Farewell to Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

  • Farewell to Cedar Key (Nov25)Title:  Farewell to Cedar Key
  • Series:  Cedar Key #6
  • Author:  Terri DuLong
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  November 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Josie Sullivan adores her Cedar Key home. It’s been the ideal place to raise her daughter, Orli, who’s just turning sixteen. Now that Josie has realized her dream of becoming a registered nurse, she’s been offered the perfect job too–helping Dr. Simon Mancini run his new practice. 

Until the clinic opens, Josie is filling in at Yarning Together, where she launches a series of knitting classes for men. Yet for all the vibrant changes, there are some tangled threads. Josie’s romance-author mother, Shelby, receives a worrying diagnosis. And though Josie has always guarded her independence, her connection to Orli’s father, Grant, seems to be rekindling. Most of all, as Shelby’s college classmates rally around their dear friend, Josie begins to see that “home” is more than a place; it’s the relationships woven into each life, strand by strand…  (publisher)

My take:  Terri DuLong’s Cedar Key series is one of my favorites. I loved going back to the Florida island to see what’s up with all the characters I’ve come to know in the first five books. Farewell to Cedar Key could be my favorite of the series! I think that’s remarkable for a sixth book in a series.

This book features Josie, her daughter Orli and many more series regulars. The point that you never know what life will throw at you from one minute to another is the main theme. With the help and support of family and friends you can get through anything and that’s exactly what the people of Cedar Key prove to each other on an almost daily basis.

If you’re a knitter you’ll love that many of the Cedar Key scenes revolve around the local yarn shop. Terri DuLong also takes us to Boston for Christmas.

I enjoyed every page of this novel and recommend it to fans of the series and good contemporary fiction.

When the Snow Falls by Fern Michaels, Nancy Bush, Rosanna Chiofalo, Lin Stepp

  • When the Snow Falls (Oct7) KensingtonTitle:  When the Snow Falls
  • Authors:  Fern Michaels; Nancy Bush; Rosanna Chiofalo; Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Christmas Anthology; Romance
  • Published:  September 2014 – Zebra
  • Source:  Kensington Books

Synopsis:  Something’s in the air this holiday season, and it could be the beginning of a wonderful Christmas romance…

“Candy Canes and Cupid” by Fern Michaels

All private investigator Hannah Ray wants for Christmas is a quiet day at her Florida beachfront condo. When her biggest client insists she join him on a Colorado ski trip, she has little choice—but what she finds on her arrival could melt the coldest heart…

“White Hot Christmas” by Nancy Bush

Aspiring PI Jane Kelly likes to pretend she’s a bah-humbug kind of girl, but she’s had mistletoe on the brain ever since she shared a kiss with her boss, Dwayne. Before she can hope for a repeat performance, Jane must solve a kidnapping that’s as twisted as a candy cane—and not nearly as sweet.

“Seven Days of Christmas” by Rosanna Chiofalo

Five years ago, Bianca Simone received a wonderful early Christmas gift from her boyfriend, Mark—a week amid the stunning Alpine scenery of Innsbruck, Austria. Now she’s back under very different circumstances, but Mark has one more special gift in mind…

“A Smoky Mountain Gift” by Lin Stepp

Veda Trent is back in Townsend to fill in as temporary manager of the Crafts Co-op, but she’s not planning to stay. Though the mountain town is small, it holds lots of unsettling memories. Yet the wind can change, bringing with it new opportunities—and the chance to create the kind of Christmas Veda has always longed for.

