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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Review

The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson

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Published: Berkley
Date: September 26th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Rating
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Widow Maddie McLendon has uprooted her life to move to Rustlers Gulch with her son and grandson. But as a brutal Montana winter looms on the horizon, contractors have yet to break ground on their new house, leaving them to live in a makeshift camp of trailers, tents, and sheds….

Since his wife died six years earlier, millionaire rancher Sam Conacher has been content to wallow in his grief alone, while keeping a tight rein on his twenty-six-year-old daughter. But now the girl has gone and fallen in love with his foolish new neighbor’s no-good son….

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Cam, his son Caleb and mother Maddie have arrived in a town in Montana and set up on a parcel of land where they intend to build. In the meantime home is a tent and caravan as they begin this stage of their journey.

Not so far away is Sam and his daughter Kirstin, they have a huge ranch but not many workers. Sam has scared them all away with his grumpiness, think Scrooge and the Grinch rolled into one plus some. He has been really mean spirited since his wife Annie died about five years ago. He is very protective of his daughter Kirstin and runs off any man who looks at her. So… when Cam shows some interest it is a real challenge to Sam. He is downright rude and before long there is a war going on between Sam and Maddie, who resents his attack on her son Cam. A wall is built, no trespassing notices are put up.

Maddie though is hiding a secret that she is keeping from her son Cam and grandson Caleb. Caleb is having a difficult time settling into a new school and so far has no friends.  Cam is finding it hard to sell land, all in all things are not going well. However there is romance blossoming between Cam and Kristin.  And even though its war for Sam and Maddie, perhaps there is going to be a second chance romance there too.

The story was a load of fun. It moved along at a good pace with something happening all the time. I loved Caleb, the young teen who had a heart of gold trying to fit in with his peers. He was thoughtful and so caring especially of his grandmother.

While the story does come together at Christmas and is totally heart warming, most of the story takes place before Christmas, so don’t feel you are getting too Christmasy to read this now. It’s a perfect pre Christmas read, that will put you in the spirit for that season when it arrives.

Review

Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne

book coverPublished:Harlequin
Date: 26th September 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Rating 4.5 stars
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Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she’s been living. She’s made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn’t one of them. Julia’s looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker’s latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia’s care for the holidays, she’ll take any help she can get—even Jamie’s.

Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that’s much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can’t last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…

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Sugar Pine Trail – #7 in the Haven Point series by RaeAnne Thayer was just the perfect read for me at the right moment. Sometimes a light, well written and totally engaging book is just the prescription.

This is the story of Julia – slightly uptight librarian who becomes less and less so as she becomes connected to two young brothers in a spot of trouble and she steps up to the plate. Very soon her heart is totally taken by them and so was mine.

She has rented her upper storey apartment to Jaime Caine, who so far has never been caught by any woman and really doesn’t intend to be. But soon he finds he just might really like Julia and the two boys and together they all bond and do some really fun things.

Both Julia and Jaime have issues from their past that haunt them but… I loved watching them eventually share and heal and open their hearts. They are both great people and I must say I loved the Caine family and must go back and read any of the other books in this series and the Hope Crossing series that have them in.

This was beautifully plotted and once I began reading it was just so easy to keep going. It had the right amount of heart wrenching moments, coupled with some chuckle out loud moments and some really sweet moments. Plus two little boys who were a wonderful addition, plus three snooty cats and finally one…. No – not telling, read and find out.

I can only say I loved this book, a throughly satisfying read. RaeAnne Thayne – could be that she is turning out to be an author I’ll be reading a lot more from.