Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Review: A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

To Purchase

Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed--loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she's come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford's main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down. 

They've spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?

My Thoughts:

A Return of Devotion is a beautiful tale of love, restoration, reconciliation, and knowing that your past mistakes do not define you.  This is book 2 in the Haven Manor series and this is Daphne’s story.

Taking place after the events that happened at the end of the last book, this story picks up as the new owner of the house, William, Marquis of Chemsford, comes to take over and live in the manor since it is a ways out in the country. He really sees potential in the home though it certainly needs work, but it will work for him to stay mainly out of society. William was a very serious fellow, trying not to follow in the steps of his foolish father; he liked to be in control. When he arrives at the home, he nonetheless is very surprised by the “servants” in residence, especially Daphne the “housekeeper”.

Author Hunter’s trademark wit ensues and the banter between William and Daphne is sometimes borderline crazy/hilarious. However the peculiar conversations between Daphne and other townspeople were a riot and must be in control William is highly curious as to what is really going on.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat so to speak as to when all the secrets of Haven House would be revealed. This is an enjoyable book about a heavy matter that was made lighter with humor and love. I look forward to reading about Jess next and her knife wielding ways.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Review: The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

To Purchase

Brought together by a charming bookstore in England, three women fight to defy expectations, dream new dreams, and welcome love into their lives. 

As a counselor, Sophia Barrett is trained to help people cope with their burdens. But when she meets a new patient whose troubles mirror her own, she realizes she hasn’t dealt with the pain of her recent past. After making a snap decision to get away for the summer, Sophia moves overseas to an apartment above a charming bookstore in Cornwall, England. She is hopeful she will find peace there surrounded by her favorite thing: great literature. 

Bookstore owner Ginny Rose is desperate to save her business without asking for help from a husband who’s decided to take a break from their marriage. Ginny never imagined she’d be solely responsible for keeping afloat her husband’s dream, but the unexpected friendship with her new renter has her feeling more optimistic. Between the two of them—and Ginny’s brother-in-law, William—the bookstore might stand a chance. 

Then Sophia finds a notebook in the bookstore that contains journal entries from Emily Fairfax, a governess who lived in Cornwall more than 150 years ago. Sophia learns that Emily harbored a secret passion for becoming an authoress—as well as a deep love for her childhood friend, Edward, whose station she dared not dream to touch. 

Eager to know more of Emily’s story, Sophia goes on a quest—dragging Ginny and William with her—to discover the heart of the woman behind the beautiful entries. Soon Ginny’s need to save the bookstore becomes more than a way to save her marriage, and Sophia finds new purpose of her own. Together they find that sometimes both heartache and hope can reach across the centuries.

My Thoughts:

First off, I think that The Secrets of Paper and Ink is my favorite book title, ever. There is just something so mysterious about it and as I read the story within, the title kept running through my head. What are these secrets? Do they have some sort of power? Do they change someone’s destiny?

This story is about three women, the lives they have lived, the ones they have dreamed about, and the reality. Two present day women who meet each other at pivotal moments of their lives and gain a beautiful sisterly friendship. The third woman is from the past. Her name is Emily and her story has been found and it has enraptured the attention of Sophia Barrett a counselor who has been through some very traumatic life moments.  Sophia is a lover of books, stories and she has decided to take a long overdue break from her life and do something out of the box to distance herself from her past, business, and memories. She decides to rent a room at a bookstore in Cornwall and help out by working in it.

Ginny Rose is the bookstore owner, who is living her husband’s dream not hers. She is an American who came as a newlywed with stars in her eyes and a deep love for her husband. And then he changed his mind.

As Ginny and Sophia become friends each open up about what is going on in their lives. Their men in their lives give this story a touch of romance and a hope for new beginnings when previous dreams have been shattered. What really pulls this group of people together is saving the bookstore and Emily’s forgotten story. I really enjoyed going into the past Cornwall and seeing the trials that Emily had to overcome in her family and the hard choices she had to make about love.

This story ended the only way it could, beautifully and is certainly one for the keeper shelf. Full of heart and friendship and deep abiding love, it is one that will stick with me for a long time.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

(Please Note: I will repost this review on March 7th along with a tour giveaway)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Review: Never Let Go by Elizabeth Goddard

To Purchase

When a forensic genealogist stumbles into the middle of a decades old abduction case, she will need the help of her ex-flame to discover the truth, stay alive, and save her heart in the process.

My Thoughts:

What a great start to a new romantic suspense series by Elizabeth Goddard. This story started off with every parent’s worst nightmare and does not let up even though some time has passed. The action and danger ramp up as Willow Anderson, a forensic genealogist (what a cool job) and her bodyguard/ex-boyfriend, Austin McKade team up to honor her late grandfather’s legacy and help a dying woman get her dying wish.

This is full of many twists and turns with a few of the minor characters viewpoints given as well to make things a bit more interesting.  So many secrets and so much danger is uncovered till Willow and Austin don’t know who to trust. Throw in some family drama with Austin and his brothers and you have a book that is really hard to put down. These characters haunted my dreams! Looking forward to more in this adrenaline pumped series.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Review: The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

To Purchase

A top American fighter pilot battles the Germans in the air and his past on the ground. Can a Red Cross volunteer help him heal the wounds that tore his brothers apart?

