Tag Archives: Romance

Sweet on You

Sweet on You

By Becky Wade

The Story

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who has spent the past eighteen months traveling the world. He’s achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him–Britt’s heart.

When Zander’s uncle dies under mysterious circumstances, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, but Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also finally come to light?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Reading the final book in a series is always a mixed bag of emotions for me. On the one side, I was so excited to FINALLY read Britt and Zander’s story, but the other part of me never wanted to leave Merryweather and the dear people I’ve come to love. Then there are the expectations that come with a final book. Will it live up to the expectation that has grown in my heart? Or will I ultimately be disappointed? Thank goodness that was not the case with Sweet on You!

I loved this book, for so many reasons. Becky Wade writes such real books. Yes, they’re fiction, and yes, unfortunately, there isn’t a chocolate shop in my hometown with the most delicious chocolate on the planet. But the characters that populate them are real and sometimes messy, and so very relatable.

Both Britt and Zander must learn the hard-won lesson of reliance. Both in relation to others and to God. Getting to that point often takes a breaking, and it’s one that’s not easy or simple for either one of them.

I loved that there was some mystery to this story as well. The plot pulled me along just as much as the characters.

The romance, per usual, was spot-on. It was so fun reading about friends falling for each other, which was a step outside the norm for Becky Wade.

With the sweet elements of romance, family, and funny characters combined with a deep-reaching spiritual element, this novel is just what Becky Wade fans have come to love and expect from her. Though this novel closes the page on any more stories from Merryweather and the Bradford family, this series is one that I will certainly return to in the future.

About the Author

Becky Wade is the 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year winner for True to You. She is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. Her humorous, heart-pounding contemporary romance novels have won three Christy Awards, the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for Romance. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children. To find out more about Becky and her books, visit www.beckywade.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Knox

Knox

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Montana rancher Knox Marshall’s danger years are behind him. A former bull-rider, he now runs the Marshall family ranch, raising champion bucking bulls for the National Professional Bullrider’s Expo (NBR-X). Wealth and success are his, but life is stable, expected, and…ordinary. He can’t help but wonder if his best years are behind him.

Kelsey Jones just wants a safe life, a family, a home. Onstage, the beautiful rising star of the Yankee Belles becomes the person she longs to be – vivacious and confident – burying the brokenness she carries from a violent assault. Becoming NBR-X’s next country act is key to outrunning her past and achieving the success and security she craves.

Knox and Kelsey’s paths collide when an explosion at an NBR-X event traps them in the rubble and leaves them reeling. Kelsey’s crippling nightmares return, but for Knox, an obsession to find the bomber is ignited.

When Kelsey’s past threatens Knox’s family, he’ll have to choose between saving the Marshall legacy or becoming the protector he’s always longed to be.

(Back cover summary from Amazon)

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Susan May Warren delivers another action-packed adventure in Knox, the first novel in the Montana Marshalls series. I love when I pick up a Susan May Warren book that I can expect certain things: a strong family element, strong characters, and a strong romance. Those key things that I love are present in Knox.

The Marshall family is fascinating in their own right, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them. Knox is an interesting character, but Kelsey was the character that pulled me in. The pain of her past is her true enemy in this novel, and I thought Susie did a good job of exploring that.

There were a few things that pulled me out of the book. It felt like the main characters all began to sound alike by the end of the book. And like I said, I enjoyed Kelsey’s character, but Knox didn’t capture my interest as much.

Knox isn’t my favorite novel by Susie May, but is a good book and one that I enjoyed as a long-time fan of this author.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award-winning novelist of over sixty-five novels. An eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: The Story Equation.

She is also the founder of http://www.MyBookTherapy.com, and Novel.Academy, a school for aspiring novelists. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.

(Biography from Susan May Warren’s site)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Far Side of the Sea

Far Side of the Sea

By Kate Breslin

The Story

In 1918 England, Lieutenant Colin Mabry spends his days decoding messages for MI8 after suffering injuries at the front. When he receives an urgent summons by carrier pigeon from Jewel Reyer–a woman who saved his life and whom he believed to be dead–he can only hope he’ll regain the courage he lost on the front lines as he’s driven back into war-torn France.

But Jewel isn’t the one waiting for him in Paris. Instead, it is a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence. She found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust grows.

That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Kate Breslin is a master at taking little-known events and details from WWI and weaving them into high-stakes adventures with compelling characters and just the right amount of romance. I think Far Side of the Sea is now my second favorite of her books, surpassed only by Not By Sight, which is connected to this novel.

Far Side of the Sea is complicated by characters who are guarded for many reasons, not the least being that a war is going on and spies abound. I love that this story is written in such a way that I had to keep guessing who the true allies were and who were enemies in disguise.

Though Colin is a wounded veteran of WWI, the struggles he deals with surpass the boundaries of time. I thought Kate handled his struggles with PTSD with grace, as Colin figured out the man he had become. Johanna’s own journey was compelling and timeless as she fought to find those who loved her, and in the end, was blessed with more than she could have imagined.

Both of their journeys of faith were real and honest, which always resonates with me. The romance that develops as the book went on was sweet and avoided the tropes that so often can weasel their way into romance fiction.

I would certainly recommend this book to the reader who enjoys learning as they are entertained by a good story.

About the Author

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and Christy Award finalist and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at www.katebreslin.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Courting Mr. Emerson

Courting Mr. Emerson

By Melody Carlson

The Story

It’s never too late to fall in love

When fun-loving artist Willow West meets buttoned-up George Emerson, it’s not exactly love at first sight. More like intriguing project at first sight. Willow makes it her mission to get the obsessive-compulsive, newly retired English teacher to loosen up and embrace life, but even she has to admit it seems like a lost cause.

