The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr

The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr

A Sullivan’s Crossing Novel: Book 5

Published: January 2020 – Mira

Digital galley courtesy of Mira, NetGalley, Little Bird Publicity

Description:

A summer rental, a new beginning…

Hannah Russell’s carefully crafted plans for her life have been upended without warning. When her best friend died suddenly, Hannah became guardian to a five-year-old named Noah. With no experience at motherhood, she’s terrified she’s not up to the challenge. She and Noah need time to get to know each other, so she decides to rent a country house with stunning views on a lake in rural Colorado.

When they arrive at the house, they are greeted by the owner, a handsome man who promises to stay out of their way. But his clumsy Great Dane, Romeo, has other ideas and Noah immediately bonds with the lovable dog. As Hannah learns to become a mother, Owen Abrams, who is recovering from his own grief, can’t help but be drawn out of his solitude by his guests.

But life throws more challenges at this unlikely trio and they are tested in ways they never thought possible. All three will discover their strengths and, despite their differences, they will fight to become a family. And the people of Sullivan’s Crossing will rally around them to offer all of the support they need. (publisher)

My take:  I loved this story about three people creating a new family. They face plenty of challenges but will learn to trust their instincts in order to move forward. I liked how Robyn Carr let characters from previous books (Cal, Helen and Sully) play important roles in the plot. It was nice to see what was happening in their lives and in the small Colorado mountain town.

This is such an enjoyable series. Every time I finish reading the latest book it’s with the hope that there will be another. That’s my sign of a good read and a great addition to the series. Recommended to fans of the author, stories about family and community, and the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

Note:

I watched the Netflix production of Robyn Carr’s Virgin River a few weeks ago. This is the series that made me a fan of Carr. I loved how the series was brought to life. The casting was great. When I finished the season my mind went to the Sullivan’s Crossing series – I hope Netflix has grabbed the rights. I think it would be fabulous!


Robyn Carr is the author of more than 50 novels, which have sold over 28 million copies worldwide. She has written 11 #1 New York Times bestsellers, and her beloved Virgin River series is currently being adapted by Netflix, with the series set to premiere in late 2019 or early 2020. In 2016, Robyn was awarded the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America.

 

 

 

 


 

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Published:  October 2019 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of MIRA and NetGalley

Description: Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves. (publisher)

My take:  Christmas in Silver Springs is book 6 in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series. It could stand alone but there are characters who figure into this novel who were featured in previous books so if you’ve read the series in order you’ll appreciate the context even more.

Tobias Richardson is looking for a second chance at life. He paid the price for horrible choices and results when he was a teen. Now released from prison he yearns that fresh start and he wants to make amends. He didn’t count on meeting Harper. She doesn’t know anything about his past but knows she likes the person he is. Recently divorced and the mother of two young girls she’s spending the Christmas holiday in Silver Springs with her sister and family. Can this new friendship with Tobias grow into something more? What happens when Harper’s ex-husband has second thoughts about their divorce? Tobias’s past might come back to haunt him and could effect his relationship with Harper.

If you’re a fan of the series I think you’ll enjoy the latest installment. I like a character who earns a second chance at a good life. Tobias was easy to cheer on.


BIO: Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak

FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor

Insta: @authorbrendanovak 

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The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

The Yankee Widow by Linda Lael Miller

Published: May 7, 2019 – MIRA

Review galley provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Caroline is the young wife of Jacob, who together live on a farm raising their daughter just outside of Gettysburg. When Jacob joins the Northern army, no one anticipates he will not return. Then Caroline gets word that her husband is wounded, and she must find her way alone to Washington City and search among the thousands of casualties to find him.

When Jacob succumbs to his injuries, she brings his body home on the eve of the deadliest battle of the war. With troops and looters roaming the countryside, it is impossible to know who is friend and who is foe. Caroline fights to protect those she holds most dear while remaining compassionate to the neediest around her, including two strangers from opposite sides of the fight. Each is wounded… Each is drawn to her beauty, her kindness. Both offer comfort, but only one secretly captures her heart. Still, she must resist exposing her vulnerability in these uncertain times when so much is at risk.

