Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: A Casterglass Christmas (Keeping Up with the Penryns #1) by Kate Hewitt

To save Casterglass, all the Penryn children will need to return home, rebuild their lives among the ruins, and find love that has proved elusive...

The Penryn family have always been eccentric—living in a dilapidated castle in the wilds of Cumbria with an orchid-mad father and a classicist mother who likes to re-enact Greek myths, who wouldn’t be? Penniless and proud, patriarch Walter Penryn resists selling his birthright and family legacy until taxes, bills, and the need for a new roof force him to reconsider.

Well-heeled Londoner Althea Penryn doesn’t expect a divorce and job hunt over the Christmas holidays, but her husband claims he’s done and the prenup is solid. She packs up her reluctant teenage children and heads home to Casterglass Castle to confront the ghosts of her past—including the real one her mother claims lives in the old guard tower. And then there’s her unexpected romance with local sheep farmer, John Braithwaite, who is everything her adulterous, solicitor ex-husband isn’t.

This Christmas, amid the renovation and potential heartbreak of losing her family home, can Althea find a new purpose and the happiness that has so long eluded her?


My Review:

A wonderful start to a new series.

I was instantly hooked on this book.  My heart went out to Althea who finally got the nerve to leave her cheating husband.  It was especially hard when it was Christmas time.  She takes her kids and moves back home to Casterglass Castle, where she grew up.  But the castle is anything but glamorous.  It’s decaying bit by bit.  But Althea comes up with the plan to fix it up and make it a tourist attraction.  I enjoyed seeing the plans come together, how Althea reconnected with her family and learned to move on with her life.  There is even a love interest, her farmer neighbor, John.   

I can’t wait to read the books that will follow this one and learn more about the Penryns.  They seem to be an interesting family. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Review: The Secret of Snow by Viola Shipman


The forecast is calling for a reluctant homecoming and regrettable decisions with a strong chance of romance

When Sonny Dunes, a SoCal meteorologist whose job is all sunshine and seventy-two-degree days, is replaced by a virtual meteorologist that will never age, gain weight or renegotiate its contract, the only station willing to give the fifty-year-old another shot is the very place Sonny’s been avoiding since the day she left for college—her northern Michigan hometown.

Sonny grudgingly returns to the long, cold, snowy winters of her childhood…with the added humiliation of moving back in with her mother. Not quite an outsider but no longer a local, Sonny finds her past blindsiding her everywhere: from the high school friends she ghosted, to the former journalism classmate and mortal frenemy who’s now her boss, to, most keenly, the death years ago of her younger sister, who loved the snow.

To distract herself from the memories she's spent her life trying to outrun, Sonny throws herself headfirst into covering every small-town winter event to woo a new audience, made more bearable by a handsome widower with optimism to spare. But with someone trying to undermine her efforts to rebuild her career, Sonny must make peace with who she used to be and allow her heart to thaw if she’s ever going to find a place she can truly call home.


My Review:

A beautifully told story about starting over.

This is one of those books you just fall in love with.  The characters, plot and setting work together to make an unforgettable story.  Sonny Dunes was on top of the world, working as a popular meteorologist, in sunny Palm Springs when her world came crashing down.  She lost her job and ended up moving back home, to her mother’s house, in the middle of the cold snowy Michigan winter.  Sonny hated snow and the painful memories it brought back.  As Sonny picks up the pieces of her life, she learns forgiveness, to trust again, makes new friends and even falls in love.

Not only was this book entertaining, but I learned a lot from it.  There was so much great wisdom in it (mostly from Sonny’s mother) and it gave me advice on things I didn’t even know I needed.  I had a hard time closing this book at the end.  I wasn’t ready for it to be over.  I highly recommend reading this book.  I would love to see this book made into a movie.  


Thank you to Harlequin Trade Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

review: A Texas Christmas Miracle (The Raffertys of Last Stand #2) by Justine Davis


Two people who don't believe in Christmas or miracles...

Retired from special forces and back on his family’s Texas ranch, Chance Rafferty’s finally found some peace through creating a foundation to rescue and retrain military K-9s thought to be beyond redemption. He prefers to be left alone with his dogs and his work, but when a woman arrives shortly before Christmas looking for the dog that saved her husband’s life, Chance is astonished at the dog's—and his own—response to her.

Though it’s been years, Ariel Larson still dreads the Christmas season because it marks the anniversary of her deployed husband's death. When she learns her husband’s K-9 partner survived combat, Ariel feels she’s been given a lifeline to escape her grief. She suddenly has a sense of purpose she’s been desperately missing. But she never expected the man determined to rehabilitate the traumatized animal would have such a stunning impact on her own life.

Can these two wounded hearts come together to create their own Christmas miracle?


My Review:

An emotional, friends to lovers story.

I couldn’t wait to learn more about Chance Rafferty.  In the previous book, Nothing But Cowboy, he came across as reclusive, living in a remote cabin on his family’s ranch, all alone with no one but his rescue dogs. 

When Chance came back from the war, he just wanted to be alone.  He didn’t need friends or family hanging around and butting into his business, especially those who wanted him to start dating again.  Chance was happy retraining former military dogs so they could be adopted.  His current rescue dog was Tri.  Tri was injured during a mission that killed his handler.   When Tri’s handler’s widow, Ariel Larson, shows up looking to adopt Tri, Chance wasn’t sure what to think.  But as time went by, he started to realize Ariel would be a good new owner for Tri.  But there was more in the works.  Chance and Ariel started to to have feelings for each other.  In so many ways, it should be wrong, but in many ways it could be so right.  But was there enough to create a lasting relationship? 

This book had my emotions working overtime with the back stories of the characters.  I couldn’t wait to see how Chance and Ariel would finally move away from the friend zone into a relationship.  Seeing Tri’s transformation into civilian life was fun to watch too.  He actually ruled quite a few scenes.  This book is set around Christmas time, the of year Chance and Ariel both dread.  It was interesting to see how they learned to move past that dread.  It was a true Christmas miracle.  I look forward to reading more books in this series when they come out.