September #BookReviews – @jodithomas @sasspip @teagangeneviene @McConaughey

I didn’t read as many books this month as I normally do, but I did manage to finish my current WIP, so I call that a win. Here are the books I did read!

Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon’s founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O’Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.

Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand’s son. But one night, one wrong decision will set his life on a course even he hadn’t imagined.

Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn’t plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just stay long enough to learn the town’s weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car’s pedals, isn’t prepared for what he encounters.

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MY REVIEW:

Ransom Canyon by Jodi Thomas embodies the very essence of the heart of Texas. Staten Kirkland owns a ranch in the panhandle that includes the deep canyon where a hundred years ago, Spanish and Anglo traders negotiated with the Comanches for the return of hostages. The author does a great job of describing the setting, from the smells to the sights and sounds

But the way Thomas wrote this story reminds me of watching a spider weave an intricate web, one thin strand at a time. Each chapter is written from a major character’s point of view, and each character in the story has major life events happening simultaneously.

Quinn has loved Staten Kirkland since they were in school together twenty years ago. But Staten’s heart is closed after the death of his wife, followed by the untimely death of his son. Quinn owns a lavender farm and while she is an accomplished pianist, refuses to use her talent and it is shocking to find out why. Perhaps one of the most interesting characters in the story is Yancy Grey. He’s spent most of his adult life in and out of prison. Now he wants to be normal and has landed in Crossroads, Texas to start anew. No one has to know his past. When a retirement community hires him to fix up their dilapidated cottages, it is a huge turning point for him. Of all the characters, I found myself rooting the most for him. He was a good man, he just needed a chance to prove it.

As the story unfolds, Quinn and Staten have fallen into a comfortable routine that doesn’t have any requirements or promises. While they are lovers, they are first and foremost friends. What happens to shake them both out of their comfort zones is perfect. I won’t leave any spoilers, I will just say it is a piece of the web that is beautifully woven.

Lauren is just turning sixteen and being the daughter of the small town’s Sheriff has disadvantages. She is a beautiful girl and I loved her part of the story, as I did Lucas Reyes, an ambitious young man determined to make a good life for himself.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It’s so easy to picture it as a movie or a TV series, and I can guarantee it would be one I would binge-watch. If you love stories that are layered and multi-dimensional, as well as beautifully written, you will love Ransom Canyon! I highly recommend it! 

Ralph Thyme, an addicted gambler and his wealthy grandmother’s only acknowledged heir, discovers he has an elder sister, Olivia, who was sold at birth. Suppose Olivia discovers her true identity and claims half the inheritance he craves? How far will he go to eliminate the threat?
Olivia escaped childhood sexual abuse. Despite horrific memories, nightmares, and fear, she is determined to save a stranger’s little girl from the same fate, and the solution she offers takes all her courage… and then some.DCI Croft investigates a heinous case of rape, murder, and mutilation. Next to die, are a private detective and his pretty daughter… and then another woman… and another. Can DCI Croft identify and capture a psychopathic killer hell-bent on eliminating anyone who stands in his way before he murders his sister… or is it already too late for Olivia?

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MY REVIEW:


This story is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. It is a thriller and it’s intense. While it is totally fiction, it is also chillingly realistic. Ralph Thyme is only twenty, but an addicted gambler and sole heir to his grandmother’s large estate. At least that’s what he thought until he finds a diary entry written in his grandfather’s hand. He has a sister. Now, he must find her and eliminate her, because he will not share the inheritance with anyone. That is his motivation to begin a killing spree. Unfortunately for many victims, he keeps killing the wrong Olivia.
DCI Gerald Croft is working overtime to catch this killer, but unfortunately, he keeps arresting the wrong men.
The story unfolds multiple plots simultaneously. Sophia suffered child sexual abuse at the hands of her parents from the time she was a baby. She’s so damaged, she cannot tolerate a man being near her. But when she sees the same terrified and desperate look in the eyes of Mark Nicholl’s child, she cannot stand idly by and let the little girl suffer the same abuse that she did.
DCI Croft has a difficult family situation, with a special needs child. He is torn between family and work.
Ralph Thyme discovers, once he’s killed his first victim, that he enjoys it and even craves it. The author did a superb job of letting us inside his demented psyche.
She also included BDSM, an interracial marriage, pedophiles, and graphic violence in the story. As I said, it is not for the faint of heart, but if you like a good thriller that will keep you turning pages, you will enjoy this cat and mouse chase between the killer and the detective. The book has a satisfying conclusion.

