Reviews

Book Review: Finding Claire

“FINDING CLAIRE (HILL COUNTRY SECRETS),” BY PAMELA HUMPHREY

PUBLICATION: PHREY PRESS; DECEMBER 5, 2016

finding claire.jpg

 

Synopsis: She wakes up in the back of a van, and her whole world changes.

Injured and afraid–with no recollection of who she is–she stumbles through the Texas Hill Country with a photo labeled Claire. Seeking safety, she knocks at Alex’s cabin door. He protects her, even though she stirs up memories that haunt him.

She wants her life back. He wants to ease his guilt and will protect her even if it means risking his own life. Together they search, hoping questions will be answered by Finding Claire.

 

 

My Review: 

This mystery/suspense/romance was just what the doctor ordered today! “Finding Claire” is the upcoming release from author, Pamela Humphrey, about a young woman who is kidnapped, escapes, finds refuge – but has no clue who she is. She wakes up briefly in the back of a van with canned food items rolling around hitting her in the head as the van drives. Taken somewhere dark and remote, she is led into a cabin with hands tied behind her back and locked into a closet. Every few hours, one of the two kidnappers opens the door and gives her a bologna and mayo sandwich (yuck) and a few sips of water. But after a trip to the restroom and her hands being tied in her front instead of back, she manages to escape. Not knowing where she is, she stumbles through the darkness and fog, falling and cutting herself several times, until she sees a cat sitting in a cabin window. Alex is still mourning the death of his wife from several years ago and is sitting alone in his cabin when there is a knock at the door. He opens it to find a bloody, dirty, mangled-looking woman with her hands tied. Even worse, she has no idea who she is. 

I’m going to call the main character “Rainy,” because that’s what Alex names her while they are still trying to uncover her real identity. This novel opens with Rainy making her way through the dark woods, falling on everything, crawling under a barbed-wire fence, and so on – all with her hands tied by a rope. Despite her fear and trauma, when she spots Alex’s cat, Bureau, in the window, she feels safe and knocks on the door. For whatever reason, she immediately feels safe with Alex and he, in turn, immediately becomes her protector. The main thing I can say about Rainy is – this is a super strong and dynamic character. She’s been through hell, doesn’t know who she is, and maintains an exceptional attitude while trying to figure out who she is and why she was kidnapped. Alex is somewhat brooding at first, having kept to himself since the death of his wife, except for DJ (local law enforcement) and his wife, Becca. Despite Alex’s preference for solitude and distance, he can’t help his overwhelming feelings of wanting to help and protect Rainy from the time he first opens the door. I quickly learned while reading how handsome, intelligent and caring that Alex was, however, he continued to fight past demons about his wife’s death and guilt he felt about it – although not at all his fault. DJ and Becca were also wonderful characters that were very level-headed, loving and caring. Becca, especially, quickly took Rainy under her wing trying to help and comfort her, all the while trying to protect her and Alex from hurting each other with their developing feelings. 

I loved the overall premise of this novel, although I think that the climax/conclusion became rather predictable very early on in the novel. Despite that, this was an entertaining and engaging suspense thriller mixed with romance, love and loss. The subplot of trying to figure out “Claire’s” identity flowed well with the investigation regarding Rainy’s disappearance, and also revealed secrets from this small town’s past and tragic events that had happened many years earlier. What was interesting is the times that I felt most nervous or in suspense, ended up being perfectly fine, such as when Rainy was at Travis’ office. I was convinced something was very wrong, but it wasn’t! I love that the author was able to continue a roller coaster of suspense from beginning to end, but also not make things completely frustrating. I especially loved Claire’s mother’s letters over the years. I can’t go into detail without spoilers, but it prompted several tissue-worthy moments that also added to the mystery of the novel.

If I remember correctly, the author plans to continue Alex and Rainy’s story, and I absolutely cannot wait to read more. I’ve already downloaded the short story about DJ’s wife, Becca, and cannot wait to find out more about Alex and Rainy. If you have not yet read Pamela Humphrey, she needs to be added to your list of author’s to watch. She embodies wonderful storytelling skills and reels you in from the first paragraph.

 

Learn more about Pamela Humphrey by visiting her web page! 

*Thanks to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

 

Reviews

Reviews: In an Instant & In a Heartbeat

Yesterday I reviewed “In a Lifetime” and loved it so much I had to get the novella and novel that came after them 🙂 I decided to review them in one post since the novella is so short!

“In an Instant” (Lifetime Book 1.5), by Ariadne Wayne

Publication: Wendy Smith; January 29, 2016

instant.jpg

 

Synopsis: This novella is not a stand alone book and must be read after In a Lifetime.

Two years after the events of In a Lifetime, Ella finds her settled life disrupted by a surprise visitor. Three friends try to work out how to put the past behind them for the sake of a little boy.

 

 

 

My Review:

As you read in my review yesterday of “In a Lifetime,” I absolutely loved it so immediately downloaded and started reading the novella that comes between parts 1 and 2, “In a Heartbeat.” If you plan on reading this series you may want to stop reading this now but I will try to avoid any spoilers!

