Saturday, January 26, 2019

Finding Jack - Melanie Jacobson

Synopsis: Emily's just gotten a promotion, is dating a great guy, and things are humming along nicely. That is, until her roomate puts her in Jack's crosshairs and she becomes the target of his photoshopping wizardry. Suddenly she's not so happy with her situation. They strike up a remote friendship and suddenly everything in Emily's life doesn't seem all that fantastic afterall.

Review: There's a reason why Melanie's books are on the automatic buy list. They're fabulous. The chemistry between her heroes and their heroines is always spot on. Like previous books (the List, Always Will, for example), Emily and Jack spend a good part of their relationship messaging each other. Melanie has this mastered and their banter back and forth is so much fun to read. The challenges the couple face are real but not impossible. There's no contrived miscommunication or angst. Just two great people trying to figure out how to make things work. The tight cast of characters are equally endearing and the bonus relationship is fantastic. Unlike most of her previous books, this one does not involve Latter-Day Saint themes or characters.

Amazon $2.99

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Desperate Hope - Elizabeth Camden

Synopsis: As mayor, Alex is tasked with finding a way to keep his town from disappearing when the state's planned resevoir is built. He and Elois have a past that was cut short when her guardian ran him out of town and sent her off to a convent when they were teenagers. When she shows up to help with demolition plans, he sees an opportunity to rekindle their relationship. She's only interested in doing her job and returning to NYC to a quiet, respectable life.

Review: Elizabeth Camden is an excellent writer and this has been a really enjoyable series. The previous books laid the groundwork for this one but are not essential to understanding and enjoying it. 

While it's well written, this installment is not my favorite. Alex is a great, fun loving guy. The heroines in this series have all been bright, capable women and Elois is no exception. But she's a little cool and harder to become enamored with. 

Since they had a previous relationship, there's not a lot of tension that leaves you hoping they'll figure it out. In fact, there's very little courting. We're told they spend time together and Alex is trying hard to win her over, but we don't see a lot of it. Rather, the focus is on moving the town and getting the people up to higher ground before the government deadline. 

Old familiar characters from previous books show up, which is neat. There are glimpses of a larger ominous problem festering but it only really comes to a head near the end and is somewhat disconnected from the main narrative of the town's move. After spending a great deal of time rooting for the residents and wondering if they'd get all of those buildings moved, we are merely told that in the end they were successful and the lens shifts suddenly to the flash-in-the-pan crisis. Again, it's all well written, but it would have been just as satisfying if the only crisis had been the town's move. It didn't need a contrived event that required some daring-do.

Some faith elements but they aren't glaring or preachy.

Amazon Pre-order $9.99

I was given an ARC

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My Not So Wicked Stepbrother - Jennifer Peel

Synopsis: Emma Loveless thinks her last name has cursed her in the love department. She's fallen for her stepbrother (by marriage) and knows they can never be together. She's trying hard to move on and forget about him. But Sawyer isn't quite as ready to give up his best friend.

Review: Once again Jennifer Peel has put out an all-nighter. Better clear your calendars because once you start, you won't get anything done until your finished. Like most of her heroine's Emma is sarcastic, self depracting, and a little pesimistic. Sawyer is the steady fellow you expect from Peel. They obviously make a great couple so you're definitely glad they get their HEA. While the characters aren't particularly unique, their story is, and it's fabulous. Keep your tissues handy. Emma encounters some tough challenges you can't help but get a little emotional over. 

Some mild language and some edgy dialogue you could easily skip over at the comedy club without missing too much. Fairly clean. There's a makeout scene that's a little edgy that more conservative readers might not appreciate. The proofreading in this one is better than previous Peel books but still could use some fine tuning.

Amazon $3.99

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A New Year's Kiss - Delaney Cameron

Synopsis: Norah works as a tour guide in a historical mansion. Lance is a lawyer who's just bought planning to keep it open and use it as a his home and office. He wasn't planning on falling for the cute tour guide. He was especially not planning to fall for a tour guide with a boyfriend. Norah's not sure who she's falling for - her old flame or her new boss.

Review: A consistent addition to the Finding Love series. Norah is a darling. It's nice to see Lance get his own story and get to know how great he is. The love triangle with Norah's old flame adds some twists and turns that really do get you wondering how things will play out. I'll admit that this series has a lot of installments and it's getting a little tricky to keep everyone straight. Even though it's a stand alone book, you sure wish you could still remember what happened with so-and-so when they pop up at family gatherings etc. No big surprises, no big angst, or miscommunication. A cute and easy read.

Amazon $.99

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

With this Pledge - Tamera Alexander

Synopsis: Set near the end of the Civil War, Lizzie is a southern governess waiting for her lieutenant to return to marry her. A gruesome battle is fought nearby and the wounded are brought to the estate where she lives. When Roland extracts a pledge from her to ensure the surgeon doesn't amputate his leg while he's unconscious, she ends up giving him far more than a promise to protect his interests. Lizzie finds herself torn between the commitment she's made and the man she's falling in love with.

Review: Gosh, where to start? This is NOT a book for the feint of heart. It is graphic and disturbing and heart wrenching. Keep your hankie handy. You might want a few. Lizzie's story changes you. The struggle you feel as a reader when you DON'T want her fiancee to return! The relief when he does! Tamera has created a story that will pull you and stretch you and demand more of you than a light, poolside read. While she paints a graphic picture of the battle and its aftermath, you can skip over much of it without losing the plot. So don't let it deter you from tackling this beautiful story. Lizzie is extraordinary. Roland is exceptional. Their chemistry is perfect yet doesn't overpower everything else that's going on. It is wonderfully interwoven into the fabric of this very complicated and often unclear struggle to understand how to adapt and accept their rapidly changing world. There is a significant and beautifully natural faith element.

Amazon $9.99

I was given an ARC.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Bound Heart - Laura Frantz

Synopsis: Lark and Magnus live on the same island in Scotland. While he's been raised to become the laird of the island, she has been his playmate and schoolmate throughout their lives. Through a series of tragic events, both are transported to the colonies. He to the West Indies, she to Virginia. Along the way, they discover their bond of friendship is far more.

Review: More moving saga than romance, the writing is exceptionally beautiful. The characters are rich and deep, the worlds they live in vibrant and sumptious. You can't help but fall deeply into this meandering tale. If you're looking for a traditional romance, you may be frustratingly disappointed as it is much more than a light and easy HEA. Indeed, Lark is courted far more obviously by other men than Magnus ever does. While an integral part of the story, their romantic relationship is not so obvious as the average romance reader might like. Instead, enjoy the story for the struggle and the triumph of this strong and determined pair. Faith and scripture play a significant role but doesn't feel preachy or contrived. It's part of the fabric of the characters and a key to their long suffering and success.

Amazon $9.99

I received and ARC