Guest Post and my review: Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas

I’m pleased to welcome author Jodi Thomas today:

Lone Heart Pass (4:26)

When I began LONE HEART PASS two people stepped into my mind.  One, Jubilee Hamilton, who has just had all her dreams crash and the other, Charley Collins, who feels like he’s never had the chance to follow even one dream.  Both are fighting to simply survive.  Together they learn to start believing in love and form a dream, not of riches or fame, but of family.

I write the RANSOM CANYON series in a little room out back of my house that we now call the bunkhouse.  It’s not big, mission designed and almost a hundred years old.  I took down all the western art and put up white boards.  I even removed all the books except those on ranching, horses, Texas, or research I might need. Family histories of characters fill one wall and plot lines another.  When I step into the bunkhouse, I step into the world of Ransom Canyon.

One by one my characters come in and sit down to tell me their story. Jubilee and Charley came to me fully developed.  I saw them sit down in front of my desk (in my mind) and begin to tell me their story.  Charley’s love for his daughter.  Jubilee’s need to put down roots.  His knowledge of ranching.  Her fascination with keeping records and charts.  Them learning to trust one another when no one believed in either of them.

LONE HEART PASS marks my 43rd novel.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve had an extra lifetime of friends and family. It was hard writing the end to this one.  I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Jodi Thomas

Description: With a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubilee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she’s inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and the abrasive foreman she’s forced to hire are all she’s got. 

Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubilee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic. 

Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. And when he finds himself mixed up in a murder investigation, his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.  (publisher)

My take:  Lone Heart Pass is a story about people who’ve been cast away by people who should have loved them. Whether by parents or partners each one had their trust abused so it’s no wonder they’re reluctant, no, determined not to let anyone get that close to them again.

One of the things I love about Jodi Thomas’s books is that her characters, though flawed like us all, are usually kind. Their feelings are recognizable because the reader can identify with many of them. I think that’s what makes her books comfort reads for me. Lone Heart Pass is no exception. It’s a great addition to the Ransom Canyon series. There’s romance, mystery and drama – and I enjoyed it all.

Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas, contemporary romance and the Ransom Canyon series. I can’t wait for the next book.


1028_jodibio A fifth ­generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full­ time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com.

4 Books to Take on Vacation – a Guest Post by Laura McNeill

bookfan mary laura mcneill guest post

4 Books to Take on Vacation

Laura McNeill

There’s nothing like diving into a new book by the ocean shore or atop a gorgeous mountain with the sunshine on your shoulders. Whether you’re vacationing on a cruise or just stealing a few hours in your own backyard, here are four books that are tried and true books light and fun enough for a getaway, but substantive enough to keep your attention.

bookfan mary 4 books to take on vacation image

1. Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes. Who doesn’t love this classic story? When literature professor Frances Mayes discovers her husband’s infidelity, she takes off for a tour of Tuscany, Italy to escape the pain. On impulse, Mayes buys a crumbling old villa and attempts to restore it to its glory. What she learns along the way helps heal her wounded heart.

2. On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves. This novel really stole my heart. The book centers on Anna Emerson, a thirty‐year‐old English teacher who takes a job tutoring sixteen‐year‐old cancer survivor T.J. at the family’s summer home in South Asia. When their small plane crashes over the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean, Ana and T.J. are left to fend for themselves. The pair faces danger, starvation, storms, and obstacles, falling in love along the way.

3. Flat Out Love – Jessica Park. I adored this quirky book about college student Julie Seagle who goes to live with a family friend of her mother’s in Boston. In a matter of months, Julie begins to love the Watkins family, including the reclusive youngest daughter, the brilliant brother, and the sibling who she’s never quite met … in person. Park is witty and wonderful in this fantastic novel.

4. The Castaways – Elin Hilderbrand. You’re sure to love Hilderbrand’s breezy Nantucket settings and island live. This story centers on four couples who count each other as best friends, and the fateful trip one husband and wife takes one summer afternoon. What’s revealed to each of the friends in the aftermath rocks the small coastal community. All of Hilderbrand’s novels are perfect for a summer vacation or a long afternoon spent in a hammock with sweet tea.

Be sure to check out some of my other favorite vacation‐authors including Anita Hughes, Joshilyn Jackson, Jane Green, Dorothea Benton Frank, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Karma Brown, Amy Hatvany, Emily Liebert, and Mary Kay Andrews.

Do you have any favorite vacation books? I’d love to hear about them!

Bookfan Mary 4 books on vacation blurb

Bio:
Laura McNeill is the author to Center of Gravity (July 2015) and Sister Dear (April 19, 2016). When Laura is not writing or reading, she makes time to run, share pictures to Instagram, and adores the color pink!