In The Yankee Widow, gifted storyteller Linda Lael Miller explores the complexities and heartbreak that women experienced as their men took up arms to preserve the nation and defend their way of life. (publisher)

My take:  I’ve always been intrigued by the Civil War. My (3x)great grandfather left his family and farm to fight with the northern army. His portrait hung on the wall in my parents’ home. I didn’t truly appreciate the extent of his sacrifice until I began to read accounts of the war – told from various perspectives. Linda Lael Miller’s novel The Yankee Widow is the story of Caroline, a young widow from outside of Gettysburg, PA. Her husband left his young family and farm to fight in the northern army only to succumb to injuries incurred at Chancellorsville. Caroline is left to carry on which is no small task. The war is brought to her front yard as she is grieving the loss of her husband. She must step outside her grief and help with injured men from both sides of the war. Two such men will become central to her story and could very well decide her future. One thing she is certain of: she will make the decision. Showing a strength of character from the beginning of the novel we see even more growth in Caroline as she becomes aware that there are no easy answers except the decision to treat others with compassion – no matter where they are from. The story is filled with vivid battle descriptions that put me in the middle of those scenes. Heartbreaking, to be sure.

Linda Lael Miller swept me along with her story, turning the pages and wondering how Caroline would prevail. For once I was happy a novel ended with a cliff-hanger – I can’t wait to read what happens next. Recommended to fans of the author and historical fiction with a dose of romance.


 

The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts

Published: April 23, 2019 – MIRA

Review book provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Join USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach. (publisher)

My take:  I read and enjoyed the first book in Moonlight Harbor series, somehow missed the second, and still didn’t feel lost reading the third and newest book The Summer Retreat. So if you haven’t read this series you should know each book can stand alone.

Celeste Jones is fresh out of what she thought would be a permanent relationship with the perfect man. She’s lost confidence in her ability to pick the right one and heads to her sister Jenna’s home in Moonlight Harbor. Jenna owns a small motel and could use Celeste’s help for the summer. Plus, she loves her sister and is happy to have her nearby. As Celeste gets to know the people and places of Moonlight Harbor she starts to feel like she’ll be okay. When she meets a couple of possible boyfriends she feels more than okay! But when it comes to making a choice should she listen to her heart or her brain? Go with the one who feels right or the one who should be right? As you might expect, the reader will know before Celeste.

Sheila Roberts made me laugh out loud and then cringe for her characters – and I enjoyed it. The Summer Retreat (and the Moonlight Harbor series) should appeal to fans of contemporary romance and small town stories.


 

The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

Description:

#1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Robyn Carr returns with THE FAMILY GATHERING, the latest installment in her fan-favorite Sullivan’s Crossing series. Carr takes readers back to small-town Colorado to tell the story of Dakota Jones, a perpetual wanderer recently discharged from the Army.

Dakota isn’t the type to stay in one place for long. A lifelong lone wolf, he also doesn’t consider himself much of a family man—especially after growing up with reckless parents who didn’t provide much stability for Dakota and his siblings, all of whom scattered in various directions after leaving home. But after the abrupt end of his Army career, Dakota finds himself drawn to the tranquil mountains of Sullivan’s Crossing, where his brother and sister have both recently settled down. Relocating to this small, neighborly gives Dakota the opportunity to reconnect with his siblings, Cal and Sierra, and establish a closeness they’ve never had before.

As Cal juggles life as a new father and Sierra finds herself caring for an abandoned child, Dakota finds that he has the opportunity to be a part of his siblings’ lives after years of physical and emotional distance—and the more time he spends with them, the more he begins to envy the stability and warmth of their family lives. So when he meets Sidney, a brilliant and beautiful local bartender with past secrets of her own, Dakota finds himself opening up for the first time in years. Has he finally found a woman worth putting down roots for?

