Review: April’s Glow

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: April’s Glow
Author: Juliet Madison
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: April 2016
Length: 138 pages
Series?: Tarrin’s Bay #4
Genre: Contemporary, Romance 

Distracting herself from a string of bad luck and a disastrous love life, bubbly April Vedora throws herself into her new business —April’s Glow, a candle store in seaside Tarrin’s Bay — the enchanting scents and colorful atmosphere provide a safe haven. But outside business hours she’s clueless about her personal life.

When a mysterious loner moves in next door, she can’t help but become intrigued, and ex-soldier Zac Masterson is equally fascinated by April. But both have sworn off relationships, and while April avoids her emotions by keeping busy and sociable, Zac hides away from the world — and his past.

As the pair chip away at each other’s facades and secrets are revealed, April fears that the man she is unwillingly falling for could represent everything she’s worked so hard to avoid. Or could they be just what the other needs?

They’ve shared their secrets over the back fence, but resolving the past is going to mean opening the doors to their hearts — and letting each other in.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

April’s Glow is set in Tarrin’s Bay and is the fourth in the series. I had read the fifth book prior to this book and they can be read as complete standalones.

April Vedora has physically healed and recovered from a terrible accident, but she is still in an emotionally fragile state. She avoids listening to any songs with lyrics and hasn’t gotten over what happened. She is a spunky, talkative young woman who owns her own business, a candle shop called April’s Glow, and has a great group of girlfriends.

When Zac Masterson moves in next door, he is furtive and secretive. But he is kindhearted, leaving a mystery flower on April’s porch for her birthday. As much as April tries to ignore it, he is a hunk of a man. She also discovers he’s a bit on the strange side, a different kind of bird, and she winds up liking him after their many backyard over-the-fence talks, drop-in visits, and texts. Like her, Zac is also suffering from his past and he uses poetry on his anonymous blog as an outlet.

Being told from both their perspectives, readers get insight into the issues they are struggling with before they share those scars with each other. This was a slow, slow burn romance. It started as a friendship and then turned into more, and I really liked that it was done very well. It wasn’t rushed or stilted but a smooth, natural development.

Despite Zac’s obvious appeal, April’s familial relationship plays a hard role in her driving a wedge between Zac and herself. While she hates what her father is and does – and did in the past – she also enables him a little bit. She projects her father’s history onto Zac and pushes him away despite all the help and advice he’s given her. This creates tension and advances the plot for both of them as they work through their individual issues. This is a sweet read with sincere, genuine characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juliet Madison is a bestselling and award-nominated author of fiction in multiple genres, an inspirational coloring book artist, and a self-empowerment and writing coach. With her background as a naturopath and a dancer, Juliet is passionate about health, fitness, and living a positive life. She likes to combine her love of words, art, and inspiration to create books that entertain and empower readers to love, laugh, and live. Juliet lives on the picturesque south coast of NSW, Australia, where she spends as much time as possible writing books and as little time as possible doing housework.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 

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Review: Red Dust Runaway

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Red Dust Runaway
Author: Eva Scott
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: June 2017
Length: 248 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary Romance

One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

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my review

The Skinny

Christopher “Kit” Edwards is a massive rock star and burnt out on his band’s two-year tour and the hostile bickering. Steel Cutt has been a success since the Major discovered him as a teen, but he is beyond burnt out and fading fast as an individual, falling into the classic trope behaviors most associate with rock stars and fame. At the start of a two-week break with only promotional appearances, Kit decides to run away and return for the final shows. When he sees this beautiful siren in the parking lot loading up her car, he takes the chance she’s not a serial killer. As it turns out, they have music in common. Iris Harrington has lived under a rock her whole life, being domineered by her father’s engineering since she came to live with him at age eight. She’s walked a tight rope her entire life and has let her father plan out her future. She practices her violin six hours each day and is socially awkward.

She’s an introvert, and he’s an extrovert. Together they travel across Austrailia sight-seeing while Kit is hiding in plain sight. Iris has no idea who he really is, and he has no intention of cluing her in. It is the downfall to his great joy ride that requires the intervention of his best friend, Mick, to set to rights.

