Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review & Giveaway: Beneath an Italian Sky by Stacy Henrie


My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it




American heiress Clare Herschel made what she hoped was a love match when she married the handsome, witty Emmett Markham, the Earl of Linwood. A little over a year into her marriage, though, Clare finds herself wintering in Sicily—alone. She is sure the mild climate is the answer to avoiding another miscarriage and Emmett’s apparent indifference, so she’s determined to remain in Italy as long as possible. The last person she expects to show up at the villa is her husband, especially when Emmett confesses he’s there to convince her to return to England.

As the only surviving son of a marquess, Emmett has done everything his father has asked of him—even agreeing to run for a seat in the House of Commons. However, this latest task comes with a nearly impossible caveat. He must convince his wife Clare to come back to England with him in order for them to appear to be a happy couple for his political campaigning. Emmett isn’t confident Clare will agree to the plan, though, not when she seems to want nothing to do with him or the life they’d begun building before she abruptly left him for Italy.

When a massive earthquake strikes Messina, Sicily, claiming the lives of thousands, Clare and Emmett must set aside their mutual misgivings about their marriage in order to survive and lend a helping hand to others. But in the wake of the destruction, they begin to realize they’ve been given a chance to decide if their love is stronger than the upheavals of the past.

My Review

Clare and Emmett are a sweet couple and I enjoyed getting to know them as they struggle through obstacles separately and together. They have an affectionate rapport and gentle banter, but when it comes to communicating their more difficult feelings or sharing about their past, they have more to learn. Their experiences in Italy draw them closer together, but also brings their hidden conflicts to the surface for them to deal with. Emmett's family dynamics are a source of unhappiness for them both, especially his father's rigid expectations. Hope for her new pregnancy makes Clare stand up for herself more than she had in the past, and I appreciated seeing Emmett's growth as he becomes his own man and the leader of his family. The historical details were intriguing and I was especially moved by the scenes of the earthquake and the devastation there at the turn of the century.

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

Connect with author Stacy Henrie

Facebook | Amazon | Website | Pinterest | Goodreads

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Follow the Blog Tour

April 22nd - Heidi Reads
April 23rd - Peggy Urry

Monday, April 22, 2019

Review: Always You by Lucinda Whitney


My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



She longs for the man who’s been writing to her for fifteen years. He wishes he could tell her it’s him. Can they come to the truth before it’s too late?

Simon Ackerley arrives in Lisbon for his temporary job as a consultant, not expecting to find his secret penpal easily. After all, he doesn’t know what she looks like or what her real name is. But when a biking accident reveals that Simon’s prickly co-worker Isabel is the elusive Amélie, he has to win her trust before he can confess his true identity.

Isabel Antunes is content with her life as director of the English Academy in Lisbon, until the chairman hires a consultant without her knowledge. Despite Simon Ackerley’s repeated assurances to the contrary, Isabel believes he’s after her position, and she won’t hand it over without a fight. As if dealing with him at work isn’t enough, he shows up at her book club as well. Her only solace is writing to the penpal she knows simply as Elliot.

As they work together, Isabel realizes Simon is nothing like her first impression and a tentative friendship grows between them. But how can she explore the possibilities when her heart belongs to Elliot?

Always You is a sweet secret relationship romance and it can be read as a standalone.

*Part of this story was previously published as One Small Chance. It has been rewritten and expanded to include new content and a swoony epilogue.*

My Review

I loved this sweet story with a "You've Got Mail" theme. The characters are well-fleshed out and the story and plot have a full arc. When I finished the last page I just had to sigh in satisfaction. The setting of Portugal played a huge part in making the story stand out. It was so fun to imagine the foreign location and accents and the vivid descriptions were subtle without taking over the narrative. I was able to connect with both Isabel and Simon and felt the emotions they were experiencing as they grew closer together in spite of the struggles they face. 

I read and loved it when it was first published as One Small Chance, but now with the added scenes and interactions between Isabel and Simon I love it even more! A fun couple to watch fall in love as Simon charms his way past Isabel's walls of reservation. Highly recommend!

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere

Book Three in the London Beginnings series


My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



Cara Bernay has never fit in. At loose ends in 1881 London after a near tragedy costs her a job, she befriends a rising young artist. With his help, she begins planning a new life and developing her own artistic talent. But soon Cara finds herself at odds with the artist's brother—a handsome but serious-minded earl who wants to force his brother back to a "respectable" life.

Henry Burke, the Earl of Morestowe, feels the weight of growing financial burdens. His profligate and emotionally unstable brother is making matters worse, and Henry needs him back home. Despite misgivings about Cara's mysterious background, Henry sees she's a positive influence on his brother and on Henry's unruly young ward, and he strikes a deal with her to return with them to their estate.