Find Laura McNeill on social media:  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

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Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

  • best of my love (4:26)Title:  Best of My Love
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #20
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance series
  • Published:  April 26, 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Shelby Gilmore, sister to Kipling who was featured in a previous book in the Fool’s Gold series, has decided it’s time to take control of her future by dealing with her issues from the past. The main issue is that she can’t trust men. Her abusive father is responsible for that. She decides to ask Aidan Mitchell, a guy she barely knows, to help her overcome that issue by being a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. If nothing else, she’ll find out if it’s even possible to be friends with a guy. But can it be that simple?

Aidan is at a point in life where he decides being friends with a woman sounds like a good plan. He has come to the realization that having an eternal string of “girlfriends” who never last more than a week might not be the greatest way to go through life. In the end, learning to trust another person could be easier for these two than learning to trust themselves.

Susan Mallery wrote an entertaining love story with an unconventional premise. Filled with many familiar characters from the series, I can say it’s not necessary to have read any of the previous novels but it was fun to see what was new in their lives. Recommended to fans of the Fool’s Gold series. I thought it was a nice, easy vacation read.

Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

  • keep me posted (review 4:19)Title:  Keep Me Posted: A Novel
  • Author:  Lisa Beazley
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  April 2016 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Cassie lives in New York City with her husband and young twin sons. Sid, her sister, lives in Singapore with her husband, son and young daughter. While home for Christmas Sid proposes the two sisters communicate in the coming year via the old-fashioned way, letters. Cassie agrees to give it a try.

Cassie has been out of work for a year and not completely keen on her new role as a stay-at-home-mom. She constantly doubts her ability to be a great mom and is exhausted most of the time trying. That has her too tired to be anywhere near the partner she was to her husband before the twins were born. She’s kind of in a low self-esteem rut. She starts to live for her sister’s letters and can’t get over the excitement she feels at receiving one.

Then one day a seemingly normal decision changes everything. Not long after that the old saying “Be careful what you wish for” starts playing in Cassie’s head. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop through much of the novel and when it did I was completely invested in what I hoped would be the outcome for Cassie and Sid.

Lisa Beazley’s novel is an entertaining, heartfelt and relatable story about finding what matters most. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction – especially stories about sisters.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals (received in the past two weeks):  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

wedding girl (5:19 blog tour)  stitches in time  Once Upon a Wine (7:26 NAL)

better get to livin' (5:31)  one true loves (6:16 blog tour)  the cherry harvest

when the moon is low  Mata Hari's Last Dance (7:19)  the secrets she kept (7:26)

Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Review:  The Winemakers by Jan Moran

Eligible (4:19:16 RH)   The Winemakers (4:5)

Reading plan for this week:

the-girl-from-home-9781476764283_hr   Britt-Marie Was Here (5:10)

The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets by Jan Moran

  • The Winemakers (4:5)Title:  The Winemakers: A Novel of Wine and Secrets
  • Author:  Jan Moran
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  April 2016 – St. Martin’s Griffin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In 1956, when Caterina Rosetta inherits a vineyard in Montalcino, Italy from a grandmother she’s never known, she discovers a long-buried family secret – a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. Many years before, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition; but as an old murder comes to light, and Caterina discovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past.  (publisher)

My take:  The Winemakers is an old-fashioned saga of a family looking to fulfill their dreams of making their Napa vineyard a success. I loved the strong female characters who put very little above the love of family and winemaking. That said, they were governed by the patriarchal rules of society (of that time) and the church so they had great limitations on what they could do. There was also a huge secret that threatened any happiness for Caterina. This led to much unhappiness and unfulfilled dreams that would ultimately guide their actions.

The setting changes from France to Italy to California over the course of many decades. Most of the dual-storyline is set either in the 1920s or the 1950s. I enjoyed reading both storylines and thought Moran did a wonderful job of portraying both eras in all three countries.

I think anyone who enjoys a sweeping family story (which got a bit melodramatic at times) will like The Winemakers. My thanks to the publisher for sharing a copy with me.


JAN MORAN is the author of the novel Scent of Triumph, and Fabulous Fragrances I and II, which earned spots on the Rizzoli Bookstore bestseller list. A fragrance and beauty expert, she has been featured in numerous publications and on television and radio, including CNN, Instyle, and O Magazine, and has spoken before prestigious organizations, including The American Society of Perfumers. She earned her MBA from Harvard Business school and attended the University of California at Los Angeles Extension Writers’ Program.