The Quote

 How did you go about waking up a grown man in the middle of a nightmare?

The Highs and Lows

  • The Plot. I loved the overall plot of Iris and Kit running away from their lives. They are both running from their own personal demons: Iris is running away from her father and his control over her, and Kit is running away from Steel Cutt, hostile band mates, and the domineering Major. When they meet in the parking lot, Iris is clueless about who he is. Ironically, I don’t think she’d really care about his fame and fortune and wouldn’t treat him any different knowing who he really is. They are both find their own way, growing up, and starting to take back their lives – and they’re doing it together.
  • Kit. It can be hard to make a rock star relatable, but it was easy to feel sympathy for Kit and understand his situation and why he desperately needed out. The Major uses his contractual obligations to keep him tied to Steel Cutt and all the promotional events he has overscheduled for them. When his father was dying, the Major refused to let Kit have time. He never got to be with his father, and then he died. His anger and rage are understandable, and then add in wildly jealous bandmates who create hostile environments. Music was his passion, and now it is quickly working to put him six feet under. He has pain every day and is popping pills and drinking himself to oblivion. Even then, he can’t sleep with the anxiety and pressure. Anyone would want to run away. With the Major’s constant threats, Kit is ready to quit Steel Cutt.
  • Iris. She is so far removed from reality, it is sad. Her mother died when she was eight, forcing her to go live with her father who was living his own life. He runs her life, directing her toward ambitions and mile markers he has set out for her. Anything less brands Iris a failure. She has spent her whole life training on violin. She never had friends – she doesn’t even know how to make friends! It is a sad, lonely life that she is starting to realize in her young adulthood. With the help of a neighbor and her Nan, Iris seizes something new and doesn’t look back.
  • Mick. I felt equal measures of love and guilt for Mick. He has been with Kit since they were teens. They are the best of friends, and despite what the Major threatens and spews, Mick always has his back. Mick is a fantastic guy and one loyal dude. After taking off with Iris, Mick is in hot, hot water with the Major. His own job and livelihood are on the line, and Kit has no regard for that. He does his best not to help Mick out with at least something to give to the Major, and I felt bad for him. But true to form, he is an incredibly loyal friend and intervenes for Kit. Man of the year right there!

I thought this was a cute, light, fun read. I flew through it rather quickly and enjoyed the journey of Iris and Kit. Their trip and travels take them all over Austraila and help Iris come out of her shell. I loved seeing her progress and stand up to her dad, and as the trip wore on I could feel the anxiety and stress Kit was trying to ward off by keeping silent on his true identity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eva Scott writes contemporary romance set in her homeland of Australia and historical fiction set in the Ancient World. Her books offer passion and adventure in some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in the world. Her heroes and heroines are strong, sassy and ready to rise to their challenges, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.

Having lived overseas in Britain for several years, Eva returned to study Anthropology before heading off to live in Papua New Guinea for a year. There she met the love of her life, author G.W. Gibson, who was stationed there with the Australian Defence Force. The rest is history, romantic history.

She now lives on the Redcliffe peninsula with her husband, small son and an assortment of animals. When Eva is not writing she enjoys mentoring first-time authors, cooking up a story, practicing yoga and getting out on the bay on her stand-up paddle board.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 

Review: The Black Sheep

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Black Sheep
Author: Patricia Ryan
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: April 2012
Length: 188 pages
Series?: North Moon Bay #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

While house-sitting at a waterfront estate, sweet, straight-laced Harley is stunned by the arrival of her employer’s supposedly dead son, an Alaskan bush pilot with a bad boy rep who’s been wounded in an airplane crash. Coming home after years of estrangement–and a stint in prison–to make amends with the old man is difficult for Tucker, but not half as difficult as keeping his distance from the super-sexy but virginal Harley while they share the house, awaiting his father’s return.

