Friday, November 30, 2018

A Christmas Courting

A Christmas Courting

Love and Joy Come to You
By Jennifer Moore
Graham expects that he and his mother, sorrowing over losses in their family, will spend a quiet Christmas at home, but he discovers his mother has invited a friend as well as the friend's nieces and nephews to stay for the holiday. Graham worries that this will be too much for his mother, but as he and Cassie Weatherby work to help his mother and her siblings be happy this Christmas, Graham quickly comes to be glad that Cassie and her family have come to visit.

A Christmas Courting
By Chalon Linton
Keturah doesn't want to spend Christmas in London; she wants to spend it at home. And things get worse when she finds out that her dear friend Christopher, who will be joining them, wants her to give him advice on how to court the woman he loves. With her heart belonging to Christopher, Keturah doesn't know how she will stand to watch him try to woo another.

Mistletoe Memories
By Jen Geigle Johnson
Alice and Patrick had known since they were children that they would wed someday and would work together to effect reform in England. But now, Patrick, returned from two years abroad, hopes to avoid Alice entirely, since he can't stand to face her knowing that she didn't wait for him but has wed another. Even when he realizes she didn't marry someone else, he can't forgive her for even caring for someone else--and yet, he loves her still.

Second-Chance Christmas
By Heidi Kimball
When her long-time friend Gerard proposed, Francie declined. Four months later, he has returned home for Christmas and Francie hopes that they can put everything behind them and continue to be friends. As she watches Gerard's interactions with his houseguests--including a vivacious young woman--Francie starts to realize that she may have made the biggest mistake of her life when she turned Gerard down.

 This is a delightful collection of novellas! It's got everything--interesting plots, great characters, and a Christmas setting. I enjoyed learning more about Regency Christmas customs, and I especially loved seeing how each couple overcame obstacles to find happiness. Great choice for those looking for heartwarming Christmas stories and sweet romances. I read a review copy via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Bride of Ivy Hill

The Bride of Ivy Green
By Julie Klassen

Jane Bell knows she loves Gabriel Locke, but she doesn't know if she can marry him; she enjoys running her inn and fears another childless marriage. But when Gabriel is seriously injured, Jane realizes that marrying him is exactly what she wants. Meanwhile, Jane's good friend Mercy Grove's life is in upheaval. Her brother and his new bride have moved back to Ivy Hill and suddenly the only home Mercy has known is no longer the haven it has always been--and there's no room for the school MErcy ran. Given the opportunity to be a governess to her favorite former pupil, Mercy knows that on the one hand, it would be a step down in life, but it would also give her an escape, Victorine arrives in Ivy Hill to set up a dress shop, and while the ladies are initially excited to have a French dressmaker in town, they soon realize that things aren't quite as they seemed, while Victorine realizes she may be further from achieving her dreams than she had planned.

I loved returning to Ivy Hill. It such a delightful setting, and I loved seeing how things played out for characters whom I've loved since the first book, as well as getting to meet new characters. I really loved the ending of the book, and it's a satisfying end to the series...and yet there were enough new characters and even an old character or two who still needs a happily-ever-after that I feel like another book wouldn't be superfluous. The writing is terrific and really conveys the feel of small-town life. This is just a really enjoyable series.
4.5 stars.
I read an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Searching for You

Searching for You
By Jody Hedlund

Sophie Neumann will do whatever it takes to take care of Olivia and Nicholas; although she may not be related to them by blood, she's the only family they have ever known and she is determined that they will stay together. When she witnesses a murder, she realizes that for her own safety and that of the children, they need to flee, she takes the only option she can find--joining an orphan train heading west. Sophie plans to separate from the orphan group in Chicago, but when Olivia refuses to go, Sophie stays with the children--only to have Nicholas quickly placed with a family who only reluctantly allows Olivia to stay with them. Heartbroken to be separated from the children, Sophie goes to work for a good-hearted farmer's wife who lives nearby. Sophie soon finds that one of her new neighbors is an old friend, Reinhold Weiss.
Reinhold is doing all he can to succeed at farming. When Sophie shows up, all grown up, he finds himself drawn to her, but he needs to focus on his farm and doesn't trust himself not to turn out like his angry, abusive father. He can't steer clear of Sophie, though, especially when she begs him for help with Olivia and Nicholas.

