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!