Review

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

book coverPublished: HQN Books
Date: November 1st 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

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Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane is #2 in JoAnn Ross’ Honeymoon Harbor series. This time its another delectable Mannion brother and the woman he’s loved since forever, but somehow they never quite worked it all out when they were young.

Now they are older and wiser and for varying reasons find themselves back in Honeymoon Harbor.  Aidan with a bit of arm twisting from his father takes on the role of police chief to fill in a gap. And he has to be the ideal man for the job for any small town. He has lots of experience, is totally a good cop who isn’t going to take any nonsense when its needed and has a really soft heart when it comes to those in distress.

Jolene is a talented young woman but she has had her share of trauma but is now back in town to support her mother. She provides the feel good mother/daughter relationship in the story, and while she doesn’t want to make any commitment that will tie her down, it has to be said she hasn’t lost her feelings for Aidan.

A small town, feel good story with just enough tension applied along the way to boost interest for the reader. And yes there is a little bit of Christmas happening in the final chapter. And as well an ephemeral  character Bodhi, mate and working partner of Aidan who provide some extra interest to the story.

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Review

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

book coverPublished: William Morrow
Date: 16th October 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Christmas
Source: Publicist  via Edelweiss

Rating
Goodreads callout

Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first, her boss, Larry, thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment, so he ships her off to a Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.

Arriving at the charming mountainside inn, Haley meets the owner’s handsome son, Jeff, and feels an instant spark, but resists the attraction, refusing to be distracted from her goal of doing all the required Christmas tasks as fast as possible so she can get back to work.

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What a delightful, fresh, original Christmas season story. I wanted to resist it at first, but bit by bit it hooked my in and kept me reading on. I loved the characters and their stories, I loved the persistence of Max ( a dog) and his insight into the human heart!  I found myself wishing I was their at the Christmas Camp along with all the participants. I might be a little bit easily led I know, but I just couldn’t resist the feel good message in this story.

Haley is a sort of Grinch. But… she doesn’t really have all that much in common with that character, when you examine her life and her heart. Really that is in the right place. She has just become obsessed  with work and her eye is forever on that goal. But thanks to her boss she gets a call to step outside her life and experience something different. I found myself on her side, wanting her to love her respite in this wonder filled place, but also to be successful in her ultimate goal.

I loved the activities, the friendships and relationships that were begun or strengthened. Mmmm all the feels of the Christmas season plus. I believe this just may have a follow up. I’m all for it!

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Review

The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March

book coverPublished: St Martin’s Press
Date: 25th September 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
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A man who loves adventure and the open sea, Devin Murphy returns for a short Christmas trip to his small hometown of Eternity Springs. Immersed in the joy and magic of the holiday season all around him, he doesn’t hesitate to play along when a young boy phones Santa to ask for a very special wish. Devin never guesses that a wrong number has the potential to make everything in his life so right.

Jenna Stockton adopted Reilly when he needed a mother and she intends to keep him safe. A small town across the country called Eternity Springs seems like a good place to hide from their past without any complications —until sexy Santa himself discovers her secrets. When Devin proposes a daring plan to face down the danger together and defeat it once and for all, she is tempted. Maybe Devin really is capable of making wishes come true? Perhaps in a Christmas wish they’ll both find the miracle they’ve been looking for all along…

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The Christmas Wishing Tree was a delightful read. I always love returning to Eternity Springs, and this time I was hooked by the tension engendered from what Devin might do. Would he remain in Australia or fit in with a special person and live in Eternity Springs?

Jenna and her son Reilly are being harassed quite seriously by a stalker, and after some nasty experiences they have ended up in Eternity Springs. And of course that’s the right place to come to when you are hurting. Celeste for a start will have something up her sleeve and there is a whole arsenal of very capable people who can look into this matter.

I enjoyed the characters, Devin of course is as soft as marshmellow – when it counts and Jenna is such a great mother. Reilly is delightful and his journey of discovering all about how Christmas counts and what its all about is perfect.

I loved the humor, as well as the range of emotions the story evoked in me. It was full of beloved characters from Eternity Springs, yet easily could be picked up as a stand alone.

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Emily March Website                             Twitter: @EmilyMarchBooks
Facebook: Emily March                         Pinterest: Emily March

Buy Links:

Macmillan
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-a-Million
Indie Bound
Powells

Over The Teacups, Reading challenge, Review

Over The Teacups #8

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book coverWhy? I had read/listened to the previous book The Cafe by the Sea and loved it so I was totally in for listening to this one.

