The Rancher’s Christmas Song by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Title:  The Rancher’s Christmas Song
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek  #16
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Pages:  224
  • Published:  October 2017 – Harlequin Special Edition
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Keep a song in your heart this holiday season… 

Music teacher Ella Baker’s plate is already full. But when single dad Beckett McKinley’s wild twin boys need help preparing a Christmas song for their father, Ella agrees on one condition: they teach her to ride a horse. She’s hoping that’ll help mend her strained relationship with her rancher father; it certainly has nothing to do with the crush that’s lingered since her one and only date with Beck. 

It isn’t disinterest spurring Beck to keep his distance—if anything, the spark is too strong, with Ella reminding him of his ex-wife. Soon what started as an innocent arrangement is beginning to feel a lot like family. But with the holidays approaching, Beck and Ella will have to overcome past hurts if they want to keep each other warm this Christmas…  (publisher)

My take:  I was introduced to the Cowboys of Cold Creek series with book #13. I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the previous books in the series and I can tell you the same after reading #16 – so don’t let the number scare you. I’ve found all of her books can stand alone.

This year’s Christmas book is a lovely family story. There’s rancher Beck, single father of young twin boys, and Ella, former city girl and current local music teacher. Ella’s father owns the ranch next door to Beck’s so they are acquainted but that’s all – until the annual Christmas program begins rehearsals and the two find themselves playing more important roles in the other’s life.

In true RaeAnne Thayne style The Rancher’s Christmas Song is a charming story that embraces the true meaning of the season. Recommended to fans of the author and romantic Christmas novels you want to read in one sitting.


 

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A Christmas Affair by Jodi Thomas

  • Title:  A Christmas Affair
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #6.5
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Pages:  90
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  This novella picks up a short time after book 6, Indigo Lake, ends. In that book we met Maria  Davis who had come out of a tragic car crash being completely blind. Before the crash she had a promising career as a chef in her future. Now she lives at home with her sister and grandmother in Crossroads, Texas. She makes jams and jellies and sells them at the local market which is owned by Wes. He fell for her the first time they met but was too shy or scared to act on his feelings. Only when Maria decides she wants more than a working relationship with him does anything happen. Wes can’t believe his life has changed in such a wonderful way. He keeps waiting to wake up from his dream. It was hard not to chuckle as these two figured things out.  Another storyline is about Travis, a 15 year-old boy who comes to live with his three bachelor great-uncles when his home situation is deemed unsuitable. Once again, Crossroads is a place that welcomes all and saves most. I hope Travis’s story will continue in a future book. Jodi Thomas inserted her usual charm and humor in all of her characters and settings. Grab a cozy blanket and settle into your favorite comfy chair to spend an hour or two with the folks of Crossroads. Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas, the Ransom Canyon series, and novellas with a Christmas theme.


 

The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson

 

  • Title:  The Christmas Room
  • Author:  Catherine Anderson
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Pages:  432
  • Published:  September 2017 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  When widow Maddie McLendon’s family (her son and teenage grandson) move to their new Montana ranch they know it’ll mean roughing it until their home is built. They’ll live in tents and trailer and make the best of it. Sam Conacher, the cranky rancher who lives next to their land, thinks his new neighbors are gypsies and won’t be issuing a warm welcome any time soon. But all bets are off when Maddie’s adult son falls for Sam’s daughter. And wait until Sam finds out that Maddie is his favorite author! Thoughts of the Hatfield/McCoy feud or the Montague/Capulet story crossed my mind as I read. There are some laugh out loud moments and some that made me cringe. Feelings run deep and for understandable reasons. The challenge for Maddie and Sam is to grow from their experiences and learn that second chances don’t often come along so one has to grab it when it does. The Christmas Room had some heart-warming moments that made for a nice seasonal read. I haven’t read any of Catherine Anderson’s books before but I’d try another one. Recommended to fans of multigenerational novels with a Christmas theme.


