Finding Our Forever by Brenda Novak

  • finding-our-foreverTitle:  Finding Our Forever
  • Series:  Silver Springs #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  224
  • Published:  March 2017 – Harlequin Special Edition
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Cora Kelly was adopted as an infant by affluent parents and lived a good life. That didn’t stop the need to know who her birth parents were and why they gave her up. When her search leads to her birth mother will she be prepared for the answers.
Cora, an art teacher, interviews at the school for troubled boys that was founded by Aiyana, her birth mother. The person who hired her is Eli, one of Aiyana’s adopted sons. Cora is stunned to know that her birth mother would let her go but adopt several sons. One more question that needs an answer. Eli will figure prominently in Cora’s story. They have an attraction to each other that neither bothers to fight. Lots of intimate scenes for these two. On one level that kind of bothered me. On another level it was understandable.
I thought the resolution of Cora and Eli’s story was surprisingly quick and pat. I can live with that. Finding Our Forever is the first in a new contemporary romance series by Brenda Novak. I liked it and look forward to reading the books that follow.


 

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The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne

  • holiday-giftTitle:  The Holiday Gift
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Pages:  224
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  With two kids and an active life, widow Faith Dustin only wants peace and quiet for Christmas. But her snowy Pine Gulch ranch is nothing but chaotic. All that keeps Faith going is her helpful neighbor, cowboy Chase Brannon. He’s always been “good ol’ Chase,” her faithful friend. Until he kisses her under the mistletoe… 

Years ago Chase blew his chance with the woman he’s loved since childhood. Now he’s determined to step out of the friend zone…and into the role of husband. But the scared and stubborn Faith won’t let herself fall. With Christmas just days away, Chase will need all the magic of the season—and the help of her two matchmaking children—to unwrap a second chance at love.  (publisher)

My take: The Holiday Gift is the third of the Nichols sisters’ books within the Cowboys of Cold Creek series. It can stand alone but I think you’d enjoy it a bit more if you read the previous two books ( The Christmas Ranch and A Cold Creek Christmas Story).

I love a good Christmas romance and this one didn’t disappoint – even despite Faith’s frustrating denial of her true feelings for Chase. But I trusted RaeAnne Thayne to bring her characters to a HEA and she didn’t let me down. The Idaho mountain ranch setting as described by Thayne is wonderfully inviting. It was fun to read about all the happenings at The Christmas Ranch and with Faith’s sisters.

The Holiday Gift is a lovely story and a satisfying completion to the Nichols sisters’ trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author, novels about families, and a nice Christmas romance.

A Cold Creek Christmas Story by RaeAnne Thayne

  • a cold creek christmas story (11:17 pub)Title:  A Cold Creek Christmas Story
  • Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek #14
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Pages:  240
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  December 1, 2015 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Sparkle In The Snow Leads To So Much More. Celeste Nichols has always preferred to keep to herself in her hometown of Pine Gulch, Idaho…until she becomes an instant celebrity! When one of her children’s stories becomes a major success, she’s suddenly the talk of the town. Celeste should be gloriously happy…but something, someone, special is still missing from her life. Could the return of her childhood crush be the answer?  

Flynn Delaney has moved back home for his daughter’s sake. Yet all the millionaire’s resources can’t help the little girl heal from the tragic loss of her mother. Shy librarian Celeste and her stories do hold some indefinable magic, though. Flynn came home looking for support—can he find that, and true love, in the one who got away?  (publisher)

My take: RaeAnne Thayne’s new Christmas story is a sweet tale about coming to terms with a new normal – especially for the young daughter of Flynn Delaney. When he comes back to Pine Gulch to prepare his grandmother’s house for sale Flynn meets Celeste who also happens to be his daughter’s favorite author.

Celeste and young Olivia find they have more in common than most people realize. That connection is a gift to them both. What no one expected was the connection made between Flynn and Celeste. What Flynn didn’t expect was a joyful Christmas this year.

A Cold Creek Christmas is a lovely novel and perfect for the season. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of RaeAnne Thayne and contemporary romance with a Christmas theme. Although this is the 14th book in the series it can stand alone. I’ve only read one other (last year’s Christmas book) and had no problem keeping up.

The Christmas Ranch by RaeAnne Thayne

  • the christmas ranch (Nov18)Title:  The Christmas Ranch
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek #1
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Hope Nichols has never felt as if she belonged anywhere, except her hometown of Pine Gulch. So, when she hears that her family’s property, Christmas Ranch, is set to be shut down forever, a determined Hope heads home. She refuses to let the Grinch steal her holiday. This will be the most memorable Christmas ever! And, thanks to hunky former navy SEAL Rafe Santiago and his adorable nephew, she might just pull off that miracle. 

