Showing posts with label 4 stars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4 stars. Show all posts

Monday, July 6, 2020

Review: A Secret Arrangement by Heather B. Moore


My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

What happens when two women race to spend their inheritance? An epic Grand Tour.

Evelyn Tucker has finally graduated from finishing school, but dreads living with her widowed aunt. On the appointed day, Aunt Margaret comes to collect Evelyn, and Margaret informs her that they’re going on a Grand Tour to spend as much of the estate money they can before a distant cousin inherits all. When Henry Gaiman discovers he’s inherited his distant uncle’s estate, he loathes the thought of returning to England since he’d rather continue with his archaeology dig in Egypt. Return he must, and there, he meets Evelyn, a woman who will change his world in more ways than one.

(This novella was previously published in Timeless Victorian Collection: A Grand Tour)

My Review

This was a fun and exciting adventure that took us from the trains of England to the camels of Giza. Evelyn has been pretty sheltered and doesn't want to leave her best friend Beatrice at the boarding school. She gets quite the surprise to find her aunt so changed, and does her best to take the spontaneous travel plans in stride. Evelyn seems like the type where not much ruffles her, but she has so many feelings about the unexpected opportunities placed in her lap. I loved that she was such a history buff and surprises Henry with her knowledge of the ancient Egyptians. They are a perfect match, but Henry's fear of offending the woman bankrolling his dig leads him to make a surprising announcement about his relationship with Evelyn. The new complicated dynamics bring light drama to Evelyn's adventure and anxiety to Henry's hopes for the future. I enjoyed the characters in this novella and hope that the author will write Beatrice's story in a future Timeless Victorian Collection.

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


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Review: The Danger with Fireworks by Robin Daniels



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Garland's love life took a rocky ride when his roommate started dating the girl he liked. It was inevitable, really. Somehow he always makes friends with "that guy"--the one who can get any girl he wants. It sucks, always feeling like the third wheel. So, when he's offered a position as a summer camp counselor, he jumps at the opportunity. It's the perfect chance to escape... in a place where he's not tied to best-friendship with a chick magnet.

However, from the moment he arrives, Garland realizes that the grass won't be any greener. He meets Chloe, a beautiful, energetic co-worker and they hit it off right away. Naturally, her ex--who's desperate to win her back--happens to be "that guy". Except this time it's different because there's nothing likable about Chloe's ex. And since there's no rule saying Garland has to be best buds with the resident lady bait, he decides it's time to challenge the status quo. For once, he's going to get the girl.

NOTE: This story can be read as a standalone, but it's better if the series is read in order.


My Review

Summer camp. So many words, feelings, stereotypes associated with it! I was surprised it was the setting for Garland’s story, but it was so fun. It definitely gave a summer vibe! There's a great cast of characters, and it was great to see Garland come into his own. The story is told from his perspective only, and I feel like the author nails the male mindset. Chloe is a bit of a spaz and I didn't really know how to take her at first, but she quickly grew on me as she and Garland get to know each other and have fun banter and chemistry. Some misperceptions keep Garland from acting on his feelings, bringing  angst and drama to the friendly dynamic. There's a good balance and steady pace as the antics of the campers and counselors provide a reading experience that is just plain fun.

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



Don't miss the previous books in the Holiday Romance series . . .







Review: The Reunion by Amy Matayo



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

It’s been quite the year for the Hayes/Gamble family, but now things are looking up. When you’ve survived a tornado, a concert shooting, and being stranded on a deserted island, what else can possibly go wrong? After all, isn’t that the rule—three strikes, and you’re out?

That should totally be the rule.

Dillon Hayes has dreamed of her wedding day since childhood. Now, after months of planning, the chapel is booked, the invitations are sent, and the dress is ready and waiting. In only a few days’ time, Dillon will become Mrs. Liam Gamble in front of God, Tennessee, and everyone she loves.

But when a rare blizzard dumps piles of snow on Nashville and the entire southern region three days before the wedding, all that planning goes up in, well…snow. Businesses close. Flights are grounded. Roads are nearly impassible. Even the chapel now has a gaping hole in the middle of the roof and a giant mound of white powder blocking the aisle.

Dillon can feel her dreams dying one by one…and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. A year filled with one mishap after another can wear a person down. But what Dillon soon discovers is this: the death of one dream isn’t necessarily the end.

Sometimes it can lead to an even better beginning.


