Showing posts with label Jennifer Peel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jennifer Peel. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2019

E-book #SALE: Honeymoon for One by Jennifer Peel and Once Again in the Falls by Becky Monson

Becky Monson and Jennifer Peel are excited to share with you their gorgeous new covers for Once Again in the Falls and Honeymoon for One. Not only have the covers been updated but they have re-branded their books under a new series: A Christmas at the Falls Romance.

Each book in the series is a standalone. They can be read in any order or on their own. In order to re-brand, some minor elements were changed in the stories and new additional material was added, including new last chapters and bonus Valentine's Day chapters. The love stories between the main characters remain the same and the focus of each book. Minor plot changes include a focus on only London's and Piper's friendship. We are excited about this new direction and hope you will be too. If you already read these stories, you can visit our websites to read the Valentine's Day bonus chapters.

Also, for a limited time, we are making the books available for 99 cents. They are also available in Kindle Unlimited.

Please be sure to visit Becky's and Jennifer's Facebook pages today, as they are each doing a giveaway to celebrate the relaunch of their books.

Honeymoon for One by Jennifer Peel
"The charm and romantic tension oozes off the pages . . ." - Lilac Queen, Romance Blogger ★★★★★ 

 "Honeymoon for One is beautifully written, and the plot is an engaging one that's perfect for the holiday season. Most highly recommended." - Readers Favorite ★★★★★  

Is there room for two on this honeymoon for one? 

Piper Wyatt's Christmas wish is to get promoted to manager at Blackstock Hotel and Resort. Not only does the promotion mean more money, but it means more time with her son and proof that she's not such a disappointment after all. Jace Petersen, successful owner of a national chain of sporting goods stores, finds himself alone and miserable on what should have been his honeymoon. That is until he literally falls onto the lovely Piper Wyatt. He's intrigued with this woman who can fix a car in high heels. Too bad for him, he makes a horrible first impression, and Piper's not allowed to mingle with the guests. While Piper tries her best to steer clear of Jace during his stay, she can't help but notice he's not the man from their first meeting. But is he worth risking her promotion? Jace hopes so, because he'd love nothing more than to kiss Piper atop the Falls on Christmas day to see if the legend is true. Will they both get their Christmas wishes? Find out in this charming Christmas tale about finding love in the most unexpected place, a honeymoon. 

Excerpt from Honeymoon for One
I stood up and made sure his head was clear before I slammed the hood shut. “I’m off to buy one. See you later.”

He stood puzzled. “You’re not going to call a tow truck or a repair shop?”

“No need. I can replace it myself for a lot cheaper.”

His smile said I was putting him on. “You can replace an alternator?”

“Sure.” At least I thought I could. I watched my dad do it once and there were YouTube videos. I walked around him to grab my purse from the car. I needed to hustle if I wanted to make it home before my parents dropped off Finn. I headed back to the hotel to see if any of my coworkers were leaving and could give me a ride. If I had to, I would bribe Ollie, who drove our courtesy van, to take me.

“Are you going to walk to get the alternator?”

“I wasn’t planning on it.”

“Do you have someone you can call for a ride?”

“I’ll figure it out. Enjoy your evening.” As in please leave.

He continued to walk with me but didn’t respond right away. “I can take you. I rented a car yesterday.”

I glanced over at him. “I don’t think that would be appropriate but thank you.”

“Why? Are you too young? Or am I too old?”

“Probably both, but you’re a guest and . . .”

“And what?”

“People might get the wrong impression, and I can’t afford that.”

His lips curled into a devious smile. “And what impression would that be?”

“You know very well.” I stalked off.

“Let me help you.”

He caught me off guard. I stopped again, catching the sincerity in his brown eyes. “Why do you want to?”

“Because I can, and I like you.”

“You don’t know me.”

“True, but what I’ve seen so far is likable. And if it will make you feel better, I’ll let you drive so you don’t have to worry about some old man trying to lure you away.”

He got me to smile.

“Is that a yes?”

“I . . . I . . . My job . . .”

“Don’t worry about your job; I’ll talk to April if I have to.”

I blew out the breath I’d been holding. “Hand over your keys.” I held out my hand.
His eyebrow arched, only making him appear better looking. “You’re serious?”