Having given up on the idea that he’ll ever fully heal from his ravaged leg, Tucker balks when Harley urges him to swim as physical therapy–until she adds a unique incentive: “Catch me and you can have me.” Her certainty that he’ll never be able to swim that fast evaporates when he embarks on a rigorous training regimen, determined to claim her as his prize. But when she unearths the dark secret in his past, will she still be willing to pay up when the time comes?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Tucker Hale, the prodigal son, has returned home after 21 years after running off as a teen. After a plane crash and months of therapy, he still walks with a limp. Now he wants to reconcile with his father. He is surprised when he arrives at his father’s home that it is dark and he is gone, but the house isn’t empty. Harley Sayers, a 23-year-old college student, takes a bat to Tucker. She is housesitting for Mr. Hale for the summer while he is away on vacation.  Harley is flabbergasted when Tucker reveals his identity. She inferred from his father that he was long dead.

Harley convinces Tucker to remain for the summer until his father will arrive back home. She also wants to help him improve the strength in his legs. It is evident Tucker wants Harley, so she uses that to her advantage to help him with his legs. If he can catch her in the pool, requiring him to swim and strengthen his leg muscles, she will submit to him. It’s her way of admitting she does want him but requires him to put in a lot of effort and confront pain first.

The Quote

“That’s not fair.”

“I never said it was.” He was calmer now, weary. “It’s the truth. The truth doesn’t have to be fair.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Short. The entire novel is less than 200 pages, so it read more like a novella and was a quick read.
  • Age Difference. There is a bit of an age gap between the two characters, nearly 15 years. The age difference bothered me a bit, especially since Harley was only a couple years older than all the time Tucker’s been away. The perception of an imbalance of power was something I picked up on, and the fact that neither really mention their age or talk about the difference at all for the entire summer seemed ingenuine to me.
  • The Agreement. Harley wants Tucker to stay the rest of the summer until his father returns so that he could do what he came there to do. In order to battle the attraction they feel for one another, Tucker agrees to Harley’s bargain. He must swim and catch her before she reaches the other side of the pool. It requires him to continue his therapy and strengthen his legs. Tucker is striving for the day when he can slice through the water and be fast enough to catch Harley. As the summer wears on, the two share more and more time together and learn more about the other. Slowly a relationship starts developing.
  • Misunderstanding. On the day that Tucker does happen to catch Harley, she unwittingly discovered some series background on Tucker that completely changes her mind about him. What she thought she knew about him is shaken. Just what was he hauling in the Alaskan bush? Is that how he made such a lucrative business? Armed with this knowledge, she reneges on their bargain. It creates a mine of distrust and unease between the two of them, and Tucker resorts back to the smoking he had quit shortly after meeting Harley.
  • Explicit. The entire plot is leading up to intimacy and when it finally does occur toward the end of the book, there are two explicit scenes I wasn’t expecting. I also found that level of sexuality unauthentic for a virgin in her first ever sexual encounter.

 

 

Overall I enjoyed this book. The pacing makes this a quick and easy read. The plot is pretty predictable with minor twists and surprises, and in the end things work out for Harley and Tucker as well as other characters.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Burford Ryan (born August 9, 1954 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States) is an American writer of romance novels as Patricia Ryan, mystery novels as P.B. Ryan and erotica novels as Louisa Burton. She is the twin sister of the romance writer Pamela Burford.

She won a Golden Heart award in 1994 in the category “short contemporary series” and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book Silken Threads also won a RITA, the top award of the Romance Writers of America, for “Best Long Historical Romance” of 2000.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review: Misty Lake

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Misty Lake
Author: Margaret Standafer
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: June 2015
Length: 308 pages
Series?: Misty Lake #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense

Samantha Taylor has lost all those dearest to her…her parents, her brother, and now the grandfather who raised her. When his will is read and some of his secrets come to light, Sam finds herself back in Misty Lake, Minnesota, a place that holds countless happy memories but, as she quickly discovers, just as many questions.

Jake McCabe, Misty Lake’s sheriff, is as curious as anyone about the town’s newest resident but it isn’t until Sam becomes the victim of a particularly cruel vandal that he meets her and gets a look at the house that has everyone in town talking.

