Friday, September 30, 2016

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells
By Sarah M. Eden

Cade O'Brien is the best lawman in the west--but he's sick of shooting people and the mess that comes with being sheriff in busy towns. So when Savage Wells, a tiny town with no real threats, advertises for a new sheriff, Cade sets out to get the job. He's not anticipating going up against Paisley Bell for the job, though. Paisley has been acting as sheriff for the past several months, and she knows she can do the job--and she needs the job in order to pay for the care her father, who is slipping into dementia, needs--but she has to convince the town that she's the best candidate. She and Cade initially butt heads, but then they slowly come to appreciate one another. However, as their feelings for each other grow, they both know that Savage Wells isn't big enough for two sheriffs.

I LOVED this book. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. I am a big Sarah Eden fan, and I like all of her books, but this one just might be my new favorite--which is saying something, because Friends & Foes has been my favorite for YEARS. Cade O'Brien gets to join the list (alongside Jack Elliott from These Is My Words) with my favorite male book characters. Love him. Paisley was awesome, too. I loved their banter back and forth, and I loved the quirky characters in Savage Wells. Ah! I can't say enough good things about this book; I seriously LOVED it. 5 stars.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Road Trip Collection

Road Trip Collection

What Falling Feels Like—Jolene Perry
Kendall is still hurting from her divorce when she agrees to let her best friend’s little brother Tyler hitch a ride with her to New Mexico. What her friend neglected to tell her is that Tyler is no longer the scrawny geek she remembers; he’s all grown up and is exactly the sort of guy she could find herself falling for, especially as they reconnect on their trip. But with Kendall’s past, is she willing to give Tyler a chance in her future? This was probably my least favorite story of the collection, but it’s still enjoyable. One thing I did really like is that even though the mutual interest comes through pretty quickly, they do some time apart for Kendall to sort through her emotions before they really start their relationship.

Antiques Road Trip—Sarah M. Eden
Kelsey is a Jane Austen expert, so when she gets a chance to compete on a TV show where she’ll be assigned a character from 19th-century England, she’s all in. As she and her fellow contestants travel by carriage and try to stay in character, Kelsey isn’t surprised by how much she loves the chance to reenact history—but she is pleasantly surprised by how much she likes Devon, a fellow competitor, and she can’t help but hope he’s as great in real life as he is on TV. I was thrilled to see that Saran Eden managed to incorporate Regency England into a modern story about a road trip. Best twist on a road trip ever! That was awesome. I also really liked both Kelsey and Devon; they were sweet and the sort of good people you want good things to happen to.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice—Ranee S. Clark
 Jacqueline has recently broken up with her long-time boyfriend Colin because his refusal to go on a road trip they’d planned with friends because it would interfere with his job convinces her that he’s never going to have time for their relationship. Jac quickly gets over her disappointment, though, when Hudson, a longtime friend, is added to the group—and when she finds out that he’s had feelings for her for pretty much forever, she starts to wonder how she could have missed someone so wonderful when he’s been right in front of her the whole time. Colin, however, hasn’t given up on the idea of him and Jac working things out, and Jac will have to decide once and for all what she really wants. I really enjoyed the bantering conversation between Jac and Hudson; the author did a great job showing their friendship and how they are really good for (and to) each other. This was another sweet story and it flowed really well.

Head over Heels—Annette Lyon
Tristian is on assignment for her online singles magazine when she briefly meets a guy who catches her eye—but is gone before she has a chance to do much more than find out his name is Mac. When another business opportunity pops up, she needs to find a way to get to Vegas fast, so when her friend Alyssa says she can arrange for Tristian to ride with a business acquaintance, Tristian accepts, thinking she’ll enjoy getting to know a friend of a friend—but not expecting that this friend is none other than Mac. With both Mac and Tristian having been misled by Alyssa as to the true identity of their road trip partner, they decide to get their revenge by making Alyssa thinking they’re falling for each other…but it turns out, maybe the joke’s on them, as they might be falling for real. Even though the whole relationship developed really fast, the author made it feel real, showing how Mac and Tristian really connected. This story was a lot of fun…even if several of the 1980s pop songs referenced were ones I’m not familiar with.