Once Again at the Falls by Becky Monson

***2018 Readers' Favorite Gold Medal Winner!***  

"The chemistry is so swoony and the kisses will curl your toes!" -Katie's Clean Book Collection ★★★★★ 

"Becky Monson has written a fabulous story of friendships rekindled, talents rediscovered and, of course, romance." -Christine J ★★★★★ 

In one day, London Walsh finds out her ex is going to be her boss and that her parents are getting a divorce—and they want her to referee the situation. So when she’s offered the chance to spend the holidays in her old hometown of Christmas Falls, far away from all the drama, she jumps on it. But the quaint town doesn’t feel quite like the home it once was. London shed the goth image that defined her in high school long ago, but no one recognizes the woman she's become. Except for Andy Broll, London’s childhood next door neighbor. He recognizes her immediately, which sends London’s heart fluttering as she starts to see Andy in a whole different light. But when her time in Christmas Falls doesn’t go as planned, will London face it head on? Or will she find a reason to run? 

Excerpt from Once Again at the Falls

“So sorry,” I said, looking toward the ground as I realized I had knocked a bag of chocolate covered almonds out of his hand. “Where did you find these?” I asked the stranger I’d just plowed into as I bent over and picked up the bag, handing it back to the man.
I nearly dropped it again when I saw who the owner of the almonds was. “Andy?”
The lanky boy I once knew now had broad shoulders framing his tall figure. I did a double take, wondering if I was mistaken, but it was definitely him. His same hazel eyes and dark brown hair, the same pair of square-rimmed glasses he always wore perched on his nose. This was Andy Broll, for sure.
He looked at me, and I braced myself for the who-the-heck-are-you response I was surely about to get.
“London?” he asked, pulling his brows together. “London Walsh?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling a sudden desire to jump up and down and squeal like a sorority sister. “You recognize me?”
“Yeah . . . yes, of course,” he said. A full smile took over his face as his eyes moved over me, taking me all in.
“How are you here?” he asked.
“I took a plane,” I said, a teasing grin on my face.
“Come here,” he said, opening his arms wide to give me a hug, and I so needed a hug right then. I basically threw myself into his arms.
It wasn’t graceful in the slightest, but it was exactly what I needed. The hug was tight, warm, and genuine. Andy felt strong and manly. There was some definite muscle action happening there. This was nothing like the skinny kid I used to hang out with.
“I’m so happy you recognized me,” I said as we pulled out of the hug.
“Why wouldn’t I recognize you?” he asked, a confused look on his face.
“No one else has so far,” I said, adding a super pathetic shrug for emphasis.
“Well, I mean, your hair is different,” he said reaching up and gently touching a lock of my brown-highlighted hair.
“Yeah, I got rid of the black,” I said, feeling utterly thrilled to have someone recognize me—and Andy, of all people.
“And the makeup,” he made a circle around his face with his index finger.
“Got rid of all that too,” I said.
“I like,” he said, and I beamed. That was something he always said back in high school. “But you’re still you,” he said. “I still see London.”
He smiled brightly again, and oh, how I’d missed that smile. At that moment, I couldn’t believe I had ever lost touch with him. I couldn’t even remember how it had happened.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: The Secretive Wife by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... The Secretive Wife by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


I have a famous secret, but it's not the biggest one I keep.

From an outside view, my life would be the definition of boring. I'm married to a landscaper, albeit a very attractive one, I drive an old cheap car, and I write articles for an online magazine. So, maybe I've been a constant fixture on the New York Times Best Sellers list for the last few years, but that secret is locked safely in my attic.

Here's a word of advice. If you want to keep a secret, don't tease your mother-in-law about what's in that attic, especially when her life goal is to save her son from you. Now that my famous secret is out, past acquaintances willing to do anything to get their own fifteen minutes of fame are lying to the media about me. But my biggest problem isn't the lies in the press, it's the truth I'm forced to face. The secret I've kept from everyone, even my husband, the man I love, the first person who made me feel like I belonged somewhere.

Now I have no other choice but to tell the truth and face my biggest fear, that Peter and I were never meant to be together and my secrets could take him away too.

