Monday, February 17, 2020

Book Review: Tucker, Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas by Emily March

Tucker Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas by Emily March

Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, February 25, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, Texas

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 329 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

In Eternity Springs: The McBrides of TexasNew York Times bestselling author Emily March presents a brand new arc set in the Lone Star State that features a family-linked trilogy within the author's romantic series.
Hope springs eternal in this enchanting Texas town.
Meet Gillian Thacker. Her business: Bliss Bridal Salon. Her passion: Weddings. Her own wedding: It’s complicated. Life isn’t turning out like she’d planned. The last thing she wants is for a real-life hero to ride to her rescue when an unexpected event puts her entire future in Redemption, Texas, at risk. So what’s a broken-hearted bridal expert to do? Maybe a new set of survival skills is exactly what she needs…
Tucker McBride has been proud to call himself a U.S. Army Ranger. But now that his days of service are over, he’s decided to put his expertise to use by founding a wilderness skills training school. He sets up shop in Redemption, next to Bliss Bridal, and so begins life: Part Two. Marriage has been pretty low on his agenda, but as soon as he meets Gillian, Tucker can’t help but contemplate the ultimate challenge: Convincing the reluctant bride to take his hand and leap into the adventure of a lifetime. . .until death do they part.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publishing and Net-Galley for the chance to read and review Tucker Eternity Springs: The McBrides of Texas by Emily March before publication. My opinions are my own, and no one has influenced them in any way.

I recently found Emily March’s Eternity Springs series, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I immediately snagged Tucker when I found it on Net-Galley. As with the other books, Tucker pulled me in from the first page and held me engaged until the last page. The pacing is steady and worked well for this story. I loved the McBrides in Texas as much as the characters in Eternity Springs.

Gillian Thacker’s character has a good deal of depth, making her a compelling character. She’s independent and wants her new business venture to succeed. I never liked her fiancée from the start, so I was glad when their engagement ended. I felt her anger and frustration over how it dissolved though.

Tucker McBride is a great hero with many facets to his character. He had a career as a U.S. Army Ranger and was smart enough to realize when it was time to leave. He still suffers from what happened while a ranger, but his determination to move beyond it is inspiring. Although attracted to Gillian, he keeps his distance until she breaks off her engagement. Then he pursues her, determined to win her heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed the romance between Gillian and Tucker. It’s clear from their first meeting they are perfect for each other. He’s so patient with Gillian and accepts she needs time to trust her feelings after her breakup. They captivated me, and I was so pleased they found their way to each other.

If you enjoy romance with a character-driven plot and touching base with past characters from the Eternity Springs series, then you will love Tucker as much as I did. While this can easily be read as a stand-alone novel, I encourage you to read Ms. March’s Eternity series. It’s amazing. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a "master of delightful banter," and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Book Review: Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor

Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor

Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, February 25, 2020

Time and setting:  Regency England: London

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 361 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Wild, Wild Rake, the next sweeping, emotional, witty, and sharp romance in the Cavensham Heiresses series from beloved author Janna MacGregor.
Her first marriage was an epic fail.
Lady Avalon Warwyk never did love her husband. Arrogant, selfish, and cruel, it’s a blessing when she’s widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves: helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry—that is, until Mr. Devan Farris comes to town.
Can he convince her to take another chance at happily ever after?
Devan Farris—charming vicar, reputed rake, and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian—is reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs; he’s not one to trod on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. But she’ll have nothing to do with a vicar with a wild reputation—even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show Avalon who he really is on the inside—a good, true soul looking for its other half. But how can prove that he wants to love and care for her. . .until death do they part?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the chance to read and review Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor in advance of release. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This is by far the best book in the Cavensham Heiresses series. Wild, Wild Rake is an historical novel set in the Regency period and has all the characteristics I love most in this sub-genre. The pacing is excellent, and I became enmeshed in the story from the beginning and remain so until the end.

Lady Avalon Warwyk is an endearing heroine. She’s a nurturing mother to her son and will do whatever is needed to protect him. After years with a bully, now that she’s a widow, she will live her life as she wants, devoting her energy to her charity.

Devan Farris is a great hero. He’s unique since he’s a vicar. I can only recall reading two other novels with a man of God as the hero. His brother wants him to spy on the charming widow. His integrity makes him such an honorable man. He refuses to spy on Avalon, instead he tells her what his brother wanted him to do. I loved the tenderness he showed toward her son. He has an undeserved reputation as a rake, when he’s far, far from one which comes out in the story.

The romance between Avalon and Devan is lovely and fulfilling. There’s plenty of the sexual tension which makes Regency romance such a delight to read. They are perfect for each other, and I truly wanted them to find their happy ending.

