Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg

Pub. date: November 13, 2018 – Random House

Review galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she’s hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn’t know how to bake but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets.

When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln’s parents aren’t the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community—just when they need it the most. (publisher)

My take:  I liked this follow-up as much or maybe even more than The Story of Arthur Truluv. We met Arthur, Maddy and Lucille in that book and the story continues in Night of Miracles. I found the characters in the small Missouri town of Mason charming and recognizable. I grew up in a small midwestern town and know “these people” and wanted to know them all – from octogenarian Lucille to Tiny, the town cabbie to Iris, a new arrival to town (and several more people). They’re all at various stages in life and learning to let go of long-held fears. I loved their courage to move forward despite their current and past challenges. The novel is told in short chapters that felt like vignettes but soon became connected. It was a comforting read that I quite enjoyed and recommend to fans of Elizabeth Berg and novels with a small town setting.


 

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Spotlight/US Giveaway: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

SNOWFALL ON LIGHTHOUSE LANE by JoAnn Ross

On-sale: October 30, 2018 Mass Market Paperback $7.99 U.S. ISBN-13: 978-1335556783

Giveaway book provided by HQN; Little Bird Publicity

Description:

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Wells is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.


About the author:

When New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross was seven years old, she had no doubt whatsoever that she’d grow up to play center field for the New York Yankees. Writing would be her backup occupation, something she planned to do after retiring from baseball. Those were, in her mind, her only options. While waiting for the Yankees’ management to call, she wrote her first novella — a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallard ducks — for a second grade writing assignment.

The paper earned a gold star. And JoAnn kept writing.

She’s now written over 100 novels and has been published in 26 countries. Two of her titles have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine, and her books have also been published by the Doubleday, Rhapsody, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild book clubs. A member of the Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of best-selling authors, she’s won several awards, including RT Reviews’ Career Achievement Awards in both category romance and contemporary single title. In addition, she received RWA’s national service award and was named RWA Pro- Mentor of the Year.

Although the Yankees have yet to call her to New York to platoon center field, JoAnn figures making one out of two life goals isn’t bad.

Currently writing her Honeymoon Harbor series (set on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula) for HQN, JoAnn lives with her high school sweetheart, whom she married twice, in her beloved Pacific Northwest.


PRAISE FOR NEW YORK TIMES AND USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR JOANN ROSS

“An excellent start to a promising community series with a stunning Olympic Coast setting.” —Library Journal on Herons Landing

“Ross’s Shelter Bay series spotlights her talent for blending vibrant characters, congenial small-town settings, and pressing social issues in a heartwarming contemporary romance.” —Booklist

“Beautifully descriptive and gently paced, this heartwarmer captures coastal small town flavor perfectly.” —Library Journal on Seaglass Winter

“Ross is in top form…plenty of sex and secrets to keep readers captivated.” —Publishers Weekly on Blue Bayou

“Skillful and satisfying… With its emotional depth, [River Road] will appeal to Nora Roberts fans.” —Booklist

“A fast-paced novel about romantic relationships [and] parent-child relationships…. The narrative voice has a humor and rhythm that is fun to read…witty, kind, and meaningful.” —Kirkus on Seaglass Winter

“It isn’t often readers find characters they’re willing to spend a weekend with. However that’s exactly what Ross accomplishes…enveloping the reader in the lives of two endearing, albeit flawed, characters.” —RT Book Reviews on The Homecoming


US Giveaway

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Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

Season of Wonder by RaeAnne Thayne

A Haven Point novel

Published September 25, 2018 – HQN

Review copy courtesy of the publisher; Little Bird Publicity; NetGalley

Description:

It’s a long way from New York to Idaho…but could they have found a home at last?

Dani Capelli has never truly belonged anywhere. And from her earliest days as a foster child in Queens, she would have been lost if it weren’t for her love of animals. Until high school, when she fell hard for the wrong boy, and found herself pregnant—and married—by graduation. Two daughters later, Dani realized her mistake and filed for divorce, and with the help of scholarships and loans—and a lot of macaroni and cheese dinners—she enrolled in vet school. Things were finally looking up…until her ex-husband became her late husband, in the most notorious way possible.

