Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks – Book Review

Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks

Published by Thomas Nelson Fiction July 13, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Christian

Page: 336

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Award-winning author Carrie Stuart Parks combines her expertise as a forensic artist with her talent for crafting a gripping story in this page-turning web of light and shadow.

A woman off the grid.

Darby Graham thinks she’s on a much-needed vacation in remote Idaho to relax. But before she even arrives at the ranch, an earthquake strikes. Then a barn on the edge of town is engulfed in flames and strange problems at the ranch begin to escalate, and Darby finds herself immersed in a chilling mystery.

A town on fire.

More fires erupt around town, and a serial arsonist sends taunting letters to the press after each. As a forensic linguist, this is Darby’s area of expertise . . . but the scars her work has caused her are also the reason she’s trying to escape her life.

A growing darkness.

As the shadows continue moving in, pieces of the town around her come into sharper focus. To make it out alive, Darby must decide if she can trust the one man who sees her clearly.

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Story Notes

This new stand-alone story from Carrie is filled with intrigue, secrets, danger and a chance at redemption – you definitely don’t want to miss out on it.

Its not often that I find stand-alone stories to be as good as a series. I love a good slow burn mystery/suspense that is developed over several books but Carrie has something special here. It’s a story that grabs you right away and keeps you searching for answers all the way to the last page. She begins with Darby Graham, a former forensic linguist who has come to Mule Shoe Ranch to complete an assignment meant to prove she is ready to move on with her life. She is content to keep her past in the past and move beyond the pain of loss into a better future. But first she has to find out what’s happening at MSR. There have been several injuries and accidents recently along with the tragic deaths of two guests that requires that someone dig a little bit deeper than local law enforcement has been able to do. So Darby intends to figure things out quickly and get back to Clan Firinn for discharge. Problem is, no one seems to have any idea who would cause such problems. The staff all seem friendly and helpful, honestly shocked at the recent happenings and willing to answer all her subtle questions. But sheriff’s deputy Bram White, is also working the case and is suspicious of Darby’s interest and questioning of the staff. He’s got a second case of interest involving a serial arsonist who enjoys taunting law enforcement with snarky notes left at the burn sites and with little help coming from the sheriff, he’s quickly getting overwhelmed. Figuring out Darby’s past takes a bit of work, but Bram is good at investigating and soon sorts it all out. If he can convince Darby to help him out with the cases, he just might stand a chance at solving them. But when more of the guests are targeted in tragic ways, Bram and Darby will have to use all their investigative know-how to figure things out or it just might mean the death of them all. What does the elusive Shadow Woman have to do with it all and why is it so hard to catch the culprit? They’ll have to find out in a hurry before someone ends their investigation for good.
Clearly, the plot lines of the story are engaging and intriguing. It’s the kind of story that you just have to know what is going to happen before you set it down. I personally read the whole thing in my hammock one afternoon and refused to stop until I finished. I loved the slow reveal of the characters thoughts and pasts as well as the carefully crafted mystery that gave nothing away until necessary. I suspected a number of characters but didn’t really know for sure until I read the how or why of everything. I loved that the story was located near Yellowstone. I took a trip there two years ago and relished every second we had there, exploring and hiking the area. There is so much history and nature to be found there and I really enjoyed revisiting the area in my mind through this story. I also liked that one of the main characters dealt with an previous injury that required a prosthetic limb. It gave the story another depth that could be explored and expounded on to help readers learn about living with that kind of disability. Everything concerning the prosthetic was told with clarity and honesty and I liked hearing about the details. I have several family members who have lived with this type of disability and it helps me understand them better. I will certainly be recommending this story to others in the hope that they will enjoy it as much as I did. It’s definitely one you want to be on your TBR list and your shelves to reread again.

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from Thomas Nelson Fiction via NetGalley in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

A Love Unexpected by Leah Brunner – Book Review

A Love Unexpected by Leah Brunner

Published by Leah Brunner Publishing June 03, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 277

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publishers Description

My one and only goal has always been to make it to congress. I’ve got it all: the looks, the brains, the connections…

Except I missed one glaring requirement: a wife.The conservative voters of Kansas don’t trust an unmarried man. Which means I need a bride. Immediately.