Rafe is undeniably drawn to Hope and her passion for rebuilding her family home. But he knows more about Hope’s tragic past than even she herself could imagine. And though she doesn’t know it, she owes him her life. And all he wants in return is for her to spend it with him.  (publisher)…

My brief take: The Christmas Ranch is a lovely story about two people who go above and beyond to help the people in their lives. Rafe put his life in San Diego on hold to care for his nephew in rural Idaho. Hope is determined to get the family Christmas Ranch up and running again in time for the holiday season. Once Christmas is over the two will go back to their separate  lives – or so they plan. Eventually they figure out that “sometimes what you think you want is different from what you really need”. It’s a sweet story that embodies the spirit of Christmas. Recommended to fans of the author and a sweet Christmas romance.

Yours For Christmas by Susan Mallery

  • yours for christmasTitle:  Yours For Christmas
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #15.5
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2014 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Famous former NFL stars don’t date single working moms like Bailey Voss. She’ll allow herself to daydream about Kenny Scott’s muscles and killer smile, but wanting more would lead to post-holiday regret. Then Kenny volunteers to run a toy drive with Bailey, and she learns that he’s not just hot he’s also generous, funny, nice. The whole package tantalizingly out of reach.

The ache of past loss reminds Kenny why he needs to avoid getting too close to anyone. Especially to a gorgeous redhead and her adorable little girl. Mess it up, and he’d lose them both. Yet Kenny can only resist Bailey for so long. And as festive spirit spreads throughout the town, he’s all wrapped up in Bailey’s sweet, sexy kisses and determined to make this the first of many Christmases together.  (publisher)

My take:  Yours For Christmas is a novella featuring two characters that fans of the Fool’s Gold series have come to love. We learn that Kenny has issues stemming from an emotional event years earlier that prevent him from wanting to become involved with Bailey. Bailey is a widow with a seven year old daughter and they both have a huge crush on Kenny. Bailey wants to provide a safe and normal life for her daughter but she doesn’t want her to get too close to Kenny if there’s a chance he’ll leave – becoming yet another loss for the little girl.

Susan Mallery filled her novella with a lot of heart-tugging emotion but the title reminded me that things would most likely work out for Kenny and Bailey. I enjoyed reading how it all came about and recommend this novella to fans of the Fool’s Gold series.

Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

Until We Touch (Aug12)

  • Title:  Until We Touch
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold # 15
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; series
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  After a family tragedy, former football hero Jack McGarry keeps the world at arm’s length—a challenge now that his PR firm has moved to neighborly Fool’s Gold, California. 
Larissa Owens knows where she stands—Jack sees her as just another one of the guys. No matter what her heart wishes, Jack’s her boss, not her boyfriend. But then Larissa’s big secret is revealed…by her mother! 
When Jack discovers the truth about Larissa’s feelings, her touch suddenly becomes tantalizing, and he’s not sure he wants to resist. But if he gives in to desire, heartache is sure to follow. Friendship or true love—will Jack go for the ultimate play?  (publisher)

My take:  Jack McGarry has been operating on autopilot for most of his life – ever since his twin brother died when they were teens. He’s a self-described shell of a man who financially backs the causes of his friend and assistant Larissa. When the two become romantically involved everything is great – until it isn’t. Pressure from unexpected sources throw Jack into a tail-spin and he lashes out at everyone near and dear to him.

I really wanted to love this addition to the Fool’s Gold series but ended up liking it. The actions of Jack toward those he loved most were explained but, I don’t know, I just didn’t buy it. Regardless, Susan Mallery wrote an emotional ending that was sweet (although rather abrupt).

Despite that I found Until We Touch not as strong as others in the series, I’m a fan of the Fool’s Gold series and look forward to the next book.

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Suddenly Last Summer ()

  • Title:  Suddenly Last Summer
  • Series:  O’Neil Brothers #2
  • Author:  Sarah Morgan
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; series
  • Published:  June 2014 – Harlequin HQN
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the grand opening plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town and looking more delectable than ever. Memories of the electrifying night they shared last summer leave Élise very tempted, but she knows all too well that eventually Sean will be leaving…again. 
Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. Returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means confronting the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise is still in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Remembering last summer and how good they were together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….  (publisher)

My take:  Sarah Morgan introduced us to Elise and Sean in the first book of the series, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, so I had the sense that they were both passionate about their work and a bit on the stubborn side. In Suddenly Last Summer we find out just how passionate and stubborn these two can be. At times I wanted to say “enough, already!” But that would have made for a very short book.

A family emergency brings the two together and, over the course of several weeks, they learn more and more about each other. More importantly they learn the motivation behind their reluctance to let a connection become a relationship.

By the last page I was pleased with how Morgan tied things together and look forward to seeing these two continue in the third book due out this fall, Maybe This Christmas. Recommended to fans of Sarah Morgan, the O’Neil Brothers series, and fun contemporary romance.