Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Review: The Matchmaker's Rogue by Regina Scott

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


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

Polished Jesslyn Chance has one of the most enviable positions in the little Regency coastal village of Grace-by-the-Sea. She is the hostess of the spa, arranging introductions and entertainments and playing matchmaker to the ladies and gentlemen who come to take the waters, promenade through the shops, and dance at the assembly. But when a rogue returns from her past, Jess finds herself suddenly at sea.

Always an adventurer, Larkin Denby left Grace-by-the-Sea to right the wrongful death of his father. Now he’s back on a mission: to identify the mysterious Lord of the Smugglers who allegedly sails from Grace Cove and takes England’s secrets to France. But Grace-by-the-Sea is the perfect little spa town, run by the still oh-so-perfect Jesslyn Chance. When the village’s future is threatened, Jess must work with Lark to solve the mystery and protect the town’s own. In doing so, the matchmaker of Grace-by-the-Sea may just find that the best match for her is the rogue who stole her heart years ago.

My Review

I'm so excited to have a new Regency series from Regina Scott! I love the unique setting of a seaside spa village, and the elements of suspense and intrigue that were incorporated which brought momentum to the pace of the book. This is a second chance love story, but Jesslyn and Lark had been apart for several years and become strangers. I liked how their renewed acquaintance turned quickly to friendship again, and working together to investigate the smuggling brought a sense of camaraderie. I didn't feel much in the way of romance between them- they each had their reasons for repressing any feelings, and with their friendship working so well combined with the focus on the plot, I felt there wasn't much romantic tension. There is a great supporting cast of family and townspeople to liven things up and all the quirks and mannerisms were entertaining. I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

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

Friday, January 17, 2020

Review: Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


He never wanted to leave her. She never expected him to return.

If Ariana Stanton has learned anything in life, it's that men leave. She's been taught this lesson well from the father she's never met, who sends her a mysterious letter once a year, to her ex-fiancé, who left her for another woman. So, when she meets the charming and seemingly perfect Jonah, she promises him they will never be more than friends. It's a promise she can't keep. But before he has a chance to leave her, she sends him away.

Dr. Jonah Adkinson has one regret--that he let Ariana remain convinced that love never lasts. But now, nine years later, the single dad is back in Pine Falls and on a mission: prove Ariana wrong. He's determined to win over the love of his life. And this time he won't let anything get in the way, not even her.

Now, not only does Ariana have to face the man she's still in love with, but she must confront the mystery of her father's letters, forcing her to reevaluate the past and her choices. But will it be enough to make her believe that, unlike the letter she's always returned, Jonah is hers to keep?

My Review

Oh my heart! Jonah and Ariana have beautiful chemistry and even though the beginning is heartbreaking, I quickly became caught up in Ariana's present-day transformation of healing and coming to life again as her close friends and grandma stage a bit of an intervention. Jonah's sweet determination to not only reconnect with Ariana but win her heart and commitment was amazing, and through all the bumps in the road of emotional healing they discover how they fit in each other's life again. I thought the personality and mannerisms of Jonah's daughter were so interesting and really brought another layer of depth to the story as Ariana nurtures the inner child that yearns to creep out of the mold but doesn't know how. Ariana's difficult childhood, dysfunctional relationship with her mother, and the influence of her lack of father are explored as she relents to therapy and faces her fears with Jonah's help. I loved the positive view of therapy and how the right therapist can be so helpful. I think it's so important to overcome the stigma so that when the time comes in everyone's life that they may need it, they will not feel ashamed to reach out and embrace the healing. There is a bit of a mystery with the unopened letters that keeps a sense of anticipation throughout the book, and I was satisfied with the resolution that came about. Another winner from this author that had me giggling, smiling, feeling the emotions, and wiping tears.

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

Review: The Last Shot by Amy Matayo

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


It’s the same routine every night, and country music superstar Teddy Hayes wouldn’t have it any other way.

7:00 pm: Arena doors open and fans fill the stands.
7:45 pm: Lights go out and spotlights come on.
7:46 pm: Energy from concert-goers reaches an ear-spitting crescendo.
7:47 pm: Teddy takes the stage and begins to sing.

But tonight, something is off.

It starts when a stage light malfunctions and sends sparks into the air.
It continues when his drummer stops playing and stares slack-jawed in Teddy’s direction.
It dawns on him when a fan doubles-over and a red stain spreads across her shirt.
Something isn’t just off tonight.

Someone in the crowd is shooting a gun.

And it’s up to a female bodyguard he’s never met before to save his life.

