So Into You by Sandra Hill

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Angel Sabato has been in love with best friend Grace O’Brien for 10 years–but he’s only just realized it. Too bad she doesn’t take him seriously when he tells her about his feelings. Now Grace is left to wonder if her problems from the past are keeping her from opening herself to love. But she brushes these “useless” musings aside, concentrating instead on the work she’s doing as an apprentice to folk healer Tante Lulu and keeping up with the old woman’s good deeds. Unbeknownst to Grace, Tante Lulu has decided to try her hand at matchmaking again. And Tante Lulu has never failed before!
“SO INTO YOU delivers a punch packed with southern charm, romance, and fun-filled hilarity.” —
Also available in e-book.

Download the short story prequel, SAVING SAVANNAH.

Watch the video.
Visit Sandra Hill’s website.

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My thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read by Sandra Hill and I can tell you it won’t be the last. So Into You is a fast-paced and funny novel. I enjoyed the story of Grace and Angel but the true star is Tante Lulu. What a hoot! I laughed out loud at the things that came out of her mouth.

Grace and Angel share a true passion for each other. They just choose not to act on it for a few (frustrating) reasons. Tante Lulu will have none of that and she invokes St. Jude (her go-to saint) to set the wheels of love in motion. And don’t even try to stay out of the way. It won’t help! Because of a bet, the two are brought together. I can’t remember reading a steamier scene – hot doesn’t begin to describe it. Thanks to Ms. Hill I will never again be able to look at a platter of sliced fruit without thinking about Grace and Angel. Oh, my! You’ve been warned. . .

There’s a lot more to the story – orphaned siblings who need help; a blackmail attempt; the incarceration of beloved Tante Lulu. All in all, a very entertaining book.

Note: Check the author’s website. So Into You is part of the Cajun series. If you’re like me, you’ll want to go back and read the first seven books!

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

The Last Chance Cafe by Linda Lael Miller

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  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star (May 1, 2003)

When a blinding Nevada snowstorm and a broken-down truck force Hallie O’Rourke and her two young daughters into the warmth of the Last Chance Café, Hallie could not know she would find a new beginning at the roadside diner. Or that the handsome stranger she meets there would change everything she believes about home and family. Chance Qualtrough is a rancher with deep roots in Primrose Creek, and he’s never met a woman as alluring — or downright stubborn — as Hallie. An undeniable passion is pulling them together, but Hallie is fleeing a danger so threatening she dares not let Chance into her heart. Will all that Hallie fears come back with full force, destroying her last chance for the life she’s always dreamed of?

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I’m not sure if I would categorize this book as romantic suspense or suspenseful romance. It was a pretty good book. There was too much sensual romance for my tastes (or maybe just too much, too soon?) but Linda Lael Miller brings to life some good and colorful characters. 3/5 stars.

Support Your Local Library Challenge
Completes the Goodreads 75 Books 2009 Challenge

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

Crossed Wires

Back of the book: This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat. Despite their obvious differences, they’ve got a lot in common — both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they’ve just found it? This is a story about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.

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First of all I’d like to thank Rosy Thornton for sending me her lovely book. It was a pleasure to read. Crossed Wires is a quiet story of people who are not that different from you and me. They’ve endured sorrows and have experienced joy. They not only survive their sorrows but seem to strive to find joy in everyday life – not in big ways, but in the small things. It reminded me of how just being a friend can mean the world to someone. If you’re looking for something a little different and uplifting, Crossed Wires could be the book for you. I’m so glad it “found” me.

Review copy from the author

How To Score by Robin Wells

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Synopsis: Museum curator Sammi Matthews isn’t just in a dating slump, she’s putting men on the injured list. After giving one date a black eye and cracking another’s rib, Sammi decides she needs professional help. Enter life coach Luke Jones, who advises Sammi on how to overcome her klutziness. And their phone sessions work! Sammi soon meets a sexy FBI agent who seems to know just what she needs.

When his brother Luke goes into federal protection, FBI Special Agent Chase Jones agrees to cover for him. Then Sammi’s hot voice sizzles down the line, and the usual “phone only” rule is out. With “Luke” coaching her by day, and Chase dating her by night, Sammi’s confidence soars, along with her appeal. Chase falls hard, but how will Sammi feel if and when he comes clean? Chase would rather she break all his bones than risk breaking her heart.

How to Score by Robin Wells is funny, sweet, and yes, a little sexy. It’s a perfect beach read (or stay-cation backyard read). Filled with memorable characters, this romantic comedy would make an adorable movie. I especially loved the accordion-playing, accountant by day, spare time rap composer Horace. He is one of Luke’s clients who (at age 40) really needs to move out of his mother’s home. His rap lyrics cracked me up. I like a book that includes minor characters who grab your attention.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

All of Me by Lori Wilde

All of Me

Attorney Jillian Samuels doesn’t believe in true love and never, ever wished for happily ever after. But when a searing betrayal leaves her jobless and heartbroken, a newly inherited cottage in Salvation, Colorado, seems to offer a fresh start. What she finds when she arrives shocks her: the most gorgeous and infuriating man she’s ever met is living in her home!