Two Dozen Roses—Heather B. Moore
Dayna is driving her mother from California to Oregon, making several stops along the way to fulfill her mother’s sight-seeing dreams. Roman is on a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway with his brother Garrett to fulfill their sister’s dying wish they the brothers try to mend their relationship. After a couple unintentional meetings at sightseeing venues along the way, the two groups start planning to meet up—and as they do, Garrett tries to use his charm to woo Dayna, not seeming to notice that Roman and Dayna seem to be hitting it off. But when Kenzie—the woman Roman once loved…at least until she married (and later divorced) his brother—comes calling, Dayna realizes she might have lost Roman before she ever truly had him. This was a cute story. It was an interesting little twist that Dayna and Roman weren’t actually in the same car for this road trip. I love stories when the “underdog” (in this case, Roman, the more reserved brother) gets the girl.

Try, Try Again—Aubrey Mace
When Justin told Sarah he thought she was the one, she should have been ecstatic; she’d liked him for months. But instead, she panicked, assuming he couldn’t really mean it and she was just the rebound girl. And when he didn’t follow up at all, she figured she’d been right. But six months have passed, and she can’t help but want another chance—so when she sees an obituary for his grandfather, she convinces a friend of hers to go on a road trip with her so she can attend the viewing. But when she shows up, even though Justin seems happy to see her, she isn’t sure she’ll be able to put herself on the line and tell him what she really wants. I think the author did a great job of developing Sarah’s fears and behaviors, how she really likes Justin and wants things to work but can’t quite believe she has a shot at getting what she really wants. I also liked how Justin was pretty patient with her—he’d be direct but then back off when she started to panic; that was an endearing characteristic.

This is another great anthology. I always have so much fun reading them. I enjoyed both the traditional road trip themes as well as the creative twists. There were lots of great characters to cheer for and some good character development, which can be hard to come by in novellas. Definitely recommend this one for anyone looking for great romances and a fun read.

I received a free copy of the ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Blind Date Collection (A Timeless Romance)

Blind Date Collection (A Timeless Romance)

The Promise That Katy Did
by Annette Lyon
Katy promises a dying friend that she'll listen to Mr. Balmer when he asks something of her--that something being going to a dance with his grandson, Barrett. Barrett, who has been somewhat hesitant his whole life, finds himself taken with Katy, but as she's planning to move to accept a job elsewhere, he doesn't know what to do. This is a fun historical fiction story. Katy and Barrett were both sweet characters; I liked that they were just normal sorts of people, not incredibly good-looking or anything like that. Seeing their insecurities as they got to know each other made it a really interesting story.
A Lady of Sense
by Sarah M. Eden
Eleanor's parents are determined to see her married--and soon. As she tries to convince them not to make her marry the hideous Mr. Broadstead, her father offers her one choice: marry Mr. Broadstead or get Peter Haversham , with whom she spends a delightful evening at the theater, to marry her instead. Although Peter is infinitely preferable to Mr. Broadstead, and Eleanor suspects his honor would lead him to marry her if he knew of her plight, she can't bring herself to manipulate him into marriage. Peter doesn't want to be roped into a marriage--but he does find himself wanting to get to know Eleanor better...if he can only find a way to get Mr. Broadstead out of the picture long enough to give him and Eleanor a chance. I loved the idea of a Regency blind date; that was a fun twist and I love Regency romances. I also thought the whole plot was original and interesting and liked both Eleanor and Peter.