A master of storytelling and family sagas, Robyn Carr weaves a moving tale about the power of love, familial bonds, and finding a place — and people — to call home. (publisher)

My take:  The Family Gathering is book three in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. The Jones siblings are all brought together for their sister Sierra’s wedding. They shared an unusual upbringing by free-spirit parents (some would call them hippies) and have all managed to become high-achieving adults but not without their own issues. The primary focus of this novel is Dakota, fresh out of the army and looking for some time to clear his head and decide what he wants to do. Someone who will figure into his plans is Sidney. She’s had her own difficulties and has worked through a lot of them – so she can relate on a few levels with Dakota. I loved seeing how all the siblings from the previous books were doing and how they figured into Dakota’s story. Along with the family dynamics the novel addresses mental illness and how it affects a family. I also liked seeing some minor characters whose story began in the first book and continued through the next two. Robyn Carr’s books have a great sense of community and family and always leave me with a content feeling – and looking forward to the next book. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary romance with a small town setting.


Praise for Robyn Carr:

“Capturing the best of small-town romance.” — The Washington Post

“Appealing characters and a fresh and heart-tugging twist to a familiar conflict, coupled with what-did-she-just-say? dialogue and a cozy sense of community, all help make this latest installment in the Virgin River series a true romantic getaway.” — USA TODAY

“Robyn Carr delivers yet another fictional win that will speak to the soul of every feminist reader.” — Coastal Living

“Carr sets the bar for contemporary romance.” — Booklist Starred Review

“Carr continues her brilliant community-building as a number of storytelling threads come together in a rich narrative tapestry.” — Kirkus Reviews


 About the author:

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid- 1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, and 11 of her novels would earn the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list.

In the years since Robyn’s A Virgin River Christmas scored her first New York Times success in 2008, her novels have spent over 231 weeks on that prestigious list. Her 20-book Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies.

Over the past 17 years, 41 Robyn Carr titles, with collectively 27 million copies in print, have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

As a sign of the significant contributions Robyn has made to the genre, the Romance Writers of America, the trade association representing 10,200 members who write romance and live in 35 countries, named Robyn as the winner of the 2016 Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robyn and her now-retired husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their children are grown—her son is an Army surgeon; her daughter, a police detective/hostage negotiator. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.


 

Blog Tour: The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr

  • the life she wants (9:27)Title:  The Life She Wants: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  368
  • Published:  September 27, 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; Little Bird Publicity

My take:  Emma Shay’s wealthy husband committed suicide after being found guilty of running a Ponzi scheme leaving Emma to deal with the fallout alone in New York City. She decided to try to start over by going home to California where she at least had a friend who knew that none of what happened was her fault. She found a place to live and eventually a job that would get her on her feet, just barely. When the job didn’t work out she swallowed her pride and asked a former friend for a job in her housecleaning business.

The Life She Wants is about second chances – in life and in relationships. Emma learned a lot from her former life in New York, most importantly that money can’t buy happiness. Going back to where she’d started in life made her realize what she valued most and gave her courage to make things right with the people she cared about. Emma’s friend Riley had lessons to learn as well. She’d been angry about how her life changed fifteen years earlier and needed to lighten up and let people into her life.

Robyn Carr’s story pulled me in from page one. I rooted for Emma and eventually Riley to turn their lives around and find the life each yearned for. The secondary characters and storylines added interesting layers to the novel. I’m wondering if a certain detective from this book will turn up in another someday. His story seemed a bit unfinished. Regardless, I enjoyed The Life She Wants very much.


About the author:

Carr_Robyn_11_Col“I’m frequently asked what it is about my stories that make them so popular. I think it’s the sense of community and that combination of romance and women’s fiction,” says author Robyn Carr. “I’m naturally drawn to strong, capable female characters, and when I begin a story, I ask myself, ‘What is she up against?’ It’s very empowering to read about women like ourselves as they resolve the issues that threaten their happiness and peace of mind. It’s also empowering to watch smart women choosing and falling in love with men of honor and integrity.”

The author of more than 40 novels, Robyn reaches a wide audience with her writing. In addition to her touching novels, she’s written historical and contemporary romance, as well as a gripping thriller. “This is the best job I’m ever going to get wearing pajamas,” she says of her writing career.

Originally from Minnesota, Robyn and her family have seen much of the country, thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the air force. They’ve lived in Texas—all four corners—Alabama, Florida, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.

The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada—and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”

Robyn well remembers how she began her career as an author more than 25 years ago. “I was trained as a nurse but found it impossible to get work because my husband was constantly being transferred. At the time, I was reading a lot of genre fiction for the sheer entertainment value, and I thought to myself, ‘I can write this!’”

And how was her first foray into the world of literature received? “It was universally panned. I thought I had written Gone with the Wind, but in actuality it was complete trash.” In fact, it was on her third try that Robyn finally succeeded in becoming a published author.

Now that Robyn’s two children are grown—and finally out of the house—she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing— she has found her niche in community service.

She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out of state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting-author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”

The Secrets She Kept by Brenda Novak

  • the secrets she kept (7:26)Title:  The Secrets She Kept
  • Series:  Fairham Island #2
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Pages:  400
  • Genre:  Romantic Suspense
  • Published:  July 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it. 

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer. 

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk. Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…  (publisher)

My take:  The Secrets She Kept is book 2 in the Fairham Island series. In book 1 we were introduced to the wealthy matriarch Josephine Lazarow. She was a complicated woman (a narcissist) who had to have control over everything and everyone in her life.

In this book a murder (or a suicide?) has taken place. The Lazarow family experiences changes they never anticipated. Josephine’s estranged son Keith returns home to find out what exactly happened to his mother. He also reconnects with Nancy, his love interest from five years earlier.  That’s not all though. Will he be able to prove that his sister couldn’t have had anything to do with their mother’s death?

This is a novel about secrets, lies, betrayals and love – and ultimately, forgiveness. I think fans of Brenda Novak and romantic suspense will enjoy The Secrets She Kept.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author has written more than fifty books, with more than four million copies in print. This four-time RITA® Award nominee has won many awards, including the National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers’ Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date she’s raised $2.7 million.


Praise for the first book in the Fairham Island series: The Secret Sister
“This emotional novel showcases Novak’s exceptional talent at creating genuine characters and real-life situations we sometimes try to dodge. The power of family is strong, and the element of mystery is stable throughout this romance. Fairham Island is painted as a picturesque seaside town, but the debut to this series could have readers believing there are a lot of buried secrets and stories to be told surrounding the residents’ wishes for peace and quiet. Completely engrossing with a twist at the end you wouldn’t dare dream of!”—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Star Top Pick)

The Secret Sister is a sweet story that touches on the trials of life and illustrates how death, loss, abuse, despair, and unexpected trials can make us stronger, but also points out that it is perfectly acceptable to find someone to lean on when you really need the help. This is a great book that romance readers and fans of general fiction are bound to enjoy.”—Portland Book Review

“Skillful plotting, well-developed characters (a blind little girl is adorable), a delightful romance, toxic family dynamics, and a puzzling mystery make this story a rewarding read that will appeal to both romance and women’s fiction fans.”—Library Journal

“In her latest, Novak neatly entwines contemporary romance and women’s fiction by delivering the emotionally compelling romance readers expect while at the same time thoughtfully exploring the other relationships every woman has in her life. Add a gothic-tinged plot, and you have a book with wide reader appeal.”— Booklist

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak is indeed the best romantic thriller I have read… Brenda Novak has a raw talent for bringing her novels to life. Realistic, suspenseful, and an edge of your seat romance that will have readers coming back for more.”—The San Francisco Book Review

