Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Review & Giveaway: Havencross by Julie Daines

Heidi Reads... Havencross by Julie Daines

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



When a shocking scandal involving her father spreads through London society, Elaine Cardinham and her parents are forced to retreat to their country home in Cornwall for refuge. But Havencross is no sanctuary for Elaine. She is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her brother—and the heartbreak she left in her wake all those years ago. It has been five long years since Gareth Kemp last saw Elaine—when she rejected his marriage proposal. Her reappearance convinces him of one thing: he has never stopped loving her. To put his feelings for her aside, he focuses his attention on the dangerous smuggling plaguing the Cornish coast. As Elaine attempts to run from her past, she ventures ever closer to a dangerous truth—and Gareth may be the only one who can save her from a deadly finish.

My Review

I love this author's writing style, so I was so excited to read her new book! And it did not disappoint. I felt transported to the setting and loved the rich historical details and descriptions of the landscape. Elaine and Gareth are easy to like, and I loved how their relationship developed as they grew close again. The danger and tension of the plot kept the pace moving steadily along and I felt like there was a good balance between the various aspects of the story. This is definitely a book I plan to read again and highly recommend!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Romance Awareness Giveaway #1: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I am *thrilled* that Shadow Mountain Publishing has provided a copy of Edenbrooke for me to give away for Romance Awareness Month! Words cannot express how much I adore this book. I totally relate to Marianne, her insecurities and strengths, and Phillip is the perfect hero in my mind- funny, charming, strong, and utterly in love. He even surpassed Mr. Darcy as my literary crush! The romantic tension is off the hook... and it never gets old. I can't count how many times I've read it (especially my favorite parts... and there are so many). Whenever I need a pick-me-up, or have a hard time falling asleep at night, it always takes me to my happy place :) It's the first book I recommend whenever someone asks what I like to read. If you haven't read it, don't wait any longer! Enter for a chance to win a print copy of this "Proper Romance" below!




Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.

From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Review: Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes

Heidi Reads... Yesterday's Promise by Michele Paige Holmes

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



In the Scottish Highlands, 1761

Nineteen-year-old artist Katherine Mercer dreams of selling her paintings to help support her struggling family. Before she has the opportunity, Katherine learns she is to be sold—or practically so—given in marriage to a lord she has never met or even heard of. In return, a much-needed settlement will be made upon her mother.

Katherine’s situation goes from frightening to surreal when her husband-to-be Laird Collin MacDonald arrives with an entourage of men, each heavily armed and speaking with a thick brogue. As if leaving all she knows behind and traveling to another country with strangers isn’t bad enough, Katherine soon discovers a Scottish heritage she knew nothing of, a brother-in-law who wants her dead, and far more at stake with her paintings than she had ever imagined. Forced to turn to her reclusive husband for answers, comfort, and even her very survival, Katherine begins to unravel the mysteries of her past and what it is to love and be loved.

My Review

Wow. I was not prepared for how much I would love this book! I had heard that it was the first book in a two-part series, and normally I don't like when a book ends on a cliffhanger and then I have to wait several months for the second book to publish in order to finish the story... but this one is so well-written that I can't help but give it 5 stars! It actually does pause in a natural place, so even though the full tale will conclude in the second book, I felt satisfied when I finished reading this book. It definitely helped that I was prepared for the type of ending it has, and the good news is that the second book, A Promise for Tomorrow, releases only a few months later- this fall- so the wait won't be long.

All the characters really come to life and practically jump off the page! I was fully immersed the entire time I was reading and it was too hard to put down! The introduction and the beginning of each chapter is told from Collin's point of view, flashbacks to his youth and earliest interactions with Katherine. The present day narrative is from Katherine's perspective, and I really liked her personality and determination. She doesn't remember her childhood experiences in Scotland so we got to learn along with her the complex dynamics and history between the different clans and the English. Despite the harsh traveling circumstances she thrives in the beauty of her homeland, and her relationship with Collin blossoms gradually and wonderfully. I loved the give and take between them, the devotion and loyalty, and hesitant feelings maturing into full romance. There are deep layers to Collin that Katie seeks to uncover and know as she falls in love with him and wants to support him and his burdens. There is an element of intrigue as Katherine sorts out political loyalties and where her place is in all the drama and hopes for the future. I am *so* looking forward to the second book and seeing how she confronts her enemies and becomes a leader in her clan.

