Book Review: The Little French Bistro

THE LITTLE FRENCH BISTRO, BY NINA GEORGE

PUBLICATION: CROWN, JUNE 13, 2017

little frenchAbout the book: 

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage.  After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as “the end of the world.”

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.

My Review:

I was so excited when I got my hands on a copy of The Little French Bistro, full of anticipation after loving The Little Paris Bookshop so much! While I enjoyed Nina George’s latest novel, unfortunately, I was not as moved by this as I was by her previous novel.

Marianne is sixty years old and traveling in Paris with her husband Lothar. There’s is a boring, loveless marriage and she has decided to end her life. When her suicide attempts fail, she heads for the coast in search of a new life, with hopes of rediscovering herself and happiness. 

I liked Marianne’s character, feeling “better late than never” towards her journey of self-discovery. Her life had passed her by without any great love or passion with a cheating and controlling husband. She sets off on a journey after being mesmerized by the beauty of painted tile, ending up in a small, coastal town in France. Being German, she doesn’t understand the French dialect there, but with the help of a chef, she begins to pick up the language. I also loved all of the characters she met. Emile and his ailing wife Pascale, Yann the artist, Laurine the waitress, Simon and Paul, Collete and Simonie, and so on. Each and every character had their own unique story but shared the common bond of wanting great love, experiencing great love, and the loss of great love. The only unlikeable character was Marianne’s husband Lothar, but “unlikeable” seems too passive of a word. I despised the man. 

Despite the beautiful, descriptive writing, colorful and interesting characters, and the promise of Marianne’s journey of self-discovery, the overall storyline just fell flat with me. My first issue was the slight absurdity of Marianne’s experiences. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I will just say that this was one very lucky woman to run across such good fortune and good people. I realize it’s a work of fiction, but I struggled with wrapping my arms around all of it. Marianne transformed from a suicidal housewife to a successful, helpful, caring, and well-liked woman in the matter of days and weeks. She got an amazing job, an amazing guest room, was able to do what she wanted, was given a car, and so forth. I think my point is that it was too perfect for me to really get into it. But then all of her supposed growth just vanished at sight of Lothar or the sound of his voice, making me wonder, was she just playing a part in a make-believe world rather than really gaining strength and confidence?

Again, there are many wonderful aspects to The Little French Bistro and I am certainly glad to have read it. It has especially romantic qualities in that so many of the characters are older adults yet still yearning for and finding love, despite their ages. Love stories involving older adults is not something you read every day and it was quite refreshing! More focus on her evolving and less fantastical luck would have improved this read for me. 

*Thanks to the publisher for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Purchase The Little French Bistro on Amazon.

Learn more about Nina George by visiting her web page.

 

 

Book Blitz: Love Defined

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Title:  Love, Defined
 
Author:   Leila Tualla
 Published:  August 4th, 2015
Publisher:   Limitless Publishing, LLC
Genre:  YA Christian Fiction
Recommended Age:  Upper YA