My Thoughts:

Sunrise at Normandy series is about the three Paxton brothers and one dreadful day and night that tears up their family and sends each into World War 2. The Sky Above Us is Adler’s story. Not only did Adler have to deal with the devastating death of his fiancé, but he also caused some more problems that shook what was left of his family to the core. Three years later he is now Lt. Adler Paxton involved in air battles with the Germans.  He is full of passion and fire and must learn to rein that in before anything else bad happens.

Violet Lindstrom has signed up to work for the Red Cross since, she as an unmarried woman cannot go to the mission field. Hurt that her fiancé no longer shared her missionary goals and dreams they broke up. Violet meets Adler on the way over to England and through a series of circumstances end up staying at the same base.

At first they try to just remain friends. Adler the wild one does not think he can measure up to a future missionary’s standards. But try as they might, neither can stop the attraction they feel and so they step into a whirlwind romance amidst a war.

Adler has a pretty messed up past compared to Violet, who always tries to do the right thing.  I really like his conversion story and how the author showed his readiness to confess his deepest and direst secret sins. After his conversion he becomes a man not only of fire and passion, but one with a purpose. However, when his past comes back to do more than haunt him, he and Violet are both devastated and their future together looks bleak.

I liked Violet. She was a bit of goody two shoes and when faced with her own hypocrisy, she became a much more real character to me.

This story was romantic, filled with air battles and life consequences when foolish choices are made. It was heartbreaking and heart filled read. I can’t wait for Clay’s story.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Weekend Briefing: Illustration Reveal

Welcome back, agents. Time for some very important announcements. We have a winner for the giveaway! Congratulations Faith!

And while you're all here, just a heads up that Heart of Steel is now eleven chapters published on Wattpad...

Okay, back to business: the illustration reveal. Since Mission Head is the great patron of arts that she is, she comissioned a special illustration for Agents Adam and Eve by the illustrious Maddy Moore.
Get ready...
You may want to take a few deep breaths for health purposes (wouldn't want days without agents passing out to drop back down when we're so close to getting ice cream for being so accident free).
And here it is

Oh, there goes are ice cream.

Dream not of other worlds...

They call him agent and he answers. They tell him conquer and he does. But there's something they don't know. He's beginning to remember. His name is Kristian Clark. He has a wife and four children. Or he did. But he will find them again, whoever is left, wherever they are, and whatever it takes.

They call her the Aisling. She does their missions only as far as it helps her accomplish her own: to find and rescue the children of a fallen woman. And she will not let anyone get in her way- most certainly not the brainwashed father who has for so long been an unthinking weapon for the government. To save the innocents, she will not hesitate to do whatever it takes- no matter how much it condemns her.

They are the root of a conspiracy that would bring two worlds together, for good or for evil, for better or for worse, for life or for death. Their choices shall echo throughout all eternity.

Coming April 16!

Well, that's all for now, agents. Except for you, Jamie. Could you please fetch the smelling salts for Mickey? Good grief, swooning agents are the most embarrassing thing...

Comment with your favorite spy story!

*Unless Mickey passes out again. Or Kyle tasers Tim. Or Kristian over-exhausts himself teleporting, or- Basically, we'll have ice cream in 21 days if a miracle happens.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

About the Book

Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe  
Author: Carla Laureano  
Genre: Christian Romance  
Release date: February 5, 2019  
Publisher: Tyndale

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around. 

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law. 

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.
Click here to purchase your copy.

My Thoughts:

From the very first pages this book had me laughing out loud to the description of bread that pastry chef Melody Johansson gives to Justin Keller. Their first meeting was interesting and their continual banter was lively. 

Justin is a pilot with crazy hours and Melody is a chef with crazy hours as well. I liked that both are just about to have their dreams fulfilled in their respective careers, however neither have ever had a really serious relationship nor are they satisfied with where they are in life. As they test the grounds of a relationship can both have their cake and eat it too? 

This was a sweet romantic read that really made me hungry. All of the descriptions of food and the many pictures that Melody staged with food and books had me wishing she was a real person that I could follow online. 

There are some bittersweet family moments and Melody’s friends keep her grounded as she is a restless soul. Justin and Melody were such creative characters and they really needed to let some baggage go and work through some issues if they were going to have a happily ever after. It was great to see Rachel from the last book and I hope Ana’s story is next. 

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

About the Author

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post from Carla

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream. 

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work. 

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker. 

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same. 

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself. 

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course. 

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me. 

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, February 12
Among the Reads, February 12
Lighthouse Academy, February 12
By The Book, February 12
The Power of Words, February 13
As He Leads is Joy, February 13
Cultivating Us, February 13
Fiction Aficionado, February 14
The Lit Addict, February 14
All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15
100 Pages per Hour, February 15
Splashes of Joy, February 15
Bibliophile Reviews, February 16
Texas Book-aholic, February 16
C Jane Read, February 17
Moments, February 17
Back Porch Reads, February 17
Cordially Barbara, February 18
Genesis 5020, February 18
Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)
Livin’ Lit, February 19
Kat’s Corner Books, February 19
Life with the Tribe, February 19
Remembrancy, February 20
Vicky Sluiter, February 20
2014 and Beyond!, February 21
Daysong Reflections, February 21
Inklings and Notions, February 21
Pause for Tales, February 21
Cafinated Reads, February 22
Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22
Two Girls and a Book, February 23
For the love of books, February 23
God is Love, February 24
Book by Book, February 24
Lukewarm Tea, February 25
Carpe Diem, February 25
Bigreadersite, February 25


To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

My Thoughts on The Way Back by Heidi Chiavaroli

  About: Young love means everything . . . until it leaves you with nothing. The summer before her senior year of high school, Laney Jacobs...