Tuck Manning was a gifted architect who left a skyrocketing career to care for his dying wife. But the life he’s made for himself in this quiet town is turned upside down when Jillian appears on his doorstep. Tuck won’t go without a fight, and the two resolve to live as roommates until they can untangle who owns the cottage. Yet as Tuck and Jillian’s days — and nights — heat up, they realize more than property rights are at stake… and that sometimes, salvation comes when you least expect it.

My thoughts: All Of Me is the story of two people and love. One has never experienced it so she doesn’t really believe in it. The other is grieving the loss of his true love (two years earlier). She has inherited a lake house only to find him living there after his father-in-law gave him the deed. The story takes off from there. Lori Wilde’s novel is engaging and entertaining as well as a very fast read. It’s the last installment of the Wedding Veil Wishes series.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the review copy.

Flowers on Main by Sherryl Woods

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Back of the book synopsis:
When her last two plays are dismal failures and her relationship with her temperamental mentor falls apart, writer Bree O’Brien abandons Chicago and the regional theater where she hoped to make a name for herself to return home. Opening Flowers on Main promises to bring her a new challenge and a new kind of fulfillment.

But not all is peaceful and serene in Chesapeake Shores, with her estranged mother on the scene and her ex-lover on the warpath. Jake Collins has plenty of reasons to want Bree out of his life, but none of those are a match for the one reason he wants her to stay: he’s still in love with her.

Jake might be able to get past that old hurt if he knew Bree was home to stay, but is she? The only way to know for sure is to take a dangerous leap of faith.

My thoughts: The second book of Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series, Flowers on Main highlights Bree O’Brien and her journey back to her family, hometown, true love, and a fresh start. Also looking for a possible fresh start are her divorced parents. Readers will have to wait for the third book to see where Megan and Mick’s future lies. I thought this book was enjoyable and I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs

Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs: Book Cover

Back of the book: Sarah Moon tackles life’s issues with a sharp wit in her syndicated comic strip, Just Breathe. With both Sarah and her cartoon heroine undergoing fertility treatments, her fiction often reflects her reality. However, she hadn’t scripted her husband’s infidelity.

In the wake of her shattered marriage, Sarah flees to the coastal town in California where she grew up. There, she revisits her troubling past: an emotionally distant father, the loss of her mother and an unexpected connection with Will Bonner, the high school heartthrob skewered mercilessly in her comics. But he’s been through some changes himself. And just as her heart is about to reawaken, Sarah makes a most startling discovery. She’s pregnant. With her ex’s twins.

The winds of change have led Sarah to this surprising new beginning. All she can do is just close her eyes…and breathe.

I’m a fan of Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles so when I saw that her stand alone novel Just Breathe was released recently in paperback I knew I had to read it. I enjoyed reading about Sarah – how she was able to leave a bad situation and move forward. Sometimes moving forward means going back to the beginning. Sarah moves back to the area where she was raised and the story takes off from there. I really liked Will and his daughter as well as several other characters. I’d love to read a sequel … or the second book in a new series? Just a thought.

Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins

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Back of the book: When Grace Emerson’s ex-fiance starts dating her younger sister, extreme measures are called for. To keep everyone from obsessing about her love life, Grace announces that she’s seeing someone. Someone wonderful. Someone handsome. Someone completely made up. Who is this Mr. Right? Someone…exactly unlike her renegade neighbor Callahan O’Shea. Well, someone with his looks, maybe. His hot body. His knife-sharp sense of humor. His smarts and big heart. Whoa. No. Callahan O’Shea is not her perfect man! Not with his unsavory past. So why does Mr. Wrong feel so…right?

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Ok, when I read the blurb from the back of the book I had my doubts that this would be a book for me. But then some marketing genius has decided that more books will sell if you put a darling dog on the cover. Like I said, genius. So I bought the book. And I read the first few pages. I smiled. I continued to read and started to laugh. I can’t remember laughing this much while reading a book. Really. Kristan Higgins is a very funny writer. She has a new fan in me. I don’t want to tell you any more about the plot because it was so much fun not knowing what to expect. I recommend this to anyone who likes a funny, romantic tale. It was time well spent. I’m going to miss this book. Now I need to send an email to all of my sisters (I have six) and tell them to read Too Good To Be True.

