Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 26th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
ISBN:0778316440 (ISBN13: 9780778316442)
edition language:English
series: Thunder Point #6

From Goodreads:

"In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes—the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live ...

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?"

If you've never read any of Robyn Carr's books before, you are missing out. Carr is one of my favorite go-to authors of romance and family stories. Any time I pick up one of her books, I am assured of a very delightful read with wonderful easy to relate to characters and most likely a HEA ending. Not to say there aren't some bumps along the way, because there are but that is a huge part of the storyline. I love the way Carr resolves the issues in the plot.

If you are a fan of Carr's Virgin River series, you are sure to love the Thunderpoint series. I've read every one so far and really liked them all, but this one, The Homecoming, seemed extra special. I had a hard time putting it down. Sooooo good! 4.5****

Robyn Carr can be found on her website, and on Goodreads.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Harlequin Mira/Netgalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 0778316181 (ISBN13: 9780778316183)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:

"After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflé. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily. 

All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased. 

Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?"

I've yet to read a Sheila Roberts book that I didn't like. All her stories are filled with fully fleshed-out characters  who become your friends by the end of the story. The little town of Icicle Falls will be a town you want to move to. Yes, it is that magical! I wish my town had a tea shop like this one. Just reading the description of all the luscious treats made me hungry.

The women and the men in Icicle Falls are usually strong characters, faithful friends and family oriented. This is one of the reasons I like them so much.

Are the stories sometime light-hearted easy reading and the romances a tad predictable? Sure they are. But, that does not detract from the fact that they are fun and highly enjoyable!

For fans of romance, small town living, family, especially sisters, and a little humor, try any Sheila Roberts book, you'll be happy you did. 4****

Sheila Roberts can be found on Goodreads, her website and on FB page.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Harlequin/NetGalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Major's Daughter: A Novel by J.P. Francis

Paperback400 pages
Expected publication: July 29th 2014 by Plume
0452298695 (ISBN13: 9780452298699)

From Goodreads:

"April, 1944. The quiet rural village of Stark, New Hampshire is irrevocably changed by the arrival of 150 German prisoners of war. And one family, unexpectedly divided, must choose between love and country.

Camp Stark is under the command of Major John Brennan, whose beautiful daughter, Collie, will serve as translator. Educated at Smith and devoted to her widowed father, Collie is immediately drawn to Private August Wahrlich, a peaceful poet jaded by war. As international conflict looms on the home front, their passion blinds them to the inevitable dangers ahead.

Inspired by the little-known existence of a real World War II POW camp, The Major’s Daughter is a fresh take on the timeless theme of forbidden love."

My Thoughts: Even though I lived in New England for over 50 years, I had never heard of any POW camps in the area. I thought this was an extremely interesting fact for the basis of a novel.

The story held my attention at all times even though I'm not too sure how credible it would be for a prisoner-of-war to be allowed the chance to meet the Major's daughter. Although, that was a minor concern because the story line was well done. All the characters were well fleshed out and I thought the dialogue was very realistic. Actually, the story of Collie's friend who also fell in love with someone her family deemed not "socially acceptable" was on a par with Collie's own story. Besides being a love story, it also was a social commentary of the times.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. 4****

Recommended for fans of romance, historical and WWII fiction.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Plume/NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review & Giveaway: The House on Mermaid Point by Wendy Wax

Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN:0425263320 (ISBN13: 9780425263327)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:
In this new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . .

Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . .

My thoughts: I've read the two previous books, Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, with these characters and loved them. Reading The House on Mermaid Point was like visiting with old friends after too long an absence. So much fun to catch up with the ladies and see what new antics they are up to with their latest adventure! Wax is so adept at creating a sense of place. I could feel the heat from the Florida sun and sense the calm of the surroundings. With some changes made in character status, already I can't wait for the next book in the series.

Highly recommended for fans of contemporary fiction and women's stories. 4****

Wendy Wax can be found on her website, Goodreads and on Facebook.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by in exchange for my honest opinion.

Now for the fabulous news; through the generosity of Berkley, one giveaway copy of the book is available  to US residents. Just leave a comment saying  WHY you would like to be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to leave an e mail address in your comment.

Deadline to enter is July 25th at 6:00 PM

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: The Wild Dark Flowers: a Novel of Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke

Paperback, 368 pages
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by Berkley Trade

ISBN: 0425262596 (ISBN13: 9780425262597)

From Goodreads:
"When May came that year in Rutherford, it was more beautiful than anyone could ever remember. More beautiful, and more terrible…

From inside their sprawling estate of Rutherford Park, the Cavendish family had a privileged perspective of the world. On the first morning in May, 1915, with a splendid view that reached across the gardens to the Vale of York, nothing seemed lovelier or less threatening. And yet…

At the risk of undoing the Cavendish name with scandal, William and Octavia Cavendish have been living a lie, maintaining a marriage out of duty rather than passion. But when their son Harry joins the Royal Flying Corps in France, the Cavendish family are forced to face the unavoidable truths about themselves, the society in which they thrive, and the secrets they can no longer bear.

In the wake of a terrible war, the emotional shifts between a husband and a wife, a wife and her lover, and a mother and her children, will shake the very foundation of the Cavendish family, and change the uniquely vulnerable lives of all who reside at Rutherford Park."

My Thoughts:   

The Wild Dark Flowers: A Novel of Rutherford Park has been compared to Downton Abbey. This is an excellent comparison as Rutherford is set during the same interesting historical timeframe and is an in-depth look at life on a large English estate during WW1. With  rich  lush descriptions, a mesmerizing sense of place, The Wild Dark Flowers had me hooked from page 1.  Not just an intriguing character study but an eye opening social commentary on the changing times.