Ella and Matt are happily settled in their home on her parents’ farm, with Matt working on the farm and still taking care of contracts from his previous job, but primarily working from home. Ella spends her days playing with the kids and they are all completely, utterly happy. Then one day just after Ella puts the kids down for their naps, Sam shows up in their driveway trying to make amends and wanting to see Finn, his biological son that Matt has been raising since Finn was born. Suddenly, Ella and Matt have to decide whether to try and trust Sam, who claims that he has changed. 

This novella was very, very short – taking maybe 30 minutes or so to read, but it was still full of all sorts of good stuff. I loved that years later Matt and Ella are still incredibly in love and mushy-gushy types 🙂 Although the farm isn’t making much profit, everyone is happy, healthy and content. At first, I was very skeptical of Sam, but his character was more like the Sam we were first introduced to in “In a Lifetime,” and he seemed more mature and full of good intentions. Despite the short length of the novella, there was a great deal of growth within and among Ella, Matt and Sam and the story was both entertaining and suspenseful as I wondered what Sam would say or do and how Ella and Matt would react to him. I honestly felt like it could have been condensed into an epilogue of the first novel, but it was still an excellent transition into Vanessa’s story in the next novel. 

“In a Heartbeat” (Lifetime Book 2),by Ariadne Wayne

Publication: Wendy Smith; August 14, 2016

heartbeat

Synopsis: 

Pain.
Blood.
Heartache

That’s all Vanessa Brown sees and feels when she closes her eyes. Having a baby wasn’t part of the plan, losing one breaks her heart.

Until her miscarriage, Vanessa has the perfect life. Newly qualified as a doctor, she has a loving boyfriend, Connor, and the world at her feet. But with the loss of her baby, her fear and hurt cause the breakdown of her relationship.

Doctor Dylan West is new to the hospital, and has all the right words to say to a woman starting all over again. Vanessa takes a chance, and discovers that new isn’t always better, and the mistakes of the past sometimes come back to haunt you. Even when they’re not your own.

This book is a follow-up to In a Lifetime, but can be read as a stand alone.

My Review: 

Not only did I love Vanessa’s story in “In a Heartbeat,” I loved how author Ariadne Wayne touched on several sensitive issues and handled them beautifully. Vanessa has finally become a practicing physician in a hospital and is still happily together with Connor. The book begins, unfortunately, with Vanessa and Connor going to the emergency room because she is 8 weeks pregnant and has started cramping and bleeding badly. A fellow student through med school and now co-worker, Will, is the one that examines Vanessa, despite her initial attempts for someone else (just because of the awkwardness), and he is the one that confirms that she has miscarried. Vanessa is struggling with guilt because she was not happy about the baby upon learning that she was pregnant, but after watching and feeling Connor’s enthusiasm and excitement, she had come around to the idea. After the miscarriage, Connor is wonderful trying to meet her every need and be patient with her mood swings, but eventually, she pushes him away and he moves out. 

Vanessa throws herself into working long hours but also builds a very close friendship with Will and his girlfriend. When a new doctor shows up at the hospital and begins flirting, Vanessa thinks she may be ready to start moving forward, but then quickly gets burned as she realizes he was dishonest with her about something very important. She continues trying to get her life together throughout the novel, even reaching out to Sam at one point. As Connor’s sister wedding gets closer, and Vanessa has agreed to still attend despite her and Connor’s situation, she begins to feel healthier about her life and realizes what Connor has meant to her all this time. 

**So there is somewhat of a spoiler here, so again, stop reading if need be! Vanessa not only deals with a miscarriage and then the split between her and her long term boyfriend, but also deals with infidelity when she realizes that Dylan is married and has a daughter. She’s humiliated and furious once she realizes that she was a part of the same thing that Sam had done to her sister, thus why she reaches out to Sam trying to get the answer to “why do men cheat?” The author not only provided an honest portrayal of miscarriage and the emotional roller coaster that follows, but where she showed the side of the wife that has been betrayed in “In a Lifetime,” this time she depicted the feelings and backlash of unknowingly being the “other woman.” **

I’ve loved Vanessa throughout this series and although I felt frustrated with her at times during book 2, I still marveled at her strong character. Vanessa’s bond with her sister and Matt continued to strengthen throughout this book, and she formed an unlikely friendship with Sam, really showing a more understanding and tender side of her character. I empathized with her several times, especially when anything negative happened and she tried to share it with her mom, the mom would begin with, “what did you do?” After reading and looking back on the 2 novels and the novella, I would have to say that Vanessa underwent the most development and transformation of any of the characters so far. 

I loved Ariadne Wayne’s writing style and plot development, as well as, her ability to create such vivid images without going too much into detail where it gets cumbersome to read. As I stated in my review yesterday of “In a Lifetime,” Wayne’s characters are incredibly relatable experiencing issues that anyone could encounter, making it so easy to identify with and fall in love with this family. I cannot wait for the last book to be released in the Lifetime series, and also am so excited to begin reading other series that she has written. I highly recommend this wonderful author and her engaging, emotional but romantic books!

Learn more about Ariadne Wayne by visiting her web page. 

