Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Review: One Enchanted Eve


" . . . It's that any control I've ever thought I had is flimsy and fake.  A false comfort when what I really need is to learn to trust a God who offers something better than answers . . . . Hope."  - Drew Renwyke

Description:

After years of mistakes and regret, Colin Renwycke finally has a plan: Hone his baking talent at the Denver Culinary Institute and embark on a new career as a pastry chef. If he's lucky, he might even manage to earn back his family's respect. But despite his skills in the kitchen, Colin's a mess in the classroom and his ongoing disasters are proving too much for his prickly instructor. If he loses his spot at the school, he's out of backup plans.

Culinary school instructor Rylan Jefferson has the chance to reclaim her dream of running her own bakery. But she only has until Christmas Eve to come up with the perfect recipe to impress an eccentric investor. She has no time for holiday parties or family plans . . . and especially not for the unruly student baker who couldn't follow a recipe if his life depended on it.

But Colin has the one ingredient Rylan needs most—talent. Lots of it. And when he makes a proposal that just might solve both their problems, Rylan can't say no—even if it does mean traveling all the way to Iowa. It just might be that the snow-covered plains and a charming small town full of postcard Christmas cheer are exactly what her hungry heart needs . . . along with a man who is much more than he seems.





About the Author:
Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She writes romantic comedies in the banter-filled style of her favorite 1930s and 40s classic films. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named by Publishers Weekly to their spring 2016 "Religion and Spirituality" Top 10 list. When she's not writing she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.



My Review: 5 stars
If you’ve had the pleasure of reading One Enchanted Christmas, then you will probably remember Colin Renwycke, the hero for this story.  I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book and another chance to return to Maple Valley and the unique cast of characters therein.  Colin is the prodigal brother and as this story starts out, we find him in the middle of yet another mess and trying to charm his way out of it, as always.  Only this time he contends with Rylan Jefferson, who doesn’t really have anything to lose by kicking him out of her cooking class.  Except that is, the extra work his “experiments” bring.  Can you say “sparks”?  I love how Ms. Tagg starts her books off with with something funny/embarrassing and just keeps it going from there.  I found myself smiling or laughing so often that I was probably getting a few strange looks, but was too engrossed to notice.
Ms. Tagg’s writing is excellent, as always.  I actually think I’m kind of running out of things to say on this, because I’m sure I’ve covered everything over my previous reviews.  Anyhoo, her descriptions drew me right into the story and I loved how she brought everything to such colorful life.  I could almost imagine being part of the the kooky town snowman building contest and seeing the lights twinkling on the bridge (courtesy of the cover) and going sledding and walking into The Red Door for coffee with Rylan.  I love this fictional town Ms. Tagg has created and always jump at any chance to visit again.
With Colin being the “prodigal brother” there are obviously several issues there and I really appreciated how the author handled them with a care that isn’t always seen in novellas.  She also tackles the incredibly difficult topic of having a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, something that made my heart break for them.   For Rylan, her story focuses on stepping outside of her comfort zone and taking chances - with cooking, but also with life.  I really enjoyed watching this theme play out through the story and seeing her learn what it means to be all in.  And also the audacious things Colin talks her into that adds another level of fun to the story.  I loved taking this Christmas trip with them and am sure I’ll join them again soon.
I highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance filled with humor and characters you can’t help but love.


Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you enjoyed my review!  Oh, and I have to share that One Enchanted Eve is presently one sale for only $.99 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (and probably IBooks or whatever Apple's reading app is called)!  So, if you haven't had the opportunity to read any of Melissa's books yet, now's your chance!  Oh, and if you haven't read One Enchanted Christmas (the first novella in this collection) it's also only $0.99!  You can find the links for both books below.  :)
Have a delightful day!

One Enchanted Christmas (book 1):


One Enchanted Eve (book 2):








Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Review: Finding Margo


If you need something to laugh about, I highly recommend this book!

