Heart Land by Kimberly Stuart

HEART LAND by Kimberly Stuart

Howard Books | On Sale: July 17, 2018 | ISBN: 9781501180569 | 320 pages | $15.99

Review copy courtesy of Howard/Atria Books and NetGalley

Description:  Grace Klaren has finally made her dream of living in the Big Apple and working in the fashion industry a reality. But when she’s unexpectedly fired and can’t afford the next month’s rent, Grace does something she never thought she’d do: she moves back home.

Back in Silver Creek, Iowa, Grace is determined to hate it. She rails against the quiet of her small town, where everything closes early, where there’s no nightlife, where everyone knows each other. She’s saving her pennies and plotting her return to New York when she almost runs over a man who’s not paying attention at a crosswalk. It turns out to be Tucker, her high school sweetheart whose heart she broke when she left ten years ago. They reconnect, and Grace remembers why she fell for him in the first place.

And her career begins to turn around when she finds a gorgeous but tattered vintage dress at a flea market. She buys it, rips it apart seam by seam, and re-creates it with new fabric, updating the look with some of her own design ideas. She snaps a picture and lists the dress online, and within a day, it sells for nearly $200. Suddenly, Grace has her ticket out of here.

But Grace can’t fight her growing feelings for Tucker. Sometimes when they’re together, Tucker paints a picture of what their future could be like, and it feels so real. And when she finally gains the funding to move her new business back to New York, Grace must decide where home really is—will she chase her long-held New York dream, or find a new dream here in the heartland? (publisher)

My take:  When Grace Klaren loses her dream job in New York City and returns to her small Iowa hometown she’s embarrassed to tell anyone what happened. She’ll find out if she can go home again and face the people she left behind – notably her grandmother and her first love. But she’s determined to make enough money to go back for a second try at NYC. If you grew up in a small town (like I did) you’ll recognize a lot of the characters in this warm novel. They made me laugh as they showed their good hearts and cheered Grace on. Grace wants to do them proud and at the same time breathe some life back into the local economy. She also wants to be friends with Tucker, the boy – now a man – she left behind ten years earlier. The trick will be doing it all and hurting no one. She might just have to learn how to pray.

I thought Kimberly Stuart’s story was charming and I was thoroughly entertained. Recommended to fans of small town (Christian) romance. I wouldn’t hesitate to read another of Stuart’s novels.

About the author:

Kimberly Stuart has always treasured a good story and a good laugh. When she’s not engrossed in the charming chaos of motherhood, Stuart writes stories that are intended to make readers laugh often and cry once—maybe twice. Kimberly resides in Des Moines, Iowa, with her fantastic husband and their three wily children.




Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter,

Smitten Book Club

  • Title:  Smitten Book Club
  • Series:  Smitten, #3
  • Authors:  Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter
  • Genre:  Christian Chick Lit
  • Published:  January 2014 – Thomas Nelson
  • Source:  Publisher

My take: When one of the Smitten book club member’s firefighter husband perishes in a fire the town of Smitten, Vermont comes together to help. The book club holds a book sale to raise funds to help Molly, the young widow. While sorting through the donated books one of the members finds an old book of advice for finding a husband. It was written by a local author who it turns out was a relative of the firefighter who died. Not only is the book filled with (somewhat dated) hints to find a husband but it’s been said there are hidden clues to finding a storied treasure.

Smitten Book Club is actually four connected short stories (by four different authors) that cover the first year after the death of Molly’s husband. Each story is about a member of the book club and her journey to finding romantic love. The old book, A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is passed from member to member as they try to find the clues to the treasure which would help Molly’s dire financial situation.

The authors wrote tales of love, faith and new and second chances. I enjoyed all four stories. If this sounds like your kind of book and you like Christian fiction as well as the Smitten series, I think you’ll like Smitten Book Club.

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh – Blog Tour


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

* * * * * * *

Piper Pickwick tries to live a good and honest life but, like most of us, she has things she needs to work on. When she is called back to her hometown she gets the opportunity and time to work on correcting past wrongs. It took me several pages to get into the rhythm of Leaving Carolina but once I did, the pace picked up and I quickly finished reading the book.

Two of my favorite characters in the book help Piper realize that life can be good when you face your past instead of run from it. Those two are Uncle Obe and Axel Smith. Obe has received a diagnosis of dementia and wants to make things right in his own life. Piper has always been his favorite relative and she feels the same about him. Axel is Obe’s godson and works as gardener on Obe’s estate. Obe thinks Axel (who has had several challenges in his life) could be a good match for his niece. The story moves in several directions and never failed to keep my attention.

