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: A WATERFRONT WEDDING

A Waterfront Wedding has everything I’ve come to expect from Hallmark Publishing. A sweet romance, lots of small town fun, and a satisfying ending.

We return to Hearts Landing in A Waterfront Wedding by Leigh Duncan.

Evelyn Heart is restless. She’s the bookkeeper for the Captain’s Cottage, the most sought after wedding venue in the premier destination wedding town in America—according to Weddings Today magazine. But lately she’s wanting more than shuffling papers and crunching numbers and submitting supply orders. But what exactly, she’s not quite sure.
Ryan Court has spent the last year renovating the old Boat Works in Hearts Landing, turning it into another wedding venue. He and Evelyn had been childhood friends who’d drifted apart.
Evelyn and Ryan are thrown together to work on the town’s annual Wedding in a Week extravaganza. Working so closely together reawakens feelings each had thought they’d firmly dealt with in the past.
This is a charming story, and it was fun to return to Hearts Landing and to catch up with some of the previous characters we’ve met there.
I highly recommend A WATERFRONT WEDDING.

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

Tuesday TwoFer: MURDER BY PAGE ONE

I’m a sucker for a good, old-fashioned murder mystery. Add in books and literary references and it’s even better!

Marvella Harris, or Marvey, has recently moved to Peach Coast, Georgia from New York City, to take a job at the local library, working to increase community outreach and services. She’s made some friends and enjoys her job. She’s at her friend Jolene’s bookstore for an author signing when she and Jo and another friend discover one of the author’s has been murdered. The local sheriff deputies seem convinced of Jo’s guilt, so Marvey jumps in to prove there are other equally viable suspects.

This has plenty of colorful Southern characters and small town vibes. I liked the way Marvey dropped in mentions of other books, and her jewelry making hobby. She also has a cat, who doesn’t seem to enjoy their new home.

The murderer is nicely revealed with enough clues and red herrings so the reader doesn’t feel cheated.

Overall, I enjoyed this and recommend it. I’d gladly read the next in the series.

——

I received an advance copy of MURDER BY PAGE ONE from Hallmark Publishing, but it did not induce me to review it, favorably or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: RESCUING HARMONY RANCH

This was a fun book from Hallmark Publishing and included the elements I’ve come to expect in a Hallmark book: a spunky heroine, a hunky hero, a good reason to keep them apart, but a fun time watching them fall in love and figure out a way to be together anyway.

Jocelyn and Mack were childhood sweethearts in Colorado, until her mother moved her to New York City. Their love story ended, although neither forgot the other. It’s been a decade, and when Jocelyn’s grandmother needs her help, Jocelyn drops everything to fly back to the ranch. After finding out the ranch is in trouble, Joss and Mack are forced to work together to save it. And they find out they still have feelings for each other. But how can they make a relationship work when her life is in New York and his in Colorado?

I enjoyed this entry in the Country and Cowboys series from Hallmark Publishing. I’ve read at least one other in the series, too. This was well written, and Jocelyn and Mack are both strong characters. There’s one cliched plot element I saw from the beginning and wished hadn’t been used, but I guess the author and her brainstorming team couldn’t find a way to keep the couple apart without using it.

Overall, I liked this one a lot and I recommend it!


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

Book Talk: DEAD-END DETECTIVE

Dead-End Detective is another Hallmark Publishing cozy mystery. I enjoyed this one more than the previous one I reviewed. The story and the writing are both better.

Darby Piper is partner in a detective agency in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. She’s shocked when her partner is killed and even more shocked when she discovers she’s a suspect. Her car was the murder weapon. The evidence piles up and Darby has to admit it looks bad for her.

Her partner’s nephew (and heir–another shock) shows up. They join forces to find the real killer.

The story and clues are well told. The characters are finely drawn. There are enough suspects to be credible. Overall, I liked this one and would read another Piper & Porter Mystery from Hallmark Publishing.


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

Book Talk on a Thursday: Behind the Frame

I’ve reviewed several Hallmark romance books, but this is my first mystery.
Savannah Shepherd left her art curator job in Chicago to return home and teach art in the village of Carson. She has a developing romance with a local doctor and she’s planning a big art festival. She gets drawn into solving a murder when a town councilman is killed and a chef is arrested. Savannah and her two sisters work together to clear the innocent chef.
This is a typical small town, amateur sleuth, cozy mystery. The fact that all three sisters’ names begin with the same letter made it a bit confusing until they could be sorted out. They are different characters though, with different jobs and lives and traits, so that helped.
The mystery was good, with enough red herrings mixed with the clues to be suspenseful. The murderer was unmasked and caught “off stage,” which is an odd choice. I prefer to see the bad guy get caught myself. I enjoyed the small town setting and the characters. The mystery wasn’t particularly compelling, and the writing is okay. This is the second book in a series, but reads fine as a stand alone.

I was given a free advance copy of the book from Hallmark Publishing, but that did not induce me to review the book, favorably or not.

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!

—–
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 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.
———-
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 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.