A Second Chance
by Heather B. Moore
After her divorce, Virginia's main concern is being able to care for her young son. She certainly isn't looking for a new husband. But her best friend Milly, who is gracious enough to let Virginia live with her and her husband, asks her to accompany a friend to a dinner, Virginia reluctantly agrees. Max isn't what she expected--and she finds herself drawn to him, but Julie Peterson, heiress to her fathers road construction business, has her eyes on him, too. This was another fun historical fiction story. I liked seeing Virginia's resilience and Max was just totally fun and lovable.
Braelynn's Blind Date
by Victorine E. Lieske
Braelynn isn't looking forward to her blind date--but when Tyler shows up, they have an instant connection and she has a great time with him. The only problem is, her date wasn't who she thought he was. Nathan knows he should come clean and tell her he wasn't her blind date, but he can't bring himself to do it; he just figures he'll never see her again. But it turns out Braelynn is the assistant head of marketing for his father's department--where he has just accepted a position as the head of marketing. Working so closely together, Nathan finds himself falling for Braelynn, but having dated a liar in the past, Braelynn can't forgive him for his betrayal. Loved it. I thought Braelynn's feelings were realistically portrayed, as she was drawn to Nathan but also didn't know how to trust him. I loved seeing their reconciliation at the end.

Bianca's Hope
by Rachel Branton
Bianca is a potter whose trademark and designs are being stolen by another artist; when she approaches a law intern about the possibility of a legal case against him, Stephen advises her to change her trademark, telling her it would be cheaper than trying to sue. Bianca is furious with his answer--so when her sister sets her up with none other than Stephen on a blind date, she's not exactly happy to see him. Stephen, drawn to Bianca, does some investigating on her case, and as he and Bianca work on stopping the imposter artist, they find they might get along better than they thought. Out of all of the stories in the collection, this one was probably the one I liked least; I liked Stephen and Bianca, but I felt like I was missing pieces of the story a little bit (perhaps because this novella ties into other works by the author). But it's still a fun contemporary romance, and maybe with a second reading it will flow better for me.

Blind Spot
by Sariah Wilson
Ria wants to marry a prince--so much so that she moves across the world to Monterra, where royals are supposed to be in plentiful supply. Using a dating app, she goes on 12 blind dates with potential princes who turn out to be complete duds. After her latest disaster, she decides to give up on finding her prince, much to the delight of her roommate, Tessa, who has been waiting to set Ria up with someone else. But when Ria finds out who she's being set up with--playboy Paolo, who has been flirting with her for awhile now--she isn't so impressed with her roommate's plans. Paolo was a little bit too good to be true, but hey, it worked for a fun contemporary romance.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that half of the stories in the collection were historical fiction; that's not what I expected from a collection of blind date stories, but I thought it was cool. I really liked this collection and can't wait for the next Timeless Romance Anthology.

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Refuge at Highland Hall

A Refuge at Highland Hall
By Carrie Turansky

While in London helping her sister Kate and brother-in-law Jon with their children's home, Penny Ramsey meets Alex Goodwin, a pilot training to fight against the Germans in WWI. Once he returns to his base, he and Penny exchange letters, and it seems that--should Alex make it through the war--they might have a future together. But when the realities of war hit home for Alex, he distances himself from Penny, who can only hope that God will be able to heal him.

While I of course enjoyed the romance angle of the book (as well as the side story with another romance), I think I enjoyed the history and the look at the British efforts against the German Zepplins; Alex's experiences were so fascinating to me.
The third book in a series, I think it could probably be read as a stand-alone, but the first two books in the series are equally enjoyable, so I'd recommend reading them, too.

4 stars

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hearthfire Romance Collection--Box Set

Hearthfire Romance Collection--Box Set
By Michele Paige Holmes

I loved these books! I was really captivated by the characters and plot lines. There were so many interesting elements. In Saving Grace, I thought it was cool that there was a slight element of a "Beauty and the Beast" plot line; I also found Grace's willingness to ruin her reputation in order to prevent herself and Helen from having to marry was an interesting departure from the typical story set in this time period. In Loving Helen, I liked seeing Helen come out of her shell and blossom. If I had to pick a favorite story, I would go with Marrying Christopher; I thought both Christopher and Marsali were such interesting, good characters, and the plot line of Marsali's impending indenture servitude was really fascinating to me. Twelve Days in December was a fun addition to the series, and it was nice to see two people who had been previously been hurt find their happily ever after.
I really, really liked these books!