My Review

Make me ugly cry, why don't you Jennifer Peel! The character of Delanie is someone I cannot relate to at all, but that doesn't matter, because the author does such a skillful job of getting me in her head and feeling her emotions and understanding why she is the way she is. The story begins four years into her marriage, and she's living in a kind of oasis with her perfect husband. Her life before Peter was complicated and intense, and her life after her secrets begin to unravel is also complicated and intense, but now her relationship has to weather the storm. I appreciated the way the author built the backstory and let us get to know and like Delanie, Peter, and his family (at least certain members) before unleashing the real angst. The mother-in-law drama in the first part of the book is just a warm up. I'm doing my best to not reveal any spoilers while still persuading you to read this compelling book! Just know that by the end I was streaming healing tears as the story made me think about circumstances in my own life... but I did far more laughing than crying while reading the book overall. I loved the way Delanie and the other characters are real and flawed, accepting of themselves but also trying to improve. Delanie's individual sense of humor came across in her voice and I enjoyed more of Sam from the previous book in the series, The Sidelined Wife, who is also pretty funny. The books don't have to be read in order but I was glad I did and I highly recommend reading both!

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: Narcissistic Tendencies by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... Narcissistic Tendencies by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Psychologist Kate Morgan loves her job evaluating clients for the matchmaking service Binary Search. That is, until the one and only Nicholas Wells becomes a client and the new face of the company. Now Kate must take on a new role as his relationship manager to "fix" the actor-turned-writer-and-producer--not to mention egotistical, possibly narcissistic celebrity--and save Binary Search's reputation.

Once upon a time this would have been a dream come true, but older, wiser, and live-within-her-rules Kate knows more than she would like to about narcissists. Annulment is an ugly word and one she can't or won't forget. But is Nick the man he says he is on paper or is he the man she sees before her eyes? An adoring father with a generous heart who's willing to smooth out some of his rough edges for the right woman, making her think who's fixing who?

Can this Hollywood playboy and reluctant matchmaker make the ultimate connection?

My Review

Yup. Once again, a late night finish since I can't seem to put down a Jennifer Peel book once I've started. All the characters are so vivid, and the first person perspective really puts the reader in the mind of Kate. I loved her voice and way of looking at things, from a psychologist's point of view. She understands her own flaws and hangups, and struggles to trust and risk a deeper relationship with others. The dynamics between her and Nick are fascinating and realistic, and she is very much aware of his appeal and the way it overshadows the narcissistic personality he described on his questionnaire. It was fun to watch her discover his true nature and him deal with her doubts and resistance. I loved the motherly type bond she forms with his daughter Skye, as it shows her nurturing and loving side, and the genuine way she embraces those she decides to let in. The chemistry between Kate and Nick is pretty strong from the beginning, but it's when they begin to understand each other and deepen their friendship that the hesitancy drops and sparks fly. I loved the way I was able to connect with the characters in this book, even when it was told from one point of view. Tears came to my eyes at a couple points in the story which is a big indication that I'm fully immersed. Loved this book and highly recommend!

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

Don't miss the first two awesome books in the Dating by Design series!

Book One


Kenadie Marshall suffered the most public of humiliations, being left at the altar. Instead of wallowing in her misery, she makes it her mission to help others find true and lasting love, all while swearing off relationships for good. Between the software application she developed and a team of relationship managers, her brainchild, Binary Search, has an uncanny knack for choosing the perfect match almost every time.

Attractive and loveable Jason Hadley is taken with Kenadie Marshall from their first meeting. Determined to win her over, he does anything and everything he can think of, even if it means using her firm’s service and dating other women to stay close to her.

Will Kenadie realize she’s met her match before it’s too late? Or will Jason’s ploy go too far? Find out in His Personal Relationship Manager, a romantic comedy with an epic battle of wills.

Book Two


Two professional matchmakers. One fake relationship. He's a playboy. She's a good girl. What could possibly go wrong?

According to Binary Search's matchmaking service, Meg and Zander's odds of ever having a successful relationship are statistically improbable. Meg has run the numbers and knows the probability, but for some reason she can't quit thinking about her coworker, Zander--the self-proclaimed eternal bachelor.

