Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Holiday Husband by Jenny B. Jones


The Holiday Husband by Jenny B. Jones

The third romantic comedy in Jenny B. Jones' Sugar Creek Novel series.

Let's begin with the summary:

Annie made a holiday wish to be reunited with the one who got away.

She should’ve been more specific...

Museum curator Annie Bristow has spent years regretting a marriage proposal she turned down from her college sweetheart. When a fateful ride on a holiday train gives Annie the opportunity to make it right, she wishes for a do-over. She wants to go back and say yes to her one true love. Who better than a twinkly-eyed Mrs. Claus to make it happen? What could possibly go wrong?

Getting a second chance at love should’ve been a dream come true. But when Annie wakes up married to the wrong ex-boyfriend, she’ll have to pretend to be Mrs. Holden Thomas until the holiday train returns on Christmas Day. She’s determined to find a way to reunite with the right true love, but obstacles keep foiling her efforts. Like Holden being frustratingly handsome and unexpectedly charming. This quiet man holds onto a painful past of his own, and Annie finds herself drawn to the life Holden has built. But falling for him is so not part of the plan...

The countdown is on, and love is at stake. When Christmas morning arrives, will Annie return to her old life? Or say ‘I do” to the one man she never wished for?

And now, my review:

Oh, what a fun and funny story! I loved it. I needed a light read this year of all years, and this one delivered in spades, as they say. I loved that it was first-person narrative.

So many laugh-out-loud moments! We could all use more of those.

I loved the setup of this one—amnesia/time travel/wish fulfillment. The author handles that unusual fantasy element very well here. And the fact that the “one who got away” isn’t her target is hilarious. I liked the mother-daughter relationship, the hero’s patience, and the fact they both need to overcome some things. Their banter is delicious! Jenny has a crazy good knack for that.

While I read the e-book, I highlighted a few passages of Jenny’s descriptions, as well as some metaphors. And all the LOL moments. Just now, preparing this review, I reread one and laughed once more.

This is the third book in her Sugar Creek Novel series, but I wasn’t lost starting with this book.

I did find an instance of taking the Lord’s name in vain, so again we’re not talking Christian fiction per se. But it was a clean read. My routine for writing reviews is to check over my highlights and notes. This one has a million of them. Very enjoyable!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

A Castaway in Cornwall

Engaging and lovely cover, don't you think?

Let’s begin with the summary:

Set adrift on the tides of fate by the deaths of her parents and left wanting answers, Laura Callaway now lives with her uncle and his disapproving wife in North Cornwall. There she feels like a castaway, always viewed as an outsider even as she yearns to belong.

While wreckers search for valuables along the windswept Cornwall coast—known for its many shipwrecks but few survivors—Laura searches for clues to the lives lost so she can write letters to next of kin and return keepsakes to rightful owners. When a man is washed ashore after a wreck, Laura acts quickly to protect him from a local smuggler determined to destroy him.

As Laura and a neighbor care for the survivor, they discover he has curious wounds and, although he speaks in careful, educated English, his accent seems odd. Other clues wash ashore, and Laura soon realizes he is not who he seems to be. Despite the evidence against him, the mysterious man might provide her only chance to discover the truth about her parents' fate. With danger pursuing them from every side, and an unexpected attraction growing between them, will Laura ever find the answers she seeks?

And now, my review:

I was so excited that my library could provide an ebook copy a couple of days after this book’s release. They also offered a sample of the audio book. I listened and loved the narrator’s British accent and reading pace; she engaged my imagination. If you can find the book in audio, I recommend it. I chose the ebook version so I could see the spellings of unfamiliar locations in the British Isles as well as other word choices.

The beach setting is enjoyable, while hidden rocks and sheer cliffs cause multiple wrecks, bringing an underlying sense of tension and risk. With those layered elements, along with our heroine’s home life being tense at times, we find a sailor washed up on shore, unconscious and mysterious. I was hooked right away.