The lovely Odette Hastings seems to fit the bill. She’s a wholesome small-town girl, and most importantly, in need of cash. I’ll give her the money to take care of her elderly parents, and she’ll be the political arm candy I need.

The only problem is Odette is a little too beautiful, a little too intelligent, and much too distracting. I have to keep my eye on the prize. Even when I’m starting to think there might be something I’d rather have more…


Story Notes

Leah Brunner presents readers with the beginning story of a new series that is sure to be a winner with contemporary romance readers.

Ever like a book so much you put it down more often that usual so it doesn’t end too soon? Yep, this was this book for me! I grinned like an insane person throughout most of the story and even shed a couple tears over the sweet moments in this delightful story. Madden is a young lawyer who is looking to throw his hat in the ring for Congressman for the state of Kansas. He has some great ideas to improve income, status and general well-being for the residents of his state as well as some innovative ideas for the federal immigration system that he hopes to bring into being within the next few years. However, despite all his good points, he still lacks the one thing that most Kansas voters want – a wife and family. When his campaign manager, Paul, brings up this point, Madden is shocked that this could be the biggest obstacle to his being elected. Paul suggests that he find a wife before announcing his intent to run to give him the best chance to win but Madden is not convinced he wants a marriage of convenience. Without another option, he comes to realize that if he makes the right arrangements, he might be able to handle a platonic marriage for a few years before divorcing and finding someone he really loves. Armed with this plan, Madden enlists his family to find him some ladies who might be good matches. But three months into this dating plan, Madden is more frustrated than ever. A chance encounter at his high school reunion and a subsequent Thanksgiving dinner at his parents house brings him in contact with Odette, a beautiful redhead who is both smart and funny. But getting Odette to agree to his plan doesn’t go as expected and Madden is left wondering what it would take to convince her he’s not the creep she thinks he is. When Odette’s father requires more care than they can afford, Odette suddenly finds herself in a pickle with the only possible solution being to accept Madden’s crazy offer. Making her stance clear on the expectations of this marriage, Odette reluctantly agrees to the sham marriage – she would do anything to ensure her parents are cared for. Their marriage is a bit bumpy in the beginning as they get used to living with a practical stranger but a tenuous friendship breaks through as they attend campaign events together. Madden quickly learns that while Odette is not demanding, she does want to be acknowledged or requested to do things with him. And Odette learns that Madden is not the spoiled rich guy she first assumed when they met. As they spend more time together, the marriage of convenience starts to fall by the wayside while the possibility for a real marriage makes its appearance. If they are willing to set aside assumptions and past hurts, they just might be left with the real makings of a wonderful marriage – but they will have to decide that’s what they really want.
I just so enjoyed reading the love journey here. Nothing was not discussed and while the content was clean, honest marriage topics were broached. I loved the passive flirting that happened more and more often as the pages turned and cheered when Madden and Odette finally got together for real. Both characters grew quite a bit through the story and became better from the influence of the other. It was also interesting to read a bit about the inner workings of a campaign. Though not everything was told, I felt like I was going along to the events with the MCs. And the ending of the story was just perfect, with everything turning out well after weathering some big trials. I’m really looking forward to where Leah will go next with this series. I don’t know which characters will be the next focus but there are several that would be good choices. I will certainly be recommending this story to others in the hope they will enjoy it as well.

I received this temporary complementary E-book from the author via BookSprout in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

The Roommate Situation by Katie Bailey – Book Review

The Roommate Situation by Katie Bailey

Published by Eleventh Avenue Publishing June 15, 2021

Genre: Contemporary, Romantic Comedy

Pages: 278

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Conor Brady is the hottest man I have ever laid eyes on. Ever. He’s also my new roommate.

In the past few days, I became jobless, homeless, and boyfriendless.

So, I did what any 28-year-old woman with her life together would do: I ran. Far, far away from my life in New York and straight to my big brother’s house in Atlanta.

Only, it turns out that my brother is away on a business trip. And, he failed to tell me that a full-on, godlike hottie—who happens to be a premier house flipper—has taken up residence in the spare bedroom while his enormous new house is being renovated.

There’s a million reasons why I shouldn’t fall for Conor.

But our chemistry is undeniable.

Which means I have a teeny, tiny situation on my hands…

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Story Notes

Brand new author Katie Bailey brings readers a story that will have them laughing like crazy, swooning over the romance and wishing they had these characters in their life for real.