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.
 
Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges—how to get relative with the inevitable—you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

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MY REVIEW:

Often, when we think of celebrities, we see them as living privileged jaded lives. In Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey shows us how he started out in life at the bottom of the pile. Born into a highly dysfunctional family, he describes one scene he remembers when his mother and father got into a knock-down-drag-out fight in the kitchen, then wound up making love on the kitchen floor. They were divorced twice and married three times (the same two people). But Matthew learned what love looked like and what it didn’t. Of course, we know his somewhat Cinderella story and rise to fame and fortune, but what impressed me the most throughout this book was his incessant need and quest for spiritual enlightenment. He went to extremes to follow dreams (literal and perceived). The things he realized along the way are shared in a raw and honest way. Tidbits of wisdom mixed with common sense make this book more than a memoir or biography. It’s hard to define it. Is it a self-help book? Maybe. Is it a man’s journey from poverty to fortune? For Sure. Is it a roadmap for finding all the greenlights? I’d say so. But most of all, I’d say this is a book of raw and uninhibited inspiring honesty. That’s what I felt the most.

Here’s one of my favorite passages found on page 259: “An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind, and when we lie down on ours at night, no matter who’s in our bed, we all sleep alone.” Truth! And this one: “We all have scars, we’ll get more. So rather than struggle against time and waste it, let’s dance with time and redeem it.”
This book is filled with stories, memories, confessions, life lessons, and spiritual wisdom. It gives lots of food for thought. I enjoyed it!

The Fever Field is a burial ground that is far older than the inhabitants of the Flowing Lands realize. We first saw it in the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak. Now we learn more about the place where ancient evil was buried and forgotten, until that moment in the prologue when it broke free.
On the cover of Journey 3, The Fever Field, Emlyn has turned to look toward Zasha. Much of this third installment is told from Zasha’s point of view. We’ll get better acquainted with the sisters in the Society of Deae Matres who traveled with Zasha. Also, we meet a tall, intriguing north-man and the most mysterious adherent of the Deae Matres.
The youngest of all the Society, Zasha encounters some resistance from the other sisters traveling with her. She also runs into trouble of her own.
Meanwhile, Emlyn’s uncertain situation with her family combines with the threat posed by the Brethren of Un’Naf. What is the greater danger, her loved ones, or the fanatics? In Journey 3, Emlyn’s circumstances reach a tipping point. There seems to be no good choice for her. How can she survive?

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MY REVIEW:


In this installment of Emlyn’s journey, she manages to barely escape what would be a sure death at the hands of the Brethren. With the help of the silver-haired entity from her dreams, she makes it to the camp of Deae Matres. We learn more about the mission of the Deae Matres and more about Zasha. She is such a free spirit and deep thinker and she doesn’t hesitate to stand up to the older women. The fever field is an ancient burial ground and I am intrigued to know more about it and the purpose it serves in the story. There are lots of teasers in this part of the story.

Previously, Journey 3, The Fever Field left Emlyn on the run. Will the Society of Deae Matres be willing to help? After all, in Journey 1, they rejected her father’s plea to take her away. Journey 4, The Old Road features Boabhan, the Society’s most enigmatic adherent. Emlyn finds herself in another kind of danger when the archvillain from the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak returns to the story in this installment. Plus, she still has not outrun the Brethren. Meanwhile, Emlyn isn’t the only one at risk. This Journey finds many of our friends in harm’s way. This Journey is notably longer than the others. Some parts of the story needed to be told together, in one volume. Come, be a part of the Journeys of Dead of Winter.

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MY REVIEW:

In this fourth installment of the series, we learn more about some of the Deae Matres characters. I particularly liked Boabhan, always dressed in green and eyes sensitive to sunlight. While at times, she appears fragile, at other times, she has unimaginable strength. Add that she is a shapeshifter, and you have a fascinating character. Danger lurks both in this world and beyond the veil. In this segment, Emlyn comes face-to-face with Arawn, Mythical King of Hell, and he is terrifying. But she is safe with the Deae Matres and is experiencing unknown freedom for the first time in her thirteen years. As the story unfolds, we learn more about the mysterious staff and rune symbols as well as each member of the traveling party. I am looking forward to the next segments and going deeper into the story!

