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.

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California Summer by Anita Hughes

California Summer by Anita Hughes

St. Martin’s Griffin; June 19, 2018

Review copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Griffin

Description:  Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend’s invitation to spend the summer at her parents’ estate in Montecito. It’s far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate shop, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love…again. (publisher)

My take:  If you enjoy a sexy, contemporary romance with a beautiful setting you’ll want to read California Summer. Anita Hughes’ new novel is filled with gorgeous people who live interesting lives that are all in various states of emotional upheaval. Rosie begins to find her passion in life after living in the shadow of another person’s dream for years. She also starts to listen to her inner voice and a select few others who have wisdom to pass on to her. Filled with various characters, some more sympathetic than others (who are downright easy to loathe), the story is a nighttime soap lover’s catnip. Toss this one into the beach bag this summer. You’ll be glad you did!


About the author:
ANITA HUGHES is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, White Sand, Blue Sea, Emerald Coast, and Christmas in London. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. For more information about Anita and her books, visit anitahughesbooks.com


Praise for Anita Hughes:
“Hughes crafts another fast-paced beach read for those who crave new beginnings that lead to happy endings.” –Booklist

“Anita Hughes is a master at sweeping the reader away to an exotic location! In CALIFORNIA SUMMER, Hughes takes us behind the gates to the manicured lawns, exquisite gardens, and mansions of Hollywood royalty to experience a second chance at a career and love. The perfect beach read!” –Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author of Beach House Reunion

“A tender and triumphant look at what happens when life falls apart and you are left to rediscover the world through an entirely different lens than the one you imagined: new friends, new passions, new roads. Anita Hughes crafts a winning heroine you absolutely root for, and CALIFORNIA SUMMER made my heart sing.” –Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author

“Hughes’ uplifting tour of past love and future endeavors, set in a dreamy getaway of excitement and self-discovery, makes for an ideal, quick beach read.” –Booklist on Emerald Coast

“How OOC could a family drama that’s set in sandy St. Barts get? Very.” –Cosmopolitan on White Sand, Blue Sea


 

The Cottages On Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

Review copy provided by HQN, Little Bird Publicity, NetGalley

THE COTTAGES ON SILVER BEACH

On-sale: June 19, 2018
$7.99 U.S. / $9.99 CAN.
ISBN-13: 978-1335007018

Description:  Years after betraying her, he’s back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth

Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she’s shocked when Elliot arrives at her family’s inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that’s where it ends—no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.

Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he’d ever do. But the book he’s writing now is his most personal one yet and it’s drawn him back to the woman he can’t get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he’d thought were long-buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love? (publisher)

My take:  Megan Hamilton is a talented photographer and owner of the Inn at Haven Point. She’s also quite adept at guarding her feelings. When FBI agent Elliot Bailey comes back to town she’s on high alert knowing he could bring down her brother, the prime suspect of a cold case, as well as capture her heart. What she doesn’t know is that Elliot is on leave having disobeyed a direct order. He’s nursing a physical wound and now he has to deal with the re-opened wound of loving Megan from afar but never being able to act on it. What will happen when the two are thrown together?

I love a good road trip and really enjoyed the one that put Megan and Elliot together for several hours. You’ll want to read the latest in the Haven Point series to see if they’ll be able to work through misunderstandings and perceived personal offenses to find their chance for love. As expected, I enjoyed The Cottages on Silver Beach and look forward to the promised follow-up story of Luke and Elizabeth – Megan’s brother and sister-in-law.

Note: Although this book is the 8th in the Haven Point series it can stand alone.


About the author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour
anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story. Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor. Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.
RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.


 

Welcome To Moonlight Harbor by Sheila Roberts

Description:  Once happily married, Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this year for her birthday—lucky her—she’s getting a divorce. She’s barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then spending it on his “other” woman.

Still, as her mother always says, every storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from her great-aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Aging Aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved!

Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembers, but that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn. Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the beach fire.

But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all. Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach. (publisher)

My take:  Newly divorced Jenna and her very unhappy fourteen year old daughter move to the shore to live with Jenna’s elderly aunt. Rent is free and they can help get Aunt Edie’s inn back in shape – all while hoping to find the rainbow at the end of the storm aka Jenn’s life.

In her typical style Sheila Roberts brings her characters through easily relatable situations – if not for the reader, surely the reader knows someone who has been through similar life events. It’s a story of new beginnings and being open to possibilities.

I enjoyed Welcome to Moonlight Harbor. It’s a great start to a new series. Recommended to fans of the author, contemporary romance and beach town settings.


 

Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas – Review; Guest Post

  • Title:  Mornings on Main
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  April 2018 – HQN
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  When Jillian James lands in the small town Texas community of Laurel Springs, she’s definitely not planning to stay—except to find a few clues about the father who abandoned her and destroyed her faith in family.

Connor Larady is a single dad, and the only one caring for his grandmother, Eugenia, who has Alzheimer’s. And now he has to close Eugenia’s quilt shop. When Connor meets down-on-her-luck Jillian, he’s out of options. Can he trust the newcomer to do right by his grandmother’s legacy?

Jillian is done with relationships. But as she grows closer to Connor and Eugenia, she must consider giving up her nomadic life for a future with those who need her. (publisher)

My take:  Jillian has lived all over the world, it seems. She traveled with her father, an oil worker who went from job to job. Growing up this way made her a wanderer of sorts. After college she’d work in a town and move on when she wanted to another. In her search for information about her father and mother Jillian arrives in Laurel Springs. She’s hoping to find a job and a place to live but isn’t looking for a relationship. Her new boss, Connor Larady, has deep roots in the town. He also can offer a job to Jillian running his grandmother’s quilt shop. She can’t turn down the offer and she soon can’t ignore her attraction to Connor.

Mornings on Main is a story about two people who are very different yet similar in small ways. I enjoyed Jodi Thomas’ novel about creating family and appreciating people for who they are. It was a total comfort read for me at a time when I needed it. Fans of small town stories and Jodi Thomas are sure to enjoy it.


Praise for Jodi Thomas:

“You can count on Jodi Thomas to give you a satisfying and memorable read.” —Catherine Anderson, New York Times bestselling author

“Western romance legend Thomas’s Ransom Canyon will warm readers with its huge heart and gentle souls.” —Library Journal

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart-wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“This tale will grab readers, who will fall in love with the main characters and be just as enamored of the others.” —Library Journal, starred review, on Lone Heart Pass


A guest post from Jodi Thomas:

I just love this quote from my newest release MORNINGS ON MAIN, “Ah! A slower pace in a small town would give me time to think,” Jillian James decided.

When you grow up in a small town you’re very much aware of how much the people around you shape your life.  No matter how old I get, I’ll still be Cliff and Sally’s daughter. I’ve always loved wandering the main streets in small towns.  Stepping into the shops.  Talking to the people.  Sometimes all you have to say is, “How are things going?” and an hour later you’re still listening. In MORNINGS ON MAIN, I wrote about the people of Laurel Springs.

As the stories of the town’s history is displayed in quilts, MORNINGS ON MAIN weaves three women’s stories together.   One beginning to collect memories, one always leaving the past behind, and a one losing a lifetime. 

I hope readers will think about how they store their memories.  Whether in quilts or scrapbooking, a diary or pictures.   Our lives are stored in pieces, in memories that shape our beliefs and actions. I’d hope that my readers will smile when they finish my story and maybe pull out a few of their favorite memories to enjoy.

Come visit Laurel Springs, and stay for a while!

Jodi Thomas 


About the author:

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 www.jodithomas.com.


Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas
April 10, 2018 • Trade paperback original • HQN • 384 pages • ISBN 978-1-335-06295-6 • $15.99 U.S./$19.99 CAN.


Cardinal Cabin by Joanne De Maio

  • Title:  Cardinal Cabin
  • Author:  Joanne DeMaio
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  215
  • Published:  September 2017 – Joanne DeMaio
  • Source:  Purchased

My take: In her new novel Joanne DeMaio takes readers back to Addison, Connecticut – the setting for a few of her previous novels. It’s a quaint and charming town that always makes me wish I lived there. With this visit to Addison we meet Penny, a reluctant travel agent. Reluctant in that she really doesn’t want to travel but she loves to help arrange trips for other people. Her boss has assigned a publicity campaign for the weeks leading up to Christmas. She’ll stay at an unidentified location and post a daily photo and clue for residents to guess where in New England Penny is staying. The promotion will end when someone guesses correctly or on Christmas Eve when Penny discloses her whereabouts.

Although Penny wasn’t sure leaving the creature comforts of her apartment in town was a good idea her mind is changed when she meets Frank. Frank, part-time handyman at the lake cabins where Penny is staying, is kind of awkward but Penny can immediately see he’s a really nice guy with mannerisms that make him seem like he’s from another era. I loved how their romance unfolded as they had such a unique experience of getting to know each other in secret (Penny couldn’t be seen in public during the contest). Frank also is co-owner of The Boathouse, an event location in Addison. He’s a busy guy but soon wants to spend what little free time he has with Penny. Sounds idyllic, right? Well it is until there’s a misunderstanding that could have a lasting effect. Will they figure things out and set things right? You’ll have to read to find out. If you like a contemporary romance with an old-fashioned vibe I think you’ll like Cardinal Cabin. I enjoyed it.


 

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.