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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

Jubilee’s Journey Bette Lee Davis

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Jubilee’s Journey
Bette Lee Crosby
Published: Bent Pine Publishing
Date: October 2013
Format: Kindle ebook
Pages: 300
Genre: Fiction
Source: from the author.
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When tragedy strikes a West Virginia coal mining family, two children start out on a trek that they hope will lead them to a new life. Before a day passes, the children are separated and the boy is caught up in a robbery not of his making. If his sister can find him, she may be able to save him. The problem is she’s only seven years old, and who’s going to believe a kid?

My thoughts banner
Jubilee’s Journey is the second book in the Wyattsville series by Bette Lee Davis.  When I had finished Spare Change (#1) I thought that I had seen the last of Olivia and Ethan Allen and that outstanding Detective Jack Mahoney.  Not so, while this book is not totally about them, it does include them and that in itself immediately hooked me in.
This story really belongs to Jubilee and her big brother Paul.  They come from a small mining town where they have lost both parents.  Paul is like a mother and father and whole family to Jubilee, no one has had a better bigger brother. They arrive in Wyattsville seeking their Aunt – Anita their mother’s sister.  Before they can begin their search Jubilee and Paul are separated and Paul finds himself in the clutches of the police.  He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and with nobody to vouch for him.
Fortunately for Jubilee she is found by Ethan Allen and eventually lands home with him and Olivia.  Ethan soon takes over the role of big brother much to his grandma Olivia’s delight. Olivia drags Jack Mahoney into the whole mess and there is no one better.  If there was ever a true, caring go beyond duty cop it’s Jack.  However his efforts are thwarted by the policeman on the case – Detective Gomez who isn’t all that scrupulous.  However Jack Mahoney uses psychology when needed and manages to negotiate his way through.
There is a whole cast of characters who have their hearts in the right place.  Olivia’s friends in the apartment complex Clara and Seth and others rally to the cause.  Aunt Anita shows up and perhaps she is the one to take Jubilee and Paul in although Olivia has already fallen in love with them and is thinking maybe she could keep them.  As well there is Sidney Klaussner and his wife Carmella, happily married for thirty years and now faced with a life and death situation that sends Carmella off onto a judgemental path of creating havoc.  I was a bit annoyed with her until I owned my own occasional judgmental rants often totally lacking back up facts!
This story – told from a variety of viewpoints, celebrates people with large hearts, family, kindness and love.  It celebrates the truth and all that is good in people.  It celebrates the courage of the human spirit and the fight for what is right.  In short – a beautiful story.
4 stars
Review

Looking For Me. Beth Hoffman

Looking For Me book cover

Looking For Me
Beth Hoffman
Published: Penguin Audio
Date: 2013
Format: Audiobook
Length: 12 hrs and 14min
Narrator: Jenna Lamia
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book

Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

My thoughts
Just like many other readers I loved Looking For Me by Beth Hoffman.  It was a wonderful southern story of family and loss and hope.  
Teddi was someone I’d love to know. Passionate and loving it is her journey and her story.  It is told from her point of view and what a voice.  From early on she loved all things ancient and antique – sold them at her farm gate until later on she opened a shop in Charleston.  I loved that she had two mentors who happened along at the right time and helped her along with her passion.  An expert on antiques and an expert in opening a business.  She also had loyal friends and workers. She had a grandma in her nineties and Teddi took good care of her and her grandma took good care of Teddi.
While she is successful in business she has losses to face and grieving to do for all that she has lost and none so dear as her younger brother Josh who has a passion for protecting nature and the beautiful wildlife that surrounds their Kentucky farm.  When he disappears one day, Teddi almost never gives up hope that he is alive somewhere.  Sometimes the signs seem to say he may have died, but Teddi leaves messages for him.  When the time comes to face the fact that she cannot keep the farm she makes some decisions that are brave and thoughtful.  
This is a story of wonder and joy, heartbreak and sadness, humour and quirkiness.  It’s a tale of love – Teddi’s love for many people and places and things.  Teddi finds love with someone in an unexpected place and while it did not take centre stage it was a nice touch.
Jenna Lamia did a fine job narrating this book, her voices for various characters was great, her pacing and expression – wonderful.  She was Teddi!  I would happily listen to any book she narrates.  This book was already excellent but with her narration Jenna took it up to another level again.
5 stars

Review

Silver Thaw Catherine Anderson

Silver Thaw  book cover

Silver Thaw
Catherine Anderson
Publisher: Signet – Penguin
Date: January 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 423
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Own book
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After years of living in fear of her husband, Amanda Banning has left him and moved to Mystic Creek, Oregon, for a fresh start. But she’s having a tough time providing for herself and her six-year-old daughter. Writing her secret yearnings on slips of paper and sending them into the wind helps her cling to the hope that things will get better…and that she can find happiness again.

Jeb Sterling has no idea that the handwritten messages he finds scattered across his land are the first hints that his life is about to change. Nor does he understand why he feels so compelled to help Amanda Banning and her daughter when a cold snap leaves them temporarily homeless. Maybe he’s inspired by Amanda’s courage or perhaps by her beautiful brown eyes. Either way, the man who once renounced love suddenly finds himself willing to do anything for the pair. Amanda seems to have given up on her dreams, but Jeb refuses to quit until he makes her every wish come true..

My thoughts banner
Silver Thaw is the first book in a new series by Catherine Anderson set in Mystic Creek, Oregon. Some authors write great small town stories, Catherine Anderson writes great family stories.  It’s her specialty.  In this book she has written the first in what I hope is another long series like her Kendrick/Coulter/Harrigan series.
This story has a very winter setting – which I loved.  I know snow and ice can be very dangerous but to me that’s all in the realm of storybooks!  Amanda and her delightful little girl Chloe are hiding out in a run down little cottage where they have escaped to – running from a very abusive husband and father.  Amanda releases her thoughts into the wind and lets them blow where they will.  A new take on a ‘message in a bottle’. Jeb and his neighbour have been finding these notes, so when he is out rescuing people in a severe snowstorm he has an eye out for the writer of these notes.
Jeb does find them huddled together and with a series of ‘white lies’ manages to help them out and ensure that they are safe and warm.  Jeb is of course a wonderful young man with a fabulous house just waiting to meet the right woman and fill the house with the voices of his children.  In the meantime Chloe proves to be a great introduction to what its like to deal with children and  she would be horrified to learn that she might be eating one of the chickens she meets in Jeb’s backyard. Chloe also takes over Jeb’s mastiff Bozo, and it looks like Bozo may have taken Chloe under his wing too.
Jeb has a wonderful family as well – parents, brothers and sisters who welcome Chloe and Amanda into their fold and are prepared to risk much to keep them safe and relaxed.  Of course Jeb’s mother Kate would just love to see Jeb settle down with a woman he loves and she can see Amanda just might be the one.  The romance of course develops and while predictable was delightful and delicious.
However danger lurks as Amanda’s husband isn’t going to give up easily and he is out there somewhere.
There is nothing I love more than a good Catherine Anderson story and this one is very good. Great characters, endearing animals and a plot that moves along with something happening most of the time.  A well crafted emotionally satisfying read.
5 stars