Review/US Giveaway: Discovering You by Brenda Novak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

–RT Book Reviews on A Winter Wedding, Top Pick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


US Giveaway

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Discovering You by Brenda Novak (6:1)

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Guest Post and my review: Lone Heart Pass by Jodi Thomas

I’m pleased to welcome author Jodi Thomas today:

Lone Heart Pass (4:26)

When I began LONE HEART PASS two people stepped into my mind.  One, Jubilee Hamilton, who has just had all her dreams crash and the other, Charley Collins, who feels like he’s never had the chance to follow even one dream.  Both are fighting to simply survive.  Together they learn to start believing in love and form a dream, not of riches or fame, but of family.

I write the RANSOM CANYON series in a little room out back of my house that we now call the bunkhouse.  It’s not big, mission designed and almost a hundred years old.  I took down all the western art and put up white boards.  I even removed all the books except those on ranching, horses, Texas, or research I might need. Family histories of characters fill one wall and plot lines another.  When I step into the bunkhouse, I step into the world of Ransom Canyon.

One by one my characters come in and sit down to tell me their story. Jubilee and Charley came to me fully developed.  I saw them sit down in front of my desk (in my mind) and begin to tell me their story.  Charley’s love for his daughter.  Jubilee’s need to put down roots.  His knowledge of ranching.  Her fascination with keeping records and charts.  Them learning to trust one another when no one believed in either of them.

LONE HEART PASS marks my 43rd novel.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve had an extra lifetime of friends and family. It was hard writing the end to this one.  I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Jodi Thomas

Description: With a career and a relationship in ruins, Jubilee Hamilton is left reeling from a fast fall to the bottom. The run-down Texas farm she’s inherited is a far cry from the second chance she hoped for, but it and the abrasive foreman she’s forced to hire are all she’s got. 

Every time Charley Collins has let a woman get close, he’s been burned. So Lone Heart ranch and the contrary woman who owns it are merely a means to an end, until Jubilee tempts him to take another risk—to stop resisting the attraction drawing them together despite all his hard-learned logic. 

Desperation is all young Thatcher Jones knows. And when he finds himself mixed up in a murder investigation, his only protection is the shelter of a man and woman who—just like him—need someone to trust.  (publisher)

My take:  Lone Heart Pass is a story about people who’ve been cast away by people who should have loved them. Whether by parents or partners each one had their trust abused so it’s no wonder they’re reluctant, no, determined not to let anyone get that close to them again.

One of the things I love about Jodi Thomas’s books is that her characters, though flawed like us all, are usually kind. Their feelings are recognizable because the reader can identify with many of them. I think that’s what makes her books comfort reads for me. Lone Heart Pass is no exception. It’s a great addition to the Ransom Canyon series. There’s romance, mystery and drama – and I enjoyed it all.

Recommended to fans of Jodi Thomas, contemporary romance and the Ransom Canyon series. I can’t wait for the next book.


1028_jodibio 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, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

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.

Best of My Love by Susan Mallery

  • best of my love (4:26)Title:  Best of My Love
  • Author:  Susan Mallery
  • Series:  Fool’s Gold #20
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance series
  • Published:  April 26, 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  Shelby Gilmore, sister to Kipling who was featured in a previous book in the Fool’s Gold series, has decided it’s time to take control of her future by dealing with her issues from the past. The main issue is that she can’t trust men. Her abusive father is responsible for that. She decides to ask Aidan Mitchell, a guy she barely knows, to help her overcome that issue by being a friend. Nothing more, nothing less. If nothing else, she’ll find out if it’s even possible to be friends with a guy. But can it be that simple?

Aidan is at a point in life where he decides being friends with a woman sounds like a good plan. He has come to the realization that having an eternal string of “girlfriends” who never last more than a week might not be the greatest way to go through life. In the end, learning to trust another person could be easier for these two than learning to trust themselves.

Susan Mallery wrote an entertaining love story with an unconventional premise. Filled with many familiar characters from the series, I can say it’s not necessary to have read any of the previous novels but it was fun to see what was new in their lives. Recommended to fans of the Fool’s Gold series. I thought it was a nice, easy vacation read.

What We Find by Robyn Carr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once a Rancher by Linda Lael Miller

  • Once a Rancher (3:29)Title:  Once a Rancher
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Series:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek, #1
  • Pages:  320
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  March 2016 – HQN
  • Source:  Publisher/NetGalley

Synopsis:  The Carsons of Mustang Creek: three men who embody the West and define what it means to be a rancher, a cowboy and a hero in this brand-new series from the queen of Western romance.