 

The Chesapeake Bride by Mariah Stewart plus a US Giveaway and excerpt

  • Title:  The Chesapeake Bride
  • Author:  Mariah Stewart
  • Series:  The Chesapeake Diaries #11
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2017 – Pocket Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes a new chapter in her celebrated Chesapeake Diaries series, featuring her signature “rich characterization, charming setting, and a romance you’ll never forget” (Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Architect Cassidy Logan has sworn off good-looking adventurers. Newly divorced, she’s focused on building ecologically friendly, historically accurate homes on the Chesapeake Bay for her father’s construction company. Traveling to Cannonball Island—where there has been no new construction in nearly one hundred years—Cass is sensitive to the heritage of the island, and has come up with plans so perfect she’s determined to buy a home for herself. Even the fact that Owen Parker—a local who she dismisses as a lightweight and a player—seems to be everywhere isn’t enough to deter her from building her dream house.

Owen Parker is and always has been sinfully handsome and wickedly clever, a magnet for mischief as well as girls. He’s a rolling stone, going and doing whatever appeals to him, from flying a mail plane in Alaska, to working on a cattle ranch in Australia, a shrimp boat in Louisiana, and surfing and diving in Costa Rica. When an old friend offers him a job salvaging a sunken ship on the Chesapeake Bay, Owen gladly accepts. Something’s been telling him it was time to head home to Cannonball Island, and a job is as good an excuse as any. And he’s totally smitten by the pretty architect on the scene, but it seems he’s finally met a woman who’s immune to his charms. Sooner or later, Owen will have to face the reason why he always runs, because this time, leaving just might be harder than staying. (publisher)

My take:  Mariah Stewart takes readers back to the shore in the 11th book of The Chesapeake DiariesThe Chesapeake Bride. In this series Stewart weaves threads of area history, various generations of characters featured in each book – some who possess a sixth sense, and usually an indirect road to romance. We have Cass, a talented architect from Baltimore who is developing homes on Cannonball Island which is where she meets the handsome and adventurous local son, Owen. She immediately recognizes him as a player and not worth her time or heart but her judgement may prove to be hasty and wrong. I liked discovering that these two had substance and experience that motivated their decisions. It also helped when life throws them a curve ball. Yes, things got a little shaky but Mariah Stewart left me happy at the end and looking forward to what happens next in this enjoyable series. Although I’ve only read three of the books in this series I didn’t feel lost picking #11 up. It can easily stand alone.


Praise for The Chesapeake Bride, Book 11 of The Chesapeake Diaries series:

“Stewart succeeds in giving both Owen and Cass a smooth blend of strength and vulnerability, and the setting of this heartwarming romance will draw readers in with its island-life charm.” —Publishers Weekly

Strengths: Noteworthy historical content; Engaging characters; Strong Romance; HEA…Measure of Love: Teaspoon…Mood: Poignant and lighthearted…Why You Should Read this: Definitely will appeal to readers wanting a strong romance. And the genealogy and historical aspects are a perfect addition to a pleasing story!” Heroes and Heartbreakers Women’s Fiction Best Bet for August 2017

“The Chesapeake Bride is a small-town romance which will leave readers wanting more of the charming characters and unforgettable story. I enjoyed this book so much that I am still running some of the scenes through my head, which shows how fantastic the story is. Another great read by an outstanding author. A Recommended Read!” —Romance Junkies, Five Heart Review

“The romance is slow and sweet…the lack of unnecessary melodrama, angst, and over-the-top gestures makes this a refreshing contemporary romance between two adults who act as such.” —Kirkus Reviews

*

Praise for Driftwood Point, Book 10 of The Chesapeake Diaries series:

“This second-chance-at-love romance is gentle and sweet…The colorful friendship between the family matriarchs…charms. Stewart seamlessly checks in with former series protagonists and introduces future romantic pairings without stealing attention from Lisbeth and Alec.” —RT Book Reviews

*

Praise for That Chesapeake Summer, Book 9 of The Chesapeake Diaries series:

“[That Chesapeake Summer] deftly uses the tools of the genre to explore issues of identity, truth, and small town kinship…Stewart offers a strong statement on the power of love and trust, a fitting theme for this big-hearted small town romance.” —Publishers Weekly