August #BookReviews @maeClair1 @jacqbiggar @WillieNelson @LisaWellsauthor @teagangeneviene @sashawrites

What a great month of reading I had! I am super excited to share my thoughts on the books I devoured!

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I am a huge fan of Mae Clair’s writing and thought I had read everything she’d written until I ran across this book. And I’m glad I did!

Caithelden Breckwood is a tortured soul, carrying the weight of guilt for the death of his best friend. But they were only kids and all because of his family wealth and family name. Now he’s an adult with a set of steel bars around his heart and a new last name leaving behind all association to the Breckwood family. The only one he lets in is his young son, Derrick. He’s fiercely protective, determined that what happened to him will not ever happen to his son.

However, when he is hired as a Private Investigator to get to the bottom of who and what is sabotaging Stone Willow Lodge, he comes face-to-face with his past including the one woman he has always loved. Veronica is not prepared to face Caith again. The wound he left on her heart is permanent. As the events that occur at the lodge escalate into an all-out attack, Caith and Veronica are swept into a nail-biting journey that also finds them still deeply attracted to each other and often winding up in each other’s beds. The child, Derrick, plays a big part in helping each of the adults in this story heal and forgive.

I loved all of the characters, but especially Caithelden’s mother, Morgana, who is fascinated by myth and magic. The family drama that unfolds is believable as personalities clash and old issues arise. I rooted for Caith and Veronica all the way. That kind of love cannot be denied. The book came to a more than satisfactory conclusion. If you love a good mystery mixed with a steamy romance, you will love this book. I highly recommend it! 

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I enjoyed catching back up with the characters I met in other Wounded Hearts books. It was like visiting old friends. The always tough SAC agent, Amanda Rhinehart, is seven months pregnant as a result of an illicit affair with a previous member of her team, Adam O’Connor. Adam has no idea she is pregnant or even where she is. At the end of the last book, she left Texas. But as circumstances arise that force Amanda to seek out Adam and other team members, for their own safety, there is no avoiding the fact that she is pregnant with his child.

The author did a great job of layering this story with high-profile drug cases as well as the complex personalities of the characters. No doubt this pregnancy has softened Amanda and cracked her hard exterior, yet she refuses to let Adam in or even admit to him the baby is his. They are both denying their love and it takes some pretty drastic measures to get past the barriers they’ve put in place. The other characters in the story, Maggie, Frank, Cameron, Emily, and a new character, Brianne, all play important roles. The jury is still out on Cameron. One minute he seems like a good guy and the next he’s evasive and hard to read. I look forward to more with him. To me, the story came to an abrupt end. I would like to have seen the reunion with Adam and Amanda rather than being told about it. But that is my only critique. If you like layered characters and plots, you will enjoy this book! It’s a quick easy read.

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If I could give this book ten stars, I would. I loved Willie before I read this book, but I love and respect him even more after reading it. As the title suggests, this is a compilation of letters from Willie – Letters were written not only to people living but many who have passed on. He even wrote a letter to his famous guitar, Trigger, to his audiences, his children, and to his heroes. The book is like a chronological recap of his life from early childhood in Abbott, Texas to today, dealing with the pandemic, politics, climate change, and a plethora of other immediate issues. But through it all, he is positive and upbeat. He lists Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code in a letter to Gene Autry (a boyhood hero). This code is one we would all benefit from if we lived by it.

One of my favorite passages in the book is in the chapter he wrote about all the frequent rumors that circulate about his death. He says: “The question is not: Which one of us is going to die tomorrow? The question is: What am I going to do today? Remember my song, “Three Days,” which helped kick off this book? There are only three days – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And there’s only one of those we can do anything about. So let’s go earn our day. Let’s do our best to enjoy life on this side of the dirt.” Such words of wisdom.

There is also a chapter on the Power of Positive Thinking that I found uplifting. Visualization and positive thinking are the keys to a happy productive life. I believe it! Included with these letters and chapters are many song lyrics scattered throughout the book. I highly recommend this for anyone seeking self-improvement or if you just love Willie!

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With a hexed small town named Knotty, a sexy neighbor named Jason, and an inherited haunted house, I knew I was in for a real treat with this story. Remington never planned to return to the place where she grew up in an orphanage, but when her best friend, Beth, dies and she inherits a house, how can she stay away?