As Jake races to keep Sam safe from the escalating attacks, he also works to break down the wall she has built around herself and to convince her that a life without love isn’t a life at all.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Samantha Taylor arrives in Misty Lake to sell the house she inherited from her grandfather, who was her caretaker growing up after her parents’ death. The house itself is so out of character from how she was raised with her grandfather, but it is clear he built this for her by including a lavish wood shop for her to continue her woodworking. Sam decides to stay in Misty Lake and build a beautiful china hutch for herself, for her late grandmother. It is a personal project.

Since Sam decided to stay, she also sought out Project Strong Star to host a small group of troubled teens to receive hands-on training as part of a summer camp. At the same time, very odd and disturbing things begin occurring on Sam’s property. Broken windows, brutally bloody animals, those kinds of things. Most likely a prank. Sam wants to keep these things to herself and not draw attention to herself. Soon Sheriff McCabe is made aware of the goings on and starts his own investigation. No one is excluded, including some of the Project Strong Star teens. Not long after, two of Sam’s cousins come to visit, and one remains with her in Misty Lake. Despite the sheriff and the new relatives in town, the incidents continue and heighten in severity. It is clear someone wants Sam to leave the house her grandfather left to her.

 

The Players

Sam Taylor – a new resident of Misty Lake; she recently inherited a property and opens a woodworking business

Jake McCabe – the sheriff

Jimmy – a persistent kid in Sam’s group; he has an older sibling who is big trouble

Jackson – a meticulous kid in Sam’s group mixed up with drugs; he doesn’t talk much

Mario – a reluctant kid in Sam’s group

Davis – a smart aleck kid in Sam’s group

Katie – a kid in Sam’s group in and out of foster care; worried about her dad

Zach  – a quiet, distracted kid in Sam’s group; she is concerned about his constant texting on a phone he shouldn’t have

Tyler Loomis – a PSS kid Zach hangs around with; he has the most serious of crimes at camp

Blade – Jimmy’s older brother; involved in a gang and pressuring Jimmy to join

 

The Quote

 “Try to remember that, in the end, the choices they make are their choices. You can teach, guide, encourage, and support but their lives and their decisions are ultimately their own. If one of them makes a mistake, it’s not your fault.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Surprise. There is a large element of surprise to the storyline. First in the opening with her grandfather leaving her such a property that once only housed an old cabin. Why didn’t he tell her? Then there are the strange “gifts” being left for Sam, which she tells no one about until someone else alerts the sheriff. Further still, Sam is surprised when two of her cousins mysteriously pop up for a visit. And more surprised when her cousin Susan wants to stay in Misty Lake.
  • Alone. Sam finds it strange that everyone in town and the sheriff all makes mention that she lives alone. Following the deaths of her parents, her grandmother, her brother, and now her grandfather, Sam prefers to stay away from people, even other relatives. It makes it easier for her when something happens to them. She doesn’t even have friends – doesn’t even know how to make friends. She is truly a recluse and likes to keep to herself.
  • The Investigation. When Sheriff McCabe turns the attention of his investigation to Sam’s PSS students, Sam is outraged. She vehemently defends all of them, despite her own suspicions. It seemed odd to me that she would do so without even knowing these students, but then the story of her brother comes to light and it all makes sense. During the investigation, Sheriff McCabe discovers that two kids from PSS have been disappearing from camp at night with a vehicle. They, of course, become the focus. Throughout the investigation, Sam and Jake are naturally brought close together. Jake’s natural interest in this newcomer and trying to keep her safe leads him to spend more time with her and get to know her better. The slow development of their relationship opening up over the course of the investigation only made Jake more protective and concerned about Sam – the one thing she didn’t want for a long time.
  • Suspense. Every so often narrative from the perspective of the person stalking and scaring Sam appears throughout the book. As the story goes on, the events that happen become more severe and egregious, and the narrative becomes more unstable and scary. Things amped up each time, and twice I thought I knew who was responsible, only to be debunked by further investigation. I finally figured it out who it was at the last moment, and the battery of information about this individual went far beyond some simple pranks.
  • Twist. There is a major twist toward the end of the book when the plot goes into overtime. Everything about one of Sam’s students all fell into place from the beginning and made sense: stealing items alone (unusual for teens), constantly checking his phone, disappearing, and being antsy.