But the family has their own secrets, and when Cara, drawn ever closer to Henry, stumbles onto the truth, she must choose between following her heart and pursuing a bold plan that could bring disaster.

My Review

I was surprised by Cara's naiveté and the potentially dangerous situations she allows herself to be drawn into. Fortunately the people she encounters and trusts don't have nefarious intentions, but I was worried for her the whole time she was in London! I can see how her sisters worried over her and her impulsive tendencies. I enjoyed the art scene she finds herself in and the way Cara is excited to develop her talent and passion as she searches for a purpose for her life. She is good for Henry and it was fun to see their very different personalities complement each other. A sweet romance with difficult family dynamics and secrets that create an interesting plot. A nice finish to 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 London Beginnings series . . .

Book One
Heidi Reads... The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere



When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater which is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

An injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

Book Two
Heidi Reads... The Heart's Appeal by Jennifer Delamere



Strong-minded and independent Julia Bernay comes to London to study medicine and become a doctor--a profession that has only just opened up to women. She witnesses a serious accident, and through her quick actions saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson.

Coming from a family that long ago lost its money and its respectability, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought was impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to rise above his family's stigma and set him on the path to wealth and recognition. But his well-laid plans are upended when the accident brings Julia into his life.

Michael soon discovers he's met a woman every bit as stubborn and determined to make her mark on the world as he is. Sparks fly--but will they find common ground?

Review: Charming the Shortstop by Heather B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly, Sophia Summers


My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



He’s not looking. She’s been burned. But sparks fly, and they decide to go on a date. Just this once.

When professional baseball player Axel Diaz travels back to Belltown University for a friend’s wedding, he’s not planning on bringing a date. Until he meets Brighton West, the flight attendant who he can’t get off his mind. Although dubbed “Cold Axe” by some of his female fans, Axel asks Brighton to be his date to the wedding, all the while wondering why of all times and places he is breaking his no-dating streak. But the more he gets to know Brighton, the more he realizes she may be the one woman who can melt his cold heart.

My Review

Axel may be my favorite of the Belltown Six so far! He's devoted to his mother, teenage sister, and career, leaving no time for dating... but that's just an excuse. He doesn't feel like he's relationship material because of his issues with his father. It was great to see how his strong feelings for Brighton make him see that the risk is worth taking. I loved how he was a little vulnerable around her, and made his interest known instead of playing games. Brighton is overwhelmed by him but as she focuses on Axel as a person instead of his baseball fame, she sees what makes him so amazing. Their developing relationship was a pleasure to read, and even though there isn't a huge conflict or climax, the character-driven story made me so glad for their happy ending. Loving this series! The books are written so they can be read in any order, so don't hesitate to pick one up!

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

Welcome to Belltown! Six baseball players meet in the college town of Belltown, Massachusettes, becoming best friends, their lives intertwining as they each get called up to the Major Leagues.


Follow Sawyer, Cole, Axel, David, Ryker, and Levi in these six swoony sports romances.

Belltown Six Pack Series:

Hitching the Pitcher
Falling for Centerfield
Charming the Shortstop
Snatching the Catcher
Flirting with First
Kissing on Third

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Double Review: The Sewing Sisters' Society & A Most Inconvenient Love by Ruth Logan Herne


My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it



Hattie McGillicuddy might not look like your typical matchmaker, but Hattie makes things happen in the little town of Second Chance, South Dakota. With the arrival of the railroad and official statehood, Hattie’s determined to bring brides west, and not just any brides. Brides who need the wide open prairie as much as the prairie- and the prairie men- need them! Three pioneer stories of unlikely love are woven around a little town full of homespun characters that take us back to another place and another time but with the same faith, hope and love we cherish today.

Macy can’t sew a lick, and she’s come to town with a sacrifice and a secret, but when Hattie’s first apprentice is attracted to the pastor of the only church in town—the man raising her illegitimate son— will the truth set her free? Or make her leave the town and her son behind?

Unjustly accused, Nellie comes west to escape the law. She has a way with tucks and gathers, and every Western town could use more tucks and gathers. She’s determined to improve the drab look of the prairie and manages to brighten hearts as well. But will her quick speech and firm ideas of women’s suffrage draw Levi Eichas closer or send the somber carriage maker running?

Grief has robbed Ann Hazel, but when her aunt pushes her to go west and help an ailing Hattie McGillicuddy turn hems, Ann’s shamed into it. She’s managed to avoid life for awhile, but when Sol Eichas’s nanny comes down sick, Ann reluctantly agrees to help. As she winds her way around Sol’s heart and home, can the two troubled souls leave the past behind to embrace a future together?