It mattered not that the two friends hadn’t spoken in years. The bond remained. And when Beth makes herself visible to Remington, the story ramps up. Armed with a book of spells, Remington embarks on the journey to becoming a full-fledged spell-casting witch. Ever seen a dog that meows? Perhaps some of the spells need a little tweaking.

This author has such a knack for writing quirky, steamy stories, and this one is the best I’ve read so far. The characters are charming, if not a bit eccentric. The ghosts that roam about are entertaining at the least. But the sparks that fly between Remington and Jason literally turn into visible streams. The story takes a dizzying array of twists and turns, with a surprise ending that I could not have predicted. There is a good bit of humor in this story and I laughed out loud more than once. If you want a sexy easy read that will entertain and distract you, this story is for you.

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This was such a realistic story. The author obviously has some first-hand insight into the ruthless cutthroat world of the music business.

Krystal King has grown up on the stage and in the spotlight, with a father who was a country music giant. She, her sister, and her brother make up The Three Kings and produce hit after hit. But Krystal is broken inside, while outwardly, she’s tough as leather. And when a newcomer is brought in after winning a talent show, she is not happy about being forced to allow him to record a song (her song) that means the world to her. But the record label insists. And not only insists that she give him the song to record, but that her sister will sing the duet with him, not her. The hurt and betrayal go deep. But Emmy Lou, Krystal’s twin sister understands and fakes a sore throat, forcing them to let Krystal sing with Jace Black. Krystal wants to hate him and tries to find every reason to do so.


But Jace is a gentleman through and through. And he’s overwhelmed at the opportunity he’s been given to work with his idols, having signed a contract to open shows for them. He’s finally out of the oilfields and living his dream. Now he can make a better life for himself and his little sister whom he takes care of. Neither Krystal nor Jace are prepared for the intensity of the chemistry between them.


Krystal suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a man whom everyone thought was a family friend (even called him uncle). And although it’s been years, the deep scars have never healed. Krystal is convinced she is so flawed no one can ever love her. Jace is determined to prove her wrong.
Her resistance is strong, but he is stronger.


This is such a good story with a realistic view into the world of stardom, life on the road, and a family that survives whatever is thrown at them. The characters are believable and the world-building is great. If you love a highly charged romance with lots of obstacles, this book is for you, and especially if you are also a music fan!

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This book is the first installment in a series of monthly novelettes from this author and I found myself immediately drawn into Emlyn’s world. The author did a great job of setting the scene. Emlyn is gifted but must keep her gift hidden or face banishment from a strict religious community ruled by the brethren. Women have no value except for childbearing and serving.
Only her mentor knows of Emlyn’s gift and is helping her develop and grow under the ruse of teaching her to read and cipher numbers. This segment of the story is told from Emlyn’s point of view so we see her encounter with a large white wolf through her eyes, as well as the ghosts that appear before her.
The author leaves lots of teasers and foreboding of things to come. “Winter is coming,” is a phrase that echos in Emlyn’s mind. Preparations must be made.
I look forward to the next segment of Emlyn’s journey.

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The world-building in this segment of this series is fantastic. The way the author describes the village, the inn, the characters, and the landscape, I am there. I could smell the biscuit the cook gave to Emlyn while her father bartered for her. And what a shock for the child to realize he wanted to get rid of her. At first, I hated him for that, but given the restrictive and zealous religion they are bound under, he actually wanted to protect her. After all, she must be a witch if she can see spirits. Emlyn’s home life is torturous with a sister who is hateful and spiteful and a brother-in-law she is terrified to be alone with. This segment of the story gave us a deeper look at the fantasy world and its inhabitants. I particularly loved seeing more of Zasha and her companion, Tajin. Emlyn is a mere child, but she is an open channel to the spirit world. I have no idea what will become of her, but I will keep reading to find out! This story is addicting. Each segment is a quick easy read and well-written.

June #BookReviews Part 1 @dlfinnauthor @kim_redford @LizCroweAuthor @lcarrollbradd @dalia_dupris

Welcome to some of my June reading thoughts!

It was such a pleasure to read the newest release from D.L. Finn!