The writing was well-crafted and the dialogue had a natural flow to it. Jake’s investigation and dealings with people added authenticity to his role. The description of this small Minnesota lake town was beautiful and charming, a town you’d want to live in. It was a sweet and thrilling read that kept me turning pages to find out just who it was so determined to run Sam out of town. The characters are an interesting and fun cast, each adding their own little sliver to the story.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was born, raised, and still reside in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Being surrounded by ten thousand some lakes means a love of all things water-related…and a deep hatred of mosquitos. After years spent in perpetual motion juggling a family and a career and loving every minute of it, some pesky health issues led to mandated down time and eventually resulted in me finally grabbing the laptop and putting some of the stories that had been alive and well—but relegated to a small spot in the recesses of my mind—down on paper. The outcome is my first published novel, Misty Lake. It is my sincere hope that you enjoy the story.

After completing one novel, the writing bug took a firm hold. With the support of my amazing and understanding husband, as well as my amazing and somewhat understanding kids, and in spite of the lack of support from my ever-demanding Golden Retriever, I have completed the second and third books in the Misty Lake series,  The Inn at Misty Lake and Misty Lake in Focus. I am currently hard at work on book four.

Find the author: Website Goodreads

Review: Home at Last

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Home at Last
Author: Lily Everett
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: March 2017
Length: 303 pages
Series?: Sanctuary Island #6
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Home is where the heart is…

Marcus Beckett left Sanctuary Island after his mother’s funeral, and he hasn’t been back since. Until now. Needing a change from the high-risk, high-stakes life of a bodyguard, Marcus makes a solitary life for himself running the neighborhood bar in his hometown. His only mistake? Seducing and then dumping the town’s sweetheart, Quinn Harper. Marcus knows he did the right thing—a good girl like Quinn has no business with a broken man like him. But now no one will come to his bar, and he’s watching his last chance at a peaceful life go up in smoke. So when Quinn proposes a fake four-week courtship, he can’t refuse…even though he knows it’s a bad idea.

It’s a romantic charade that will buy Quinn time to distract her mother and father from their own martial problems—and will help Marcus welcome back some paying customers besides. But what begins as an engagement of convenience slowly transforms into a deeper connection, one that heals both of their hearts…and ignites the simmering passion between them. Could it be that pretending to be together is just what Quinn and Marcus needed to give their real love a second chance?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Quinn is trying to figure out her adult life, but she’s kind of flighty and noncommital. When her parents return to Sanctuary Island from their travels, Quinn decides it is time to move out and try adulting. She convinces Marcus to let her live upstairs above the Buttercup Inn, the bar he restored and is opening after he has finally come back home.

Soon there is trouble in paradise, and Quinn’s parents announce their impending divorce. Little Princess Quinn can’t believe her parents want a divorce – they are the most in love couple she has ever known. In order to save her parents marriage, she again convinces Marcus to do something for her: a fake engagement. Not only is Quinn the belle of the isle, now Marcus has some redeeming qualities around town. Then her mother’s “marriage guru” comes to town. In order to “work his magic,” both couples have to live together in Quinn’s family home while working through their issues. Ron believes there are so many bad vibes and tries to sabotage the Harper’s marriage at every turn, only adding to the reasons her mother thinks the divorce should happen.

While squashed together all uncomfy and too cozy, Quinn continues to think about how and why Marcus left the island in the first place. She never saw him again after his mother’s death so many years before. When her proddings to visit his dad don’t have Marcus trudging down the lane to his own childhood home, Quinn pays his father a visit and finds the most extraordinary surprise – or two, rather. One of the surprises is for Marcus, and the other is for her parents and just could be the one thing to save their marriage.