 War is a great leveler: it affected everyone  whether upstairs or downstairs, everyone has their story.
Cooke did a fabulous job of bringing her numerous characters to life and giving them a unique voice.

I loved the surprise ending and can't wait for the next book in the series Very enjoyable read. 4****

Even though this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Elizabeth Cooke is a Goodreads author and can be found on her page. She can also be found on her webpage and on Facebook.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by The Penguin Group/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: The Beekepers Ball by Susan Wiggs

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN: 0778314480 (ISBN13: 9780778314486)                
edition language: English
From Goodreads:

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista's rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel's project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past.

But Isabel's carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O'Neill arrives to dig up old history. He's always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely-guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel's kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper's Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.

My thoughts: In The Apple Orchard, first book in the Bella Vista Chronicles series, we are introduced to Isabel, her half-sister Tess and her grandfather Magnus, owner of Bella Vista. What a complicated history this family shares. I really enjoyed getting to know them.

Wiggs continues their story in The Beekeeper's Ball while filling in a lot of Magnus's back story, how he came to the United States from Denmark right after WWII and started the orchard in the little town of Archangel. I Love the dual storyline format: present day California and Denmark in the early 1940's. The present day story is a lot about Isabel,  her acceptance of possible romance in her life and her desire to make Bella Vista a destination cooking school.

With lush descriptions and sense of place, rich characterizations and a plot that just won't quit,I  loved it, loved it, loved it!

Oh, yeah, about the twist at the end? That promises to be most intriguing making me very impatient for the next in the series. 5*****

 Susan Wiggs can be found on her Goodreads page and on her Facebook page and her web page.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Harlequin MIRA/Netgalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review: The Promise by Robyn Carr

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: June 24th 2014 by Harlequin MIRA

ISBN: 0778316203 (ISBN13: 9780778316206)                
edition language: English

From Goodreads:

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating scene is awkward. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic.

Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options.

Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.

My Thoughts:

Every book is this series is wonderful, the magic just keeps on happening. Robyn Carr can write a romance and stories of family like no one else. All her books are so enjoyable, I haven't found one yet that I didn't like. I just couldn't put this one down. It was so interesting to read of the Basque culture and I just loved all the characters. Okay, there was one or two I could have given a dummy slap to but the rest of the recurring characters was a nice catch-up with old friends.

Highly recommended for fans of romance, family stories and contemporary fiction. 5****

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Harlequin MIRA/Netgalley  in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: That Summer by Lauren Willig

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 1250014506 (ISBN13: 9781250014504)                
edition language: English
When Julia inherits a house in England from an aunt she has never heard of, she thinks it's a hoax. Her stoic father assures her it is real. He remembers the house. Not that he ever told Julia any of this but that's just the way he is.

Julia decides to go to England and check out her windfall thinking she would clean it up a little and sell it. Well, little did she know she would get caught up in her family's history, treasures and secrets.

Told from two different time frames, present day and mid-nineteenth century, Willig presents two intriguing tales. Sometimes, with dual time frames, I find one story grabs me a bit more than the other. Not so with That Summer, I got caught up in both of them and couldn't wait to see how it all panned out.

Excellent sense of place, well developed characters, fluid dialogue and a wonderful plot line made for an enchanting read. 4****

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spotlight: Here and Again by Nicole R. Dickson and The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller

These look and sound like good ones.  Release day is today. Don't miss them!

Paperback, 400 pages

Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by NAL Trade

Deep in the Shenandoah Valley, the present and the past are as restless as the river mists. And when they collide, the heart is the only compass pointing home.

For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past....

By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies....

Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: June 3rd 2014 by NAL Trade

ISBN: 0451416244 (ISBN13: 9780451416247)
From Goodreads:

An absorbing, highly entertaining novel about family secrets, The Never Never Sisters introduces you to the strong-willed and big-hearted Reinhardt women, as they reunite one summer in New York. Gifted storyteller L. Alison Heller has written another witty and moving page-turner that will captivate readers and keep them guessing right up until the satisfying end.

Sometimes you just need to get away….

Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.

As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: Simple Faith by Anna Schmidt

Paperback, 320 pages

Published March 1st 2014 by Shiloh Run Press

ISBN: 162029141X (ISBN13: 9781620291412)

series: Peacemakers #2

From Goodreads:

After losing her beloved husband and daughter and surviving Hitler’s Sobibor death camp, Quaker widow Anja Steinberg dedicates her life to helping others and keeping her son safe. As a member of the resistance, she helps displaced Allied airmen get back to their units in England. The journey is rigorous and filled with danger and there is no time for romance. Anja knows that Mikel, her fellow resistance worker, loves her. He would make a good husband and father for her son, but she doesn’t share his feelings. Is friendship enough? Then American Peter Trent parachutes into her life. She must face facts—her heart did not die with her late husband and true love could be hers again. But marrying Mikel may be the only way she can save Peter.

My thoughts: Combine a love for WWII fiction, Christian fiction, and  stories of courageous people, Simple Faith ticked all the boxes perfectly. What a wonderful story this is! I was engaged immediately with the characters. I could feel my heart rate speed up at the very beginning and just knew this story would really grab me by the heart and not let go.

Schmidt was at the top of her game with this book;  her sense of place was done to perfection and  it was as if I were right there with these very likeable characters. Never once did the narrative lag nor did it ever disappoint me.  Even though this is the second book in a trilogy, it read as a stand-alone. I loved it!  5*****

Anna Schmidt, the author of numerous books, can be found on her Goodreads page and on her website.

Highly recommended for fans of romance, Christian fiction, WWII stories, ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds and tales of courageous women.

Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by Barbour Publishing  in exchange for my honest opinion.