Thursday, March 23, 2017

Review: Courting Carrie in Wonderland by Carla Kelly

Heidi Reads... Courting Carrie in Wonderland by Carla Kelly

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Struggling through college and balancing her summer job in Yellowstone Park with the Wylie Camping Company, Carrie McKay simply doesn't have time to consider romance. Spanish American War Veteran Sergeant Major Ramsay Stiles also isn't looking for love, busy with his own complicated affairs. But as the magic of Yellowstone starts making its way into their hearts, both begin to see love move up their priority list

My Review

My husband and I love to visit National Parks, so I was especially intrigued that this story was set in Yellowstone's early days as a National Park. The policies regarding animals, the road construction and bridge building, and the presence of the army made it a much different place than it is today. Still other aspects were recognizable- the loveliness of the wilderness, the geysers, the pervading sulfur smell, and the joy of camping. The story moved a bit slowly for me, but the blossoming relationship between Carrie and Ramsay moved things along and since I've always enjoyed the author's historical perspective and unique voice, I decided to sit back and just enjoy the trip ;) Carrie and Ramsay both have experienced trauma and the peace and light they bring each other make their relationship a special one. I liked the circumstances that allowed them to spend more time together, escorting a retired Broadway star who is superior and demanding, yet hides a sensitive past. The way Carrie and Ramsay deal with her show their deeper characteristics- dignity, compassion, and humor. The sweet banter and understanding between the two make their romance just lovely.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

About the Author

Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for “Borrowed Light,” “My Loving Vigil Keeping,” and “Softly Falling.”

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology by Heather Chapman, Paula Kremser, Mandi Ellsworth, Ashtyn Newbold

Heidi Reads... Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience Anthology by Heather Chapman, Paula Kremser, Mandi Ellsworth, Ashtyn Newbold

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Around the turn of the century, matches were made for all sorts of reasons--whether to keep a family together or simply to make ends meet. But love has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places! With four historical romance stories in one, this fun anthology will sweep you from the dance floors of aristocracy to the hearths of country living, leading to love through the most unusual circumstances.

Ashbrook Abbey by Heather Chapman
Though decidedly against marriage, when Ambrose Notley discovers it may win him his uncle's good opinion (and his inheritance), he marries the orphaned Kate Mowbray. But will Kate be able to break down the walls that Ambrose has built around himself?

First Comes Marriage by Paula Kremser
When Letty's sister and husband unexpectedly die, a greedy uncle threatens to steal custody of the children and their money. David, Letty's brother-in-law, marries Letty in the hopes of retaining custody of their niece and nephew. But will this love for show become something deeper?

The Price of Her Heart by Mandi Ellsworth
When Faith McKinney witnesses a crime she shouldn't have seen, she's forced into hiding to protect her own life.As part of this, her uncle arranges her marriage to small-town sheriff Geoffrey. But when the men searching for her find Geoffrey as well, will he be able to protect her?

Beauty and the Beholder by Ashtyn Newbold
When a marriage arranged by chance brings Fanny and Percy together, they quickly learn that clashing personalities and battles of wit are not a recipe for a happy match. How could a marriage between quick enemies ever result in something such as love? But fate has a way of bringing even the most unlikely hearts together...

My Review

What a sweet collection of novellas! I love the marriage of convenience theme since it shows how two people can grow together in an often difficult and unusual situation. I enjoyed each story equally- I wasn't able to pick a favorite, but that's a good thing ;) The individuals in the stories were well fleshed out and had depth and a unique voice. I liked seeing the variety of writing styles from the authors and the settings were interesting as well- two were set in England, one was a western, and one was in New York. The romances are clean and heartfelt, with emotion and hope in the midst of the characters' desperation. I love stories like these that offer a sweet journey to happily-ever-after.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

“Unexpected Love” blog tour schedule:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Review: Love's Shadow by Nichole Van

Heidi Reads... Love's Shadow by Nichole Van

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

*Love's Shadow and the first book in the series, Gladly Beyond, are currently free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers!*


Branwell D'Angelo . . .
Six years ago, I fell in love with Lucy--my brother's girlfriend. Stupid of me, I know, but sometimes the heart doesn't listen to reason.
Six years, I've lived on the sidelines. Seeing him love her, be with her, bask in her sunshine . . .
I watched her break his heart and then cleaned up the shattered pieces of him she left behind.
She's the one woman I can't have but still the only one my soul wants.
Now she's back in our lives and needs the unique help only us D'Angelos can give.
He's not emotionally strong enough to face her. So he's sending me instead . . .