I liked the heroine’s courage, even when faced with the story’s villain. She bravely sets out to rescue and nurse the hero. Once he’s conscious again, he’s got secrets, and he doesn’t know whom to trust. I liked that he was honorable toward her and noble in his motives and decisions.

You’ll find historical accounts of kingdom conflicts, which showed strong research. I confess at times the story lost my interest. We had a strong launch in the novel, but unfortunately, it didn’t hold my curiosity past the 50 percent mark. I expected more of a romantic hook, but in its absence, I moved on to the next book in my TBR pile.

If you love rich retellings of history, set in fiction, you’ll enjoy this book.   

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Sugar Creek Christmas by Jenny B. Jones

A Sugar Creek Christmas by Jenny B. Jones

I so enjoyed another book in this series, The Holiday Husband, that I decided to read this one.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Sometimes all love needs is a second chance.

Morning television show darling Emma Sutton has just been fired. The only way to get her job back is to find a holiday story to warm the coldest heart. So when her hometown of Sugar Creek, Arkansas, needs a Christmas event planner, Emma moves back, sure her story lies in the town’s desire to become a tourist’s holiday wonderland. The plan is perfect—until Emma meets her new boss.

Charming, handsome Noah Kincaid isn’t just Sugar Creek’s newest mayor. He’s also Emma’s ex-fiancĂ©. Ten years ago Emma left Noah her ring and a goodbye note, but it’s haunted her ever since. The last thing Noah wants to do is work with the woman who broke his heart, but Emma’s desperate to prove to him that her bah-humbug ways won’t interfere with her work. Emma finds it’s more than the mistletoe drawing her back to Noah. Whatever they had is clearly not over, but Noah’s kisses can’t protect Emma from a past that won’t leave her alone. As the snow falls and the trees glisten, love will come to Sugar Creek. But will it come in time to make all of Emma’s Christmas dreams come true? Enjoy this sweet, heart-warming Christmas story, book one in the series.

And now, my review:

This series isn’t made up of Christian romances, per se, but they’re marked as clean reads. After reading The Holiday Husband, I didn’t expect the worldly language I found in this novella. It’s not profanity, but it was jarring. There was at least one use of God’s name in vain, and mention of body parts that took the focus off the clean romance and redirected readers into a less noble place.

That said there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. And overall, I enjoyed the story. The heroine needs a career-saving story, which forces her to work with her hometown’s new mayor—her ex. I liked that she had to face her past and needed to focus on what was really important. You’ll find themes of forgiveness and second-chances.

The story's setup felt rather like an expected Hallmark plot. But the romance sizzled between the heroine and hero.

My favorite part? The humor. I marked several spots that, even reading them now, make me laugh. The author also painted some beautiful descriptions. She has a knack for humor like few authors I've read.

If you’re looking for a light, funny holiday-themed read, this one will deliver. Check out The Holiday Husband for sure! 

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden


The Gentleman and the Thief

I enjoyed book one in the Dread Penny Society series. You can find my review here

Let’s begin with the summary:

A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day—and a thief at night.

London, 1865

From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

And now, my review:

I liked revisiting familiar characters and returning to London in the 1800s. We follow the members of the DPS (Dread Penny Society) as they rescue and protect street urchins through a network of spies. I love this heroic aspect, which lends hope amidst a backdrop of dank London streets.

The main characters are often writers of “penny dreadful,” stories mainly for children with daring heroes and mysteries or even ghosts/zombies, etc. I admit I’ve skimmed or skipped these aspects at times. There are hidden elements if you want to read them, but I haven’t felt I’ve missed out by skimming.

It’s impressive to me that the author includes these stories in her narrative while also carrying out the main story of the novel as the penny dreadful excerpts are themselves detailed and layered.

Our heroine is multi-layered as well. She’s committing crime for noble reasons, and no one suspects her. This aspect really hooks readers.