My Review

This final book in the Love in Chaos series brings us full circle as Dillon and Liam are just days away from walking down the aisle... and chaos ensues. It was great to revisit the couples from each book in the series as they are trying to support and get ready for the wedding while battling the elements. I especially enjoyed the parts with Riley and Chad since they were my favorite couple. She's in charge of baking the wedding cake then transporting it several hours as they drive to the wedding location. Nothing could go wrong there, could it? ;) Dillon's mom is drama as usual and Dillon has to find the strength in herself to stand up for what she really wants and what's most important... which is to be married to Liam. A great concluding novella to this exciting series!

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



Don't miss the previous books in the Love in Chaos series . . .






Sunday, June 28, 2020

Review: The Heiress's Convenient Husband by Regina Scott



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Grace-by-the-Sea: Where romance and adventure come home.

The magistrate over a little Regency coastal village, James Howland, takes pride in protecting Grace-by-the-Sea from ne’er-do-wells, including his distant cousin, the Earl of Howland. So, when he discovers a young lady hiding in the family’s castle, his heart cannot decide which comes first—her rescue or his duty.

Outspoken Eva Faraday has been exiled to the castle for refusing to marry the man the earl picked for her. Her late father appointed the earl trustee over her considerable inheritance, which she cannot access until she turns twenty-five or marries. And if she marries, her husband controls the money. She’s not about to trust any Howland, but James seems ripe for rebellion. To thwart the earl’s power, the two agree to a marriage of convenience, only to discover there are others intent on using the earl’s castle for nefarious purposes. Eva and James must work together to solve the mystery and stop the earl once and for all so they can make a marriage that is far more than convenient.


My Review

I love the contrasts in the close-knit community of Grace-by-the-Sea. There's a definite small village vibe, but the visitors to the spa and castle bring in fresh blood and new personalities. The excitement continues in this second book in the series (which can easily be read on its own) with a controlling and threatening earl, mysterious visitors to the castle, and the possibility of a French invasion. James has a history of placating the earl, until he established a local militia from the villagers in the last book. Eva is confidently defiant, and gives James what for as she takes up residence at the castle he is protecting and also investigating for use by nefarious spies or smugglers. It was fun to see Eva get to know the villagers and James when she was supposed to be on lockdown. Her genuine friendship with quirky chaperone/companion Aunt Maudie was heartwarming, and she easily develops strong feelings for James as together they rebel against the earl. James is empowered by her support and they face the earl together. The pace of the book is steady as their romance is woven in with a new doctor taking over the spa, displacing Jess as hostess, solving a dangerous mystery, and coming to terms with their future. I'm excited for more in this series!

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



Excerpt from The Heiress's Convenient Husband

He crossed his arms over his impressive chest. “Nevertheless, I must insist that you leave.”

Was every Howland this pig-headed? If only she could wash her hands of the lot of them! But the earl was trustee over her funds, and he would give her nothing unless she bent to his will. This man might find it acceptable to live like that. She didn’t.

“And I must insist that we stay,” she said. “I promise to disturb as little as possible. I’ll need a bedchamber, a withdrawing room, the dining room and kitchen, and quarters for the staff. From what I can tell, that’s less than a quarter of the space in this pile.”

She thought she caught a sigh. “The castle hasn’t been used as a long-term habitation in years. You’ll need coal, candles, food. How do you intend to pay for them?”

She smiled. “I intend to put them on the earl’s credit. He sent me here. He can pay for the privilege.”

“No,” he said, tone as solid as his chin. “The budget here doesn’t allow for such expenses.”

She waved a hand. “Then send the bill directly to the earl.”

He caught her hand mid-air and held it, gaze fastened on hers. “Have a care, Miss Faraday. I’m only trying to protect you. This castle is more dangerous than you can know. It isn’t safe for you here.”

If he was trying to frighten her off, he was doing a good job. She could almost believe the concern in his voice.

But the earl could sound concerned too, even as he tried to steal her future.

She yanked her hand from his grip. “Then make it safe. Tell me what dangers to avoid. This is apparently to be my home until I earn my inheritance in ten months. Help me survive my imprisonment.”

He eyed her a moment, and she steeled herself to keep fighting. Truly, what else was she to do? If her father had guessed the depths to which the Earl of Howland would sink to get his hands on her inheritance, he would never have made the man trustee and expected him to care for her. In the last six months since her father had died, she had learned to fight for what was best for her and her servants. James Howland would simply have to accustom himself to the fact.

