Monday, July 31, 2017

Count Me In by Mikal Dawn

Series: An Emerald City Romance # 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: 121 Publishing House
Released: May 16, 2017
326 pages
About the Book:
Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she's out of a job.
Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books—and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly.
It’s a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟 πŸŒŸ  (5 stars)

“Thank you, Jesus, for whomever discovered the coffee bean
could be ground into such sustaining energy.”

Loved this so much that I did not want to put this book down. I fell in love with Allegra and Tyler very quickly after meeting each of them. Allegra is a girl who doesn’t like anything risky then she meets Tyler, a boy whose life is full of risks. They both try to fight their attraction to each other because of their personality differences and their professional relationship, but the fight begins to feel impossible to beat, and measures are taken to protect themselves. It is at this point that their individual relationships with God grow and they realize where their fears are coming from. Are these able two mesh their personalities and form a relationship with balance? Do they overcome their fears?

This was such a fun story filled with romance, adventure and great relationships. Allegra was my kind of girl, a coffee loving homebody whose form of exercise consisted of walking around the coffee table. I absolutely loved the playful banter between Allegra and Tyler. The secondary characters, especially Caprice were just as endearing the main two. I am intrigued to find out Story and Bo’s story. Ms. Dawn has a new fan in me, I will definitely keeping an eye out for her next book.

“He was coming to recognize that nothing could happen without God.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

First Line Friday - Week 12

Happy Friday!!!

It's the last Friday of July, which means this is the last week of our set in Canada theme. (Which has come at just the right time because I've run out of 'recently read' books that go with this theme.) Please let me know if you have any books that fit this theme that you can recommend to me. Today's book is also written by a Canadian author.

Today's book is: Fatal Freeze by Michelle Karl

"Lexie Reilly gave her car a final once-over, satisfied that she hadn't forgotten anything for the sixteen-hour overnight ferry crossing to Newfoundland."

Sixteen hours on the boat with possible killers on board, what will happen - hint - alot! I read this book a couple years ago and made a note to keep an eye out for future works by this author, but I am ashamed to say that I haven't yet read any other books by her. I need to get on that soon.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

Series: PEI Dreams # 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 4, 2017
337 pages
About the Book:

Fifteen years after she left Prince Edward Island, Natalie O'Ryan had no plans to return. But when her fiancΓ©, music producer Russell Jacobs, books their wedding in her hometown and schedules a summer at Rose's Red Door Inn, she sets out to put the finishing touches on the perfect wedding. But she can't possibly prepare for a run-in with Justin Kane--the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay.
Justin's never forgotten Natalie or the music career he always dreamed of pursuing. He'd been prepared to follow her off the island until his dad died and he was left to run the family dairy farm. He's done the best he can with the life that was thrust upon him--but with Natalie back in the picture, he begins to realize just how much joy he's been missing.
After Natalie's reception venue falls through, she must scramble to find an alternative, and the only option seems to be a barn on Justin's property. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness--and that there may be more than an old friendship between them.

                             Goodreads / Amazon / Christianbook

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ 🌟  (3 stars)

“Forgiveness isn’t reserved for the ones who deserve it.
God gives it freely, and we should do the same.
The one person you can set free from bitterness is you.”
This is the final book in the PEI Dreams series and while I really enjoyed the first two books I struggled with the storyline in this one. I appreciated the message of forgiveness that was presented but I was pretty sure one guy was going to be left for another one and this really bothered me. It look me over half of the book to begin to understand Natalie and her motives. It was at this point that I finally began to feel the emotions of the story.

Natalie left the island 15 years ago with no plans to ever return, but her fiancΓ© Russell plans a destination wedding for them on the island not knowing her feelings about this. Now she is back planning the wedding and events have her interacting with the one person on the island she felt most betrayed by. Natalie will learn that offering forgiveness will set her free from the bitterness inside her; she will also finally find a love she never imagined.

I enjoyed spending time with characters we already knew as well as meeting some new ones. There were definitely some characters I was drawn to more than others. I felt Natalie did not treat Russell fairly. She agreed to marry him but was not honest with him and knew that he didn’t really know her; she hid her true self from him. I couldn’t understand why the women who knew what Natalie was going through growing up didn’t do more to help her back then. Why didn’t they fight for her more than they did? Justin had me feeling for what he was going through and I was pleased with the way he handled his feelings. Unlike Marie’s father, Natalie’s father is seeking her forgiveness and he is the one who is able to get Natalie to make the changes she needs to. It was heartwarming to see him making the effort.

