Friday, July 20, 2018

Review: Where the River Bends by Elsa Winckler

Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She's sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.

Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carter is always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule, until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.

As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time. 

My Review: 

An intriguing story that I couldn’t put down. 

Kalinda Evans divorced her abusive husband and left South Africa to go to Canada to work for the Anglo-Boer war foundation.  She has just been sent back to Africa to do some investigations at the war museum.   On her way to the guest house in Paardeberg, where she will be staying, she encounters a woman standing on the side of the road.  Believing she needs a ride, Kalinda lets her in the car.  But, the next thing she knows, the woman has disappeared leaving behind a white handkerchief.  At first she thought her mind was playing tricks on her.  When she finally talks to the people she is staying with about what happened, she learns she has just seen a ghost.  

Game designer, Zack Carteris, is visiting his parents, while recovering from pneumonia.  When Zach meets Kalinda, he becomes interested in her.  Zach has never been able to commit to any woman, but there is something about Kalinda that might make him change his three date rule.    

I was really surprised by this book.  The description got my attention; I thought a ghost story would be fun.  But, I didn’t realize how well I would end up liking it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really getting into the story and not wanting to stop reading when I knew I should be going to bed.  I liked learning the history of the war and really got into Susie’s story and liked how she brought Kalinda and Zach together.  I haven’t read anything by this author before, but this book won’t be the last.  I like her story telling and writing style.  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: A Vicarage Wedding (The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Book 3) by Kate Hewitt

Rachel Holley has always dreamed of a wedding—the white dress, the fairy tale, and of course, the happily-ever-after. But when her fiancĂ© breaks it off the night before, claiming she doesn’t love him, Rachel’s fairy tale ends in ashes.

Homeless, hopeless, and feeling like her life has been completely derailed, Rachel must start over in all sorts of ways—and hold her head up high in the fishbowl of her tiny village. The last person she expects to become a friend is Sam West, the taciturn owner of The Bell, Thornthwaite’s rougher pub, and a little rough around the edges of himself.

But as Rachel gets to know Sam, and sees him caring for his orphaned nephew, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic man. Nothing about Sam is what Rachel expected in a life partner, and yet she can’t deny their increasing closeness. But can love flourish on the rebound? And will there be a vicarage wedding after all?

My Review:  

When first started this book, I felt sad for Holley.  But, the further I got into the story, the more I realized Dan breaking up with her before the wedding was actually the best thing for them both.  Holley seemed to be a bit of a perfectionist and needed to see that love and life didn’t always come wrapped in pretty packaging.  Sometimes love is a little bit messy and imperfect.  You don’t always get the big house you were dreaming of either.  When Holley met Sam, he was the total opposite of what she normally looked for in a man, but even though they had different upbringings, lives and goals, they meshed really well.  And when Sam got custody of his troubled nephew, Holley was right there to help Sam out.  She was needed more than she realized. 

I would almost call this book more of a women’s fiction than romance because there was so much more than just the romantic part.  There was family drama as well as Holley’s journey into becoming a better version of herself.  The story didn’t just center around Holley and Sam either.  There was a lot about life and Holley’s family as well.   

A of couple lines in the book summed it up perfectly:
She’d been thinking about what she wanted, what kind of life she envisioned for herself.  But what if happiness was to be found in something else entirely?  And not just happiness, but importance? Meaning?  Something that had been missing now for a while.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Review: Holly's Heart (Outback Brides Book 4) by Fiona McArthur

Doctor Ben Brieley is keen to settle into life as a small town general practitioner and help his grandmother run Brieley Park. The city life was never for him. He’s finally found the peace he’s longed for, until the arrival of that one woman he’s never been able to forget, threatens to shatter it all. No way is he revisiting that road of unrequited love...except Holly Peterson seems fragile and in need of saving, and Ben’s never stopped being Holly’s white knight.