The chemistry between the hero and heroine was delightful. Sarah is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction. I love her sense of humor and how she includes it on the page.

I do recommend reading these novels in order. The first is The Lady and the Highwayman. The Gentleman and the Thief is the second book in the Dread Penny Society series.

Monday, November 16, 2020

A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh

A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh

Just look at that yummy cover! 

Okay, let’s check out the summary:

Hayes McGuire never believed the stories about a famous Nantucket matchmaker until she ropes him into taking over her duties while she's off the island for Christmas.

So he enlists the help of the one person he can trust with this crazy scheme—his best friend, Prudence. Armed with a series of rules, a book of success stories and the promise of Christmas magic, the pair of old friends sets out to make a Christmas match.

Little do they know that magic doesn’t discriminate, and they soon find their years of friendship deepening into something more. Will Pru and Hayes ignore the electricity in the air between them, or will there be more than one match made at Christmas?

A Match Made at Christmas is a stand-alone holiday novella.

And now, my review:

Loved the setup with this one—a male matchmaker! Ha! The characters are fun and quirky, and this stand-alone novella was the perfect, light read during the holidays. It reads fast, yet I savored it while highlighting a lot of passages. 

These two have to team up as he hasn't a clue how to be a matchmaker. He's hoping she'll help. What a fun way to force them to have to spend a lot of time together with a romantic goal.

Oh, I love a good pining story. The heroine pines for the hero, but he doesn’t seem to know it. Meanwhile, we get to spend time in his POV, which is a benefit of this story’s third-person, dual POV narrative. He projects a certain persona that isn’t quite honest. I loved seeing his vulnerable side, and watching his character grow. Wanting to discover his secret was one element that kept me reading. It wasn’t too heavy.

There were several moments of delicious banter, romance, and delightful humor.

I loved this story and will definitely track down more of Courtney’s books.

Highly recommended!

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

Let’s begin with the summary:

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1865 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelings—mostly negative ones—about the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words.

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

And now, my review:

I love that the novel is based around a love letter. Willa, a woman in the late 1860s, works in medicine, which makes her a unique character. I liked that aspect. She's strong and competent and we sympathize with her right away. This book’s premise reminded me of the Hallmark movie The Love Letter from 1998, a movie that also inspired me as a writer. The author dedicates her novel to the “POstables,” a fun connection with fans of Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, and Delivered series.

There are several mysteries and a bit of an eerie feeling to the novel, especially once we arrive at the estate where our heroine will serve as a live-in nurse. She’s stuck there, though, due to her father’s ultimatum. So, she must overcome. But she will not compromise her desire to be loved for who she is in her entirety—not just her body but her mind, talents, and abilities. Brava! In her era, this is a strong stand to take and I loved her for taking it. Modern readers will connect with her and root for her.

I set this book aside early because of the eerie aspect, but there's a lot of potential here. I don't prefer eerie stories, and was unaware that was the tone when I agreed to read it for review. I wish the author and publisher all the best.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New Release: A Christmas Duet in the Melodies of Christmas Love boxed set


A Christmas Duet included in MCL boxed set

New Release! https://amzn.to/3kN0fw8

I’m so excited to share that I have a new novella out this Christmas!

My story “A Christmas Duet” is part of the compilation Melodies of Christmas Love: A Boxed Set. Each brand-new novella in this collection is centered around a Christmas Carol. Some of the authors (including me) have tied our novella to a current series we’ve written. Many can be read without having read the series they’re tied to, so you won’t be lost if this is your first exposure to any of the author’s works.

Pick up the entire set of seven novellas for only $0.99!

Here’s more about “A Christmas Duet”:

Following a breakup, professional cellist Kate Fleming’s well of inspiration has run dry. Her musical ensemble is counting on her to write several cello and piano compositions for their next album. She’s rented a beautiful beach house on Whidbey Island for the Christmas season. But the atmosphere may not be inspiring enough.