 

The Players

Quinn – the island darling who can’t get it together

Marcus – the prodigal son returned home, pissed off the town for dumping Quinn

Ingrid – Quinn’s mother, a hippie-type spacey free spirit

Paul – Quinn’s father, a logical man and retired, often gives in to Ingrid or Quinn

Ron – the snaky marriage guru friend Ingrid met while traveling who’s going to “save” the Harper marriage

The Quote

 Marcus was this close to bolting again. She was like a National Geographic photographer in the wild or something – she didn’t want to spook him.

The Highs and Lows

  • Quinn. She is the quirky redhead darling of Sanctuary Island. Growing up she had the biggest crush on the next door neighbor boy, Marcus. She grew up and is a bit of an airhead at times, never committing to any one thing. She’s flighty, and sadly her parents and everyone around town know it, but they love her just the same. The other thing about Quinn is she is incredibly loving and loyal, sometimes even to her own detriment.
  • Marcus. He broke up with Quinn and the whole town is pissed. They’re boycotting his bar and his bottom line is suffering for it. If this keeps up, he’ll go belly up. Quinn proposes he pretend to be her boyfriend for four weeks. Not only would that convince her parents she’s able to hold down something, she strikes a deal with Marcus. Be her boyfriend and she’d get the customers rolling in. In order to save his business, he agrees.
  • The Plot. After her parents announce their divorce, Quinn will do anything to show them they shouldn’t. Her mother is a gullible flake and her dad is is a retiree who doesn’t know what to do with his life. They’ve never believed she’d ever do anything of consequence with her life – she couldn’t even finish college or hold a steady job! Now she’s determined to show them that she’s serious and committed. When Ron stipulates that both relationships need to be all under the same household, Quinn is totally on board. For whatever odd reason, Marcus seems to be as well – and he’s making his devotion and adoration of Quinn believable. It is a zany, crazy, and brainwashing adventure. I wasn’t expecting the entire storyline to focus on Quinn’s parents, especially after so much build up between Quinn and Marcus in the previous book. I was looking forward to really exploring their little old married-couple-like relationship, but I feel it was slightly smothered by her parents’ drama. There was a lot of redundancy and repetition in that whole process that left me wanting to just bash some of their heads together so they’d see the light.
  • The Villain. “Doctor” Ron is an unlicensed marriage guru who believes in the colors of the wind and all that. He is an enterprising and conniving man, no more than a con artist. And he’s conned Quinn’s mother to kingdom come. Nothing her father says or does is good enough; clearly, he can’t agree to take this seriously and work on their marriage, blaming Ron at every turn while Ron continues to urge them that there is just too much negativity and they should sell their home, cut their losses, and move on. He’s such a skeez and slime ball. He’s weird and kinda creepy. I hated him. I wished he’d choke on a blueberry or something.
  • Marcus’s Father. I found Quinn’s enduring wish to reunite Marcus and his father endearing. When Marcus finally went back home, I was just as surprised at he at what he found his father had been up to. He also shared some interesting news with Quinn and Marcus – interesting news about good old Ron’s wife and her own business enterprises. It is the crucial thing that Quinn needs to save her parents marriage.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lily Everett grew up in a small town in central Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although she’s lived many other places since, from college in Philadelphia to her first publishing job in New York City and her current home in Austin, Texas, she never forgot the beauty and warmth of her little hometown. She is thrilled to be writing the Sanctuary Island series full time because it allows her to combine her longstanding love of romance with the memories of her childhood home.

Lily’s alter ego is Louisa Edwards. Under that name, she is the author of the Recipe for Love series, sexy contemporary romances with hot chef heroes set in the high-stakes, fast-paced world of professional restaurants.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Close to Home

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Close to Home
Author: Lily Everett
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: February 2017
Length: 288 pages
Series?: Sanctuary Island #5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

 

my review

The Skinny

Johnny is a hot mess after coming off his two-year undercover assignment with the ATF. He has PTSD-like tendencies and paranoia, seeing danger everywhere. He is on high alert and suspects anyone and everyone of anything. Upon returning home he finds a “Dear John” letter and divorce papers left by his wife of eight years.

Tessa has spent a year making a life for herself on Sanctuary Island and is happy with her physical, emotional, and mental transformation. She is no longer the weak, timid girl she was before, but Johnny is determined to convince her to come back home. Tessa never dreamed he’d come looking for her, let alone want her back, so they agree to work on their marriage in the meantime and see if it is salvageable.

The Players

Tessa – formerly Amish and timid girl whose found a new life

Johnny – an ATF officer and husband-protector of Tessa

Patty – the local bakery owner and Tessa’s boss and friend; she’s wise and friendly and reminds me of Patty from Gilmore Girls

Quinn – a local girl who hops from one thing to another, her parents and everyone around town consider her flighty and incapable of committing to anything; she sets her sights on Marcus

Marcus – the prodigal son returned to town working on restoring and opening his own bar, agrees to let Johnny board upstairs and tries fending off Quinn

The Quote

“How did you get to be so wise, Miss Patty?”

A nostalgic smile flickered across the wrinkled visage. “My mother was a wonderful woman. Ahead of her time in many ways, and one of those ways was that she hated how many of her women friends didn’t enjoy sex. She told me that I deserved to someday have a ‘healthy marital relation,’ as she called it. I know she hoped I’d find it with a husband, but well, that’s another story.

The Highs and Lows

  • Tessa. She is a different kind of character with an interesting and sad history. Her early life is what landed Tessa on Johnny’s property and led to their “marriage of convenience” of sorts. Johnny was able to protect her and that was the role he played in their marriage. Terri changed her name to Tessa, found solace on Sanctuary Island, and started developing her own life independent of her husband, his protection, and his lack of love. If Johnny can’t love her the way a man should love his wife, she’ll let him go so they can hopefully both find the love they deserve.
  • Johnny. He has a hero complex. It’s why he rescued and married Tessa. He can’t accept that Tessa has moved forward with her life, discovered independence, and no longer needs him to protect her and look after her. He’s a little dumbfounded at what he finds in Sanctuary Island and that she is leading a life without him. What happened to his wife? He wants her back. He’s kept his feelings successfully hidden all these years. He can keep denying how he feels to Tessa and himself or risk losing her forever.
  • Johnny’s Paranoia. Due to his work in the seedy underbelly, Johnny suspects everyone. Especially the new guy in town opening a bar. He wants a buddy at the ATF to do some digging on Marcus. Johnny keeps pushing his friend to help him out. He’s convinced Tessa is still in trouble and in danger.
  • Setting. Sanctuary Island is so idyllic! The way it was described with being able to see certain aspects of town from different corners and Main Street reminded me of the little town of Cabot Cove (which is actually Mendocino, California)  in Murder, She Wrote. I loved how Johnny observed the town and its goings on, and how the gentleman would sit out and play checkers and gossip. I enjoyed the cast of characters and the town very much. It helped “sell” Sanctuary Island and why Tessa chose to settle here.
  • Plot. While the main story was about Johnny and Tessa working on their marriage – which was a great thing to see and I totally believe in and support equine therapy and there should be more of it in our country – Marcus and Quinn’s storyline also played a large part in this installment. The way Tessa would describe her loveless marriage and what she yearned for were heart-wrenching and understandable. It made her character so much more believable and relatable. When a ghost from Tessa’s past wreaks havoc on the town, Johnny’s paranoia is right on the money.

Overall this was a sweet rekindling romance set in a quaint and beautiful town. I enjoyed seeing aspects of Dr. Voss’s equine therapy and Tessa and Johnny working through their marriage and the roadblocks there. Quinn also showed growth as an individual and seems to be finding her way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lily Everett grew up in a small town in central Virginia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Although she’s lived many other places since, from college in Philadelphia to her first publishing job in New York City and her current home in Austin, Texas, she never forgot the beauty and warmth of her little hometown. She is thrilled to be writing the Sanctuary Island series full time because it allows her to combine her longstanding love of romance with the memories of her childhood home.

Lily’s alter ego is Louisa Edwards. Under that name, she is the author of the Recipe for Love series, sexy contemporary romances with hot chef heroes set in the high-stakes, fast-paced world of professional restaurants.