Plot This continues life on Mure which is a small island off the coast of Scotland. It sounds both unappealing and appealing. We meet all the same characters. Flora is running her cafe, her brother is about to get married, there is a doctor who wants to find his wife and children from a war torn area. And Flora is still wondering really about her relationship with Joel.

What Appeals to me? Well I loved the narration by Sarah Barron, perfection. I loved the setting, the characters and the bittersweet angst. We learn so much about the background of Joel, the doctor’s struggle with his search and find of his family, and well… there is one very sad loss happening.

And so… It was a 5 star listen for me. A keeper shelf book and most likely a notable book of 2018 for me.

book coverWhy? I saw this listed over on the AAR website where they had the top 100 romances as voted I guess by their readers. As I had read quite a few on this list I thought I’d try this one – new to the list. I also heard it discussed on a couple of podcasts and reviews on Goodreads were generally very positive.

Plot. This was about Jennifer – the Banana Queen, a baking genius who is totally exploited by her parents. And Cletus Winston – Jen blackmails him into helping her prepare for someone to marry. He sets out to educate her giving her tasks to do – like do something different every day. Cletus is a devious, loveable, quiet and clever individual but it turns out Jen is all of that and more.

What Appeals to me. It was a fun set up, and all the Winston family were a load of fun. They all have their own books I do believe. I listened to the audio and it was an easy listening experience reasonably well narrated.

And so…While I most likely won’t read about the rest of them in their books its only because there are so many books to be read… and if I only had time! A 4 star story and narration.

book coverWhy? I heard Joe Biden being interviewed by Oprah on SuperSoul Sunday Podcast awhile back and I was just so impressed by him. So I put the book into my wish list at Audible.

Plot. Joe Biden recounts some of his experiences as Vice President of the USA, and the years that led up to his son Beau’s death from brain cancer.

What Appeals to Me. I really liked Joe Biden’s values, his devotion to family and to duty and service. His life is inspiring, his simplicity, his authenticity, humility and loyalty. I liked his positivity and belief in his country even as times changed after his time in office. He narrates this book himself, he doesn’t have the most varied of voices, but the fact he is speaking it himself was enough for me.

And so…I was pleased I picked this one out to listen to, Joe Biden because of his life experience with tragedy has a compassion and ability to connect with others who have suffered. A 5 star reading experience.

Review

The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

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Published: HQN Books
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating
Goodreads callout

For the sake of her brother’s children, innkeeper Megan Hamilton has put her entire life on hold to become their guardian. The last person she wants to ever see again is Elliott Bailey, who she feels is responsible for her brother’s current predicament. But the heat between them is undeniable, and she agrees to help Elliott investigate the cold case that tore their family apart…as long as they keep their attraction under control.

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With the  the scent of  pine and spruce and the picture of lake and mountains in my imagination as I read the first chapters of The Cottages on Silver Beach, I was hooked into another small town contemporary romance. I’d enjoyed the previous couple of books in the Haven Point series and so it was with anticipation I read into this story.

I liked very much Elliot Bailey the wounded FBI hero, who has carried all the expectations on his shoulders of being the eldest in the family, someone who doesn’t want to disappoint his family and maybe reveal that his halo has slipped… or has it.  I loved his values and totally agreed with him on many points, but none more on an important decision he took and his reasons why.   He is as well as being a FBI agent – a crime writer and I really enjoyed seeing him embarrassed by the fan base he has engendered.

Megan the heroine is a talented photographer who also manages the family Inn. She has a difficult family background and many times doubts herself too often.  When she is placed in close proximity to Elliot a long time attraction has time to develop between them. Mostly its a good one, with some great personal sharing, yet when the chips are down some disappointing miscommunications happen. I so hate that, but have to be honest and say in real life it happens so I can’t be too hard on my bookish characters!

A mystery of what happened to  Megan’s brother Luke’s wife threads its way through the book,  she has been gone for many years. Luke has many a time been blamed for her murder, but what really happened. Well guess who can’t keep out of that one. Elliot makes it his business to pursue it.