Synopsis:  Into their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends, Alex Makapulo, Lori Hanson, and Andy Taylor had each expected an uncomplicated transition to adulthood.
Alex is toying with the idea of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a member of her best friend, Jack Page’s church. Jack wonders what is keeping Alex from being baptized and fully accepting a new life with Christ. Alex wonders the same thing and believes that she needs to be 100 % in her conviction before fully committing to a new Christian life.
For Lori’s twenty-second birthday, her grandfather, Pete Hanson, presents her with a summer vacation to England. While looking up various tourist spots, she meets and befriends Colin Watson, a British musician, online who then suggest they meet when she lands in London. They hit it off instantly but Pete is angry and believes that she only used him as a means to meet Colin. When he finds out that Lori met Colin online, he forbids Lori from seeing Colin entirely. Lori, who has fallen in love with Colin, is heartbroken. Pete threatens to leave England with Lori’s passport. Colin and Lori try to arrange meetups where they can see each other but Pete catches on. Lori takes this as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. She unhappily finishes her trip with Pete and goes home vowing not to forgive her grandfather.
Andy reconnects with her old crush, Miles Webber and decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with him. She tells Alex about the situation and Alex truthfully tells Andy that Miles only wants her for sex. This angers Andy and she walks out of the apartment. After she’s cooled down, she comes up with an idea to throw a surprise birthday party for Alex. Andy believes that if Alex and Jack were to hook up, the focus would shift from Miles and her. Andy spikes all the drinks for Alex’s party and leaves her friend while she goes in search of Miles. He shows up at the bar with another girl. In an effort to soothe her wounded ego, she goes home with someone else. When she wakes up the next day, she realizes she’s in bed with Alex’s young boss from the coffeehouse, David Roberts, Jr.
When Alex wakes up the next day, she finds Jack in her room and freaks out. They figure out that Andy had spiked the drinks. Alex gets angry but Jack tells Alex that he is in love with her, and has been since they first met in ninth grade. It only confuses her all the more and causes her to contemplate whether he is God’s blessing or a test to distract her from her beliefs. While she has strong feelings for him, she chooses to ignore Jack’s confession and hopes that he moves on, as she doesn’t want to complicate their friendship.
Andy comes home and confess everything to Alex. Alex hesitatingly accepts the apology. Andy vows not to do anything crazy for the next few months and drops the Miles subject altogether.
When Andy learns she is pregnant and doesn’t know if Miles or David is the father, she decides to abort the baby, as she not ready to be a mother. Alex opposes the idea of abortion and begs Andy to change her mind. Andy doesn’t waver from her decision and even asks Alex and Lori to take her to a clinic.
Their trip to Houston tests their friendship and Alex’s faith. Can their friendship still survive after Andy’s decision? Will Alex find her conviction in the midst of this emotional roller coaster?

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About the Author:
Leila Tualla is a Filipino American. She is a Christian blogger and writer. Leila Tualla is the author of Love, Defined, a contemporary YA romance. An avid reader, she often posts book reviews on her website at http://www.leilatualla.com. Leila is currently writing a memoir about her faith, anxieties of motherhood, postpartum depression, and preeclampsia journey. She is a two-time Preeclampsia survivor and online advocate. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found chasing her ‘Mexipino’ rugrats and simultaneously trying to learn her mother-in-law’s recipes and language, and making sure the egg rolls are “made with love,” per her Mama ‘Lil.’
Excerpt from Love, Defined by Leila Tualla

Alex: 