I loved that an epilogue was added that gave updates on the main characters from the previous two books.

“Any relationship required honesty.”

(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Other Books in Series:


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Bride for the Bronc Rider by Liz Isaacson

Series: Brush Creek Brides # 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: AEJ Creative Works
Released: July 25, 2017
134 pages
About the Book:
Ted Caldwell has been a retired bronc rider for years, and he thought he was perfectly happy training horses to buck at Brush Creek Ranch. He was wrong.
When he meets April Nox, who comes to the ranch to hide her pregnancy from all her friends back in Jackson Hole, Ted realizes he has a huge family-shaped hole in his life. April is embarrassed, heartbroken, and trying to find her extinguished faith. She's never ridden a horse and wants nothing to do with a cowboy ever again.
But as she and Ted spend more time together, she begins to question her decision to put her baby up for adoption. Can Ted and April create a family of happiness and love from a tragedy?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)
“The fact was, his life had changed the moment he’d laid eyes on April Nox.” 

Ted was content with his life until he met April. After spending some time with her he begins to have new dreams for his future, if only he could get April to accept what he is offering. April has come to Brush Creek as an escape and to try to make it through the next few months as smoothly as possible. She didn’t expect to be attracted to someone so quickly, especially a cowboy, considering her situation. April has some huge decisions to make and with the influences of certain characters learns to turn to God. Ted also learns to turn to God and to be patient letting God work things out as he intends. I was surprised at how quickly the relationship formed at the beginning considering the circumstances, but I liked both characters and quickly wanted Ted’s hopes to be fulfilled. There were quite a few entertaining moments, especially how Ted treated his dogs, their breed and the way he babied them was not expected from such a cowboy type guy. I do wish there had been a bit more depth to the story and less of the large time period jumps, but with it being a novella this was kind of expected. Overall it was a quick and enjoyable read that brought a smile to my face.  

“Be positive. Be happy, even if today feels like the darkest day of your life.
Trust in God, and have faith that He knows what He’s doing.”
(I received an ARC of this book from the author; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)
Other Books in Series:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Series: Heart's Bend # 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: Nov. 17, 2015
382 pages
About the Book:

A lonely wedding chapel built as a tribute to lost love just might hold the long-awaited secret to hope and reconciliation. For sixty years, the wedding chapel has stood silent and empty. Retired football hall-of-famer Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook built the chapel by hand, stone by stone, for his beautiful and beloved Collette Greer, whom he lost so many years ago. The chapel is a sanctuary for his memories, a monument to true love, and a testament to his survival of the deepest pain and loss. Photographer Taylor Branson left her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to make a new life for herself in New York. She had lots to run away from, not least of all a family history of broken promises and broken dreams. Love catches Taylor off guard when she falls for Jack Forester, a successful advertising executive, and their whirlwind romance leads to an elopement—then to second guesses. Jack, in spite of his very real love for Taylor, is battling his own demons and struggles to show her his true self and the depths of his love for her. Taking a photography assignment in Heart’s Bend, Taylor is thrown back into a past of family secrets buried deep beneath the sands of time. When Taylor and Coach’s journeys collide, they each rediscover the heartbeat of their own dreams as they learn that the love they long to hold is well worth the wait.
                               Goodreads / Amazon / Christianbook

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟 πŸŒŸ  (5 stars)

I enjoyed this book!  I was immediately drawn into the story of Taylor and Jack, and was interested in following along as we see their struggles, both individual and their relationship, and to see what they overcome as their story progressed.  The other story that was told of Jimmy and Collette quickly pulled at my interest also.  Historic setting books sometimes are not of interest to me, however I enjoyed the historical storyline in this book, and also how that storyline came into the present day as well.  It was very interesting to see how each of the characters dealt with “life” situations.  There were a lot of great messages throughout this book.  There was a lot of hope, forgiveness of others, forgiveness of ourselves as well as an emphasis on the importance of communication.  These all have very practical applications in a reader’s life, and I think that this book could make for some great book club conversations around some of these themes throughout the book.
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Other Books by Rachel Hauck:

Friday, July 21, 2017

First Line Friday - Week 11

Happy Friday!

Once again we are continuing this month's Canadian theme and I am featuring another book set in Canada. We are leaving the beautiful Prince Edward Island and travelling to my home province of Ontario where we will join two girls on a camping trip in Northern Ontario.