 

 

Reviews

Book Review: In a Lifetime

“In a Lifetime,” by Ariadne Wayne

Publication: Wendy Smith; December 1, 2015

lifetime

Synopsis: When Matt lays eyes on Ella, it’s love at first sight. At the very least, lust. But when fate steps in, Matt ends up playing Good Samaritan and losing the girl he wants to his best friend, Sam.

When Ella and Sam marry, Matt leaves the country, desperate to get over the deep feelings he has for his friend’s wife. When he returns, he finds a couple struggling with infertility; cracks appearing in their relationship. Making things worse, his feelings for Ella have intensified.

When you’re in love with your best friend’s wife, whose side do you take when everything falls apart?

My Review: 

Considering that I’ve been an avid reader forever and have been reading and reviewing books for my blog for over 6 months, how is that I had never heard of or read Ariadne Wayne until the past week? Thankfully I got an email last week about romances on sale at Amazon and came across “In a Lifetime,” and now I must admit – I’m addicted to this author!

Matt and Sam have been best friends since they were kids and are hosting their last big party at their place before finishing school and getting careers. Matt spots Ella and it’s all over for him, but before he gets to talk to her he has to take someone home, and when he returns, he finds her with Sam. Matt then spends the next few years suffering in silence as the girl he loves falls more in love with Sam, resulting in them moving in together and eventually getting married. Matt can no longer take seeing them together so he decides to take off to work in another country and then do some traveling – hoping to get over his feelings for Ella. When he finally returns home, he still isn’t over Ella and Ella and Sam’s marriage is suffering from trying to get pregnant and Sam’s frequent late nights out. Matt vows to be there for Ella no matter what, despite his growing love for her every day. 

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with this story and how absolutely crazy I became over Matt from the first page forward… Matt was sexy, smart, sweet, funny, and so adorably selfless and caring it was unreal! Then again, he is a character in a book and not real, unfortunately! Matt falls in love with Ella from the minute he sees her, but unfortunately, she hooks up with Sam. Matt becomes the proverbial third wheel as Ella and Sam’s relationships grows and he remains their best friend. Matt and Ella have a few “moments” here and there but it’s not until he decides to move away that he finally tells her how he feels about her. Ella seems like the ideal girl from the very beginning and is not only beautiful but a perpetual caretaker and just a big-hearted person. Moreover, she comes from a wonderful family that immediately adore Matt, but never quite “took” to Sam. I especially loved her sassy younger sister, Vanessa who flirts with Matt from day one and basically does what she can to get a rise out of people, but in a fun way! Sam seems great for the bigger part of the novel, but after Matt returns home and the “trying to get pregnant” issue has obviously taken it’s toll on Ella and Sam, it becomes clear that Sam was nothing but a complete ass. He quickly changed from good, fun-loving guy to the epitome of a selfish and immature human. 

“In a Lifetime” is full of frustrations, happy moments, sad moments, and so on… Ariadne Wayne’s writing and characterization quickly reeled me in and I did not move from my seat until I was done reading this book, easily devouring it in just a few hours. These are not millionaires or perfect people – but the characters seemed very real and human, making mistakes, screwing up, and trying to make things better again. Despite all of the challenges and obstacles, Matt’s unrelenting love for Ella was truly beautiful and moving. I cheered for him throughout this entire novel, all the while hoping that Ella could resolve her feelings and find the happy young lady she was at the beginning of the novel. This unexpected gem that I stumbled upon was amazing and I’ve already gotten the next two books in this serious which I will probably finish before bed tonight! If you love contemporary romance with some conflict and issues to build suspense, this is the book for you!

Learn more about Ariadne Wayne by visiting her web page! 

Reviews

Book Review: Teach a Teacher a Lesson

“TEACH A TEACHER A LESSON: A DARK ROMANCE NOVEL OF OBSESSION AND REVENGE,” BY CAT NICOLAOU

PUBLICATION: DECEMBER 1, 2016

teach.jpgSynopsis: Sam wants revenge. Rita wants to have a good time.
The cruise around the Mediterranean is a gift to herself for her upcoming birthday. Rita is still a timid high-school teacher, but Sam is not the boy she used to know.

Driven by obsession and hate, Sam is determined to break the woman who brought his heart to ruin. Rita’s mere presence, though, brings out feelings he has fought against for years. Will Sam succeed in his quest for revenge or will he be conquered by love?

They are about to embark on a seductive and dangerous voyage that will change their lives.

A dark romance about obsession, revenge and dysfunctional relationships. Adults only.

My Review: 

This is my 3rd time reading Cat Nicolaou and let me begin by saying that “Teach a Teacher a Lesson” is quite different from her other novel and collection of short stories! Start with the age-old story of the first day of senior year and a young man sees a hot teacher. Sam, who is 18 years old and has his whole, happy life ahead of him, spots Rita – the new History teacher on the first day of school. Rita is 25 and this is her first teaching job and her Principal, Chris is a well-known historian that for some reason, unknown to her, left a position at a university to become a high school Principal. Rita is immediately attracted to Chris and it’s not long before sparks are flying between the two of them. Unfortunately for Sam, his teacher doesn’t return his affections of love, and after grabbing and kissing her, he is expelled and his father forces him to enlist in the military. 