After losing her sister and her faith in the world of medicine, Holly Peterson moves home to Wirralong along with her two nephews. Determined to rebuild her life and create a loving home and sense of belonging, she opens the Outback Brides Coffee Shop as her new vocation. When she learns that Ben Brieley, the man she said no to years ago is home to stay, Holly fears she’ll lose her heart and her focus on her nephews if she lets him in.

Will Ben be able to break through Holly’s fears and barriers or will history repeat itself and destroy him once again?

My Review:

Old school friends Holly Pederson and Ben Brieley are reunited in their hometown of Wirralong.  Both are doctors, but Holly quit practicing after she lost a patient and it shook her confidence.  Holly is focusing on raising her young twin nephews after her sister passed away.  She has also reopened her sister’s coffee shop and enjoys working there.  Ben is back in town to help his grandmother out and he is also opening his own practice.  Ben’s plan was to find a wife and settle down.  But when he sees Holly again, his mind turns to her.  He was always in love with Holly even though he knew she wasn’t interested in him.  Maybe now Ben will have a chance to win Holly’s heart.    

This was a good book.  It touched on all of the elements to keep my attention and keep the story moving along quickly.  Of course there was the reuniting of old friends and their growing romance.  But, it also has a sweet side with the boys, Tom and Pat.  I also enjoyed the medical part which I usually I don’t enjoy those kinds of stories as there are too many terms and situations that I can’t relate to.  But, this author wrote the scenes where anyone would understand.   I especially enjoyed the camping scene where the boys came to respect Ben as part of their family.  This was an all-around good book that I would recommend.  It is also a nice way to wrap up the Outback Brides series. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Review: Elsa's Stand (Outback Brides Book 3) by Cathryn Hein

When the sudden death of his mother forces outback opal miner Jack Hargreaves home to Wirralong, his plan is simple: mourn his mother, sort out the family farm, and get the hell out of the town that has always hated him. But Elsa O'Donoghue, the beautiful hairdresser with a big heart and even brighter smile, has other plans.

From the moment Jack strides into her salon and helps himself to her clippers, Elsa is in lust. He might be a poster boy for the strong silent type, but she senses there’s a good man behind that stoic facade. With her business taking off, Elsa is finally ready for a relationship and Jack is just her kind of man. Not to mention, she’s never said no to a challenge.

Worried their association will harm Elsa’s business, Jack tries to avoid her, but Elsa is irresistible. Soon, she has him believing and hoping for a future with her in Wirralong, but another family tragedy shatters Jack’s fragile dream. Jack knows he must leave Elsa to protect her, no matter the cost to himself.

My Review:

Jack Hargreaves, didn't plan on staying in Wirralong for long.  He was only there for his mother's funeral and to sort out the farm.  Then, he would head back to Lightning Ridge where he mined for opals.  He always felt out of place in Wirralong and never felt welcome.

Jack met Elsa O’Donoghue at her salon where he stopped for a haircut. There was something special about her and Jack really wanted to get to know her better.  So, he decided to stay in Wirralong a while longer.  Plus, he really wanted to find the legendary Strathroy sapphires that his mother mentioned during her last call.  But when a situation occurs at Jack's father's house and Jack gets caught up in the drama, will the scandal be the end for Jack and Elsa's new romance?

I liked Jack right from the start.  He was a hard worker, a bit stubborn and standoffish, especially when it came to women and the town he was raised in.  But, I could tell he had a sensitive side.  He just needed the right woman to bring it out of him.  The author did a wonderful job with the plot and the background details of the characters.  I enjoyed the setting too.  There were some emotional moments along with some parts that made me laugh.  All around, this is a great addition to the Outback Brides series. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Overdrive (Calhoun Customs Garage Book 1) by Juanita Kees

Chase Calhoun has worked hard at making Calhoun Customs a world-wide sensation and keeping his father’s dream alive. He hasn’t had time to think about settling down, so he’s not expecting to find love or new life in their garage amongst the ghosts of his family’s past.