I love finding new authors through Instagram. And then when those new authors offer you a chance to read their book before release day, that’s even better! From page one I was hooked on this story and by the end of the first two chapters I knew it would be a good one (RIP Fernie). Jess Shaw has lost everything she went to New York for and is headed to Atlanta to lick her wounds at her brother’s house until she can find a new job and her own place. But Aiden isn’t home and in his place is the hottest guy Jess has ever seen. How is she supposed to speak coherently when she can’t stop starring at Conor’s perfect face? Conor is just as enthralled by Jess but knows his best friend wouldn’t approve of Conor crushing on his little sister. So begins a slow dance of trying to act nonchalant around each other. As they become friends, mostly because of proximity, both Jess and Conor realize there is more to the other person that just good looks. Jess hides her past hurts under a bright smile and snarky wit and Conor hides his less-than-stellar confidence in his house-flipping abilities behind a cocky grin and his OCD-like cleaning habits. But when Conor needs Jess’s help and artistic eye to stage and sell a high-rent style house, they will discover that they feel more than simple attraction for each other and perhaps a future between these two roomies isn’t such a bad idea. Oh my, I just really had a great time reading this story. I loved Jess’s character so much. She said and thought all the same things I do – though we differ on our made-up swear words. And Conor was a marvelous character as well, challenging himself and Jess to dream bigger than they thought possible before. I loved the Friend’s references and the struggles Jess had with clothing choices. Conor also had some serious flirting game going on while still being respectful of Jess. Plus, their kisses were incredibly swoony while also staying in the clean realm. Their journey to love was a fantastic story and I’m so very much looking forward to the rest of the stories that are sure to come from this fun group of friends. Very well done, indeed, Katie!!

I received this complimentary ARC from the author in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Two Kinds of Us by Sarah Sutton – Book Review

Two Kind of Us by Sarah Sutton

Published by Golden Crown Publishing June 09, 2021

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance

Pages: 400

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

In a life of diamond bracelets and country clubs, I’m the perfect daughter. I get all the right grades, volunteer at all the right organizations, apply to all the right colleges.

And I hate every second of it. At the rate my life is playing out, under the strict rule of my parents, politicians and housewives will be my future.

Until I meet Harry.

Harry’s a singer in a rock band with a voice so beautiful that I actually feel hypnotized. Doesn’t hurt that he’s hot either, and with the kind, flirty personality to match, it’s the perfect trifecta. And even better, he sees the me I want to be. He sees me as the girl who can break free of the life she’s trapped in, who can control her own future.

The only problem? He knows me as Stella, my fun, carefree alter ego—so drastically different from Destelle, the girl who is trapped in the life her parents rule.

But as we get closer, I realize Harry’s keeping a secret of his own, something related to the dark past that he’s trying to move on from, and when I find out, everything we’ve built could come crashing down.

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Story Notes

Sarah Sutton takes us back to Fenton County for another fun and yet challenging Y/A read about letting your real self shine.

To be honest, I’ve not read the first four books in the series but that didn’t matter with this story. It stood well on it’s own and had a good plot to make it memorable. Destelle is a high school senior who does exactly what she’s told…..except when she turns into Stella, a polar opposite secret identity that allows her the freedom her parents won’t give her. A judge and a lawyer, Destelle’s parents are very concerned about her doing and saying the right things so that she will get into the best colleges and become a mini-me of them. Their helicopter parenting is suffocating and Destelle needs a break, thus she becomes Stella every weekend to go her her favorite local band with her best friend Margot. In addition to this freeing personality change, Destelle gets to watch her crush perform his songs all the while hoping he will notice her one day. And then he does! But what chance does she have to build any kind of relationship with him when she’s hiding her real self? Maybe he won’t think she’s crazy if she tells the truth? And what happens if her parents find out she’s been going around with a guy who doesn’t fit in their social stratosphere? Destelle will have to decide what’s more important: keeping her parents happy or becoming the person she’s always dreamed of being – one who makes her own choices about her life. This was both a fun and a challenging read for me. Fun, because it took me back to high school and the stresses of what the future could hold and challenging because I had a really hard time with the incredible control Destelle’s parents had over her. My parents were “strict” but they still let me make my own decisions about my free time and college focus. They encouraged me and my siblings to study things that made us better people while also being things we actually wanted to learn about. So I had a very hard time not seeing her parents treatment of her as anything short of mental abuse. Which is why Destelle felt she needed to create an alter-ego to finally gain some freedom. And then caused her to deceive her parents, although, yes, I know she didn’t have to continue it. But as they never encouraged her to talk to them honestly, she was justly afraid of them. The rest of the story was really good. I loved Margot and her refusal to conform to expectations. She didn’t do it disrespectfully but she wasn’t going to let people decide her life for her. And Harry was a perfect love interest for Destelle. From the sweet conversations to the kiss ratings and the Dial and Dine drives, their love story was beautiful to watch. I also really liked that it wasn’t a smooth journey either – there were plenty of bumps, bruises and outright lashing out going on at times and it led to a wonderful coming together that left me smiling hugely by the last page. I will certainly be recommending this story to others as a sweet and complicated read that doesn’t pull punches or let you go very soon after you finish. Looking forward to more from Sarah!