Home on Apple Blossom Road by Sheila Roberts

  • Home on Apple Blossom Rd. (3:22016)Title:  Home on Apple Blossom Road
  • Series:  Life in Icicle Falls #9
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  March 22, 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description:  Home is where the love is… 

Colin Wright and Mia Blair grew up in Icicle Falls, but they left years ago—and not on good terms. Now Colin’s grandmother, Justine, has died, and they’ve come home to honor this woman they both loved. That’s when they get some unexpected news. They’re about to inherit something. Jointly. They just have no idea what. It turns out that Justine’s designed a treasure hunt for them, like the ones they enjoyed when they were kids and best friends. 

But they’re not kids anymore, and they sure aren’t best friends. As for that young love they once shared? Well…it’s complicated.  

On the trail of Justine’s treasure, they follow a series of clues that take them down memory lane—ending up at the orchard on Apple Blossom Road. What will they find there? And what did Justine know that they didn’t?  (publisher)

My take:  Home on Apple Blossom Road is a sweet story about two people finding their way back home. They didn’t intend to take this journey but Grandma Justine had a plan that they had to finally pay attention to. She’d tried to tell them when she was still alive but to no avail. Now they’d have to listen to her – via her treasure hunt – and just maybe her plan would work.

Sheila Roberts’ characters are never perfect so I find them relatable on a few different levels. I could understand Mia and Colin’s reluctance to try make things the way they used to be. Colin is involved with a beautiful young woman and Mia just received a promotion at work. This is not a good time to resurrect the past. Hmm, is it possible Justine misjudged these two?

I enjoyed this installment to the Life in Icicle Falls series. It’s filled with character cameos from previous books making it that much more fun to read. That said, don’t worry if you haven’t read other books in the series. You won’t be lost. I thought this novel was one of the best of the series. Recommended to fans of the author and small town contemporary romance.

The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery

  • the friends we keep (2:23)Title:  The Friends We Keep
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  400
  • Published:  February 2016 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Description: After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can’t wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband’s crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn’t as painful as it should’ve been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time’s the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?  (publisher)

My take:  So we have Gaby who looks forward to going back to work when her twins start school, Hayley who wants nothing more than to have a baby no matter what the cost, and Nicole who doesn’t want to trust her heart to anyone.

I think my favorite character was Hayley because of her emotional dilemma. I really felt sympathy for her. That said, she really needed some therapy to work through her issues. I imagine a book group would have a lot to discuss about her and the other two main characters – especially groups whose members are raising young families. I’m past that stage so when I got a little frustrated with the characters I chalked it up to where I am in life.

Recommended to fans of the author and women’s fiction.

A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

  • a winter wedding (10:27)Title:  A Winter Wedding
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek, #9
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
    • Pages:  384
  • Pub. date:  October 27, 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  One Christmas can change your life… 
Kyle Houseman believes he’ll never find anyone he could love as much as Olivia Arnold, who’s now married to his stepbrother. Not only did he lose her, he’s been through one divorce and has no desire to go through another. He’s determined to be extra careful about the next woman he gets involved with—which is why he fights his attraction to the beautiful stranger who rents his farmhouse for the Christmas holiday.  

Lourdes Bennett is a country music artist. She’s only planning to stay in Whiskey Creek long enough to write the songs for her next album—the album that’s going to put her back on top. Her dreams don’t include settling in a town even smaller than the one she escaped. But as she comes to know Kyle, she begins to wonder if she’d be making a terrible mistake to leave him behind…  (publisher)

My take: If you’re a fan of the Whiskey Creek series you know Kyle and his story of bad luck when it comes to love. The fact that both of his past experiences were with polar-opposite sisters (and neither ended well) has left him extremely reluctant to get involved with just anyone.

When Kyle meets Lourdes he knows she’s special but circumstances lead him to believe it wouldn’t be a good idea to get involved with her. She comes to the same conclusion about him but still wonders “What if?”.  If they decide to go for it do they really have the courage to make difficult choices and see it through?

I enjoyed A Winter Wedding. It was fun to see most of the Whiskey Creek gang and find out what they were up to and I liked the setting of the town decorated for Christmas. I suppose this book could stand alone but you’ll get more context where Kyle is concerned if you read the first few books in the series.

Recommended to fans of the series and contemporary romance.


 

 

Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr

  • Wildest Dreams (8:25)Title:  Wildest Dreams
  • Series:  Thunder Point #9
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  August 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has traveled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he’s never had. In the quiet coastal town, he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes. 

Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son, Charlie, are fixtures at Winnie Banks’s house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, Lin Su is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie’s health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions she doesn’t want to answer. 

When Charlie enlists Blake’s help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue, and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.  (publisher)

My take:  Wildest Dreams is the 9th book in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series. The main characters are Blake, a world-class athlete and new Thunder Point resident, and Lin Su, nurse to Blake’s neighbor. The two meet and the attraction is almost immediate – at least in Blake’s case. Lin Su is a single mother who is determined to make the best life for her son Charlie and that means she’s not interested in a relationship. So, even though she likes Blake and might be a little attracted to him, that’s not going to happen. She’s controlled her life since she was eighteen after all. Charlie and Blake might have a say in that though.

I thought the characters were believable. Reading about the triathlons Blake competed in was very interesting. I appreciated the details of Lin Su’s care of her patient Winnie who has ALS. We also catch up with three pregnant women (featured in previous books) who are due to give birth very soon. But the stars are Blake and Lin Su. These two were more alike than they imagined and yet pride and stubbornness might prevent a wonderful relationship. Will Lin Su start to realize life can be good and allow herself to trust Blake? I enjoyed finding out.

I liked Wildest Dreams and recommend it to fans of Robyn Carr and contemporary, small town romance. It could stand alone but it involves characters from One Wish (book #7 in the series) so you might want to read that book first. I recommend the entire series!

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

  • the secret sister (7:28)Title:  The Secret Sister
  • Series:  Fairham Island #1
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance, Mystery
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these years? Why? 

After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to Fairham, the small island off the North Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to heal—and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply troubled man who’s asked her to come home. But she refuses to stay in the family house. The last person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother she escaped years ago. 

Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone else she’d prefer to avoid—Rafe Romero, the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at sixteen. He’s back on the island, and to her surprise, he’s raising a young daughter alone. Maisey’s still attracted to him, but her heart’s too broken to risk… 

Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers a box of photographs that evoke distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must’ve been their sister, but their mother claims there was no sister. 

Maisey’s convinced that child existed. So where is she now?  (publisher)

My take:  It’s alway fun to get in on the first book in a series when it first publishes. 

I loved the gothic tone of The Secret Sister. There’s the rich family with the cold, detached matriarch, the mansion on the hill, and the mystery that no one wants to talk about. Youngest daughter Maisey is determined to find out what happened to (what appears to be) her older sister.  Her brother Keith has been blamed for her disappearance and that has affected his life to the point that he finds his only relief in drugs. He doesn’t think he can handle having it all dredged up again so he’s not thrilled that Maisey is asking questions.

Thank goodness Maisey has Rafe and his young daughter to help keep her sane. They knew each other briefly when they were younger. Now, more than ten years later, life has given them both new perspective and they appreciate their possible second chance. Rafe wants to help Maisey find out what happened to the girl in the photographs. I thought they had great chemistry and I loved the interactions between Maisey and Laney, Rafe’s daughter.

I was satisfied (and a little surprised) with how the mystery was solved. If you like a contemporary romance wrapped around a mystery I think you’ll enjoy The Secret Sister. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next book in the Fairham Island series.

A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts

  • A Wedding on Primrose Street (7:28)Title:  A Wedding on Primrose Street
  • Series:  Icicle Falls #7
  • Author:  Sheila Roberts
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  July 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  There’s nothing like a wedding! The joy, the fun, the memories—the stress. As a wedding planner, Anne Richardson has seen mothers of the bride turn into Momzillas, and she’s determined not to do that when it’s her daughter’s turn to get married. But once Laney gets engaged, all bets are off. Anne becomes obsessed with giving Laney the perfect wedding she herself never had. And that wedding needs to be held in Icicle Falls at Primrose Haus, the perfect setting. 

Roberta Gilbert, owner of Primrose Haus, has been hosting events at her charming Victorian for thirty years. She’s an expert on weddings, but not on mother-daughter relations. When her daughter, Daphne, comes home and decides to help with the business, the receptions become truly memorable—and not in a good way. Then there’s the added complication of Roberta’s gardener, who seems more interested in Daphne than he is in planting primroses… 

Tying the knot is a business that has everyone tied up in knots!  (publisher)

My take:  Our daughter was married a few months ago so I knew I wanted to read the newest book in the Icicle Falls series: A Wedding on Primrose Street by Sheila Roberts.

I thought Roberts nailed the dynamics that can arise between mothers and daughters, event planners and mothers-of-the-bride, and husbands and wives when planning a wedding. In her typical style Roberts had me alternately laughing and cringing as the events drew near. What I liked most was how, when they stopped to take a breath, the characters tried their hardest to remember what was most important about the happy day and the people involved.

There are several bridal shower and wedding recipes included at the end as well as a fun epilogue of sorts. I enjoyed it and look forward to the next Icicle Falls book.


 

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

  • a new hope (6:30)Title:  A New Hope
  • Series:  Thunder Point #8
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Small town fiction
  • Published:  June 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she’s excited to be assisting with the Lacoumette wedding. 

In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger is swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride’s brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself when he tries to make a pass at Ginger, forcing her to flee the scene in embarrassment. 

But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.  (publisher)

My take:  I’m beginning to think Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series would make a good cable series. All of the books in the series could stand alone but I’m glad I got in with the first and kept up. It’s always nice to see past characters make an appearance in a supporting role. For those keeping up with the series, book 8 picks up where book 7 left off.

I loved Ginger. She’d been through so much and had learned from her past experiences. The scene where she met Matt made me laugh out loud. Their story picked up from there and on the last page of the book I was very happy with their progress. Matt was all about getting over his first marriage but he had never truly faced why that marriage failed – that perhaps he shared some of the responsibility. He had a lot of anger to let go. I appreciate how Carr wove the theme of forgiveness through the novel.

There are a couple of related subplots that will arc into the next book (or two). I can’t wait to see how they progress. I really enjoyed A New Hope and recommend it to fans of the series and Robyn Carr.


 

Carr_Robyn_11_ColAbout the author:  Originally from Minnesota, Robyn Carr and her family have seen much of the country thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the Air Force. They’ve lived in Texas – all four corners – Alabama, Florida, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada – and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”

Now that Robyn’s two children are grown – and finally out of the house – she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing – she has found her niche in community service. She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out-of-state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”

Blog Tour: Never Too Late by Robyn Carr

  • Never Too Late (Mar31)Title:  Never Too Late: A Novel
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  March 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher/Little Bird Publicity

My take:  The McCarthy sisters are about to face big changes in their lives. Clare caught her husband of sixteen years cheating (again) and it’s the last straw. Maggie’s daughters are presenting the usual challenges that come with young teens. She’s also wondering why her husband doesn’t seem to find her attractive anymore. That has to be why their love life is lacking, right? In the years following their mother’s death, youngest McCarthy sister Sarah has become an almost reclusive artist  spending every waking moment at her studio. When will she find the courage to jump back into life?

When Clare flees the scene of her husband’s latest incident she’s involved in a terrible accident. Her recovery will take months and she’ll rely on her family like never before. There are a couple of male friends who will try to be part of her healing. Maggie can only hope there’s time to get her oldest daughter back on track. Sarah completes a self-makeover with interesting results. It’s not just Clare who’ll need the support of her sisters. All three will prove their love for each other through strength that only sisters can show.

I enjoyed Robyn Carr’s updated rerelease of Never Too Late. I didn’t have a chance to read it the first time around. There are moments with the mothers and their children that most mothers will relate to and I know many readers with sisters will find much that resonates. I’d recommend this book to fans of the author and contemporary women’s fiction.

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

  • This Heart of Mine (Mar31)Title:  This Heart of Mine
  • Series:  Whiskey Creek #8
  • Author:  Brenda Novak
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 31, 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Phoenix Fuller grew up in the small town of Whiskey Creek, CA. Raised by a mother who was a hoarder, abandoned by her father and older brothers, she was an outcast at school. When she was befriended by Riley Stinson, her math tutor and classmate, she started to have hope for a normal life. They fell in love and were soon expecting a baby. As happens to many first loves, the two broke up. Riley started dating another girl while Phoenix felt her life going back to the way it was before Riley.  Phoenix was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of another classmate (Riley’s new girlfriend). Phoenix’s life changed at that moment and she went to prison for 17 years. Now released after serving her sentence she’s back in Whiskey Creek and hopes to form a relationship with her teen-aged son.

The family and friends of the girl who was killed are determined to make Phoenix’s life miserable. If their daughter and sister can’t be alive, her alleged killer should not live a happy life, much less in the town where they live.

Over the course of the Whiskey Creek series we’ve met several members of a tight-knit  group of friends who’ve faced challenges of their own. They show a willingness to support their friend Riley in the way he’s always supported them. That was gratifying for me as a reader. I enjoyed THIS HEART OF MINE. I’d wondered about Phoenix each time she was mentioned in previous books. I wasn’t sure how Brenda Novak would present her when she figured into the series as a major character. I thought she wrote a wonderful portrayal of a character I hadn’t expected to like.

If you’re a fan of Brenda Novak and the Whiskey Creek series I think you’ll enjoy the newest addition to the series as much as I did.

One Wish by Robyn Carr

  • One Wish (Feb24)Title:  One Wish
  • Series:  Thunder Point #7
  • Author:  Robyn Carr
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  February 24, 2015 – Mira
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Grace Dillon was a champion figure skater until she moved to Thunder Point to escape the ruthless world of fame and competition. And though she’s proud of the quiet, self-sufficient life she’s created running a successful flower shop, she knows something is missing. Her life could use a little excitement. 

In a community where there are few eligible singles, high school teacher Troy Headly appoints himself Grace’s fun coach. When he suggests a little companionship with no strings attached, Grace is eager to take him up on his offer, and the two enjoy…getting to know each other. 

But things get complicated when Grace’s past catches up with her, and she knows that’s not what Troy signed up for. Faced with losing her, Troy realizes Grace is more than just a friend with benefits. He’s determined to help her fight for the life she always wished for but never believed she could have—and maybe they can find real love along the way.  (publisher)

My take:  I think one of the things I enjoy most about Robyn Carr’s small town romances is that she understands regular people. They’re people probably like most of the people I (or any reader) know.  The Thunder Point series is one I love going back to whenever there’s a new book. It’s always a comfort read and I like to see what characters from previous books are up to as well as meet new ones.

I loved the story of Grace and Troy, two secondary characters from earlier books. They never gave each other a second thought – until they did. They have so much in common that they seem perfect for each other. And then things start happening that Grace has to explain. She’s not exactly who people thought she was. There’s much more to the local flower shop owner than anyone would have imagined. Will the people in her Thunder Point life, especially Troy, be able to deal with the “new” Grace?

One Wish is about knowing that it’s not what you don’t have that’s important, but more what you do have. And those things don’t always come with a price. The most valuable are priceless.

Not every thread of this story is tied up by the last page. I like that continuity into the next book and look forward to reading it. If you like small town romance you need to read the Thunder Point series.