Today's book is: Stormy Lake by LD Stauth

"The man relaxed in the wooden Adirondack chair in the screened-in porch of his cabin rental and stared out across the glistening waters of Lake Williwaw." 
This is a mystery/suspense and I will tell you "the man" is not a good guy. What brought him to Lake Williwaw and what does he have planned? I really enjoyed this book, my review can be found here.

Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

Series: PEI Dreams # 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: October 18, 2016
385 pages

About the Book:

In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen--and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He's also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he's falling in love with the island's red shores and Caden's sweets.

When Caden discovers Adam isn't who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he's writing could do more than ruin the inn's chances for survival--it might also break her heart.

Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“You keep trying. That’s the mark of a true hero.”
Book two takes us back to the Red Door Inn on Prince Edward Island, this time the story focuses on Caden, the chef at the inn. I liked Caden from the first book and couldn’t wait to get to know her even more. I was surprised at just how insecure she was. We did see a bit of this side of her in the first book - when Marie offered her the job at the inn she responded by asking if Marie was sure and that there had to be someone more qualified for the position.
Adam arrives at the inn on a forced vacation and quickly makes his way into Caden’s kitchen. I found the banter between Caden & Adam enjoyable and his obvious love for her sweets was fun. I liked how he was intentional in showing Caden that he liked her for who she was and that he kept his distance from Bethany, who treated Caden like she was beneath her. I absolutely loved the meddling of Aretha and Esther, the scene with them talking about Caden’s love life as if she wasn’t standing right there was hilarious, but sure was awkward if you were Caden.
So many of the misunderstandings could have been avoided if the characters had just expressed their thoughts with one another right away. However I did appreciate that Adam and Caden were able to resolve their arguments quickly rather than letting things build.
Adam is plagued with regret and guilt and learns how to deal with these feelings, enabling him to embrace a future filled with grace. Caden really struggled with self-confidence at the beginning, but by the end she has grown and has gained confidence in her abilities without being annoying. I was really drawn both of them and was pleased with the way things worked out.
“But I don’t think there’s anything easy about grace. It’s a call to not carry your hard stuff – your grief, your regret – alone right? It’s a reminder to lay it down and ask someone bigger than yourself to handle it. Giving that up – that’s hard. Asking for help – that’s not easy. But it’s worth it, don’t you think? Because once you realize you’ve been forgiven, you can forgive yourself.”
(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson

Series: PEI Dreams # 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released March 1, 2016
336 pages

About the Book:

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she's hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn't move three thousand miles to work on his uncle's B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian--and to forget about the fiancΓ©e who broke his heart.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It's a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won't you stay for the season?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“God isn’t a vending machine to ask for the things that we want.
Rather, he gives what is best. He works the things of this world
for the good of those who love him. He’s the foundation of every
blessing, the loving Father who longs to give us sweet gifts.”

There are three main characters, each dealing with their own issues but are trying to work together on a common goal – getting a B&B ready to open. Marie is scared of getting close to people, Seth is hesitant to trust and suspicious of Marie, Jack is dealing with the loss of his wife and is trying to make her goal of the inn a success but is struggling. Marie went through a horrible incident and when her father should have been there for her he tried to use her situation to his advantage. Thankfully Marie meets Jack who shows her what a father's love should look like and shows her how much God loves her. Even though Marie is scared for the consequences of what she is about to do, she puts her feelings aside to do what she can to help Jack when all seems lost. I loved the humor and sarcastic banter back and forth between the characters. The addition of the little notes between two characters was fun. I found myself looking forward to these moments. I feel like I really got to know these characters and grew to love each one of them. The secondary characters of Aretha and Caden added depth to the story, I loved how outspoken Aretha was. I have had the privilege of visiting PEI, it is such a beautiful island and the Ms. Johnson did a wonderful job of portraying the beauty and character of the island. I felt like I was right there with them. With the help of Marie and Seth, will Jack get the inn open on time? Will Seth deal with his trust issues? Will Marie find the family she needs? A must read to find out. I have already begun book 2 of this series.

“Even if you’re having a hard time loving him (God),
he’s not having a hard time loving you.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed in this review
are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, July 14, 2017

First Line Friday - Week 10

Happy Friday!

We are continuing this month's Canadian theme by featuring books set in Canada. Once again we are staying on Prince Edward Island with Liz Johnston. This week is the third and final book of her PEI Dreams series.  

Today's book is: On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson

"She'd thought it was safe to come back to the island." 

Why is she, Natalie, scared to come back to the island? What made her leave in the first place? What is in store for her? My review will be posted July 27.
Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Genre: Historical & Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: July 11, 2017
352 pages

About the Book:

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration? With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“The best things in life are simple and free.”