My Review

These stories of sweet romance and a second chance at life and love worked perfectly as novellas in a collection. I liked that they had the same setting in a small but developing town, and exploring the relationships between each couple. Hattie is a sweetheart and I enjoyed her personality and the way she mentored the young women, providing a common thread connecting the stories. I felt like I got to know the characters quickly and connected to their struggles and feelings. Well-written novellas are a pleasure to read for the instant gratification of a happy ending ;) The following full-length book in the series, A Most Inconvenient Love, is a must-read to follow up with the lives of each of these endearing couples as they make up a strong supporting cast.

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


My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



Sober businessman Seb Ward may have come from a wealthy lumber-baron family in Minnesota, but he knows that appearances can be deceiving, and that his illustrious family is pretty dysfunctional. Being in another state has provided the buffer he sought from his father’s misdeeds, but when a little boy shows up on a train… a little boy who looks enough like Seb to be his own child… Seb’s faced with a dilemma. Raise the boy as his own, or let his mother suffer the embarrassment of “a brother by another mother.” And when the boy takes a shine to the Rachel Eichas, the newly contracted school teacher, Seb can’t help but do the same. But Rachel was raised by an unloving, business-first father and there’s no way she’s looking for those same qualities in a husband. Can she see through Seb’s focus and drive to find the loving man within?

My Review

I enjoyed this sweet story of a lumber mill owner and the local schoolteacher and how they came together despite some misunderstandings and conflicts in the town. I felt like I was missing a bit of backstory to many of the townspeople and family members that are mentioned, and while the author did a decent job catching the reader up, I wish that I had read The Sewing Sisters' Society novella collection first, where it tells their stories so I could get to know them first and appreciate them more in this book. I appreciated Sebastian's loyalty to his mother and self-sacrifice in taking on his young half-brother without dispelling the rumors, but hoping that his character would speak for itself. Rachel learned about trust as she got to know Sebastian and determine for herself what kind of man he was. She went through some difficult years with her strict father, but enduring that trial strengthened her and her sisters, as well as their bond. I enjoyed her disposition- friendly and helpful, but cautious and thoughtful as well. I liked the small town setting and the way the neighbors supported each other, even with the typical busybodies and negativity stemming from gossip and the disgruntled. The tone of the narrative was a bit peculiar, and it was interesting the way the author wove in snippets of scripture as they came to the minds of the characters.

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

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Blog tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli


Welcome to the Blog Tour and Giveaway for The Edge of Mercy by Heidi Chiavaroli, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!


Edge of Mercy final large fileTitle: The Edge of Mercy  
Author: Heidi Chiavaroli  
Publisher: Hope Creek Publishers  
Genre: Split Time/Women's Fiction  
Release Date: April 9, 2019

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear...

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?  

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository


I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with Matthew James Rodrigues. Not according to my parents, anyway.

The first time Matt showed up on my doorstep, Dad took one look at his rumpled hair, his Elvis tattoo, and idling jalopy and told him he could take a long hike off a short pier if he thought he’d get anywhere near his daughter.

Back then, Matt had been nothing more than a teenager with a lawn mower, a shovel, and a good tan. But he had something else—business smarts. He knew how to work people.

He knew how to work me.

He used to visit me at the high school lunch table while all my friends tittered not-so-conspicuously. I still didn’t know why he approached me that first time to introduce himself. I wasn’t anything to look at. Matt smelled like fresh wood shavings from the vocational shop. His rugged dark looks and persistence caught me off guard.

Before long, I was begging Daddy to change his mind about Matt. He didn’t budge.

“Do you think I worked hard all these years to have my oldest daughter marry some trailer trash? And a Catholic at that?”

He said Catholic as if the devil himself had spawned the religion. As if half the boys I went to school with weren’t Catholic. As if it were some pagan religion requiring child sacrifice.

“I don’t want to marry him, Daddy. I just want to get to know him.”

“No. End of conversation.” He went away mumbling about how he should have never taken the pastorate position in New England all those years ago.

I snuck off to meet Matt that night. It was the first time I’d disobeyed my parents.

Matt was a year older than me and had a Volkswagen with a tape deck. That first night we drove to Newport, listening to Elvis tapes. Matt wasn’t like other boys I knew, listening to Pearl Jam or Billy Joel. He liked what he liked, whether it was popular or not.

He liked me.


heidi chiavaroli

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing twelve years ago, just after Jesus had grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2018 ACFW Carol Award for Debut Novel and is a 2018 Christy Finalist. Both her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, and her sophomore novel, The Hidden Side, are 4½-star Romantic Times Top Picks. Freedom's Ring was also a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fifteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.  

