Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Rough Around the Edges Meets Refined by Rachael Anderson

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


For Noah Mackie, life is finally back on track. He has a great support system, a promised promotion is on its way, and he's finally getting the hang of this single father thing. But when the job falls through and his neighbor's matchmaking efforts become more aggressive, Noah is in for yet another unwanted detour. With his career and two spirited daughters to worry about, he doesn't have time for dating—especially not someone like Cassie Ellis, his girls' beautiful and sophisticated dance instructor, who is about as open and approachable as a brick wall.

Rough around the Edges Meets Refined is about two people who think they know exactly what they want but who have no idea what they really need. It's about learning that people aren't always what they seem and that sometimes life’s detours take you exactly where you need to go.

My Review

This is a great contemporary romance! Cassie is finding herself again after a dysfunctional marriage ends, Noah has been grieving his wife for four years. Their first impressions of each other aren't favorable, but as Noah renovates Cassie's basement for a dance studio, they are given the opportunity to see the true person behind the walls they put up... which slowly come down. This author is skilled at giving her characters great scenes and dialogue- it's like watching a movie in my head! My favorite is when Noah catches Cassie lip-synching in her kitchen and she sees a whole other side of him as he joins in and encourages her to just have fun, while he sees the side of her that is yearning to let go and live passionately.

This is the second book in Rachael Anderson's Meet Your Match series, and Noah and his daughters are minor characters in the first book, Prejudice Meets Pride which features his sister as the lead (read my review here). I recommend reading them in order to fully understand the backgrounds of all characters in the books, but they are also written to be read as stand-alone novels.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review: Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt

Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Meadow knows how to serve delicious food to match any wedding theme. But can she accept love when it's served up on a silver platter?

During one of the biggest weeks of her catering career, Meadow Larson’s kitchen roof caves in after an unrelenting blizzard. She has to accept help from the last person on earth she wants to see: Colin McGrath. The tormentor from her past is now a contractor, her new neighbor—and the only person available to take on a project of this size.

Colin is aware God has given him a second chance to make things right with Meadow after bullying her in high school. After years of regret and guilt, Colin is determined to earn her respect and forgiveness, no matter what it takes.

It’ll take an extreme kitchen renovation, several cooking lessons, a little lace, and a lot of grace, but God is using this renovation project not only to restore Meadow’s heart, but also to restore Colin’s integrity in her eyes. Will Meadow learn to trust the new Colin even as their relationship grows from a business exchange to something more meaningful?

My Review

I liked the idea behind this story, but the first part of the book only hinted at some of the misdeeds from Colin's past, which made the extent and intensity of Meadow's bitterness seem unequal to what was revealed. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if her vulnerabilities were shown rather than repetitively guarded by a brash exterior. Once she begins to let go and forgive, the story picks up and the characters are able to finally interact and bond. I admired Colin's tenacity in proving himself to Meadow- he goes the extra mile by volunteering his time and resources to repairing her house and giving her a place to live and work during the renovation. All free of charge, no strings attached. I completely understand how uncomfortable this makes Meadow, but as she's desperate to fulfill her upcoming contracts, she accepts... and her matchmaking sister with a softer heart for redemption influences Meadow to open her heart and allow God to heal her hurts.

(Thank you to Zondervan Publishing and BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: A Cowboy for Christmas by Lacy Williams

A Cowboy for Christmas by Lacy Williams

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


After an accident leaves her injured, Daisy Richards stays secluded at her family's Wyoming ranch to avoid the town's gawking stares. Yet handsome cowboy newcomer Ricky White insists she can do anything she dreams—ride a horse, decorate a Christmas tree…even steal a man's heart.

Once a reckless cad, Ricky is to blame for what happened to Daisy. Now reformed, he wants to make amends by setting things right for his boss's beautiful daughter in time for the holidays. But Daisy doesn't know Ricky's responsible for her predicament. When the truth is revealed, will he lose the greatest gift he's ever received—her trust?

My Review

Boy, Daisy and Ricky sure have it rough in this story! In the beginning Daisy has a very "woe is me" attitude (can't really blame her...) but her tentative friendship with Ricky gets her looking beyond her trials and forward to the future with hope. Her character arc was well done and realistic for the challenges she faced. Ricky is so full of guilt and remorse, and I admired his fortitude in relying on Jesus to carry the burden of his sins. Of course, throughout the story I was waiting for the ball to drop- for Daisy to discover that Ricky had a part in her tragic circumstances, and wondered how she would manage to handle it and forgive him. You'll have to read the book to find out! ;)

(Thank you to Harlequin and Love Inspired books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

E-book sale: 99 cents for Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma

Only 99 cents for the e-book of Daisies are Forever by Liz Tolsma. This one is on my to-read list since her previous book was excellent!
(Be sure to check the price since e-books sales are for a limited time)


Gisela must hold on to hope and love despite all odds in the midst of a war-torn country.

Gisela Cramer is an American living in eastern Germany with her cousin Ella Reinhardt. When the Red Army invades, they must leave their home to escape to safety in Berlin.

However, Ella is a nurse and refuses to leave, sending her young daughters with Gisela. During their journey, Gisela meets Mitch Edwards, an escaped British POW. She pretends she is his wife in order to preserve his safety among other Germans, especially one wounded German soldier, Kurt, who has suspicions about Mitch's identity. Kurt also has feelings for Gisela and tries to uncover the truth about her "marriage."