I received this complimentary ARC e-book from the author in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble – Book Review

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble

Published by Thomas Nelson Fiction April 06, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Thriller, Christian

Pages: 336

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Descrition

A chilling murder.

Chief of Police Jane Hardy plunges into the investigation of a house fire that claimed the life of a local woman as well as one of the firefighters. It’s clear the woman was murdered. But why? The unraveling of Jane’s personal life only makes the answers in the case more difficult to find.

Her son’s arrest.

Then Jane’s fifteen-year-old son is accused of a horrific crime, and she has to decide whether or not she can trust her ex, Reid, in the attempt to prove Will’s innocence—and whether she can trust Reid with her heart.

Her stolen memories.

Three days of Jane’s past are missing from her memory, and that’s not all that has been stolen from her. As she works to find the woman’s murdered and clear her son’s name, finding out what happened in those three days could change everything.

It all started with one little lie. But the gripping truth is finally coming out.

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Story Notes

Colleen Coble brings readers the final, much anticipated, installment of the Pelican Harbor Series and it is definitely one you won't want to miss. 

Jane Hardy has finally gotten her son, Will, back in her life and has a chance at love again with Reid but it seems there is more from her past than any of them remember. A local woman is murdered in a house fire and the case becomes more bizarre with every clue found. Jane is scrambling to find answers before any one else is hurt but her personal life is about to implode. Reid's ex-wife is trying to get money but as she was legally declared dead, things are getting ugly. When she turns up actually dead after a confrontation with Will, Jane and Reid are thrust into every parent's worst nightmare - the arrest of their child for murder. Unable to work the case, Jane turns her mind to her first case for distraction and prays her fellow officers will find the answers to Will's case. But every clue that Jane turns up keeps returning her to Will's case until it becomes clear that everything happening is tied together in a complicated web of lies, deceit, murder and theft. Racing against the clock to save her son, Jane has to return to the dark places of her past to find the answers they need to solve the cases. But if she can't remember what happened in the three days she was with her mother, everything and everyone will be lost. Can Jane break through her mind block before she loses everyone she loves? Well, you'll just have to read the story to find out!! This was one of the most complicated books I've read recently. There were so many moving pieces and things happening that the story flowed very quickly. It was good to finally see questions being answered from the first book and to see how all the things that happened in the past two books were tied to Jane, Reid and Will. Nothing was left unanswered and there were even some surprising answers along the way too. The ending was very well done and I was glad to see how everyone got exactly what they deserved. And I'll tell you, if you can read this book without holding your breath in some places, you're a better person than me. I honestly didn't know how Ms. Coble was going to get everyone out of the crazy situations she had created for them. But she did it with her usual finesse and challenge to the readers' faith that she weaves so well into her stories. This is definitely a book you'll want to read and purchase for your shelves. I'm for sure looking forward to having my own copy so I can read the series again without a break so I can really see the connecting story threads. I certainly highly recommend both this story and the series and hope others will enjoy this trip to Pelican Harbor too. 

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright – Book Review

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Published by Bethany House Publishers June 01, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Christian

Pages: 368

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

1885. 
Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor–a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior–Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Present day. 
Kailey Gibson is a new nurse’s aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She’ll have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

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Story Notes

Jaime Jo Wright takes readers to the lonely shores of Lake Superior to tell the story of the forbidding Foxglove Manor and the secrets it’s kept for more than 130 years.