My Review

Dang. This book is pretty intense- I mean, the subject matter is a mass shooting. I thought the author really delved into the scene without crossing any boundaries of graphic description, but skillfully explored the emotions and trauma the characters went through, both during and after. Teddy and Jane both have unresolved scars from their pasts which are triggered by the post-traumatic stress. I admired that Jane recognized her feelings and the sources and was able to figuratively wake up and make the changes that she needed to in order to feel like she's herself and really living again. Teddy struggles more with confronting his demons and his feelings of grief and guilt are so raw and complex. The bond he and Jane forged continues as she supports and encourages him to see things more clearly and not let his anxiety rule his choices. This author excels at opening up and revealing the hurts and fears while weaving in the power of hope and healing and love. Each book in the Love in Chaos series is so different- stranded on a desert island, the aftermath of a tornado, and living through a mass shooting, yet the themes of how we process and heal from the chaos in our lives makes them fit together perfectly.

(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 . . .

Review: Rebound by Sophia Summers, Rebecca Connolly, Heather B. Moore

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


He's all in. She's all in. Nothing stands in their way--until their families get involved.

Summer Davis, small town librarian, PHD candidate, wants to fall in love.
Rocco De Luca, pro hockey player, didn’t know he was looking for love until he met Summer.

Now they try to navigate getting to know each other around his home game schedule with both their families vying for attention and meddling in ways only big families can. It’s a wonder they can go on a few dates at all once Summer’s brothers learn a pro hockey player is interested in their sister.

But the closer they become, the harder it will be when Summer is offered the chance of a lifetime…far away from their small town in Wyoming.

My Review

As much as I love this series and the sports romances this trio of authors writes, this one sadly fell flat for me. I liked Summer and Rocco, but the relationship didn't have any depth and seemed to move forward on attraction only before they really got to know each other or spent much time together. They had good chemistry, but I didn't feel an emotional connection to them. There also wasn't much of a plot- each time a conflict arose it was diffused in an anti-climactic way. The supporting cast had so much potential with the brothers, the parents, and the Wyoming teammates, but I felt like it was kept surface-level and they were way under-utilized. There was quite a bit of name dropping from the previous books in this series and then also the Belltown Sixpack series, but with no substance to the encounters. I would have rather there been more of a focus and development on a few characters that are close to Rocco and Summer instead of spreading it thin explaining so many connections that aren't really vital to the story. Overall, Summer and Rocco are totally sweet together, but the only memorable thing about them is the way they met (which was a great scene). I'm still looking forward to what comes next for this band of hockey brothers!

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

Welcome to Northbrook Hockey Elite

Six professional hockey players used to play on an elite club team together, but have all separated and now play in the pro-hockey leagues. Not all of them were friends, yet circumstances bring them together, and for the greater good, maybe they can put aside their differences.

Visit us on Facebook: Swoony Sports Romances

Northbrook Hockey Elite series:

About the Authors

Rebecca Connolly

Rebecca Connolly writes romances, both period and contemporary, because she absolutely loves a good love story. She has been creating stories since childhood, and there are home videos to prove it! She started writing them down in elementary school and has never looked back. She currently lives in the Midwest, spends every spare moment away from her day job absorbed in her writing, and is a hot cocoa addict.

Heather B. Moore

Heather B. Moore is a USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty publications. Her historical novels and thrillers are written under pen name H.B. Moore. She writes women's fiction, romance, and inspirational non-fiction under Heather B. Moore. This can all be confusing, so her kids just call her Mom.

Heather attended Cairo American College in Egypt, the Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. Heather is represented by Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret.

Sophia Summers

Sophia Summers is an award winning author who just wants to relax a little and enjoy a great beach read. She lives in a quiet southern town brimming with an extra dose of hospitality and a
whole lot of charm.

She writes historical romance under a different name. You can follow her on Be SURE to join her Newsletter for freebies and fun. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Review: Freedom in the Mountain Wind by Misty M. Beller

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


The last epic journey before her life changes forever.

Susanna Wilkins will do anything to make her father’s final dream come true, including trek along the path Lewis and Clark explored into the untamed wilds of the Rocky Mountains. Every mile is more crucial now that lung cancer is stealing Pa’s last days faster than she can come to terms with losing him. The journey becomes harder than she ever expected, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies isn’t what terrifies her the most.

Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of a massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversize canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again.

My Review

It's hard to comprehend that a young woman and her sick father would not only venture into the wilderness but be able to get as far as they did. I love the sense of adventure and the epic grandeur of the landscape that I can always count on from this author's books, and this one lived up to the standards she sets. While the harsh realities of uncivilized travel are expected, encountered, and overcome, this book felt a bit different with the grief Susanna struggles with, watching her father decline and knowing that his end is near. It brought a sense of anticipation of impending heartache, and I appreciated that she did her best to not only fulfill his wishes but soak up her time with him. The harder parts of the story are well-balanced with the friendship and sincerity of Beaver Tail and his comrades, and the sweetness of new love. The characters are well-formed and I felt like I was able to get to know them well as they journeyed. Beaver Tail's spiritual enlightenment was another aspect of the plot that brought depth and a sense of hope to both his and Susanna's future together. I'm looking forward to continuing the series as they search for the brother who is chasing the rumor of a special breed of horse among one of the tribes.