Their journey to Gisela's mother in Berlin is riddled with tragedy and hardship, but they strive to keep Ella's daughters safe so they can reunite with their mother. During the journey Gisela and Mitch begin to develop feelings for one another beyond friendship. They reach Berlin, but their struggles are far from over. Gisela and Mitch must learn to live for the day and find hope in the darkest of circumstances.

In this moving, historically accurate portrayal of WWII Germany, the characters learn that, even with destruction all around them, some things last forever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales--and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.
Master storyteller Irene Hannon is back with an exciting new series featuring former special forces operatives now in the thick of the action in civilian life. Hannon is at the top of her game in this can't-put-it-down thriller that will have readers up until the wee hours devouring every page.

My Review

If you're looking for a book to help you fall asleep at night, don't pick this one up! I finished Buried Secrets at 2 am since I could not put it down. We read about the accident in the prologue, in first person perspective from the one who masterminded the cover-up. So the who-done-it is not a mystery, but rather the suspense comes from how the people involved are going to prevent the truth from coming to light. Lisa's character reminds me of Teresa Lisbon from the TV show The Mentalist- tough, professional, dedicated, and tenacious. Mac offers some assistance and insights but she clearly has a handle on the investigation. They are attracted to each other from the start, and Mac repeatedly admires her auburn hair with highlights. He's obviously a hair guy. We see his vulnerable side as he worries over his two brothers who are active duty special ops overseas. The softer side of Lisa is for the stray dog she adopted and became the department mascot. The viewpoint of the villain was chilling but also interesting to know the motivations for behavior. The investigation isn't fast-paced at first but the different viewpoints prevent stagnancy. Things speed up as evidence is discovered and more pressure is put upon the villain, which leads to a nail-biting climax.

(Thank you to Revell Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Review: Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

Finding Sheba by H.B. Moore

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
*The e-book is an affordable $3.99!*


For centuries, historians have speculated that the Queen of Sheba is nothing more than a seductive legend; but when undercover agent Omar Zagouri finds a tomb in a tunnel beneath Jerusalem, he unearths cryptic clues that may lead to the queen’s final resting place.

This discovery, if authentic, could throw into question the governmental claim to the Holy Land—and prove the Bible false. Wealthy collectors, ruthless archaeologists, and officials from Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel, and Yemen scramble to find and lay claim to the secret site.

Dr. Richard Lyon of Brown University, the world’s leading expert on the queen, is found murdered in his office, setting off a chain of deadly events. Omar desperately works to piece together the puzzle to locate the queen’s burial ground, fearing another assassination will take place. He teams up with one of Lyon’s protégées as well as with his ex-girlfriend, agent Mia Golding, in order to unravel the truth about the queen, expose a murderer, and reveal a timeless story of love, revenge, and sacrifice.

My Review

I don't always like modern and historical stories interwoven- I usually find one boring and distracting to the other, but not in this case! I loved the viewpoint of Nicaula, the legendary Queen of Sheba, eagerly anticipating her next account and discovering where her passionate story led. The modern viewpoints are chock full of action and intrigue- switching from one character to another to give a well-rounded perspective of the puzzle pieces that seem random but work their way together by the end.

Omar is a cross between Indiana Jones and James Bond; Mia a female version of that in her own right as an amazingly skilled agent. Their missions overlap and they end up rescuing each other, uncover corruption in several high-ranking officials, and gather evidence to solve the mysteries of the tombs. Omar is full of angst over their recent break-up which brings some humorous tension between him and his boss, her new boyfriend that he suspects stole Mia from him.

I also enjoyed the perspective of Jade, an American graduate student who studied under Dr. Lyon who traveled to the Middle East to gather research for her thesis, and Alem, a Ethiopian seeking to validate his family's relation to the royalty of the Queen. There is a reasonable amount of violence, a couple mild swear words, and a reference to Omar and Mia living together when they had a relationship. I highly recommend this book to fans of The Da Vinci Code and similar ancient historical thrillers.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Review & Giveaway! The Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall

Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for any of the books from The Everstone Chronicles!

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion named Elle Stoneburner at one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine—the one she'd always loved best and always hoped to own one day, Everston. The one thing she doesn't like about the situation is that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella reluctantly forms a friendship with the gruff manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley, who seems to have something against wealthy young socialites with too much money, although they are just the kind of people Everston caters to.

When Estella finds herself in need of help, Dexter comes to the rescue with an offer she can't refuse. She sees no other choice aside from going back home to her family and accepts the position as companion to his sister. Throughout her interactions with Dexter, she can't deny the pull that's evidenced between them every time he comes near. Estella realizes that while she's been hiding behind a false name and identity, she’s never been freer to be herself than when she's with Dexter Blakeley. But will he still love her when he finds out she's Estella Everstone? She's not entirely sure.

My Review

Dawn Crandall's writing style is fascinating. Written in first person, there is a quality about it like I'm reading in tunnel vision- I know there's more going on peripherally but I can only see what is being experienced by the main character, Estella. The story unfolds in layers and the different aspects of the plot are revealed strategically. It's almost like uncovering a mystery!

Estella has undergone her transformation from shallow socialite to compassionate companion before the book begins, so we see her new perspective of the world and herself. I love how she is drawn to Dexter and values him for his own qualities as she comes to know him and forms an unlikely friendship with him. He is a bit of a mystery as well, but from the beginning his integrity and honor are obvious. I loved reading the developing romance between Estella and Dexter and discovering all the facets of their story! This third book in The Everstone Chronicles is definitely my favorite.

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)