Is It Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh – Book Review

Is it Any Wonder by Courtney Walsh

Published by Tyndale House Publishers April 06, 2021

Genre: Christian, Romance

Pages: 333

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Can a promise made as kids bring them back together as adults? In this Nantucket-set beach read, “master of the genre” (Midwest Book Review) Courtney Walsh delivers a sparkling inspirational romance about first love and second chances.

Twelve years ago, Cody Boggs and Louisa Chambers made a pact that no matter where their lives took them, they’d return to Nantucket Island’s Brant Point Lighthouse on July 30, their shared golden birthday, and continue their tradition of exchanging birthday wishes. But that was before a tragic accident upended both of their lives, irrevocably pulling them apart.

Their worlds collide just months before that particular day when Louisa’s fledgling event planning company is hired by the local Coast Guard station, where she discovers Cody has recently returned to the island as the second in command. As they plan a regatta fundraiser, hoping to promote positive PR in the community, neither can deny the fireworks each encounter ignites. But working together also brings up memories of the day Cody’s father died, revealing secrets that have Cody and Louisa questioning everything they thought they knew and felt about their families and each other.

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Story Notes

Courtney Walsh brings readers another marvelous Nantucket Love Story that deals with loss, love and finding your way home again.

Courtney Walsh is definitely aiming at the heart with this latest story taking place in Nantucket. Louisa Chambers is an event and experience planner for the Island and loves to make special moments in other’s lives even better with the perfect setting. Her young business has finally begun to hit it’s stride and gain the needed reputation to bring people to her instead of her needing to seek clients out. And the fulfillment she finds in her every day tells her that she is just where she is meant to be. Too bad her parents and ex-boyfriend can’t seem to understand that. If they would only take her dreams seriously, they might see that she’s happy and doesn’t need anyone else to direct her life. But there is sadness that lingers in Louisa’s soul over the loss of her best friends’ dad 12 years before that caused Cody to disappear from her life. Louisa feels she is to blame for what happened and nothing she does seems to lessen the pain of that loss. So, she pushes the dark thoughts to the back of her mind and works hard to make others’ lives brighter. But the past never stays behind for long and the pain will be shoved back into Louisa’s focus again with the appearance of her former best friend, Cody Boggs. Coast Guard Executive Petty Officer Cody Boggs has been stationed on the last place he ever wanted to be again – Nantucket Island. It holds both the best and worst memories of his life and was the place of his father’s accidental death – a death Cody is responsible for. His first training outing with the team comes with a scary task: rescuing a swimmer being pulled out to sea. Finding it impossible to remain on-board ship when he knows he can safely rescue the swimmer, Cody disregards procedure and dives right in. Returning to the ship with the unconscious woman, he prays he is not too late. Thankfully, the woman coughs up the intake of sea water and regains consciousness quickly, revealing the last person Cody ever wanted to see again – Louisa Chambers. Hoping he can return her to shore and go back to his life without future interactions, Cody ensures Louisa is taken to the hospital to be checked out. But they will be spending more time together than he wants because his Master Chief is looking to boost the CG image on the island and has designated Cody to work with Louisa on a morale campaign. While both of them see the merits of this idea, neither Cody nor Louisa want to relive the pain of the past. However, if they are going to move beyond the past, they will have to face it and forgive each other for what happened. And as they work together on the campaign, they will discover that the friendship they once had is still there, and a chance for something more if they are brave enough to reach for it. This book was such a heart-wrencher but in the very best way. The pain, angst and loss was so very strong for both Cody and Louisa and I found myself recalling the pain of my own losses in empathy. They lost so many things with the death of Daniel Boggs and neither of them had really dealt with any of them. I was so glad to see that Ms. Walsh let them work through all the aspects of those losses in the pages of this story. It gave the story depth and gave me a great connection to the characters. I also loved the rough but beautiful romance that grew between them. It was not perfect in any way other than they ended up together but that’s what made it strong and real. Louisa and Cody had to work through their own assumptions, pain and emptions and each challenged the other to become better people. When their first kiss in twelve years finally came, wow! was it a good one. Ms. Walsh put it at the perfect moment and I did a happy dance when I read it. I was so glad to see good finally come through all the hurt and that they were going to take a chance on a future together. I will certainly be recommending this story to others and hoping they will find it as wonderful as I did. I will also be adding a physical copy to my shelves because I already want to read it again.

I received this temporary complimentary (free of charge)E-book from Tyndale House Publishers 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.

City of Love by Gracie Ruth Mitchell – Book Review

City of Love by Gracie Ruth Mitchell

Published by Gracie Ruth Mitchell April 02, 2021

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Pages: 218

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Lydia
I don’t have a diary; I have a pen pal—a Parisian girl named Noel who knows my deepest, darkest secrets. And now that I’ve finally graduated, it’s time to go meet her. Paris, here I come! 
Except…something isn’t quite right in the City of Love. Because my first thought when I see Noel? 
That’s not a girl.
Nope, apparently Noel is a guy. 
That’s right: a guy. An attractive guy, with tattoos and green eyes that seem to see right through me. 
Who is this, and what on earth is going on?