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy. Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

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MY REVIEW:

I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from this author and this book is no exception. The author has a unique talent for making you stop and think, “What if?” In this book about the tree fairies and the ancient Redwood trees, we find an ordinary family with an extraordinary connection to nature on a camping trip. What happens to the children first, then to the adults is both heartwarming and magical. The family is given a mission to save the beautiful Redwood forest from destruction. Then the author takes us years ahead and we find the two children, Daniel and Colette grown, married, and with children of their own. The tree fairies visit again and the connection is forged between the human and fairy families, and the Wise Trees who speak to the fairies. The two following short stories, are in two different fairies’ POV and are delightful as well. This book is classified as a Middle School level, but at almost seventy, I thoroughly enjoyed it, so it is a wonderful read for all ages! If you love magic, nature, and fantasy all combined into a lovely heartwarming story, you will love this book! I highly recommend it.

Violet Ashwood arrives in Wildcat Bluff County with one agenda: convince the hunky Mr. July from the Wildcat Bluff Fire Rescue’s annual benefit calendar to be the face–and body–of her new lonely hearts online dating service. She didn’t count on his firm refusal, nor did she count on seeing him again. Until she discovers he’s her new landlord.

Kemp Lander, aka Mr. July, wants nothing to do with Violet’s schemes to make him a model for her Cowboy Chat Corral, particularly once he finds out she fudged the truth on her rental contract by claiming she was a cowgirl. He’s got enough problems trying to keep trespassers off his ranch and doesn’t need the distraction of his sexy renter.

All Violet and Kemp want is to save their livelihoods and have their lifelong dreams realized. But it’ll take joining forces and discovering they’re better together to finally meet their goals.

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MY REVIEW:

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are strictly my own thoughts. What’s not to love? A rugged handsome cowboy who is also a firefighter sets the tone for this smoking sexy read. When Violet Ashford comes across a calendar from Wildcat Bluff County, Texas that features its volunteer firefighters, she is enthralled with Mr. July. He would make the perfect face for the new online dating site she is developing. But she has to meet him. She puts her life in San Antonio on hold and responds to an ad to work as a cowgirl in Wildcat Bluff County. This is the perfect opportunity to meet Mr. July and approach him about being her model for the site. What a surprise when she finds it is Mr. July (Kemp Lander) himself who has hired her to work on his ranch. Violet knows nothing about being a cowgirl, but she’s a fast learner and determined. The sparks fly between Violet and Kemp but with trespassers digging holes all over Hallelujah Ranch looking for hidden bootlegger gold, and Violet learning how to be a cowgirl, there is no time to explore the sparks. One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the tertiary characters. Bertha, who runs a gourmet chocolate shop, Cousin Lester, The Buick Brigade, Sydney Steele, the other firefighters, the radio DJ and many more helped add layers and dimensions to this story. So, it’s not just a romance. It’s much deeper. Add Fernando the wonder bull and his love, Daisy Mae, and you’ve got all the makings of a busy and engaging read. Also, the added layer of the history of the Hallelujah Ranch and the hidden speakeasy along with the mystery of Lady Mauve was fun. So, anyone who is looking for a hot sexy romance with lots of layers will enjoy this story as much as I did!

When Emerson Tyler’s unrequited high school crush crashed into her first group meeting of the DSN’s social media department, it was strange, to say the least. When she learned that her crush wasn’t as “unrequited” as she’d always believed, things got even stranger. On the day Bryce Nordlinger had crushed her teenaged heart—not to mention ruined her reputation in order to save his lady-killer status—she’d sworn that she’d never trust him or any man ever again. And she had no intention of breaking that oath, no matter how much more tempting he’d become as a grown-up NHL star.
Bryce had always wanted Em to be more than the smart, snarky high school girl who helped him with his terrible English essays. But he’d been busy burnishing his rep as future jock stud, and when his fellow hockey bros caught him skating with her alone in a deserted rink, he’d chosen the easiest path—one that left her hurt in a way he never thought he’d be able to heal. His complete shock at seeing her all grown up and more beautiful than ever in the meeting room at DSN morphed into a steel-plated resolve. He would win her back and make up for the mess he’d made of her high school senior year while dragging the once-proud Detroit hockey program out of the dumpster fire and back to prominence at the same time. 

