Book Review: The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson

The Cul-de-Sac War
By Melissa Ferguson
Rating: 4.5/5

Who doesn’t love a good rom-com? This book is pure joy and fun! Having read the author’s previous work, I was excited to jump in and read this new one that casually mentions previous characters. The story can be read as a stand-alone though. 

Bree Leake hasn’t quite found where she fits in career-wise. She’s tried so many different jobs but never quite found one that stuck. After moving away from home, Bree tries her hand at acting in the nation’s oldest live performance theater, The Barter. While she still feels restless, her parents’ offer to give her their part of grandmother’s house if she stays put for one full year is something that she cannot pass up. She loves the house and all the memories. However, her new neighbor might be the one thing that she can’t stand despite his handsome face. Chip McBride is striking out on his own as a contractor and is eager to show that he can make it without being part of his father’s family company. He wants to make a name for himself and remodeling the Barter might just be his ticket to recognition. He also enjoys antagonizing his new next-door neighbor who happens to be an actor there. Bree and Chip won’t stop until it goes too far and they can’t help but constantly be thinking about one another every day. Pranks ensue while these two duke it out.

You won’t stop smiling and laughing throughout this book. There are a couple more serious parts (don’t get me wrong) but the chemistry between the two characters is undeniable and the author portrays their relationship beautifully. I really enjoyed this “enemies-to-lovers” type of romantic comedy and it ends up being an entertaining read full of spunky characters who you may have read about previously.

Highly recommend for those who enjoy romantic comedies.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Book Review & Celebrate Lit Giveaway: To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano

to steal a heart banner (1)

About the Book

Book: To Steal A Heart

Author: Jen Turano

Genre: Comedic Historical Romance

Release Date: November 17, 2020

To Steal a Heart

After spending her childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. Using her old skills to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella unexpectedly encounters Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agrees to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Jen

Named one of the funniest voices in inspirational romance by BooklistJen Turano is a USA Today bestselling author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publishers Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. She and her family live outside of Denver, Colorado.

My Thoughts

To Steal a Heart
by Jen Turano
Book 1 in the Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency series

Wow! I never stop laughing when I read any of Jen Turano’s books. I’m always excited to dig into her world and see what shenanigans her characters are up to. The combination of quirky but strong-willed female characters always makes for entertaining stories that you won’t want to stop reading.

Gabriella “Gabe” Goodhue has not had the easiest life but she is a strong, independent woman living in a boarding house with a job as a seamstress. Having grown up on the streets of the Lower East Side of London, Gabe dressed as a boy and got into trouble with Nicholas Quinn until she got caught and was sent to an orphanage. She’s surprised to see Nicholas again while attempting to break into a safe after thinking he abandoned her all those years ago. This chance meeting has Nicholas floored that Gabe is back in his life and although he’s learned to be a society gentleman, he still wants Gabe to understand what happened. The mysterious Knickerbocker Bandit is still at large and Gabriella is on the case to solve the mystery. Together Gabriella and Nicholas embark on an adventure to discover the truth about their pasts and what it means for their future.

As always, Jen Turano can weave a ridiculously funny story that still has romance, drama, and mystery. Her main characters are lovely and have a past that has made them who they are. I love being part of their journey to find out who they really are and I loved all the other characters too. As a big fan, I’ve read all of Jen Turano’s books and enjoyed reading about places/characters from some of her previous series. The other supporting characters bring much needed intrigue and hilarity to an already fun script.

Highly recommend if you enjoy historical fiction that has humor, romance and mystery.

My thanks to the author and CelebrateLit for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

More from Jen

To Steal a Heart” is the first book in a new series. How did you come up with the idea for this series?