A confirmed bachelor, George vacillates between irritation and attraction whenever Willow is around–which to him seems like all too often. He’s not interested in expanding his horizons or making new friends; it just hurts too much when you lose them.

But as the summer progresses, George feels his defenses crumbling. The question is, will his change of heart be too late for Willow?

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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Courting Mr. Emerson is a sweet, signature Melody Carlson read. It has that down-home feel that readers have come to expect, with sweet romance and a meaningful faith element.

First off, I just love the simplicity of that cover, don’t you? It’s straightforward, but it evokes just the right feel for me.

When I read the description of the book, I don’t think I read it close enough, because I was surprised by a few things as I read the book. However, once I adjusted what I thought it was about to what it really was about, I enjoyed it.

The romance fiction I read generally have the couples in the age range of 20s-late 30s. So Courting Mr. Emerson was out of the norm for me there. I enjoyed the maturity of these characters, as well as the life experiences they’d already had that made them who they were. Both George and Willow are vibrant characters. They’re unique, and yet realistic. I loved reading about Willow challenging George and George being the balance for Willow, especially in her relationship to her family.

Something I always enjoy is when there’s some sort of subtle or not-so-subtle tie-in to why the book is titled what it is. I LOVED how Melody Carlson did that here.

While I don’t know that Willow and I would agree on all theology, I did appreciate how this book emphasized each of us has our own journey to understanding who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s always on His timeline, not what we might expect or hope for others.

To wrap up, this was a sweet story that Melody Carlson fans will enjoy, as well as those who like small-town romance with a twist on family.

About the Author

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Within These Lines

Within These Lines

By Stephanie Morrill

The Story

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

(Back cover summary from Blink YA Books)

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Within These Lines peers past the popularized views of post-Pearl Harbor U.S.A. to the injustices that were happening even on American soil. It explores how it might have felt to be part of the evacuation of the Japanese-Americans and what those who loved them experienced.

This young adult novel is well-written and clearly well-researched. It truly felt like I was stepping back in time, though there were times when I wanted to pull back from the harsh realities of what these people experienced.

I loved how passionate a character Evalina was. She was stubborn enough to stand for the truth and speak up for those who had lost their voice. Taichi’s point of view was my favorite, and Stephanie did a great job with his growth as a character.

The faith element of this book is pretty minor, with characters mentioning praying, but not much else.

If you enjoy well-written historical fiction that doesn’t pull any punches, then Within These Lines just might be the book for you.

About the Author

Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out StephanieMorrill.com.

(Biography from Blink YA Books)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

By Carla Laureano

The Story

From the RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale House)

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I love how unique Carla Laureano’s novels are! Each one is an experience as rich and textured as any French pastry (I’m sure!). Be warned, though, reading any of these Saturday Night Supper Club novels will leave you with some serious cravings. I wish I had my own friend skilled in the art of French pastries, but alas, some things happen only rarely. 😉

Brunch at Bittersweet Café continues to explore these three friends, this time from Melody’s point of view. Melody is such a fun character and one I could relate to more than Rachel. She’s driven, but flighty. Talented, but still yearning for something more. Justin is an equally strong, convincing character. He’s not your ‘typical’ pilot. Pain from his past makes him shy from commitment, and yet he is one of the most loyal, thoughtful guys. What I really loved about their dynamic was that it felt real-world. They struggled and dealt with all the questions that go into a relationship—and more as their deadline drew close. And when it finally came down to it, the things they learned along the way were just as applicable to my life as theirs.

Carla brings home truth in this fun, engaging, and romantic novel, and I really never wanted to leave. If you enjoy a solid, stick-with-you contemporary romance and don’t mind the distinct possibility you may end up binge watching The Great British Baking Show, then I beg of you, pick up Brunch at Bittersweet Café.

About the Author

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

(Biography from Tyndale House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The Alamo Bride

The Alamo Bride

By Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Story

Will Ellis Lose All at the Alamo?

Ellis Dumont finds a man in New Orleans Grey unconscious on Dumont property in 1836. As his fevers rage, the man mutters strange things about treasures and war. Either Claiborne Gentry has lost his mind or he’s a spy for the American president—or worse, for the Mexican enemy that threatens their very lives. With the men of her family away, Ellis must stand courageous and decide who she can trust. Will she put her selfish wants ahead of the future of the republic or travel with Clay to Mission San Jose to help end the war?

(Back cover summary from Barbour Publishing)

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The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with a story (and a cover) that I knew I couldn’t pass up. The Alamo Bride takes place during the war for Texas’s independence. I’ve long been fascinated with the battle of the Alamo, so I was eager to read a book set during this time.

I had the misconception that much of this book would take place at the Alamo. In reality, less then a quarter of the book is set there. Despite that, I did enjoy this novel.

I love that each author in this series writes strong, relatable heroines, and yet they’re all very different. Ellis is headstrong and stubborn, and it’s that tenacity that equips her to pull through many struggles. Clay is an intriguing character with flaws of his own, but it was fun to read how he dealt with his loss of identity.

The Alamo Bride is rich in history, and I learned a lot about the Texans’ struggle for independence. There were times when I felt that the story dragged or lost my interest, but overall I enjoyed The Alamo Bride.

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty titles with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. Her novel Sadie’s Secret was named the Romantic Times Magazine Inspirational Romance Book of the Year.

A certified paralegal and tenth generation Texan, Kathleen has also been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine.

To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

(Biography from Amazon)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.