“Very well, Miss Faraday,” he said. “I’ll help you. You may stay in the castle until I hear from the earl.”

Best not to let him see her relief. “How very sensible of you.”

He inclined his head. “But you must allow me to do my duty as well. I am responsible for safeguarding the earl’s interests in Dorset.”

And she would try not to despise him for it. “Of course. Shall I send you a report each week of what furniture I’ve moved? Which dishes we used?”

That smile could have frozen the waves on the Channel. “No need. I’ll be able to verify all that on my own. I’ll be moving into the castle with you, Miss Faraday.”



Don't miss the other books in the Grace-by-the-Sea series . . .

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Monday, June 8, 2020

Review: The Heart of a Hero by Susan May Warren



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Jake Silver may not be able to put the memories of his time as a sniper and Navy SEAL behind him, but at least he can put his skills to use as a part of the Jones Inc. rescue team. Saving the life of pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Aria Sinclair on Denali helped too. Now he can't get her out of his head, and when he hears she is in the path of a hurricane down in Key West he can't help but jump on a plane to rescue her.

Aria has dedicated her life to helping children born with defective hearts. After all, she was one of those children. Now driven to succeed, she lives a lonely, stressful life. One she would have lost on Denali if it hadn't been for Jake. Jake is exciting and handsome, but he's also dangerous, and she's already lost one person she loves. She can't bear it again.

It's not until she finds herself trapped in the middle of a category 4 hurricane that she can admit she needs Jake desperately. With their very survival in the balance, can they hope for a second chance at life . . . and love?


My Review

This second book in the Global Search and Rescue series picks up where the first one leaves off, with a continuation of Jake and Aria's new and undefined relationship, the appearance of Ham's secret daughter, and the search for answers to his wife's mysterious disappearance. It would definitely help to read The Way of the Brave first, to get to know Jake and Aria since their story begins there as a subplot. While the first book left me feeling frigid from the snowy mountain setting, The Heart of a Hero took us to tropical Florida, but no less dangerous with a hurricane devastating the area. Aria is dealing with her regrets from the mountain climbing trip and her continued attraction to Jake, who seems all wrong for her (but of course he's just what she needs). Jake is drawn to Aria and her compassionate way of drawing out his deeper feelings that he's struggling with. They each have issues with their past that involve siblings, and I loved that even though they are both uncertain and vulnerable with their feelings for each other, they still provide support and encouragement for each other as they work through their emotions. Others that they have rescued also provide inspiration with the themes of forgiveness and being enough, and Mimi was a favorite. The chapters from Ham's perspective were more difficult for me because they dealt with past missions and flashbacks from his early relationship with Signe, but I always felt like I didn't quite understand what was going on. He was a source of spiritual strength for his friends in the first book, but in this one he seemed more lost. I'm looking forward to his story being featured in the next book. Overall, this book provides the author's trademark adventure, romance, and inspiration with complex characters that you can't help but root for.

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



Sunday, May 31, 2020

Review: Near the Ruins of Penharrow by Deborah M. Hathaway



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

She never should have fallen in love with the mine owner's son.

Bal maiden Gwynna Merrick is more than prepared to resume her work at the copper mine, if only to keep her family safe from destitution. But when her upper-class friend convinces Gwynna to have one final night of enjoyment, a borrowed gown and a false identity give her a small taste of the freedom she has always craved. That is, until the mine owner's handsome son arrives and threatens to reveal her identity.

Heir to his father's mine, Jack Trevethan has returned to Cornwall to help with a new venture at Wheal Favour, though he prefers spending his time gaming, drinking, and chasing women—anything to forget the memories of his past. However, when he finds the bal maiden he'd met days before now attending the ball, he cannot resist learning more about this intriguing woman.

After a disastrous first meeting, Gwynna wants nothing more than to avoid Jack, but as her work at Wheal Favour begins, she's continually thrown into his company. As Jack's flirtatious fa├žade falls, revealing the wounds of his childhood, Gwynna begins to see the real gentleman behind the rake. But rumors surrounding their relationship and Jack's past will not yield, forcing the two of them to either trust and lean on each other—or fall victim to ghosts of the past.


