The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr

Book cover

Publisher: HQN – Mira
Date: 7th January 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


The Country Guesthouse introduces us to Hannah, we meet her out near Sullivan’s Crossing escaping from a corporate team building event that just isn’t to her style. However the place beside the lake where it takes place is gorgeous and she tucks that away in her mind. It happens to belong to Owen Abrams, a photographer who travels a lot and rents his place out.

Hannah’s world is turned upside down when she finds herself the guardian of the totally grief stricken but totally adorable five year old Noah. Hannah’s friend has died and she has left Hannah to be Noah’s mother. Adusting to each other takes time and Hannah takes leave from work and decides to take a two week break out at the very same lake in the very same house the team building took place.

Only… Owen has had his next trip cancelled on him and he is going to be staying out in his studio. The best think out is that he has this Great Dane – Romeo and Romeo loves just about everybody, hence his name! And so the story develops, with some hiccups of course. We meet up again with some of the other inhabitants of Sullivan’s Crossing and the town and for this story Helen just can’t keep her nose out of things.

I loved this addition to the series, well when there is a child and a dog that are both so adorable there is a high chance that with excellent writing and plotting and wonderful characters this kind of book is going to be a big success with this reader. I was so disappointed to see the end speeding up to meet me!

I especially loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and the cover of the book is just so beautiful. Friendship, family, and big community spirit with genuine care for others made it a winner for me.


Book Connections, Review

Five Books with Connections to Self


Connect Five Friday.  A Friday link up that can be joined in on any day and begins again the next Friday. Post about a list of five bookish related topics/lists of your choice. Be creative and enjoy the process. If you want to know a little more read the introduction to it here.

When I was teaching one of this ways we helped young readers comprehend was to make connections to our own lives from the books we were reading. When I came across the first book in this list of five I realised how my own experience was helping me understand Anthony so I decided to look for some more connections to self in the books I read.

book coverIn this novel we meet a writer hiding ashamed from  one big mistake he made – he plagiarised from a little known author and he was dobbed* in by an “unknown source”. I know, immediately we judge him as a reader, we don’t like plagiarising, we see how it affects authors. But… suddenly I found myself remembering a little plagiarising I did myself as a thirteen year old. We had to write a description, I was under pressure just like Anthony, and I picked up a description of a cowboy from Zane Grey. Thank you Zane! Anyway of course the teacher didn’t buy it, I mean I am and was no Zane Grey. But I do remember the shame and I was cured of plagiarising! Of course as a teacher many years later I’d come to realise the value of mentor texts and how we can learn and model our writing on those writers who write wonderful sentences and descriptions! Anyway my small life experience brought to me some sympathy for this character Anthony and it turns out it wasn’t misplaced.

*British informal. [dob someone in] to tell someone in authority about something bad that another person has done.

book coverThis is the first book written by British author Lucilla Andrews – written in 1954. It is less a romance and rather a fascinating look at hospital nursing life in this era. It will be interesting to see how her writing develops as I read through her books in the order they were written. Who knew that prem babies were fed breast milk with a little brandy! Very realistic and worth reading although a little too much description. I connected to it because way back in the ’60’s I spent a year as a nurse aide in a maternity hospital. It was fascinating to see how things had moved on since 1954. For example after giving birth the women were carried down stairs on a stretcher to the ward after giving birth. At great cost to those carrying.  In my day of course they were wheeled back in a bed. Nowadays if they are at a hospital they are often on their way home a few hours later!

book cover Rival’s Break is a suspenseful cozy mystery sort of book, but what I connected to were the characters and the fact that some of them had quite Catholic connections and some Irish. Emma Sharpe one of the main characters – an FBI member and art expert once belonged to an order of nuns, and there is a Father Finian who became a priest after losing his wife and daughters in an accident. So with my own Catholic upbringing and a good dose of Irish in me I felt very at home in the book!


Book coverAs soon as I started The Country Guesthouse I was making connections. I was thinking of all those times we did things as a staff to build rapport and trust etc. The fall back the heroine had to make  to someone who couldn’t be trusted at work ( and she wasn’t caught!) I hated those team build times as much as Hannah. And then 5 year old Noah has lost his mother and doesn’t want to forget her. It reminded my of my nephew Max and the hard time he had and still does at the loss of his great grandpa when he was 5. And I loved and could identify with Owen’s love of a quiet life in a less populated area. Already I’ve stopped in the early parts of the book to reflect. So much so, my Kindle has turned off a few times while waiting for me to go on!

book coverMany readers I follow enjoyed this author and book so I wanted to try it out. I am growing in years and the characters in this book are experiencing many of the things I know about. They are a bit older than me, but not much and so their thoughts and feelings I can really identify with and it makes me stop and think, and admire their struggles and kindnesses, and their knowing that life is still for living and the great choices they make.  I really admired Frank and Lucille’s honesty with each other in this story and their acceptance of each other and the love and friendship they had for each other. Never too old! And I totally identify.