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MY REVIEW:

I received a PDF in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.
A second chance love story. National Hockey League star, Bryce, returns to his hometown when he’s traded in the league. A chance encounter with an old high school flame sets this story in motion. But it takes more than one encounter to repair the damage Bryce inflicted on Emerson’s heart. He has to work hard to earn his way in, to her forgiveness and to her love. I received this book as a gift and although it was a bit confusing at times, by the end, it worked itself out. The author did a good job of combining sports and romance. This book is Steamy and the language is foul. I do not find either of those offensive but some readers might. I enjoyed tagging along with Bryce and Emerson for the ride!

 

A visit to the coastal Oregon town where her brother is a lighthouse keeper opens Gala Pedersdotter to the wider world. So much so that she dreads returning to the family dairy farm in the eastern part of the state. She’d rather while away the summer on friendly outings in the company of two attentive loggers, Hal and Bork. Her secret wish is that roguish Hal will ask to court her.
Instead, she’s surprised by Bork’s fervent request to act as his pretend fiancée during his parents’ upcoming week-long visit. Of course, she agrees to help out this quiet man with his dilemma. When her decision threatens the balance among the friends, Gala is torn between Hal, who has suddenly shown interest and fulfilling her promise to Bork.

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MY REVIEW:

I received this novella as part of a contest entry. I struggled with the first part of the book. The author did a lot of “telling” in narrative form. There was no action and little dialogue. But as Gala’s friendship with Hal and Bork developed and her attraction to Hal grew, the dynamics of the story picked up. A pretend engagement for the sake of Bork’s parents who were coming for a visit seemed simple enough. But nothing is ever as simple as it appears. I won’t leave a spoiler for the story but by mid-story, my attention was captured and I had to see what Gala would choose. The story has a satisfactory conclusion.

 

Rebecca Layton returns to her beachside hometown of Sunnyville, California, determined to explore the possibility of rekindling her past relationship with the love of her life, Raymond Colton. She’s devastated to discover that he has moved on and is now engaged.
Raymond Colton harbors resentment towards Rebecca for abandoning him to pursue her dreams of life in the big city. Now she’s back and more beautiful than ever. But Raymond’s heart has been broken more than once and risking more heartache with Rebecca isn’t a gamble he’s willing to take.
When Rebecca agrees to use her marketing expertise to help Raymond’s father salvage his failing family business–Colton’s Ice Creamery–she and Raymond are thrown together, and old flames are ignited. Can they heal the wounds from their past and embrace the possibility of a brighter tomorrow?

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MY REVIEW:

This is a novella I received in exchange for a fair and honest review. It was a quick, entertaining read. It is a romance set in a small town with unrequited love between two adults that began as teenagers. But there are lots of obstacles in the way that prevent them from finding the courage to revisit the flame that sparked so many years ago. There’s a lot of water under the bridge. I loved the plot. I loved the characters and this novella has a satisfying ending.

Book #Reviews! @JoanHallWrites @harmony_kent @WendyWrites1 @judypost

I have had a month of fabulous reading and want to share the cream of the crop!

Blurb:

Bounty hunters come to Muddy River to capture its amiable bartender, Derek Fang, Raven Black, a demon and the town’s enforcer, warns them off because the vampire hasn’t committed any crime. But a succubus who was Derek’s lover centuries ago has finally found him and wants him back–enough to pay big money to whoever brings him to her–alive.

MY REVIEW:

This is book 5 in the Muddy River Mystery series and although I haven’t read the other books in the series, I was not at all lost reading this segment of the story. Muddy River is a town inhabited solely by supernatural characters. Vampires, Witches, Werewolves, Shapeshifters, and Demons make up the population. In this segment of the story, Derek, a Vampire is hunted by a succubus who wants him back as her plaything and will stop at nothing to get him. I love how the town comes together to protect one of their own. I won’t give away the plot but will say the story is a page-turner and a quick read. If you love paranormal activity, believable characters, and plenty of action, you will love this story! Great world-building!

Blurb:

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day’s headline to read: ‘Murder at the Gala Premiere.’ But after a dead body is found during the event, that’s exactly what happened. Working to solve the murder, Katherine matches wits with local cop Jason Holmes and his K-9 partner, Hobbs. Although Holmes and Watson disagree often, they discover an undeniable attraction building between them. But they’ll have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer’s next knock off.