Now Dani and her daughters need an out-of-town pass more than ever. So when the retiring Haven Point veterinarian offers her a chance to settle in the small Idaho town and take over his practice, she jumps at it. But adjusting to the charming mountain community isn’t easy; thirteen-year-old Silver begins acting out while six-year-old Mia is growing too attached to Haven Point and everything in it, especially their next-door-neighbor, Deputy Sheriff Ruben Morales. And Dani can’t blame her. Ruben is everything she’s secretly wanted—and everything she can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.

As the holidays draw near, their shared concern for Dani’s daughters brings them closer together, giving Ruben the chance to show this big-city woman just how magical Christmas in Haven Point can be…and that the promise of a home at last is very real in the most wondrous season of the year… (publisher)

My take:  RaeAnne Thayne takes us back to Haven Point at Christmas time. Dani and her daughters are new in town. She’s the new veterinarian set to take over the ready-to-retire Dr. Morales’ practice. Older daughter Silver isn’t happy in a new place and school but younger daughter Mia loves the town and everyone she meets. When Silver acts out in a big way their neighbor becomes involved with the family.

Deputy Ruben Morales (son of Dr. Morales) is someone Dani wants to avoid. If she offends him it could jeopardize her future in Haven Point. The problem is, there’s a growing attraction and it’s not one-way. Ruben has made it a policy not to date women with children. He doesn’t know what to do when he realizes he actually enjoys Dani and her girls. This could go well or very, very wrong for everyone involved.

For good reason Dani has had trust issues her entire life. She wants to provide her daughters with a different life. Is that even possible without opening herself to the possibilities that present in Haven Point. She’s about to find out. Season of Wonder is a lovely novel about the good that can come from rising above challenges both big and small.


About the author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on: cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page, and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.

Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at http://www.raeannethayne.com.


 

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

I love when author Jodi Thomas gives her readers a new book. It means she’ll be stopping by with a guest post in addition to another fabulous book in her series. Thanks for visiting, Jodi!

When I started my story of the Maverick Ranch for MISTLETOE MIRACLES, I wanted to begin with Griffin. I saw him as a far better man than he thinks he is and I knew by the time readers followed him through the story, they’d agree with me.

Griffin is the oldest of three boys.  When his father grew ill, he took over the ranch always making sure that his brothers saw themselves as equal owners.  

Isolated and with the weight of the ranch on his shoulders, Griffin knows that he has to do something to save the ranch.  In the years since his father and mother died, he’s tried everything and now he’s faced with one option open.

He’ll have to marry for money.  Oh, he promises he’ll just need to borrow enough to make the loan payment for the year, then he’ll be back on his feet. He promised he’ll be honest about why he’s marrying and he’ll be good to any woman taking him on as a husband.

But he’s totally unprepared for Sunlan.  She’s everything any man, any rancher could want in a wife.  She’s beautiful, smart, from an old ranching family, and to Griffin’s surprise, needs to get married worse than he does.

I hope you love Griffin, Sunlan and all the characters in MISTLETOE MIRACLES.

Enjoy,

Jodi

Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

September 25, 2018 • MMP • HQN • 368 pages • ISBN 9781335005632• $7.99 U.S.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.

Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas.

Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.

Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband? (publisher)

My take:  The feeling I got while reading Mistletoe Miracles is why I will read any book Jodi Thomas writes. I read the first few pages and was quickly drawn into the charming and warm novel. I smiled as the Holloways found the solution needed to save their ranch; as the local hermit was thrust into a situation that forced him out of his self-imposed shell; and as fiction turned into reality for the high school drama teacher.

Mistletoe Miracles is fun, emotional and even dramatic in a few parts. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to fans of Jodi Thomas, contemporary romance, and a good story. While Mistletoe Miracles is the seventh book in the Ransom Canyon series it can stand alone. A few supporting characters are back but a reader doesn’t need to have met them before.


About the author:

A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus. Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.” When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.

For more information, please visit Jodi’s website at http://www.jodithomas.com.

Praise for Jodi Thomas:

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

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

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

“[Sunrise Crossing] will warm any reader’s heart.” – Publishers Weekly, A Best Book of 2016


 

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

Pub. Date: September 25, 2018 – HQN

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas? (publisher)

My take:  Three sisters, adopted at a young age when their parents perished in a climbing accident, reunite to celebrate Christmas in the Scottish Highlands – and no one is more excited than their adoptive parents, Suzanne and Stewart.

Hannah hasn’t been around for a family Christmas in a few years. Her fast-paced job has kept her occupied. That’s still the case but she also has a secret. Beth is mother to two young children. She wants to return to work and try to recapture some of the person she’d been before kids. Her husband is less than thrilled with the idea. Posy, the sister who stayed in Scotland to work in the family business, has met someone who makes her yearn for a bigger life – one that would take her away from home.

As the three sisters work through their challenges will their parents get the family Christmas they hoped for? I enjoyed finding out and recommend to fans of Sarah Morgan and women’s fiction. Who can resist a Scottish setting at Christmas time? Not this reader!


 

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

My take:

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for granting my request to read Good Luck With That.

I’ve dealt with weight issues most of my life. More like body image issues when I come to think of it. Having grown up in the sixties and seventies I wished I could look like the girls on tv sitcoms (Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, etc). Those girls were slim and had long straight center-parted hair and I was average shape with dark naturally curly hair that had a mind of its own. I remember the day the female freshman PE teacher weighed us and measured our height. I was 5’6 and weighed 120 lbs. I felt huge – so much taller and bigger than my classmates. Talk about poor self-image, huh? So that’s what I brought with me when I read Good Luck With That.

Kristan Higgins is on my trusted favorite authors list – meaning I’ll read whatever she writes. But this one was a tough read for me. It hit so close to home on a few levels. Not exactly though – because my mother wasn’t as purposely (cluelessly?) hurtful as Georgia’s. No, my mom was well-meaning and thought she offered positive encouragement. Sigh.

So this novel is about three friends who met at a camp for overweight teenage girls. They formed a bond that carried over into adulthood. As often happens after college they met less often and kind of lost track of one friend, Emerson, because she lived hours away. Sadly, their last time to meet is when she’s dying.

After Emerson’s funeral Marley and Georgia open an envelope containing the list they compiled at camp when they were seventeen. It’s a list of things they’ll do when they are skinny. Emerson has requested they do the things on the list and that leads them to examining their relationship with food, men, family, etc.

Good Luck With That is written in Higgins’ usual warm, emotional style. Her characters’ families drew laughs and winces from me. I loved seeing Georgia and Marley take more control of their issues and discover how empowering that control can be. Filled with (mostly) delightful and endearing secondary characters I have to say this novel grew on me. What started as a book I had to put down a few times in the beginning due to certain scenes and topics, I finished the second half in a few hours. I’m glad I had the chance to read it. I think it would be a good selection for book groups – there’s a reader’s guide at the end.


 

Spotlight/Review: Dune Drive by Mariah Stewart

DUNE DRIVE by Mariah Stewart

Spend your summer on Cannonball Island!

Book 12 of The Chesapeake Diaries series On sale July 31, 2018!

Mass Market Paperback • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501154416 eBook • Price: $7.99 • ISBN: 9781501154423

Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley

Book description:

Always believing she was an ugly duckling, Chrissy Jenkins thought she had finally turned into a swan when her real-life Prince Charming swept her off her feet. But as his true character began to crack his perfect facade, Chrissy realized that not only was she better off without him, but that she was the only one who had the power to transform her life.