Description:
International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions. . .the kinds that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

 

About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Jen Turano writes contemporary and historical romances with quirky characters and unusual storylines. She is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in Clothing and Textiles. Just outside Denver, Colorado, Jen and her husband live as empty-nesters, and they do so fabulously. Contact Jen at www.jenturano.com.








My Review: 5 stars
After giving it some thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that Finding Margo is in a genre all its own. It’s contemporary, with mystery, suspense, a bit of Amish, some romance, and a lot of laughter inducing moments! If you’ve read any of Ms. Turano’s other books, you’ll probably know what I’m talking about. I’m a huge fan of her historical books, so of course, I had to read this one. I’m always curious when authors write different genres: wondering how it’ll work out, if I’ll find I prefer one genre over the other, if their writing style will change much . . . and I can happily say that I very much enjoyed this book! I was a little leery when I realized it had an Amish focus, being that I’m not into Amish fiction at all, but it actually doesn’t linger much on that side of the story. So if you’re going into this book expecting Amish fiction, you may find yourself disappointed, or you may find yourself laughing too much to really care that it wasn’t what you had expected. Ms. Turano is always my go-to author when I need a laugh, something to brighten a dreary day and this story is definitely no exception to that rule. It’s full of her trademark humor and quirky characters, along with suspense and a mystery to keep me wondering what will happen next!

As expected, the author did an excellent job with the details and descriptions and I was quickly swept away into an odd town, filled with unusual characters and an old mystery waiting for someone to solve it. I was so excited to start this book and discover that Ms. Turano hadn’t changed her writing style from her historical novels in the least! She pokes a bit of fun at her own writing style a time or two, with the slightly more proper and sometimes unusual word choices. Her writing cracks me up and I found myself laughing so often at the dialogue, or how she chose to describe something, or the quirky habits of her characters, or a myriad of other things. One of my favorite things about this story was the mystery. It’s fairly rare that I find a book that leaves me stumped, but this one did just that! I found myself rushing through the story, wanting to know what disaster would befall them next, and I had not a clue who the villain was and was as surprised as the characters when it was revealed. I’m so looking forward to reading the next book, especially after the bit of a cliffhanger that left me simultaneously smiling with anticipation for the second book and groaning at the knowledge I’d have to wait a while to find out what happens next.

Margo and Brock are both definitely unique characters, along with the host of other curious people spending time in the town of Millersburg. I loved getting to know both of them, amidst the chaos of everything going on. Brock is definitely swoon-worthy, as Margo first notes, and she is . . . . something else. They both kept me in stitches, particularly Margo with her newfound “pet” and odd way of looking at things. Brock is definitely the more serious of the two and he grounds Margo well, a foundation she needed with her life in a whirlwind. I really appreciated how Ms. Turano handled their relationship, with the swift pace of the story. It didn’t overwhelm the mystery and didn’t end with an unrealistic declaration of undying love. I loved the quiet, sweet moments they shared and the promise of something more at the end. They were a little cheesy a times, but very smile-worthy.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with a genre identity crisis, but that is full of laughter, an intriguing mystery, and very unique characters.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!  In case you missed it from my blathering, I so enjoyed this story!  If you'd like to learn more about it, or maybe purchase a copy, there are links below!
Depending on when you read this, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends, and laughter!  If it's after that, I wish you the same for any day.

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book


Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Review: Giver of Wonders, plus giveaway!



"But when faith is easy, it loses its potency." - Nikolaos

Description:
A miracle once saved her life ~ will another give her a future?

Cyprus was little more than a child when a fall left her paralyzed...and when the boy known as the wonder-worker healed her. Ever since, she has wondered why the Lord spared her, what he has in store for her. But her pagan father thinks she was spared solely so she could be introduced to the wealthy wonder-worker, Nikolaos.

Nikolaos has never questioned that his call in life is to dedicate himself to the church and to God. Never, that is, until he and his cousin Petros meet the compelling Cyprus Visibullis. For years he struggles with the feelings she inspires...and with the sure knowledge that Petros loves her too.

Petros knows he will never be good enough for Cyprus's father to consider him as a match for his favorite daughter not as long as Nikolaos is there. But when tragedy strikes the Visibullis family, he will do anything to save his beloved. Unfortunately, his beloved is determined to do anything to save her sisters ~ even at the cost of herself.

As the festival of lights bathes their Greek city in beauty, Cyprus, Petros, and Nikolaos celebrate the miracle of their Savior s birth together one last time. And in remembrance of their Lord's greatest gift, one of them will make the ultimate sacrifice for the others...and a centuries-long tradition will be born.



About the Author:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com







My Review: 5 stars!
I should probably start this review with the usual disclaimer that I am not really a Christmas person. I know, right? Don’t worry, you can lynch me later. Anyway, that being said, I absolutely loved this book! I was so curious to read it for several reasons, the main one being that it sounded like such an unusual take on a Christmas story. I’m already a huge fan of Ms. White’s so I couldn’t resist giving it a go, and I’m so glad that I did! This honestly may be my all time favorite Christmas novel! It is so well written and I loved the unique historical take on a person that has become so prominent in our culture. I also appreciated the historical note at the end, telling the known facts and what was added for effect or was creative license.

Ms. White really outdid herself this time! The writing and details of this story were fantastic! Her stories always draw me in right away and this one definitely wasn’t the exception! I didn’t want to put it down and read it very quickly. I greatly appreciated all of the historical details and it’s very obvious the amount of research she put into making the story accurate. It’s often the minute details that bring a story to life and that is very true of this one. I also enjoyed how she added explanations in a way that seemed natural and not at all like reading a history textbook. Her descriptions are excellent and I loved being transported to early Lycia; learning about the culture and getting to know the Visibullis family.

Cyprus Visibullis is the main heroine of this story, though her sisters play huge roles, as well. I enjoyed getting to know the three sisters, both through Cyprus’ eyes and the eyes of Nikolaos and Petros. Each of the characters seemed to climb right off the pages and into my world. They were so realistic and so well written. Their emotions were almost palpable at times and I quickly fell in love with them. Much of the story focuses on the sisters working to preserve their home and family, and the faith and strength they show is challenging. I often felt as though I was right there with them, fighting to survive and rise again from the sorrow and doubt pulling against them. Nik and Petros were excellent heroes for this story and I enjoyed the connection between them, how they used one another as sounding boards and spoke of everything.
This story is filled with Biblical references and faith matters, many of which challenged and encouraged me, something I always love to find in a fiction novel. I enjoyed getting to see Christmas from the perspective of early Christians and learning how some of our traditions came about. This was possibly my favorite part of the story, because it gave me a new appreciation for a holiday that I often find myself dreading. I needed the reminder that it is about so much more than gifts and treats. I found myself in great need of a reality check and this story does that. It takes the story of Jesus’ birth back to the very basics and I loved that. The joy shown in times of trial and the simple reminder of faith is excellent for Christmas, but also for the entire year. This story was definitely a grand adventure that I’m intending to take several more times.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction that takes an old story and breathes new life into it. 



Thank you so much if you took the time to read my review!  If not, then that's okay, too.  I can't really blame you for scrolling to the bottom first, since I do it all the time. :)

I enjoyed this book so much that I want to share an ebook copy of it with someone!  An early Christmas gift, if you like.  There should be a Rafflecopter form below with all the details you'll need to enter.  The giveaway will be open until midnight, November 12th, so be sure to enter and then watch your inbox on the 13th for an email naming you the winner!  

And, if you're impatient, or would prefer to own a paper copy of this book, there's a purchase link below (as far as I'm aware, Amazon is the only place to buy a copy right now). 
Have a fantabulous day!

Amazon 


 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Review: A Lady Unrivaled


"The rest of the world is filled to bursting with ill-tempered people.  It's my solemn duty not to be one of them."  - Ella Myerston

Description:
Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won't wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won't budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those intent on destroying them all?



About the Author:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.roseannamwhite.com.






My Review: 4.5 stars
I always have mixed emotions regarding the final book in a series: I want to rush through the story to find how everything ends, but I also want to savor it, because I know with the turn of the last page that I’ll be wishing my fictional friends “farewell.” I rarely actually manage the “savor it” part and this book is no exception - I flew right through it and loved every moment! I’ve been anxiously awaiting this story since learning it was to be Ella’s book, especially after getting to know her better in The Reluctant Duchess. The addition of Cayton was just an added benefit, though I did love seeing his character growing and changing from the first book.

Ms. White has quickly become one of my favorite historical authors and I have to say that one of my very favorite things about her books is how she brings each page to life. Her words engage every sense until I can almost feel the chill in the air, or see the gardens about to bloom, or inhale the musty library scent. Her characters are also as colorful and vivid, until I almost felt as though I could sit and have tea with Ella and Brook, or join Cayton in the nursery to see little Addie. I also loved getting to spend time with the characters from the past books, while getting to know the main characters even better. I do have to brag on Ms. White’s mystery writing skills, as well! There are few things I enjoy more than a historical romance with a side of mystery and suspense and this book is definitely on the list to be read again! I appreciated how she tied everything into the previous books, while also adding new elements that kept me guessing what might be happening next. There was one particular character that I found a little creepy, though I’m pretty sure that was the point. The only time I could’ve done with a little less description was in regards to this villain, though happily the book never came from their perspective.

I’m caught in a debate as to which heroine in this series has been my favorite, and while I really don’t think I can choose, since I’ve loved them all, Lady Ella Myerston is definitely outstanding! The sister to Brice in the previous book, she’s often thought to be na├»ve or foolish because of her perpetually happy outlook on life and I simply fell in love with her! She is so joyful and one of those characters that just makes me smile! I loved getting to know her and immensely enjoyed her spunky personality and quick wit, as well as getting to see behind her glowing exterior to learn that she does have bad days and fears, but she chooses to smile rather than spend the day crabby. One of my favorite lines in this book from Ella, “The rest of the world is filled to bursting with ill-tempered people. It’s my solemn duty not to be one of them.” I found that quote summed her up rather well.

I also quite liked Lord Cayton, despite his past mistakes. He’s been something of a prodigal for the previous books (probably part of the reason I like him) and I so enjoyed seeing his transformation. He tries so hard to not been that person any longer, that he sometimes misses the obvious - that he isn’t. I loved seeing him grow and finally learn that he is redeemed. And Ella is the perfect foil for his occasionally gloomy demeanor. I completely enjoyed their banter and how Ella pulls him out of his comfort zone and makes him laugh. I loved the little things that became special for them - the quirky comments that made me laugh along with them, the random things that would pop back up and become a running joke. For all of the heaviness of the tale, I loved the light moments sprinkled within that would bring a quick grin to my face.

Honestly, I have only one negative comment to share and that’s the fact that I wanted the ending to be drawn out a little longer. This is partially my desire for the book not to end, but also partially that I found the final chapters just a tad rushed. Everything played out so quickly that I found myself scrambling a bit to keep up with where everyone was and what was happening. But, I did really appreciate how all of the loose threads found their way back and were neatly tied up, with a final page that left me sighing and wishing it wasn’t over, yet.


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my review (I know, it's lengthy)!  I hope you enjoyed it and I have to say that I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical romance mixed with suspense and mystery (which is personally one of my favorite combinations)!
If you'd like to learn more about the book, links are below, as always!
Have a delightful day!

Amazon   

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book


P.S. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for a giveaway of Roseanna's new Christmas novel!