To make matters more interesting, Zander approaches her with an unusual proposition. He's in need of a pretend girlfriend. Meg thinks this could be the answer to get him out of her system, and maybe knock the arrogant man down a few notches in the process. But what she doesn't realize is there is more to this man, something he carefully hides behind his arrogant exterior. And when her feelings begin to be anything but pretend, she knows the odds of getting hurt are more than probable.

Will they let the odds over come them, or will they find that all the reasons they are wrong for each other are exactly what make them a perfect fit?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Destined for Love Resorts & $100 Giveaway!

Destined for Love Resorts Collection - Thrilling Sweet Destination Romances


KEEP ME AT CHRISTMAS by Lucinda Whitney 

Can the magic of the season keep them together beyond Christmas?
When Luciana Romano arrives in Hudson Springs, New York, her plan is to complete her restoration job at the museum so she can return home to her family in time for Christmas. But a blizzard grounds all flights, and she finds herself stranded. The DiLorenzo family offers her a place to stay, and she accepts their hospitality. But the unexpected attraction between her and the quiet, good-looking son makes it hard to want to leave.
Jack DiLorenzo is stuck. Managing the family’s Italian café is not what he’d planned to do with his life, but his sense of duty won’t let him quit. When his grandmother invites a Portuguese woman to stay with them, Jack feels something he hasn’t felt for a long time: hope. He knows he shouldn’t get close to Luciana since she’s leaving as soon as the airport opens, but he can’t help himself.
Yet as the magic of the season begins to work on them, he wonders how he can let go of the woman who’s awakened his heart.


IF THE SUIT FITS by Sally Johnson 

Finding love at the amusement park can be quite a ride. Becky Perkins has lost her job, her lease, and her car. As a result, she moves back in with her parents and takes the only job she can find: a seasonal position at the local amusement park as a sign spinner. Unfortunately, it includes wearing a foam hot-dog suit. When she crashes into fellow park employee Hudson Lowell, on her first day, suddenly the job doesn’t seem so bad. Actuary Hudson Lowell feels the weight of the world on his shoulders with this assignment. The Gainesville Amusement Park has been struggling for years. It’s his responsibility to advise the park owners as to the viability of the park. Going into the deal, the solution seems pretty simple—until he meets Becky. The more time Becky and Hudson spend together, the more their feelings grow, making it harder and harder for Hudson to be objective about his decision. If the park closes, it will impact the whole town and directly hurt Becky. And how can he hurt the woman he has fallen for?



A first love that deserves a second chance. Doctoral student Holland Reeves may have aced every class she’s ever taken, but when it comes to life outside her lab, she finds she has more meaningful relationships with test tubes and pipettes than she does with people. That all changes when a surprise wedding invitation arrives, forcing her to return to the small coastal town of Paradise and the Clairborne Resort, where she left her first dream of being Mrs. Clairborne to begin the dream of becoming Dr. Reeves. There she must face her past and, to her surprise, the only man she ever loved, Porter Clairborne, the prodigal son who has unexpectedly returned. Together, Holland and Porter must decide if their love deserves a second chance, and if Paradise will finally live up to its name or forever remain a town of broken dreams. 



Will their online magic survive when they meet in real life? Ethan Walters has no time for distractions like romance. Not if he's going to have the brilliant medical career he's always dreamed of. But when he's given a trip to a theme park resort as a college graduation present, he can't exactly say no. Even if Samantha--the one girl with the power to dismantle his goals--is tagging along. Samantha Diederik has managed to avoid her high society mother’s manipulations since the woman moved to Europe. Now she’s back and pressuring Sam to move to New York with her. With that battle on the horizon, Sam proceeds with a vacation with her brother and his roommate. She’s crushed on Ethan for years. They've only met online, but their hours-long conversations are the highlight of her week. Now she has a chance to find out if the cyber magic she's felt with him will translate to real life. And wow, does it ever--with sparks flying! Now all she has to do is find a way to fight off her mother's machinations while convincing Ethan she won’t destroy his dreams. 


MARRYING AN ATHLETE by Anne-Marie Meyer 

Anna Short’s life has been in a slump ever since her boss and boyfriend—who happened to be the same person—dumped her. Now forced to work at a coffee shop, she's pretty sure her life can't go any lower. Enter Michael: her best friend McKenna’s older brother and life-long crush. Michael Jones is the life of the party. As a Defenseman for the New York Rangers, he's always had his pick of women and friends. When he mistakenly proposes to the Mayor's daughter at a party one night, he hightails it out of New York before the media storm hits. He drives to McKenna’s house where he finds her in emotional shambles. Grateful for the distraction her problems give him, he jumps head first into finding a solution. 



