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Heartsong Cottage. Emily March

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Heartsong Cottage
Emily March
Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: November 3rd 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Heartsong Cottage is # 10 in the Eternity Springs series by Emily March. Could you read it as a stand alone – of course, but why would you when there are just so many wonderfully heartwarming stories in the series.

This time its the turn of Daniel Garrett – he had a small part to play in a previous book when he found Holly the little girl that belongs to Hope from Miracle Road #7 in the series. His speciality is tracking down lost children. And it’s usually not a happy result so he has a special place in his heart for Holly. Usually he sees the evil side of life as he brings home dead bodies. He has a special reason for doing this difficult work, involving his son’s abduction and murder and his wife’s suicide. Hope says of Daniel “He has the heart of a warrior and the dedication of a knight in shining armor. But he’s also the loneliest man I’ve known.”

Shannon O’Toole runs the local pub in Eternity Springs and has just finished renovating the beautiful small home of Heartsong Cottage.  However she has secrets hidden in her past, secrets that keep her on edge and in fear. She is a strong loving woman but even she can only cope with so much.

Daniel and Shannon connect and as they do so in many ways their healing begins, hope begins to replace fear and evil. Darkness recedes somewhat as the warmth of love and friendship blossoms. In Eternity Springs there is a strong community of friendship that bonds the town folk, and when trouble comes visiting they’re a formidable team. Add in some of the Callahans from Brazos Bend and strength is added to strength. And on top of that there is the angel/woman Celeste who is always there at the right time with her support, encouragement and healing presence.

The story moves along at a good pace, with plenty of action, there are times of conflict and strong feelings on the part of the characters, that has them acting out before thinking things through. There is much sadness and heartache alongside healing and hope.

If you like books about friendship, strong community bonds and books that are about second chances, healing and hope then this is one for you. And one that will keep you on the edge of your seat to the very end.

This story does take place around Christmas but it’s not really a Christmas story as such, this is the perfect time of the year to read this book!

4.5 stars
Review

The Last Time I Was Me. Cathy Lamb

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The Last Time I Was Me
Cathy Lamb
Published: Kensington
Date: 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 404
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book
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I wrapped up my grandmother’s tea cup collection and my mother’s china, then grabbed a violin I’d hidden way back in my closet that made me cry, a gold necklace with a dolphin that my father gave me two weeks before he died of a heart attack when I was twelve and, at midnight, with that moon as bright as the blazes, I left Chicago. When Jeanne Stewart stops at The Opera Man’s Cafe in Weltana, Oregon, to eat pancakes for the first time in twelve years, she has no idea she’s also about to order up a whole new future. It’s been barely a week since she succumbed to a spectacularly public nervous breakdown in front of hundreds of the nation’s most important advertising and PR people. Jeanne certainly had her reasons–her mother’s recent death, the discovery that her boyfriend had been sleeping with a dozen other women, and the assault charges that resulted when Jeanne retaliated in a creative way against him, involving condoms and peanut oil.

Now, en route to her brother’s house in Portland, Jeanne impulsively decides to spend some time in picturesque Weltana. Staying at a B&B run by the eccentric, endearing Rosvita, she meets a circle of quirky new friends at her court-ordered Anger Management classes. Like Jeanne, all of them are trying to become better, braver versions of themselves. Yet the most surprising discoveries are still to come–a good man who steadily makes his way into her heart and a dilapidated house that with love and care might be transformed into something wholly her own, just like the new life she is slowly building, piece by piece.

My thoughts banner
The Last Time I Was Me by Cathy Lamb was not quite what I was expecting, however I loved it and read it any chance I had.  This book covers a large number of important issues, but with such humour the reader does not ( or I didn’t) become burdened by everything that has happened. I am not going to list all those issues, because to do so may give away some of the plot. There are a number of secrets, and by the end of the book I wasn’t sure if we’d found them all out or not!  Jeanne is a real character, Brigid Jones on steroids and then double it.
The story is revealed step by step, when we meet Jeanne she is moving to Oregon after having delivered a very impressive speech to her advertising colleagues and having also dealt to her cheating boyfriend.  The treatment to the boyfriend  has led to a pending civil court case, that is hanging over her.  The speech has led to no longer having a job in advertising! While she relies on drinking to drown her sorrows, she is still a straight talking woman that I just had to take sides with the whole way through. 
She has been told by the court she has to take an anger management course which she does when she settles down in Weltana.  The facilitator is Emmaline and she takes quite an interesting approach to the group.  In the group are two men and another woman, and their meetings and activities take a significant part of the story.  As the book moved along I really came to care for these characters. They have all lost an important part of themselves and this group works towards helping them come back to their true selves.  As they do this I had the feeling they were forming bonds of friendship that would last a long time.
Jeanne is a very intelligent, capable person and thanks to her brother Charlie she becomes the communications person on the Oregon Governor’s team as they build their case for re-election.  She handles all the speeches and press no problem, also the pest member of the team very ably.  If you don’t like her already, then her delight in wearing the right pair of shoes for the occasion might do it. As well there is a little romance thrown in that becomes a delightful addition.
Loved all most of the characters – so courageous, great writing, loads of funny dialogue, and some serious issues explored.  In combination this made for  compulsive reading.
4.5 stars
March 2015 Take Control of Your TBR Pile