Tag Archives: romance fiction

If You Liked Still Waters . . .

28 Sep

I love when my book club has a unanimous thumbs up on one of our selections. This month we read Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett, and we all loved it! (Read my review HERE.) Now what should we read next? I have a few suggestions.

Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth Jones

I’m coming home to prove something..to my city, my mother, and myself.

It is a place known to most as Savannah. It is a place known to me as home. I wish I could tell you it was my love for this city that precipitated my return. But I did not return out of a mere longing for home. I returned because I have something to prove to home. I am Savannah . . . from Savannah.

 

 

Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson

Jo Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her greataunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family house in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Seeing the project as the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her selfabsorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends, Jo Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. But things are not what they seem, both in the house and within the complex history of her family. Was her greatgrandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will Jo Lynn’s marriage survive the renovation? Jo Lynn isn’t sure she wants to know the truthbut sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.The past comes alive in this wellwritten and thoughtful novel full of secrets, drama, and family with a hint of Southern drawl.

The Wedding Machine by Beth Webb Hart

Welcome to Jasper, South Carolina. A place where Southern hospitality thrives. Where social occasions are done right. And where, for generations, the four most upstanding ladies of this community ensure that the daughters of Jasper are married in the proper manner.

Friends from school days, “the gals” have long pooled their silver, china, and know-how to pull off beautiful events. They’re a force of nature, a well-oiled machine. But the wedding machine’s gears start to stick during the summer their own daughters line up to tie the knot. In the lowcountry heat and humidity, tempers flare, old secrets leak out . . . and both love and gardenias bloom in unlikely places.

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Book Review: Freedom’s Kiss

26 Sep

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to set them free?

Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses her the chance to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie.

A single decision can have innumerable consequences—a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty, raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart.

Florida, 1816
Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.

 

My Impressions:

There has been quite a lot of buzz surrounding Sarah Monzon’s novels. I’ve seen nothing but praise on blogs and FB groups, so I knew I needed to check her out sooner rather than later. When offered an opportunity to read her latest novel, Freedom’s Kiss, I eagerly said yes! What I got was an intriguing dual time line novel with characters I absolutely fell in love with. The only problem I encountered was the long list of Monzon’s books that I now need to go back and read! This one is recommended!

Freedom’s Kiss is set in Florida — present day and 1816-1832. The contrast couldn’t be greater. Where there is now a bustling urban landscape was once scrub and swamp with little to support those who called it home. I loved the glimpse into a forgotten time in Florida’s history. For this Florida girl, I learned a lot about my home state that I missed somehow in school. The history of fugitive slaves and the Seminole people is fascinating. Added to this backdrop are two stories each with their own appeal. First you have Winnie, a former slave yearning to capture the elusive freedom she yearns for and modern-day Adam and Olivia who find each other and the purposes that God has for their lives. At first the two stories seemed unconnected, but I loved how Monzon joined them showing how one generation’s struggle can bring about another generation’s legacy. The female characters are strong and capable, but allow the male characters to support them in all the ways God intends. The relationships are refreshing in the way the couples complete each other. For fans of meaningful romance, Freedom’s Kiss is a big treat. Freedom’s Kiss is Christian fiction, and the author naturally weaves the character’s faith throughout. They may waiver and doubt, but God is seen as unchangeable, loving, and faithful. Another big takeaway for me was the importance of family, both those we are born with and those we are adopted into, especially God’s family.

Besides Freedom’s Kiss, which can be read as a standalone, there are two more books in the Carrington Family Romance series. I am eager to read more about this family created by this talented writer.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: A Christmas by The Sea

23 Sep

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in — temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.

 

Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors,etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at http://www.melodycarlson.com/.

 

My Impressions:

A Christmas by The Sea is a charming novella with a quaint coastal Maine setting. Featuring a young single mother and her preteen son, the book celebrates the power of place and family and the presence of God. Wendy Harper and son, Jackson, make their way to Seaside after a few years of struggle and heartache. Wendy had grown up visiting the cottage she has inherited and treasures the memories from happier days. Jackson wants a new start for his small family and does his best to influence Wendy into staying put in the welcoming town. Enter Caleb, a business owner even more charming than the town. Everything is set for a heartwarming tale of love.

I loved the setting of A Christmas by The Sea. Maine has long been on my bucket list of must-see destinations, and the fictional town that Carlson has created just reinforces that desire. I hope the real thing will live up to the great fictional world of Seaside! Characters are real and relatable in their struggles, doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams. I especially liked Jackson and his determination to find happiness for his mom. The book is short, so the action comes fast. The romance probably develops a bit more rapidly than in real life, but I didn’t mind. This is a Christmas romance after all! The theme of God’s provision is naturally woven throughout the narrative –but it’s never preachy.

If you are looking for a quick and cozy Christmas read, A Christmas by The Sea fits the bill. It is a recommended read.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revel for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Still Waters

21 Sep

Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan: avoid her own past — despite being wait-listed for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests—and her dispassionate mother insists — that she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts Cora Anne with loss. At Still Waters her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness — especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt.

When a family reunion reveals Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her — and Edisto — from more desolation. Will Cora Anne choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace?

Award-winning writer, Lindsey P. Brackett just writes life — blogs, columns, articles, and stories — in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications. She writes a popular bimonthly column for several local newspapers in which she meditates on small town southern life.

Her love of family ties and southern places prompted her first novel, Still Waters, a Lowcountry story about the power of family and forgiveness. Thanks to her four kids, in her home you’ll find wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee.

Connect with her at http://www.lindseypbrackett.com, where she just writes life, on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, on Twitter @lindsbrac, or Instagram @lindseypbrackett.