I've been waiting a long time to read Sophie's book, and it didn't disappoint at all. There were times when I got a little frustrated with Sophie's stubbornness, but that also made her such a dynamic and real character; she had flaws and she didn't always make the best choices, but she had a good heart and really was a lovable character. As for Reinhold, well, I've been waiting since the first book in the series for him to get the girl, and while I was a little wary about how I'd feel about him and Sophie (I am highly prejudiced against books where a man once liked one woman but ends up with her sister), but it just felt right to me (which is really saying something about Jody Hedlund's writing, if she can make me enjoy a plot line I normally loathe). I loved the overall message of hope and how even when we make a mess of our lives, God can make something beautiful out of them. Another excellent book from a fantastic author.

I read an ARC via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Until We Kissed

Until We Kissed
Heather B. Moore

Livvy has always dreamed of marrying a doctor and now she's dating a dreamy doctor, Slade...but that's not working out as well as she hoped because Slade is always busy and they rarely have time together. Then Mason Rowe comes to town. Livvy's the town librarian, and Mason, a famous author fighting writer's block, plants himself in the library to try to get some writing done. As Livvy gets to know Mason, Livvy starts wondering if Slade's the one for her after all.

I have enjoyed all of the Pine Valley romances, but this one might actually be my favorite--which actually surprised me because I don't normally like love triangles or any sort of implication of cheating on your significant other. This book really drew me in, though. Livvy just had a fun personality, and I liked how Mason wasn't afraid to point out that Slade was a crappy boyfriend. The chemistry was great (although not over the top because this is a clean read). This was a just a really great clean romance. (Although this is the sixth Pine Valley book, the books can be read in any order.)

4.5 stars.

I read an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Friday, November 2, 2018

A Yuletide Regency

A Yuletide Regency

Always Kiss at Christmas by Regina Scott
Mary Rose's mother's health is failing, and since their estate will pass to an odious relative upon her mother's death, Mary Rose knows what she needs to do at her family's yearly Christmas party: get Julian, her childhood whom she has always cared for, to kiss her under the mistletoe, which will surely get him to realize he wants to marry her...despite the fact that he is focused on his career and not ready to take a wife. However, getting him beneath the mistletoe proves to be harder than she expected.

A Yuletide Match by Sarah M. Eden
Renowned matchmaker Adelaide Northrup has contracted to help Porter Bartum find a wife. As a widower with a young child, he needs a woman willing to love his daughter as well. Mrs. Northrup soon realizes what Porter has failed to see: he already has the perfect candidate for a wife in his friend Chloe, who, if Mrs. Northup isn't mistaken, cares for Porter even more than she does his child. Now the matchmaker just needs to get the two of them to realize--and admit--their feelings.

The Forbidden Duke by Jen Geigle Johnson
The Salsbury and Asters don't mix, as an age-old quarrel has kept the rivals thoroughly at odds. When the Duke of Salsbury mistakes Lady Catherine for someone else, however, and draws her into a dance, he realizes that it's time to find a way to end the feud between the families so he can follow his heart.

Mistletoe at Willowsmeade by Annette Lyon
Eleanor Hadfield and Julian Phillips grew up together--she the orphaned relation, he the gardener's son. Now Eleanor works as a governess for her cousin's children and Julian is a successful Navy captain. When Julian comes back to Willowsmeade for Christmas, Eleanor knows that her hopes of a match between them, something she has wanted for years, isn't possible; he can't lower his station to marry her. For his part, Julian, despite his successful career, knows the gardener's son can't wed the lady, even if she has become a governess.

Follow the River Home by Krista Lynne Jensen
Arabelle doesn't really want to marry Mr. Forbes, the relative who inherited her home, but she's decided she must do it for her family's sake. Then Isaac Linfield, a friend of her late brother's whom Arabelle has known since childhood, comes home from war--injured physically and emotionally--and visits Arabelle and her mother. The more she is around him, the more Arabelle realizes that he, and not Mr. Forbes, is who she cares for, but Isaac feels he's too broken to offer her anything, which may leave her with no choice but to wed Mr. Forbes to help her family.

The New Earl by Heather B. Moore
With her brother's death, Celia knows she must leave her home so that a distant cousin can inherit. Before she has a chance to do so, though, the odious man arrives--except, it turns out Aaron Thompson, the new Lord Banfield, isn't odious after all. He might be overly attached to a scruffy dog would fit better in the stables than in the house, but other than that, he's kind and handsome and intriguing. While Celia helps him learn about the estate and being an earl, others are determined to find him a wife--but Aaron realizes that he might not have to look any farther than his new home to find her.

I really enjoyed all of these stories and can't even pick a favorite. There are great characters and fun plots and the added bonus of a Christmas setting. These six novellas are a great choice heading into the holiday season. Take a break, grab a blanket, and snuggle up for a good read.

4 stars.

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