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

Heidi Reads... The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



Anthony Blake is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies-including his own-has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the fa├žade of a flirtatious playboy.

Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.

She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?

My Review

This is a lovely Regency romance, set in India and including a plot of espionage and secret identities. Of course, Anthony's work to recover the stolen document comes between him and Sophia, and he can't tell her a thing about it. Much of the book is the couple angsting over their feelings for each other that they think they cannot act on. There are also many details about the company they keep, shared in a formal manner, but I didn't find it interesting since it didn't relate to the main characters or show me more about them. I found myself skimming to get to the parts where things progressed in the spy plot or Anthony and Sophia's relationship. I didn't find myself connecting to their emotions but rather felt like an observer as they go through the motions of being just friends when they each secretly wish for more. Overall it was somewhat entertaining but I wished for something more that would compel me to care more about the characters and their future together.

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

Link-up: Free / Bargain Books

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Leels Loves Books | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | Traci Hayden
Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures 
Beck Valley Books | Jude Ouvrard
Miki's Hope | Heidi Reads...
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance |
Colorimetry | J.C. Clarke
3 Partners in Shopping | I Create Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Here is this weeks awesome selection!

Would you like to share our linkup on your site? click here
Would you like to become a weekly host? sign up here

Come back and check out the new selection every week!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

August is Romance Awareness Month!

I'm thrilled to be participating in Romance Awareness Month, sponsored by Shadow Mountain Publishing and featuring their "Proper Romance" line of books! I will be giving away *FOUR* Proper Romance titles throughout the month of August, and sharing the giveaways happening on other blogs on my Facebook page. There will also be an exciting Facebook party this Friday, August 4th, where you can chat with the authors and win prizes!

Have you read any of the Proper Romance books
Which one is your favorite? 
Which ones would you like to read?

Click the image below to go to the Facebook event page and RSVP!


Interview with Courtney Walsh, author of Just Look Up

I'm so excited to share an interview with Courtney Walsh, one of my favorite authors of contemporary romance! I love the poignant vibe of her writing and the unforgettable characters and themes. First, check out her new book Just Look Up, then keep scrolling for some fun details about Courtney . . .
Heidi Reads... Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing 
(Read my review here)



After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home--a quaint tourist town full of memories she'd just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work--something her eclectic family doesn't understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren't ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can't find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he's found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along--if only she'd just look up.

And now, here's Courtney!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the same town as President Ronald Reagan.
I have degrees in theatre and journalism.
I think band geeks make the best husbands.
I’m not much of a risk taker and while the idea of traveling appeals to me, I’m scared to fly over water.
I LOVE Robert Downey Jr. (and have ever since I saw Chaplain when I was in high school.)
I wear workout clothes a lot—even on the days I don’t work out.
One of my big dreams is to see a whale in the wild. An even bigger dream? To photograph it!
We spent 12 years in ministry prior to starting our own business—a performing arts studio and youth theatre (our dream job!) which we started in 2014. It’s technically my “day job” but we look at it more as a ministry.
We have three kids (ages 16, 13 and 9).  

What do you do besides writing?
Mainly, help run The Studio, our business. We’re always in the midst of shows, camps and private lessons/classes—often at the same time, so it’s a pretty big job. These two things + being a mom = a very FULL (but happy!) life!

Do you have images you can share that come close to how you picture your characters? Do you like to find visual inspiration for your characters before or during your writing process?