My take:  I think Christmas is the perfect time of year to read an anthology. When the Snow Falls includes 4 very different stories. The first involves an attractive pair brought together by a bit of matchmaking on the part of a mutual friend who happens to own a 5 star ski resort in Colorado. There’s a mystery to be solved at the resort too. I liked this story. The second is more mystery than romance. I thought it was ok but that’s how I feel about most mysteries. The third was a heartfelt story about a woman wondering if she can go on in life after a huge loss. Can’t say much more because of the spoiler possibilities. Most of it takes place in Europe and there’s a small paranormal aspect. The last story picked up where a novel I read a few months ago left off. I didn’t expect that. I enjoyed going back to the small mountain town and the people who live there. A young woman wonders if she should find out if you can go home again. I hope the author continues this novella in a future full length novel. This was my favorite of the four stories. That said, When the Snow Falls has a little something for every reader.

Stirring Up Trouble by Kimberly Kincaid

  • Stirring Up Trouble (Oct7) KensingtonTitle:  Stirring Up Trouble
  • Series:  Pine Mountain #3
  • Author:  Kimberly Kincaid
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  October 2014 – Kensington Books; Zebra
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Sloane Russo’s turned a decade of crazy jobs and whimsical travel into a career writing steamy novels set in exotic places. Trouble is, Sloane’s flat broke now–and she can’t channel sun-drenched beaches in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The only fast cash in town comes with some seriously distracting temptation: Gavin Carmichael, hot, handsome and oh-so-hard-headed.

Gavin isn’t the impulsive Don Juan of Sloane’s novels. He’s raising his thirteen-year-old half-sister, and he’s pretty sure he’s supposed to act like he’s never heard of fun. Sloane is way too sexy and irresponsible to be his idea of a good tutor for Bree, but the unpredictable anti-nanny may be irresistible as well. . .  (publisher)

My take:  This is the third book in the Pine Mountain series and even though it’s the first of the series that I’ve read I didn’t feel lost in the setting or with the characters. It can definitely stand alone.

I enjoyed Sloane and Gavin’s story except for a predictable part in the last third of the novel. It moved the plot so I get why it had to happen but still. I won’t spoil it for other readers. Could be it just bothers me and no one else 🙂  I liked the two characters and enjoyed Sloane trying to get the serious Gavin to loosen up a bit. In turn, Gavin encouraged Sloane to believe in herself and to trust her decisions.

I think my favorite part of the novel was the relationship between Sloane and Gavin’s young sister Bree. Bree is learning to live without her mother (who died about a year earlier from cancer) and is in desperate need of a mother figure who understands her and can help with the things girls her age experience. It was handled well, I thought, and covered things I’ve not come across in any other romance novel.

Stirring Up Trouble is the first book by Kimberly Kincaid I’ve read and I look forward to reading more. Recommended to fans of the Pine Mountain series and Contemporary Romance.

Review/Giveaway (US): Under a Summer Sky by Nan Rossiter

Under a Summer Sky (June)

  • Title:  Under a Summer Sky
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction; Christian Fiction
  • Published:  April 2014 – Kensington Books
  • Source:  Author

Synopsis:  The old Cape Cod house that Laney Coleman shares with her minister husband Noah and their five boys is usually brimming with cheerful chaos. There’s nothing fancy about the ancient kitchen or the wooden floors scuffed by the constant parade of activity and the clicking claws of their two Labrador retrievers. It’s a place to savor the sea breeze wafting through the windows, or sip coffee on the porch before another hectic day begins. This summer, life promises to be even busier than usual, because Noah’s younger brother, Micah, wants to hold his upcoming wedding on their property.
Though thrilled that Micah has found happiness after past heartache, Laney is apprehensive about having her home turned upside down. She has other concerns too–her youngest son is being bullied at school, and Noah’s father is not the robust patriarch he once was, in mind or body. As the bride and groom’s large, close-knit families gather, there will be joyful celebration but also unexpected sorrows and revelations, and a chance to store up a lifetime of memories during the fleeting, precious days of summer…  (publisher)

My take:  Nan Rossiter has done it again. She wrote a wonderful multi-generational story that will resonate with many readers. It certainly did with me.  I related most with Laney. She really has her hands full as she balances a job, motherhood and being wife of a minister. She even agrees to host a wedding at their home after her husband volunteers. As most mothers do, she quietly deals with other issues at the same time.

A side note:  when my kids were growing up one of our favorite TV shows to watch together was Seventh Heaven. If you’re unfamiliar with the show it was about the life of a minister, his wife and kids. This novel gave me the same feel as that show – which I think is high praise! We loved it and I enjoyed Under a Summer Sky just as much.

Noah, Laney’s husband, delivered a sermon that struck an emotional chord with me. It was about appreciating and being present in every moment – especially the small moments. You never know when the last time you do something will be the last time. Anyway, when I finished that chapter I had to stop and wipe my eyes.

Under a Summer Sky celebrates family connections and the truly important things in life. I’ll be sharing this novel with my sisters and close friends.

Recommended.

_____

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Down By the River by Lin Stepp

down by the river by L. Stepp (May27)

  • Title:  Down By the River
  • Author:  Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction; Christian Fiction
  • Published:  May 27, 2014 – Kensington
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  While on a visit to the Smokies, Grace Conley makes a stunning decision: she’s going to walk away from her busy life in Nashville to move to tiny Townsend and open a bed-and-breakfast. There’s a beautiful old inn for sale along the Little River that will do perfectly. Of course, Grace’s family is scandalized. After all, she’s a middle-aged widow! And as a career homemaker, she’s always been available for babysitting, chauffeuring, and generally being the peacemaker among her grown children. Has Grace lost her mind? She begins to wonder the same thing once she finds herself attracted to the local ladies’ man. But the surprises don’t stop there…

To further complicate her move, Grace’s daughter, Margaret, has grudgingly come to live with her. Having just graduated from college, remote Townsend is not where she envisions her future. Yet the handsome young minister next door is convinced he and Margaret are meant for each other. As life choices abound, soon both women will discover that the biggest decisions require confidence, a sense of humor—and a deep, abiding faith.  (publisher)

My take:  The serene cover and then the synopsis are what first drew my attention to this novel. I’m pleased to tell you I enjoyed Lin Stepp’s story as well. I like a book with main characters in my age demographic (50s) who are smart, strong and fairly confident in themselves – not ditzy comic relief or overbearing parents.

After making the move to Townsend both Grace and her daughter Margaret begin to find themselves on the road to love and deeper faith – Grace with the local ladies’ man Jack Teague and Margaret with the young minister Vincent. I found their stories quite entertaining. There’s also a storyline involving a stalker that, while it added mystery, I’m not sure was necessary. Maybe that’s because I don’t enjoy the mystery genre all that much. Other readers may like this aspect.

Overall, I enjoyed Stepp’s characters and their romantic and faith journeys. This is Christian fiction and is heavier on the Christian than other books of the genre I’ve previously read. I enjoyed it very much. I would definitely read more by this new-to-me author. My thanks to the publisher for sharing a review galley.

Note:  There is a readers’ guide included.

More Than You Know by Nan Rossiter

more than you know - rossiter

  • Title:  More Than You Know
  • Author:  Nan Rossiter
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  April 2013 – Kensington
  • Source:  Review copy from the author

Synopsis:  Losing her father on the night she was born could have torn Beryl Graham’s family apart. Instead, it knitted them together. Under their mother’s steady guidance, Beryl and her older sisters, Isak and Rumer, shared a childhood filled with happiness. But now Mia Graham has passed away after battling Alzheimer’s, and her three daughters return to their New Hampshire home to say goodbye.
Swept up in memories and funeral preparations, the sisters catch up on each other’s lives. Rumer and Isak have both known recent heartache, while Beryl has given up hope of marriage. But surprising revelations abound, especially when they uncover Mia’s handwritten memoir. In it are secrets they never guessed at–clandestine romance, passionate dreams, joy and guilt. And as Beryl, Rumer, and Isak face a future without her, they realize it’s never too late to heed a mother’s lessons–about taking chances, keeping faith, and loving in spite of the risks… (back cover)

My take:  When the three Graham sisters come together to prepare for their mother’s funeral they find out things they never new about her – shocking things. She left a memoir that told them everything and gave them a new perspective of her life. She raised her three daughters alone after a car crash took the life of her husband on the night of their 5th anniversary. They thought she never remarried because she couldn’t imagine loving anyone else but their father. Her memoir tells them the real story.

Though dismayed by what they’ve learned, they take to heart the lesson to never take life for granted and to appreciate especially the mundane events of everyday life. Timely advice because all three are at crossroads in their personal lives.

More Than You Know is a novel of faith and family that will resonate with many readers. I enjoyed it.

*Note:  At the end of the novel Nan Rossiter shared a couple of recipes made by the Graham sisters. I’ve made copies and plan to try both!

Sunrise on Cedar Key by Terri DuLong

Cedar Key #3

Synopsis:  (Publisher) For the second time in ten years, Grace Stone is starting over on Cedar Key. Grace first moved to the serene island to escape a disastrous relationship. Now a visit with her Aunt Maude is interrupted by unwelcome news: Grace’s apartment and coffee shop have been destroyed by fire.

Grace is devastated, yet ever-practical Maude has a plan. While she helps Grace resettle, Maude even has a business venture in mind—weekend knitting retreats where women can craft, chat, and support one another.

But other surprises await, including the return of Grace’s estranged sister, and a tentative romance with the local bookstore owner. Knitting together her past and future will mean untangling the painful threads Grace left behind. But the result could be a vibrant new life—and the courage to live it fully. . .

My take:  Oh how I love my visits to Cedar Key, Florida. Terri DuLong has made this actual location her fictional paradise and populated it with people I’d like to call friends and neighbors.

Sunrise at Cedar Key is the perfect title. The theme of new beginnings and fresh starts is felt throughout the novel. Grace is starting over in a new home, a new business and, quite possibly, a new love. Chloe, Grace’s sister, arrives in Cedar Key looking for a place to regroup after her marriage falls apart. She and Grace have been estranged for years (Chloe’s choice) so there are amends to be made if they are to be a family. Suellen, Grace’s life-long friend, comes to Cedar Key for a new job after losing her old one when her boss passed away. So everyone is on the start of a new direction.

I enjoyed everything about this novel: Terri DuLong’s characters, the plot, and especially how everything wrapped up at the end. I’m glad I have the next in the series on the shelf because I can’t wait to get back to Cedar Key!

Title:  Sunrise on Cedar Key – #3 Cedar Key series

Author:  Terri DuLong

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  November 2011 – Kensington

Source:  Many thanks to my friend Kaye for passing her copy on to me!

The Gin & Chowder Club by Nan Rossiter

Title:  The Gin & Chowder Club

Author:  Nan Rossiter

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  June 2011 – Kensington

About:  (Back of the book) The friendship between the Coleman and Shepherd families is as old and comfortable as the neighboring houses they occupy each summer on Cape Cod. Samuel and Sarah Coleman love those warm months by the water; the evenings spent on their porch, enjoying gin and tonics, good conversation and homemade clam chowder. Here they’ve watched their sons, Isaac and Asa, grow into fine young men, and watched, too, as Nate Shepherd, aching with grief at the loss of his first wife, finally found love again with the much younger Noelle.

But beyond the surface of these idyllic gatherings, the growing attraction between Noelle and handsome, college-bound Asa threatens to upend everything. In spite of her guilt and misgivings, Noelle is drawn into a reckless secret affair with far-reaching consequences.  And over the course of one bittersweet, unforgettable summer, Asa will learn more than he ever expected about love – the joys and heartache it awakens in us, the lengths we’ll go to keep it, and the countless ways it can change our lives forever…

My brief take:  I liked the idea of this novel. The setting is beautiful, the characters for the most part seem like normal, decent people, and two of them struggle with an epic moral situation. Nan Rossiter let it play out – and kudos to her for doing so. Given the Christian fiction tone I was kind of surprised by that. Because of the moral issues there would be a lot for book clubs to discuss.

