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Tag: "Romance"

Review: Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

[ 1 ] August 27, 2015

lady maybe book coverReviewed by Christen Krumm

New story. New publisher. Same Julie Klassen.

Julie Klassen’s newest offering to the world of regency, Lady Maybe, throws you into the danger and romance from the first page. A husband trying to pull his wife away from an affair. A lady’s maid trying to run from scandal. A violently deadly carriage accident. And three people’s lives are changed forever. Our main character awakens from the accident in a place she’s never seen and with people she’s never met. She only remembers fragments of her life before the accident and the lie she has found herself in.

With the start of an affair, I was honestly wondering where Klassen was taking us. Was this going to be a typical  “clean” Klassen novel? No worries. Klassen twists and turns everything to keep you guessing, and, in the end, Lady Maybe has turned out to be maybe my favorite Klassen novel to date.

This is one of the first books I can remember where I truly didn’t know who the main character was going to end up with, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t ever sure which hero I was routing for.  A nod to Sweet Home Alabama, where both heroes are great guys and you really don’t know who you want her to end up with (although I’m pretty sure I knew which guy Reese Witherspoon was going to pick, and loved her choice in the end).

I also felt like Lady Maybe had touches from While You Were Sleeping–with a regency twist. Everyone waking up from a horrible accident and an innocent lie that turns way more complicated as it goes on.

While the main twist is revealed (and I figured it out fairly quickly anyways) almost up front, there are enough questions to keep you reading–late into the night, might I add. The biggest twist coming towards the end will make your jaw drop, and I did a little giggling happy dance when it was finally revealed who our loveable main character was whisked off her feet by. This is a book I did not want to put down! I even found myself picking it up in between stoplights on my commute!

Two thumbs way up and standing applause for Julie Klassen’s Lady Maybe.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Christen is a ravenous reader, wanna be author, Litfuse Nester, and slightly addicted to coffee. Lives in Arkansas with her husband and three mini people. Connect with her at her blog: http://ChristenKrumm.com or Twitter @ChristenKrumm.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Finding Paris by Joy Preble

[ 2 ] August 24, 2015

finding paris book coverReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

Joy Preble’s novel, Finding Paris, is a soul-searching, exploratory and intriguing story of two sisters, Paris and Leo Hollings. Paris and Leo are polar opposites. Paris is artistic, ethereal, beautiful and a bit impulsive, where Leo, (short for Leonora), is serious, bookish and dedicated to breaking free from her current life by going to college. The girls live in Las Vegas with their absentee, blackjack dealer mother and their gambling addict stepfather Tommy. Paris and Leo both seem to be fixated on escaping certain aspects of their home and themselves and as the story grows, these ideas of escape and the reasons for the emotions, will become very real for everyone.

Suffering from a breakup, Paris decides in the middle of the night that she needs pie to mend her broken heart and forces Leo to go to the Heartbreak Hotel Diner where Paris also works as a hostess. Settled into a booth under the watchful eye of the night shift server Maureen, the sisters talk about the breakup, school and the cute boy who also happens to be in the diner at 2 am. When Leo gets up the courage to go speak to the good looking stranger, a door opens for the next section of the story. Max is smart, engaging and curious and Leo enjoys talking to him, so much so that she doesn’t find it strange when Paris says she’s stepping out for a bit. When Max and Leo emerge into the parking lot, they notice that Paris and her car are nowhere to be found. Paris has vanished and her phone is going straight to voicemail. Leo is in a panic and soon discovers a note inside the diner from her sister that explains that she had to do this and that Leo needs to find her. Max graciously takes Leo home and the pair are met with indifference from Leo’s mother and stepfather on the missing Paris. The task of searching for Paris seems to rest solely on Leo and Max.

The search for Paris leads to more notes and more discoveries with every turn. The relationships and conversations in Finding Paris are expressive, real and potent. The reader will feel as if they are standing in a tense living room with Tommy and Leo or riding in a car with Leo and Max. The twisted, emotional scavenger hunt that Paris sends Leo on is a journey to save not only Paris, but also Leo from something that she needs to face, yet also escape. For Paris, fleeing was the only logical choice that she had in order to make Leo see what she needed to do to set herself free. Joy Preble’s novel is different, exciting, heart wrenching, but also heartwarming. The story moves quickly into its own special place and the characters are strong, even when they are vulnerable. Finding Paris is an emotional, touching read that acts as a reminder that everyone has demons or is fighting for something or someone in their lives.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.wordpress.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Balzer + Bray. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

[ 2 ] August 21, 2015

irish meadows book coverPlease join Susan Anne Mason as she tours the blogosphere with her new book, Irish Meadows

Enter to win a Kindle Fire below!

Reviewed by Charity Lyman

As an avid reader, I come across many styles of books. It isn’t just the genre or the author’s writing technique that makes a favorite book unique. Sometimes something just stands out that causes me to fall in love with a book from the beginning, and other times I have to read a bit before truly enjoying the read. Irish Meadows by Susan Mason was a book that I enjoyed from the very start. I was totally intrigued by the world the characters moved in and wanted to know how their lives would turn out by the end of the book.