 

My Impressions:

Still Waters by Lindsey P. Brackett was my book club’s selection this month. I chose this book because of the Southern island setting that I knew would suit our club’s anniversary. A good beach read for a late Summer book getaway is what I was expecting. I certainly got that, but I didn’t realize I would also get a book that as one member put it was way more than fluff. Romance is definitely a part of the book’s appeal, but Still Waters, with its emphasis on family, faith, and forgiveness, is a book that will get you thinking. So sit back in your rocker with a glass of tea and be prepared for a book that will speak to you about reunions and reclamation (in more ways than one).

Cora Anne is fresh out of college with a UGA diploma. Her life has been one of plans and purpose since she was 11 years old. But a storm and a determined grandmother put her back on the road to Edisto Island, a place that claims and breaks her heart at the same time. With the notion of helping her grandmother ready their beach house, Still Waters, Cora Ann confronts her past while clearing a way for a future.

I loved the strong characterization in Still Waters. There are so many great characters to choose from, I found it hard to have a favorite. Cora Anne is a sympathetic character in her turmoil and guilt that has dogged her for 12 years. Her grandmother, Nan, is feisty, strong, insightful, and bold, though her body is frail. If ever there was a swoon-worthy hero, it is Tennessee. His care and concern for Cora Anne surpass his own wants. Secondary characters are fun and create a great compliment for the activities of the main characters. Cora Anne’s triplet brothers provide wonderful comic relief. And there are at least two characters I would love to see get their own book. The setting itself, Edisto Island, is its own character. The essence of the island winds itself through the narrative and the imagination of the reader. It is now on my bucket list of places to visit. Forgiveness is one of the themes in Still Waters. More than one character wrestles with guilt and remorse. The author does a great job of portraying what “living under” forgiveness really looks like.

Still Waters is really a lot of things — southern lit, women’s fiction, family drama, and romance, to name a few. It sounds like a big jumble when stated that way, but that’s not the case at all. It is a well-crafted blend like the spicy gumbo Nan makes. Some sweetness, some spice, and a lot to warm the heart and soul.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I received a complimentary copy of Still Waters from the author. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Congratulations to The 2018 Christy Award Finalists!

19 Sep

Congratulations to all the talented authors who are now 2018 Christy Award Finalists. If you are on the hunt for some great books, here is an excellent place to start.

 

Contemporary Romance

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

True to You by Becky Wade

 

First Novel

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Turtles in The Road by Kaley Rhea and Rhonda Rhea

 

General Fiction 

A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

Life After by Katie Ganshert

The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

 

Historical

Catching The Wind by Melanie Dobson

Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

 

Historical Romance

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander

 

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Coldwater by Goldwater by Samuel Parker

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Rule of Law by Randy Singer

 

Short Form

Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert

Her Secret Daughter by Ruth Logan Herne

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

 

Visionary

Awakened by Morgan Busse

The Day The Angels Fell by Shawn Smucker

The Man He Never Was by James Rubart

 

Young Adult 

The Delusion by Laura Gallier

Last Summer at Eden by Christina Hergenrader

Unraveling by Sara Ella

First Line Friday — Freedom’s Kiss

31 Aug

Happy Friday! This week I am featuring a new-to-me author, Sarah Monzon, and her latest novel, Freedom’s Kiss. I am so excited to read this book! I had to share the first paragraph of the book rather than the first line, because it is just so powerful. Have you read this book yet? Let me know what you thought.

Leave a comment with your first line and then head over to Hoarding Books to find more fabulous first lines.

 

They were prisoners of the past. Could legacy be the key to setting them free? Olivia Arroyo knows who she is and where she’s going—her sense of family responsibility a stepping-stone to her dream of becoming a chef. When her employer refuses to allow her to move from server to the kitchen, she makes another opportunity for herself with the owner of a new food truck. But her life derails when a hidden piece of her past suddenly comes to light, and she discovers everything she thought she knew about herself has been a lie. A single decision can have innumerable consequences — a truth that has changed Adam Carrington’s life. A criminal defense attorney turned food truck owner, he is haunted by his role in an unpardonable act and driven by his need to make restitution. Unexpected help comes in the form of a feisty raven-haired beauty, but she soon begins challenging his kitchen as well as his heart. Florida, 1816 Propelled by a fleeting hope of freedom, Winnie and her family escape slavery and find refuge and new life with the Seminole Indians of Florida. But their future is still uncertain as threats of war, a return to slavery, and removal to the West shake their tentative grasp on freedom. Will they ever step out of the shadow of fear to leave a legacy of deliverance?

 

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.

Top 10 Tuesday — The Back to School Edition

28 Aug

It has been some years since I have had to worry about all things back to school — supply lists, endless forms to sign, open houses, etc. My youngest son is in his final year of law school, but he resists first day pictures. 😉 So all I have is a list of books that loosely align with course titles. And while they probably won’t appear on any syllabus, they are definitely required reading! So whether your nest is empty or you still find yourself in the interminable car riders line, here are some books I recommend you check out. Enjoy!

Be sure to check out all the bloggers’ back to school lists at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Back to School Reading

 

American History (early years)

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

 

Biology/Chemistry (making science sizzling)

The Summer of The Burning Sky trilogy by Susan May Warren

 

English Composition (writers gotta write)

Ghost Writer by Rene Gutteridge

The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

 

French (history other than the French Revolution)

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Two Crosses by Elizabeth Musser

Home Economics (yes I know it isn’t called that anymore)

The Pattern Artist by Nancy Moser

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

 

Western Civilization (because knights and castles)

The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

A Loyal Heart by Jody Hedlund