If you enjoy Regency romance with engaging characters and a great plot, then you will love Wild, Wild Rakeas much as I did. I’m so glad I took a chance and read this wonderful novel. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. 

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Book Review: Breaking Hard by Gloria Joynt-Lang

Breaking Hard by Gloria Joynt-Lang

Publisher & Release: The Wild Rose Press, February 12, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, Oregon

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 282 Pages

Heat Level: Mild

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Gage O'Neill is an all-around nice guy and an Adonis in coveralls. With a thriving automotive business, a gorgeous girlfriend, and his ADHD under control, life is pretty incredible. But when he loses a loved one, Gage's perfect world unravels. Prone to bad choices, he's desperate to quell his rash behavior. Thankfully, hiring a curvy mechanic is the one impulsive decision he's gotten right.

Eden Sampario is destitute as a result of a confrontation turned violent with her former employer. When Gage mistakenly offers her a job, she readily accepts. But soon she wonders if she made the right decision. Resisting her sexy boss proves more challenging than an engine rebuild. Her only other option? Give in to temptation and risk not only her career but also her heart.

Welcome to Big C's automotive shop, a place where more than cars overheat. 

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the chance to read and review Breaking Hard by Gloria Joynt-Lang prior to publication. A fascinating glimpse at a young man living with severe ADHD. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by receiving a complimentary e-copy.

Breaking Hard caught my attention from the first page and kept me enmeshed until the end. The pacing is fast when the story calls for it and slower at other times, making this book an entertaining reading experience. Her characters are well-developed, and the author made them so appealing, I easily fell in love with them. I only found one other book by Ms. Joynt-Lang, which is only available in print, or I would be downloading it!

Eden Sampario’s character has plenty of guts. Her occupation is not typical for a woman, but Eden is determined to prove she’s an expert mechanic in a male-dominated career. While I’m not normally enthused by a heroine with an occupation like hers, Ms. Joynt-Lang had me liking her from the start and made her career choice perfect for her. It was easy for me to become vested in her character.

Gage O’Neill is one of the most unique heroes I’ve stumbled across in a romance novel. He is engaging in a quirky way. Not only is he attractive, he’s a truly nice guy who understands his limitations due to his challenges. He suffers from ADHD. Ms. Joynt-Lang either did a ton of research or knows someone who suffers from this affliction. She paints an accurate picture of the disorder. I loved this aspect of the story because it made me fall in love with Gage immediately.

I too have individuals in my life who suffer from ADHD. When she describes Gage’s issue with tactile sensory overload, I identified right away. Sensory Integration is a very real issue for individuals with ADHD. I have two grandchildren with this disorder, each on a different end of the spectrum.

The romance between Eden and Gage is lovely, and I truly wanted them to find their happy ending. While there is a strong physical attraction between the couple, their emotional connection is what I enjoyed the most. I loved Eden’s easy acceptance and willingness to understand Gage. I also loved Gage’s acceptance of Eden into male-controlled environment. They are perfect for each other!

If you are looking for an engaging romance between unique characters that will tug at your heart from the start, and one with more substance than is normally found in contemporary romance, then you will love Breaking Hard as much as I did. I strongly urge you to read this amazing novel. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Gloria Joynt-Lang was born in France and raised in various locales throughout Canada. Before she started writing contemporary romance, she worked in the criminal justice system--technically spending time behind bars. 

As a Canadian, she's fanatic about hockey, poutine, and apologizing.

She currently resides in rural Alberta with her husband and their two dogs.

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Monday, February 3, 2020

Book Review: The Amish Teacher's Dilemma by Patricia Davids

The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma 
by Patricia Davids

Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, February 18, 2020

Time and setting:  Present Day, North Country, Maine

Genre: Amish Fiction

Length: 224 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweetheart

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 
The teacher next door could be the mother they need…

Will she return to her old life…or risk everything to build a new one?

Taking a schoolteacher position in another district is just the change Amish spinster Eva Coblentz needs. And with her new neighbor, blacksmith Willis Gingrich, struggling to raise his three orphaned siblings, Eva is determined to help them heal. But when her relatives insist she come home, Eva must choose between the life she left…and the one she’s growing to love.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the chance to read and review The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma by Patricia Davids. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by a gift of an e-copy of this book.

The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma is a lovely Amish tale with an endearing heroine who is humble and modest. She’s given up on finding a husband and takes a teaching job in a new community. A friendship develops between her and her nextdoor neighbor. Could she hope something more can be in store for her?

Eva Coblentz is a delightful character with all the characteristics I love in an Amish Heroine. Her heart is as big as an ocean when it comes to the orphaned children living with their elder brother. She cares for them as if they were her own kinner.