Charlotte Jackson is on the run from a rebellious past, determined to prove she can be a good mom to three-month-old baby, Zoe. Tired of being delegated to the back office of the racing team her famous NASCAR family owns, she sets out to establish herself as a custom design artist. But her past soon threatens her future and everything she’s worked hard to build is challenged.

While Chase slowly loses his heart, Charlotte learns that sometimes family is more than just blood and DNA.

My Review:

Single mom, Charlotte “Charlie” Jackson, is on the run from her father because he wants to put her baby up for adoption.  He doesn’t want any more scandal from his rebellious daughter, especially about being an unwed mother.  Charlie’s brother, Ronan, is a NASCAR driver and her father wants all of the attention on his son.  Charlie soon finds herself in Bigfork, Montana in hopes to land a job as a graphic design artist at Calhoun Customs. 

Chase Calhoun was instantly attracted to Charlie the first time he saw her but he had no idea she was living out of her car and sneaking into his shop at night to sleep in the attic.  When he found Charlie and baby Zoe asleep in the attic, he decided he had to do something.  Chase took them home and then gave Charlie a job.  The last thing he expected was to find out was who she really was, the daughter of one of his father’s racing rivals from back in his NASCAR days.  And he definitely didn’t except to find himself falling in love with Charlie. 

I really enjoyed this book with the background of racing and a custom car shop.  It was a little different than the books I have been reading lately.  Though it is romance, the story line was more unique and had a lot of excitement and family drama.  I couldn’t help getting attached to some of the secondary characters as well and can’t wait to find out more about them in the upcoming books in this series.    

Monday, June 25, 2018

Review: Belle's Secret (Outback Brides Book 2) by Victoria Purman

Isabella Martenson never expected to be a runaway bride. She never expected to be a bride, period. She simply has the wrong DNA to do the whole happily married thing. Until one night in Vegas with a handsome winemaker changes everything...

A year later, Harry Harrison’s bride is still a mystery. Who was she? Where was she? And why did she run? When Harry flies to a Australia for his best friend's wedding, he runs straight into the woman he’s never been able to forget.

All she asks is for their marriage to be kept a secret. All he asks is for a divorce. But after a week together, Harry and Isabella are forced to face what they really want.

My Review: 

Isabella Martenson had been keeping a secret for the last year.  Not even her best friend knew it.  Isabella married a man when she was in Las Vegas for a convention and then panicked and ran.  She went back to Australia and moved hoping Harry would never find her.  Things are going good for Isabella now.  She is running her own business, Wedding Belles, and officiating weddings at her best friend Maggie’s wedding venue.  But when one of her wedding guests turns out to be her husband, Isabella doesn’t know how to react.

Harry Harrison, a well-known wine maker from San Francisco, is a guest at his friend’s weddings when he spots Belle, the woman who disappeared after they were married.  Since then he has been searching for her.  He just wants a divorce so he can move on with his life.  But when circumstances put the two of them together, they both might decide they want a second chance.  

This was a sweet story.  The situation was a bit unbelievable, but it made for a fun read.  I cheered on Isabella and Harry the entire time.  I wanted them to stay together.  The author kept the story interesting and enjoyable. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

A devastating mistake, a lifetime of consequences. How can you repair something broken if pieces are missing?

My Review:

An emotional tale about a family who loses their daughter and what they face afterwards. 

I am actually having a hard time writing a review for this book without giving away too much of the story.  But, I will say be sure you have some tissue ready when you read it.  It feels so real.  Just the thought of losing a child is hard enough, but what the family endures afterwards is heartbreaking. 

The book is told in two parts.  The first part of the book is about Linda and Tom Sadler and how losing their daughter, Phoebe, changes their relationship and other daughter’s life.  The second part is 25 years later and focuses on sisters, Esme and Bea.  We learn how the death of Phoebe has affected their lives.  When Esme reveals some secrets to Bea, she doesn’t know if it will help or harm the family even more, but she needs to open up about them.    

This is one of those books that once you read it, you can’t get it out of your mind.

*Thank you to Agora Books and NetGalley for the ARC of this book for an honest review.