When McKenna begs them to fake a marriage so they can go with her to a counseling resort designed to help fix her failing one, Anna and Michael agree. After all, the drunken kiss they shared two years ago was definitely in the past. But when they decide to make it their mission to bring McKenna and her husband together, they begin to realize just how good of a team they really are. Felicity should have suspected something when she got hired to take pictures at a resort in Belize, all expenses paid. When she arrives and bumps into her ex-fiancé, Aiden, she realizes she’s been set up. His grandmother is playing matchmaker and every time she turns around Grams is forcing Aiden and her together. But she can’t fall for him again, it was a disaster last time, and she doesn’t want to repeat the past. Aiden can’t believe Felicity is at his resort. She broke his heart five years ago, and he’s determined not to allow it to happen again. But one disaster after another keeps forcing them together and he’s sure Grams is behind all of it. He’s just not sure how long he can hold out without pulling Felicity into his arms and confessing that he never really got over her. Her Big Fat Dreamy Billionaire Ex is a sweet romance, and it is a stand-alone novel. 


THE TRUST OF A BILLIONAIRE - Michelle Pennington 

Can their love survive her secret? Hannah Rhodes is determined to keep her beachfront property, even though she can’t afford to. But it’s her childhood home and she can’t bear to see it plowed down by the billionaire investor who keeps raising his offer to buy it. When the same man hires her to be his daughter’s nanny—providing her the income she needs to reject his offer—the irony is not lost on her. However, seeing him as a loving, worried father makes it difficult to enjoy her secret revenge. For Carter Ellis, building his own resort was a massive risk, but worth it to build a new life for his daughter away from his controlling mother. Everything is going to plan except that the owner of the tumbled-down home blocking his resort view and threatening its success refuses to sell. If only his new nanny would stop distracting him, he just might be able to figure out how to solve this problem. Not only is she beautiful and vibrant, she’s helping his daughter bloom. Just when he begins to give in to his feelings, he discovers who she really is. When their trust is shaken, will Carter and Hannah sacrifice what they wanted most for a chance at something more? 


MATCHED BY DESIGN by Lindzee Armstrong 

Jasmine has finally landed her dream job with a world-famous couture wedding dress designer. All she wants is to make a name for herself in the fashion world, and working on a celebrity’s wedding is a great start. But when the groom gets caught leering at the staff, the bride demands any single designers be taken off the project. No problem—Jasmine quickly invents a fake fiancé. Too bad the bride insists he come to the wedding. Dr. Isaac Sloan couldn’t save his best friend, so he’s left the army and cut all ties with his past. Now he’s spending his newly inherited fortune to improve the transplant surgery that killed his friend. Following through on the silly marriage pact he made with his childhood crush certainly isn’t in the plans. When Jasmine runs into Isaac at a coffee shop, he reluctantly agrees to be her pretend fiancé—but only after learning the bride’s dad is the prestigious transplant doctor who’s help he desperately needs. As sparks fly between Jasmine and Isaac, the line between fact and fiction grows very thin. Can they keep the engagement secret, or will the lies unravel their careers? 


$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 6/22/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review: Second Chance in Paradise by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... Second Chance in Paradise by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


A first love that deserves a second chance.

Doctoral student Holland Reeves may have aced every class she’s ever taken, but when it comes to life outside her lab, she finds she has more meaningful relationships with test tubes and pipettes than she does with people. That all changes when a surprise wedding invitation arrives, forcing her to return to the small coastal town of Paradise and the Clairborne Resort, where she left her first dream of being Mrs. Clairborne to begin the dream of becoming Dr. Reeves. There she must face her past and, to her surprise, the only man she ever loved, Porter Clairborne, the prodigal son who has unexpectedly returned.

Together, Holland and Porter must decide if their love deserves a second chance, and if Paradise will finally live up to its name or forever remain a town of broken dreams.