Fast-forward 10 years and Sam is now 28 and the successful second in command on a cruise ship. He’s taller, more muscular, has a beard, and is a grown man when one day he spots Rita coming aboard his ship. Sam’s new mission in life is to get revenge and break her heart as she did his all of those years ago. But as he puts his plan into action, the lines become blurred about whether he wants revenge or if he’s really still in love with his teacher. 

“Teach a Teacher a Lesson” is a hard novel to review without giving away spoilers, but I will do my best. I am torn regarding my feelings for this novel, because I can’t decide if Sam is creepy and needs to be hospitalized away from society, or if he really has spent the past 10 years in love with Rita and really wants to be with her. Sam seems to be popular with fellow staff on the ship, as well as, locals where they frequently port – but the entire novel he flips flop back and forth between batshit crazy and then completely romantic and sweet. Although I liked Rita, I felt she was careless with her Principal, especially with it being her first teaching job. As someone who taught high school for many years, I can empathize with her situation of silly students flirting and trying to get her attention, which I thought she handled appropriately. What I couldn’t believe is her inability to recognize Sam once they meet on the ship! Back to being torn, part of me completely agreed with her reactions towards the end of her time on the cruise ship, while part of me wanted to her to sit down and talk to Sam and get things out in the open – but I can’t elaborate without spoiling it for you! This novel was very fast-paced, sometimes a little too much, but still very enjoyable and absolutely an entertaining read. I did have serious issues with the ending, but that was my own personal irritations with the novel ending when I wanted to know more about what was yet to come. I am hoping that Cat plans to continue this story, but I haven’t heard if this is the case or not. I enjoyed this novel because of its unique twist on a young man crushing on his teacher. 

I enjoyed this novel because of its unique twist on a young man crushing on his teacher. If you feel like you’ve been reading a lot of the same thing recently, this is definitely a new and different story with the perfect blend of romance, mystery and characters that make you want to channel your inner therapist/psychologist! Lastly, about the author, Cat Nicolaou, I have to give her the highest praise for being able to write such completely different novels. I recognize her writing style, of course, but hats off to this woman that can go in so many different directions with her writing – and do it well. 

Learn more about Cat Nicolaou by visiting her web page. 

Keep an eye out for “Teach a Teacher a Lesson” December 1st!

 

Posts

What Am I Reading?

In case you haven’t noticed, I am seriously behind on my TBR list! I got a fun, part-time job for the holidays so have been a little busy, but trying to start catching up!  Here is what I am planning to read and review this week 🙂 

“Teach a Teacher a Lesson: A Dark Romance Novel of Obsession and Revenge,” by Cat Nicolaou

Publication: December 1, 2016

teach.jpgSynopsis: Sam wants revenge. Rita wants to have a good time.
The cruise around the Mediterranean is a gift to herself for her upcoming birthday. Rita is still a timid high-school teacher, but Sam is not the boy she used to know.

Driven by obsession and hate, Sam is determined to break the woman who brought his heart to ruin. Rita’s mere presence, though, brings out feelings he has fought against for years. Will Sam succeed in his quest for revenge or will he be conquered by love?

They are about to embark on a seductive and dangerous voyage that will change their lives.

A dark romance about obsession, revenge and dysfunctional relationships. Adults only.

“Finding Claire (Hill Country Secrets),”

by Pamela Humphrey

Publication: Phrey Press; December 5, 2016

finding claire.jpgSynopsis: She wakes up in the back of a van, and her whole world changes.

Injured and afraid–with no recollection of who she is–she stumbles through the Texas Hill Country with a photo labeled Claire. Seeking safety, she knocks at Alex’s cabin door. He protects her, even though she stirs up memories that haunt him.

She wants her life back. He wants to ease his guilt and will protect her even if it means risking his own life. Together they search, hoping questions will be answered by Finding Claire.

 

 

 

“George Bailey Gets Saved in the End,” by Ken O’Neill

Publication: October 17, 2016

georgeSynopsis:Same Holiday. Different George.

George Bailey, who has made a fortune selling Christmas ornaments, is having a rough few days. He’s thrown his back out lifting the Thanksgiving turkey; his father has died and his wife has left him. He’d turn to his best friend for support, but said BFF is having an affair with his wife.

Let the holiday season begin!

On the heels of all this misery George meets a new woman, and he also meets Jesus (or perhaps just an awfully nice guy named Jesus). As he scrambles to hold together his floundering family, he must figure out if these strange and wondrous events  are miracles or symptoms of a nervous breakdown.

“Love, Alice,” by Barbara Davis

Publication: Berkley; December 6, 2016

love-aliceSynopsis: A year ago, Dovie Larkin’s life was shattered when her fiancé committed suicide just weeks before their wedding. Now, plagued by guilt, she has become a fixture at the cemetery where William is buried, visiting his grave daily, waiting for answers she knows will never come.

Then one day, she sees an old woman whose grief mirrors her own. Fascinated, she watches the woman leave a letter on a nearby grave. Dovie ignores her conscience and reads the letter—a mother’s plea for forgiveness to her dead daughter—and immediately needs to know the rest of the story.