Oddly enough, this series was inspired by a lot of different things. I keep this idea box, and whenever I stumble on something interesting, I throw the idea into the box. When I was getting ready to assemble a proposal for a new series, I took out the box and began rifling through it. Unfortunately, nothing struck my fancy. What did strike my fancy though, was the movie “My Fair Lady.” I’d recently watched it for the millionth time, and I thought…hmmm…what could I do with that? Well, I didn’t want to do a recreation of “My Fair Lady” and that’s when it hit me – what if I used a gentleman instead of a lady and improved his circumstances in life with the help of a professor? That wasn’t really enough, though, for me to formulate an entire series, but then I went to New York City for a research trip. While there, I roamed around Bleecker Street for hours. It was the perfect place to set a series, and then I saw this older building that my tour guide thought might have once been a boardinghouse. That was what really started me thinking, and before I knew it, I’d created an inquiry agency run by women that came about when a resident of a boardinghouse was unjustly accused of theft. When the police would not investigate further, believing they had the true culprit behind bars, the ladies who lived in the boardinghouse felt compelled to step up and clear their fellow boardinghouse resident of the charges brought against her. The series took off from there, the first book centering around one of the lady inquiry agents, Miss Gabriella Goodhue, who used to live on the mean streets of the Lower East Side and, at one point in her life, was best friends with Nicholas Quinn, the man who has now found his circumstances vastly improved from the time he knew Gabriella. Throwing the two of them back together made for an interesting storyline, especially since Gabriella believes Nicholas abandoned her all those years ago, which makes it next to impossible for her to trust him.

Are there other interesting characters in this series?

Of course. All of the lady inquiry agents come with their own secrets. Miss Daphne Beekman is a reclusive author who lives in the attic of the boardinghouse. She has the propensity to faint at the drop of a hat, which makes for a few amusing scenes in the first book. She’ll get her own story in “To Write a Wrong,” coming out later in 2021. Then there’s Eunice Holbrooke. She’s the owner of the boardinghouse, and she only wears full mourning garb, covering her face with numerous veils and refusing to speak to anyone about her past. Clearly, there’s a mystery just waiting to be solved there, one that will be solved in book three, which I’m just now beginning to work on. The other residents of the boardinghouse provide a lot of color to the story, from the two sisters who work as paid companions by day to gossip collectors and carriage drivers by night, to the resident artist, Miss Judith, who has recently decided to dip her toe into the portrait market even though she’s really not proficient with painting people. There’s also a one-eyed, patch-wearing dog by the name of Winston, a parrot that likes to nick sparkly items named Pretty Girl, and a neurotic poodle that falls for Winston that goes by the name of Precious.

Did the pandemic affect the writing process at all for “To Steal a Heart?”

Luckily, I had already turned in the book before the pandemic hit. With that said, though, I then had to do some of the edits during the first few months of the pandemic. That was interesting. I have very specific conditions I need in order to write and edit and having Al (the husband person) working from home isn’t one of those conditions. It took me far longer than it normally does to complete the editing process, which threw off my schedule for the next book in the series, “To Write a Wrong.” Drastic measures were needed. That’s why I’m now the proud owner of a she-shed. Al thought I was joking when I first broached the subject of a she-shed, but after I had my millionth meltdown, he decided that might be a really good idea. Turns out sheds are in high demand at the moment, so getting a shed in a timely fashion wasn’t possible. It took 6 weeks for us to get a shed delivered and then we had to frame the inside and put up a ceiling and walls. I was not actually very involved with that process because I’m a danger to everyone surrounding me when nail guns are being used. 🙂 I did paint the outside of the shed, then painted the inside. Of course the air conditioning unit I had to order was delayed, so I painted in 100 degree heat. Lost about five pounds doing that, so…unexpected bonus there. I just recently finished decorating the inside, and I’m typing this interview from my new space. I’m thinking I’m going to call it “Jen’s Novel Nook” but that might change, so don’t quote me on that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just that I hope everyone is surviving these crazy days. I know there are many people out there who are suffering from many different problems this pandemic has caused. Know that you’re not alone, and that brighter days will show up again. Until that time, try to remember to smile and, perhaps, read a few books.

Wishing all of you the very best!

Jen

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 17

Soulfully Romantic, November 17

Hebrews 12 Endurance, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 17

Robin’s Nest, November 17

Through the Fire Blogs, November 18

The Avid Reader, November 18

Losing the Busyness, November 18

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 18

She Lives To Read, November 19

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 19

Wishful Endings, November 19

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 19

Artistic Nobody, November 20 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

lakesidelivingsite, November 20

21st Century Keeper at Home, November 20

Reviewingbooksplusmore, November 20

The Write Escape, November 20

Older & Smarter?, November 21

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 21

Christian Bookaholic, November 21

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 21

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 22

Mia Reads, November 22

Writing from the Heart Land, November 22

Betti Mace, November 23

Inklings and notions, November 23

Blogging With Carol, November 23

Life of Literature, November 23

Texas Book-aholic, November 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 24