“A touching story of self-discovery and homecoming that is sure to warm readers’ hearts…fans are sure to feel right at home in Stewart’s idyllic seaside setting and follow this emotional journey with avid interest.” RT Book Reviews

*

Praise for The Last Chance Matinee, Book 1 of The Hudson Sisters series: 

“The popcorn, the red velvet seats, the glittering Hollywood stars on-screen…I’ve enjoyed all aspects of going to the movies since I was a kid…so when I saw a vintage theater on the cover of this book, I quickly swiped it up…The tale was a sweet reminder of the importance of family. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!” —First for Women magazine, July 2017

“[This] lively, warmhearted series starter will have readers eagerly awaiting the second installment.” —Booklist

“A good read, with a nice blend of mystery, family drama, and romance.” —Library Journal

THE CHESAPEAKE BRIDE

11th in The Chesapeake Diaries series

Mariah Stewart

Pocket Books

August 29, 2017

ISBN 9781501154355

$7.99


About the author:

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories.  A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens.  Visit her website at mariahstewart.com, like her on Facebook at AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram at mariah_stewart_books.

 

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Excerpt from The Chesapeake Bride:

Diary~

I love the changing of the seasons—and I think summer into fall might be a favorite, being as how I relate to the whole “autumn of my years” thing. That’s how I see myself, anyway. If sixty is the new forty, I believe seventy must be the new fifty, eighty the new sixty, and so on. Therefore, I fall into that third quadrant. Don’t try to change my mind or confuse me with facts.

One of the reasons I love this time of the year: the steady influx of tourists into St. Dennis begins to wane. Not that I don’t love our visitors. Why, without them, St. Dennis would have continued to languish and would never have become the Eastern Shore mecca it now is. But there’s something sweet about having your hometown belong to you and yours again, even if it’s just for a while. I know soon enough the holidays will be upon us and many will flock to town for all the beautiful festivities—the Christmas House Tour, the weekend of caroling, the tree lighting at the square on Old St. Mary’s Church Road, Christmas at the Inn (a favorite of mine), and, oh, yes, the shopping! But this little respite between the beginning of September, when the families leave to return their offspring to school, and the holiday madness belongs to us, we old St. Dennis folk who like a little downtime.

Not to say there’s nothing going on here! There are new babies to celebrate and a special wedding on the horizon, one that makes me especially weepy. My dear nephew, Alec, will be marrying his lovely Lisbeth in an event that will be the talk of both St. Dennis and Cannonball Island for a long time to come. I’m not privy to all the details, mind you, but since my daughter, Lucy, is planning the wedding, I’ve heard bits and squeaks of what she has in mind, and it will, no doubt, be perfectly wonderful.

When we were children, Mama told us that when good folks passed, they earned a star in the heavens where they could sit and shine down on all the goings-on here on earth. Our brothers scoffed, but we girls believed her, and so it is that I know my beloved sister, Carole, will be watching happily from her star as her son marries his bride out on the point in just a few more weeks.

Thinking about the point makes me think of all the changes that are coming to Cannonball Island soon. So much, it could make your head spin! For the first time in roughly two hundred years, new dwellings will be going up on what had once been barren land. I heard from one in the know that some of the older homesteads—mostly those that have fallen into ruin or have been abandoned—will be replaced with new versions more suitable to modern living. Some are up in arms about this, but frankly, it’s about time. Those dilapidated old shells offer no shelter and, if anything, detract from the beauty of the island. My good friend Ruby Carter—the island’s matriarch—has given her blessing, and that’s good enough for me. Besides, Alec will be serving as the environmental consultant, so I feel confident that all will be well. The new homes are being designed with the island’s history in mind, so the legacy of those early settlers will be well protected. The architect is a lovely young woman who is serious about this project, so I know, eventually, all will be well. Of course I do.

I know, too, that a certain islander with a “rolling stone” reputation will be finding his rolling days coming to a halt before too long. It will be amusing, to say the least, to see him meet his match. Will he be bested? The smart money’s on the new girl. That’s all I have to say about that.