My Review

A lower class working girl and an uppercrust gentleman form an unlikely friendship and help each other heal from deep hurts. I loved learning about the rough lifestyle of the miners and specifically the bal maidens that work there. The grit and determination of Gwynna draws the attention of Jack, but it is her thoughtfulness and compassion that endears her to him. I struggled with him since he's selfish and thoughtless in the beginning, but Gwynna's friendship makes him wake up and realize that he doesn't want to be that person. It takes almost the entire book for him to make a genuine transition, including facing his demons and repairing his relationship with his father. All the while, Gwynna is caught up in helping those around her, even when dressing as a society lady brings her more trouble than it's worth. Her grief over her brother's recent death in the mine is a point of connection with Jack as he still struggles with the loss of his mother as a boy. The attraction that builds even as their friendship grows makes things more complicated since they are from two very different worlds, but I was happy with how it all worked out in the end. The setting is very atmospheric and I'm excited to add Cornwall to my list of future travels!

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



Don't miss the previous books in the Cornish Romance series . . .

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Review: What a Spinster Wants by Rebecca Connolly



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
 
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Synopsis

By yon bonny Spinster... 

Lady Edith Leveson has lived her young widowhood in shadows and secrets, not even revealing the truth to family or friends. That, it seems, is no longer an option, and she must act quickly to avoid being ruined entirely and forevermore. A handsome but reserved rescuer comes to her aid just in time, and their paths begin to entwine more than either of them expected. 

Graham Hastings, Lord Radcliffe, is no hero. He isn’t brave, bold, or in any way noble, yet the striking Lady Edith seems determined to paint him so. One dance with her, and he seems unable to avoid finding her in need wherever he goes. The more involved he becomes, the more his heart begins to open, and he finds himself more than willing to become a hero. Hers.

My Review

Edith has always been a mystery in the previous books in the series, and I was glad to see her get a happy ending! She has endured abuse from her family, her husband, and now her husband's heir. She's a woman living in fear, which takes a toll. It's hard for me to understand her and what she puts up with, but thankfully she finally allows her friends and Lord Radcliffe come to her rescue. The beginning of the book was a little difficult for me to get into because of the choppy dialogue between the large group of friends, sometimes the number of characters is a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed the perspective of Graham the most since he's a pretty steady man and finds himself intrigued by Edith. They have sweet chemistry and some special moments that show their emotional connection. We get some new secondary characters to bring even more personality to the story with Graham's Aunt Eloise and niece Molly, who are both delightful, as well as Amanda Perry who joins the Spinsters as a champion for Edith. I appreciated that the setting was in both London and in the country, giving some variety and a fresh feeling midway through the story. The villain was very dastardly, and provided the impetus for Edith to move away from her self-isolation and reach out to her friends for the emotional support she needed. I'm already looking forward to the next in the series!

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



Don't miss the previous books in The Spinster Chronicles series . . .

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Review: Hope in the Mountain River by Misty M. Beller



My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis


This epic journey is not at all what she expected. 
 
Joel Vargas can’t believe he’s lost his older brother in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains after surviving their harrowing voyage across the Atlantic. And he can’t shake the feeling that Adam—his only living relative—is in dire trouble. No matter what the cost, he and his band of friends won’t stop until Adam is found. He’s not sure if two Indian women they meet on the way will be a help or hindrance.

After the devastating loss of her daughter and husband to a sickness that swept through their Nez Perce camp, Elan is desperate to find an escape from her grief. As she and her friend journey through the mountains toward the great river, a band of white men is the last thing she expects to find, especially as winter blows in full force.

When the dangers increase, accomplishing Joel’s mission becomes the only hope for all their survival. If the elements don’t consume them, Elan has a feeling life will never be the same for any of them.


My Review

Another trademark wilderness adventure from this author that kept me glued to the pages as Joel and his friends team up with Elan and her friend Meksem to hunt down Adam and the elusive spotted horses. There is a strong spiritual thread with both Adam and Elan character arcs, as well as themes of grief, loyalty, friendship, and purpose. Each character is vibrant and I loved how the story came to life. The pace is steady throughout with a good balance between moments of introspection and exciting danger.

There was only one part that didn't make sense to me- that Adam, as a recent convert to God and faith, would have such a strong determination that Elan must also be a believer in order to have a relationship with him. While I understand the concept, it didn't ring true to his character and I would have thought that he would have more grace and allow her the time to learn and grow as he did. So that part seemed a little like the author inserting her own philosophy into the story rather than letting the characters develop organically.

Overall, I loved the setting, adventure, romance, and characters! I recommend reading the books in order for the best understanding of the group of men that the series centers around, but it can also be read on its own.

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



Don't miss the other books in the Call of the Rockies series . . .

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