Book Talk Tuesday: THEN CAME YOU

My first Susan May Warren book was NOTHING BUT TROUBLE, featuring PJ Sugar, a heroine I fell in love with from the first line. The man from her past, Boone Buckram, was swoon-worthy, but they were not to be. PJ ended up with someone else.

THEN CAME YOU is Boone on vacation in Deep Haven, where he runs into Vivien Calhoun. We first met Vivien in CRAZY FOR YOU, Peter and Ronnie’s story. I love how these books cross over, but each stand alone.

Each time I open a Deep Haven book, I smile, because I know I’m in for a great story, with relatable characters, in a setting that feels as welcoming as cool sand and water on a hot day.

THEN CAME YOU, by Susan May Warren and Rachel D. Russell, met all my expectations, and then some.

The first line grabbed me: Vivien Calhoun needed a man within the next five minutes.

How can you not keep reading after that? (I’m noticing a trend here. I’m not becoming a first line snob. I promise I give books more than one line to hook me!)

Boone has been put on mandatory vacation status with the Kellogg Police Department after an incident. He picks Deep Haven for his retreat, finds a lakeside cabin, checks-in with the required therapist, and prepares to–if not enjoy, then endure–his break.

Until he meets Vivie his first morning in town. He rescues the vivacious brunette from a situation, then ends up a parade through Deep Haven. Before you can say, Lake Superior, Boone is drawn to Vivie, wanting to help her with her situation, then her amateur theatre group. But after each step closer, Vivie pulls away.

Vivien returned to Deep Haven from New York, determined not to look back. But someone won’t let her go that easily. She can’t let Boone get close, she can’t risk hurting anyone.

Warren and Russell have written another winner entry in the Deep Haven collection. I loved it and can’t wait for the next one!


I received a free advance copy of this book, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE SUNDAY VAN CLUB

This book chronicles the impact one woman had on nine young girls. Dot Powell was their elementary school principal. When she retired, the girls, daughters of Hmong immigrants, formed the Sunday Van Club. With the blessing of their parents, Dot would pick them up, take them to church and on various outings, exposing them to experiences and memories that broadened their educations and lives. Each chapter focuses on a different girl, now a young woman. Dot shares a memory, the young woman also shares a memory or how Dot influenced her. All the young women have pursued higher education. Many are teachers now. This book will never let you question the impact one person can have. The answer is plain: Life changing. Dot Powell changed nine lives with The Sunday Van Club.

I’ve had the privilege to witness Dot and her girls together. Their love and respect for each other is apparent. I met them as young women, always ready to help Dot, to laugh, to support each other. They are special and Dot’s mentoring made a difference.

I loved this book and highly recommend it!


I received an advance copy of The Sunday Van Club, but this did not induce me to review it favorably or not.

I honestly loved it!

Book Talk Tuesday: Once Upon a Royal Summer

ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMER by Teri Wilson is as lovely and sweet and charming as if you combined a fairy tale, Hallmark, and cotton candy. Which is what Wilson and Hallmark Publishers did. With a dash of Disney, sans naming Disney or anything close to copyright infringement.

Lacey Pope is a theme park princess, Princess Sweet Pea. She loves her job. She loves making children happy. She loves being part of a real-life fairy tale. Her fiance’ though, isn’t a fan, and is eager for her to move on to her “real” career. This is one reason they realize they aren’t right for each other and break it off. Lacey wonders why she isn’t more devastated.

Henry is a single dad to Rose. He also happens to be the crown prince of Bella-Moritz, a small kingdom off the south of France. He brings his young daughter to Lacey’s theme park for Rose’s 7th birthday. Rose falls in love with Princess Sweet Pea. As Henry and Lacey spend more time together, their attraction grows. But how can a fairy tale princess and a real life prince have a happily ever after.

Obviously, if you’re a romance lover, you know they’ll find a way.

This is a fun book, perfect for a day at the beach or by the pool. I enjoyed it and recommend it.


I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher, but that did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: SOUTH BEACH LOVE

This fun book is best read along with a Cuban cookbook. As I was almost done, I told my husband it was making me hungry for a Cubano sandwich. He promptly volunteered to make one for me. So our Memorial Day meal was Cuban sandwiches, with chips and potato salad. Maybe not your typical Memorial Day celebration, but it was delicious!

Tony grew up in Little Havana in Miami, but it’s been several years since he’s been home. He’s a big time chef in New York City now, with a hit restaurant. Yes, he’s burnt out from the paperwork and business of running a restaurant, and he doesn’t get to cook like he used to, but that’s the price he’s willing to pay for the acclaim and success. When his sister calls and asks him to come home to help with the menu planning for his niece’s quinceanera (15th birthday celebration), he’s not sure he can leave the restaurant for that long. But he agrees. He could use the break and he hasn’t been home for too long.

Sara Kelly is Tony’s best friend’s younger sister and she has a restaurant in Miami. She had a crush on Tony when she was a teenager, but she’s over that now. Her restaurant specializes in upscale twists on comfort food and is crowded every night. Her niece is also turning 15, and Sara’s sister-in-law asks Sara to help plan the menu.

Tony visits Sara’s restaurant and is impressed with both the food, and his friend’s all-grown-up sister.

Everything would be headed to a happily-ever-after, except for a reporter. She’s assigned to write a story about the resurgence of quinceaneras among the Cuban population of Miami. When she hears that two acclaimed chefs are handling the two menus, she sees her angle. She deliberately baits Sara and Tony, putting them in competition with each other. She will only feature one chef in her article. Both of them need the exposure and publicity the article will garner. Tony wants to open a new restaurant in Miami, so he can return more often, maybe even move back, closer to family and Sara. Sara wants to open a second restaurant. She trains women who need job skills to work in her kitchen. With another restaurant, she can help more women and ease the crowding at the first restaurant.

Since this is a Hallmark Publishing book, of course, Tony and Sara are able to work out the competition and their relationship. This book was a bit of a departure for Hallmark, in that Cuban and Latin culture, language and food were all featured predominantly. It wasn’t just white people in a white town baking white cake (no offense to people who like white cake–I love it!) But it was refreshing to read about a different culture. And remind me how delicious picadillo and porchetta are. Not to mention that Cubano sandwich.

This was a fun book and I highly recommend it.


I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher, but that did not induce me to review it, either favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: THE STEPSISTERS

Susan Mallery is one of my writing examples. She puts out excellent books regularly. She keeps in contact with her readers. She writes stories that touch the heart. And her newest, THE STEPSISTERS, is another wonderful example of her women’s fiction.

Daisy and Sage were stepsisters, once upon a time, when Daisy’s father was married to Sage’s mother. Daisy and Sage share a half-sister, Cassidy. Now they’re all grown up and haven’t seen each other in years and are perfectly fine with that.

But when Cassidy needs help, Daisy and Sage agree to put the past behind them and focus on their sister. They’re all three surprised to learn that things they thought they knew about the past, and each other, may not be the whole truth. When a thoughtless and selfish act threatens their newfound friendship, they must decide if their family is worth fighting for.

While I don’t have stepsisters (or brothers), I do have half-siblings, though we were always treated as full members of the same family. Family dynamics can be tricky to navigate and Mallery shows that so well in THE STEPSISTERS.

I enjoyed this one a lot and highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was not induced to review it, favorably or not.