Book Talk Tuesday: Sweet Entanglement

Sweet Entanglement is indeed a sweet romance with enough talk about cinnamon buns to make anyone run to their nearest bakery for a dozen of their own.

seLauren Cooper is on her way to partner in her law firm when the man who broke her heart shows up as her newest client in Indigo Bay. No problem, she tells herself. She’ll handle his case and he can be on his way.

Jesse Brewster though has other plans and they don’t include rushing out of town. He’s going to be Indigo Bay’s newest home and business owner, having inherited a beach mansion from his uncle. However, someone in town is determined that Jesse’s restoration project will fail.

I enjoyed this sweet romance. Sweet Entanglement’s characters are well-written, their chemistry felt genuine, and the setting is a place I’d love to visit.


I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.

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Book Talk Tuesday: CALIFORNIA GIRLS

Since I am one, it could be argued that I’m predisposed to like Susan Mallery’s newest women’s fiction book, CALIFORNIA GIRLS. Since I’m already a Mallery fan, that wouldn’t be far from the truth.

This one just may be my favorite of her women’s fiction books. It’s the story of three sisters who are all dumped by the men in their lives the same week.

cover-california-girlsFinola is a local morning television host in Southern California who finds out her husband has been cheating on her with a pop star. On live television.

Ali’s fiance’ calls off the wedding, but he doesn’t have the guts to do it himself. His brother has to break the news to her.

Zennie’s not heart-broken when her casual boyfriend bows out of their nascent relationship, but still it’s not nothing to her. And she’s surprised to find out just how much she misses Clark in the following days and weeks.

The three women travel somewhat parallel journeys of self-awareness and growth. Finola learns to accept her own part in the breakdown of her marriage. Ali learns to stand up for herself in her job as well as in relationships and her life. Zennie’s gift to her best friend also teaches Zennie what matters in life.

The women’s mother, Mary Jo, is a secondary character, as are the men in their lives.

The women, and Mary Jo, are distinctly different characters with different character arcs and paths, that all end with a “happily ever after,” that each earns her own way and that may not be what you expected at the beginning.

I loved this book and highly recommend it!


I received a free copy of this book, but was not required to post a positive review. That was my choice, because I positively did love it!

Book Talk Tuesday: A POPPY IN REMEMBRANCE

Yesterday’s topic was a World War I documentary, Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old. Today’s book review is a novel, A POPPY IN REMEMBRANCE, by Michelle Ule. The title is taken from the fact that poppies flourish in battlefields. The documentary showed more than a few poppies.

I loved both the documentary and the novel, for very different reasons.

poppy

Claire Meacham was born into a newspaper family. She has printing ink in her blood and a nose for news. It’s not her fault she was born at a time when women could be teachers and stenographers, but not reporters. Nellie Bly, excepted.

World War I has broken out in Europe and Claire accompanies her parents to London, Egypt, and Paris, assisting her father in his quest for war news to wire back to the States. While in London, Claire crosses paths with renowned Bible teacher Oswald Chambers, his wife Biddy, and daughter Kathleen. Her life is changed by loss, by love, and by the Chambers family. In many ways.

Michelle Ule has crafted a rare work combining historical detail, emotional and spiritual depth, and compelling story.
I highly recommend it!
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I received an advance copy of the manuscript in exchange for an honest review.

Book Talk on a Wednesday: WAIT FOR ME

I was out of town last weekend and got the chance to catch up on some reading. This one was on top of the stack I took with me.

Loyal readers have been waiting patiently to see if Pete Brooks and Jess Tagg would be able to figure out their lives and that they belong together.

WFMFinally, they’re front and center in the last of the Montana Rescue books.
Pete has spent a year trying to forget Jess and trying to move on. Jess has spent the year trying to please her mother, her family, her former (and current??) fiance Felipe, and generally everyone except herself.

At last, Pete and Jess are in the same place, at the same time. Back in Mercy Falls for Ben and Kacey’s wedding reception. However, their reunion doesn’t go well.

Shae/Esme and Ned Marshall, last seen in Storm Front (Ty and Brette’s story, Montana Rescue Book 5), are driving Jess home when their pickup is run off the road. They don’t know who is after them. The man Shae is prepared to accuse as a murderer after running for five years? Someone angry at Jess or her family? Or a random crazy person?
Jess, Shae, and Ned are on the run in the Montana wilderness, injured and cold, with someone after them.

Pete and the rest of the PEAK Rescue team are also on the hunt.
It’s a race to find the missing trio.

I love the way Warren combines faith, suspense, adventure, and romance in this series. Wait for Me is a fitting conclusion. Pete and Jess both have to work through their pasts and their mistakes before they can embrace God’s forgiveness, grace, and each other.
I highly recommend this one!
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I received an advance copy of Wait For Me, in exchange for an honest review, which I’ve done.