The final chapter had me looking forward in great anticipation to Luke’s story and how that is going to pan out. So just lets say I am hooked into making that an auto read in my reading future!  That’s quite a turn around for me as some of this present book is set in Hope’s Crossing and well… I just did not connect with the first book in that series and ditched the whole series. I just may have made a mistake!

Review

Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross

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Published: HQN Books
Date:  June 1st 2018
Format: e-ARc
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: TLC Tours via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

Working as a Las Vegas concierge, Brianna Mannion is an expert at making other people’s wishes come true. It’s satisfying work, but a visit home to scenic Honeymoon Harbor turns into a permanent stay when she’s reminded of everything she’s missing: the idyllic small-town charm; the old Victorian house she’d always coveted; and Seth Harper, her best friend’s widower and the neighborhood boy she once crushed on—hard. After years spent serving others, maybe Brianna’s finally ready to chase dreams of her own.

Since losing his wife, Seth has kept busy running the Harper family’s renovation business and flying way under the social radar. But when Brianna hires him to convert her aging dream home into a romantic B and B, working together presents a heart-stopping temptation Seth never saw coming. With guilt and grief his only companions for so long, he’ll have to step out of the past long enough to recognize the beautiful life Brianna and he could build together.

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Herons Landing is #1 in JoAnn Ross’ new series Honeymoon Harbor. It is a contemporary small town romance with all the right elements for a reader like myself.

It is set in the Pacific North West of the USA and the beautiful scenery and wildlife is brought to life in such a way that it had me wanting to visit.

The two main characters were very likeable – Brianna has decided to escape her high flying job and return home to the place she really loves, even though at one stage in her life she left to test her wings.    Seth is an excellent builder and has completed a number of renovations in the small town and the place that Brianna sets her heart on – well it just so happens he loves as well. Seth lost his wife to war and he is not ready to risk loving again, and then losing that love.

There are a number of other characters, all of whom added much to the story. I especially loved Seth’s Dad and the lengths he was prepared to go to win his ‘lost love’ and I was also taken by the two twins who run the dress shop.

This is my first taste of a JoAnn Ross book and I will certainly be looking out for #2 in the Honeymoon Harbor series.

Review

The First Kiss of Spring by Emily March

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Published:  St Martin’s Press
Date:  27th February 2018
Format:  e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source:  Publicity via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

Goal-oriented and gorgeous, Caitlin Timberlake’s dreams took her to the top of the corporate ladder in New York City. Now years later, her goals have changed. She wants to come home to Eternity Springs and build a business and a family of her own—with the new man in town. So what if sexy mechanic Josh Tarkington wants nothing more than a fling? Caitlin is a patient woman who knows how to work hard and strategize to win what she desires. She desires Josh. Unfortunately, he has other plans.

Josh craves Caitlin and all she has to offer. However, he is a man with secrets. He has worked hard to overcome his tragic past, but he’s afraid to risk having a future because he knows trouble is never very far away. When a selfless act brings that trouble to his door, he stands to lose everything he cares about—including Caitlin. Will her love and the healing magic of Eternity Springs be enough to save him?

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The worst thing about a book I am enjoying is…. that it finishes! And much as I rue it, that’s it! I have to accept I have to leave the world that I have been enjoying and come back to reality.

First Kiss of Spring takes place in Eternity Springs, the place where so many people come to heal – and therefore when that is done, there are many well rounded, healthy families living there, plying their interesting trades and supporting each other.

Josh Tarkington has come here, he is a talented mechanic and has set up his own business. However he has a back story and we gradually learn that story as each chapter starts with an entry in his journal. Josh has had it hard, while some might think he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, that sure had a very dark lining. But… he has already fought many of his demons and while he doesn’t trust himself altogether, he really should. And he has certainly taken on board more wisdom than he realises from all the friendly people who have shared their learnings from the gently hand of Celeste – the local wise angel.

Caitlin Timberlake has returned home, she was a talented designer of homeware, but that no longer fulfils her, she has plans to open a new business in Eternity Springs. She is a little afraid of disappointing her mother, with this change of plan, but… her mother seems to have something else worrying her. And the intuitive Caitlin is picking up the vibes that all is not well in her family.  Meanwhile she is really falling for Josh and his little dog Penny.

This is another delightful story in the Eternity Springs series – #14 actually, and easily can be read as a stand alone although personally I am happy to say I have read and enjoyed all 14!  If you like small town, interesting characters, plenty happening then most likely you’d enjoy this one too.

Review

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev

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Published: Kensington
Date:  26th December 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre:Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.

Tasked at fourteen years old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.

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A Distant Heart takes up the story that was started in a Change of Heart. Now the focus is on Rahul the police officer chasing down a criminal ring who steal hearts on the black market.

Rahul has suffered much loss in his life, he comes from a poor family and has always fought his way courageously through life. Growing up he made friends with Kimi, a young girl who has severe immune problems She’s locked up in her safe “tower”. Eventually it will lead to heart failure and the need for a new heart.

The book moves between their younger lives together and their lives now. I found that a little disconcerting, yet it filled in the background of both of them. Kimi is much loved, her parents take great care of her in their way, but is their way best? Her father – Kirit, has told Rahul that Kimi can never be his, and even though Kirit knows Kimi sparkles around Rahul he will not give his blessing.

However Kirit is being blackmailed and the person who was shot in the last book and severely wounded is now more or less up and about and out to do damage to Kimi and Rahul.

Kimi has many challenges to face down, many truths to come to grips with, and the way she does tells how strong she is and how wise. Rahul because of all the losses he has experienced has learned to act often out of fear, to dampen down his feelings and live within a self imposed wall. Can he become a whole human being and learn to live with a heart that accepts that fear is not the way for living.

I enjoyed reading the book, seeing the case solved, justice meted out and Kimi and Rahul finding their happy for now.

Review

Right Where We Belong by Brenda Novak

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Published: Harlequin – MIRA
Date: 31st October 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

Savanna Gray needs a do-over. Her “perfect” life unraveled when, to her absolute shock, her husband was arrested for attacking three women. With her divorce settled, she takes her two children home to Silver Springs to seek refuge between the walls of the farmhouse where she was born. It needs a little TLC, but she’s eager to take control of something.

Gavin Turner understands the struggle of starting over. Abandoned at a gas station when he was five, it wasn’t until he landed at New Horizons Boys Ranch as a teen that he finally found some peace. He steps up when Savanna needs help fixing things—even when those things go beyond the farmhouse.

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Right Where We Belong is another book in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series. However it is perfect as a stand alone. Like the previous book I read in this series there is some romance, some crime, a little mystery – all in all, a good mix.

Savannah has had the misfortune to find herself married to someone who has been attacking women. He is in prison awaiting trial and she is suffering trial by public opinion so she decides to leave the small town and travel to California where there is a dilapidated home belonging to herself and her brother. She has two delightful but bewildered children and as well she has a whole lot of gumption.

Gavin is one of the past pupils of New Horizons Boys Ranch, he now works there and is a musician as well. He takes an immediate liking and attraction to Savannah when she arrives, and really helps her out where he can.

This does not please his prior girlfriend who is hoping to wheedle her way back into his life with a bit of blackmail and putting the screws into him where she knows it will count. Will she succeed?

When it looks like the police might not be able to close the case against Savannah’s husband – soon to be divorced, Savannah after weighing up things decides to get a little more involved and takes some big risks. I found it a little scary as she did her own investigation!

A fun read, nice and relaxing on the whole, that mixture of romance and sizzle, a heroine making a stand for herself and a hero there to support her while she does it.

Review

Deck the Halls by Donna Alward

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 3rd October 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: Novella
Genre:Romance
Source:Publisher via NetGalley

Rating
Goodreads callout

With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected. With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?

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When I read Somebody Like You – #1 in the Darling VT series earlier in the year, I wrote a very brief review of it, stating the character George really appealed to me. And… I wanted his story. A little comment then showed underneath, Donna saying I should watch out for October because his story was on the way. And so it is.

George is a returned service man who for a long time was down on himself and was living on the street until a few people in Darling VT really saw him and offered him a helping hand. Which to his credit he took. Yet he is still riddled by regret and no small amount of survivor guilt.

Into the mix arrives his best friend’s twin sister – Amy. She has come looking for answers to what went down that day when her brother was killed in war.

What follows is a heart warming Christmas story of reaching out, giving, hope and love. Things move along for George, he has already come a long way but there is more ways to travel. Towards the end it tugged on my heart strings.

There is no quick fix, but there is promise of good things to follow. George and Amy are just beginning. If the Darling VT series continues… well I hope Amy and George poke their noses into other peoples stories and update us.