“Do you think no matter what we do, we are still forgiven?” Somewhere between Francesca Battistelli’s He Knows My Name and Casting Crown’s I Will Praise You In The Storm, Andy finally spoke. “I mean.” Andy stopped.
The last song had reached its thunderous ascent and rolled towards the finish. Alex had barely heard her and for a second, thought that perhaps she had imagined it. Almond shaped brown eyes locked briefly in the mirror with a pair of big blue eyes and Alex waited, expecting Andy to go on.
She didn’t. Instead, Andy broke eye contact and turned her head to face the window.
“Yes.” She finally replied. Andy jerked up, and the two caught each other’s gaze again before Alex had to look back at the road again, frowning. “We can be forgiven as long as we ask for forgiveness, and repent and promise not to do it again.”
Another song began and once again replaced the gap of silence. Alex turned her head this time to see Andy’s eyes closed, headphones on, effectively dismissing her. She sighed out loud and set her sights on the horizon.
Lord, I pray this won’t be the last time she asks about forgiveness.
Skyscrapers of oil and energy giants glistened as they neared downtown Houston. After some guidance with the GPS, her car pulled up into the tightly spaced parking lot of the Women’s Clinic. The brick building was among other non-descript buildings that they could have easily passed by. A lot better than a little backroom, Alex surmised.
“How did you find this place?” Lori asked reluctantly. Alex got out of the Volkswagen and immediately wanted to retreat back inside. The thought of what took place inside started to make her stomach churn. Despite the blaring sun and Texas humidity, she shuddered.
“The internet.” Andy mumbled the answer as she was getting out of the car.
The three of them stood in the parking lot, in a small circle, looking at their surroundings, the traffic behind them, and nervously at each other.
Alex fixed her eyes on Andy. She wanted to say that ‘You have to forgive yourself and then ask for forgiveness.’ But her lips couldn’t form the words. She had three hours on the drive to craft the perfect words to get through to Andy and yet, here they all were, under the Texas heat, in the middle of a parking lot, shivering with nerves and barely registering each other.
After a brief period of silence, Alex cleared her throat. “Andy, you can still change your mind.”
“I know.” Came the softest reply.
Alex’s jaw tightened, and she looked at her feet to hide her feelings once more. Again, her brain tried to tell her lips to formulate the words it wanted and she looked up to open her mouth again and frowned when no words would come. Again.
This time, Alex searched her friend’s beautiful face and prayed that somewhere in those blue eyes, she could find the one thing for her to go ‘Aha! You’re just as scared as I am. You’re just as doubtful about this thing. Let’s get out of here.’ Her heart sank when instead of those things she hoped to find in her friend’s eyes, she found a quiet and settled determination.
She swallowed the defeat, shoulders hunched down and felt there was only one more thing left to say. “You are loved, Andrea Grace Taylor, remember that. Find your courage.”
Andy just nodded with the faintest smile on her lips
“Okay, you guys.” Alex said trying to keep her voice light and tried to respond to Andy’s smile. It wasn’t working. “I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble we saw on the way here. Call me when you’re done.” She was heading for the car, when she turned around and added, “Call me if you change your mind.”
A few minutes later, she maneuvered in and out of traffic, half concentrating on finding the bookstore. The other remained back at the parking lot of the clinic. A bright green Scion cut in front of her with a slew of bumper stickers. Coexist and Got Jesus, but Alex fixed on the yellow sign with black letters that read “Headed in the wrong direction? God allows for U-Turns.” Andy. Dear God, am I doing the right thing? 
 



Giveaway Details:

**enter giveaway here**

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • Signed copy of the book and $10 Starbucks Gift Card  

Giveaway is US only.

Ends June 19th, 2017 at 11:59 PM ET.

 

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Review: Love, Life, & Dreams

LOVE, LIFE & DREAMS: A COCKTAIL OF FIVE SHORT STORIES, BY REBEKAH LOUISE

PUBLICATION: MAY 24, 2017

love life dreamsAbout the book: 

Love, Life & Dreams is a collection of five short stories. Each story is unique and is ideal for enjoying whilst on holiday or for escapism.

In Doctor’s Orders, meet sisters Emma and Alice. Alice comes to her sister’s rescue after her marriage breaks down. Little does Emma know what the future holds for her.

In Julie, meet Tom, a successful businessman, and a loving father, that is until Julie shows up at his office.

In Live the Dream, meet Louis and Emma. Share in their moving story about the wonders of love and imagination.

In Off the Record, meet James. He is a top radio DJ who makes a mistake that leads him to consider his behavior.

In Suite 200, meet Ania, a cleaner of a five-star hotel. Life for Ania is arduous and her future looks bleak, that’s until she meets a guest that will challenge her view.

My Review:

Today I’m excited to bring you my review of a collection of short stories by Rebekah Louise Love, Life, & Dreams. Consisting of 5 different stories, each one focuses on a character that is facing some sort of struggle. Some of the stories deal with unavoidable problems while some deal with consequences of our mistakes. Some deal with loss or impending loss, as to where others offer a glimpse of hope in the future. 

I do not read a lot of short stories, simply because I love diving into novels and being swept away from reality for awhile! However, I enjoyed this collection of stories a great deal. Typically when I read short stories, I find myself somewhat frustrated because of the desire to know more. What happens next? Will things work out? After thinking about it, I realize the talent and quality of writing in this collection of stories are what grew my desire to know more. Regardless of the length of the story, characters, or topic – I found myself invested in the characters and situations. 

This collection is full of characters and situations that are unique but relatable and includes several unexpected surprises. Whether you enjoy reading about romance, karma, lives unfulfilled, or lessons in life I think all readers will enjoy Love, Life, & Dreams. 