There are several interesting characters in addition to my favorites. Two of them will be featured in a second book due out in 2010. I would recommend this novel to readers who enjoy Chick Lit and Contemporary Christian Fiction.

You can find more information about Leaving Carolina here.

Review book fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs: Book Cover

Book Flap: Knit Two returns to the Manhattan knitting store Walker & Daughter five years after the death of the store’s owner, Georgia Walker. Georgia’s daughter Dakota is now an 18 year old freshman at NYU, running the knitting store part-time with the help of the members of the Friday Night Knitting Club. Drawn together by their love for Dakota and the sense of family the club provides, each knitter is struggling with new challenges: for Catherine, finding love after divorce, for Darwin, newborn twins, for Lucie, being both a single mom and caregiver for her elderly mother, and for seventy-something Anita, marriage to her sweetheart Marty over the objections of her grown children. As Kate Jacobs returns to the world of Walker & Daughter, she’s once again keyed into many of the stresses and joys of being a mother, wife, daughter and friend.
I found myself thinking that I wasn’t really connecting to Knit Two when I was in the beginning pages but I soon found the pace and hated to set it down. I loved that the characters wanted to grow and change things in their lives – and then worked on making it happen. I found it easy to believe their worries, inner struggles, issues with grief as well as issues with each other. Ms. Jacobs portrayed each character realistically. I was smiling as I finished reading the book. . . and also hoping she might consider writing yet another book about this wonderful group of women. I really want to know what happens next.

Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn and a Giveaway

Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn: Book Cover

From the book flap: Miranda Carson’s search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in England with only a few feeble clues to who he might be. Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn’t recognize her and whom she’s quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision.
Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this Christmas will forever change the future for both her and the family she can’t bear to leave.
I read Engaging Father Christmas in October (review found here) and loved the story. I didn’t find out until later that it was actually a sequel to Finding Father Christmas. I was so happy to read the full story of Miranda and how she came to England to search for her father. Robin Jones Gunn tells a lovely story that very much figures into the Christmas season. I recommend both books (read in order) – they will uplift your Christmas spirit.

Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group, I’m hosting a giveaway of both books. This giveaway is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. To win Finding Father Christmas AND Engaging Father Christmas :

1. For one entry leave a post and comment about this review.

2. For a second entry post about this giveaway on your blog and leave a link for me.

I’m going to make this a fast giveaway and close it at 11pm (EDT) Friday, Dec. 12, 2008. Please leave contact info (e-mail, blog link). I’ll use random.org and post the winner on Saturday. Good luck!

Sweet Life by Mia King

Sweet Life by Mia King: Book Cover

Back of the book: When her husband, Paul, gets a new job, Marissa Price leaves the island of Manhattan for the island of Hawaii. Paradise seems like the perfect place to find herself, save her marriage, and reconnect with her eight-year-old daughter. But once there, Marissa discovers her new life is less about beaches and beautiful sunsets and more about cows and lava flows. Their new “home” is a fixer-upper at best. But what most needs fixing – her marriage – is the first to crumble when her husband announces he wants some time apart to find himself.
It is when her husband makes his announcement that the book really takes off. Mia King is a wonderful story-teller. Her writing is smooth and her characters are believable. Sweet Life touches on family, women’s friendships, and homeschooling among other topics. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn: Book Cover

From the book flap: Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England to spend Christmas with her boyfriend, Ian. She spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when hints of engagement fill the air.
But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family refuses to bless Miranda and Ian’s relationship. How can Miranda ever find a place to belong in this cheery corner of the world? When family secrets threaten all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet . . . as Miranda searches for love, she finds the promise of so much more in the arms of a certain Father Christmas. Perhaps this holiday has special gifts in store for her after all.
Robin Jones Gunn has written a sweet, cozy novella that is perfect for the holiday season. It’s the first book I’ve read by this author. In fact, it’s the first I’ve read that fits in the Christian Lit. category.

If you want a book that will help you get in the holiday mood, Engaging Father Christmas would be a good choice. It had the feel of an old-fashioned Christmas – much like an old black and white movie. It took a couple of hours to read and I enjoyed it very much.
I’ll be looking for Finding Father Christmas. It is part 1 of Miranda’s story and I want to read all the details!
Thanks to Miriam at Hachette Book Group for sending me this book.