Anyone who has read a story written by Ms. Wright knows that when you pick one up, it’s not a book you’ll set aside easily. Such is true of her latest story which I finished in two sittings and am still contemplating three days later. She begins in 1885 with a young woman named Adria Fontaine who has been sent to the secluded Foxglove Manor, presumably to rest her mind and be companion to the owner. Having attempted suicide but failed, the depressed Adria has been packed off in the hope she will be out of society’s sight and perhaps discover the hiding place of a treasure her father is convinced was hidden by his betraying partner. But there are many secrets at the Manor, not the least of which is the ghost of a little girl named Lucy who died tragically years before. Adria must find the answers her father seeks or he will never let her alone. But no one at the Manor seems willing to help Adria in her search nor set her mind at ease about the mysterious night sounds. What is really hidden in the Manor and what does it have to do with the deceased child and Confederate treasure? Fast forward to the present and Kailey Gibson has come to Foxglove Manor to serve as a nurse’s aide and care for her autistic brother, Jude. Her connection to the Manor began as a child but her memories are cloudy and seemingly filled with pain – something she would like to change by coming back. But she also carries the secrets of her kidnapping as a child that have created a mind block for that time in her life. Kailey has to find answers if she’s going to move beyond her past and make a future for herself and Jude. But what begins as a journey into the past leads to more than Kailey ever dreamed and the answers she seeks will come at an incredible cost. If she keeps digging, someone might put an end to her search permanently. Clearly, there is a complex and secret ridden story going on here and readers need to be prepared for it. But Ms. Wright has a way of taking the huge web of information and weaving it into a story that is tied together perfectly. Each chapter reveals just a little more of the picture and uncovers a new piece of the puzzle that just need to be fitted into place. I loved how nothing was given away unless necessary to move the story forward and that all the questions were answered at the end of the story. The chapters moving between time periods were very well done so they flowed together in perfect harmony. I never felt jolted by a change in time and felt it kept the tension of the stories at just the right level of anxiety. This story needs no help in convincing readers to finish it – honestly, if you can put it down before you finish, I would be very surprised. I will certainly be recommending it to others very highly so that they can jump into this incredible story too. I’m also looking forward to reading it again soon so I can see it I missed anything the first time around.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark – Book Review

Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark

Published by Bethany House Publisher’s May 11, 2021

Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Pages: 350

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

In 1929, a spark forms between Eliza, a talented watercolorist, and William, a charming young man with a secret that could ruin her career. Their families forbid their romance because of a long-standing feud over missing heirloom silver. Still, Eliza and William’s passion grows despite the barriers, causing William to deeply regret the secret he’s keeping . . . but setting things right will come at a cost.

In present-day Charleston, a mysterious benefactor gifts Lucy Legare an old house, along with all the secrets it holds–including enigmatic letters about an antique silver heirloom. Declan Pinckney, whom Lucy’s been avoiding since their disastrous first date, is set on buying her house for his family’s development company. As Lucy uncovers secrets about the house, its garden, and the silver, she becomes more determined than ever to preserve the historic Charleston property, not only for history’s sake but also for her own.

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Story Notes

Ashley Clark invites readers to the delightfully southern town of Charleston, SC to tell a story of love and sacrifice that spans over 160 years.