Noel
I know how it sounds, but I’m not a creep. I just thought Lydia knew I was a guy. By the time I realized she didn’t, she’d already started opening up about school and bullies and whatnot. She needed a friend. So, yes—I let her think I was a girl. And frankly, I would do it again. I can’t make myself regret being there for her.
But now Lydia is here in Paris, and I’m realizing that my feelings for her might be more than just friendly. I’ll have to do everything in my power not to fall for her completely, because she deserves way better than me.
Too bad that’s easier said than done…

PLEASE NOTE: This book deals with themes like bullying and (non-graphic) harassment–NOT between the love interests.

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Story Notes

Gracie Ruth Mitchell brings another delightful addition to the Stone Springs series with a focus on Lydia and her pen pal of three years, Noel – who is not a girl like Lydia thought.

This read was a really good one with plenty of exciting plot, excellent characters and a swoony romance in the “City of Love”. We begin with a fantastic first line that sets the tone for the book: “Repeat after me: I will not fall in love with a French boy.” “No, repeat after me: I WILL fall in love, and he will be a man, not a boy. He will have a sexy accent and feed me baguettes and write me bad poetry.” With an opening like that you can’t help but smile and be drawn in to whatever is going to happen next. What that is turns out to be slightly different from what Lydia planned. She’s headed off on her Senior trip to Paris after completing her high school graduation. It will be her chance to finally meet her pen pal of three years in person and thank her for all her advice over the years. Noel had encouraged her to stand up for herself and report a guy determined to bully her into being his girlfriend. Thankfully, Lydia won’t have to put up with Marcus very often if at all, and as she’ll be with Noel, there will be plenty of ways to avoid him. Her flight goes well but her arrival is less than ideal. She manages to find her way to Noel’s apartment but she’s not sure it’s right when she comes face-to-face with a very attractive young MAN. He’s grumpy and suspicious of her but helps her find her way to Noel’s parents house, for which she is grateful. Still reeling from her exhaustion, Lydia is thankful for the warm welcome she receives from the Marchand family but is confused when Marie refers to her son coming soon and being excited to meet her. Surely, she means her daughter Noel, will be more excited to meet Lydia, right? Nope! Turns out that Marie’s son and Lydia’s friend Noel are one and the same – and not at all the girl Lydia has been sharing all her secrets with for three years. Quite upset that he had deceived her, Lydia is reluctant to hear the explanation he offers but as she’s not one to hold a grudge very long, she gives him a chance. Noel explains that while he figured out that Lydia thought that he was a girl, he enjoyed her friendship and honesty too much to clear up the mistake and hurt Lydia’s feelings. Then Noel tells her of his plans to show her around the city and take her to his favorite places and her hurt gradually vanishes. He’s still the friend he has always been, even if he’s of the male persuasion. As Lydia and Noel spend more time together, they come to find that their connection goes deeper than friendship, possibly to something deeper than either of them have ever felt. This connection will challenge each of them to be better and braver people than they have been before. And each of them will have to decide what matters most in the world to them – comfort or love. Their decision will mean a future together or apart. I have really been enjoying diving back into the world of rom-coms lately and I love that I have so many options of good books to choose from. My preference is clean with some mild spicy additions and no language and this book certainly delivers. The sweet relationship between Noel and Lydia had a little fire but had more about building a proper relationship based on doing what was best for the other. This story also gave a “non-tourist” look at life in Paris and that was a nice change from other books of this genre. I loved the secondary characters of Luc and Jade, who offered Noel and Lydia the best friend advice they needed along the way. I’m very much looking forward to finding out what happens between Jade and Ian in the nest book. I will certainly be recommending this book to others in the hope they will enjoy the swoon as I did. I also plan to add a copy of this story to my shelves soon so I can reread it often. Well done, Ms. Mitchell!!

I received this E-book free of charge 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.

Girls of Summer by C. E. Hilbert – Book Review

Girls of Summer by C. E. Hilbert

Published by Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing March 19, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Thrillers, Christian, Romance

Pages: 285

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Charlotte Dixon loves her life in Manhattan, but her world is decimated, and she finds herself severely in debt when she discovers her mother skimming money from her gallery.

When Charlotte receives the news that her estranged father has passed away, she finds herself in small-town South Carolina, forced to partner with her half-sister in running the baseball team and family business. If she can make it through 365 long days of running her daddy’s business, she’ll inherit half his multi-million dollar fortune—money she desperately needs to rectify the sins of her mother.

But can a big city girl overcome small-town sass and the unwelcome guidance of too-handsome-for-his-own-good general counsel Mac Taylor, or will this uptown girl discover she is truly a southern girl of summer at heart?

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Story Notes

C. E. Hilbert offers readers a delightfully terrifying mystery that involves two half-sisters, a shared estate and possible love for each of them if they can stay alive long enough to figure it all out.

I’ve not read a book by this author before but I certainly will be after this incredible story. At the beginning it was a little confusing with all the people and information but everything was carefully explained and all my questions answered by the time I got to the last page. It begins with Charlotte Dixon, who is the daughter of now deceased Bentley Dixon, owner of Watershed, Inc.. and the minor league Baseball team, the South Carolina Boomers. “Charlie” has been required to return to South Carolina by her father’s estate and will requirements and while she would love for all this to be real and a chance at reconciliation with her family, she cannot allow it. She is certain that her mother is somehow connected to the Russian Mafia or Bratva and that means that anyone she’s close to could be in danger. So she had made it her mission to keep everyone at arms distance and keep them safe. But all that changes when “accidents” begin to happen to her and others in the family. It seems her care has not been enough and someone is out to ensure she does what her mother says. The family attorney, Mac Taylor wants to help Charlie and could even see himself falling for her but she is so tightly held, he’s not sure he has a real chance. And with the FBI looking into her family and trying to connect her to the Bratva, Charlie seems to be drawing further away than ever before. Maybe between him and Georgie, her sister and one of his oldest friends, they can find a way to show Charlie that the Dixon family is made up of more than just blood relatives. They will have to hurry, though, as there are many people in play that just might make that impossible. I loved the angst and tension that just overflowed in this story. There was no release of it throughout all the pages and it really helped me connect with the characters in a deeper way. I honestly felt afraid for them (haha) and found myself holding my breath a few times along the way. This is such a good way for an author to connect their work to me. If I don’t find a real connection with the emotions of the characters, it’s just not the same when I read a book. The dual love stories for Charlie and Georgie were also very well done. They were included in a natural way that added to the story rather than distracting from it. Honestly, it would have been strange to have the rest of the story without this important element. Mac and Cade were just the perfect matches for Charlie and Georgie and challenged them to be better people. What really sealed this book as incredible was the excellent addition of faith. Ms. Hilbert crafted her story in a beautiful way to show the absolute brokenness of a person without faith in Christ. She showed the depths that Charlie had to fall to in order to see her need for Someone to save her from what she had no hope of saving herself from – her Sin. But while some authors might stop there and have everything turn out just fine and let the character’s life become perfect after her conversion, Ms. Hilbert kept the story true to life. Charlie found that while her faith gave her the strength she needed to confront her mother and her past, that didn’t mean that life wasn’t still hard and didn’t require consequences and sacrifices. She, Georgie, Mac, Cade and the rest of the Dixon family would still have to deal with the Bratva and all the trouble that brought. But with their faith, determination and hearts guided by love for others, they came through it all stronger and closer than they ever dreamed. I will certainly be reading more from Ms. Hilbert and be recommending this book to others in the hope they will enjoy it as much as I did.

I received this temporary, complimentary E-book from Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing 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.

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman – Book Review

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman

Published by Bethany House Publishers March 16, 2021

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Christian, Romance

Pages: 336

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Just as Homeland Security Agent Addison Leigh reaches the pinnacle of her cyber investigation into a firearms smuggling ring, she’s attacked and left for dead. Her estranged husband, ICE Agent Mack Jordan, is notified that she’s at the hospital in a coma. He may have let his past military trauma ruin their short marriage, but she never gave up on their relationship, and he remains her next of kin.

Mack rushes to her bedside, where he promises to hunt down the man who attacked her. Mack failed her once when he bailed on their marriage, and he’s not about to let her down again. But when she wakes up in the hospital, she remembers neither the attack nor ever being married to Mack. And when a second attempt to take her life is made, it’s clear something very sinister is going on, and Mack and Addison are in for the ride of their lives.

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Story Notes

Susan Sleeman offers up another non-stop story in her Homeland Heroes series that focuses on Mack Jordan and his estranged wife, Homeland Agent Addison Leigh.

How apropos on this St. Patty’s Day that I am reviewing a green covered book that features a guy named Mack! This was a good story with lots of action, angst, inability to forgive oneself and a love that never died. Addie Leigh is a Federal Agent working to take down a firearms smuggling ring working the dark web to find and distribute their product. But while she knew they were powerful and dangerous, she never thought they might target her to keep their cover. Viciously attacked and left in a coma, Addie is about find herself in a room with the one man she’s never been able to forget – her husband Mack, US Marshal and member of the elite Red team. Receiving a call telling him that Addie has been badly injured throws Mack’s world into a tailspin. They’ve been separated for a few years but she hadn’t removed him as next of kin on her files. Desperate to ensure her safety, Mack is at her side as soon as he can hop a plane. There’s only one problem – when Addie wakes, she doesn’t remember Mack or their marriage. Now they must contend with the danger to Addie’s life and to their hearts. But Mack is still determined to keep Addie safe, especially from himself given that he still suffers from PTSD from his years as a Night Stalker. So he and the Red Team offer their resources to help take down the smugglers and ensure Addie stays safe. As Addie begins to remember their years together, she isn’t sure she’s ready to work with Mack in such close quarters again but needs the Red Team if she wants to solve this case. Her heart still belongs to Mack, even if he says otherwise, and she’s determined to make him face his demons and sort out their relationship. The case will have to be solved first and the culprits caught if they are to have any chance at a future together. However, those in charge of the smuggling ring are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their future in the industry, and no one will be allowed to stand in their way – not even a determined agent with a talent for trouble. There was so much to unpack in this story and it was all handled so well. We finally get to understand Mack and why he and Addie split. His stubborn way of keeping her at arm’s length made me want to give him a Gibb’s slab to the back of the head but I was glad to see he was trying to work through his past and find his balance again. And Addie trying so hard to get him to let her in while also trying to recall her past with him was a great plot point. All the needed information to figure out the people behind everything going on was only doled out in small doses so it was hard to make a solid guess until the end – something Ms. Sleeman is very good at in her writing. I loved getting to see a bit more of the other members on the Red Team too as I love the banter that goes on between them. Another plus was the conclusion of the Montgomery Three case that has haunted the team for years – I was so glad to see that solved. One of the best parts of this story and this series has been seeing “behind the curtain” of how these elite agencies work. While I’m sure it’s not specific to any current team at work, there was plenty of description of the type of work done and dedication these agents have to taking down those profiting off the suffering of others. I will certainly be recommending this story and the series to others in the hope that they will enjoy this journey of action and love as well. Very much looking forward to the next story in the series – we need to know what happens with the remaining members of the Red Team!!

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 Fake Fiancé by Emma St. Clair – Book Review

Falling For Your Fake Fiancé by Emma St. Clair

Published by Emma St. Clair February 06, 2021

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Pages: 356

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

What happens when the man I love to hate becomes the man I must pretend to love?

I can’t seem to escape Thayden Walker and his infuriating charm.

Even his mother and his Great Dane seem bent on playing matchmaker.

But I’m totally immune.

Until I’m presented with an offer that puts my ability to withstand him to the test.

If I marry Thayden, all my student debt goes poof, and he’ll take over the family firm.

There’s so much more at stake than money or a job, especially when I start to see the man beneath the mask.

Playing house with Thayden is the most dangerous game of all.

And we’re both set up to lose more than we could ever win.

Unless we’ve been on the same side all along …

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Story Notes

Emma St. Clair offers readers the delightful story of Delilah and Thayden – and if you’ve read the first two book s in the series, you know there will be fireworks, of all kinds.

Ever start reading a series of books and find yourself going, “I need these people in my life, but for real”?? That was me with this series and especially this book. I love a good rom-com but I’ve not found very many like these that make want to read them again and again. This set of friends and their romantic interests give you that sizzle you like but keep it respectable. This story starts out where the last one left off but turns it attention to Delilah. A true Southern lady with just enough snap in her speech to make her shine, Delilah is about to find what she didn’t know she needed – love and family. Having spent her childhood letting her mother bully her into pageants and shows to earn cash, Delilah has broken free and is determined to make it alone. But how can you do that if you have no college degree or any real work experience? And how can you work if you just got fired from your only job? And to top it off, the man who once insulted her at his friends house has been witness to said firing. Can she really accept his offer to dog-sit for him or is there something else going on with this playboy? Hoping it’s all okay, Delilah agrees and promises herself she will NOT fall for Thayden…..even if he is the hottest guy she’s ever seen. But then an opportunity drops into both of their laps for each of them to get what they have always wanted – if they agree to get married. Neither of them truly want a marriage but there seems to be nothing else they can do to make their goals happen. So, they decide to go through with the marriage, with the understanding that this will all be platonic and will end after one year. Thayden quickly comes to realize that his fake fiancé is exactly the sort of woman he would choose as a wife but she doesn’t seem to want him as husband for real. Can he convince her of his devotion and care or will this all be a sham? Can Delilah look past his reputation and public persona to the real man behind the swagger? You’ll just have to find out! Oh, how I laughed and swooned over this story! There is some serious fire going on between these two but nothing crude or disgusting. Clearly Ms. St. Clair has a gift for writing a spicy and clean story that also has a great plot and characters. The snappy conversations between the characters is very engaging and will certainly keep you reading from beginning to end. Thayden is just enough of a bad boy to make Delilah wary but he’s still got that little kid looking for acceptance buried deep inside. His mother is hysterical and so very cute. She will be the perfect mother-in-law for Delilah – if she lets her be. I won’t put spoilers in as that’s no fun but I will say that if you don’t laugh at the bathtub/dog scene or the lobster throwing, you have no sense of humor at all. I will most certainly be recommending this delightful story to others in the very great hope they will be as in love with this story as I was. Very much looking forward to Harper and Chase’s story.

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

The Memory Keeper by Jenny Hale – Book Review (Audible version)

The Memory Keeper by Jenny Hale

Published by Harpeth Road Publishers February 18, 2021

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Drama

Audible Version – 31 Chapters plus Epilogue

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Hannah Townsend has the perfect job at a New York magazine, a small but elegant apartment in the Upper West Side, and a successful beau named Miles Monahan. This year, she’s leaving the icy city sludge for sunshine! She’s got tickets for two to Barbados, and she’s meeting Miles at the airport for a week of cocktails, sandy beaches, and the music of steel drums.

But her life is turned upside down in the span of that one morning. Hannah is rocked by the news that her beloved grandmother is very sick, and Hannah needs to come home to her small Tennessee town right away to be with her family and help run her gran’s dilapidated flower shop. If that isn’t enough to deal with, she discovers her boyfriend is seeing someone else.

On her birthday, she finds herself packed into a car on a ride-share to her hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. When everything seems to be going wrong, it’s the kindness of a handsome man from Hannah’s past named Liam McGuire that might just save her. But a new development that threatens Gran’s shop and secrets surrounding Liam could alter both their lives forever

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Story Notes
Jenny Hale brings readers a story that speaks to the heart and will leave you sad to say goodbye on the last page.
It’s not often that I get a chance to listen to a book versus read it and I’ll admit it would be nice to do more often. I was given the chance to listen to the audiobook of this truly lovely story from the author and am so very glad I was. The story itself jumps right into the life of one Hannah Townsend who is looking forward to a 35th birthday vacation with her boyfriend Miles – hoping he might propose to her while there. But as life sometimes goes, Miles is not only not planning to propose, he’s already found someone new. Add to this the news that her Gran is in the hospital and Hannah’s well ordered life is no longer following her desired path. The appearance of an old friend and the meeting of a new one set Hannah on the road towards her hometown and helping her family. Little does she know that everything she thought she wanted really isn’t as great as she thought. Going home brings up memories of days and people she misses and she is not sure how she will go back to her job as scheduled. Gran gives Hannah a journal of of her younger days as a gift for her birthday  and invites Hannah to travel back to the days before she owned the flower shop The Memory Keeper. The journal, a self-chosen task and some friends along the way will push Hannah to decide what exactly makes her happy and how she can make that happen. She just might find more than friendship and home along the way – if she can just let go of her past hurts and assumptions. I found so much to love in this story about Hannah. She was brave and determined, yet caring and kind. She does nothing by halves and cannot stand to let others remain in sadness or pain. Her journey towards finding herself again was one that was very engaging and I was very invested in what would happen. I  loved the story of Gran’s romance and life during the War. Her losses and pain led to the greatest adventure ever and would inspire Hannah to make the tough choices too. Georgia was another great character and her story was really interesting to read about. She gave Hannah perspective on what really matters in life and what needs to be let go. Her and Hannah both were looking for a place to truly belong and The Memory Keeper would help them find it. And Liam was a swoony, broody lead that gave Hannah a reason to hope in love again and she, in turn, taught him that loving/honoring someone doesn’t mean we don’t follow our own dreams too. I will most certainly be recommending this story to others, especially the audio version. The narrator did a very nice job of making the story flow and giving the characters good voice. I look forward to the next from Jenny Hale and hope it will be coming out soon!


I received a complimentary Audible version of this book from Jenny Hale and Harpeth Road Publishers 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

My Dear Miss Dupre by Grace Hitchcock – Book Review

My Dear Miss Dupre by Grace Hitchcock

Published by Bethany House Publishers March 02, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/ Romance

Pages: 361

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

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Publisher’s Description

Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, she is forced into a different future. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan–find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the business empire.

Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is told to to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus until she chooses one to marry, ending the competition with a wedding. Willow reluctantly agrees, knowing she must do what is best for the business. She doesn’t expect to find anything other than a proxy . . . until she meets a gentleman who captures her attention, and she must discover for herself if his motives are pure.

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Story Notes

Grace Hitchcock brings readers the start of a new series entitled American Royalty – a start that kicks the series off with a Gilded Age “Bachelorette” styled romance that is spiced with excellent characters, snappy wit and just a bit of intrigue to keep things interesting.

This is one of those really delightful stories that pulls you in from page one and keeps you smiling after you finish the last page. Willow Dupre is the heiress to Dupre Sucre Company and has all the necessary qualifications to run the company with one exception – she is not a man. In an effort to appease the Board of Directors and allow her the opportunity to run things as she would like, her parents create an opportunity for Willow to find a husband of her choice. They have invited thirty of The Four Hundreds’ most eligible bachelors to participate in a courting contest for Willow’s hand taking place at their home. Shocked by this seemingly outlandish idea, Willow balks at the contest but soon comes to see the merit of such a plan. She is determined to find someone that she can not only depend on to allow her the freedom she desires but also someone she can love. So begins the contest and her introduction to some wonderful, and not so wonderful, gentlemen. Included in the gentlemen vying for her hand is an old friend, convinced she will fall in love with him, a mysterious Irishman, a childhood crush, a botanist and a host of other varied individuals. There is plenty of personality crashing around and lots of bravado coming from the most amorous of candidates. But alongside this incredible decision, Grace must discover how an vicious competitor of her company is keeping his hand in her business. Can she manage both? Will she find love? Is anyone not who they present themselves to be? These questions and others must be answered before Willow can finally become the leader she has always dreamed of being and finding the love she has secretly longed for. I loved the styling of this story and the development of the plot. Everything was so engaging and creative that I found myself smiling hugely at the careful crafting of scenes and the characters. Details of each situation were laid out so as to give only the information necessary while keeping the air of mystery intact. I loved the oddities of some of Willow’s suitors and their hilarious attempts to gain her attention. One of my favorite odd characters was Mr. Harolds – his scene with Willow and the examination of her head was hysterical. Cullen was a marvelous “hero” and I loved reading of his struggle to do the right thing. Teddy was somewhat annoying in his arrogance towards Willow but I really felt like he did love Willow as much as he said. I also really liked Willow’s friend, Flora, who seemed to be very excited to help Willow sort through the suitors. She was honest in her opinions and did make Willow think through her decisions about whether to keep a suitor or no. I could easily see her having her own story and it being a very good one. I will certainly be recommending this story to others in the hope that they will enjoy this fantastic story as I did. I will also be purchasing a copy of this book for my shelves as I know I will want to read it again. Looking forward to the next book in the series!

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.

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson – Book Review

The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson

Published by Thomas Nelson Fiction January 26, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romance

Pages: 342

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

A story of second chances and secrets, this mysterious Regency romance will transport you to 19th-century England as one young lady reunites with her childhood love to find his missing sister.

Her friend is missing.

After five years abroad, Charity Halliwell finally returns to Loxby Manor, the home of dear friends—and her lost love. No longer a young girl, she is now haunted by a painful secret and the demise of her dreams. Instead of the healing and happiness she hopes to find, she encounters a darkness lurking in the shadows of the once-familiar house. When her friend, Seline, disappears the very night of her arrival, Charity is determined to uncover the truth.

Her only hope is the man who broke her heart.

Branded a coward, Piers Cavanaugh has lived the last five years as an outcast far from his family home. When his sister presumably elopes with a stable hand, Piers joins forces with an unlikely partner—the one woman he thought he’d never see again. Together they launch an investigation that leads to strange nightly meetings in the ruins of an old abbey and disturbing whispers of a secret organization. The more they learn, the more desperate the situation becomes. 

The house seems determined to keep its secrets.

As they struggle to piece together the clues, Charity and Piers also endeavor to rebuild their friendship. One cryptic letter changed everything between them. To find happiness they will have to overcome the grief and shame keeping them apart. But first they must discover why Seline vanished and confront the growing fear that she may never return. 

Settle in, because once you start The Vanishing at Loxby Manor, you won’t be able to put it down. 

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Story Notes

Abigail Wilson offers readers a Gothic mystery with lots of intrigue, wonderfully crafted characters and a romance that returns when all else seems lost.

This story could quite possibly be my favorite of the year. I sat down to read it and COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!! It grabbed hold of my imagination and heart and did not let go, even after I finished the last page. I went immediately and told two people they needed to pre-order it right now so they didn’t miss this incredible story. It begins with a prologue set five years before the main story in which Charity Haliwell is sitting with a twisted ankle at the base of a tree on the Loxby estate and has just been discovered by her secret love, Piers Cavanaugh. He agrees to help her to the house and keep her secret that she set out without a proper chaperone. Seeing trouble in his eyes, Charity accepts his help but wonders at what he’s holding back. Fast forward five years and Charity is returning to the estate grounds after living on the island of Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka). The romance between her and Piers was broken not long after she injured her ankle with a painfully short letter with little explanation. But she has returned to stay with the Cavanaughs for a year while her family goes to America to visit her brother. Not sure of her welcome or what she will find, Charity arrives at Loxby Manor to a quiet house that seems to have none of the family present. She is shown to her room and told a tray will be sent for dinner. Her cousin, Seline, comes to her room soon after with a sweet welcome but a troubling air surrounds her. When she suddenly requests to borrow a cloak and swears Charity to secrecy, Charity has no choice but to agree, despite her sense of foreboding. When Seline makes no reappearance at the manor by midnight, however, Charity must tell someone of her fears. Mrs. Cavanaugh takes Charities words with suspicion and anger and insists on sending for her son Avery to sort things out. A note from “Seline” is found indicating she has run off with a stable hand to be married. But there is too much that is odd about this situation and Charity refuses to accept it as truth. Piers has returned to the manor as well after five years in isolation and she shares all she knows with him, hoping she will convince him to look further into what happened. As Piers and Charity begin investigating Seline’s disappearance, they turn up more questions than answers. Everyone seems to have secrets they don’t want to share and no one is admitting who saw Seline last. With strange happenings all around and mysterious lights at the ruins of the nearby abbey, the danger for everyone seems to be increasing. But what can be so important to keep people from telling the truth? And where is Seline and the stable hand, Miles Lacy? If Piers and Charity are to have any hope for a future together, they will have to solve these mysteries and let go of the past once and for all. Oh my goodness, this chillingly tense story was such a fabulous read! I loved every page of it and was so engaged in it, I ignored the passing time and missed a meal, haha! It’s rare you find such a book that speaks to you so much and I wasn’t about set it aside until I finished it. I loved the gripping tension that was woven through all the pages. There was no piece of information given until absolutely necessary and it was frustratingly well done. I also loved the heartbreaking romance between Piers and Charity. Nothing had happened as they hoped and yet, they still hoped for a chance at love. This passage from Charity’s view at the dance with Piers made my heart happy – “Though the waltz had been introduced at Almack’s last year, I had yet to perform the steps in company…….The subtle change brought a rush of warmth to my cheeks. I’d heard the various debates about the waltz – the degree of personal familiarity that rendered it liable to abuse – but I hadn’t understood the arguments. Not really. Not until that moment. Not until I met his eyes.” Neither of them felt worthy of accepting love but each would realize that their brokenness only gave them character and strength to help others. To say that I cheered when they finally got together is an understatement. And when Piers said, ” Love is you and me deciding to stand at each other’s side to face whatever comes,” I did a happy dance for them. I will most certainly be recommending this book to others with high praise and excitement. It has so many wonderful things about it that anyone would enjoy reading it and I do hope they will. I plan to purchase my own copy very soon so I can re-read it multiple times.

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.

The Widow and the Highlander by Martha Keyes – Book Review

The Widow and the Highlander by Martha Keyes

Published by Martha Keyes February 27, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Pages: 300

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

She needs to be protected. He’ll take on the job…for a price.

Christina MacKinnon is secretly relieved to be a widow. She is equally desperate to distance herself from the clan of her dead husband, but as the heir to his estate—one she needs in order to support her siblings—she must first stave off both the advances and threats of the man next in line to inherit. It seems the only person she can turn to is a nearby stranger who seems inclined to help her. But he has a request….

Freshly returned from the war, Lachlan Kincaid has one aim: to see justice served to the MacKinnons for betraying his family years ago and depriving him of his inheritance. While biding his time at a nearby inn, he discovers the death of the MacKinnon laird—whose widow has inherited everything. The way to accomplish his goal is becoming more evident, but the path is murkier than he could have foreseen.

As Christina’s and Lachlan’s lives intersect, it becomes clear that their separate aims may well only be achievable if they join forces. But to do so is to court more danger, and it requires a sacrifice Christina isn’t sure she’s prepared to make.

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Story Notes

Martha Keyes brings to her readers a new series based in the Highlands of Scotland with excellent characters, a touch of intrigue and a beautiful love story that no one will want to miss.