Southern Gal Loves to Read, November 24

Batya’s Bits, November 24

Joanne Markey’s blog, November 24

For Him and My Family, November 25

Inside the Wong Mind, November 25

Mary Hake, November 25

Godly Book Reviews, November 25

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, November 26

EmpowerMoms, November 26

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 26

Novels Corner, November 26

Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 27

Connie’s History Classroom, November 27

Captive Dreams Window, November 27

Book of Ruth Ann, November 27

deb’s Book Review, November 28

Blossoms and Blessings, November 28

Daysong Reflections, November 28

Bigreadersite, November 28

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, November 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 29

Splashes of Joy, November 29

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, November 29

Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Vicky Sluiter, November 30

Pause for Tales, November 30

Spoken from the Heart, November 30

Hallie Reads, November 30

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jen is giving away the grand prize package of copy of To Steal a Heart, plus all three books in the American Heiresses series and a 30 second mystery kit (Link: https://amzn.to/3nqrIpC)!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103a4/to-steal-a-heart-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Here’s my quick review of Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano:

Always love everything by Jen Turano. Her quirky and laugh-out-loud characters always keep me reading to the end. You definitely won’t want the story to end. I highly recommend this book and series. You won’t regret reading this story and won’t be able to stop till you finish. Miss Permilia Griswold is one of my absolute favorite characters. She is everything and more.

My thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Here’s the blurb from the book:

Miss Permilia Griswold, the wallflower behind “The Quill” gossip column, knows everything that goes on in the ballrooms of New York. When she overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Asher Rutherford, she’s determined to warn him. Away from society’s spotlight, Asher and Permilia discover there’s more going on behind the scenes than they anticipated.

Book Review: While It Was Snowing by Tari Faris

While It Was Snowing
by Tari Faris
Book 2.5 in the Restoring Heritage series
Rating: 4/5
Release Date: November 5, 2020

I am a huge fan of Tari Faris and this novella was such a sweet, charming holiday story about two best friends. I highly recommend reading the other books in this series but it is not required.

Growing up without a mother, Danielle “Dan” Fair is a young mechanic working at her father’s garage in Heritage. When Danielle gets pulled into becoming the last minute replacement bridesmaid, she puts on her first dress ever. After a quick makeover, she is walking down the aisle with her hair in curls and hoping that maybe Gideon Mathews, her best friend and secret crush of two years, will start seeing her as a woman and not “just one of the guys”. Of course, Gideon can’t take his eyes off his best friend, but despite being a sought-after bachelor, he’s never been good at talking with the opposite sex. With Gideon trying to forge his own career path and Danielle trying to convince her dad that she’s ready to takeover the business, can the two of them admit their feelings and trust that they deserve their own happily ever after?

I love returning to Heritage. It’s always fun “seeing” characters from other books and getting a life update. I always enjoy Tari Faris’ writing and her characters. They are not perfect. They are flawed and have insecurities just like you and me. They have fears about taking a risk for love. They find it hard to trust and like to avoid conflict.

Don’t hesitate to read this cozy Christmas story!

My thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Book Review & Celebrate Lit Giveaway: Apprentice by Kristen Young

About the Book

Book: Apprentice
Author: Kristen Young
Genre: Christian Science Fiction
Release Date: October 20, 2020

The Love Collective is everywhere.
It sees everything.
Be not afraid.

Apprentice Flick remembers everything, except the first five years of her life. And for as long as she can remember, Flick has wanted to enter the Elite Academy—home to the best, brightest, and most loyal members of the Love Collective government.

Flick’s uncanny memory might get her there, too … even if it is the very thing that marks her as a freak. But frightening hallucinations start intruding into her days and threaten to bring down all she has worked so hard to accomplish. Why is she being hijacked by a stranger’s nightmare over and over again?

Moving to the Elite Academy could give Flick the future she’s always wanted. But her search for truth may lead to a danger she cannot escape.

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Kristen Young is an Aussie children’s and youth worker who always has a notebook on hand to catch ideas for her fiction and non-fiction. She loves hanging out with her family, watching movies with subtitles, and chocolate.

My Review

Apprentice
by Kristen Young
Book 1 in the Collective Underground series
Rating: 4/5

Exciting new dystopian YA adventure from Kristen Young! I’ve never read anything from this author before and was very impressed with her world-building and character development.