MY REVIEW:

This story is a well-written whodunit mystery that also includes some fascinating history about purses. When Katherine, a world-famous purse designer, comes back to her hometown of Bayside to establish a purse museum in their old victorian family home, things could not go more awry. Her best friend, the mayor of the small town, is murdered at the museum’s opening gala. The list of suspects is long and Katherine doesn’t trust the police to find the real murderer. So, she begins her own investigation which leads her into danger more than once. Policeman, Jason and his K-9 Hobbs become an integral part of the story along with many other characters. I loved Katherine’s eccentric mother, Moonjava. She embodied the sixties hippy image and although she came across as being flighty, when it counted the most, she stepped up to the plate. Katherine’s grandmother was another unforgettable character. So who murdered Brenda? Her husband, Russ? A pushy reporter? Someone on the City Council? A crime novelist? The list grows as Katherine digs deeper into discovering the identity of the killer. If you love a cozy mystery with bits of humor thrown in, you will enjoy this story. The author did a great job of keeping the identity of the murderer hidden until the end of the book.

Blurb:

Dream home or damned home?

Ruth Hazelton is over the moon when her husband Lee agrees with the nineteenth-century Victorian in Madeira, New Mexico, is the perfect home for them. While he starts his new job as police chief, she sets about unpacking and decorating.

But it’s not long before Ruth needs more. She becomes a fixture in the community, making time for everyone, volunteering, hosting events—she’s every bit the social butterfly her husband is not. Through her friendships, she learns several former residents of her home met with untimely deaths. If she were superstitious, she might fear a curse, but such nonsense doesn’t faze her.

Until the unthinkable happens.

Now, as the end of Ruth’s life draws near, she must find a way to convey her message and stop the cycle to prevent anyone else from suffering in the house of sorrow.

MY REVIEW:

I thoroughly enjoyed this short story and wanted it to continue. It all starts with a beautiful one-hundred-year-old Victorian home in a small town in northern New Mexico. I fell in love with the town, the people, and the house in this introduction to the Madeira Legends series. This close-knit community has everything you’d expect to find in a small town, from friendly neighbors, to children who play on the streets until after dark, to mystery and intrigue. And the house is the center of attention.
Ruth Hazleton and her husband Lee move to Madeira after Lee lands the job as Chief of Police. I really related to Ruth’s character. She is friendly, outgoing, and caring. She is the lady that bakes cookies for the neighborhood children, organizes Easter egg hunts, and decorates for every holiday. Set in the sixties, the author weaves historical events throughout this short story, from the Kennedy assassinations to the first Apollo landing on the moon and the break-up of The Beatles. She makes the story believable along with the characters and the mystery surrounding the old house. Could the house truly be cursed? I cannot wait to find out! I enjoyed that the author put the first chapter from the first novel in the series at the end of this short story. It whets my appetite for more. I highly recommend this if you love a good mystery set in a believable small town with unforgettable characters.

Blurb:

It’s so remote out here. Anything could happen …

A missed phone call in the night is all it takes.

When Carole’s 18-year-old son goes missing, she breaks into Jayden’s laptop to try to understand his life.

All too soon, Carole discovers just how little she knew her boy.

And when one lead after another dead-ends, the distraught mother has to face the unthinkable.

Sucked into a sticky web of deceit and lies, nothing is as it seems.

When your life turns inside out and upside down, who would you trust?

MY REVIEW:

Talk about a nail-biter! This story begins with some backstory that is essential to what happens as the main story begins. Carole lost her husband, Harvey, to cancer. That left only her and their son, Jayden. As the story begins, Carole is texting with eighteen-year-old Jayden about when he’ll be home. Even though he’s of age, she still worries. After all, he is her entire world. She makes the mistake of taking sleeping pills with wine before going to bed that night. She missed the calls and frantic text from her son. And, he never made it home. Guilt-ridden and terrified, she searches everywhere for him and comes up empty-handed. Finally, she involves law enforcement. The author not only shows this mother’s terror, but she also places you right inside it with her. I sat with Carole as she scrolls through page after page of social media looking for any clues as to where Jayden might be. As she continues her frantic search, she is mortified to realize she knows little of her son’s life. She’s been so locked into her years of grief that she’s shut him out. I won’t go into details, but over a period of five days, Carole moves from one horrific moment and event to the next. The only thing keeping her going is her favorite Macchiato coffee and knowing in her heart that her son is still alive somewhere. I was on the edge of my seat through this entire story and devoured it as fast as possible just to find out what happened. Talk about a shock! If you love a psychological roller-coaster and don’t have a weak heart, I highly recommend this story! While the numerous scenes of Carole sitting at her table and making yet another coffee became repetitious, it was not enough to deter me from finding out the ending to this tale. It depicts a parent’s worst nightmare in a visual and emotive way.