The novel revolves around the Irish Meadows horse farm and the O’Leary family who has owned it for years. But when the safety of the farm becomes dependent on the marriages of the family members, some grumbling and troubles arise. Will they follow their hearts no matter the cost? Or choose to keep the farm alive and running even if that means suffering in a miserable marriage?

There are two O’Leary sisters, Brianna(or Bree to her friends) and Colleen. Brianna is being urged towards marriage with a respected man but in her heart she loves another. Her heart belongs to a lowly banker who was raised in their family and reciprocates her feelings but will back off and honor her father’s wishes in the matter. I have to admit that Gilbert, the business man, took me a bit to like. He knows she loves him, he loves her and yet he won’t get in the way for anything. He would rather keep relations right with her father than step in and be a man who will fight for the woman he loves.

Colleen, on the other hand, is a headstrong and impetuous young lady. She has a tough exterior but on the inside is quite sweet and I quickly loved her character. And I also loved Rylan, the poor priest who shows her a different way of living. His sense of humor was hilarious and the things he said? Amazing! I truly fell in love with his character.

If you are looking for a book that is intriguing, full of fun characters and important decisions to make, you will definitely want to pick up Irish Meadows. A 5 star rating for sure!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided by Bethany House Publishers. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Join Susan in celebrating the release of Irish Meadows by entering to win her Kindle Fire giveaway and RSVPing to her September 1st author chat party!

irishmeadows-400

One grand prize winner will receive:

A Kindle Fire HD 6
One copy of Irish Meadows

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 9/1. The winner will be announced at the Irish Meadows Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Susan and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

irishmeadows-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 1st!

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Review: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

[ 5 ] August 19, 2015

little beach street bakery book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

After financial ruin and a messy breakup, Polly moves to the tiny little island of Mount Polbearne where she takes residence in a rundown old building with an apartment on the top. The roof leaks, the plumbing barely works, and on top of it all she’s essentially running away from all of her problems. Her best friend, Kerensa, tries to talk her out of it, but Polly is determined to get away and figure out herself and her situation. As time goes on, Polly meets several new people who have an impact on her daily life but Polly has an impact on them as well with her freshly made bread that she shares with the townspeople. The local baker, Mrs Manse, puts up a fight regarding Polly’s bread because she feels that Polly is infringing on her turf. But what ends up happening is they work together and form a special friendship that helps to grow Mount Polbearne into a welcoming and gossiping community.

There’s a group of fishermen that especially take to Polly’s bread and their leader, Tarnie, takes a shine to Polly herself. However, when that turns sour Polly has to work through her heartache and turns to Huckle (the local American beekeeper) to help distract her. Huckle has come across the pond in an effort to run away from his life in America and is very quiet and reserved in telling about himself, but he opens up to Polly. Grief and tragedy strike the sleepy little island-town and cause them all to pull together and fight for what they believe in.

Little Beach Street Bakery is a great story about friendship, community ties, small towns, and bread! I really like that Jenny Colgan didn’t include so much cooking/bread details so as to be boring to someone who doesn’t want to read that part, but has just enough to make a bread-loving person hungry as they read. While the book seemed a bit slow to start for my taste, it finally got to a point (about halfway through the story) where I really wanted to keep reading and not stop until the end. I really enjoyed the wedding ceremony near the end of the book….it actually made me giggle a bit! My *one* critique is that the cover really doesn’t match the story….the cover has a cupcake on it and there’s really never any mention about cupcakes. It’s ALL about bread…yeasty concoctions, not sweet. It would have been really great to see some bread on the cover instead of a cupcake!  But really, that’s a minor annoyance.  All in all a great story and well told.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Amanda lives in Missouri with her engineering husband, two sons, and one daughter. In between homeschooling and keeping up with church activities she loves to read Christian Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and any Chick-Lit. She never goes anywhere without a book to read!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel

[ 6 ] August 14, 2015

flame tree road book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

I was absolutely blown away by Shona Patel’s debut novel, Teatime for the Firefly, when I read it a few years ago and haven’t been able to forget her intelligent and independent heroine, Layla Roy, or Layla’s determination to chart her own life in an Indian culture based on strict traditions and expectations. The author’s use of language and imagery completely transported me to the beautiful yet savage environment of the Assam tea plantations and brought a world to life that I had never seen before. At the beginning of that novel we meet Layla’s kind and free-thinking grandfather, a man that raised Layla to be just as educated and self-possessed as any man. At a time when this way of thinking is nearly unheard of, Biren Roy has become a well-respected man known for his unwavering support of equality for the women of India, especially involving education. But how did he become this man? Flame Tree Road is Biren’s story of love, heartache and a passion born from tragedy that is just as beautiful as its predecessor.

