Bittersweet by Shirlee McCoy

  • Title:  Bittersweet
  • Series:  Home Sweet Home #3
  • Author:  Shirlee McCoy
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  July 2017 – Zebra
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  In Benevolence, Washington, the Lamont family’s luscious handmade chocolates are a beloved tradition—and the sweetest of comforts. And for the most reserved of the three Lamont sisters, they’re a much-needed way to challenge the past, rekindle hope—and make happiness for a lifetime.
 
Caring family and friends, tranquil streets—ex-prosecutor Willow Lamont wishes these could make her feel truly at home. She’s back to help her grandfather manage Chocolate Haven, a long-held dream come true. But she’s struggling to make their unique fudge—and to cope with a secret trauma that haunts her. Yet when she finds an abandoned baby who breaks her heart wide open, she wonders how long she can hide her emotions—especially from warm, handsome, and way too nosey Deputy Sheriff Jax Gordon.
 
Always an outsider, Jax knows more than he should about loss. But he didn’t expect his difficult search for baby “Miracle’s” mother would reveal such a vulnerable side to the accomplished, beautiful woman he’s always admired. Earning Willow’s trust is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Yet between her honesty and courage, he’s longing to fill her life with rekindled joy—and a forever of irresistible love.  (publisher)

My take:  Bittersweet is the story of Willow Lamont and Jax Gordon – two people who survived horrific events when they were young. Both dealt with their traumas in their own way and grew to be upstanding adults who only hoped to outrun their bad memories. When Willow returns to the small town where she grew up to help at her family’s chocolate shop she runs into Jax, a school friend from when they both lived in Benevolence. Neither has a problem with being friends but can they deal with what could happen if the underlying attraction they feel becomes more? Fate has plans of her own when a baby comes on the scene late one night. No spoilers here! This is the first of author Shirlee McCoy’s books I’ve had a chance to read. I thought it was a sweet and heart warming story about learning to trust and move forward. I’d definitely read another book by McCoy. Recommended to fans of the author and contemporary romance.


Praise for Shirlee McCoy’s Sweet Haven

“Fans of Debbie Macomber will appreciate McCoy’s sweet, funny, heartwarming romance with its friendly, small-town setting.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A delicious small‑town treat.” —Library Journal

*

Praise for Home Sweet Home

“The latest in McCoy’s Home Sweet Home series is a heartfelt story that will touch your heart. With her engaging storytelling, McCoy brings us characters with substance who are clear, distinctive, and endearing. Willow is a strong, courageous, and vulnerable heroine and Jax is a compassionate, reassuring hero who compliments her. A well-crafted plot filled with raw emotion and conflict is the highlight of this tender story of love, loss, and healing.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“McCoy has created two wounded souls and sent them on an unforgettable journey of healing. Readers will find this emotional roller-coaster ride of a story as compelling as it is heartwarming.”– Booklist 


 

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When the Snow Falls by Fern Michaels, Nancy Bush, Rosanna Chiofalo, Lin Stepp

  • When the Snow Falls (Oct7) KensingtonTitle:  When the Snow Falls
  • Authors:  Fern Michaels; Nancy Bush; Rosanna Chiofalo; Lin Stepp
  • Genre:  Christmas Anthology; Romance
  • Published:  September 2014 – Zebra
  • Source:  Kensington Books

Synopsis:  Something’s in the air this holiday season, and it could be the beginning of a wonderful Christmas romance…

“Candy Canes and Cupid” by Fern Michaels

All private investigator Hannah Ray wants for Christmas is a quiet day at her Florida beachfront condo. When her biggest client insists she join him on a Colorado ski trip, she has little choice—but what she finds on her arrival could melt the coldest heart…

“White Hot Christmas” by Nancy Bush

Aspiring PI Jane Kelly likes to pretend she’s a bah-humbug kind of girl, but she’s had mistletoe on the brain ever since she shared a kiss with her boss, Dwayne. Before she can hope for a repeat performance, Jane must solve a kidnapping that’s as twisted as a candy cane—and not nearly as sweet.

“Seven Days of Christmas” by Rosanna Chiofalo

Five years ago, Bianca Simone received a wonderful early Christmas gift from her boyfriend, Mark—a week amid the stunning Alpine scenery of Innsbruck, Austria. Now she’s back under very different circumstances, but Mark has one more special gift in mind…

“A Smoky Mountain Gift” by Lin Stepp

Veda Trent is back in Townsend to fill in as temporary manager of the Crafts Co-op, but she’s not planning to stay. Though the mountain town is small, it holds lots of unsettling memories. Yet the wind can change, bringing with it new opportunities—and the chance to create the kind of Christmas Veda has always longed for.

My take:  I think Christmas is the perfect time of year to read an anthology. When the Snow Falls includes 4 very different stories. The first involves an attractive pair brought together by a bit of matchmaking on the part of a mutual friend who happens to own a 5 star ski resort in Colorado. There’s a mystery to be solved at the resort too. I liked this story. The second is more mystery than romance. I thought it was ok but that’s how I feel about most mysteries. The third was a heartfelt story about a woman wondering if she can go on in life after a huge loss. Can’t say much more because of the spoiler possibilities. Most of it takes place in Europe and there’s a small paranormal aspect. The last story picked up where a novel I read a few months ago left off. I didn’t expect that. I enjoyed going back to the small mountain town and the people who live there. A young woman wonders if she should find out if you can go home again. I hope the author continues this novella in a future full length novel. This was my favorite of the four stories. That said, When the Snow Falls has a little something for every reader.

Stirring Up Trouble by Kimberly Kincaid

  • Stirring Up Trouble (Oct7) KensingtonTitle:  Stirring Up Trouble
  • Series:  Pine Mountain #3
  • Author:  Kimberly Kincaid
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  October 2014 – Kensington Books; Zebra
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Sloane Russo’s turned a decade of crazy jobs and whimsical travel into a career writing steamy novels set in exotic places. Trouble is, Sloane’s flat broke now–and she can’t channel sun-drenched beaches in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The only fast cash in town comes with some seriously distracting temptation: Gavin Carmichael, hot, handsome and oh-so-hard-headed.

Gavin isn’t the impulsive Don Juan of Sloane’s novels. He’s raising his thirteen-year-old half-sister, and he’s pretty sure he’s supposed to act like he’s never heard of fun. Sloane is way too sexy and irresponsible to be his idea of a good tutor for Bree, but the unpredictable anti-nanny may be irresistible as well. . .  (publisher)

My take:  This is the third book in the Pine Mountain series and even though it’s the first of the series that I’ve read I didn’t feel lost in the setting or with the characters. It can definitely stand alone.

I enjoyed Sloane and Gavin’s story except for a predictable part in the last third of the novel. It moved the plot so I get why it had to happen but still. I won’t spoil it for other readers. Could be it just bothers me and no one else 🙂  I liked the two characters and enjoyed Sloane trying to get the serious Gavin to loosen up a bit. In turn, Gavin encouraged Sloane to believe in herself and to trust her decisions.

I think my favorite part of the novel was the relationship between Sloane and Gavin’s young sister Bree. Bree is learning to live without her mother (who died about a year earlier from cancer) and is in desperate need of a mother figure who understands her and can help with the things girls her age experience. It was handled well, I thought, and covered things I’ve not come across in any other romance novel.

Stirring Up Trouble is the first book by Kimberly Kincaid I’ve read and I look forward to reading more. Recommended to fans of the Pine Mountain series and Contemporary Romance.