This was such a wonderful read. It wasn’t full of action or tense situations that got your heart racing to see what happens. Rather, it was a story that strolled nicely along, inviting you into the lives of two families separated by greed and accusations of theft finding their way to forgiveness and love. The story begins in the 1860s with a woman named Clara Legare who hid the family silver in the ground right before the Union army invaded under Sherman. Fast forward to 1929 and Clara’s granddaughter Eliza is attending a garden party held by her father at their home. There she meets the handsome and charming William who shows great interest in her watercolors as well as her. Soon discovering he is William Pinckney, she has reason to consider what a relationship might mean, given her family fully believes that the Pinckney’s stole the family silver from their land during the Sherman invasion. But Eliza doesn’t believe in such nonsense and strikes up a friendship with William. To keep their families from knowing about their friendship, Eliza and William begin leaving notes for each other, inside a bound journal hidden in the garden wall. What starts as friendship soon leads to love but William is hiding a secret that could tear them apart forever. Enter the current day story of Lucy Legare and Declan Pinckney. Lucy and Declan meet through mutual friends but have no idea of their family connections until the night of a robbery at his parents home. Lucy has no desire to spent time in the company of such a ruthless, business-focused family as the Pinckneys and makes a concerted effort to avoid Declan after her discovery. But when a historic Charleston home is left to her by a mysterious benefactor, Lucy and Declan will be brought together once again. The house she has inherited is in middle of the parcel of land his father’s company is seeking to acquire and turn into a more modern area. But Lucy is determined to keep her new home and sets about restoring it to it’s former glory, much to the consternation of the Pinckneys. Declan finds himself drawn to the beautiful Lucy and longs to get to know her better – in spite of her bad opinion of his family. As Lucy delves into the history of her home and learns more about it’s previous owners, she will find far more than she ever dreamed – and it will be just the connection to her past that she’s always wanted. But when tragedy happens and Lucy finds her ownership of the house challenged, she will have to decide what is most important to her, her desire to hold onto the past, or her chance at a future filled with love? Is this a fun set up for this story or what? I’m not going any further in my description because I refuse to tell all the wonderful things I read in this saga of stories. I loved the history that was included as well as the descriptions of the Charleston area. Clearly Ms. Clark did some major research to include the details she chose and to showcase the best of the 1920s-1930s Charleston. And then to bring in the modern day settings as well so the reader could compare was a great way to tie the stories together. I loved the ongoing “fight” over the silver and how the feud was finally solved. It worked out in the best way possible and everyone was given their due. The different chapters that dealt with the separate time periods flowed together beautifully and did not take away from either story. The descriptions of the paintings, the gardens and the houses was just enough to engage the reader but not so much as to drag on endlessly. And the love stories featured were so realistic and lovely that it was like you had actually been with Eliza and William and Lucy and Declan. I will most certainly be recommending this delightful story to others and hope that they will be as captivated by it as I was. Very well done, Ms. Clark, I’m looking forward to reading Alice and Clara’s story soon.

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Falling For Your Best Friend – Emma St. Clair – Book Review

Falling for Your Best Friend by Emma St. Clair

Published by Emma St. Clair May 14, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Pages: 348

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

I know how this story ends. And it’s NOT with the best friends falling in love.

Even if Chase checks all my boxes–and then some.

He’s the perfect guy, and he deserves the perfect girl. Which, to be clear, is not me.

I knew one day I would have to let him go. I just didn’t know it would be so soon.

Or that my traitorous friend would be the one setting him up with a string of potential girlfriends.

Now, I have an impossible choice to make…

I can watch Chase find love with someone else.

Or I can throw my hat in the ring and face my biggest fear, one not even he knows.

One that might make him run for the Texas hill country.

But if I don’t make a play, I might lose my best friend and my only chance at love…

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Story Notes

Emma St. Clair invites us back into the Love Cliches world with a look at one of my favorite tropes – best friends to lovers – but this is not going to be the usual story as she also takes on romance for the Neurodivergent.

