Book Talk Tuesday: SAILING AT SUNSET

SAS

This is the first romance I’ve read that featured sailing as the “vehicle” to get the hero and heroine together. It turned out to be a fun one.

Danae is focused and driven and organized. So she’s more than a little thrown when her boss tells her she’s taking her marketing team on a week long team-building cruise on one of the company yachts. The captain has been hired and he’ll also be their tour guide around Martha’s Vineyard.

Josh got off the corporate hamster wheel and is perfectly content taking chartered cruises out on his own ship, or hiring himself out for other events. The current job looks to be a pain, because the gal in charge keeps emailing him with changes in the agenda.

This is a romance, so we already know the ending, but getting there was very fun. I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard, but I feel like I’ve visited it. Madsen did a great job with her setting and her characters. Danae and Josh both had to overcome what they thought they wanted in life, in order to be open to the possibility of something more.
I enjoyed this one a lot and I recommend it!

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

Book Talk Tuesday: LONGING TO BELONG

LtBShawna Marie Bryant has written a book “for such a time as this.”

When we’re inundated with messages of what we should look like, how we should decorate our homes, feed our families, and which causes to support, she helps us to see that it’s not the world and social media that give us value and meaning, it’s God.

Based on Psalm 139, Shawna shares a Manifesto of acceptance and solid Bible-based teaching that will help any reader who has struggled to feel like they’re enough, that they’re accepted, and that they belong.

God created us, He knows us, He is always with us. These are just a few of the points Shawna expands on in this excellent book. She balances her teaching with real-life examples and encouragement.

I highly recommend this book and plan to buy more copies for my daughters and friends.


I received a free advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley, but that did not induce me to review it, either positively or negatively.

Book Talk on a Thursday: Christmas in Bayberry

Wes has been chasing career success. So has Kate. They just have very different definitions of what that looks like. For Wes, it’s a title, a corner office with a view of Manhattan, and not having to move every year. For Kate, it’s having her family’s Vermont candle company survive another year.

CiBWhen Wes comes to Bayberry, Vermont to analyze the Bayberry Candle Company’s financials and issue a recommendation on its future, he’s flooded with memories of the year his family lived there when he was fifteen. And the girl he wanted to invite to the annual Candlelight Dance on Christmas Eve. But his dad got a new job and they moved before he got the chance.

Kate moved to Bayberry when she was fifteen and her parents were killed in an accident and she was taken in by her aunt. Her aunt is preparing to retire and Kate wants nothing except to keep the family candle business running exactly as it has been for the last three generations.

As Wes and Kate work together, sometimes on divergent paths, they fight their growing attraction. After all, his life is in New York City and hers is in Bayberry. Right?

I enjoyed this new release from Hallmark Publishing. Besides being a taste of Christmas in July (and I live in Central California where 100+ degree days are common, so descriptions of snowball fights and hot chocolate are very welcome!), I enjoyed this sweet romance and its glimpse of two people on two different trajectories and how they were brought together by a failing business, an improbable Santa, and Spirit of Christmas.
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I received a free e-copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing but it did not induce me to leave a review, favorable or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: A LONG TIME COMIN’

I love celebrating debut novels. When they’re good, I’m soooo happy. When they’re great, I’m ecstatic.

ALTC

A LONG TIME COMIN’ by Robin W. Pearson made me beyond giddy. It’s lovely, with a strong voice, memorable characters, and an engrossing story with repercussions that reach through the generations.

Evelyn Lester has a problem. Several of them. She visits her mother to sort them out and ends up spending a lot of time with her elderly grandmother. Granny B. has her own problems and secrets.

The two women must come to an understanding as they help each other navigate through uncharted territory of family and relationships.

I highly recommend it!

I got to meet Robin last year when we were both in Charleston, South Carolina. Our agents are at the same agency. She’s as lovely in person as her book is beautiful. I’m so excited to celebrate her debut novel with her and I can’t wait for y’all to read it!

I did not receive a free advance copy of A LONG TIME COMIN’. I bought it because I knew it would be great and I’m so happy I did. You will be too!

Book Talk Tuesday: A COTTAGE WEDDING

A Cottage Wedding is the perfect summer romance read. Two likable characters who are perfect for each other, though they have real issues to deal with that are keeping them apart. But you’re confident they’ll figure a way to make it work.