For her part, when tragedy strikes Lucy Snow on a visit to Italy, she can't bring herself to call any of the D'Angelo brothers for help. There are consequences for falling in love with your ex-boyfriend's brother. But Lucy desperately needs Branwell's paranormal skills and his gift of Sight. And if seeing him will negate at least three years of therapy? Well, it's a price she is willing to pay.

Thrown together in a desperate bid to save an innocent life, Branwell and Lucy struggle against their shared past, only to realize that something even more dangerous is reaching through the weight of time to stalk their every move . . .

Though the second book in the Brothers Maledetti series, Love's Shadow is a full-length, stand alone novel.

My Review

The first book in the series, Gladly Beyond, was pretty amazing and made my list for favorites of 2016. This second book did not disappoint and I loved it just as much! Full of emotion, heartache, love, and hope, it brings out all the feels and I shed a few tears while reading. I loved the connection between Bran and Lucy, despite both of them thinking they harbored an unrequited love for each other. There are so many fun quirky details that really make their relationship come to life. The paranormal aspect of the plot isn't too over the top and is based in the family's history, so the modern setting wasn't too much of a contrast for the things Lucy and the D'Angelo family are experiencing, perhaps because it's set in Italy. The supernatural gift/curse that the brothers have form a bond between them and the dynamics are complicated and fascinating. I already can't wait to read more!!!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Don't miss the first book in the Brothers Maledetti series, Gladly Beyond:

Heidi Reads... Gladly Beyond by Nichole Van

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


An ancient curse, fractured at the birth of three brothers.
Two strangers helplessly drawn to each other.
A love story two hundred years in the making.

Claire Raythorn arrives in Florence, Italy, shattered, alone, and anxious to rebuild her life--preferably one without men. But she soon finds herself hunted and haunted-- literally--when a mysterious stalker dressed like Mr. Darcy from BBC central casting appears in her photos. And only her photos. Who is this man? And what does his ghostly presence mean?

Dante D'Angelo simply wants to safeguard his brothers, despite the family curse that hounds his vision. But then Claire Raythorn walks into his life, untouched somehow by his curse. Soon, everything Dante thought he knew about himself starts to unravel, dragging Claire down with him.

Set against the lush backdrop of Florence, Italy--both past and present--Claire and Dante fight for a future together. But, first, they must uncover their shared past . . .

Review & Giveaway! Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft by Heather B. Moore

Heidi Reads... Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft by Heather B. Moore

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


“This woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trial discover herself to be such a one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief plea was that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.” —Reverend Cotton Mather, 1692

USA Today Bestselling author Heather B. Moore brings the life of her 10th great-grandmother to center stage. Susannah North Martin, accused of witchcraft in 1692, joins five women in the Salem Jail, all sentenced to death for their crimes. Amidst tragedy, Susannah finds hope and compassion as she remembers a well-loved life, and readers discover that love reaches far beyond the grave as Susannah faces the magistrates in Salem.

My Review

This in an incredible telling of two phases of Susannah Martin's life. It alternated between her time as a young adult when she met her husband, their romance, and early days of their marriage, and her incarceration in her 70's when she was accused and convicted of witchcraft. My favorite parts were the happy times of course, Susannah's relationship with George was a bit unexpected since she was looking forward to being a spinster, but his charm and teasing won her over eventually (not to mention his kisses) ;) There is a real sense of what the times were like back then, the Puritan way of life in a small and gossipy community. The more difficult parts were learning significant historical details behind the volatile period where people would accuse others of witchcraft out of ignorance, but more often for revenge, monetary gain, or power in the community. It was both fascinating and upsetting that such madness occurred in our country's early history. I couldn't help but think that there are still echoes of this in today's society, where reputations can be ruined with a word, and lives destroyed through the cruelness of others. I'm glad that I read this book and it gave me more compassion for those who suffered horribly from injustice. The ending was inspiring and despite the heaviness of the experiences of Susannah in the jail, there is an underlying current of faith in spite of the hopelessness that strengthened her and those around her. Highly recommend!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Connect with author Heather B. Moore

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Wedding March by Tara Randel

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

The Wedding March
(The Business of Weddings #4)
Tara Randel
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

The help only he can offer…

Cypress Pointe, Florida, is a long way from LA, where pop singer Cassie Branford needs a hit to prove she's not a two album wonder. But her case of writer's block could be over when the struggling songwriter meets Luke Hastings at a family wedding.