We’ve all had a crush on an attractive guy friend before and some of us have even dated said friend. Sometimes it works out well, given the history and sometimes it doesn’t. Emma St. Clair dives into this topic and the topic of neurodivergent with a beautiful story that will make you laugh maniacally, cry occasionally and swoon repeatedly. Harper is an incredible fitness trainer, known for her ability to get the most effort from her clients. She helps them sculpt their bodies into peak fitness shape while also pushing herself to be in the best shape herself. She can’t ask them to give what she isn’t willing to give herself. But Harper has a secret – one that she’s never named but copes with daily. She’s pretty good at it too, given that no one has said anything. Stress seems to make it worse but she’s created helps for herself, unwilling to let her “quirks” hold her back. But running from her “quirks” only serves to magnify them when she is suddenly put in the social media spotlight by a jerky client bragging about his “hot” trainer. Thankfully she has a great family and excellent best friends to help her weather this storm. Now, if only she can be brave enough to discover the full extent of her “un-normal” reactions and preferences, she might become the person she’s always wanted to be and has been all along. Chase has loved Harper for nearly four years – ever since she “friend-zoned” him on their one and only date. He knows she has some issues with noise, touch and catching nuances in conversation but doesn’t see those things as a problem – they just make her Harper. But Chase is quickly growing tired of being in the friend zone and wants a chance to prove to Harper just how much he loves her. Their journey to love is one that will need to tackle lots of real and imagined barriers if they are going to have a chance at a future together. The question is…..are they brave enough to take them on? This book had all the wonderful things that make Ms. St. Clair’s books so unique and relevant. You have hilarious situations, heart-wrenching decisions, witty dialogue, excellent characters and loads of swoony romance. While this book is a bit deeper than the others in the series so far, I found that this book connected with me really well. I felt all of the anxiety and angst of Harper trying to be what she thought others wanted and the incredible relief when she finally accepted that she is worthy of acceptance just the way she is. I also felt the pain of Chase as he tried to figure out how to love Harper best and his joy when he finally got the chance. Plus, the reappearance of Abby and Sam often in this book was a marvelous addition that led to some funny conversations and some zany happenings. I don’t want to give away too much of the fun or swoony parts but let me just say that I officially have no desire to go camping any time soon…..unless it’s with a super-handsome guide like Chase. I will certainly be recommending this book very highly to everyone and hope that they will enjoy this delightful book as much as I did. I’m so flippin’ excited to see what Ms. St. Clair will do with Sam in the next story – hopefully out soon!!

I received this complimentary ARC from the author in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

A Proper Scoundrel by Ester Hatch – Book Review

A Proper Scoundrel by Ester Hatch

Published by Covenant Communication May 10, 2021

Genre: Regency Romance

Pages: 246

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

His scandals were right on track until she derailed everything.

As the successful owner of multiple railroad lines, Diana Barton is all too accustomed to fending off suitors seeking to stake their claim on her wealth. In order to keep the wolves at bay, Diana has contrived the perfect plan: appeal to the most notorious rake in London, the Baron Lord Bryant, to ruin her reputation and scare off the worst of the time wasters. The ruse will be no hardship—she’s secretly been fascinated by the man for years.

Lord Bryant is well aware of his questionable reputation. Indeed, he has cultivated the image carefully, and the last thing he wants is a wife. When he’s approached by the younger sister of a business associate, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he cannot help. However, when he sees for himself what she is up against, Bryant grudgingly offers his assistance. Faced with his most complicated entanglement yet, Bryant is firm in his conditions—and Diana knows that to get romantically involved with Bryant would spell certain heartbreak. But as the counterfeit couple grows ever closer, the line between truth and lies becomes blurred, threatening both Lord Bryant’s well-laid plans and the future of Diana’s railroad business.

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Story Notes

The man whom fans of Ester Hatch books have come to despise becomes the man we all want to meet.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. This mantra has been quoted at and by many people but never has it applied more to the infamous Lord Everton Bryant. He is the known rake and scoundrel of the Ton, apparently willing to ruin anyone who even looks at him pleasantly. But he’s hiding a secret that no one would guess and his carefully crafted facade is perfectly in place at all times. That is, until he is approached by the sister of an acquaintance (one who’s now-wife he tried to seduce) with the most unusual request – to ruin her reputation. Diana Barton is tired of the endless parade of men coming to her office to offer for her hand in marriage. Her goals in life include running the family railroad company and helping her friend recoup any loses from the sale of her own company. But these goals are being prevented by men who think they can help this “gentle woman” (read: ignorant) make decisions that might be “difficult”. In a last ditch effort to secure some peace, Diana seeks out the incredibly handsome and known philanderer, Lord Bryant. His amusement and refusal of her request leads her to further desperate measures that ensure his name is connected to hers. But Lord Bryant has goals of his own and while he is rather annoyed at Diana’s persistence, he is also curious to see if they can succeed without endangering his quest. What follows is much more than either of them bargained for and will give both of them a chance at a future they never imagined. I’ll go no further in describing the story so that nothing is spoiled in this review but you better believe I am recommending this book with everything I am as a reader/reviewer!! This was the most delightfully swoony read with a fabulous male lead and a fierce female lead who can each dish out the quips as fast as the other. The attraction between them is incredible but their refusal to acknowledge it is the most fun I’ve had reading a regency book since Manor for Sale, Baron Included. Please take my advice and get this book in your hands and in your heart as soon as possible. You won’t regret the purchase and will, perhaps, find the the best book you’ll read this year.
PS – feel free to judge the actual book by its cover – its just gorgeous and so very fitting!!