CONNECT WITH HEIDI: website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

the edge of mercy blog giveaway

(1) winner will win this beautiful prize pack from Heidi Chiavaroli, including:
  • Rustic Metal Lantern
  • Bordeaux Journal
  • Country Potholder
  • Colonial-Inspired Hand Glazed Mug
  • Simple Life Notepad
  • Be Still and Know Magnet
  • Plymouth Rock Bookmark
  • Fresh & Clean Goat Milk Soap
  • Handmade Rustic Book Decor
  • Signed Copy of The Edge of Mercy
Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 9, 2019 and last through 11:59 pm April 16, 2019. US Mailing addresses only, due to shipping costs. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

Friday, April 12, 2019

E-book SALE: 99 cents for The Songs That Brought Me Back by Mylissa Demeyere




Have you ever made a mistake? One so monumental you lost everything? I did, and I hate myself for it! All I want to do is close my eyes, and let the darkness consume me. Make it all go away. The end.
Ainsley is drowning in the depth of her despair. One wrong decision left her alone, with only regret as her constant companion. To escape it all, she makes another choice. One she hopes will end everything. Instead, she’s thrown into a whole new world filled with opportunities she doesn’t believe she deserves.
Ethan gives the appearance of breezing through life. But underneath his bright facade, he’s scarred by loss. When fate leads him into Ainsley’s world at the exact moment she needs someone the most, he can’t ignore the chance to right the wrongs of his past.
Ainsley and Ethan will struggle to help each other heal and start anew.
They’ll learn that the secret to conquering their pain lies within their power, if only they can do it together.
Always together.
Sometimes the ending is really the beginning.

Book Trailer

What Readers are saying:

This poignant redemption story about second chances and forgiveness yanked my emotions all over the place. I cried, I yearned, I hoped. A beautiful story about what true love is and does. – Charissa Stastny, author of Between Hope and the Highway and the Rules out Romances Series.

A heartfelt romance with a powerful message about the sanctity of human life. If you've ever simply needed a friend, The Songs That Brought Me Back will resonate--and leave you thankful for the people in your life. -Taylor Dean, author of I’m With You and Chasing Fireflies.

Beautifully raw and emotional, and full of exquisitely swoony moments, this story hooked me from beginning to end (I read it in one sitting). I couldn't put it down! The characters are rock solid, imperfectly perfect (especially Ethan), and the magnetic chemistry was mesmerizing. – Katie from Katie’s Clean Book Collection

Second chances are a powerful thing and in this novel we see how redemption and starting over can bring light back into ones soul. – Sheila from Why Not Because I Said So Blog

Another remarkable read by Mylissa Demeyere. Ethan and Ainsley had me laughing and crying as they face their own demons and fall in love while doing it. This book adds even more depth as it confronts suicide head on. Suicide has become an epidemic that some are afraid to address; Demeyere brings it to light from both the victims and the survivors giving us insight on the struggles of so many. It does not disappoint and I, again, am excited to see what comes next from this talented writer.  – Amazon Reviewer

A beautiful sequel to The Songs of You and Me that cleverly illustrates that there are always two sides to every story and that it is never too late for love to overcome any challenge. – Amazon Reviewer


“The song changed, and a fast, hypnotic rhythm I recognized from the radio blasted through the place. I held onto Ainsley and started swaying to the beat. For me, this was second nature, but Ainsley felt stiff and unwilling to move along with the sway of the music. I got closer to her and held her near.

I released our intertwined fingers and ran my hands up her arms, loving the way her body responded to my touch. The people around us bumped and swung on the dance floor, completely oblivious to the spark and heat building between us. My hands traveled down her back and held onto her hips. “Feel the beat.” My voice came out husky, affected by her so close to me. I moved her gently to the rhythm of the music and felt her body respond to my ministrations. I fought off the shivers coursing through my own body, feeling her pressed up to me like this. And like a light switch being turned on, she reciprocated. Her hips joined me, her arms wrapped around my neck, and her eyes found mine and held my gaze. She was locked in rhythm with me, our bodies moving in total sync with the music, rocking to a perfect beat, unaware of anything around us. Focused solely on each other. There wasn’t a more perfect moment. Staring down at her, I felt my heart beat faster. I knew I loved this woman in my arms. I felt the cord that was wrapped around us tug us closer together. I leaned in the last leg of the distance and pressed my lips to hers. All the fire I had experienced paled in comparison to what I felt when I pressed my mouth to hers. Fireworks exploded. Her lips weren’t unfamiliar to me. But that first kiss had been all about showing her I cared. That I was there to take care of her. This was all my bottled up want, need, and love that came bursting out to the surface in a hot melding of two people meeting each other in a searing kiss. Ainsley must have felt the buildup. She met me with as much passion, opening up to me in complete acceptance. Our tongues tangled, and I pulled her closer, needing to feel her flush against me. How I had craved this for so long. I felt her hand flatten against my chest, and my muscles responded to her touch. My whole body was on fire, craving her touch.

About the Author

Mylissa Demeyere was born in Belgium, and resides in the beautiful city of Ghent. She lives in a somewhat organized home with her four beautiful children and the love of her life. If she isn’t working, she’s writing, running, reading, or enjoying time with her kids, who are growing up way too fast.