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Review: To Move the World

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: To Move the World
Author: Regina Sirois
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: October 2016
Length: 246 pages
Series?: Power of the Matchmaker #10
Genre: Contemporary Romance 

Eve Brannon never had to bother planning out her future. In the Yorkshire dales where life is harder, it is also simpler. Next in line to inherit her family’s farm, she will raise another generation of children and sheep high in the uplands of England. Waiting until next year when she is 19 to marry her father’s handsome hired hand, Alan, is the detail she added herself.

But in 1939 even the most stalwart corners of the world are vibrating with the tremors of change. Eve’s long-anticipated proposal comes on the wings of losing Alan to the Royal Army and at the brink of the farm’s profitable war years the sheep herd is decimated by a mysterious illness. With her steady future suddenly in the clutches of a capricious fate, Eve is introduced to Jonathon Doran, a land manager anxious to prove himself in a crisis, and she discovers that the solid earth beneath her feet is moving after all.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Eve is a young woman living on a sheep farm with her father and brother. Eve and the farmhand her father hired plan to marry the following year. With the rumblings of war, everything is topsy-turvy. Her beloved enlists to earn more money for their own farm, and he is sent to fight. Worse still, a strange outbreak among the sheep threatens the livelihood and home of Eve and her family.

In Alan’s absence, she meets a wealthy landowner, Jonathon, who takes it upon himself to assist Eve and her family with the mysterious sheep attack.

The Players

Eve – a young girl responsible for the family farm; she yearns to write

William – Eve’s older brother; he attends university

Alan – the farmhand who works alongside Eve’s father on the farm; he plans to one day have his own farm

Theo Weller – Eve’s best friend;

Marion Doran – the youngest son of a wealthy family nearby; Eve’s girlhood crush

Jonathan Doran – a wealthy landowner and older brother of Marion; he lends aid to the family farm

The Quote

“You say a heart doesn’t move,” she said, “but that would mean it is dead. Love should always move us.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Pearl. The Power of the Matchmaker series is a series of stand-alone books with one common thread throughout. The character of matchmaker Pearl is the connection between all the books, but in this installment Pearl hardly appears at all. More than halfway through the book Pearl still had not surfaced, and when she did, it was quite minimal. I was disappointed with that and hoping Pearl made a  grand entry in this book, but that wasn’t the case.
  • Writing. I couldn’t put this story down! The imagery and language were poetic and detailed. I felt like I was there with Eve, like an invisible soul living alongside Eve and her life.
  • Eve. She was such an interesting character. Eve brought such expression to life with her typewriter. That was her outlet, the one thing on the farm that was hers. Eve is a bit of a mix. She is loyal and devoted to the family farm, but at the same time she regrets the lack of the opportunity to go to college like her brother. While she is grounded to the farm and level-headed, she also has a dreamy side.
  • Journal Entries. Since Eve has this typewriter and she records her daily life, the story is told through journal entries. At first this confused me but after the first two chapters I got used to it.
  • The Engagement. Alan is a wonderful, loyal, sweet but shy young man. He works as hard as Eve’s father on a farm that isn’t his, but he has hopes and dreams for his future – and Eve’s. It was a path Eve thought she wanted, and she is handling all these new emotions and feelings. When Jonathan shows up, it is obvious to everyone but Eve where her path should go – and who should walk it alongside her.
  • The Niggling Feeling. While it was obvious how Eve reacted to Jonathan from the start, I didn’t find that she really expressed any true emotion or feeling for him (or Alan for that matter). It was like she was swept up and just went along with things. The ambiguous ending also didn’t really satisfy me after this long-laid romance on Jonathan’s part.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Regina Sirois believes in intelligent books that challenge us to reach higher and be better. She believes in the powerful years of adolescence and loves to capture the raw moments when young adults begin to solidify into the people they were meant to be. She lives in Kansas with her high school sweetheart (also known as her husband), her two daughters, and their nearly hairless cat. She continues to write stories that won’t leave her alone.

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads