Monday, July 06, 2015

Review: The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

Kindle Edition397 pages
Published May 1st 2013 
by Harlequin MIRA 
(first published April 27th 2003)

Series: Blossom Street, #1
My Rating: 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

There's a little yarn store in Seattle.

It's owned by Lydia Hoffman, and it represents her dream of a new life free from cancer. A life that offers a chance at love...

Lydia teaches knitting to beginners, and the first class is "How to Make a Baby Blanket." Three women join. Jacqueline Donovan wants to knit something for her grandchild as a gesture of reconciliation with her daughter-in-law. Carol Girard feels that the baby blanket is a message of hope as she makes a final attempt to conceive. And Alix Townsend is knitting her blanket for a court-ordered community service project.

These four very different women, brought together by an age-old craft, make unexpected discoveries--about themselves and each other. Discoveries that lead to friendship and more...

Oh, wow. I've been longing for a different sort of read of late. And since I love crocheting, this seemed right up my alley. True, it's different than knitting (make NO mistake about that) but still, the fact that the characters did something similar to what I do was appealing. 

I was so not disappointed with this read. I listened to it on audio, and it was...transformative. I just didn't want to stop listening. It's a book I honestly couldn't put down. This is a book that is about relationships, serious, real relationships. The kind we have to deal with every day. It's a book about the power of friendship, about acceptance and love. 

I never could have imagined a cast of characters that came from such diverse backgrounds, or from such different points in their lives. You don't really build relationships with people you meet in a class do you? Like, a knitting class? Of course we do! Those friendships we fostered in school, many of us have life long friends that started in just such a setting. My point being, it was fascinating to see the way the author drew together these women, how each had their own individual life story that was made better because of these friendships.
Book Two in the series

I was amazed to see a snob like Jacqueline come to learn to value Alex, and also her daughter in law, Tammy Lee. It was wonderful to see this change, how she reached out to them both, and how as a result she realized she couldn't continue to live in a marriage that was no longer loving.

I was equally amazed that Alex, who seemed so rough and gritty, was really just someone who had a bit of anger and needed...friends, and the way being around people who valued her made a difference in her life. And how she changed Carol's life just made me cry. I cried a lot while listening to this book. So much of it was moving.

There's something lyrical and yet, simple in the way the author unfolds her tale. It was rich with wisdom, emotion and I left it with a feeling of yearning because this is the kind of story that speaks to us all.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: The Chief by Monica McCarty

Mass Market Paperback405 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 
by Ballantine Books 
(first published January 1st 2010)
Series: Highland Guard, #1
My Rating:
Genre: Historical Romance

An elite fighting force unlike the world has ever seen...

Scouring the darkest corners of the Highlands and Western Isles, Robert the Bruce handpicks ten warriors to help him in his quest to free Scotland from English rule. They are the best of the best, chosen for their superior skills in each discipline of warfare. And to lead his secret Highland Guard, Bruce chooses the greatest warrior of all.

The ultimate Highland warlord and a swordsman without equal, Tor MacLeod has no intention of being drawn into Scotland’s war against the English. Dedicated to his clan, the fiercely independent chief answers to no one—especially not to his alluring new bride, bartered to him in a bid to secure his command of the deadliest fighting force the world has ever seen. The treacherous chit who made her way to Tor’s bed may have won his hand, but she will never claim his heart.

Although her husband’s reputation is as fierce as his manner, Christina Fraser believes that something softer hides beneath his brutal shell. But the only warmth she feels is in their bed, in glorious moments of white-hot desire that disappear with the dawn. When Christina’s reckless bid to win her husband’s love goes awry and thrusts them into danger on the eve of war, Tor will face his ultimate battle: to save his wife and to open his heart—before it’s too late.

I've been meaning to read this for a while, and it was time. So I'd like to say, wow. I love historical romances (I must have said that a million times already) and I love highlander romances and this one was really, really good. I liked the plot was really detailed. A lot of how Tor and Christina came to be married could have been glossed over, but it wasn't. And that made the book so much better! 

I also love the fact that there's real history in this book. I admire authors who take the time to research and then include that in the setting and plot of their novel. It just adds another dimension to the story that I really enjoy, probably because I love history. 

Let's get to the characters. Tor, what a guy! Can I gush? I'm gonna gush! So, he's naturally a big, handsome muscled warrior (duh) but I think what I liked about him was his determination. He is very focused on providing for his clan, keeping his people safe, so much so that he doesn't realize he's in love with Christina for a long time. He keeps trying to push her away because she makes him feel, and he doesn't think he can feel as it's a distraction from his duties. It's kinda of dense really, but I admired that he was a man who truly cared about his family, his clan and wasn't willing to let anything stand between that. It made those tender scenes where he talks with Christina, or worries over her that much more le sigh. And a good romance needs le sigh.
Book Two in the series!

Christina made me laugh. She was so eager to win Tor's love. She had herself convinced he cared for her, but at times she doubted that too. But she kept trying to prove to him that she was trustworthy, that she could help him. It kinda backfires on her, but her efforts and the fact that she's willing to give up everything for Tor, bring them together in the end. And it was worth the read, let me tell you!

Can I say something about the steamy? I feel it bares mentioning because somehow these bedroom scenes were atypical for me. They weren't that much different than you might expect in a historical romance, but there was something that was definitely more steamy somehow, and we get our fair share of them too.

This was an intelligently written, detailed and steamy read for me. I very much enjoyed it, the romance was at the forefront of the story but the historical aspects were beautifully interwoven, making this a seamless, polished read. I cannot wait to continue the series.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Come Home to Me by Brenda Novak

Mass Market Paperback416 pages
Published March 25th 2014 
by Harlequin MIRA 
(first published January 1st 2014)
Series: Whiskey Creek, #6 
My Rating: .5
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Home is where her heart is...

When Presley Christensen returns to Whiskey Creek with her little boy after two years away, she has completely changed her life. She's made peace with her past and overcome the negative behavior that resulted from her difficult childhood. Now she's back in the small town that was the closest thing to "home" she ever knew—the town where she can be with the sister who's her only family. 

There's just one catch. Aaron Amos still lives in Whiskey Creek, at least until he moves to Reno to open a branch of the Amos brothers' auto body shop. And no matter how hard she's tried, Presley hasn't been able to get over him. Seeing him again makes the longing so much worse. But she hopes she can get through the next few months, because she can't fall back into his arms…or his bed. She's come too far to backslide now. And there's a secret she's been guarding—a secret she'll do anything to protect.

Gee, what to say about this novel. I was hoping for something completely different, I'll start off by saying that. Brenda Novak has once again penned a novel that has stirred up a lot of emotion in me--most of it dread--but I can't say the novel wasn't interesting. Mild spoilers ahead everyone, so read at your own risk. 

Presley is back in town and has turned her life around big time. She is caring for both herself and her young son, and she's doing it on very little money. But she's starting up her own business and determined to make Whiskey Creek her home--and equally determined to avoid her former lover, Aaron. 

I could see why Presley wanted nothing to do with Aaron. He had hurt her in the past, and she didn't believe that he was honestly interested in anything more than a roll in a hay. Even when Aaron pursues her, she figures it's about the great sex, and not really about her. The thing is, while I knew Presley's self confidence was low, and I knew that she didn't trust Aaron as potential life mate, the question when I sat back and really thought about it was why. He was clean from drugs. He wasn't some playboy. He was clearly interested. She was in love with him. So why fall into bed with him but be so unwilling to try again with him? It didn't make a lot of sense. 

But then, much of the novel didn't make sense to me. Aaron discovers that he is the father of Presley's young son, and naturally wants to be involved in his son's life. You'd think Presley would be happy, but she isn't. She keeps trying to push Aaron away, even thought he's equally as interested in her as he is in his son. Instead, she keeps going out with another man, someone she's not remotely interested in. She somehow convinces herself that Aaron is only trying so hard because of their son. Honestly, she was just so stubborn.
Cheyenne and Dylan's Story
Book Two 

But what really bothered me was Cheyenne and Dylan's subplot. I loved their romance, and I thought they were the most solid couple in the series. However, I have serious concerns about what Cheyenne, Presley and Aaron did--all three participated in a deception that I just don't see how any sane, rational person could participate in. It's the reason the book took me over a week to finish! I kept thinking it wouldn't happen. That Cheyenne would come to her senses. That Aaron would back out of the arrangement. That it. Just. Would. Not. Happen. Romancelandia gave me a smack in the face however, and I am displeased. And just confused as to the unrealistic turn of events the series took. 

All in all, I am glad that Aaron and Presley got a decent amount of page time. Yes, it took them way too long to really get together, and Presley was way too stubborn about giving Aaron a second chance, but I can at least understand the attraction between them, the obstacles. And that pretty much sums up this review. This reader is shocked, and disappointed with how events unfolded--both in the main plot and especially that subplot. I hope the next Whiskey Creek is more romantic. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Feature Favourite: Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

I decided to share a YA book I loved with you all today. YA is a genre that I still enjoy to read. I don't read as much of it as I would like however, as there are too many books and far too little time to read them. But this one really stands out for me, and I did love it so it deserves to be Featured.

Series: Books of Faerie 
Author: Maggie Stiefvater

The Novel: I really loved this book. The prose drew me in and the characters and story were exquisitely crafted. I mean, exquisitely. The novel simply made me shudder and it was hard to put down. This novel lingered in my mind long after I was done. I've been an idiot for not reading the second book sooner. An absolute idiot. I think what made this book so magical for me was how it all fit together so seamlessly and every word was like a chord of music perfectly struck to create weave a song, (or in this case story) in your mind. It was alive and vital, and that made this book both devastating and unforgettable. The raw emotion just oozed off the page, and it wasn't angst. It just was, and for an author to write that so perfectly is a rare thing I find. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good fantasy because it's so well written it doesn't feel young. It feels old and magical. And that makes it excellent reading.

The Series: So far, there are only two books to the series, of which Lament is the first. It appears there will be a third however, and that is exciting. I ought get busy reading the second one already. The series is about an unrequited love, and dangerous faeries. It changes the two young characters, Dee, and James.

The Author: I'll start off by saying she is clearly very talented but is her website ever fascinating! She's clearly a woman of many talents. I'm just going to link it for you because I couldn't say anything about this author that would be as authentic as her own site is. Maggie's story. says it all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Review: Ingited by Kaylea Cross

Paperback310 pages
Published December 19th 2013 
by Createspace 
(first published June 15th 2013)
Series: Titanium Security, #1 
My Rating:
Genre: Romantic Suspense

When her father is murdered by a Taliban cell in the tribal regions of Pakistan, Khalia Patterson reluctantly steps into his shoes to carry on the legacy of Fair Start Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to furthering the education of girls. There she meets Hunter Phillips, the ex-SEAL and head of her Titanium security team, and quickly learns that coming to Pakistan might prove to be a deadly decision. 

Battling demons of his own, Hunter grudgingly leads Khalia’s protective detail as a favor to his boss. From their first meeting it’s clear she’s going to be trouble, and that the cell that killed her father is hell bent on taking her out as well. Keeping her alive is one of the toughest assignments he’s ever faced, yet through one harrowing situation after another she continually impresses him with her strength and inner courage. Even though he fights his feelings for her, it’s a losing battle. And when the job is over, he doesn’t know how he’ll let her go.

Although there are other genres of romance that I chose to read more often, I do enjoy romantic suspense, and this one really blew my socks off. It was action packed from the get go, but it had lulls so that you could get your heart rate under control. It was also clearly well researched and beautifully plotted. 

Khalia is a heroine that every woman can be proud of. Despite the fact that she is way of her element, that she's afraid, that she'd rather be home, she deals with some horrible situations like a trooper. She does it all because she wants to help the school, and to honour her father's memory but even so, I don't think it's many people who would chose to do the things that Khalia does. She's tough, and I really admired that about her.
Book Two in the series

So it's not really any wonder that Hunt falls in love with her. He's pretty damn tough himself, but you wouldn't exactly expect any less of an ex-SEAL. I think what I liked about Hunt best was he wasn't an overly alpha male. He was tough, but he oozed control and confidence. He admired Khalia because she held together so well under traumatic events, and she certainly set him on fire, but I liked that his character was consistent. He didn't sway from hard ass to softie, but rather was a well rounded confident character who was dedicated to his job.

What I really liked about this romance is that it was sizzling from the beginning. Both of them try to quash down those feelings because Khalia is the woman Hunt was hired to protect, and they are trying to maintain that professional distance. But neither one of them can fight the attraction forever, and considering the circumstances of what drew them together, I liked how they came together as a romantic couple. slowly and with quiet passion.

The writing was sharp, keeping you on the edge of your seat, and I must say, I'm very impressed by this first novel to the series, and hope to read more by this author. 
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