I purchased this book from the author/publisher and am offering this fair and honest review without any expectation of fiscal reimbursement. The words and opinions herein are entirely my own and are for the recommendation of a good read purpose only.

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade – Book Review

Let It be Me by Becky Wade

Published by Bethany House Publishers May 04, 2021

Genre: Romance, Christian

Pages: 382

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

The one woman he wants is the one he cannot have.

Former foster kid Sebastian Grant has leveraged his intelligence and hard work to become a pediatric heart surgeon. But not even his career success can erase the void he’s tried so hard to fill. Then he meets high school teacher Leah Montgomery and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop. He falls hard, only to make a devastating discovery–Leah is the woman his best friend set his heart on months before.

Leah’s a math prodigy who’s only ever had one big dream–to earn her PhD. Raising her little brother put that dream on hold. Now that her brother will soon be college bound, she’s not going to let anything stand in her way. Especially romance . . . which is far less dependable than algebra.

When Leah receives surprising results from the DNA test she submitted to a genealogy site, she solicits Sebastian’s help. Together, they comb through hospital records to uncover the secrets of her history. The more powerfully they’re drawn to each other, the more strongly Sebastian must resist, and the more Leah must admit that some things in life–like love–can’t be explained with numbers.

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Story Notes

Becky Wade returns us to the lives of the Miracle Five and the delightful town of Misty River to tell the story of Dr Sebastian Grant and his journey to love.

When I read the little teaser intro to Sebastian’s story that was dropped into Stay with Me, I just knew it was going to be an awesome story. The great Sebastian Grant was going to be felled by the most unexpected person and he doesn’t even know her name. She was the kind person who stopped to help when he wrapped his car around a tree and he is convinced that if he can find her, she will be his perfect girlfriend. But when he finally does find her, again on accident, he discovers that she is the girl his best friend, Ben, has been crushing on and is too afraid to ask out. Despite his incredible disappointment, Sebastian becomes his friend’s biggest cheerleader and tries to work things out for Ben and Leah. If only he hadn’t already lost most of his heart to her before he even knew her name. Leah Montgomery is a math genius who teaches at Misty River high school. She is the guardian of her younger brother, Dylan, and is doing her best to ensure he is healthy and well prepared for life. While she had to sacrifice her dreams of a PhD in Mathematics to care for her brother, she has never regretted it. She calls it dreams deferred and intends to return to them one day in the future. But her life is unceremoniously turned upside down when she gets unexpected results from her birthday DNA test – she is not her mother’s daughter. Not quite believing what she’s read, she requests a second test to confirm and upon receiving the same results, must now decide how to go forward. Leah is not a vengeful person but she does want to know what happened and how she was switched with another child in the hospital. Her search brings her into the world of Pediatrics, and Sebastian, when she needs his help to gain access to her records. Their search will bring many surprises and more answers than Leah ever dreamed. But there is heartache to be found along the way as well and it will prove challenging to their relationship. Can they really have anything more than friendship together or will everything and everyone pull them further apart? You’ll have to come read this marvelous story to find out. I’m not going to spoil the story for anyone but I’m definitely telling people they need to read it. From the super fun Star Wars quotes and references to the hilariously odd reasoning of Leah, it’s not one that readers will want to miss. I loved how stubbornly set Leah was about love and how it applied to her; she made me laugh with her conclusions and reasoning. Sebastian was a wonderful MC with plenty of charm, wit and determination to help Leah see her worth to others. The search to discover what happened at Leah’s birth was very well written with everything being revealed at just the right moment. Ms. Wade has an incredible ability to write realistic stories that gut-punch you with their revelations but in a way that is a good shock rather than a bad one. This story included that expected shock but it gave such depth to the story that I would have felt the story incomplete without it. Suffice to say, this story was delightfully heart wrenching and I really was a bit worried for what the ending would be. Which is a perfect place for a voracious reader such as myself to be – it keeps us on our toes. I will certainly be highly recommending this story to others and am very hopeful they will find it as marvelous as I did. I’m now super excited to read the next story and find out what’s going to happen with Luke. Well done, Ms. Wade!!

I received this temporary complimentary E-book from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in order to provide a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation for this review and the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.