I loved the book cover as well as the brief chapters. I read The Gin & Chowder Club in one day – I liked that I could set it down and pick it up without feeling the interruptions.

Source:  I won my copy from the author via a giveaway at Redlady’s Reading Room

A Cedar Key Christmas by Terri DuLong

Title: A Cedar Key Christmas (from Holiday Magic)

Author: Terri DuLong

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads synopsis) Single mom Josie Sullivan is proud of her young daughter, Orli, for helping local fisherman Mr. Al restore his crumbling home. And when Mr. Al’s nephew, Ben, pays a visit, Josie realizes just how much Christmas magic one good deed can bring.

Descriptive Words: Feel good Christmas season story

Thoughts: When one of Cedar Key’s senior citizens faces losing his home and being placed in a nursing home he finds out he has more friends than he realized.  Led by one eleven year old girl (Orli) and her mother, Josie, the good people of the small Florida island community pull together to help Mr. Al.  They need to convince his nephew Ben that Mr. Al is capable of living on his own. First, Josie needs to lose the chip on her shoulder that keeps getting in the way of her relationships – including the one with Ben.

Terri DuLong’s sweet Christmas season novella introduces characters and brings back old friends from previous Cedar Key novels.  I enjoyed them all and hope to read more about Josie and Ben in a future Cedar Key novel.

Source: Kensington Books, Terri DuLong

Recommend? Yes, to fans of the series as well as Christmas/holiday fiction.  It’s part of Holiday Magic which also contains novellas by Fern Michaels, Cathy Lamb and Mary Carter.  I plan to read the rest of the collection in December.


Casting About by Terri DuLong

Author: Terri DuLong

Genre: Fiction

About: Married only a few months, Monica and Adam Brooks’ honeymoon takes a turn when Adam’s ex-wife is ruled unfit to parent their 8 year-old-daughter Clarissa and the girl is sent to live with the newlyweds. Monica has never considered herself to be mother material so having a child in the house is an adjustment.  The little girl is understandably shy but also happy to be living with her father.  Monica vows to try to be a good step-mother.

There’s also some drama in the little town of Cedar Key.  A big-city developer is sniffing around with plans to buy property and bring in some up-scale businesses. The community has prided itself in maintaining it’s charm so citizens are upset at the thought of becoming a snobby resort town.

Drama on a personal level occurs when illness strikes one of the  main characters.

Descriptive Words:  Heartwarming series.

Thoughts: This is the second book of the Cedar Key series.  Terri DuLong’s Cedar Key is home to genuine, caring, and nice people.  In the first book (Spinning Forward) we met Sydney, Monica’s mother, who arrived in Cedar Key to visit a friend and wound up finding family.  She decided to settle down in the town, opened a yarn shop and started a new life.   In Casting About Sydney’s daughter has purchased her mother’s shop after Sydney moved to France with her new husband.  I really enjoyed how Monica grew as a character throughout the novel.  She has a loving husband and a step-daughter who needs some mothering – and she steps up to the challenge.  Monica finds out what it takes to be a mother.

I liked the supporting characters: Grace, Monica’s best friend who runs the local coffee shop; Dora, Monica’s aunt who would do anything for her niece; and Opal, Adam’s mother who is a bit of an eccentric but has a heart of gold.  There are a few more who add to the charming, small town feel of the novel.

I appreciated that Terri DuLong wrote Adam as such a solid character.  It was nice to see a positive and strong male who is assertive but also respectful and supportive of his wife and daughter.

Casting About is a lovely novel.  I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones in the next book in the series.

Source: Kensington

Recommend? Yes, to fans of the Cedar Key series, small town fiction, heart-warming novels.

Pub. date: October 26, 2010