Book Talk Tuesday: The Engagement Plot

I’m working on a trilogy of novellas set on reality dating shows, so when The Engagement Plot appeared on my radar, I decided to request a review copy.

I’m glad I did.

EngagementPlot

Hanna is a charming heroine and Will is an appealing hero. The story begins after they meet and get engaged on a show call The Price of Love. Hanna is a Christian and she kept her virtue and values front and center during the show which ended with Will on one knee and offering her a ring. During the airing of the finale Will said something that caused Hanna to break off the engagement.

We catch up with them about eight months after the show’s finale when Will arrives at Hanna’s Minnesota home to apologize. Her first inclination is to throw him back into the blizzard, but as they spend a few days together, they see a way to save both her reputation and his job, so the engagement plot is on.

Overall, I enjoyed this a lot and it kept me turning the page. It is definitely a Christian romance, but the faith elements rise organically from the characters.

Hanna and Will each had their own reasons for going on the show, for ending the engagement, and for concocting the new engagement plot. I have a few quibbles with some plot points, but they didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

The Engagement Plot is a fun and charming story of romance, second chances, and true love persevering against all odds. I recommend it!


I received an advance copy of The Engagement Plot in return for an honest review.

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Book Talk on a Thursday

It’s no surprise to any regular readers here that I adore Susan Mallery and her books. I just finished SECOND CHANCE GIRL, the second novel in Mallery’s new Happily Inc series.

book-cover-second-chanceCarol is the animal preserve keeper. Yes, Happily Inc, set in the desert of Southern California, has a wild animal preserve. And Carol takes care of the animals. She’s particularly concerned with Millie, the giraffe. Giraffes are herd animals and Millie is lonely. Carol starts a fund-raising program in town to purchase more giraffes.

Matthias Mitchell is the fourth of the five Mitchell guys to get his story. He’s a ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ type of guy. Who’s incredibly good looking and Carol is crushing on. He’s also a talented glass artist who creates plates and vases instead of the sculptures he’s capable of and that his father and brother are known for.

Carol believes she’s nothing special, so she’s reluctant to put her heart on the line for Matthias. Matthias knows he’s avoiding the hurt and obsession he’s observed in his parents’ marriage.

There’s also a subplot involving Carol’s sister, Violet, and a dashing English duke.

Because this is a Mallery romance and because the name of the town is literally Happily, you know how things turn out. But what I love about Mallery is that her characters are real people and they respond to their situations like real people.

I’m not a desert person, so I don’t love the location of Happily Inc as much as I loved Fool’s Gold, but I understand it was time to move on.

As usual in many of Mallery’s books, there’s an adorable pet. Matthias ends up taking care of his mom’s beagle, Sophie, for most of the book. She gets into trouble and generally ends up leaving a trail of mayhem behind.

SECOND CHANCE GIRL is a charming and fun romance and I’m eager for more from Susan Mallery.


I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. Done and done!

Book Talk Tuesday: YOU SAY IT FIRST

Finally! It’s summertime and the reading is light and funny.

Susan Mallery’s usual summer offering of a trio of Fool’s Gold books has arrived.

Well, sort of.

Okay, not at all.

Mallery released a women’s fiction story earlier this summer. (I loved it!)

And at last, one of my favorite small town writers has released a new, small town, fun, light romance novel. So ignore the calendar, it may be mid-August, but summer is now officially here.

cover-you-say-it-firstYOU SAY IT FIRST is the first of Mallery’s new Happily Inc stories. Happily Inc is a small town in the desert of southern California. It’s a wedding destination town and many of the local businesses cater to the wedding industry.

Pallas Saunders inherited Weddings In a Box from her former boss and the original owner. Although Pallas had planned to go into the family banking business, she finds she enjoys the wedding planning and is touched by the generosity of Gerald, who willed her the business. She wonders what she did to earn Gerald’s love and trust.

Nick Mitchell (a familiar character to Fool’s Gold fans) has recently moved to town to be further away from his father closer to his two younger brothers. He’s an artist killing time before his next commission takes him overseas. He ends up working for Pallas, restoring some wooden panels she uses in wedding decor.

They hit it off and pretty soon are falling in love. Except they each think it’s a short-term fling, only for fun. Pallas’s mother is demanding and controlling and Pallas isn’t used to dealing with people who don’t expect anything from her. Nick has seen his father’s passion for his art subsume the whole family while his mother’s passion for his father dwarfed her own health and needs. He learned the lesson well: Passion consumes everything. And he’s not interested.

As their relationship grows, Pallas learns that the best love is freely given, not earned and not demanded.

Pallas’s work has some challenges and her circle of friends rally around her to help her grow the business into something special. This also introduces the reader to some of the characters who will soon have their own stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one. Although I miss Fool’s Gold, Happily Inc appears to have many of the elements that made Fool’s Gold so special. I look forward to getting to know more of Happily Inc’s citizens and journey with them to finding their own Happily Ever Afters.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved it!

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: A MATTER OF TRUST

I do love me some Susan May Warren. And while it seemed a little odd to be reading about snow boarding and high mountain snow rescues in the middle of August, it actually helped me ignore the 100+* days outside.