My Review

All the feels! I don't know how, it must be some kind of writer magic, but this author totally sucked me into Holland's mind and I felt all the emotion right along with her- uncertainty, angst, compassion, hope, and joy. It's even more impressive because Holland is such a different person that I normally wouldn't relate to- her scientific approach to everything, her quirky random science facts at inopportune moments, her coping mechanism of reciting the periodic table- became endearing and funny. It really worked for me to see her use those methods to sort through the tension (emotional and romantic) and face her long-repressed feelings in order to determine if she has a future with Porter.

Porter was such a great leading man- so charming, but well-balanced by humility as he seeks to make restitution for his past choices. I loved his determination to win Holland's trust and love again, and I loved even more that she made him work for it, but not in a mean way, just that he really needed to prove himself with actions to back up his words. I absolutely loved his family and the important role they play in Holland opening herself up to love and affection. His stepmother Natalie was especially integral to drawing Holland out and giving her a confidant and mother figure that was missing from her life. I'm so thrilled that there is a follow-up book with Natalie and Beau's story!!!

The romantic tension and chemistry was off-the-hook, and there is plenty of romance as Holland and Porter's relationship progresses from distant memories to much, much more. I appreciate that the special moments balanced sensual with respectful, and while the physical attraction was palpable, the focus was on the emotional connection of the relationship. All the little details and mannerisms made this story one that I savored and literally couldn't put down. Highly recommend!

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

The Destined for Love: Resorts collection:

Matched by Design by Lindzee Armstrong
Keep Me At Christmas by Lucinda Whitney
Second Chance in Paradise by Jennifer Peel
The Trust of a Billionaire by Michelle Pennington
Marrying an Athlete by Anne-Marie Meyer
Her Big Fat Dreamy Billionaire Ex by Victorine E. Lieske
If the Suit Fits by Sally Johnson
Kings Crossed Lovers by Donna K. Weaver

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Review: The Sidelined Wife by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... The Sidelined Wife by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


She’s getting back in the game, one blog post at a time.

Samantha Higgins never thought driving her husband’s car would forever change her life. But one conversation later, heard through his Bluetooth, and Samantha is changing her last name. While trying to figure out who Samantha Decker is, she writes what she thinks is one final post on her blog, announcing her divorce. When the post goes viral, she finds herself with a new title, The Sidelined Wife, and an unbelievable following.

To make matters more interesting, her younger brother’s best friend, Reed Cassidy, who was a thorn in Samantha’s adolescent side, moves back to town as the new head football coach for her son’s high school team. Unbeknownst to Samantha, Reed has harbored a crush for his old babysitter all these years. But, Samantha isn’t keen on dating anyone, much less a younger man that used to booby trap her bedroom with firecrackers.

While Samantha is doing her best to learn and even make up some of the rules of single life and being a semi-celebrity, Reed comes in and changes the game. Now Samantha must decide if she should get back on the field or if she prefers the sidelines.

My Review

Raw and honest are the words I'd use to describe this book. Divorce isn't a theme I generally enjoy in a book, but the author skillfully wove in a new relationship with fun romance while also focusing more on Samantha finding herself after being redefined by her new status of single. There is angst and grief over her loss, but I loved her attitude of looking forward and exploring how she wants her life, personality, and priorities to shift. Her family is hilarious and while the Sunday dinners are not always easy, there is a strong sense of loyalty there. Her brothers and sister-in-laws especially came to life and were a dynamic supporting cast.

Reed came into the picture immediately after her divorce finalizes, and his childhood background with Samantha provided a foundation that made their developing friendship in the midst of her personal drama work. I loved how she didn't pick up on his attraction to her and his subsequent frustration, it brought humor with the awkwardness and embarrassment, especially when she unwillingly realized how much chemistry they had. And boy did they have chemistry! Reed's pursuit of Samantha made him endearing and I loved the creativity of their "clandestine" dates. 

Samantha's voice brought a wry humor throughout the book that's part sassy and part snarky and part self-deprecation. That humor also made the exploding popularity of her brutally honest blog posts believable, and the therapeutic outlet gave her a confidence boost as well as a new direction to pursue. I loved that her number one priority remained the happiness of her teenage son, and I admired the relationship she had with him- expressing that love without being too overbearing, and being his anchor through the disinterest and betrayal of his father.