I only post 4 and 5 star reviews. I highly recommend any or ALL of these books!

January #BookReviews – Only 4 and 5 Star #Bridgerton @OverbeckRandy @ParrisAfton @WendyJayneScott @sasspip

I read eight books in the month of January, but I am only listing the ones that I gave either a four or five star review. These are all GREAT books and I highly recommend them!

I’m going to start with the Five-Star Reviews first.

The Brigands (The Texicans Book 1) by Parris Afton Bonds

MY THOUGHTS:

This story is an amazingly accurate historical portrayal of the events that lead to Texas (Tejas) winning independence from Mexico, and includes two sizzling yet seemingly impossible love affairs. Two women arriving at the port of Matamoros, each unaware of the other and each with different motives wind up with their lives thrust into an intricately woven web of power, struggle, and deceit. Ms. Bonds did an outstanding job of layering this story with intense conflict and emotion as each woman fought against the power of all-consuming love. Fiona and Rafaela are two characters I won’t soon forget, not to mention the handsome, yet deadly Baron who possesses a black heart and deadly will. Add in the Irish Gypsy Traveler and you have four people tied together by unpredictable circumstances and eventually undeniable love.

Blood on the Chesapeake” by Randy Overbeck

MY THOUGHTS:

This story grabbed me from the first page and didn’t let go until the last. Overbeck touches on so many different facets in this book from the civil rights unrest in the 60s to a murder cover-up as a suicide set in a high school. Throw in a ghost that will not leave the new coach, Darrell Henshaw, alone and you’ve got a great combination for a story. Coach Henshaw can communicate with the ghost, but it is not something he welcomes or wants. The author took me on a riveting journey through the process of solving the murder/suicide and exacting revenge. And, there is a blossoming love story thrown in the midst of it all. I love how the author accurately depicts attitudes and beliefs and how he brings the beautiful setting of the bay to life in vivid color. I highly recommend it for any reader who likes a well-paced, well-written murder/mystery with twists!

Sleighed – A Christmas Tale” by WJ Scott

MY THOUGHTS:

In this Christmas children’s story, a new elf in Santa’s workshop learns a valuable lesson. Always remember to clean the fairy dust off before leaving the workshop. Tinsel, the elf, has quite the adventure when he forgets that bit of advice. It is a short read that young and old alike will enjoy! I highly recommend it!

“Sizzling Sunset – Book 5 of the Royal Command Series” by Sarah Stuart

MY REVIEW:

If you have read the other four books in the Royal Command Family Saga, you are going to appreciate the way Ms. Stuart wraps up this saga. This segment of the series focuses on Greta Marsh, the teenaged daughter of the Diamond Superstar, Michael Marsh. When Michael and Greta’s stepmother go on an extensive concert tour in the U.S., little do they know the young boy and his sister whom they rescue will be Greta’s true love. What I like most about this story is the way it comes in a full circle. What I mean by that is in book one, Michael is poor and has a dream of making it big on stage. Elspeth, born of money and heritage, falls hopelessly in love with Michael and helps make his dreams come true. In this book, Greta falls in love with an impoverished boy, just as her mother had done. Another thing I loved about this story segment is that the royal jewels from the diary of Margaret Tudor which was passed down through generations were woven into Greta’s wedding bouquet. A perfect ending to a high drama saga. Ms. Stuart has a talent for pulling out all the stops in her storytelling.

“The Duke and I (Book 2 of the Bridgerton series” by Julia Quinn

MY THOUGHTS:

I seldom read a mainstream book anymore. My go-to are Indie Authors. But my daughters became obsessed with the Netflix series and insisted I watch it, then we wanted to read the books. Almost always the book is better than the show, but in this case, I found the show to be better than the book. While the story premise was the same, the characters were not and the situations were not. It would probably be better to read the book before watching the series. It is a well-written multi-dimensional story about the ultimate game of pretense.