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The View from Alameda. Robyn Carr

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Published: Harlequin – MIRA
Date:  30th April 2018
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley


The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr – another of her books that held my interest all the way through.

Lauren is married to a surgeon – Brad, but… he is manipulative, controlling and abusive. She stays in the marriage because of her two daughters, Lauren wants the best for them – in a money sense, however most likely it isn’t good for them really. Lauren is a competent person but she is told by Brad that she is useless. Finally after many attempts Lauren makes plans and leaves him. What a relief!

She meets another man, Beau one day at a garden and they strike up a conversation. Soon they are developing a friendship and spending more time together. However he too is going through a divorce and life is not exactly straight going for him. What I really liked about him was his care for his two step sons – 18 and 21. While his ex wife was the mother, it was Beau who had always stepped up for them.

So a divorce should be straight forward – right? Well not in both Beau’s and Lauren’s cases. They have cray, cray, crazy ex partners who go to extraordinary lengths to put a spanner in the works to prevent the divorces going through. I kept thinking – what next? No! Really!

This is a very good story of a woman finding her way, choosing happiness and a full life. It is about friendship, family and people standing with you and supporting you.  It is about being there for others – being able to admit mistakes and readjust living to a better, more wholesome path.

I really liked Lauren and Beau as characters and was so sorry to have to close the book.


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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It’s been a little cooler here! I even put on some woollen socks on Saturday because I was feeling cold! And then on Saturday it was so cold I lit a fire, and I wasn’t the only one! Autumn has arrived for us. And we ended daylight saving, which as you know sort of knocks you around for a little while.

This week I watched three movies – which I hardly ever do – all old ones but I enjoyed them nevertheless. The Enchanted April. The Descendants and Moana.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

Still listening to this – well into it now…

And picked up from TBR from books bought at book fair year few years ago. From the Rose Harbor series.

Up next:

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The Best of Us by Robyn Carr

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Published by: MIRA
Date: 8th January 2019
Pages: 384
Source: Little Bird Publicity

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The Best of Us is #4 in Robyn Carr’s small town series of Sullivan’s Crossing, Colorado.  A new book in any of her series has always been a delight and this is just as much so in this case.

I liked especially the variety of age range in this book. Firstly we have I guess what might be the central couple of Leigh Culver – the local doctor and Rob Shandon the local pub owner. Leigh is thirty four, Rob is forty and has two teenage sons.  Rob is the brother to Sid, we met her in a previous book when she fell for Dakota Jones.

It’s not long before Leigh and Rob fall for each other, there is a fun first meeting and from then on its all on. But… do this couple have their act together? They both have previous experiences that make them cautious. When one is hot the other is cold on a permanent relationship. So will they ever be on the same page… and believe me they sure need to get there!

Helen is Leigh’s aunt and she comes to stay with Leigh. In fact she brought Leigh up as Leigh lost her mother at the age of four. Helen is a retired teacher and a writer of mystery books – quite gory ones if her new reader can be believed!  She finds that she loves sitting on Sully’s porch out at the camp at Sullivan’s Crossing, looking out at the wild life while she writes. And that’s not all that she finds herself looking at.

The young people are represented by Finn (Rob’s son)  and his girlfriend Maia,  both just finishing high school and preparing for college. They are a delight and full of tender, young love. There is a rather huge crisis that brings Finn stepping up very much to the plate and indicates what kind of man he is going to grow into.

This is very much a story of family, being there for each other, sorting through challenges and coming out the other side. Another charming developed story, with characters I couldn’t help falling for.  Sean and Finn looking right at you!



The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

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Date:  17th April 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity and NetGalley

Rating of book
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Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his older brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.


Every so often I look forward to reading a certain book and then feel a little let down when I read it.  Not so with The Family Gathering, #3 in Robyn Carr’s Sullivan’s Crossing. I love, love, loved every word of it.

I’ve come to love this little community and the spirit that exists among them.  And I really looked forward to brother Dakota’s story and it was everything that I wanted and more. Yes more! Because we had updates of Maggie and Cal and little Elizabeth. We saw Sully from time to time, and Connie and Sierra’s story is furthered and in such a way that had my heart hurting and hoping at the same time.  And then the last sister Sedona – what a story for her too. Such a strong sense of family and community – my kind of read.