Flame Tree Road begins in a small village in 1870s India with Biren’s family living a relatively poor yet loving and happy life. His parents have never been supporters of the country’s traditions that support cruel treatment and inequality towards women and Biren grows up dreaming of a different world. When his father dies and his mother is ostracized from everyone, including her family, and stripped from her position in society and her very humanity simply because she is a widow, smart and sensitive Biren knows his purpose in life must be to change these antiquated customs and ensure that the women of India can have a life of their own and the education they deserve regardless of their caste, their money or their marriage status.

The bulk of the novel deals with Biren’s journey to have his dream of equality and education for women realized. This takes him to England, where he becomes a lawyer and seeks to make changes within the British government that now rules over India, then back to India where he works to make sure those changes can become a reality. I hate to say it but I found Biren’s journey slow moving and, at times, tiresome. As would be expected, there are a lot of political and societal issues and delays that make this passion of Biren’s difficult to bring to fruition. While this helps highlight for the reader the odd traditions and superstitions of old-world India (to our modern eyes at least), after a while I became as frustrated as Biren clearly was at the obstacles that kept getting in his way. The relationships he develops along the way take a backseat to this journey and felt somewhat lackluster until he falls in love with Maya, the independent daughter of an Indian educator Biren works with to build a school for Indian girls, and by the time that beautiful relationship comes to be it isn’t given enough time to really flourish. Once Biren and Maya marry the story progresses at a rapid pace, covering many years in a short amount of pages, and, for me, wraps up too quickly. On top of that, I was saddened to see Biren’s life marked largely by tragedy as he lost so many of those he loved along the way. I get the idea that for a person to appreciate the sweet they must experience the sour, but it seemed like kind Biren got the short end of the stick there.

All of this isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy Flame Tree Road. Shona Patel’s writing is amongst the most beautiful I have come across and her abilities to bring to life a brightly colored world of beauty against the ugliness of this time and place in history (at least when it comes to the rights of women and an antiquated caste system) is unmatched in my reading. She perfectly shows how this free-thinking man becomes stuck between two worlds – the old world beliefs of India and the advancements and changes of England – and I very much enjoyed seeing how Biren reconciled these two parts of his life together. He is a remarkable character and I feel quite satisfied that Ms. Patel gave fans of Teatime for the Firefly the history of one of the most enigmatic characters from that novel.

At the end of the day I think Flame Tree Road is a very solid novel that just fell slightly short of my very high expectations given how much I loved its predecessor. Regardless, I am still a huge fan of Shona Patel and will continue to read whatever she writes. Given her remarkably beautiful writing, I don’t think anyone could go wrong in picking up her novels.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, and their dogs Oliver and Cleopatra. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship. You can find more of her reviews on her blog.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by MIRA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour: Among the Fair Magnolias

[ 2 ] August 13, 2015

among the fair magnolias book coverPlease join Tamera Alexander, Dorothy Love, Shelley Gray, and Elizabeth Musser  as they tour the blogosphere with their new book, Among the Fair Magnolias!

Enter to win a Kindle Fire below!

Reviewed by Charity Lyman

How many of you enjoy a quick novella? I personally like taking them with me on trips as they are easy to finish while driving and there are no long plots to follow or too many characters to keep track of. So, if you like a novella, Among the Fair Magnolias was written with you in mind! The book is comprised of four stories, each written by a different author. Some of the authors were already my favorites and others became favorites by the time I was done reading.

The stories all center around the south either during or shortly after the Civil War. These are brilliant novellas that tie in with other full length stories from the authors and transport readers to the time of southern elegance and aristocracy. Follow a young woman who has to choose between love and duty; another who is searching for her father’s legacy and finds love at the same time; the daughter of a plantation owner who is in love with a freedman; and an outlaw who returns to his long lost love. They all deal with struggles and trials that women faced in that time period and come through with flying colors.

My absolute favorite story would have to be the one by Tamera Alexander, To Mend a Dream. This one focuses on Savannah, a young woman who is trying to sew, take care of her siblings and find a treasure that her father said he had hidden away for their future. But when she is drawn to a Yankee, it will be a miracle if love comes through for them. She was a great character and I loved and admired the strength she exhibited in all situations.

The others are all well written. A novella is always hard on an author since they only have a small space to flesh out a character and draw the reader into a plot that is wrapped up within a hundred pages, give or take. The authors did beautifully though and I felt a connection with each story. If you love southern elegance and a different era, you will definitely enjoy this one.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Charity lives in Illinois and is the oldest of 6 children. The family also has 3 dogs and a cat. Reading is a hobby when not cooking, baking, sewing or enjoying music. She reads many different genres but Christian fiction is a favorite. Charity can be found often at her blog, Giveaway Lady

Review copy was provided by Thomas Nelson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Among the Fair Magnolias Southern Hearts Kindle Fire Giveaway

Join the authors in celebrating the release of Among the Fair Magnolias by entering to win their Southern Hearts Kindle Fire Giveaway and RSVPing to their August 13th author chat party!

magnolias-400

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
  • One copy of Among the Fair Magnolias

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/13. The winner will be announced at the Among the Fair Magnolias Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tamera, Dorothy, Shelley, and Elizabeth, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

magnolias-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 13th!

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