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

Purchase Love, Life, & Dreams on Amazon!

Learn more about Rebekah Louise by visiting her web page.

 

Book Review: 24 Hrs to Love

24 Hrs to Love,

by Audrina Lane & Rita Ames

Publication: June 14th, 2017

24 hours to loveAbout the book: 

Lola – I had almost given up hope of getting my career off the ground. Then thanks to my friend Chris I had the chance to be in the thick of the action as a pit board girl at the next Le Mans endurance race. All I needed to do was stay focused and make a good impression. What I didn’t need was 6 feet of leather clad hot driver distraction. Jax took my breath away but he was a player and I should keep my distance….well tell that to my raging lust and love-starved heart. This was definitely going to be a 24Hr challenge all round.

Jax – I was sick of being portrayed as some heartless womanizer and sick of having to put up with man-eating Barbie doll girlfriends. Petra was pushing me too hard and she had to go. I needed to clear the decks and concentrate on the race. At least that was the plan until a fiery bundle of red headed chaos walked through the door. Lola…..I wanted her like nothing else. It was against the rules but hey….I’m a race driver….breaking rules is part of the game. So the game was on. I just didn’t see what was ahead of us or realize that there would be more to play for than just two hearts.

Book 1 in this explosive new romance series begins the collaboration between Audrina Lane and Rita Ames to bring you the excitement of the racetrack combined with some hot romance and of course a little plot twist thrown in. The only way to win this race is to join us on the grid and see it through to the chequered flag! Hold on tight. It’s going to be a rocky ride!

My Review:

Followers of my blog are certainly familiar with my love for Audrina Lane based on the numerous novels I have read and reviewed of hers. This time she has teamed up with author Rita Ames in the upcoming novel 24 Hrs to Love. 

Jax is a racecar driver arriving in France for the Le Mans endurance race, bringing along his girlfriend Petra that he’s just not that crazy about. Lola has been trying to break into the modeling field, but after no luck was hired as a pit board girl at the Le Mans race. With help from her best friend and photographer Christian, she also gets bumped up to do a private shoot with Jax. The attraction between them was immediate, but things keep heating up as they countdown to the start of the race. 

24 Hrs to Love certainly has a unique storyline that I don’t recall reading before. Besides just romance, there is the excitement of the racing circuit and the pressure on the drivers, as well as, all of the supporting members of the team and sponsors. Lola was a likable character and was easy to relate to based on her inexperience at being a pit board girl and her own insecurities when meeting all of the various people. Jax started out as a cocky driver, but his character softened as the story developed. The interesting thing about this novel was the suspense element and the hints of a particular person being “the bad guy” but then the surprise when everything came to light. 

This was a fast-paced read that I breezed through quickly, finding myself entertained by the overall plot and invested in the characters. I always have such respect for co-written novels and the ability of the authors to play off of each other’s writing in order to develop their story, and 24 Hrs to Love is another example of a great novel as the result of such a collaboration. Written from alternating points of view between Jax and Lola, I did find some of the dialogue a bit simple and choppy in the first few chapters, but it either improved as the novel went on or I no longer noticed it. 

I can’t say that the characters were as developed in 24 Hrs to Love as compared to other works by Audrina Lane, but overall I really enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading the next in the series. This book contains no dull moments and keeps you on the edge of your seat!

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

Book Review: What it Takes

WHAT IT TAKES: A DIRT ROAD LOVE STORY,
BY SONYA LOVEDAY

PUBLICATION: PRONOUN; 1 EDITION; MAY 18, 2017

what it takesAbout the book: 

Gracen Lowell is on the hunt for a man—but not just any man. He has to be ‘the one’. Her only problem is that no one she’s dated has ever measured up to the charming qualities of her best friend.

Slade Owens knows no matter how much he loves Gracen, he’ll never be what she’s looking for. And he dang sure isn’t going to stick around to watch her fall in love with someone else. Slade leaving the Owens’ family farm for an out-of-state job should put enough distance between the two to allow him to move on with his life and Gracen to search for her happily-ever-after.

Gracen knows asking him to stay isn’t fair. Slade thinks leaving her behind is the only thing to do. Inexplicably drawn together, the best friends must decide if they have what it takes to own up to their feelings… before it’s too late.

My Review:

*Possible trigger warning involving domestic abuse including physical, emotional, and verbal. 

I am such a huge fan of Sonya Loveday and her latest novel What it Takes was as fabulous as I expected! Gracen is turning 21 and looking for Mr. Right, however, the man she considers Mr. Right is her longtime best friend Slade. He also considers her the one for him but doesn’t think she would ever have feelings for him other than friendship, which is why he takes a job in Montana to put space between them in hopes of moving on. Just when you think they are going to live happily ever after, Slade leaves anyway – leaving behind the family farm, his brother, and the love of his life – leaving the question of whether they are really meant to be together in if they will find their way back to one another. 

Gracen and Slade’s relationship was incredible. It seems I’ve done a lot of reading lately involving friends realizing that they feel more for one another, but this was unique. Gracen had moved to the Owens’ Ranch when her father took a job there, but after his passing, she had no one. Slade and Lex’s Uncle declared her family so she kept living on the ranch. Gracen and Slade had been best friends for years although she was realizing that she felt more for him than that. Unbeknownst to her, Slade had always felt the same. Romance aside, however, they had an easy, effortless bond and relationship from beginning to end. 

The bulk of the plot focused on Gracen and Slade’s friendship and potential romance but there was much more. Slade struggled with leaving his family behind and the ranch that he had grown up working on. Gracen struggled with finding her own peace and happiness separate from Slade. Mixed in with all of that were brotherly issues between Slade and Lex, ranching issues, learning to work with new people, and also trusting one’s initial gut reaction to people. 

Domestic abuse is part of this novel. It was relevant to the plot, built suspense, and was handled by the author with the utmost respect. I feel as if one of the most important lessons in this novel pertaining to domestic violence is the significance of how different the character was prior to being abused, as the abuse became more frequent, and until it ended. Sonya Loveday captured the changes that can occur within people when in abusive situations and how personalities can be completely transformed when in unhealthy situations. Moreover, she captured the emotions and changes within those that know the victim, and the importance of each person realizing the need to heal in order to try to achieve normalcy again. 

What it Takes is a well-written and touching novel about romance and recovering from tragedy. The novel instills hope and praises the bonds between friends, family, and significant others. Not to mention, there is an incredible dog named Lucy that is wonderful!!! I loved this novel and especially loved the ending, which gave me hope that this may possibly be a continuing series (crossing my fingers). Once again, I have nothing negative to say about Sonya Loveday and her writing!

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase What it Takes on Amazon.

Learn more about Sonya Loveday by visiting her web page. 

What Am I Reading?

Happy Monday! As usual, I’m a bit behind on my TBR list, especially with all of the blog tours/book blitzes I’ve signed up for, but here is what I plan to read and review this week!

What it Takes: A Dirt Road Love Story,
by Sonya Loveday

Publication: Pronoun; 1 edition; May 18, 2017

what it takesAbout the book: 

Gracen Lowell is on the hunt for a man—but not just any man. He has to be ‘the one’. Her only problem is that no one she’s dated has ever measured up to the charming qualities of her best friend.

Slade Owens knows no matter how much he loves Gracen, he’ll never be what she’s looking for. And he dang sure isn’t going to stick around to watch her fall in love with someone else. Slade leaving the Owens’ family farm for an out-of-state job should put enough distance between the two to allow him to move on with his life and Gracen to search for her happily-ever-after.

Gracen knows asking him to stay isn’t fair. Slade thinks leaving her behind is the only thing to do. Inexplicably drawn together, the best friends must decide if they have what it takes to own up to their feelings… before it’s too late.

The Little French Bistro, by Nina George

Publication: Crown, June 13, 2017

little frenchAbout the book: 

Marianne is stuck in a loveless, unhappy marriage.  After forty-one years, she has reached her limit, and one evening in Paris she decides to take action. Following a dramatic moment on the banks of the Seine, Marianne leaves her life behind and sets out for the coast of Brittany, also known as “the end of the world.”

Here she meets a cast of colorful and unforgettable locals who surprise her with their warm welcome, and the natural ease they all seem to have, taking pleasure in life’s small moments. And, as the parts of herself she had long forgotten return to her in this new world, Marianne learns it’s never too late to begin the search for what life should have been all along.

With all the buoyant charm that made The Little Paris Bookshop a beloved bestseller, The Little French Bistro is a tale of second chances and a delightful embrace of the joys of life in France.

Deceived, by Heena Rathore P.

Publication: Citrus; June 24, 2017

DECEIVEDAbout the book:

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of the human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the midst of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

Guilty, by Laura Elliot

Publication:  Bookouture; June 22, 2017

GuiltyAbout the book: 

It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child.

On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Constance Lawson is reported missing.

A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect.

Six years later …

Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare.

An utterly compelling psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child.

Love, Life & Dreams: A cocktail of five short stories, by Rebekah Louise

Publication: May 24, 2017

love life dreamsAbout the book: 

Love, Life & Dreams is a collection of five short stories. Each story is unique and is ideal for enjoying whilst on holiday or for escapism.

In Doctor’s Orders, meet sisters Emma and Alice. Alice comes to her sister’s rescue after her marriage breaks down. Little does Emma know what the future holds for her.

In Julie, meet Tom, a successful businessman, and a loving father, that is until Julie shows up at his office.

In Live the Dream, meet Louis and Emma. Share in their moving story about the wonders of love and imagination.

In Off the Record, meet James. He is a top radio DJ who makes a mistake that leads him to consider his behavior.

In Suite 200, meet Ania, a cleaner of a five-star hotel. Life for Ania is arduous and her future looks bleak, that’s until she meets a guest that will challenge her view.

 

Book review: The Good Widow

THE GOOD WIDOW, BY LIZ FENTON & LISA STEINKE

PUBLICATION: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING; JUNE 1, 2017

good widowAbout the book: 

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs, it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

My Review:

Holy crap I truly have no idea how to contain myself enough to write a review for The Good Widow! An amazing suspense thriller, The Good Widow introduces teacher and wife, Jacks (Jacqueline) as she is notified of an accident that has claimed the life of her husband James. The first problem, that accident was in Hawaii rather than in Kansas where James had told her he was going on business. The next problem comes when she is informed that her husband was not alone in the rented Jeep when he had his accident. Another big problem is when a man named Nick appears at Jacks door introducing himself as Dylan’s fiance – the same Dylan that died in the accident with James. 

I’m trying to imagine anything worse than two police officers appearing at my door informing me that my husband is dead. However, to learn that he was also having an affair and his mistress died along with him, that would basically rock any person to their core. Granted, James and Jacks’ marriage wasn’t perfect, but no one wants to learn all of these horrible secrets about their spouse while mourning their death. Nick tracks Jacks down and shares his own heartache and confusion about his fiance being with James in Hawaii in the first place, much less dying in an accident. Jacks initially sends him away but eventually agrees to accompany James to Hawaii to find out about the lovers’ vacation and try to determine how serious their affair had been. 

A prominent character in The Good Widow is Jacks’ sister Beth. Honestly, I wasn’t really a big fan of hers. Not having a sister it may just be that I don’t understand the whole “sisterly bond” thing, but I felt like she was way overbearing. Beth had not liked James when he was alive and her distrust and dislike seemed to carry over to Nick once she learned about him and what he and Jacks planned to do. I think she meant well in everything she said and did, but something about her just bothered me. 

Speaking of characters, the authors’ characterization in this novel was fabulous. Jacks, Nick, Beth, James, and Dylan were all so well developed that I could easily see their faces or hear their voices while reading about them. My impression regarding all of the characters changed several times well reading, just proving how intricately the authors’ peeled back layer after layer until each character was honestly exposed – some in good ways, some not so good.

Considering the blurb lays it all out there regarding James and Dylan having an affair and then dying in an accident together, I was pleasantly shocked at the surprises as the plot developed. Obviously, there will be twists here and there but rarely was there more than a page or two to go by without something new coming out about someone or some incident. I cannot express the depths of my love for suspense/thriller/mystery novels that truly shock me, and The Good Widow is one of the best I have ever read. I was completely floored as the conclusion to this novel neared, never expecting the events and information that were revealed. 

For lovers of this genre, The Good Widow is an absolute must read that you will not be able to put down. I cannot recommend this enough and commend the co-authors for creating such a fabulous, suspenseful novel. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase The Good Widow on Amazon!

Learn more about Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke by visiting their web page.

 

Book Review: Whole Again

WHOLE AGAIN, BY COLLEEN S. MYERS

PUBLICATION: KINDLE PRESS; APRIL 18, 2017

Whole AgainAbout the book: 

John Lawrence loved Vicki Masterson his entire life. They grew up together. But it wasn’t meant to be.
After John is disabled in Iraq, that couldn’t be more obvious. He struggles to start a new career while dealing with a prosthetic leg. Vicki recovers from divorce along with her own paralyzing self-doubt.
Enter “Growing Strong” Vicki’s grandmothers landscaping business and a new start for both of them. Can they get over themselves and their own insecurities to build a life together?

 

 

My Review:

Whole Again was a suspenseful, yet sweet second chance romance about two characters, John and Vicki. While growing up, John always had a crush on Vicki but she was dating a bad guy named David. At the end of high school, the night before he left to join the Marines, they shared a kiss that neither ever forgot. Years later, Vicki is divorced from David and starting her life over in her new apartment and going to work for her grandmother’s landscaping company Growing Strong. John has been medically discharged from the Marines after losing a leg, has been working on his MBA, and goes to Growing Song in hopes of obtaining an internship. As soon as Vicki and John see each other again, it doesn’t take long for them to wonder about that kiss so long ago. 

I have to start by saying that my favorite character in this novel was Vicki’s grandmother Joonie. She was such a strong and unique character, not to mention absolutely hilarious! I admired Vicki and her perseverance after finding her husband with another woman and then leaving him behind. I absolutely loved everything about John. He was handsome, caring, smart, romantic – just the perfect man wrapped up in a perfect package. I was absolutely rooting for them from the beginning and loved them together. 

Early in the novel, you learn that Vicki’s ex-husband isn’t the sweetest guy around, and when strange things start happening to make Vicki feel threatened, it’s easy to suspect David. However, there are several important secondary characters in the novel making it difficult to determine exactly who the “bad guy” is. Nothing is black and white regarding motive or the guilty party, adding a fantastic element to this novel. It’s not simply a romance novel, but touches on the good and bad with family, strained and rekindled friendships, as well as, rebuilding one’s life after negative events. 

Unfortunately, I did have issues with the ending of the novel. I felt that the resolution didn’t really come together properly. Several questions remained unanswered and a fairly important event was not mentioned after it happened, leaving me completely puzzled. I believe this is going to be a Hometown Heroes series, but it’s unclear if the second novel will continue with these characters to provide some finality, or if it will focus on new characters. 

Overall I loved Whole Again and I am so happy to have read it. Despite my concerns about the ending, I found the story line unique and the characters engaging. Multiple elements were present in this novel making it appealing to fans of a variety of genres, and I look forward to reading book 2 in this series. 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Whole Again on Amazon!

Learn more about Colleen S. Myers by visiting her web page. 

Book Review: The Summer House

THE SUMMER HOUSE, BY JENNY HALE

PUBLICATION:  BOOKOUTURE; JUNE 9, 2017

summer houseAbout the Book: 

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets… secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor.

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

The Summer House is an absolutely gorgeous, heart-warming summer romance, about the importance of family, not keeping secrets, and learning how to open your heart.

My Review:

The Summer House is the perfect summer beach read set in one of my absolute favorite places on earth – Waves, NC. Callie, her best friend Olivia, and Olivia’s son Wyatt have moved to Waves to renovate and re-open an old inn, The Beachcomber. In the middle of their renovations, Callie meets the famous, handsome, and wealthy Luke Sullivan – and they hit it off instantly. But as they start dating, Callie learns information about his family that tests this new relationship.

Callie was instantly smitten with Luke but then began to doubt who he truly was based on tabloids and articles depicting him as a rich playboy. Luke really tries to win her over, and about the time she’s realized how crazy she is over him, she learns something about his family that causes him to walk away. This left me frustrated because Callie sort of switched overnight from cold to hot with Luke and then Luke did a complete 360 and walked away from her at the first stressful moment. However, sprinkled throughout the novel were some great moments with each of them really showing one another their true selves as they built on a friendship to become more. 

I easily related to Callie and her desire to start over, as well as, the issues she had with her mother. Although I think I missed the key elements as to what the problem was with her mother, I got the basic idea. I also related to how badly she missed her grandmother and the beauty of Gladys, Olivia’s grandmother, being in her life. 

The Summer House has plenty of surprises, twists, and turns to be interesting, as well as, just good old-fashioned beach romance. This is a quick, light read that is perfect for a lazy day on the beach! 

*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Purchase The Summer House on Amazon!

Learn more about Jenny Hale by visiting her web page!

 

Book Review: Married This Year

MARRIED THIS YEAR,

BY TRACEY PEDERSEN

PUBLICATION: DARING ONLINE ADVENTURES; 1 EDITION; DECEMBER 31, 2016

marriedAbout this book: 

Jordan Parker is so sick of men who don’t live up to her standards. Which is pretty sad, since her standards are outrageously low! All she wants is a good man with a sense of humor, who’ll treat her right. That’s not so much to ask, is it?

This New Year’s Eve is as disastrous as any other for Jordan. Her date is a douche canoe, her best friend just announced she’s getting married and even the bartender takes pity on her and buys her a drink.

But Jordan is an achiever. She doesn’t fail at LIFE!

So she makes a plan. 365 days from now, she’ll be married, come hell, or high water. Some quick notes on a serviette, a new goal setting phone app and she knows she’s onto a winning idea. The perfect man is out there waiting for her somewhere, and no matter what awful dating shenanigans she has to endure, she’s going to find him and make him hers. For good.

If only she hadn’t overindulged last night, she might know if the hot stranger in her bed right now has any chance at being ‘the one’.

If you like funny books that make you laugh out loud, outrageous dating scenarios and a romance to make your heart melt, then you’ll love Tracey Pedersen’s brand new romantic comedy.

My Review:

I just happened to run across Married This Year and I’m so glad I decided to read and review it! I loved this funny story about Jordan and her search for the perfect man, as well as, her quest to get married by the end of the year. For anyone that has ever had horrible blind dates or tried online dating and was unpleasantly surprised by the people in real life, then this is a laugh-out-loud novel for you!

Seeing her best friend get engaged and the constant nagging from her mother prompts Jordan to set out and find a husband. With help from her friends, she ends up on endless blind dates, dates with people she’s met online, and a few random people she meets throughout the novel. There are scary moments, hilarious moments, and completely pathetic/cringeworthy moments – but so realistic that it’s scary! During her search for Mr. Right, she also meets the handsome and charming Luke, however, she quickly puts him in the friend zone because she doesn’t think he meets all of the criteria on the list she made about her perfect man. Luke sees her through good times and bad throughout her dating experiences, befriends her dog, helps out her parents  – and was completely 100% adorable! 

This isn’t a very lengthy review because I don’t want to spoil any of the outlandish experiences with Jordan, but know that this is the perfect novel for making you laugh and lifting your spirits. It’s impossible to drag yourself from Jordan’s train wreck of a dating life and you will fall in love with the wonderful characters. There are twists and turns (both good and bad) and plenty of surprises making this one impossible to put down!

Purchase Married This Year on Amazon free right now!

Learn more about Tracey Pedersen!