If that all sounds like you couldn’t read this one without reading the previous two books – well you could because Robyn Carr does fill you in a unobtrusive way. However I am so happy to have followed the story from the beginning.

As soon as Dakota arrives and finds himself a little cabin in the woods I was hooked. Made me remember such a cabin in the Virgin River series.  I loved how he talks straight and tells people (women mostly) where he’s at with them or not as the case may be.  I loved Sid too, she’s had a knock back but in reality she is a very intelligent and strong woman.

All the characters have such interesting back stories and it impinges on their lives now. This is not just some light romance, this is a story about people – their highs and lows and struggles. And their ultimate arrival on the path to redemption. And of course there is romance and in such a perfect way.

I loved all the characters, Robyn Carr even includes the perfect nun, plus the oddest character around, we’ve met her in previous books and she is every bit as weird in this one, but has she finally met her match?

If you are a Robyn Carr fan this one is certainly for you. If you like a heart warming and emotional read, great characters and plenty to keep you involved in the plot then I say …. read it!


The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Book coverPublished:Harlequin – MIRA
Date: 5th September 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Source: Publisher and Little Bird Publicity

Goodreads callout

For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now…  Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.


As always Robyn Carr has written a well crafted story that fully engaged me all through the book The Summer That Made Us. It has many threads to it, many issues and themes that ebb and flow as the story unfolds.

This is a story about relationships mostly – that of sisters and cousins, plus some of the people that surround them. As it starts out it is rather obvious that you could put a capital D on dysfunctional for many but not all of the family members.

There is Lou and Jo, two sisters – once such good friends, now estranged. Two families who grew up close to each other, spending time as children at a lake house in Minnesota. Two families of thre girls each. However one summer everything turned to ruin and they never went back…

Until Meg wants to go back to that house. She is dealing with cancer, she has had her last ditch treatment and it is time to see will it work… or not. Charlie her sister wants to make that happen for her and does so. As Charlie begins her renovations there, her cousin Krista turns up, just out of prison. We are also introduced to Hope, Krista’s sister and all is not right in the state of Denmark for sure in her life.

We see things from all their points of view which does help me the reader be sympathetic towards them and to wish the best for them. I am not always engaged by so many characters in one book with issues and things to deal with. But the fact that they are all related and have been affected by the same family dynamics and tragedy, pulled me in. It perhaps lost a little though in the focus being on so many, not much, just a tad, it left me feeling a little distant from the full emotion of the characters.

Each woman grapples with her own life, moving towards resolution, new hope, forgiveness and healing in various forms as the story is retold and understood. Another well told story from Robyn Carr.


Wildest Dreams. Robyn Carr

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Wildest Dreams
Robyn Carr
Published: MIRA
Date: 25th August 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley & Little Bird Publicity
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Wildest Dreams is #9 in the Thunder Point series.  This one is the story of Lin Su and her son Charlie.  It also continues the story of Winnie, Grace and their family.  Blake Smiley is the triathlete who has arrived next door, we met him briefly in the previous book. Now he is in Thunder Point permanently.

Lin Su is the nurse to Winnie and an excellent one.  She is a great mother to Charlie, but just somewhat over protective and controlling. He is fourteen and beginning to want a little more independence. Charlie was a character I loved, he was so caring and respectful towards his mother, but also ready to spread his wings a little. Lin Su has had a very challenging time since she became pregnant with Charlie. She is gritty and feisty, but a little proud and unbending. I loved all the growth and development for Lin Su as the story evolved.

Blake is a talented athlete and he and Charlie bond, Charlie admires him and they form a very understanding relationship. However Lin Su sees some of this as interference and she is vocal when she disapproves.  Blake himself has not come from an easy background, growing up in a very poor area. He loves to help out youth from poor areas and help them to rise above and go places they never thought they could.

We also catch up with some other inhabitants of this small town and its a time when there are three babies due just before Christmas.  I love seeing into their lives as they live out their ‘happily ever after’!  All is not going too well in the Sileski household, Seth’s parents are still not getting on and one of them is threatening divorce.

I loved this book as much as the others, once I started reading I was pretty much engrossed and immersed again in the lives of these people. The romance is low key and beautiful, it is part of the package but doesn’t provide the whole focus. If you like that, then you’ll enjoy this, if you like romance to be more to the front, maybe this book isn’t for you.

I thought perhaps events at the end were too quickly wrapped up.  Personally I thought the new arrivals in various forms could have  made a very nice Christmas novella!

4.5 stars
Robyn Carr
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