This is a dual-timeline story featuring two writers, one is being forced to marry someone and the other is dealing with writers block while on a deadline. Before beginning I wondered how a desk would weave the stories of these two ladies together but as it progressed I began pick up on some of the hints and loved the way they weaved together.

I was immediately drawn to Birdie’s story, her situation had me hurting for her and rooting for things to turn around. I had to keep reading to find out what happens to her. Even though she ended up marrying the person I was hoping for and she was able to continue pursuing her passion, her life was not easy. She endured many struggles that had me hurting for her, but she was positive and saw the good in everything. It took me a bit longer to connect with Tenley, I struggled appreciating some of her quirks, but she grew on me. She is in a rut and even with the change of scenery she struggles to get out of it, but then she finds something that offers a solution. But it is the right thing? She deals with a few difficult decisions and might not make all the right choices at times, but in the end I was proud of her. She took responsibility for her decisions, tried to make things right, and began to embrace God’s love for her and start to see that He could change her life. The progression of her relationship with Jonas felt just right and not rushed. I loved how welcoming his family was.

The men in the story were easy to love. Eli was torn between his heart and his duty, but decided to put aside his wants to do what was required of him and in the end he was blessed. Jonas also tries to put aside his personal wants in order to do right for Tenley, I enjoyed his personality and his willingness to be there for her even when it was hard for him.

This story will get you thinking about the moral decisions these characters make and what you would do in their place. Another great book by Ms. Hauck that I recommend and it has left me with the desire to watch the tv show Newhart again.

“It seemed so simple. Writing romance. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Something happens and they break up. Boy makes grand gesture and wins the girl’s heart and ta-da, happily ever after.”
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Rescue #3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: July 4, 2017
320 pages

About the Book:

Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing--or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.
Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret--one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.
When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.
But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?

My Rating & Thoughts:    🌟 πŸŒŸ πŸŒŸ 🌟  (4 stars)

“We shouldn’t base God’s desire to help us on our opinions of ourselves.”
This is book 3 of Ms. Warren’s Montana Rescue series which focuses on the members of the PEAK team. There are multiple storylines weaved throughout the book, some that carry over from previous books, some that leave you hanging for the next book and one that feels completely told over the course of the book. This could be read as a standalone as there is enough background information included that you wouldn’t be lost if you haven’t the previous books, however I would highly recommend reading them in order as you don’t want to miss anything.
Ms. Warren does a wonderful job of sharing God’s love and faithfulness while writing a story that keeps readers intrigued, on the edge of their seat and cheering for the characters.
Gage joined the PEAK team after he loses his snowboarding career due to a tragic accident 3 years ago. He never expected to see the woman he once loved and who played a role in destroying his career ever again. But now she comes to him asking for his help to stop her brother from doing something dangerous and she insists she must go with him. There is a lot of hurt between the two of them because of the past, secrets kept and feelings of betrayal. Now that they are on a rescue mission together they must put their past history behind them and trust one another in order for the mission to be a success. Can they learn to trust each another and rebuild the relationship they once had? There were quite a few times I began to question if they would make it out safely.
I am not a skier/snowboarder (hate the cold) and do not know much about it, didn’t even know there was such a thing as free-riding so there were a few times I was a bit confused with some of the terms used or what exactly they were doing. However this did not take me away from the story too much, I was still able to understand the basic concepts of what was going on.
I found the side stories just as intriguing as the main story (at times maybe even more). I really liked getting to know Ty & Brette and catching up with Pete & Jess. The interactions between the various team members seemed realistic and each character felt genuine. I am sucked into this series and can’t wait for book 4 to be released. I want to know what secret Brette is keeping, what will happen with Jess & Pete and will Ian & Sierra ever get together.
“The problem with keeping a secret is that you don’t give someone a chance to come through for you, to prove to you that they love you unconditionally.”
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley;
opinions expressed in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

First Line Friday - Week 9

Happy Friday! 

We are continuing this month's Canadian theme by featuring books set in Canada. I love Prince Edward Island so much that I have decided to stay on the Island again this week and feature book 2 of Liz Johnson's PEI series.   
Today's book is: Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson 

 "There was only one thing better than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning. The taste of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning."  

With the main character being a chef it's no surprise that food is mentioned quite a bit in this book, and who can resist cinnamon rolls? I have just finished this book and enjoyed it just as much as the first one.  

Now it's your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line. Then join in more First Line fun by visiting these blogs: