Monday, April 13, 2015

From the Start by Melissa Tagg

From the Start

I love how Melissa’s sense of humor flows into her work. And even though this was a football story, I still enjoyed it. *wink* 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn't kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays...until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend's hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he's lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he's never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it's like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn't part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that's ever happened to them?

And now, my review:

Melissa has a knack for creating characters who are both heroic and flawed. The hero has stepped into a small town where he’ll help our heroine’s family following a natural disaster. He’s not obligated or compensated, but he’s helping. And he’s hiding a crippling secret. Seems God brought him to this small town to help him heal.

Our heroine needs a financial breakthrough. Working on the hero’s book should help. But is her dream her own? Or a projected dream?  She’s still healing too.  I loved that she’s a writer. She enjoys old movies and penning screenplays. I related with her.

These two had great chemistry, but not overdone. This line from her POV about him: “Eyes so ridiculously blue-green the Pacific might as well give up.” (ARC version.) Yum! And of course, great banter. How does Melissa do it?

I’m already looking forward to her next book. Love her writing and this new series!

I highly recommend this author!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

Three Little Words by Melissa Tagg

I love Melissa Tagg’s voice! Keep reading for a surprise later in this post. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

Ava Kingsley and Seth Walker might be the most unlikely friends ever. The only thing these two polar opposites have in common is a knack for wordsmithing. Back in college, they were known for their written sparring in the campus newspaper's popular "He Says/She Says" column.

At their ten-year college reunion, they pick up right where they left off. Except this time their squabbling leads to a surprising turn: friendship and a year-long exchange of emails. So when Ava approaches a crossroads in her athletics department career in Minnesota, Seth is quick to offer the open apartment above the restaurant he's been remodeling in Maple Valley, Iowa.

Ava doesn't know where her career will lead her next, but she's starting to suspect she might see Seth as more than a pen pal. Which would be exciting...except for the fact that he only sees her as a friend.

As Maple Valley grows on her, Ava wonders if there might be something here for her even though Seth is unavailable. And maybe, just maybe, after all the words the two of them have exchanged over the years, they'll finally be able to say the three that matter most.

Three Little Words is an e-only novella that gives an exciting introduction to Melissa Tagg's new series about the charismatic Walker family and the endearing town of Maple Valley!

And now, my review:

I enjoy Melissa writing. In fact, I’m currently reading her latest, which released today. So, when this novella popped up between the last title and the current title, I grabbed it from Amazon. 

She excels at heroine-hero banter. Loved Ava’s and Seth’s fights. This is a reunion romance, which is one of my favorites because the characters have a history that unfolds for the reader. Watching from the outside, in each of their POVs, you’d think there was no way these two were meant to share those "three little words" with each other. Throw in some humor and character likability, and you have a fun read.

GREAT NEWS: as of this writing (and I don’t know for how long) this novella e-book is FREE at Amazon! 


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren

Always on My Mind by Susan May Warren


I’ve been long awaiting for his story. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

Let’s begin with the summary:

After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

Heartbroken, especially when he discovers the identity of the baby’s father, Casper tables his dreams and determines to be dependable for once, helping his older brother, Darek, prepare the family resort for its grand reopening. Casper longs to be the hero of at least one family story, but a never-ending Deep Haven winter and costly repairs threaten their efforts—and the future of the resort.

Worse, one of Casper’s new jobs constantly brings him into contact with Raina, whom he can’t seem to forget. A tentative friendship begins to heal fresh wounds, but can they possibly overcome past mistakes and current choices to discover a future together?

And now, my review:

Casper is a middle child. The characterization was so well written, I wondered if Susan was a middle child. I saw that she mentioned in the acknowledgements about her own middle child. Casper feels overlooked and aspires to an unusual job with a potentially high payoff—both in terms of what he might discover, but also in terms of profile. He’s a treasure hunter. Susan uses this as clever symbolism since he finds treasure in our heroine.

Raina doesn’t believe she’s worth much, and she makes poor choices to keep confirming that self-assumption. So relatable! I think every reader can relate because we’ve either done that (fulfilled our own self-estimation) or seen others do it, and sometimes to our detriment.This was a wise story element that the author didn't push or preach about. She let us draw our own conclusions and consider our own solutions.

Casper is a sensitive soul. He’s been wounded. His self-perception is that he can’t overcome. So at times in his history, he has run away from the struggles he faces. But for Raina, this time, he’ll stay and pray for her, supporting her at whatever level she'll let him.

These Christiansen novels remind me of Karen Kingsbury’s Baxter family series. The difference, I’ve found, is the layered characterization. Susan’s characters are complex and diverse. She sets a standard of great characterization, which is her trademark.

We care about these fictional people and get to revisit them in each story, without losing touch with the central characters. I also enjoy guessing the subject of the next book. Looking forward to it! We have some story threads to continue... 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: How to Catch a Prince by Rachel Hauck

How to Catch a Prince

It's release day for the final book in Rachel's great Royal Wedding series. Loved this series! (Once Upon a Prince, and Princess Ever After were the two earlier novels).

Let's begin with the summary for How to Catch a Prince:

An American heiress and a crown prince seem destined to be together. Will the devastation of war keep them apart forever?

American heiress Corina Del Rey caught her prince once. But the tragedy of war kept her too long in a fog of grief. Now she’s shifting her life forward, reigniting her career as a journalist. Still, nothing can relieve her of the secret and the love she carries in her soul. 

Prince Stephen of Brighton is one of the world’s most eligible bachelors and a star rugby player, trying to make sense of his life. His days in Afghanistan with the Royal Air Command will mark him forever. And he can’t shake their dark shadow.

But when his brother, King Nathaniel, confronts him with a document the prince thought long buried and forgotten, Stephen is forced to face the pain of his past and the love he left behind. 

With a little heavenly help, Prince Stephen and Corina embark on a journey of truth. But when the secrets are revealed, can they overcome, move forward, and find love again? 
And now, my review:

This story takes us back to the kingdom of Brighton—a beloved place, at least to this reader.
The story was unpredictable in many ways. Here are two people, married to each other, will they reconcile? Will they reunite? 

As with other Rachel Hauck novels, there were great supernatural elements. I like how creative she is with these and love that she includes them. She also includes the messages of God’s love and generosity. That theme—the way He prepared a place for the heroine in this story—really spoke to me because it was both personal and supernatural. And extravagant—fit for a princess. The beautiful picture of a humble and wealthy king blessing the object of his affections.

One of the themes is “love well.” I like how Rachel makes us think about this directive and try to interpret and define it for ourselves, (at least I did), as we read. 

Rachel wasn’t afraid to include real issues, like PTSD and problems faced by survivors. I thought those issues were well-handled. 

This wasn’t a rags-to-riches story, yet folks who’ve never had millions will relate. These characters were flawed, yet respectable. I was annoyed a couple of times with the prince as he lost the heroine in the crowd. Not so noble. But he was likable otherwise, so I forgave him. (grin)

Took me a while to get into this story since they were already married (sort of a reverse romance), and their attraction didn’t quite keep me hooked as it seemed too one-sided. But I think there’s a message in that too, as God’s pursuit and unconditional love for us can be all One-sided (in His favor) as it was in the heroine’s here. And once I was hooked I read through.  

I love Rachel’s books and look forward to her next novel!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Brentwood's Ward by Michelle Griep

New Release by Barbour Publishing January 1, 2015

Let’s begin with the summary:

Place an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge.

And now, my review:

This well-written story hooked me from the first pages. The romance drew me in, as did the intrigue. I liked how the author mixed genres, in a sense, to give us this story. 

There were plenty of plot twists. And her writing voice? Fantastic. She employed fresh prose, and I laughed aloud a few times. 

I recently hosted this author on my co-hosted writers’ blog. Her article held such a strong writing voice, I decided to set aside other books and read this ARC for review. I’m glad I did. Sometimes I take breaks from reading novels to check out others, then come back. I didn’t with this title—I had to read straight through. I love when that happens. 

Not only is her prose very strong, but she crafted strong characters and used skillfully layered plot elements. I found deep, true emotion throughout. 

Honestly, one of my favorite reads in a long time. 

Highly recommended!