Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Honeymoon for One in Christmas Falls - Jennifer Peel

Synopsis: Hoping to be promoted in the new year, Piper is especially concerned about doing her job well. Jace shows up at the resort where she works drunk, alone, and demanding to be moved from the honeymoon suite he obviously isn't needing. His two weeks there are not proving to be a big help with Piper's promotion, nor with her determination to stay away from rich, handsome men who have been nothing but trouble for her. A sober Jace isn't so sure being ditched at the alter is going to turn out to be as bad as it originally seemed.

Review: You can almost assume that any book written by Jennifer Peel is going to be great. This one holds to her standards. Piper is a hard working single mom who has believable concerns and doesn't fall too easily for Jace. He is a confident Hero without the ego. I love that he's such a gentleman without being contrived. I love his respect for Piper's abilities. He is determined to get her attention but he does it by enabling her and empowering her. They are a good couple with good chemistry and it's easy to want them to figure it all out.

This book is part of a stand-alone book series.  Not having read any of the others yet, I can only assume that the characters and friends Piper encouters along the way are from other stories. While not blatant, they feel, at times, like product placement rather than essential plot points. There's also ongoing reference to some pageant and perfomance by the friends that never happens in this book. The story doesn't really suffer for it, but it's not typical of Peel.

It's a satisfying read and is undoubtedly a solid contribution to the series. 

Amazon $2.99

Friday, October 20, 2017

Unspoken Words: a Romance Compilation

I was given an ARC to review

Synopsis: Fourteen short stories written by writers who are members of LDS Beta Readers including: Jenny Flake Rabe, Victorine Lieske, and Michelle Pennington.

Review: All good stories. Some are perhaps more likely written by less experienced writers but they're all enjoyable reads. Many are very good and that's not surprising given who wrote them. Only one makes passing reference to an LDS mission and a temple as a wedding venue. Otherwise, all are just good clean romances.

As a reader, short stories can be frustrating because you want deeper characters, more back story, and a more complicated plot. Not being a writer, I can imagine, though, that getting as much in as these authors have managed, in so few words, is fairly remarkable and they're to be commended for their accomplishments. Some of them do an amazing job of telling their story without compromising too much in any one area.

A word of caution: As short stories, they are, by definition, a quick read. Since each one of them takes you through all of the normal highs and lows of traditional romance stories, if you read too many of them at once, you can start feeling like you're riding an emotional rollercoaster.  Whew. A testament to the skill of this great group of writers. Take my advice and enjoy just a few at time. You'll be glad you did.

Amazon Pre-Order: $3.99

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blue Ridge Sunrise - Denise Hunter

Synopsis: Zoe has returned to Copper Creek for her grandmother's funeral. She's been gone 5 years and never intended to return. She's now inherited an orchard.  Being home among family and friends has given her strength to leave an abusive relationship and see if she can start again. She's got plenty of explaining to do and maybe even a little forgiveness to ask for. Cruz has never entirely stopped loving Zoe but has mixed feelings about her return. As the foreman of the orchard, they're bound to finally figure out a few things but it's not going to be easy.

Review: Yikes. This one is going to give a few people fits. I can already hear the diehard Christian romance readers voicing their concerns over it. But, before I get into that, let me just say that Denise Hunter is such a skilled author that she could write about paint drying and you'd beg for a sequel. And, so, Blue Ridge Sunrise is destined to be a five star book.  However, in reviewing it, I am breaking one of my rules and I've struggled with that. The main characters, we are told, have been intimate and are not married.  Zoe is in an intimate relationship with her boyfriend when we first meet her. There is little indication that either main character has any concerns about premarital intimacy.  And so, it's hard to call this a chaste book.  However, the book is clean and the intimacy is not lauded and is only a passing (and assumed) element of the story.  So, I am giving this one a by and sharing my two cents.

If we thought that the first book in this series was edgy, this one is true to that sentiment. It contains adult situations, is gritty, and edgy. It's no lighthearted read like some of Hunter's latest series. Rather, it deals with real people struggling with real situations, pasts and their consequences. Nothing is sugar coated in this story and not everything turns out perfectly. Characters are complicated as are their lives and it's refreshing to see that.  However, I do think that Hunter has squeezed in a religious element that feels a little contrived. These are not really faithful people. They may believe in God and there's mention that they attend church, but they aren't living their daily lives as such so to have those pieces thrown in, feels like her publisher made her do it.  And that's unfortunate because instead of adding to the story, it feels a little manipulated and Hunter is too good for that. I don't love the boogie man ending but the rest of the book is excellent and so well written it will pain you to have to put it down to make dinner, go to work, or go to bed. Zoe and Cruz's story is a solid sequel to Sweet Briar Cottage.

Amazon Pre-Order $8.99
Release date: 11/07/2017

I was given an ARC to review

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Christmas at Carnton - Tamera Alexander

Synopsis: Set in Civil War Tennessee, recent widow Aletta Prescott is struggling to support herself and young son. At seven months pregnant, the news that she is losing her factory job and will soon foreclosed upon, leaves her with few options. Recently wounded Captain Jake  Winston is being sent off to Carnton Plantation to help support the Women's Relief Society's upcoming auction. He's determined to get through the month and return to active duty. He didn't expect to find an enchanting woman and her rascal of a son getting in the way of his plans.

Review: I once read that Civil War stories don't sell. Clearly, they weren't trying to sell Tamera's books. Her ability to bring a sorrowful, challenging time to life is remarkable. Her stories are rich in historic detail and full of wonderful characters that give them depth and context. Aletta is a strong heroine who does all that she can to face her problems head on. Her faith and confidence in a power greater than her, is inspiring. Jake is a worthy Hero and one can't help but hope he can win the new widow over - even if she's only been one for a few months. 

I was given an ARC copy for review.

Amazon $7.99

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mine for a Day - Delaney Cameron

Synopsis: Violet might have known her life was about to change when she accidently runs into the same handsome guy twice in just a few days. He's handsome and kind but she's sure he'd never look twice at her.  Sure enough, Jackson has a girlfriend. But, turns out, Jackson's girlfriend and her wallflower tendencies, may not be Violet's biggest obstacle to winning Jackson's heart.

Review: It's fun to read Violet's story.  She's an adorable, wonderful young woman who you just want to see get her HEA. She's steady and, although she's not gotten the best sense of self worth, she's got her life together and is doing just fine.  Jackson is a great Hero. He's not perfect and has issues to work through. But his reaction to Violet is real and believable.  He doesn't fall for her istantly but slowly learns to trust her and want more with her. They're definitely a couple you want to root for.


Amazon $0.99