on new job opportunities may not spread holiday cheer, but Vanessa believes she’s helping secure the town’s future.

Mike Marshall’s family founded Porter’s. For decades, the factory served as the lifeblood of the community until his grandfather sold the business to a Chicago corporation. The sale cost the town its independence—and the Marshalls their family ties. A horse farmer, Mike was never involved with his grandfather’s company, but still felt Fraser Hills lost part of its identity. And as a widower raising a teenage daughter, he’s suffered enough losses in one lifetime. News of the factory’s closing means losing another piece of the town’s legacy.

Far from the skyscrapers and rapid pace of the city, Vanessa finds herself enjoying the easygoing rhythms of rural living. With Mike as her guide, she learns to appreciate the simple pleasures found in shared holiday festivities among friends. Fraser Hills is a town she is growing to love—and Mike is someone she is falling in love with. Now all Vanessa needs is a Christmas miracle to give her newfound friends and home a gift they’ll cherish for many New Years to come.

This was a sweet, easy read that made small-town life sound appealing. And I kind of wanted to sample that magical fruitcake!

I liked that Vanessa wasn’t portrayed as a stereotypical uncaring city girl, but as someone truly trying to do her best to help the people and town of Fraser Hills. I thought all the characters were well-done and believable, the setting was realistic and charming, and this was a solid, enjoyable read.

Nancy Naigle lives in North Carolina. A Heartfelt Christmas Miracle is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Misleading a Duke, by A.S. Fenichel

Image belongs to Kensington Books.

Title: Misleading a Duke
Author:  A.S. Fenichel   
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5

Betrothed to a man she has barely met, Lady Faith Landon calls upon her three best friends—the self-proclaimed Wallflowers of West Lane—to help uncover the secrets of her mysterious fiancé. Her suspicions are aroused when she learns that he has recently returned from France. Is he a traitor to his country? The truth is quite the opposite. Nicholas Ellsworth, Duke of Breckenridge, is a secret agent for the English Crown who has just completed a risky mission to infiltrate Napoleon’s spy network.

After his adventures, Nicholas craves the peace and quiet of the country and settling into domestic bliss with his bride. Until he discovers Faith’s deceptive investigation. How can he wed a woman who doesn’t trust him? But a powerful spark has ignited between Nicholas and Faith that could bring about a change of heart. Faith seizes her second chance to prove to Nicholas that they are a true love match but his past catches up with them when three French spies come to exact revenge. Surviving rather than wooing has become the order of the day.

I enjoy reading linked standalones because you get to see bits of “what happened next” for characters that were the focus in another book. Misleading a Duke is one of those, so the reader got to see a bit more of what happened with Poppy and Rhys but having read that first book wasn’t necessary to enjoy this one.

I liked Faith. She’s unconventional, inquisitive, and truly has a good heart. She’s also not afraid to apologize for her mistakes—like spying on her fiancé. Nicholas overacted a bit to Faith’s spying—I mean, he was a spy and lies all the time, who can blame her being curious about the man she’s going to marry—but at least he admits he was out of line. Eventually.

The chemistry between them is solid and both their personalities mesh well to make this a fun, quick read. I’m looking forward to the next book int series!

A.S. Fenichel lives in Missouri. Misleading a Duke is her newest novel.

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

Book Review: Finding Balance, by Kati Gardner

finding balance
Image belongs to North Star Editions/Flux.

Title:  Finding Balance
AuthorKati Gardner
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.2 out of 5

Jase Ellison doesn’t remember having Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia when he was three years old. His cancer diagnosis only enters his mind twice a year. Once at his yearly checkup at the oncology clinic and when he attends Camp Chemo in the summer. No one in his “real” life knows about his past, especially his friends at Atlanta West Prep.

Mari Manos has never been able to hide her cancer survivorship. She wakes every morning, grabs her pink forearm clip crutches, and starts her day. Mari loves Camp Chemo—where she’s developed a healthy crush on fellow camper Jase. At Camp, she knows that she’ll never get “the look” or have to explain her amputation to anyone.

Jase wants to move on, to never reveal his past. But when Mari transfers to his school, he knows she could blow his cover. That’s the last thing he wants, but he also cannot ignore his attraction to her. For Mari, she only wants to be looked at like a girl, a person, and not only known for her disability. But how do you move on from cancer when the world won’t let you

 

This book deals with some really tough subjects. Bad things happen sometimes—and sometimes children are the one who have to deal with it. Jase and Mari survived childhood cancer, but years later they’re still dealing with the fallout. Mari is so unbelievably strong—and I love how she doesn’t just put up with Jase’s b.s. She calls him out on it and lets him know it’s not okay.

I felt really sorry for Jase. How can anyone think it’s okay to bully someone who had cancer? I can’t imagine being the victim there, on top of having cancer! Strength in the midst of pain runs through this novel, and it was so good!

Kati Gardner calls herself a recovering actor. She lives in North Carolina and had an amputation as the result of childhood cancer. Finding Balance is her newest novel, the second book in the Brave Enough series.

(Galley courtesy of North Star Editions/Flux in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: In Case You Missed It, by Lindsey Kelk

Image belongs to HarperCollins.

Title: In Case You Missed It
Author: Lindsey Kelk    
Genre: Women’s fiction
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

I don’t think I’ve read any of this author’s work before, but judging from this, she’s a solid, capable writer. I laughed a few times, I enjoyed the description of life in London, and it was a quick read. Ros’s mother’s wardrobe malfunctions were the funniest parts to me.

Ros herself was a disaster, and it’s hard for me to sympathize with a character who keeps doing stupid stuff and ignoring things. Like the behavior of her ex—who is her ex for a reason—or the fact that she looks at everything through rose-colored glasses. She’s clueless and selfish, and while I enjoyed her friend group, Ros acted like a spoiled teenager and the plot was predictable all along.

Lindsey Kelk was born in England and Lives in L.A. In Case You Missed It is her newest novel.

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