As she delves deeper, a collection of letters from the cemetery’s lost and found  begins to unravel a decades-old mystery involving one of Charleston’s wealthiest families. But even as Dovie seeks to answer questions about another woman’s past—questions filled with deception, betrayal, and heartbreaking loss—she starts to discover the keys to love, forgiveness, and finally embracing the future…

“The Night Before Christmas,” by Rose Collins

Publication: Nursery Box; December 7, 2015

night-beforeSynopsis: It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring,
Not even a … BEAR ?

Clement Clarke Moore’s much-loved poem is brought beautifully to life in this gorgeous picture book with a twist- as Santa visits a family of bears on Christmas Eve.

Share the Christmas magic and experience a whole new retelling of the timeless Christmas classic.

With beautifully illustrated pages, The Night Before Christmas is the perfect gift for any child.

Happy reading and have a great week!

Reviews

Book Review: The Bridesmaid Blues

“THE BRIDESMAID BLUES,” BY TRACEY SINCLAIR

PUBLICATION: JULY 28, 2014

bridesmaid-bluesSynopsis: Luce knows she should be thrilled when Jenna asks her to be bridesmaid – after all, they’ve known each other since childhood and Jenna is the best friend any girl could have. But it’s hard to get excited about weddings when you’re terminally single and the best man is the boy who broke your heart: Jamie, the groom’s dashing and irresistible brother. How can she face the man who dumped her when she’s still so hopelessly in love? Then again, maybe this is the perfect opportunity – after all, where better to get back together than at a wedding?

So Luce has six months to figure out how to win back her ex, but she has plenty else on her plate – from an old friend returned to Newcastle with an announcement of her own, to a youthful colleague who may or may not have a crush on her and a mother who is acting very strangely indeed… and that’s all before a mysterious, handsome American walks into her life.

Sometimes being a bridesmaid isn’t all confetti and champagne…

My Review:

Let me begin by saying that I’ve read so many wedding, wedding planning or proposal books lately that I did not expect to enjoy this novel as much as I did. “The Bridesmaid Blues” completely surprised me with the light, romantic comedy and the great characters. Luce is the main character and the novel begins with her best friend Jenna telling her that she’s getting married, and of course, asking Luce to be a bridesmaid. The excitement soon dies, however, once Luce discovers that Jenna’s brother, Jamie, is going to be best man. Jamie and Luce had instant chemistry and a whirlwind romance the previous year until he told her he had another girlfriend and broke Luce’s heart. Luce is also dealing with another friend from the past getting married, and being a bridesmaid for her also, as well as, a great looking co-worker that she thinks may have a crush on her, and a mysterious American that wanders into her store one day. 

Luce was a great character that was funny, very modest and a little bit awkward when it came to communicating. She works in a store that sells films and is rarely busy and works with an incredibly handsome but much younger man named Eliot. Luce claims she is not over Jamie and once she knows they will be in Jenna and Michael’s wedding together, she vows to lose weight and find a hot date for the wedding to make Jamie realized what he’s missing. While dealing with helping Jenna with the wedding, dress shopping and daydreaming about Jamie, another friend Hali suddenly comes back into Luce’s life engaged and asks her to be her bridesmaid also. After Hali comes into the shop and meets Eliot, she’s the one that gives Luce the wake-up call that Eliot has the hots for her, but Luce isn’t sure about it because of their age difference. To add even more complication, a handsome American named Daniel walks into her store one day and Luce is sure that there was instant chemistry – until she realizes that Daniel is Michael’s brother that has been living in the U.S. and is married. Finally, there’s Luce’s mother that is suddenly always busy and preoccupied with social engagements, often having to reschedule visits with Luce. 

Luce was a great character, as was Daniel and Hali. Eliot was a little bit odd, but his unusual mannerisms made more sense as the story progressed. I was not crazy about the best friend, Jenna. Yes, she had always looked out for Luce and they had been friends forever, but I rarely got that warm, fuzzy best friend feeling between them and once I realized what kind of meddling she had done, I really wasn’t very fond of her. Of course, Daniel also played a part but he was so fabulous that didn’t matter! I think a huge theme to this novel is the importance of honest communication. There were so many assumptions made regarding who had what feelings, Luce’s dreams or ideas of turning her hobby of jewelry making into a business and what was really going on with everyone. Luce’s mom kept secrets, Jenna and Daniel kept secrets and Eliot had secrets also. There were times I felt sorry for Luce because it seemed like everyone was trying to deceive her in one way or another. But overall, this book was funny and sweet, especially because of Luce’s awkwardness with talking to and being honest with both men and women. One thing I loved was watching Luce’s self-esteem and confidence slowly grow throughout the story, even though it took some strong words from friends to help her see herself in a better light. 

“The Bridesmaid Blues” is a quick and fantastic read that leaves you feeling good and optimistic about love and finding Mr. Right. Tracey Sinclair’s writing flows perfectly and is descriptive enough to easily imagine the characters, setting and what everyone is doing. Being that I am not from the U.K., I will admit I did have to look up a few words and expressions, such as a “Geordie,” because I had no clue what that meant, lol! But that did not take away from how much I loved this book! I only wish she had or will continue this story at some time. The ending is by no means a cliffhanger, but left a perfect opportunity to continue Luce’s story in a follow-up to this novel. 

Learn more about Tracey Sinclair by visiting her web page. 