Overall I think this book isn't about being single or divorced- it's about the feelings that inevitably come during change and transition, about self-care and not losing oneself in an unbalanced relationship, about rediscovery and redefining. It made me evaluate my own life and think about if the things I spend my time doing are worthwhile, productive, and bring joy. Highly recommend!

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Favorite Books of 2017: Contemporary Romance

I had a hard time narrowing this list down, but here it is- my top 10 contemporary fiction books that I gave 5 stars in 2017, along with my reviews- why I thought these books were AMAZING!

Love's Shadow by Nichole Van

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

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!!!

Paige's Turn by Jennifer Peel

Heidi Reads... Paige's Turn by Jennifer Peel

This is a pretty special book. I loved Paige's character, especially her unique blend of grace and moxie. As confident as we are as adults, there's something about returning to a hometown that makes us remember or relive those feelings of vulnerability associated with our youth. I also feel this way on the rare occasion when I get together with friends from high school. My life now is so separate from my life then, I wonder if people who grow up in the same place and with the same people avoid this experience. Anyway, back to the book! Paige is compelled by the death of her aunt to return and follow Mitzi's wishes that she run the bookstore and reconnect with Sam, her former crush and current landscaper. The notes she leaves Paige are hilarious and heartwarming, making her a definite presence and influence in the book. There are a variety of community and family members that are vividly portrayed and I loved my experience spending time with Paige as she navigates the minefields of gossip, misunderstandings, and jealousy. She has cathartic and healing experiences and even some vindication when her confidence and success is accepted as her true self instead of being seen as the person she once was. A lovely journey with fun, drama, angst, and of course romance!

Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

Heidi Reads... Rescue Me by Susan May Warren

I can hardly believe it, but I just might have loved this second book in the Montana Rescue series even more than the first!!! (And that's saying a lot...) The action is way ramped up throughout the entire book, and I was literally biting my fingernails at times. (It was like watching a movie in my head!) I love the author's method of including two romances in the story- the main one between Sam and Willow, and also one between team members Jess and Pete, Sam's younger brother. The characters are strong, yet flawed, and all their journeys- physical and emotional- are compelling and human. I think that's why I connected with this story- each character has some major hang-ups, but it made them easier to relate to as they struggled and tried their best to do what they felt was right. The romances were both very "will they/won't they" and kept me turning pages and invested in the outcome. 

True to You by Becky Wade

Heidi Reads... True to You by Becky Wade

True to You is oh-so-good! It totally made me cry... and that's a good thing. By the end of the book I felt so much compassion for John and his struggle to accept and overcome some pretty tough things. As a mother who adopted her children, I completely related to the theme of adoption and was fascinated by Nora and John's search for his biological parents. The contrasts between Nora and John were stark, but their differences complemented each other and the chemistry between them was awesome. I loved the emotional journey they went on as they learned to trust God and rely on Him for peace and resolution. Nora's sisters were a fun and integral presence and I can't wait to read their stories!

Right Next to Me by Rachel Ward

Heidi Reads... Right Next to Me by Rachel Ward

Right Next to Me was a pleasure to read! It alternated between two times of transition in Sydney's life, and the comparison was intriguing. In her early high school days she struggles through her parents' divorce and takes on more responsibility in her family, which influences her later priorities when she graduates high school and begins college. The sweet beginnings of her relationship with Gavin show how hard it is to let go when they take separate paths. I loved her friendship with James and it's pretty much obvious to everyone except Sydney how they belong together. The author was skillful in showing (instead of telling) the supportive nature of their relationship and how much they enjoyed each other's company. It was easy to connect to the characters' emotions and the angst they are feeling as their relationship dynamic becomes more complex. A great young adult novel about growing up, navigating difficult circumstances, and the importance of friendship and forgiveness.  

The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller

Heidi Reads... The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller

I absolutely loved Leanna! She is a unique character that owns her eccentricities and enjoys her independence. I admired her confidence, yet in this story her confidence is deeply shaken when her life is turned upside down in more than one unforeseen way. The manner in which she deals with her new circumstances and new friendship with Roman shows her compassion and ability to forgive. I enjoyed seeing Roman's journey as he is searching for his place and purpose despite being the black sheep of the family. We also see the struggles of Roman's brother Daniel and his wife Barbara which are heartbreaking but also full of hope and God's grace. Even though Roman and Daniel's grandmother has passed away, she is a major influence in the book and the lives of these men as she encourages them via letter to reconcile and support each other. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and connecting with the characters!