I received a free copy from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

5 stars!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

All Hallows' Eve

All Hallows' Eve (A Timeless Romance Anthology)

Of Ghosts and Gardens
by Sarah M. Eden
Burke Kennard stumbles across Enid Pryce when he visits her Welsh garden, trying to find out more about the ghost who is rumored to haunt the garden. A scholar of Welsh folklore, Burke is delighted to accept an invitation from Enid's family to stay until the ghost makes an appearance...but as he gets to know Enid, he finds himself wishing that the ghost will stay away so he has an excuse to be around Enid. Enid is hoping for the same thing, but neither gives voice to their feelings, instead focusing on figuring out the true identity of the ghost. Loved it. Enid was fun and delightful, and I loved seeing her interactions with Burke. There were some comical moments with the ghost, too. Five stars for this one.

It's You
by Annette Lyon
 Anna Brierley gets off to a rough start when she moves in with relatives: she sees a ghost who seems to know who she is, although she has no idea who the ghost is. When she starts to clean out a storage closet at the local church, she finds out the identity of the ghost--and the ghost appears to Charlie Beck as he's walking home, drawing him into the church where he meets Anna. Although initially frightened, Anna and Charlie determine to find out what they can about the ghost--and to make the most of their meeting each other. This story had a fun twist on what the ghost needed in order to find peace. I liked both Anna and Charlie, too. 5 stars.

Sophia's Curse
by Heather B. Moore
Every five years, a member of the Rousseau or Belrose families dies--and will continue to do so, according to Sophia's curse, until the families are united by marriage. Simon Rousseau has no intention of marrying and bringing a woman into his strange family curse, although he admits to being intrigued by the orphan Joan raised by nuns. When Joan encounters Monsieur Rousseau, she finds everything she knew about herself is wrong. This was an interesting mix of mystery and romance. Intriguing without being super creepy. 4.5 stars.

The Sirens' Song
by Lisa Mangum
Oliver, recently widow, is working as a doctor aboard a cruise ship and mourning his wife Cate's death. When a passenger goes overboard, Oliver jumps into save her--and then is captured by a siren and taken to an island where the sirens want to take his memories. His only chance at freedom would require him to give up his memories of Cate...and if he gives his best memory, he may just have a chance to see her one last time. Okay, after the other three stories--pretty straightforward historical fiction--I wasn't really prepared for this story. It just seemed weirder to me than the others (although, if I had read it first, it might not have stood out so much). I didn't enjoy it as much as the other stories; it just didn't pull me in the same way, although I did enjoy seeing Oliver's memories of Cate. 3.5 stars.

The Man of Her Dreams
by Jordan McCollum
Homicide detective Alex Steen dreams of the murders she goes on to solve, which is creepy enough, but when she has a dream where the murderer doesn't follow through, the change in the pattern is stranger still. And when she finds that the person who wasn't killed is none other than her ex's sister--and that her ex, Nick, was likely the intended target--she can't help but wonder what is going on. I wish this one had had a little more romance to go along with the mystery aspect; we didn't really get to see much of that, just pieces of Alex and Nick's broken past and a tiny hint at the future. 3.5 stars.

The Ghost of Millhouse Mansion
 by Elana Johnson
When Naomi goes to Millhouse mansion with its owner, Colt, she's just expecting to see the rocking horse his aunt wants restored--and if she's lucky, maybe she'll get to check out the house and somehow convince Colt to let her restore the house itself. She definitely isn't expecting to see ghosts--but she does...and Colt admits that he has seen them since he was a child. This was probably the creepiest of the stories, since the ghosts aren't exactly friendly. The romance between Naomi and Colt seemed rushed, and the twist before the ending was a little strange. Didn't completely work for me. 3.5 stars.

Overall, I loved the first three stories; I liked the final three but not nearly as much as the first three. All in all, it was a fun collection--and probably readers who like creepy stories and Halloween more than I do will appreciate the whole collection more than I did.