Purchase “The Bridesmaid Blues” on Amazon. 

*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Reviews

Book Review: Christmas Morning

“Christmas Morning: A Cape Harriet Novel,” by Roma Brooks

Publication: November 7, 2016

xmas-morn

Synopsis: Christmas has come to Cape Harriet, and this year, it’s all about second chances! Christmas Morning is an emotionally gripping novel in the tradition of Clipper Beach and Wicked Summer. James & Sandhya have found unexpected love, but their future will be decided by a tormented child. A newly married couple find their vows tested to the limit. A wounded vet finds himself in a Christmas nightmare. Zadie’s dishing up special Christmas treats, and the town is decked up for the holidays. As the mercury dips, everyone eagerly awaits Christmas Morning. Stoke up the fire, have a warm drink at hand, and snuggle up to enjoy this sweet contemporary romance, spiced up with a dash of intrigue.
*includes festive recipes from Zadie’s kitchen

My review: 

I love the Cape Harriet series by Roma Brooks and “Christmas Morning” did not disappoint. In this installment, Sandhya has brought her daughter Leena over to the U.S. from India, and is taking her to Cape Harriet for the holidays to meet James. The Rising Tides Inn is also hosting Dylan, and injured veteran from Afghanistan, as well as, a couple from Connecticut, Trey and Muffy – along with their 6-month-old son, Cole. The innkeepers Zadie and Pete are just as hospitable as ever, and the food sounds just as yummy as ever!

I loved this novel because although it was mostly based on holidays and romance , there was also a nice blend of suspense and mystery surrounding Trey and Muffy, as well as, internal and external conflict involving Dylan and Cathy. The drama related to Trey and Muffy was an interesting and entertaining subplot, although I sort of felt like it was wrapped up rather suddenly. There’s still much to be known about Dylan and Cathy’s future, making me wonder if we will see them again in a future novel!?! I must admit that back when I read “Clipper Beach” I wasn’t crazy about Sandhya, but she seemed softer and more approachable/likable in this book, although she was a crazy, overprotective mother making her 11-year-old daughter take afternoon naps. James was completely sweet, romantic and adorable this time around as he tried to build a relationship with Leena, and grew even closer to Sandhya. 

“Christmas Morning” is a feel-good romance that is perfect to get you into the holiday spirit! This book is full of selfless acts for others, a community working together to create a celebration and as I said earlier – a lot of delicious recipes! There are several that I made a note of that I hope are as tasty as they sound – specifically the creamy mushroom soup! How wonderful it would be if Zadie was real and I could visit for the weekend just to eat 🙂 Even if you have not read the previous books in this series, it can absolutely be read as a standalone and provides enough “back story” to prevent any confusion or questions for a reader new to the series. I highly recommend adding this to the top of your TBR then sit back with a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy!

*Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase “Christmas Morning” on Amazon. 

Reviews

Book Review: After I’m Gone

“AFTER I’M GONE,”

BY MICHELLE ALSTEAD

PUBLICATION: SAME COIN – TWO SIDES;

DECEMBER 3, 2015

after-im-goneSynopsis: Gabriela ‘Gabby’ Jackson isn’t exactly what you’d call lucky. She’s lost a husband, a baby, and her best friend. After a failed first marriage, Gabby reunited with Casey, the college sweetheart whose marriage proposal she ran away from. Now married and planning a future with a house full of children, Gabby should be happy but lingering regrets about the life that could have been and tension over Casey’s dangerous hobby as a desert racer keep her from the bliss she craves.

It was supposed to be the last race of the season…

In a split second, Casey is gone and Gabby is left to pick up the pieces of her shattered existence. Hopeless, she’s desperate to end to her sorrow once and for all when Ian, her mysterious co-worker, offers her a chance to travel back in time and correct the biggest mistake of her life.

With her future on the line, will Gabby pay the ultimate price for a love that comes with an expiration date?

My Review:

I would like to say that this book was nothing like I expected, but in reality, I realize that I didn’t thoroughly read the description before reading. Although I was shocked, surprised and at times, crying my eyes out – I loved this book. Gabby is 39 and has had a difficult life. Orphaned and placed with adoptive parents that had no clue about parenting, she has suffered tremendous loss by the time she is 39 – lost her best friend and partner in the line of duty, lost a child to SIDS and has been through a divorce. Luckily and happily she reconnected with and married her first love – who proposed to her years earlier, but she turned him down to follow her career dreams of being in the FBI. They found each other again and were married , but Gabby continues to feel the darkness and inevitable doom hanging over her life. Casey started racing dirt bikes after she refused his first proposal, and she has begged him to stop since getting back together. She just feels in her heart that her husband shouldn’t do this last race and is even visited by her deceased best friend in a dream, but he races anyway and she loses him. But then, months later, she is given a second chance. She can go back to the first time Casey proposed to her and change the course of history. The catch is, she will only live one year once she goes back. 