Kerr Flick has an amazing memory. She can remember everything she’s heard or seen except for her first five years. Because of her amazing memory and short stature, she’s been the outcast and outsider all her life until she gets the opportunity to go to the Elite Academy. She is determined to be the best of the best. Being a Watcher in the Love Collective is her desire and she will do whatever she can to pass the test to become one…or will she? Apprentice Flick has also been having scary dreams or hallucinations which threaten her goal of becoming a Watcher.

This story is about a young girl trying to find her place in a world where all she wants is to fit in and be accepted. She has insecurities like you and me. She wants to prove her worth. She wants to be the Elite of the Elite. The author weaves a compelling story of finding out who you are that is only just beginning. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

Highly recommend if you enjoy YA dystopian fiction.

My thanks to the author and CelebrateLit for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

More from Kristen

An interview with Kristen Young

Q: How long have you been writing?

I was the kid who used to create little booklets and puzzle magazines for the family. So writing is something that I’ve been doing for a long time. It wasn’t quite publication-worthy back then, but it was fun. I had to practice a little more before people outside my family wanted to see it.

Q: Where do you write?

Anywhere I have access to a laptop or a pen. I have a desk at home where most of the writing happens, but I usually carry a notebook in my bag in case inspiration hits when I’m out. People think I’m a little eccentric when I’m madly scribbling in the middle of the supermarket. But I have to get that scene idea down before I forget!

Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?

Distractions. For me, writing preparation is a little like building a house of cards — that process of getting my thoughts in order and working out the story direction. Distractions are like the gust of wind that knocks the whole construction over. I usually wear noise-cancelling headphones to try and keep me focused on the process.

Q: Where’s your favourite story setting?

I’m still looking for that wardrobe with a door to Narnia.

Q: What’s the first book that made you cry?

I’m not sure if I can share that without giving spoilers! But I’d have to say Charlotte’s Web. When I read that as a child, it had me wrecked for ages.

Q: Have you read anything that totally changed your idea of the way fiction could be written?

There are a couple of books that totally changed my view of fiction. The first was Margaret Atwood’s novel The Blind Assassin. I was totally captivated by the way she mixed newspaper articles and other media with the narrative sections. It was mind-blowing at the time.

Jasper Fforde’s series that started with The Eyre Affair was also pretty amazing. It took a whole pile of literary references and completely messed with them. It was enormous fun.

Q: So why set something in a world called the “Love Collective”?

I like words, and I’m fascinated by the way people often play with them, or even weaponise them. I kind of wanted to explore this word ‘love’ and what it means. In English, we have this one word to refer to so many different kinds of concepts. I wanted to write an exciting story, so it seemed right to have this concept as a backdrop behind the action, where you’re asking, “What does this mean?”

Q: Your main character never forgets anything. Is she like you?

No way. I think Flick’s memory is a bit of wish fulfilment from me. It was so hard writing her, because I forget so many details! In some ways forgetting is protective. But in other ways I’d love to have her memory.

Q: What can we expect in the rest of the Collective Underground Trilogy?

I can’t tell you the whole story, that would ruin the fun. But in the first book, Flick’s world has started really small, and she’s going to broaden her horizons. She’ll get to explore more of this Love Collective. There also might be some more danger, too. Or more love. We’ll see…

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 31
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 1
Blogging With Carol, November 1
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 2
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 2
Texas Book-aholic, November 3
Inklings and notions, November 4
April Hayman, Author, November 4
For Him and My Family, November 5
Locks, Hooks and Books, November 6
deb’s Book Review, November 6
Worthy2Read, November 7
Woven by Words, November 7
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, November 8
Emily Yager, November 9
Artistic Nobody, November 9 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Sara Jane Jacobs, November 10
Simple Harvest Reads, November 11 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Ashley’s Bookshelf, November 11
Adventures of A Travelers Wife, November 12
Through the Fire Blogs, November 12
Splashes of Joy, November 13
Inside the Wong Mind, November 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kristen is giving away the grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/102f1/apprentice-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Curvy Girls Can’t Date Cowboys

Curvy Girls Can’t Date Cowboys
by Kelsie Stelting
Book 3 in the Curvy Girl Club series
Rating: 4.5/5
Release date: October 24, 2020

I’m always so impressed with stories about teenagers that deal with very real situations and emotions. Kelsie Stelting does not shy away from the hard-to-address topics that face teenagers and even grown adults. She has a way of drawing you into the story and making you face your insecurities and misconceptions. I would highly recommend these books for teenage daughters – if I had a teenage daughter, I would definitely have her read this series. I’ve read the other two books. I don’t think it’s necessary to read the other books beforehand but they are just as good and available on Kindle Unlimited – so why not?