Returning to her ancestral home on Cannonball Island for a family wedding, Chrissy is reintroduced to a legacy she’d all but forgotten. In choosing to stay on the island, she reboots her life, successfully reinventing herself as a chef at Blossoms, an up-and-coming restaurant in St. Dennis. But despite her newfound self-confidence, she still doesn’t trust her taste in men. So when she meets Jared Chandler, a handsome ship salvager staying at the inn while he conducts a nearby recovery operation, Chrissy’s certain she can keep him as a friend—even though he’s everything any woman would want in a man. As fellow newcomers, together they discover the charm of the historic bayside town and explore the idyllic island.

But when Chrissy agrees to be Jared’s date for his father’s wedding, they embark on a weekend that will find them each seeing the other in a completely different light, one that will change their lives forever. (publisher)

My take:  When Chrissy Jenkins finally says enough is enough and flees an abusive relationship she runs to where she knows she’ll be safe and wanted – her great-grandmother’s home on Cannonball Island. Her Gigi will care for her but also encourage her to stand up and take control of her life. And that’s exactly what Chrissy does. Along the way she finds a job doing what she loves most and also reconnects with an acquaintance who could become much more.

It’s a story of starting over, learning to trust, and finding important answers to questions that have bothered Chrissy her entire life. I really enjoyed this latest installment of The Chesapeake Diaries series. Dune Drive can stand alone so don’t let the fact that it’s book 12 make you think you need to read the series in order. Mariah Stewart does a great job catching you up with pertinent details about each character.


About the author

Mariah Stewart is the award-winning New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of numerous novels and several novellas and short stories. A native of Hightstown, New Jersey, she lives with her husband and two rambunctious rescue dogs amid the rolling hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, where she savors country life and tends her gardens while she works on her next novel. Visit her website at MariahStewart.com, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuthorMariahStewart, and follow her on Instagram @Mariah_Stewart_Books.


 

Excerpt:

Chrissie stretched one leg as close to the water as she could and with her big toe traced her name onto the surface, the way she had when she was a child. The water was cold, true spring being just around the corner, and the chill ran up her leg, but it made her feel alive. Her brother, Luke, once told her that writing your name on the Chesapeake meant you were part of it, would always be part of it. She wondered where Luke was now, and if writing his name on the bay had brought him back from time to time.

When their parents, Stephen and Dorothy, divorced, Luke went with their father, and one-year-old Chrissie stayed with their mother. As far as Chrissie knew, neither father nor brother had ever looked back. It was as if the earth had opened up and swallowed Stephen and Luke Jenkins body and soul, as far as she was concerned. Chrissie wouldn’t recognize either of them if they stood in front of her. Her father had been from the mainland and had no ties to the island except her mother. Once that bond had been broken and her mother remarried and moved to Pennsylvania, Chrissie figured her father had no reason to return. If her mother had heard from either of them, she’d never told Chrissie, and the few times Chrissie’d asked, her questions were ignored.

The last time Chrissie had asked, her mother had snapped, “That’s the agreement we made, no contact, and I’m sticking by it. So far, he has, too. What difference could it make now? He’s never been part of your life. He never wanted to be. Leave it alone, Chrissie. Don’t ask me again.”

To Chrissie, it was unforgivable on the part of both her parents—her mother for not telling her why her father left, and her father for never coming back. Once she’d started examining her life in earnest a year ago, it hadn’t been difficult for her to figure out that being abandoned by her father had contributed to the fact that her self-esteem had been so low she’d permitted herself to be abused. That her mother would never tell her why had only added to her poor self-image: as a child, she’d assumed he’d left because she was a bad girl. What other reason could there have been? Now, as an adult, she realized there’d had to be something other than that, that while children see everything that happens through their eyes as it relates to them, the constant arguing between her parents had probably been about something else. Try as she might, though, her mother would never tell her what that something had been.

She still thought of her father with a mixture of anger and longing. Had he ever remarried? Was he still alive? And Luke . . . ? She had no idea if he was dead or alive, either.