So, let me begin by saying that there are several tissue-worthy moments in this book. I kept waiting for a HEA miracle, which there was to a point, bu not exactly the normal HEA. The beauty of this story is that Gabby is given a second chance, a do-over, which how many of us wouldn’t want? She loses the love of her life but is given a second chance with him, but only for a year. So, imagine this happening and knowing that this one person that you love most in the world, would be burying you in a year? What’s fabulous is, once Gabby’s character does go back in time 17 years, she still remembers her previous life, which brings so much more perspective and wisdom. When 23-year-old Casey is partying and being stupid with his friends, she doesn’t care. Not because he isn’t being an idiot, but because she is able to see the bigger picture, or I guess, pick her battles. By going back in time, Gabby also gets another chance with her best friend Jules – who quickly realizes something about Gabby is different and keeps pressing Gabby about what it is. 

I loved all of the characters in this novel from Gabby to Casey to even Danny. Each one added so much depth to the novel and just enriched the storyline. “After I’m Gone” is unlike anything I have read and although  – as I said earlier – it is very sad at times, there are also incredibly happy and beautiful moments. I did sort of feel like the first part of the story (present) was longer than the second part (during the do-over), and I wish it would have been more evenly balanced, but otherwise I loved this novel from beginning to end. It is so incredibly romantic and convinces the reader that there is definitely that one special love out there for everyone. Besides romantic love, this novel also serves as a reminder of how many people we touch during our lives and how many touch on our lives. I highly recommend this to any contemporary romance and women’s fiction fans, but have a few tissues handy!

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

 

Book Blitz, Giveaway

Book Blitz: The Breakup Support Group

The Breakup Support Group
Cheyanne Young
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: November 22nd, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

After four years of first love bliss, Isla Rush just got dumped.

Any hope she has of winning her ex-boyfriend back is shattered when the town rezones her neighborhood, forcing her to spend senior year at a wealthy high school in the next town over.

With a broken heart consuming her soul, Isla can’t focus on anything, except maybe Emory Underwood—a ridiculously hot guy who dates a new girl almost every day. She can’t help but crush on him, even though it’s wrong.

When memories of her ex make her cry in second period, the school counselor sends Isla to a club that meets during lunch. The Break-Up Support Group is a collection of broken-hearted misfits who are all helping each other heal.

Just when Isla’s heart is finally on the mend, Emory shows up, forced to atone for all the broken hearts he’s caused over the years. While hiding her massive crush, she helps him understand the seriousness of breaking a heart.

In turn, Emory offers to help Isla get back on the dating scene by agreeing to be her fake date for the homecoming dance. Isla gladly accepts the ruse, because if anyone can make her into a desirable girlfriend, Emory can! There’s just one small problem.

Isla’s little crush on Emory might be exactly full blown. And a homecoming fake date with him could push her over the edge to possibly uttering the “L Word!”

Isla can’t afford another heartbreak so soon after the last one. She will have to resist his charms, refuse to look into those dreamy eyes, and above all else, not make the mistake of letting him kiss her.

If only she hadn’t let her guard down at the end of the night, under the light of her porch in a toe-curling kiss moment of weakness. And now, after months of Break-Up Support Group therapy, and with a heart fully on the mend, Isla has just handed it over to a guy who knows full well just how to break it.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

The first time Nate and I went to the movies was during eighth grade. His dad had picked me up and dropped us off since we weren’t old enough to drive, and I still remember how hard my heart pounded from the backseat of Mr. Mile’s Tahoe. Even over the country music his dad blasted everywhere he went, I feared Nate would hear my heartbeat doing jumping jacks and know I was freaking out. This was an official date after all. My first.

It was the start of December, and it was freezing cold outside. I wore a denim skirt and leggings in an effort to be cute, but the cold had me shivering like a maniac while we waited in line to buy tickets. And then thirteen-year-old Nate took off his jacket, a junior high letterman, and draped it over my shoulders. It didn’t do anything to stop the cold from crawling up my legs, but I was warm all the same. A boy had given me his jacket. I still have that jacket to this day, hanging somewhere in the back of my closet. It officially became mine on that first Christmas we spent together.

We weave our way into the theater, which is oddly packed. Even on a Friday night, this place is usually dead. The theater survives on grant money and Mr. Hasting’s massive trust fund.

The concession stand is whimsically lit up with an old-fashioned marquee hanging overhead. All of the items and prices are meticulously labeled with black plastic letters, and a strand of clear light bulbs light up the border of the menu, the lights chasing each other around the rectangle. Nate stops at the back of the line, and I take his hand again, glad that we’re finally alone.

The smell of popcorn makes my mouth water. “Large popcorn with butter,” Nate says, taking his VIP member card out of his back pocket. It’s what gets us free concessions. “And two drinks.”

“Two?” I ask, lifting an eyebrow. The large popcorn makes sense—we usually get a medium, but I’d said I was starving. But one drink with two straws is how we’ve always done date nights.

Nate shrugs. “I want my own drink tonight.”

I don’t know why that stings, but it does.

“Is everything okay with you?” The words are out of my mouth, all nagging and whining at the same time. I instantly regret that I even asked. Especially when his reaction is anything but ideal.

He shrugs again and leads the way toward the theater on the left, popcorn in one hand and his own personal drink in the other. “I’m fine.”

My brows draw together as we walk. “You seem weird.”

“Well, I’m not.” He doesn’t even look at me. And when the movie starts playing, we eat our popcorn and we drink our separate drinks. And we don’t kiss, not even once.