Church music director Zach Tillmon would love to book a professional musician for the upcoming Christmas program. His number-one choice is out of reach. But perhaps the newcomer wouldn’t mind sharing her talents with the congregation.

When these two perform together, sparks fly. But their lives aren’t settled, so a romance is out of the question. Or is it? Join them near picturesque Puget Sound at Christmastime for a delightfully musical love story.

Behind the Scenes

I enjoyed writing this story and connecting it to my award-nominated Whidbey Island novel, Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington, which released in 2019. https://amzn.to/2FSIds4

You’ll meet new characters while revisiting Birch Harbor. And you’ll see some familiar characters as Clay and Liberty have a cameo or two. If you haven’t read my Whidbey novel, no worries. You won’t be lost if you read “A Christmas Duet” first. It was so much fun for me to return to the island setting and share the holiday season with readers.  

Melodies of Christmas Love: a boxed set

Here’s more about the entire set to whet your appetite:

The Heart of Christmas by Lynnette Bonner

When Wynn Mason sees police lights at Misty Cove’s one-and-only bar, she goes inside to investigate and is just in time to see her ex-boyfriend punch Ryland Sage in the face. What is the star of her favorite TV show doing in their tiny Pacific Coast town? Since Wynn is the only medical help for miles around, she has to stitch up his face—and also maybe his heart—all while protecting her own heart from the worldly charmer.

Love on a Mission in Millcreek by JoAnn Durgin

Angelia Ford wonders if she’ll ever live down her unfortunate outburst at the end of the Millcreek Elementary Christmas program. Sixteen years later, she’s home to care for her grandfather and prays the town’s citizens have finally forgiven her youthful indiscretion.

Millcreek’s newest resident, Nicholas Sanders, recognizes the beautiful blonde server at the local diner, but it’s clear Angel doesn’t remember him. What better time than the festive holiday season for Nick to reintroduce himself to the girl he’s never forgotten?

The Bells of New Cheltenham by Chautona Havig

When Justine Driscoll decides to enter a short story contest using a Christmas carol as the inspiration, she discovers love in the carols she investigates, in the story an ex-Army guy tells, and in the little tourist town of New Cheltenham.

A Christmas Duet by Annette M. Irby

A breakup steals a cellist’s inspiration. How will she create new compositions for her ensemble’s next album? Perhaps the church’s handsome music director could help. Join Kate Fleming and Zach Tillmon as Christmas music brings them together on Whidbey Island, Washington.

A Night Divine by Dawn Kinzer

One chilly December night, a tragedy connects successful model Camryn Tate and outreach minister Trace Gardner. As they share a common mission serving the homeless on the streets of Seattle, they provide more than food—they offer hope. But as Christmas Eve approaches, secrets have the potential to break Camryn’s heart.

To Hear the Angels Sing by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Being guardian of her niece isn’t as easy as Devlin Welsh might hope. When her niece is invited to be in a church show, the free childcare is hard to pass up. But when Devlin admits to knowing how to sew, she’s enlisted as costume designer. How will she find the time?

One of Jonah Ryan’s favorite parts of his job as worship leader is working on the kids’ Christmas musical. There’s something about the woman who’s volunteering to design costumes this year that gets him thinking. Could there be more to life than music?

Prairie Rose by Sylvia Stewart

For many years, Rose Morris has lived alone with her dog, Rusty. Mitch Foster, a handsome, un-married neighbor, brings her a bright red geranium, and insists on helping with chores. But who should drive into Rose’s farmyard? The scoundrel husband who had deserted her and her teenaged son years before. Later, a pre-teen runaway, found in her barn, adds his troubles to her own, so Rose decides to re-capture the peace and serenity of Christmas.


I hope you’ll pick up this collection. You may find new favorite authors or settings. Grab some hot cocoa or cider and curl up with these contemporary Christmas romances!