Ginger Nash is the resident AV nerd that wishes to have what her friends have found – love and acceptance from a serious boyfriend. She’s had a distant crush on the local cowboy in her video class but never really talked with him. When she finally takes a chance to speak with him, the conversation takes a turn when she mentions working at her parents’ specialty grocery story. Ginger’s parents opened the health food store after Ginger recovered from antibiotic-resistant pneumonia. Ginger’s asthma and breathing treatments are a regular thing for her. Can Ginger find a way to get her overprotective parents to let her go off to UCLA and live in the dorms? Can Ginger find a way to work together with the cowboy for their school video project? What happens when she begins to see what Ray the Cowboy’s life looks like on a ranch?

Ahh. High school. So many feelings. Good or bad. LOL. But the author knows how to pull on the readers’ heartstrings and get the reader fall in love with the main characters. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read through it very fast. Its message is one worth noting. As a medical student, I enjoyed learning about how asthma had changed her life and her family’s life. (Pardon my yelling at her to not forget to her refill). As a creative, I loved seeing the impact her videos had. I definitely know the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into editing short videos. As someone who’s not at her ideal body weight, I’ve felt the insecurities and listened to the lies regarding what is beautiful. I applaud the author for so clearly addressing the issues around our identity that come up even after or maybe because of high school.

PG-13 – highly recommend.

My thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Book Review: Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter

Autumn Skies
By Denise Hunter
Book 3 in the Bluebell Inn Romance series
Rating: 4.5/5
Release date: October 20, 2020

She does it again! It was such an enjoyable experience going back to the Bluebell Inn and hanging out with the Bennett siblings again. I’ve read the previous two books in the series and highly recommend them. However, this book can be read as a standalone.

21-year-old Grace Bennett is ready strike out on her own and expand her business. After helping her siblings start and run a successful inn, the time has come to sell. Grace’s outdoor adventures rental and guide business needs its own location. Focused on her career, Grace doesn’t know what hit her when new guest, Wyatt Jennings, walks in the door to check-in. His gaze is intense but he’s also a bit mysterious since he doesn’t know how long he’ll stay. When Grace offers to help guide him in hiking around the area, two hearts begin their journey of falling in love. Can these two very different people find healing from their tragic pasts? What happens when Wyatt reveals who he is to Grace?

I loved this story so much. It was easy to read and empathize with the main characters. I felt all the panic and terror that occurs with PTSD. Mental health problems are very real and I love when authors can address them in a manner that is non-stigmatizing. The main characters had to fight their way back to health. They had to embrace their insecurities and fears and find resolution for their feelings.

Although this is a Christian romance, it was not at all preachy. Although there’s faith woven throughout and a couple church scenes, I would categorize this book more as inspirational.

And I’m not ashamed to say I might have a crush on Wyatt. (Sigh). 😉

Highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance in a beautiful setting.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Book Review: The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant

The Key to Love
by Betsy St. Amant
Rating: 4/5
Release date: October 13, 2020

I’ve haven’t read many books by Betsy St. Amant, but I did enjoy her contribution to A Year of Weddings so I was excited to have the opportunity to read this gem. I was not disappointed and the author doesn’t skimp on the story which pleasantly surprised me. Although I will say, by reading the title, I was hoping for music inspired theme but alas, the “key” has nothing to do with music but with locks and keys.

Bri Duval is a classic romantic at heart thanks to the beautiful love story her parents demonstrated for her before they tragically passed away. She is a talented baker of Parisian treats at the struggling, local bakery, The Pastry Puff, in Story, Kansas. Her beloved mother taught her everything she knew except for her secret ingredient for the macarons, so Bri is constantly trying to perfect the recipe. Even though Paris’ famous lovelock bridge was taken down, Bri has created her own lovelock wall at her bakery and decides to film the shop’s successful love stories. The video goes viral, and Trek Magazine wants to do a feature on the bakery shop. Gerard Fortier is the man sent to write the article, and he and Bri do not hit it off right away. With a little bit of Elizabeth and Darcy first impressions vibes, the two just don’t seem to get along and only seem to push each other’s buttons. Gerard is a man who doesn’t ever want to put down roots but instead travels the world in search of his next article. He does, however, desire to be promoted so he can write on topics that really matter, so he’s determined to complete this sappy article despite his opinions on love. As Gerard begins to get to know Bri, obstacles to the bakery’s success keep getting in the way. Can Gerard and Bri find a way to come together and find real love?