Oddly, no. I’m an extremely visual person, but I really don’t use images when creating my characters. I have such a clear picture of them in my head that no one is exactly right! This is why I was so happy that Tyndale chose not to show faces on the cover of this book. I do have LOTS of images of the setting though because creating the town, I was definitely inspired by many pictures!

What are some songs that you listened to or inspired you while writing your book?
I listen to instrumental movie soundtracks when I write. I have a Pandora station with all of my favorites. Some of the best ones include the music from Harry Potter, The Pirates of the Caribbean, Sherlock Holmes, The Piano, The Bourne Identity— but I have many, many more that I love!

What message would you like readers to ultimately take away from the book?
It deals with the whole idea that we need to disconnect to reconnect. That we’re a device-addicted society and if we’d put down our phones every once in a while, we’d discover SO many things that we’re missing…but, honestly, at its core, to me, this story is about something more. It’s about the way we (especially as women) are constantly striving, trying to prove ourselves. It’s about how we don’t rest or stop or pause or take time for ourselves because we’re always taking care of everything and everyone else. It’s about the love of a God who offers grace so freely, never making us earn it or win him over, because that is a lesson I need to learn over and over and over…

What can we look forward to coming from you in the future?

I’m happy to say I have another book called Hometown Girl releasing in the fall, and next summer, a follow-up to Just Look Up called Just Let Go, which I’m working on as we speak. You can also probably look forward to more Facebook posts in which I lament the fact that chipmunks keep finding their way in my house and also the fact that technically I’m not supposed to drink coffee anymore. Sigh. How am I supposed to deal with either of these things?! ;) 

Yay!!! I am so excited to hear about your new stories! Thank you Courtney! Good luck with the chipmunks and zero coffee . . .

Don't miss this great book trailer Courtney and her husband star in!

Connect with author Courtney Walsh:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

And be sure to check out Courtney's other books which are wonderful too :)




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Review: Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

Heidi Reads... Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing



Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love?

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.

Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But his past failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He's determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

My Review

I LOVED the setting of this book in Sydney, Australia! It's always fun to "travel" when reading a great book. Paige is a contrast of professionally competent and emotional wreck. She's very impressive when she's in her element of organizing massive events, but it's her moments of vulnerability and pain that made me connect with her character. Her memories of her brother and the significance of his loss are unfolded slowly throughout the story and the poignancy of the healing moments drew me in. Paige's volatile interactions with Josh and her prejudice against megachurches created drama but things smoothed out over time, even as conflict builds in other aspects of the plot. The author's writing is fluid and I never got bored as the dynamics of the story and characters worked together. Josh and Paige spend much of the book fighting their attraction to each other, so it's no surprise that their romantic relationship is bumpy. I enjoyed their friendship and banter more than their romance to be honest ;) Overall, the powerful themes of grief, healing, and grace made this a book to remember.

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

Review: Hazel of Heber Valley by Annette Lyon

Heidi Reads... Hazel of Heber Valley by Annette Lyon

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it



Hazel Adams can’t help but be intrigued when Wyatt Coltrane rides into the sleepy town of Midway. Her childhood friend and one-time beau Nathan, however, keeps getting in the way of any possible relationship, claiming that Coltrane is bad news. Hazel is quite sure that Nathan’s simply jealous and unwilling to see her with another man. When the truth about Coltrane comes out, the revelation shocks both Hazel and Nathan—and will change their lives forever, either pushing them apart, or bringing them together once at for all. Hazel must figure out what her heart truly wants and which is the man who can give those things to her.

My Review

A sweet story of unrequited love in a small town. Nathan can't get over his bad luck in the romance department, especially since his first love wants to remain friends. He's full of angst and jealousy, trying to protect Hazel from the slick new stranger in town. As much as Nathan ponders Hazel's great attributes... I thought she was an idiot. Seriously, no common sense! Her thoughts and choices were frustrating and while they created the conflict for the story to move forward, I found her hard to relate to. There is some action as tensions come to a head and the ending is very sweet.

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