 

Author Bio:

Cheyanne Young is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, and collecting nail polish. After nearly a decade of working in engineering, Cheyanne now writes books for young adults and is the author of the City of Legends Trilogy. She doesn’t miss a cubicle one bit.

Cheyanne lives near the beach with her daughter and husband, one spoiled rotten puppy, and a cat that is most likely plotting to take over the world.

Be the first to know when Cheyanne has a new book out & get access to exclusive giveaways. Sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bO3qgb

Connect with Cheyanne online!

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Reviews

Book Review: Amber Alert

“AMBER ALERT,” BY DAN LAWTON

SOLSTICE PUBLISHING; NOVEMBER 9, 2016

amberSynopsis: Time is running out.

Nine-year-old Chloe Janis is abducted.

Abby, her mom, is now faced with revealing her dark past, hidden these last seventeen years, or losing her daughter forever. A cryptic message from a man she’d shoved into the dark recesses of her mind forces her into an impossible situation—revealing secrets best kept hidden or losing her daughter forever.

Secrets, deception, and betrayal surround the small town of Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. All eyes are on the community, threatening to split open as yet unhealed wounds are probed. Fates will be rewritten and careers redefined. Everyone involved will confront their pasts if there’s any hope of Mifflinburg becoming a town at the heart of redemption and forgiveness.

My Review:

“Amber Alert” is a fabulous new mystery/suspense/thriller by author Dan Lawton about a parents’ worst fear – their child being kidnapped. Abby Janis, her husband Kurt and their 9-year-old daughter Chloe live a seemingly perfect life. Amber and Kurt pride themselves on the fact their marriage has only strengthened over the years and the love and passion between them grows deeper every day, unlike other 10-year marriages. Kurt is a successful banker and Abby is a happy stay-at-home mom who’s favorite part of the day is her daughter and husband getting home from school or work. Sounds perfect, right? One day as Abby checks the mailbox, she is being watched without realizing it. Flipping through the mail she discovers an envelope without postage or a return address, simply saying “Abby” on the outside. Once she opens it, she immediately knows who the sender is and that her perfect life. as she knows it, may be coming to an end. Within hours of opening the letter, Chloe is kidnapped, and the frantic investigation begins. 

I loved so much about this novel, but I especially loved Detective Hank Berger, who, along with his partner, Melanie Chase, were assigned to Chloe’s case. Hank is months away from retirement and his young partner happens to also be in a relationship with his daughter Bree, from whom he’s been estranged for years. Abby seems like the perfect wife and mother for about a minute into the novel, but then she appears shady and questionable until the end. She is honestly the only character I disliked, which may sound weird as this novel is about kidnapping. But her quest to reinvent herself and create a life that was a lie resulted in complete chaos, trauma and pain.  Kurt is overall, the ideal husband and father, although he does have a secret from Abby about a potential career in politics. I felt so badly for Kurt because he was the one with Chloe when she was taken, in a situation many of us have found ourselves in before. They are in a small pet store, arguing over why Chloe cannot have a puppy when an old friend recognizes him and calls him over. Kurt steps right outside of the store and within a minute or two, Chloe is gone. I can’t help thinking that if Abby would have immediately told him about the letter and what it meant, Kurt would have never left Chloe’s side for a second and maybe not even gone to the mall in the first place. Kurt also may possibly be the most understanding and forgiving human ever depicted in any novel written.

Scott Baker is the “strange man” from the past, who basically appears creepy until much later when the reader learns the truth about Scott’s past with Abby. For the majority of the novel I just considered him a weird, stalker, ex-con, creepy sort of person. Not that there is any excuse for kidnapping a child, I found my opinion of him changing as everything was revealed. Scott’s ailing mother is also in the equation, as is an old neighbor named Jordan. The narrative about Jordan is odd from the beginning, at least I thought. The author provides all of these details about Jordan and this amazing girlfriend, Mindy. Jordan was imprisoned on drug charges and his been trying to live a law-abiding and clean life since being paroled. Mindy really has no relevance to the story but there’s a bunch of stuff about how much he loves her, wants to marry her and so on. 

There are several subplots to this novel other than the kidnapping itself. Abby is keeping a million secrets from Kurt, Kurt is in tight with the mayor and together they go against Berger and the investigation, Jordan spends a good amount of the novel trying to figure out why Chloe’s picture in the paper looks so familiar, the Mayor is threatening Berger…  It goes on and on but it’s all fantastic. This novel had me from the first page and I loved every page there on after. Lawton’s arrangement and development of the plot and storyline slowly revealed missing pieces to the puzzle throughout the story, giving enough hints to keep the reader satisfied and interested, but holding back enough to provide wonderful suspense – which lasted until the last sentence of the novel. So this isn’t a novel that will drive you insane trying to figure out “whodunnit,” but it also keeps surprising you the entire time. 

Dan Lawton has blown me away with his masterful storytelling and suspense in “Amber Alert” and I hope to read more of his novels in the future. I completely, 100% recommend this novel to any lovers of mystery/suspense/thrillers. 

Learn more about Dan Lawton by visiting his web page. 

* Many thanks to the author for providing me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!