Starting Over on Blackberry Lane by Sheila Roberts

  • starting-over-on-blackberry-laneTitle:  Starting Over on Blackberry Lane
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #10
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pub. Date:  February 28, 2017 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Stefanie Stahl has a husband with renovation ADD. He can’t seem to finish anything he starts and her house is littered with his “projects.” If he doesn’t smarten up, she swears she’s going to murder him and bury him under the pile of scrounged lumber in the backyard.  

Her friend Griffin James is suddenly single and thinking maybe she needs to sell her fixer-upper and follow her career bliss up the ladder of success, even if that scary ladder is clear across the country. Getting her place ready to sell proves harder than she originally thought. She needs help.  

She’s not the only one. Cass Wilkes, their neighbor, has an empty nest—with a leaking roof. When her ceiling crashes in, she knows it’s time to do something. When Grant Masters offers his handyman services at a fund-raiser auction, the three women go in together to outbid the competition and win their man. (Cass’s friends think she should win Grant in a different way, too!) Now it’s time to make some improvements…in their houses and their lives.  (publisher)

My take:  If you’ve kept up with Icicle Falls series you’ll enjoy seeing what the group of friends are up to. The thing I’ve enjoyed most about the series is the support felt by the women of all ages in the group. If you haven’t read any of the series you don’t have to worry – this book can stand alone.

Stef, Griffin and Cass are at the point where life needs to change. The thing is, how can they start that change? Stef will find out that there’s power in her words and how she chooses those words is very important. Griffin has dreamed of taking her photography to the next level but her current life situation is dragging her down. Cass is almost an empty-nester and feels the whole world passing her by. And now she has a leaky roof. What next?!

In typical Sheila Roberts style, she had me laughing and cheering her characters on as each dealt with the obstacles placed in her way. I loved how she drove home the point that we should live the heck out of life for as long as we can. Recommended to fans of the series, Sheila Roberts, and recipes mentioned in the novel.


 

Review/US Giveaway: Discovering You by Brenda Novak

  • Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)Title:  Discovering You
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #10
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  June 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  India Sommers once had the perfect family—until an ex-boyfriend broke in and shot her husband. Not only did that cost her the man she loved, a respected heart surgeon and the father of her child, but she also feels responsible. Charlie died because of the people she hung out with before she had the strength to change her life. 

Just after moving to Whiskey Creek with her little girl, Cassia, to start over, she’s learned that her ex-boyfriend’s trial ended in a hung jury. He’s getting out of jail; he could try to find her again. And that’s not all that scares her. She’s extremely attracted to her next-door neighbor, but Rod Amos is the handsome “bad boy” type that’s given her so much trouble in the past. If she got involved with him, her in-laws would sue for custody of Cassia. 

India has to keep her distance from Rod—but the more she gets to know him, the more difficult that becomes. (publisher)

My take:  Discovering You is the newest book in the Whiskey Creek series.  It features one of the younger Amos brothers, Rod and a newcomer to town, India Sommers.

India is hoping to make a new start in a town where no one knows her past. She has a memorable introduction of sorts to her neighbor Rod that makes for an entertaining start to the novel. These two are intrigued by each other.

The past year has been one of heartbreak and anguish for India. She’s hoping to get her new home in Whiskey Creek ready for her young daughter so they can both move forward in life. But first she needs to put things from her past right. That leads to some dramatic events that Rod involves himself in, thankfully.

Brenda Novak’s story was a page-turner. Even though it had a bit of a tidy wrap-up I enjoyed it and think fans of the Whiskey Creek series will as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Brenda Novak has written over 50 novels. A five-time Rita nominee, she’s won The National Reader’s Choice, The Bookseller’s Best, The Bookbuyer’s Best and many other awards. Besides writing, she runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity which hosts an annual fundraiser for diabetes research. To date, she’s raised over $2.5 million for this cause. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

PRAISE FOR THE WHISKEY CREEK SERIES:
“Another Whiskey Creek novel is just what readers need to satisfy their craving for a romance that tugs at the heartstrings.”

–RT Book Reviews on A Winter Wedding, Top Pick

“[This Heart of Mine] had such beautiful details that it captured my full attention–and had me sniffling and smiling while waiting to board my plane.”–First for Women

“This Heart of Mine is a potently emotional, powerfully life-affirming contemporary romance that can be read and enjoyed on its own, but it also serves as an excellent addition to Novak’s popular Whiskey Creek series.”–Booklist, starred review

“Another engrossing addition to Novak’s addictive series.”–Library Journal on This Heart of Mine, starred review

“Novak’s Whiskey Creek novels are a favorite among romance readers because of their small-town charm… Novak never disappoints.”

–RT Book Reviews on This Heart of Mine, Top Pick

“Once again Novak’s Whiskey Creek springs to life in all its realistic, gritty Gold Country glory as two determined, likable people come to terms with their pasts and give love a chance. This poignant, heartfelt romance puts a refreshing spin on the classic reunion/secret baby theme.”–Library Journal on Come Home to Me

“One needn’t wonder why Novak is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. Just read Come Home to Me.”–Examiner.com

“The Whiskey Creek series is an absolute delight and this newest installment is…so satisfying I ran out of superlatives. Brenda Novak outdid herself in Take Me Home for Christmas.”–Fresh Fiction

“It’s steamy, it’s poignant, it’s perfectly paced–it’s When Lightning Strikes and you don’t want to miss it.”–USATODAY.com’s Happy Ever After blog


US Giveaway

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Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)

What We Find by Robyn Carr

  • What We Find (4:5:16)Title:  What We Find: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Series:  Sullivan’s Crossing #1
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  April 5, 2016 – MIRA
  • Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Description:  Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing. 

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency, high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. It’s in this desperate moment that Maggie’s boyfriend decides he can’t handle her emotional baggage, and she’s left alone, exhausted and unsure of what her future holds. One thing is certain, though: she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing. 

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s estranged father, Sully. Though raised by her mother and stepfather after her parents divorced, Maggie has always adored Sully—despite his hands-off approach to fatherhood. When she shows up unannounced in Sullivan’s Crossing, he welcomes her with opens arms, and she relishes the opportunity to rebuild their relationship. 

But when Sully has a sudden heart attack, Maggie’s world is rocked once again. Consumed with his care, she’s relieved to find that Cal Jones, a quiet and serious-looking camper, has been taking over many of Sully’s responsibilities as he recuperates. Still, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation. 

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.  (publisher)

My take:  I was so happy to receive this from Goodreads First Reads giveaways. A great start to a new series by one of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I loved the fully formed main characters, the gorgeous Colorado setting, the enjoyable support characters, and the multi-layered plot. I won’t spoil it by going into the specifics.

I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Robyn Carr you’re going to want to put this at the top of your TBR list. If you enjoy contemporary romance but haven’t read Carr’s books, try this one. I loved it. Oh, I was glad I had tissues nearby while reading the end. An emotional novel that I’m glad I had a chance to read.

Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

Author: Debbie Macomber

Genre: Fiction/Christmas

About: Mrs. Merkle (aka Mrs. Miracle) brings people together and helps them discover the blessings of Christmas.

Descriptive Words: Heartwarming Christmas novel.

Thoughts: Debbie Macomber introduced readers to Mrs. Miracle in her 2009 novel of the same name.  Mrs. Miracle is a kind woman who has a knack for appearing when someone really needs her.  In Call Me Mrs. Miracle she’s a clerk in the toy department of Finley’s Department Store in New York City.  The owner of the store, J.R. Finley and his son Jake, the toy dept. manager, haven’t celebrated Christmas since a tragic event occurred twenty-one years earlier.   Eight-year-old Gabe Larson lives with his Aunt Holly while his Dad serves with the National Guard in Afghanistan. Gabe’s mother died when he was a baby so Holly gladly took in her brother’s son. Holly works for a fashion designer  (a real Scrooge) who may not give out a bonus this year.  They all could use some Christmas spirit. Mrs. Miracle really has her work cut out for her but she’s up to the challenge.

Debbie Macomber does what she does best – writes stories about regular people dealing with real-life situations.  However, Mrs. Miracle is a magical character.  Some might call her an angel but she never explains herself.  I find that to be part of her charm.  I enjoyed watching her work her special brand of magic on the characters in this novel.  It’s a sweet story with a warm message.

Mrs. Miracle  was a movie on The Hallmark Channel last year.  Call Me Mrs. Miracle (the movie) will air this Christmas season (original air date is Nov. 27).  Doris Roberts plays the title role.

Source: Mira Books via NetGalley

Why I Chose: I enjoy Debbie Macomber’s novels.

Recommend? Yes, to fans of Debbie Macomber, Christmas novels.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Pub. date: Sept. 28, 2010

1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber

1022 Evergreen Place (Cedar Cove series, #10)From the book:

Dear Reader:

Guess what? I’m falling in love! With Mack McAfee.

My baby daughter, Noelle, and I have been living next door to Mack since the spring. I’m still a little wary about our relationship, since I haven’t always made good decisions when it comes to men. My baby’s father, David Rhodes, is testament to that. I’m so worried he might sue for custody.

In the meantime, the World War II letters I found are a wonderful distraction. Both Mack and I are trying to learn what happened to the soldier who wrote them and the woman he loved.

Come by sometime for a glass of iced tea and I’ll show you the letters. Plus I’ll tell you the latest about Grace and Olivia, my brother Linc and his wife, Lori (who tied the knot about 5 minutes after they met!), and all our other mutual friends. Oh, and maybe Mack can join us…

– Mary Jo Wyse

~

My review: Debbie Macomber’s latest Cedar Cove novel ties up some loose ends from 92 Pacific Blvd. and continues a few story lines.  I really enjoyed the mystery of the WWII letters that Mack and Mary Jo are trying to solve.  Their story is sweet and really the main focus of the novel.

We also get to see what’s new with:

Gloria Ashton and Chad Timmons:   They’ve had a start and stop relationship and now Gloria is faced with a decision that could change a few lives.  Her father gets wind of what’s going on and decides to step in before history repeats.

Bruce, Rachel, and Jolene Peyton: Bruce and Rachel are newlyweds. Bruce’s daughter Jolene once worshiped Rachel who took her shopping and did girl things together. But now that she is her step-mother Rachel is seen as competition for Bruce’s affections.  Jolene hates Rachel and wants to go back to life the way it was before.

Linc and Lori Wyse: they met and married within a few weeks.  Lori’s wealthy and controlling father is livid about the situation and wants to make Linc go away.

There are more updates of favorite Cedar Cove residents and a few joyful events. Reading the latest book in the series is like catching up with old friends.  Debbie Macomber has built a small town and filled it with characters who are easy to relate to.  They have heartaches and happiness like  anyone and Macomber reveals all in her easygoing style.  If you’re looking for a relaxing, enjoyable book start with 16 Lighthouse Road.  Read the series in order so you can get to know the characters from the beginning.

Note:  I appreciate the list of characters (and short description) at the start of each book.  There are so many characters that the “refresher” helps a lot.

1022 Evergreen Place will be released on August 31, 2010

Review copy from Harlequin/MIRA via NetGalley

White Heat by Brenda Novak

White Heat (Dept 6 Hired Guns, #1)

Back of the book: A dangerous cult has recently taken over the desert ghost town of Paradise, Arizona.  Members worship at the feet – and in the bed – of its charismatic leader, Ethan Wycliff, and obey his orders blindly.  They’ve already tried to murder one woman and they’re implicated in the disappearance of another.

Nate Ferrentino, who works for private security contractor Department 6, has been assigned to infiltrate this group.  It’s a challenge he welcomes – until he learns that colleague Rachel Jessop will be going undercover with him.  Thanks to their shared history, he’d much rather go alone…

The problem is, only married couples can participate in cult rituals.  So, like it or not – and they don’t – Rachel and Nate must pretend to be husband and wife.  There’s no choice.  Because if Wycliff isn’t exposed, if he isn’t stopped, more people will die. And Rachel might be one of them.

~

I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense novels and I’ve never read one by Brenda Novak but after reading White Heat I’ll be looking for more of her books.  I really enjoyed the main characters. Rachel and Nate wish they could forget the embarrassing event that took place several months earlier but they must maintain a professional attitude in an uncomfortable situation.  And talk about uncomfortable – everything from the ride to the location, the grimy trailer where they stay until going to the commune, and then the commune itself.  Novak brings the hot and dry Arizona setting alive.

The pace was great.  The suspense of whether or not Rachel and Nate would be successful in their mission had me quickly turning the pages.  That was really the best part for me because although it was easy to predict what would happen, I just wasn’t sure about how.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Novak’s bad guys were creepy bad.    The Manson-like cult leader and his number one henchman were pretty scary.   I didn’t enjoy reading about the cult rituals. Even the main characters wished they weren’t on this mission – they’d rather have been on a drug bust or any other case.  Novak did a good job developing the supporting characters giving enough detail to explain why they might be involved in a cult.  All in all, I liked the novel even though I didn’t enjoy the cult topic.

White Heat is the first in a series.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book – Body Heat.  Recommended to fans of Romantic Suspense and Brenda Novak.

Review copy from MIRA Books