I really enjoyed the story and loved how it didn’t seem rushed. So many times watching Hallmark movies, I’m always yelling at the screen that the couple have only known each other for a few days. lol. I appreciate the slow burn and snark that occurs between the couple. I appreciate that the concept of what romance and love is is explored. The small town vibes were charming and made me want to go visit (especially since I’m so close to Kansas). My mouth was constantly watering at the desserts, and I was googling where I could find some petit fours and macarons. The struggling bakery also gave me “You’ve Got Mail” vibes, which made me smile.

Highly recommend if you enjoy romantic comedies set in a small town.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Purchase your copy here.

Book Review: The Price of Valor by Susan May Warren

The Price of Valor
by Susan May Warren
Book 3 in the Global Search and Rescue series
Rating: 4.5/5
Release date: October 6, 2020

Susan May Warren never disappoints! If you need some romantic suspense and mystery in your life, read this book! I highly recommend reading the first two books in this series before reading this third one because you’ll understand so much more. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary but you’ll be better acquainted with the characters and the background.

Hamilton Jones and Signe Kincaid grew up as childhood sweethearts but life and their careers took them away from each other. When Ham realizes that his wife is alive and they have a daughter, he knew nothing would stop him from trying to find out the truth. Signe is a CIA operative who’s been in deep cover for years and hopes to save some lives including her daughter’s. Ham is hurt and angry and trying to build a relationship with his daughter who he missed growing up. He desperately wants to believe and forgive Signe for all that she did but he is unsure. Can he trust his wife or will he lose everything he’s sought to protect?

The author has a couple stories going on at once – which is why I recommend reading the other books so you can get more background on the other couple. The story deals with disasters near and far and I always enjoy how everything comes together at the end. The author is so clever in her craft and I can’t wait to read more from her. 

Throughout the book there is a message of faith and forgiveness. Signe feels so much shame for her past and finds it hard to accept forgiveness. She and Ham both have lots of baggage from their pasts and while Ham stayed faithful, Signe had strayed without Ham there to guide her. I can only imagine the psychological ramifications of maintaining a deep cover while keeping oneself relevant and sane. Compartmentalizing becomes your friend. I love when authors deal with real-life issues in an organic way.

I also loved seeing characters from other series that the author has written. That was a lot of fun!

I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of romantic suspense and high stakes espionage.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.

Book Review: Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker

Otherwise Engaged
by Joanna Barker
Rating: 4.5/5
Release date: October 12, 2020

After reading the synopsis for this story, I knew I had to read it and I was right. It was perfect for me and I enjoyed every word! I do not remember if I’ve ever read anything by Joanna Barker before but now she is definitely on my radar. Her writing felt so effortless and organic. The characters were so refreshing and relatable that I couldn’t put the book down.

While secretly practicing her bareback riding, Rebecca Rowley hears a scream and when she investigates, she must save a young girl from drowning in the water. Upon meeting the girl’s older brother and guardian, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery, she is immediately intrigued but also weary since she already has a secret fiancé. Antics ensue and this lovely friendship develops between Rebecca and Nicholas especially after she shares with him of her secret beaux and her fears about her father’s past. Can Rebecca discover what’s really in her heart before the Lieutenant finds himself back out at sea?

This story was like a Rom-Com but set in regency times. I do love this time period – obviously, I love Jane Austen. The exhilaration and freedom that Rebecca craves is so relatable. That adrenaline rush is addicting, and I can definitely see how all the rules of society would feel so oppressive to her. I loved Nicholas Avery’s character because as a Navy man, he also had that wanderlust. He encouraged it in Rebecca instead of stifling her spirit. I like to think the Nicholas knew Rebecca before she even knew herself.

Though the genre is Christian, I did not feel that it was trying to preach at all. I would almost not even classify it as Christian. It is clean, wholesome romance. The characters attend church but Rebecca actually doesn’t find it very interesting. The message is somewhat inspirational though and I enjoyed the story.

All in all, I highly recommend this book for fall reading if you enjoy regency romance with lots of humor and a hint of mystery.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of the book. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. No positive review was expected and no compensation received.