And so much excitement over all the goings-on at the mouth of the river on the other side of Cannonball Island! Who knew such mysteries lay beneath the water, waiting to be discovered—and now that they have been, well, the flurry of activity these days has my poor old head spinning like an old-fashioned top. I cannot wait to see what they find, and I’m more than happy that one of the principal players is staying at the inn. Not that I’d pry, but if one overhears a snippet of conversation now and then . . . well, let’s just say it’s good to keep informed. Now, how all this is going to affect the construction that was slated to begin in November, well, I suppose everyone will have to wait and see. Could be there will be delays, which will keep the new girl around for a while longer and will keep the rolling stone on his toes.

My, what fun this will be~

Grace ~

 


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

This is for a review copy of Book 10 in the series!

Giveaway ends on September 21st, 2017


NOTE FOR THE NEW YEAR:

Look for Gallery Books’ second installment in Mariah Stewart’s all-new trade original women’s fiction series, The Hudson Sisters, following a trio of reluctant sisters as they set out to fulfill their father’s dying wish—and discover themselves in the process. Book 2, The Sugarhouse Blues, will publish March 2018!


Bittersweet by Shirlee McCoy

  • Title:  Bittersweet
  • Series:  Home Sweet Home #3
  • Author:  Shirlee McCoy
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2017 – Zebra
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Benevolence, Washington, the Lamont family’s luscious handmade chocolates are a beloved tradition—and the sweetest of comforts. And for the most reserved of the three Lamont sisters, they’re a much-needed way to challenge the past, rekindle hope—and make happiness for a lifetime.
 
Caring family and friends, tranquil streets—ex-prosecutor Willow Lamont wishes these could make her feel truly at home. She’s back to help her grandfather manage Chocolate Haven, a long-held dream come true. But she’s struggling to make their unique fudge—and to cope with a secret trauma that haunts her. Yet when she finds an abandoned baby who breaks her heart wide open, she wonders how long she can hide her emotions—especially from warm, handsome, and way too nosey Deputy Sheriff Jax Gordon.
 
Always an outsider, Jax knows more than he should about loss. But he didn’t expect his difficult search for baby “Miracle’s” mother would reveal such a vulnerable side to the accomplished, beautiful woman he’s always admired. Earning Willow’s trust is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Yet between her honesty and courage, he’s longing to fill her life with rekindled joy—and a forever of irresistible love.  (publisher)

My take:  Bittersweet is the story of Willow Lamont and Jax Gordon – two people who survived horrific events when they were young. Both dealt with their traumas in their own way and grew to be upstanding adults who only hoped to outrun their bad memories. When Willow returns to the small town where she grew up to help at her family’s chocolate shop she runs into Jax, a school friend from when they both lived in Benevolence. Neither has a problem with being friends but can they deal with what could happen if the underlying attraction they feel becomes more? Fate has plans of her own when a baby comes on the scene late one night. No spoilers here! This is the first of author Shirlee McCoy’s books I’ve had a chance to read. I thought it was a sweet and heart warming story about learning to trust and move forward. I’d definitely read another book by McCoy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary romance.


Praise for Shirlee McCoy’s Sweet Haven

“Fans of Debbie Macomber will appreciate McCoy’s sweet, funny, heartwarming romance with its friendly, small-town setting.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A delicious small‑town treat.” —Library Journal

*

Praise for Home Sweet Home

“The latest in McCoy’s Home Sweet Home series is a heartfelt story that will touch your heart. With her engaging storytelling, McCoy brings us characters with substance who are clear, distinctive, and endearing. Willow is a strong, courageous, and vulnerable heroine and Jax is a compassionate, reassuring hero who compliments her. A well-crafted plot filled with raw emotion and conflict is the highlight of this tender story of love, loss, and healing.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“McCoy has created two wounded souls and sent them on an unforgettable journey of healing. Readers will find this emotional roller-coaster ride of a story as compelling as it is heartwarming.”– Booklist 


 

