Monday Morning Musings: Book Review

Even though it’s not a Book Talk Tuesday, I’m posting a book review on Monday. I really enjoyed this one, and can’t wait to share about it.

cover-secrets

A few books stay with you after you finish the final page and close the book. SECRETS OF THE TULIP SISTERS is one of those.

The Tulip Sisters are a fun group of women. I wish they lived closer. I wish they were real.

Kelly is the uber-responsible older sister who works the family tulip farm and loves it. She and her dad are close. Her long-time boyfriend recently broke up with her and she’s sad that it didn’t upset her more. What’s bugging her now is that Griffith, her high school crush, is back in town and keeps showing up wherever she is.

Olivia is the flighty younger sister. Or is she? Olivia shows up in town after ten years away, expecting a reunion with her own high school boyfriend. The homecoming is not quite as heartwarming as one might hope. With either the ex or her family.

Helen is Kelly’s best friend, and an honorary sister, with a huge secret of her own.

Life is … if not good, at least acceptable, for all three women. Until Kelly and Olivia’s mother shows up, bringing havoc and leaving a trail of mayhem in her wake.

I love this book! Fun dialogue and situations, believable characters, emotionally engaging writing. It’s going on my keeper shelf.

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I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Which this is.

Book Talk Tuesday: DAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE

We all know I’m crazy about Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold and Mischief Bay series. Susan visits a new town in her latest book (and first hardcover!).

Dcv-dotbAUGHTERS OF THE BRIDE takes us to Los Lobos, on California’s Central Coast. Courtney, Rachel, and Sienna are the title characters. Rachel’s the oldest, a single mom still in love with her cheating ex, and used to doing it all. Sienna is the middle sister, the “pretty” one, works tirelessly for a local shelter for battered women, and dating a man she’s not sure she likes, much less loves. Courtney is the youngest of the trio, working as a housekeeper in the local hotel and going to college but keeping it a secret from her family.

After being widowed early and left with three daughters to raise, Maggie has finally allowed herself to fall in love again. The wedding planning brings out the best — and worst — in her daughters.

I really enjoyed this book. I finished it in about a day and a half. The writing has plenty of Susan’s trademark humor. And sex. Yep, it’s steamy. So you’ve been warned.

My only quibble, and it’s a teeny tiny one, is she kept referring to Los Lobos as being in Central California. I live in Central California and there are no beach towns here. Los Lobos is on the Central Coast. It could be Morro Bay or Half Moon Bay or Santa Cruz or Pismo. Any of the small towns. And nowadays, they’re all anything but “sleepy” as Mallery describes Los Lobos.

But that aside, I loved the book and would gladly read more set in Los Lobos. Or anywhere Susan Mallery cares to take us.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review, which I gave.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Best of My Love

I’m reviewing this with mixed emotions.

I love the book, but I’m sad it’s the last planned entry in Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series.

cover-best-of-my-loveWe met Shelby Gilmore a couple of years ago. Her brother was in last year’s trilogy and he found true love with Destiny. Shelby suffered at the hands of an abusive father and a too passive mother. Her brother protected her as best he could, until he was injured and Shelby’s mother was dying and needed Shelby’s presence. Her father took out his rage and frustration on her.

Aidan Mitchell runs his family’s tourist adventure business in Fool’s Gold and he enjoys some no-strings-attached weekends with attractive and willing tourists.

Shelby knows she has trust issues and she wants to get over them and find love and have a family. Aidan was perfectly happy until an incident let him see himself as he really was: a jerk.

Shelby hears about it too, and decides Aidan is perfect for her project. She makes him an offer: they will be friends and in building their friendship, they will learn how to relate to the opposite sex. Shelby will learn to trust and Aidan will learn how to treat women.

The experiment goes well. Too well. Of course, this is a romance and this is Fool’s Gold, so you know what will happen. What I love about Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series is that even though we know the ending going in, the getting there is so much fun.

If the series had to end, I’m happy it’s ending on a fun note and that sweet Shelby gets her happy ever after.

And I’m waiting anxiously for Mallery’s new series, set in Happily, Inc, California, a destination wedding town. Sounds like fun!

Book Talk Tuesday: My TBR Pile

A quick look at what’s coming up to the top of my To Be Read stack.

First up on my Kindle is Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid.

Comes highly recommended!
Comes highly recommended!

A couple of people have recommended this series quite highly and I’m looking forward to diving in.

I’ve just started another Susan Mallery, Only Yours, a Fool’s Gold book from a couple of years ago. I’m working through her older stuff and so far this is another winner.

OY

Finally, I’m also reading Jen Hatmaker’s latest, For the Love. I’ll probably be reviewing this one next week. It’s full of wisdom, grace, encouragement, and a few recipes.FTL

Book Talk Tuesday: Marry Me at Christmas

If it’s fall, it must be time for a Fool’s Gold Christmas story from Susan Mallery.