A New Shade of Summer by Nicole Deese

Heidi Reads... A New Shade of Summer by Nicole Deese

After Davis was let down by Willa in the previous book of the series, I was so hoping that the author would give him his own story of finding love. And she did! And it is fabulous! I love how different Callie is and exactly what Davis and Brandon need. Her personality shines right off the page and yet has complexity woven in. Her connection to Brandon's artistic side draws him out which makes Davis take notice, in more ways than one. I loved how she was able to perceive people and their strengths, and communicate that to others. There are so many awesome nuggets in this book, but I want you to discover them for yourself! The chemistry between Davis and Callie is palpable and I loved how their romance budded naturally. Because Callie is so carefree in many aspects of her life, is seems that she is also free of fear, but her perceptions of herself and her innate characteristics are shaded by her father's choices and his words of legacy to her. Davis also has fears but he is an example to Callie in overcoming them by processing feelings of grief and anger through turning to God, allowing him to live life to the fullest. This book is full of light and humor, depth and compassion. 

Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

Heidi Reads... Hometown Girl by Courtney Walsh

I just love this author's writing style! She has a way of drawing me into the lives of people who are struggling against the darkness and as their stories weave together the light emerges and hope shines brightly on its way to a happy ending- which really seems more like a new beginning. The contrasts and similarities between Beth and Molly as sisters really stood out to me, and it was interesting to see the characteristics they embraced and which ones they left behind as they were influenced by their parents and the people around them. I loved that they both rediscovered qualities about themselves that they believed didn't apply anymore. It's reassuring that it's never too late to decide to change and pursue a new focus in life. Beth and Drew are both holding on to painful secrets, and the process of loosening up around each other shakes the secrets out of dark corners where they can now be released... although Drew required a little more shaking ;) It was nice to see how they supported each other and yet had a realistic dynamic based on their very defined personalities. They had fabulous chemistry, and that first kiss- wow. I admit I read that scene a few times over (fans self). It was gratifying to see how the long time mystery unfolded and also watch the community band together to work hard for a new Fairwind Farm.

Once Again in Christmas Falls by Becky Monson

Heidi Reads... Once Again in Christmas Falls by Becky Monson

This was my favorite book of the Return to Christmas Falls series, bar none. I absolutely loved the "childhood friends reunited" angle to the romance, especially when each character is so easy to like! London was so fun and interesting, and the author really delved into what made her tick and how her transformation affected her. Andy is lovable and charming and of course unrequited love gets me every time! They had such great chemistry together and even when the inevitable conflict came, I was rooting for them the whole time. I felt connected to the emotions of London and Andy which is one of my favorite things about reading a well-written book. This is one I'll definitely re-read and since it's the first book I've read by the author it made me add all her other books to my list! (This would be fine to read as a stand-alone even though it's in the middle of the series).

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

Heidi Reads... The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

At first I wondered if this book would be similar to others that have the characters dressing up and playacting in Regency form, but I needn't have worried- while there is a bit of that, it is taken to a higher level by Katherine Reay's unique writing style. This is a book that you just *feel*. While there is a great focus on the complex dynamics of the relationships Mary has with Isabel and Nathan, I loved that it delved just as deeply into her struggles with her job as an engineer and the part of her identity that is tied up in it. I loved her father and the influence he is on her life and creativity, he is such a great addition to the story and made it richer. I could relate to Mary's mixed feelings of resentment and love that she has for Isabel. There's something about growing up with a longtime friend that gives you so many experiences of good, bad, and in between that it's almost like family in how it shapes your personality. It was fascinating to see how Mary becomes more aware of Isabel's struggles and the way that she deals with the fallout of secrets that come to light. The simmering attraction between Nathan and Mary was delicious because the reader can tell how much they like the other but they are unaware of each other's interest... until they slowly become more brave in expressing that interest. It's not without conflict of course, and the anticipation while they worked things out was killing me- I just LOVED it!!!

Have you read any of these books? 
What are some of your favorites?