Slater Carson might be a businessman by trade, but he’s a cowboy at heart—and he knows the value of a hard day’s work under the hot Wyoming sun. So when he sees troubled teen Ryder heading down a dangerous path, he offers the boy a job on the ranch he shares with his two younger brothers. And since Ryder’s temporary guardian is the gorgeous new resort manager, Grace Emery, Slater figures it can’t hurt to keep a closer eye on her as well…

Grace Emery doesn’t have time for romance. Between settling in to her new job and caring for her ex-husband’s rebellious son, her attraction to larger-than-life Slater is a distraction she can’t afford. But when the past catches up to her in Mustang Creek, she’ll discover just how far Slater will go to protect what matters most—and that love is always worth fighting for. (publisher)

My take:  Linda Lael Miller builds on her Bliss County series with her newest book Once a Rancher – book 1 of The Carsons of Mustang Creek series. It was fun to see characters from the four previous books as they made brief appearances. That said, you don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy Once a Rancher.

The new series involves the Carson family of three brothers. This book is about Slater Carson, a documentary film producer and Grace Emery, manager of a high-end hotel and spa in the area.

Slater is between projects and is looking forward to a few days of R&R at the ranch. That plan  gets tossed when Grace and her step-son Ryder arrive at his door. Their story takes off from there. It’s what you’d expect from LLM and I enjoyed it all. I liked that there was a bit of a mystery to be solved that grew more and more sinister as the book progressed. I loved the setting – both the hotel and the ranch.

Of course, all’s well that ends well – and this book did. I look forward to the next book in the trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary and western romance.


Miller_Linda Lael_09-2The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is a #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than one hundred historical and contemporary novels, most of which reflect her love of the West. Raised in Northport, Washington, the self-confessed barn goddess now lives in Spokane, Washington. Linda hit a career high in 2011 when all three of her Creed Cowboys books—A Creed in Stone Creek, Creed’s Honor and The Creed Legacy—debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Linda has come a long way since leaving Washington to experience the world. “But growing up in that time and place has served me well,” she allows. “And I’m happy to be back home.” Dedicated to helping others, Linda personally finances her “Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women,” which she awards to those seeking to improve their lot in life through education.

More information about Linda and her novels is available at http://www.lindalaelmiller.com. She also loves to hear from readers by mail at P.O. Box 19461, Spokane, WA 99219.

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.

Carolina Dreaming by Virginia Kantra

  • Carolina Dreaming (2:2) BerkleyTitle:  Carolina Dreaming
  • Author:  Virginia Kantra
  • Series:  Dare Island #5
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  304
  • Published:  February 2, 2016 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Description:  When it comes to love, anything can happen on Dare Island—especially in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.   

After escaping a disastrous marriage, bakery owner Jane Clark has convinced herself that she has everything she needs—her precious son, a thriving business, and a roof over her head. But the arrival of a handsome stranger on the island shows her exactly what she’s been missing…   

The only home Gabe Murphy ever had was the Marine Corps. He’s working hard to rebuild his life. It will take a special place, and a special woman, to make him want to stay.   

Now Gabe is determined to prove that he’s worthy of Jane’s trust—and her love. But when her past reappears, that trust will be tested, and Jane and Gabe will have to fight hard to hold onto their love and make their dreams a reality…  (publisher)

My take:  Carolina Dreaming is the fifth book in the Dare Island series. The first three novels involved the three adult children of the Fletcher family. Books four and five are about people in the small island community who have ties to the Fletchers. I liked that the Fletcher family played more than minor roles in Carolina Dreaming.

We got to know Jane a bit in the fourth book, Carolina Blues. She survived an abusive first marriage and several years later is still learning how to get control of her life. She has a seven-year old son and they live with her father. She’s determined to be a strong woman and be the mother to her son that she lacked after her own mother walked away from the family.

Gabe survived a horrible upbringing and then survived Afghanistan. After his discharge he got in trouble with the law somewhere else and needs to start over where almost no one knows him. He was in the Marines with Luke Fletcher who once brought him home to Dare Island after basic training and before going to Afghanistan. He hopes the people who so generously welcomed him at that time will be happy to see him again.

I liked Gabe and Jane’s story. They share so much in common and yet find it so difficult to trust themselves or anyone. Both have been burned in life by people who should have loved them unconditionally. Virginia Kantra’s story is believable and relatable. I especially loved the story of Jane’s son finding commonality with Gabe. It tugged the heartstrings.

Recommended to fans of the author, the Dare Island series and stories about people learning to trust their hearts.