I love these stories, for so many reasons.

They’re romances, hello!?!?!

Marry Me at Christmas
Marry Me at Christmas

They’re set in Fool’s Gold, the best fictional town in California.

They’re set at Christmas time, when we love to snuggle with a warm afghan, a cup of tea, and a good book.

The steamy love scenes of the other Fool’s Gold books don’t appear. I like my love scenes to be behind closed doors, and the Christmas books meet my criteria.

In MARRY ME AT CHRISTMAS, we finally get to meet action movie star Jonny Blaze who’s been mentioned in the other 2015 Fool’s Gold books. Madeline Krug, part owner of the local wedding dress shop, is asked to plan Jonny’s sister’s wedding planned for the day after Christmas. Jonny has been her movie star crush and she’s intimidated by the thought of even meeting him, much less working with him.

Madeline manages to be professional and she and Jonny plan the wedding and attend some of Fool’s Gold’s local holiday festivities.

I love stories about two worlds colliding and I especially love stories about when a public life and a private life collide. Because at heart, we’re all just people swimming along in our lives, trying to work, love, and laugh and feel like we have a purpose. Whether our purpose is touching people’s lives through the arts or pouring coffee, we’re all happiest doing what we’re meant to do.

So all that combines to make MARRY ME AT CHRISTMAS a great book, for winter, for Christmas, for anytime. I love it!

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I received a free copy in return for an honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: Thrill Me

I can’t believe summer is half over, but it must be. I got my third Fool’s Gold book last week. That’s the signal that summer and 100+ degree days are on the way out. I’m happy to see the end of summer heat but not so happy to see the end of Fool’s Gold until Christmas time.

THRILL ME by Susan Mallery
THRILL ME by Susan Mallery

THRILL ME is Maya’s story. We met Maya in last month’s offering, KISS ME. Maya returned to Fool’s Gold with her friend Phoebe who fell in love with Maya’s stepbrother Zane in KISS ME. Now Maya’s been offered a job in Fool’s Gold, the only town that’s ever felt like home. She’s tired of life in LA and ready to come home. She never expected Del would be coming home too.

Del Mitchell and Maya were in love when they were just out of high school. In love and engaged. Until Maya panicked, dumped Del, and left town for college. Del packed up and left too. He’s back in town for his dad’s upcoming birthday party and to decide his next project. He doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Maya again, not after she broke up with him.

I loved this one! (No shock, I know.)

Maya and Del are older, smarter, and more experienced now. They’re both surprised that those youthful feelings of love can be so easily rekindled. But Maya just got back to town and Del will leaving at the end of summer. She’d love to travel to some of the places he’s planning to see, but it doesn’t make sense to leave a good job and the only home she’s ever felt she belonged in. Del wants to ask Maya to come with him. They make a great team behind the camera. He’s got a vision for a video project and Maya would be a perfect partner. Except can he trust her? She ran off once, she could do it again.

As usual, I really enjoyed this one and recommend it. The sex is still pushing my boundaries, but it’s later in the book and more subdued than earlier Fool’s Gold installments, which I like.

Go. Buy. Escape. Enjoy. Trust me.

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√ I received a free copy of THRILL ME in return for an honest review.

Book Talk Tuesday: Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

KISS ME is the best Fool’s Gold book yet, in my opinion. And it’s definitely an atypical Fool’s Gold book.

Kiss Me by Susan Mallery
Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

Phoebe has been suspended from her Los Angeles job because she took the fall for her boss. Her tender heart is always getting her into trouble. Her friend Maya urges Phoebe to go back to Maya’s home town and accompany her on a cattle drive her step-brother is organizing. Phoebe is unprepared for how much she loves the country and, unexpectedly, how much she’s attracted to the rugged cowboy leading the group across the Fool’s Gold hills with a bunch of cattle.

Zane Nicholson is conducting a cattle drive for greenhorns against his better judgement, but he needs to teach his kid brother a lesson. So here he is, keeping track of kids, senior citizens, steers, horses, and Phoebe. Why the city girl caught his attention when they’re so obviously wrong for each other is beyond him.

The chemistry between Phoebe and Zane is palpable. The story is engaging and quick. Many elements of the usual Fool’s Gold story are missing. No gabfests at Jo’s Bar. No break-up scene when the hero decides the heroine is better off without him. No night of margarita’s as the heroine’s girlfriends surround her with comfort and tequila. The sex didn’t show up in the first hundred pages. Maybe not even the second hundred. The graphic sex is the one element of Fool’s Gold that I don’t love, so it would have worked for me if Mallery had left it off the page completely. But still, I’ll take what I can get. I think the delay in having sex works for Phoebe and Zane. They are so different, they need the time to get to know each other before acting on their attraction.

And it totally works. I didn’t even miss Jo’s Bar or the margaritas. I loved this one! And now I can’t wait for THRILL ME, coming next month.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.