Paradise Valley by Robyn Carr

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From the back of the book: For a favorite son returned from war and an outsider looking for a home, Virgin River offers them a chance to make peace with the men they once were . . . and to find the dreams they thought they’d lost.
Robyn Carr picks up the Virgin River series with book #7 – Paradise Valley. We find out that Rick has been injured while serving with the Marines in Iraq. After rehab he returns to Virgin River where he needs to figure out things in his life. He’s angry and scared. He presumes how people will react to his injuries so he acts first. Unfortunately, he decides to cut loose everyone closest to him. Carr takes us on Rick’s journey of self-acceptance. We also catch up on a couple of other story-lines (Cameron and Abby; Dan Brady; Cheryl Creighton). But this is really Rick’s book. It may just be the best in the series so far.

Hot by Julia Harper

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Back of the book: For most people, being held at gunpoint by inept bank robbers disguised as Yoda and SpongeBob SquarePants would make for a bad day. For local librarian Turner Hastings, it’s an opportunity. Using the distraction to pull a little heist of her own, she dives into a new life. . .on the run.

FBI Special Agent John MacKinnon always gets his man. . .or woman. After watching Turner Hastings dump the contents of a safety deposit box into her purse on a surveillance tape, he knows this is going to be an interesting case. What he doesn’t expect is how the cell phone contact between him and his prey is about to blur the line between professional ambition and personal desire. When bullets from a hired hitman start flying in Turner’s direction, giving weight to her claims of injustice, John is willing to cross any line to save her life. . .even if it means risking his own.
I found this title while browsing What attracted my attention was the location of the story – my home state. Julia Harper situated her book in an area where many a memorable family vacation took place when I was growing up. But that all pales in comparison to the growing relationship of Turner and John. Think: book title. Throw in John’s bewildered FBI partner, a couple of goofy robbers, assorted townspeople, and an adventure that goes from the Wisconsin North Woods to Winosha (is that even a real place??) to Madison to Milwaukee – and you’ve got an entertaining and romantic novel. It was a Hot and fun read.

Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs

Snowfall At Willow Lake (Lakeshore Chronicles Series) by Susan Wiggs: Book Cover

Back of the book: International lawyer Sophie Bellamy has dedicated her life to helping people in war-torn countries. But when she survives a hostage situation, she remembers what matters most – the children she loves back home. Haunted by regrets, she returns to the idyllic Catskills village of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, determined to repair the bonds with her family.
Snowfall at Willow Lake speaks from the heart about all the loves that fill a woman’s life, and all the ways that love is tested and made to grow. It’s the story of what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror and finds her way home, to healing and redemption and a new chance at happiness.
This is the fourth book of The Lakeshore Chronicles and probably my favorite. I didn’t expect that because what I knew about Sophie Bellamy from the previous books didn’t leave me with a positive impression. Susan Wiggs fleshed her out in such a way that I’d say she’s now one of the best characters in the series. Great story. Brava, Ms. Wiggs!

Small Town Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Small Town Christmas by Debbie Macomber: Book Cover

Small Town Christmas is the reissue of two backlist Macomber titles. The first is Return to Promise which is a follow-up to her Heart of Texas series (I sped through that last week because I don’t like to read series books out of order). The second was written more than twenty years ago – Mail-Order Bride. That one really doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas other than it takes place in Alaska and there’s snow on the ground. They were both easy, enjoyable stories.

A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

A Cedar Cove Christmas (Cedar Cove Series) by Debbie Macomber: Book Cover

Book flap: Mother-to-be Mary Jo Wyse arrives in Cedar Cove on Christmas Eve, searching for her baby’s father. David Rhodes had said he’d be in town. But he isn’t. Which leaves Mary Jo stranded, pregnant and alone. And there’s no room at the local inn…
Debbie Macomber gives us a modern-day take on the Christmas Story. A Cedar Cove Christmas is a short, sweet book that introduces a new family that I’m sure will figure into a future Cedar Cove series book. Readers of the series will recognize several favorite characters including Olivia, Jack, Grace and Cliff. It was a nice get-in-the-Christmas-spirit book.

8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

8 Sandpiper Way continues the saga of Cedar Cove – a charming small town near Seattle. Actually, Cedar Cove is a fictional town but loosely based on the author’s hometown of Port Orchard, Washington. If you haven’t read this series I suggest you begin with the first (16 Lighthouse Road) and work your way through.

This installment finds major characters dealing with breast cancer, the grief of losing a husband/father, and suspected foul-play among other issues. This could definitely be a Lifetime series. 3/5 stars.

Summer Reads

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Summer By the Sea (Susan Wiggs) is the story of a 2nd chance at a 1st love. This is the perfect beach read – or in my case, the perfect pretend you’re at the beach read. An extra surprise (and I see this more and more) were the recipes. I recommend this book!
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Summer People (Elin Hilderbrand) is the story of a grieving family who retreat to their Nantucket summer home after the death of the husband. I just didn’t get into this book. I thought it had potential but it just left me wondering why it wasn’t a better story. I preferred Barefoot (published in 2007).