Willis Gingrich is a charming hero. He’s ashamed and embarrassed by his inability to learn as others who find it so easy. He feels overwhelmed raising his three half-siblings. My heart hurt for him when he realizes his feelings for Eva are growing. He believes he is too far away from her on an intellectual level for her to ever return his regard.

The romance between Eva and Willis is sweet and based on their growing friendship. They quickly become best friends. I loved their nightly meetings in the schoolyard. I truly wanted this charming couple to find a way to each other.

If you enjoy a heartfelt romance with engaging characters and a lovely plot that, at times, will have you smiling, while at others, dotting tears from the corner of your eyes, then you will love The Amish Teacher’s Dilemma as much as I did. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’ve already purchased the first two books in this series and read them! I understand Ms. Davids has plans to write quite a few more books in this heartwarming series. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling author Patricia Davids grew up on a Kansas farm with four brothers. After college she began a wonderful career as a nurse. In 1973 Pat wrote a letter to a lonely sailor. Little did she know her talent with words would bring her love, marriage and motherhood.

An avid reader, Pat longed to write a book, but put her dream on hold as she raised a family and worked in an NICU. It wasn't until 1996 that she began writing seriously. Today, Pat enjoys crafting emotionally satisfying romances where love and faith bring two people together forever.

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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Book Review: Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor

Beyond the Moon by Catherine Taylor

Publisher & Release: The Cameo Press Ltd, June 25, 2019

Time and setting:  Early 20th century, England

Genre: Historical Romance/Time Travel

Length: 496 Pages

Heat Level: 1 flame

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

A time travel romance, yet so much more than that. It is also an unflinching portrait of the horrors of war, and a look at the torturous extremes a human soul can endure. It is a sonnet to the transformative power of love, even as it is also a criticism of the futility and pointless destructiveness of war." — Shaylin Gandhi, author of By The Light of Embers

In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless. 

A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.

Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…

Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide - and become one desperate struggle to be together.

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story - and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art - Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time. An intelligent read, perfect for book clubs. 

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High Wood, mid-July 1916
It was beautiful; so unexpectedly and profoundly perfect that he felt his heart might break. Robert looked out over the cornfield at High Wood, tears spilling down his cheeks, surprised he still had the ability to cry. Perhaps there was something in him that was still human after all. A little way behind stood Private Nesbitt, his signaller. The two of them had come out in advance to assess the lie of the land.
     The breeze brushed softly through the ripening ears of corn, as if for the simple pleasure of feeling them part. And the corn, in turn, seemed to shiver with pleasure at its touch. There was scarcely a shell hole to be seen. Nearby, a song thrush spilled its joyous tune. It was warm, the sky mostly overcast, but every now and then a shaft of sunlight broke through and gilded the landscape and heated the back of his neck. Only the distant boom of the guns gave away the fact they were still at the front.
     He closed his eyes, drank in the silence. He could almost be back at home in the fields of his boyhood, tramping through the thigh-high buttercups with a jam jar, catching beetles and pretending not to hear Cook at the bottom of the garden calling him back in for lunch. He could scarcely believe he’d ever been that boy. That time increasingly seemed like a fantasy dreamt up by someone else. 
     It was just two weeks since the great offensive had kicked off, but he felt he’d aged a lifetime. His battalion had been sent further down the line, south of the Albert to Bapaume road, where the attack had been a bit more successful on the first of July. There, the British had not only taken a little ground but held it – albeit at great cost. Now Sir Douglas Haig wanted to exploit the gains. Things had gone well so far that morning. Instead of a long preliminary bombardment proclaiming loudly to all and sundry the fact that the British were coming, there’d been a short, lightning bombardment. Under cover of darkness, they’d been able to take the Germans by surprise and turf them out of three miles of their own second line. Luck had, for once, been on their side. Now they must press their advantage and advance further. There were no two ways about it. This time they simply had to succeed.

Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the author for offering me a chance to read and review Beyond the Moon. This book is available through the Kindle Unlimited program, which is how I chose to read it. I’m so glad Ms. Taylor brought her book to my attention. What an amazing debut novel!

Beyond the Moon is an epic novel with characters that touched my heart, and a plot that is riveting. The writing is crisp and flows beautifully, and the pacing is perfect. The dialogue is smooth and pulled me into the story. Ms. Taylor’s transition from present day to war torn France and England is excellent.

Louisa Casson’s character is compelling. I became vested in her from the first page to the last. I could feel her terror when she discovers she’s confined in Coldwater Hall. Her independent personality would have gotten her into hot water if she hadn’t taken advice from one of the other patients. 

