Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Season to Love by Nicole Deese



A Season to Love by Nicole Deese

I hadn’t read Nicole’s work before, but I’d heard great things about this book from some fellow writers whom I respect, so I wanted to check this one out. Glad I did!

Let’s begin with the summary:

At this point in her life, bravery is not a trait Willa Hart would readily claim. She believes her seven-year-old daughter, Savannah, who never knew her father and successfully tackled chemotherapy, is truly the courageous one. Yet after Willa has a fateful encounter with handsome young doctor Patrick McCade, her outlook—and her view of herself—begins to change.

Patrick, a thrill-seeking world traveler and temporary resident of Lenox, Oregon, sets out to show Willa the value of adventure, even within her tiny town. But just when their friendship shows signs of turning into something more, Patrick’s life as a traveling doctor calls him back. Will his last days in town signal the end of their journey, or will Patrick and Willa find the courage to transform a single season into a lifetime?

And now, my review:

I love first-person narrative—so immediate and engaging. This writer has a fresh voice, full of insightful prose and strong description. I highlighted several phrases as I read on my Kindle. There was a delicious psychological depth in this story. Yet overall it wasn’t heavy or burdensome. I will say, though, that I was ready to move on to Act II just as we made the transition.

Our poor heroine has been through it. No wonder she’s anxious and easily triggered.  She’s found her own sensory rescue (my term for the item that brings her back to functionality) that works for her—peppermint candy. But her addiction, and her crippling fears, aren’t freedom. She’s coping, but even her young daughter can see she isn’t really living.

Our hero has some fears too, but we don’t see that until late in the story, (due to first person). In the meantime, he’ll challenge the heroine to stretch beyond her comfort zone and because she promised her daughter, she’ll try to experience more of life. He offers both understanding and support as he draws courage from her.

The uncle’s journal provides an external mentor readers can respect and appreciate, especially as both main characters are humbled by its wisdom. In this way, readers get the occasional nugget without feeling preached to.

I liked watching the heroine grow and even help someone else while she struggled. Because, as limited as she saw herself, she still had a lot to give.

The title references seasons and there were other mentions as well, even implicit ones. The heroine has come through some tortuous seasons, and now she's finding strength and falling in love. Hope stood out in her story as she realized just how competent she was to more than cope with life, but to tackle it.

One of my favorite reads in a long time! I’ve already been on Amazon looking up this author’s other books, including the first book (novella) in this series, and I’ll be watching for her next novel. I also enjoyed reading something from the new Waterfall Press.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Review: The Good-bye Bride by Denise Hunter


The Good-bye Bride by Denise Hunter

I love revisiting Summer Harbor! 

Let’s begin with the summary:

She only remembers loving him. But he can't forget the way she left.

Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can't remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn't remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn't remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

It's taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He's thrown himself into his family's farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy's back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he'll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he'll lose her all over again.

And now, my review:

The heroine in the story has lost only her recent memory. The first person she calls in a time of trouble is her estranged fiancĂ©. Ah! What a premise! So much built-in tension. I was hooked from the opening lines, and then the chapters flew by for great pacing. 

Another element I love about Denise’s writing is her male POV. This series centers on three brothers, and I’ve enjoyed eavesdropping on their internal thoughts and banter because they seem so real. And fun. 

We revisit the past a few times in this story, and those flashbacks help us understand the beginnings of the hero and heroine’s relationship. This helped increase the sense of romance since their current relationship was so complicated. 

Our heroine fears abandonment, and no wonder. Because of this, she’s afraid to form attachments. Poor Zac, though. He doesn’t want to play the fool again. If she ran off once before, why wouldn’t she do it again?
 
Besides the theme of overcoming the past, we find the themes of learning to trust, and earning trust. The central scripture was that of perfect love casting out fear. I felt the author explained the concept of this verse very well. 

A fun read!