This was a really wonderful story! I had heard so many good things from those who had been part of the launch team for this book and I was so excited to have a chance to read this as an ARC before it’s release. It’s set in the Highlands during the 1700s just after the death of the Laird of Dunverlockie Castle. Christina MacKinnon is finally free of her domineering and abusive husband and is feeling no remorse over her loss. The fever that took him was the miracle she had prayed for and now praised God for providing. If she could only oust his cousin, Angus, and all his ribald clansmen, she might finally have some peace. But Angus is determined to be master of both Dunverlockie and his own keep, Benleith, and will do whatever is necessary to ensure that happens. Somehow she must keep Dunverlockie out of his hands; if only she could find someone who is not under his thumb who could help. Lachlan Kincaid has returned to Inverness after serving in the military for nearly two decades, seeking to let the truth about his family’s connection with the MacKinnons be known. He lost everything as a child when his father was executed for treason but his father was not alone in his actions – Howard MacKinnon was an accomplice as well but never punished. He takes a job as stable hand at the inn in Glencour near Dunverlockie to determine his plan going forward. Little does he know his plan will become much more complicated than he ever dreamed when he meets the current owner of the castle. Christina finds an ally in Lachlan but to keep them both truly safe will require an agreement she is loath to make, even with such a respectable man. Reluctantly agreeing, she makes demands of her own to keep herself safe from harm, either physical or emotional. But neither of them count on the draw of attraction between them that comes with working together day by day. Danger is still lurking, lying in wait for the opportune moment so Lachlan and Christina will have their greatest challenge yet to face down if they are both to be finally free of the past. As I mentioned before, this story was such a good read. The look into the lives of those who lived in the Highlands and were members of the reputed clans of Scotland was very engaging. I loved the Scottish burr that was in Lachlan’s speech and the way that Ms. Keyes played it off Christina’s plainer, more English speech. The tension that was wrapped through the story regarding Christina and Lachlan was also very well written and gave me plenty of time to hold my breath. I was delightfully frightened for both of them when it came to the attacks to their person and enjoyed every second of those passages. And the swoony romance between Lachlan and Christina was just perfect, making me long to find a Highlander of my own. They both had to learn to love in ways they never expected and it grew them into stronger and better people. I cannot wait to see what will happen in the next story which is focused on Christina’s sister, Elizabeth, and one of the MacKinnon clansmen, Malcolm. I have no doubt it will be just as excellent as this story and will have even more of the snarky comments from Elizabeth that I loved in this book. Well done with this new series, Ms Keyes; it’s definitely a winner!

I received this complimentary ARC E-book from Martha Keyes via BookFunnel 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.

Never Kiss Goodbye by Laura Haley-McNeil – Book Review

Never Kiss Goodbye by Laura Haley-McNeil

Published by Huerfano Press February 23, 2021

Genre: Christian Fiction, Romance, Drama

Pages: 285

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

A cowboy haunted by his past. A woman stalked by a deadly secret.

Pregnant and on the run, Lily Harkin will do anything to protect her unborn child, but no one can know her secret – a secret so horrific it could destroy her and anyone she meets.

Bronc rider Josh Merrick can’t forget the mistake that cost a woman her life. When he finds a frightened, pregnant woman hiding in an abandoned horse trailer, he doesn’t just want to shield her. He sees this as his chance to right the wrong that haunts him day and night.

Josh can’t fight the love he feels for this sweet and gentle woman, but realizes her dark past isn’t far behind. In one terrifying moment, they face a danger that not only reveals a chilling truth, but pulls them into a battle for their lives and a fight against an enemy whose hold on them comes at a price they’d never imagined.

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Story Notes

Laura Haley-McNeil brings readers the eighth in her Crystal Creek series that tells the story of Josh Merrick and the woman on the run he finds and becomes determined to protect.

The tough times we face in life are meant to break and then build us into people that can help others through the same tough times. Josh Merrick is in just such a position once again when he finds the terrified and pregnant Lily Harkin hiding in the back of a horse trailer. Not sure why she is on the run until he gets a good look at her face, bruises marring the beautiful structure. Unsure what else to do, he offers her a place to stay for the time being at his aunt’s ranch, Crystal Creek, until Lily can decide what to do going forward. Lily reluctantly accepts his kind offer, praying Glen won’t find her. But getting Lily to the ranch is the easy part; getting her to stay and accept their help will be a constant battle. As Josh gets to know Lily better and finally hears her story, he become suspicious of the manner of her family’s sudden deaths. Could there be more to the accident that was originally decided? Perhaps if he can find more answers for Lily, she will feel comfortable and safe enough to want to stay. Especially as every day in her presence brings him closer to losing his heart. Lily is afraid to stay on the Ranch with the threat of Glen finding her. She can’t let him hurt anyone else but she won’t go back to him for fear he will kill her baby. Josh and his family have welcomed her in and given her so much but can she really stay here forever? As more is revealed about Glen and her family, Lily will have to make some hard decisions and be brave enough to face her past and it’s demons. Especially if she wants to have a future with Josh. This story was really well done with it’s suspense and it’s intriguing plot lines. I’m not the biggest fan of stories where a married person falls for another but was okay with this one given the situations. Lily had been manipulated into her marriage and was already planning on seeking a divorce to protect herself and her baby so I was less against her and Josh getting together in the story. I loved that Lily was able to find much more than a home at the ranch, she was also able to find justice for her family and a peace in her heart regarding her faith. Josh was able to lay aside the burden of guilt he carried from his past and has a chance to find a new love with Lily. The only issue I had with the book was that it seemed a little rushed in it’s telling of Lily and Josh’s own personal histories. Perhaps this was covered in earlier books but as I haven’t been able to read them yet, I do not know. Otherwise, this story was really nicely written and complete in itself. I will certainly recommend it to others in the hope they will enjoy it as well.

I received this temporary, complimentary E-book free of charge from Huerfano Press via BookFunnel 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.