Robert Lovett is the hero, and I fell in love with him from the beginning. He’s an intriguing character, and I could not wait to learn more about him. I loved that he could not forget Louisa although he isn’t sure she truly exists.

The romance between Louisa and Robert is amazing. Although they are separated by distance and time, it remains strong. The times they are together, are electric. It’s a tribute to Ms. Taylor’s talent that she could keep me involved in their love story when they spend so much time apart.

If you enjoy time travel with an intriguing twist, with amazing characters and an intricate plot, then you will love Beyond the Moon as much as I did. I will be looking for future works by this talented author. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Catherine was born and grew up on the small island of Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands in the English Channel.

She’s been obsessed with history, and particularly with WW1 for a long time - in fact she dates her fascination with WW1 to the moment she first read Wilfred Owen's poem "Strange Meeting" as a child. 

The literature of the First World War is the most moving she’s ever read, and she defies anyone to read Vera Brittain's A Testament Of Youth and not be moved to tears. As well as being a history obsessive, She’s a hopeless romantic. And she always knew that the novel she one day intended to write would be a historical love story, set during the First World War - one that would be intelligent, well-researched and have a big, emotional heart. 

Not only that, she always wanted her novel to have a touch of the fantastical about it too. As a child she loved to read books with magic in them, especially timeslips, and as she got older, she wondered why it was that most novels with elements of the paranormal in them were exclusively for children.

Catherine is a former journalist who lives in West London with her husband and two children. Beyond The Moon is her first novel.

I’m not really very active on Facebook, but I post on Twitter and Instagram where my handles are @CathTaylorNovel and @catherine_taylor_author respectively.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review: The Girl Who Disappeared by James Lingard

The Girl Who Disappeared by James Lingard

Publisher & Release: Clink Street Publishing, January 14, 2020

Time and setting:  WWII, England

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 200 Pages

Rating:  3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Emily falls passionately in love with working class Walter, despite fierce opposition from her class conscious father. She sees marriage as a partnership of equals and resolves to elope to escape such a male dominated society. Emily’s actions will see her struggle to survive the subsequent devastation brought about by the war, as she and her four year old son are thrown into the midst of danger and death. The family experience rationing and the terror of bombing. Their air raid shelter is destroyed by a direct hit. When Walter volunteers for the army, Emily and her son are evacuated to a rat infested cottage in a farming community near Hebden Bridge. The war changes Walter into an efficient army officer who demands to be obeyed. Emily worries that she might have a rival for his affections. How can she restore their loving relationship? The Girl Who Disappeared is a moving love story about one woman’s enduring resilience, a story full of quiet humour and surprising twists and turns.

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks go to the publisher and author for the chance to read and review The Girl Who Disappeared by James Lingard, an historical novel set in the WWII era. My opinions are my own and are not influenced by the gift of an e-copy of this book.

The Girl Who Disappeared is an interesting novel that shows life prior to, during, and the aftermath of WWII. I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect of the book. As a reading experience, it’s unusual. It reads more like a documentary than a novel. There is a great deal of telling instead of showing. The dialogue is indirect and different than what I normally see in works of fiction. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book, and I’m glad I agreed to read it.

Emily is the main character. She is an interesting individual. I would have enjoyed more depth to her character. Her role is the vehicle for the information regarding the life and times of the WWII period.

Walter’s character marries Emily, but since the POV is in Emily’s, I didn’t get much insight into his character. He seemed to care for Emily and their son, Richard. However, he is rarely with them. Initially, because he’s advancing his career, and later a soldier in the Royal Army.

James Lingard certainly knows this period of history and England’s involvement, then how it affected the daily lives of its citizens. I found this fascinating. England experienced dreadful damage and loss of life during this horrific war, and not just on the battlefield. Most historical fiction novels focus on the war itself and the battles. Ms. Lingard’s shows a different aspect of the war.

If you would enjoy a fantastic view of what life was like for British citizens, then you will like this novel. In 2016, I visited England. On my tour, we drove by the shell of a church in Devon. The guide explained that it was left in ruins so British citizen would never forget the horrors of WWII. For me, that gave me a new understanding of what England suffered during that awful period of history. The Girl Who Disappeared had added to that a great deal. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

James Lingard - educated at Dulwich College and University College London - became a leading City of London solicitor specialising in banking law and insolvency. 
A former Council Member of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals and of the European Association of Insolvency Practitioners, he became a Judicial Chairman of the Insolvency Practitioners Tribunal. 
He was the founding President of the Insolvency Lawyers Association and also became Chairman of the Joint Insolvency Examination Board and of the Banking Law and the Insolvency Law Sub Committees of the City of London Law Society.