The legendary musician walked away from success at the height of his career. Yet Luke is already inspiring Cassie with his dedication to building a permanent community outreach center for troubled teens. Volunteering to help bring music into these kids' lives is also bringing her and Luke closer. Maybe they're not as different as he thinks…

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“We aren’t talking about me.”
“Maybe we should.”
Her steady gaze held his. His heart pounded. This close, he could see the distinctive shade of green mocking his words. She knew, maybe even better than he did.
“Talent like yours doesn’t go away,” she echoed.
“Maybe it should.”
The words hung between them. Time stilled as his blood raced. How had she managed to resurrect this one painful aspect of his life? How had she focused on the fact that while he said he wouldn’t write again, the ability had never turned off? His brain still formed tempos and lyrics, even though he ruthlessly pushed them away every time they surfaced. For two years he’d lived without admitting the truth to himself. And now, by encouraging Cassie to deal with her fears, he was forced to confront his own.
This was why he hadn’t wanted to make a deal with her. Yet at the same time, was secretly glad he did.
With so little space between them, he looked down at her lips. What would she do if he crossed the line? Kissed her as a way of changing the subject.
Find out, his inner voice taunted.
He moved that last fraction closer, his lips hovering over hers. And still she stayed put, as if waiting to see if he would carry out his intentions. So he did.
His lips covered hers, silencing her gasp. He moved slowly, savoring the unexpected delight. The air around them grew heavy as he coaxed a trembling response from her. Adrenaline buzzed through his system, much like the feeling he experienced when a melody came together. Only this wasn’t a song. This was Cassie. Alive and in the flesh. Returning his kiss now with the enthusiasm he’d seen when she performed on stage. A passion he couldn’t deny. Or fight.
One of her hands moved over his, satiny soft as she twined their fingers together. The kiss continued. Slow and unhurried. Until a shout from the gym reminded him that his office door was wide open. Everyone and their brother could get a gander of him kissing the pop artist who’d come to the Klub to volunteer her time to the kids, not him.
He snapped back to his senses, jerking away from her.
Smooth, Hastings.
 Other Books in the Series


About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

Tour Schedule

March 12th: Launch

Tour Giveaway

- US PRIZE PACK: Signed copies of the first three books in The Business of Weddings series by Tara Randel, a $25 gift card for Dunkin’ Donuts, a coffee mug with an inspirational message: "Something beautiful is on the horizon," and a Harlequin Heartwarming tote bag. (US only)
- $25 Amazon eCard (open internationally)
- Ends March 28th

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spotlight, Excerpt & Giveaway: Sanctuary Cove by Kate James

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Sanctuary Cove
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Can his safe haven be enough for her?

Emma Meadows never imagined that sticking to her principles against an act of corruption by a New York senator would cost her her job as VP of communications. Heartbroken, she retreats to her cottage in the Adirondacks to lick her wounds and, in the process, rescues an injured dog that only Josh Whitmore can save.

The veterinarian works diligently to bring dog and woman back to full fighting form, until allegations against the senator become more serious. Seeing Emma's reaction to the increasing pressure, Josh realizes that inevitably she'll find a way back to the top…and he'll likely lose her for good.