ACWTara Stewart is a lowly editorial assistant at a wedding magazine, yearning to prove herself a serious journalist. She gets her chance when her boss gives her an assignment: do an expose’ on Hearts Landing, the idyllic town that’s been the nation’s leading wedding destination for the last several years.

Unfortunately, Hearts Landing is just as perfect as it seems. More so, since Jason Heart is overseeing everything. Jason is the great-great-great-grandson of the town’s founder and the basis of many legends contributing to Hearts Landing’s reputation as a romantic destination.

As Tara and Jason grow closer, Tara has to make a choice: get that promotion and ruin Jason’s heritage and livelihood, or surrender her journalistic ethics and get fired.

Even though I saw the dilemma coming from the beginning, I thought the author handled it well and resolved it sensibly.

This is an excellent book with lots of fun wedding details and other characters worked into the story. Hearts Landing is as much a character as Tara and Jason.

Definitely recommended.

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

Book Talk Tuesday on a Thursday: A Highlander Comes to Town

I’m sad to see this series come to an end. I’ve loved visiting Highland, Georgia and getting to know some Scots in the South.
HICTTA Highlander is Coming to Town is (finally) Holt Pierson’s story. We met Holt in Trentham’s previous two Highlander stories. Holt has made his peace with staying in Highland to run the family farm. Claire Smythe is on the run from something and takes refuge in Highland after the summer games. She’s taken a job as a caregiver for Holt’s neighbor and is spending the time trying to figure out what to do after her upcoming birthday. Because she has a big secret she can’t share with anyone. Although she’s clear upfront that she’ll soon be returning to Scotland right after Christmas.
Inevitably, the sparks between Holt and Claire combust. And as all secrets must, Claire’s come to light. And Claire and Holt’s simple fling is anything but.
I enjoy these books for their simplicity, their taste of Scotland, their humor. Sometimes I need an escape and these books supply that exactly.
A Highlander is Coming to Town is a Christmas story, complete with a winter storm, hot chocolate, and a heartwarming ending. The perfect holiday read. It will be released in late September, so mark your calendars for September 29, 2020.
I highly recommend it!
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I received an advance e-copy of this book via NetGalley, but it did not induce me to leave a review, complimentary or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: The Life Intended

Somewhere in my web browsing, I came across a book recommendation. Several people raved about the book and the author, someone new to me.

So I bought a used copy.

Well.

This book hooked me from the beginning.

THE LIFE INTENDED.

the-life-intended-9781476754154The description begins: Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You in this richly told novel …

We meet the heroine, Kate, twelve years after her husband was killed the morning after he said he had something important to tell her. He died before he had the chance.

It’s been long enough, and everyone is telling Kate she has to move on. And she kind of has. She’s living with a man. He’s proposed and she accepted. But then she starts having some very vivid dreams. About Patrick and the life they would have had if he hadn’t died.

The dreams lead her to make some choices and do some things … I don’t want to give too much away.

This is a lovely, tender, exquisite book about what might have been, but what is, and learning to accept that both are right and okay.

In absolutely unrelated news, I’ve been buying books faster than I can read them. So while I fell in love with this one, I have so far resisted the urge to buy any more from Kristin Harmel. Although I’m remembering her name and will definitely be getting more from her when I whittle down the obscene stack on my desk.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA

I’d been hearing great things about this book, so I picked up the electronic version. It has an intriguing title and lots of rave reviews.

TLQoMThere are several timelines in the book, but I didn’t have a problem following the unfolding story. By the end, some characters’ assumptions are proven wrong and others are proven right.

I love stories about reconciliation and I wasn’t sure this was going to provide that. If that’s you too, just hang in there.

Edith and Helen are sisters who go forty years without speaking because Helen was given the family farm (literally) and didn’t share with Edith. Helen put all the proceeds into her fledgling beer brewery. Edith and her family struggle to make ends meet and any part of the sale money would have helped.

Edith’s granddaughter is given an opportunity to learn brewing and the beer business. Eventually the whole family is involved in brewing and marketing beer, especially IPAs.

If you’ve ever wondered about the process for turning hops and yeast and grain into beer, this will give you a primer. But the information wasn’t overwhelming, and added to the enjoyment of the book. The only thing missing as I read was a hot day and a hoppy IPA on the back patio.