Primrose Lane by Debbie Mason

  • Title:  Primrose Lane
  • Series:  Harmony Harbor #3
  • Author:  Debbie Mason
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  June 2017 – Forever

Description:  Love is the best medicine

Olivia Davenport has finally gotten her life back together. She’s left her painful past behind, started over in a new town, and become Harmony Harbor’s most sought-after event planner. But her past catches up to her when Olivia learns that she’s now guardian of her ex’s young daughter. With her world spinning, Olivia must reconcile her old life with her new one. And she doesn’t have time for her new next door neighbor, no matter how handsome he is.
Olivia may act like she’s got everything under control, but Dr. Finn Gallagher knows a person in over her head when he sees one. He’d really like to be the shoulder she leans on, but Olivia makes it clear she doesn’t want his help. Since he’s returned to town, his waiting room has been full of single women feigning illness. Yet the one woman he’s interested in is avoiding him. But with a little help from some matchmaking widows and a precocious little girl, Finn might just win Olivia over. (publisher)
My take:  The Harmony Harbor series is about the Gallagher family, heirs to the large hotel complex in town. When the matriarch Colleen died, her will stipulated her heirs be unanimous in their decision to keep the hotel in operation or to sell. They are not in agreement but with each book in the series at least one more Gallagher takes a position and it’s not always what they thought would happen.
Finn Gallagher is back in town convalescing from a terrible event before returning to Africa where he works with Doctors Without Borders. When he gets involved with the hotel’s event planner Olivia he also gets involved in her drama. Two years ago her only child succumbed to cancer. Some time later her husband was killed. She ended up in the small town of Harmony Harbor where she tried to forget about her past. When her past catches up with her she is faced with an impossible decision. Finn will need to make a decision as well – this isn’t what he was looking for.
Debbie Mason’s third installment in the Harmony Harbor series had me laughing out loud at some scenes and then quickly turning the pages as the drama played out near the end. I loved the physical comedy that went along with clumsy Olivia – very funny and well-written. I also enjoyed seeing characters from the previous books. There’s a bit of the paranormal in the series in that Colleen hasn’t crossed over yet. So she’s present to the reader but only certain other characters can sense her presence. It sounds a bit strange but I think it works. It all makes for an entertaining contemporary romance and I look forward to the next installment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue, and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews).  When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.  You can learn more at www.AuthorDebbieMason.com.

PRIMROSE LANE

  • By Debbie Mason
  • Harmony Harbor, #3
  • June 27, 2017
  • Forever
  • Mass Market: $7.99 USD
  • eBook: $5.99 USD

 

Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne

  • Title:  Serenity Harbor
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Series:  Haven Point #6
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  June 27, 2017 – HQN Books

Description:  Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he’s arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half-brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there’s more to sexy, wary Bo than she’d ever realized. 

Bo never imagined he’d be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn’t know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he’s ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there’s room in it for him, too… (publisher)

My take:  Serenity Harbor is the newest book in RaeAnne Thayne’s Haven Point series. It’s the story of Bowie and Katrina, two people who aren’t looking for love. Bowie’s life took an unexpected turn when he found he had a little brother he didn’t previously know existed. Now he’s responsible for the little boy who is on the autism spectrum. He has no idea how he can juggle seeing to Milo’s needs as well as work a full-time job. Katrina is the answer to his prayers. Turns out, he can help her. She’s in the middle of complicated adoption proceedings of a little girl in Columbia. When Bowie offers Kat a sizable amount of money to care for Milo until permanent help arrives she can’t refuse him. That money will help her with adoption costs so she accepts the offer. What she didn’t see coming was the attraction to Bowie. She’d been concentrating only on bringing Gabi home to Haven Point – not her love life. She’d made so many mistakes in that area before that she’s going to set her sights on making Gabi’s life better and forget about romance.

I so enjoyed this story of people finding out that perspective can change your idea of how life should go. Yes, a few things worked out much easier than they probably would in real life but this is a novel and I just went with it. I love the series, the characters and the setting and recommend it fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance.


About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.