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Suddenly, the dogs veered off the path. There was a distressed mew followed by the dogs’ excited barking.
Emma and Josh rushed toward the sound and came upon a small fawn lying awkwardly on the ground. Emma pressed a hand over her mouth to keep from crying out. It was obvious that the fawn was injured. “What’s wrong with her?” she asked in a strained voice.
Josh shook his head as he cautiously approached it. “I don’t know. Take the dogs away with you, Emma, if you can.”
All she could think of was the beautiful, injured elk that Josh had shot. She looked at the fawn, so defenseless and filled with terror, and froze. “You’re—you’re not going to…” Emma could feel the blood drain from her face.
Josh slanted a glance at her. “No, I’m not going to hurt her, Emma. The dogs’ presence is doing more harm than anything I plan to do. Please take them back with you.”
Emma was sure he hadn’t intended to sound harsh, but his tone snapped her out of her paralysis. Inside the cottage, she tried to remain patient until she finally saw Josh emerge from the forest, carrying the fawn. Relief washed over her.
Leaving the dogs inside, she rushed out to meet him. She slowed her approach as she neared, not wanting to startle the fawn.
“How badly is she hurt?” she asked in a subdued voice.
“Probably a torn ligament.”
“What are you going to do with her?” Emma knew the fawn wouldn't survive on her own in the forest.
“I’ll examine and treat her, and then see if I can get her to an animal refuge.” He made a sound of frustration. “I’ve been meaning to add on to the clinic to be able to accommodate wildlife, not just domestics. I’m not sure where to keep her, until I can get her to a reserve.”
“How about here?” Emma asked.
They’d reached her cottage and he glanced around. “Where?”
She pointed to the stand-alone shed a couple of hundred feet away from her cottage. “I can fence off an area inside. She’ll be safe in there. I can set up an outside enclosure for her, too.”
“Emma, you can’t save every wounded creature that comes your way,” he said softly. “Let’s get her checked over first.

About the Author

Kate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate's goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories featuring strong, likable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Logan.

Kate would love to hear from you! You can connect with her by email, through her website, her Facebook pageTwitter, or mail at PO Box 446, Schomberg, ON, L0G 1T0, Canada.
US/CAN PRIZE PACK, which consists of:
- San Diego K-9 Series T-shirt (winner’s choice of size S, M or L)
- San Diego K-9 Series tote bag
- San Diego K-9 Series mug and a small pack of gourmet coffee
- Signed copy of When Love Matters Most (second book in the San Diego K-9 Series)
- Signed copy of The Truth About Hope
When I Found You (third book in the San Diego K-9 Series) key chain
- An assortment of bookmarks and bookplates
Open to US/CAN only
Ends March 21st

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Review & Giveaway: The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

Heidi Reads... The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Pride, prejudice and forgiveness...

Hampton Hall's new owner has the villagers of St. Hampton Heath all aflutter--all except Lavinia Ellison. The reverend's daughter cares for those who are poor and sick, and the seventh Earl of Hawkesbury definitely does not meet that criteria. His refusal to take his responsibilities seriously, or even darken the door of the church, leave her convinced he is as arrogant and reckless as his brother--his brother who stole the most important person in Lavinia's world.

Nicholas Stamford is shadowed by guilt: his own, his brother's, the legacy of war. A perfunctory visit to this dreary part of Gloucestershire wasn't supposed to engage his heart, or his mind. Challenged by Miss Ellison's fascinating blend of Bluestocking opinions, hoydenish behavior, and angelic voice, he finds the impossible becoming possible--he begins to care. But Lavinia's aloof manner, society's opposition and his ancestral obligations prove most frustrating, until scandal forces them to get along.

Can Lavinia and Nicholas look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future? And what will happen when Lavinia learns a family secret that alters everything she's ever known?

My Review

Regency England is one of my favorite settings, and I was thrilled to find a new author to read in this genre! I loved the writing style, it was perfectly balanced between the formality of the time and revealing the emotions and feelings of the characters. There are powerful themes of humility, compassion, and forgiveness. Nicholas isn't the only one who goes through a process of change and self-improvement, Lavinia also learns some hard truths about herself and becomes more accepting and less condemning of those whose society she has a difficult time with. The two have great banter and chemistry, although I would have enjoyed seeing more happy moments between them instead of so much angst, misunderstanding, and regret. Overall I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more by the author!

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Regency romance fans have another must-read novel to add to their lists: Carolyn Miller's The Elusive Miss Ellison. Enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past pride and presumption to a humbled appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love. These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society's opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

Settle in for a cozy night of reading with a cuppa and a Kindle from Carolyn!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on March 22. The winner will be announced March 23 on the Litfuse blog.