I highly recommend THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA!

Book Talk Tuesday: IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE

I’m not reading as much as I expected, seeing as I spend pretty much all day, every day inside. We are starting to go out for walks and that helps. But I just can’t seem to keep focused on a book for very long. I’m playing a lot of games on my tablet and catching up on the DVR.

But I did read a few books and this one was especially enjoyable.

IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE by Shirley Jump is another romance from Hallmark Publishing.

IOW.LKate is a ghostwriter, barely making ends meet. She’s offered a new job, for an amount with a lot of zeroes, to ghostwrite a memoir for a busy CEO. Only the exec turns out to be the college boyfriend who broke her heart.

Trent is a driven man, focused on his business and its upcoming IPO. He’s procrastinated writing that blasted memoir and now the deadline is looming and he doesn’t have enough hours in the day. His staff convinces him to hire a ghostwriter who will sign a non-disclosure agreement, so no one has to know he didn’t write the book himself. It feels dishonest, but he doesn’t have much choice.

Of course, as soon as Kate and Trent meet again there are all kinds of complications, not the least of which is the return of their easy friendship. And all the developing feelings, from each of them.

Kate continues to peel back Trent’s layers as she fleshes out his outline and yellow sticky notes. Trent is amazed as this older Kate turns out to be far more adventurous than he thought fifteen years ago.

There are complications along the way to their Happily-Ever-After, of course, but I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the journey for you.

IN OTHER WORDS, LOVE is a sweet romance that I enjoyed and recommend!


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

 

Book Talk Tuesday: BURDEN OF PROMISE

Today the disclaimer goes upfront: I know the author, Ralaine Fagone, personally. I didn’t know her when the events she describes in her book took place. I met her some years after when she began to write about the murder, arrests and trials. She joined a local writers’ group I was part of and she had a column in a magazine. The group critiqued Ralaine’s columns, then later, when she decided to write a book, she joined another group who helped her. I also did some editing for her, as well as proofreading and copyediting. Also, Ralaine furnished me with a free digital copy of the finished book for this review. So, since I strive to be “fair and balanced,” I want to put all those caveats out here.


Fresno, California has a few claims to fame/infamy. It’s on the way to Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. The Underground Gardens. Raisins. Home of some pretty good sports teams (National Championship Women’s Softball, National Championship Men’s Baseball, as well as NFL players Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Derek Carr, Lorenzo Neal, Ryan Matthews, …). Searing summer temperatures. A satirical 1980s mini-series starring Carol Burnett, modeled after Falcon Crest and Dynasty. And the Acid Lady Murder.

In 2003, Ralaine’s son, James, was arrested for the kidnapping and murder of his former employer’s estranged husband. Larissa and Tim Schuster were separated and fighting over custody of their son, Tyler, as well as property. Although no longer working at Larissa’s lab, James still helped Larissa by house-sitting and hanging out with twelve-year-old Tyler.

When Tim disappeared, Larissa was questioned and released. James was also questioned, but not released because he confessed to … well, here is where things get murky. Did he confess to the murder? The police and prosecutors say yes. James says he didn’t know Larissa planned to murder Tim and he thought they were going to retrieve some of Larissa’s property. He says he confessed to helping her rob Tim, then he got pulled into being an accomplice when the robbery escalated to murder. Tim’s body was put into a barrel and acid from Larissa’s lab was poured in to destroy the remains.

Ralaine walks the reader through her feelings during that time. Her devastation at the arrest. Her horror at the details of the murder. Also, the months leading up to the arrest, when James’ life took a radical departure from the path he’d been on. As a Christian, Ralaine raised her children to follow God and His precepts, trusting that if she did that, God would keep His end of their “bargain,” and her children would be “good,” and stay out of trouble, and have happy lives. With James’ arrest, all her beliefs about God, faith, and her church came under scrutiny. And not all survived intact.

The reader will experience Ralaine’s emotions. She is honest and vulnerable. The book is more than the story of the Fagone and Schuster families and the murder and trials. The book is part memoir, part true-crime story, part Christian Living, but totally compelling.


Ralaine is offering a free print copy of BURDEN OF PROMISE to a blog reader who comments below. Tell me about a time you were shocked and saddened by a story in the news.