A-Matter-of-Trust-CoverA MATTER OF TRUST is the third entry in Warren’s Montana Rescue series and is as good and compelling as I’ve come to expect from her.

Gage Watson was a extreme sports snowboarding champion. Until someone died. Gage lost his sponsors, his career, his faith, and his essence. He’s working in Montana now, on the PEAK Rescue team.

Ella Blair, state senator, big sister, and one-time love of Gage’s, has traveled to Montana to stop her brother from doing something foolhardy, even stupid: follow Gage’s renowned descent of one of Montana’s most challenging mountains. But to stop her brother, she has to see Gage again and keep a terrible secret.

Gage and Ella end up making the descent together, following her brother’s trail, hoping to find him before a storm hits the mountain.

Warren is a gifted writer and her descriptions of the snow, the snow boarding, the treachery of the mountain, and its hidden dangers took me right to the mountain with the characters. I tried learning to snow ski in my thirties and Stud Muffin and I decided it was a sport that you had to learn when you were young and fearless. So even though I’m not a skier, I felt the rush of the icy air, the crunch of the snow layer, the huff of frozen breath in the morning.

The other PEAK Rescue characters appear and I’m eager to get to Pete and Jess’s story. Oh, and Ian and Sierra’s, of course.

I loved this gripping and enthralling installment and I’m looking forward to the next.

 

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Jane Steele

I love mysteries. I love spunky heroines. I love humor and dry witty banter. I love Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters.

Imagine my delight to discover JANE STEELE by Lyndsay Faye.

Jane SteeleJANE STEELE is part homage to JANE EYRE, part fair play mystery, part Sikh primer, part romance, part faux-memoir, and a complete pleasure to read.

Young Jane Steele lives in the Victorian era, with her French mother in a guest house on an English estate. Her mother tells Jane that she is the rightful owner and heir to the estate.

The story begins with Jane confessing to the reader her first (yes, first) murder. After the death of her mother and her cousin, young Jane is sent to a boarding school. A truly horrible boarding school. Think more Little Princess/Jane Eyre and less Hogwarts.

The story follows Jane through her school, to London, then back to her estate home, now occupied by the dashing Charles Thornfield, his young ward, and his butler Mr. Singh.

Some of the reviews on Amazon describe this book as “Jane Eyre as a serial killer,” or “Dexter meets Jane Eyre.” These both miss the mark. There is death, but there is also justice, love, honor, and grace.

I loved this one!

Book Talk Tuesday: ON SECOND THOUGHT

I’m in love with Kristan Higgins. I’ve said it before, but she is an amazing writer with wonderful stories.

Which is why I was so disappointed by last year’s IF YOU ONLY KNEW, Higgins’ first foray into women’s fiction from romance, her wheelhouse. It was okay, but I’m trying to only review books that either I a) really love or b) received to review.

So I was reluctant to try ON SECOND THOUGHT which came out recently. I still love Kristan Higgins. I still love her romance. I just wasn’t sure I was going to love her women’s fiction.

ostTurns out I had nothing to worry about.

ON SECOND THOUGHT is the story of two sisters, Kate and Ainsley. They are actually half-sisters, born more than a couple of years apart.

When the book opens, both girls are in happy relationships. Kate is nearly forty and a newlywed who’d given up dating and trying to find her soul mate.

Ainsley has been with Eric since she was 21. She’s supported him through his career and through chemo.

Kate is suddenly widowed and Ainsley is suddenly single. They are both shocked and grieving and can’t believe what has just happened.

I loved the relationship between the sisters, and how it grew. Kate has always been more reserved while Ainsley is like a Labrador Retriever puppy. They learn to appreciate each other and their different approaches to life. Both women also get to know themselves better.

The story asks hard questions, like if you knew you’d be widowed after 96 days of marriage, would you remain single and never risk your heartbreak? Would you pour yourself into a selfish jerk if you’d been able to see his true self? And can you risk your heart a second time?

I’m so glad I risked my heart on Higgins’ second women’s fiction book. I loved it!

 

Book Talk Tuesday: 7 by Jen Hatmaker

I feel like I’m always a little behind the rest of the world.

I definitely got to the Jen Hatmaker party a little late, but I’m having a great time now that I’m here.

I recently finished 7, her book about simplifying life.

Really good.

Just what I needed to hear at that point.

7Basically, Jen took 7 areas of her life and pared them down to 7 essentials. She did each area for a month. Some of the practices made their way into her life permanently, others were for that month only.

The areas included food, clothing, possessions, waste, spending, media, and stress. For the month on food, she chose seven items and ate those exclusively for the month. In other chapters, sometimes she was limited to seven items, or she removed seven items, or instituted seven practices.

I’m trying to pare down my own excess in areas and the book helped me look at that and see that it’s doable and may not be quite as painful as I think.

Jen’s writing style is just like her on Facebook and live. She is herself. Warm. Funny. Engaging.

I got a lot out of this book and highly recommend it for anyone curious about how to get out from under the stuff that we, as prosperous and blessed Americans, accumulate as if there was a prize at the end.