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

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Review: Andrew by Jennifer Beckstrand

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Andrew, Abraham, and Austin Petersheim’s family business has earned them the nickname The Peanut Butter Brothers. But if their matchmaking younger siblings have their way, all three may soon bear another title: husband . . .

Handsome, hardworking, and godly, Andrew Petersheim has always been sure of his place in his Wisconsin Amish community. He’ll be a welcome catch for the local girl who finally captures his heart. Mary Coblenz certainly isn’t that girl. Two years after “jumping the fence” for the Englischer world, she’s returned, unmarried and pregnant. Yet instead of hiding in shame as others in the community expect, she’s working at the Honeybee Farm, ignoring the gossips—and winning over Andrew’s eight-year-old twin brothers . . .

For all Andrew’s certainty about right and wrong, it seems he has a lot to learn from Mary’s courage, grace, and resilience. She’s changing his notions about forgiveness and love, but will she in turn accept the challenge of starting over and choose to stay—with him?

My Review

This book was absolutely delightful!!! The show was totally stolen by Andrew's eight year old brothers, Alfie and Benji, who are the most entertaining matchmakers ever! Their perspective and hilariously clever antics were my favorite parts that had me smiling and giggling out loud. Mary's confusing presence in Andrew's life challenges the way he thinks and even though he tries to avoid dealing with his conflicting feelings, his little brothers make sure he keeps having interactions with Mary. As he stumbles through his journey of enlightenment on judgement, repentance, and forgiveness, he also learns from Mary's example about compassion, kindness, understanding, and love. Mary also sees the goodness in Andrew and his genuine efforts to reconcile traditional Amish ways with putting into action the teachings of Christ. It's a slow-growing sweet romance, with nice character arcs for both Andrew and Mary, and an amazing supporting cast with Mary's champion Aunt Bitsy (from the Honeybee Sisters series) and Andrew's sincere yet incorrigible brothers.

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

Don't miss the next two books in the Petersheim Brothers series . . .

Book Two

Book Three

Releases June 2020: Available for pre-order

Friday, January 10, 2020

Review: When I Come Home Again by Jennifer Rodewald

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


When a family crisis calls him back to Big Prairie, will Craig Erikson be able to work through past mistakes and the tragedy that had sent him searching for a new place to call home?

Brenna Blaum had been sure of three things in her life—her brother, her running, and her dad’s star receiver. But in a matter of a year’s time, everything she’d counted on fell apart, leaving her devastated. Seven years later, she’s stable again. She has a supportive boyfriend, fulfilling career, and close friends. She keeps her past heartache where it belongs—in her rearview mirror. Until the man who broke her heart finds his way back to Big Prairie.

Craig Erikson had it all—popularity, success, and the love of his high school coach’s daughter. But after a year of mistakes that ended in a tragic accident, he’d left Big Prairie—the place he’d thought to always call home—hoping that without his antagonizing presence, Brenna would be able to heal. Now his mother desperately needs him, as do two young boys in her care. Craig has little choice but to return for good.

Unsure that she can forgive him, Brenna does her best to avoid him. Irritated that she ignores him as if they’d never meant anything to each other, Craig becomes determined not to allow it.

Life in a small town forces their interaction, making them confront their unresolved issues and igniting emotions that have smoldered for seven years. As Craig and Brenna are pushed together, can they endure the hard places still littering their lives? If so, is it possible to find their way back to love and home again?

My Review

I've never been so happy to have a happy ending! I enjoyed the characters and the complex dynamics of their relationships, but holy angst! Craig's reappearance in town and promptings from her psychiatrist boyfriend bring long-repressed emotions to the surface, even though Brenna does not want to deal with them. I've learned that fighting against feelings makes life even more difficult, and it's not until Brenna acknowledges that she needs to process them and seek the healing of forgiveness that she begins her journey towards peace. Craig is struggling with so much change in his life- a new job, his mother fighting cancer, and becoming the father-figure to two foster children. Memories from their past filled with both joy and heartache are revisited and revealed throughout the book and the reader gradually sees how strong their connection was, and the mistakes both made that tore them apart. The message of forgiveness and redemption is strong and the story is full of emotion as Craig and Brenna find their way back to each other slowly.

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