Book Talk Tuesday: WHEN WE FOUND HOME

Susan Mallery’s segue from romance only author to romance and women’s fiction has been rather seamless and painless for this fan. I’ve loved her romance, especially her Fool’s Gold and Happily, Inc. series. But her women’s fiction is also engaging. It has Mallery’s trademark humor and some eccentric secondary characters, but the issues are real and handled with heart.

cover-when-we-found-home

In When We Found Home, there are three point of view characters: Delaney, Callie, and Malcolm. Callie and Malcolm have discovered they’re half-siblings with another half-sister, Keira, who’s twelve years old. Their grandfather has brought them together to be a family. Each was raised differently and they struggle to put their disparate lives together into a new kind of family.

Delaney has also gone through tremendous upheaval in the last few months. She’s dating Malcolm, but not sure she deserves him and a happy ever after.

 

I loved this one!

Family dynamics can be challenging even for traditional families. I’m not unfamiliar with the issues that arise when you add half- and step-members and create a blended family. Mallery did a great job showing that love and grace and acceptance go a long way, which is a good lesson for all of us.

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I received a free advance copy of When We Found Home from the author, in exchange for a honest review. Which I’ve done.

Book Talk Tuesday: RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER

RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER by Sally Andrew is a change of pace from J.D. Robb and Harlan Coban. Reminiscent of Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books with a smidgen of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schultz mysteries, RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER is an excellent debut book.

RFLAMTold from the first person point of view of Maria van Harten, a cooking columnist in Ladismith, South Africa, the story is heavy with descriptions of meals and food, but the mystery is compelling too.

Maria is called Tannie (Auntie) Maria by her friends. She’s a fifty-something widow whose husband abused her. She’s content now to be alone with her chickens, her column in the local paper, her cooking, and her friends.

The paper’s editorial staff decides to ditch the recipe column and replace it with an advice column, so Tannie Maria finds herself having to dispense wisdom to the lovelorn. She sees a need for a recipe in each answer, but the advice is sound and the recipes yummy.

One letter, from an abused wife, strikes Tannie Maria hard. When a woman is found dead soon after, Tannie Maria is certain her husband killed her. She soon learns the case is much more complicated.

Tannie Maria and the paper’s investigative journalist, Jessie, get drawn into the mystery, attracting the killer’s attention.

I enjoyed this one very much. The story moves a bit slower than I’m used to in American mysteries, but the writing is lovely and the story is compelling. The mystery is a fair-play, with clues and red herrings; challenging but not impossible or implausible.

I’m a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith and Precious Ramotswe, so I was somewhat used to the slower pace of the South African storytelling. The chapters are short, which made it easy to keep turning pages and thinking, “Just one more.”

Probably technically, a cozy, since the book includes recipes and humor, but there is some blood and death, making it a PG instead of a G rating.

Tannie Maria is a worthy addition to the halls of amateur sleuths/cooks, and I look forward to reading her next adventure. And to follow her developing romance with a certain police detective.

 

 

BOOK TALK ON A THURSDAY: SISTERS LIKE US

After a summer and fall foray into Happily Inc. Susan Mallery now returns us to Mischief Bay. Harper and her sister Stacey couldn’t be more different. Harper was a full time wife and mother, happily making home a haven for her family. Until her husband decided he SLUwanted a divorce. Harper wasn’t educated or trained to be anything other than a wife and mom and she had to scramble to put food on the table for her daughter. She opened a business as a virtual assistant and is now overworked and underpaid. Just like most personal assistants, 😉
Stacey is a brainiac nerd, who’s more comfortable in her medical research lab than with most real people. She’s pregnant with her first child and is terrified. She’s scared she won’t bond with the baby, that she won’t know what to do, that her husband will love the baby more than he loves her.
Harper and Stacey are opposites, but they stand together against their overbearing mother. Harper’s teenage daughter, Becca, is also a viewpoint character.
The three women navigate life and change in their own ways.

I loved this one! The characters are archetypes in some ways. Harper is the perfect homemaker, Stacey is the nerd, Becca is the temperamental teenager. But in Mallery’s world, they’re also real people I feel like I know. Harper knows she’s on a hamster wheel of perfection, but she can’t see how to climb off. I’ve been on that wheel a time or two myself.

There are some familiar characters who return from the previous Mischief Bay books. Lucas, the guy we’ve gotten to know for his penchant for dating twenty-year-olds, is back and even showing signs of maturing. Lulu, Pam’s Chinese Crested dog, has a cameo appearance.

Sisters Like Us is both new and familiar. In the best way. I highly recommend it!

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I received a free copy of the book in return for a honest review. We both kept our side of the bargain.