Friday, August 20, 2021

This Time Around: a novella collection by Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson, and Kathleen Fuller

This Time Around

Love this cover! This Time Around is a compilation of three novellas by well-loved authors of Christian contemporary romance. Helpful hint: read the other books by these authors, just in case they tie in to their current series. (I was a little lost at times.)

Let’s begin with each novella’s summary:

In A Summer Detour by Denise Hunter, you’ll meet free-spirited Allie Adams, who undertakes a road trip to deliver her grandparents’ newly restored ’57 Chevy in time for their fiftieth anniversary party . . . along with Luke Fletcher, the former boy-next-door who callously crushed her heart.

Pining for You by Melissa Ferguson invites you to a cozy Virginia mountain town where Christmas tree farm owner Theo Watkins III has the opportunity to drop everything for one weekend to play farmer and potentially win back the heart of his childhood best friend, Skye Fuller. Only problem? He’s the kind of man who drives a Tesla, not a tractor.

Last but not least, He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not by Kathleen Fuller will transport you to a small town in Arkansas where thirty-five-year-old Sophie Morgan has spent years making her flower shop a success. But when this workaholic decides she’s ready to make time for dating again, she finds herself with two handsome men vying for her attention.

Whether your perfect romance involves rows and rows of Fraser firs and white pines glinting in the moonlight, childhood love that never ends, or a second chance at a happily ever after, you’re sure to find a story within this collection to warm your heart any day of the year.

And now, my review:

These are each reunion romances, thus the collection’s title. I enjoy watching characters have a second chance at love.

The heroine in A Summer Detour must prove herself to herself and to her parents. She takes on a too-big task and of course runs into tons of trouble along the way. A humorous and light summer read. The heroine can’t let her family down, and the hero can’t either, as they are his honorary family. That tie-in compelled these two to work together, which led to the romance. A couple of unfortunate ingredients: predictability, shaming, a rushed romance. However, this was my favorite novella in the group.

In Pining for You, our hero is a “fish out of water,” which was a fun twist. Plenty of humor making for another light read. One of this novella’s themes was the heroine learning to do what she chose, without letting other’s opinions paralyze her. Readers may relate as many of us worry about what others think. Another theme was facing one’s regrets with courage and hopefully, victory. I like that element. A touch of critique: Seattle isn’t on the coast, it is not oceanfront. Seattle is on Puget Sound and Lake Washington. There were several POV missteps in the advanced reader copy that may have been addressed in rewrites. I also felt I was missing something from not having read an earlier series, maybe?

I found more humor early in He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Sometimes it’s the random elements that make readers chuckle. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t get too far into this third story. Juvenile and contrived aspects kept me from engaging. Perhaps her full-length fiction connects to this novella? 

Overall, a light, romantic summertime collection. Well-read fans will likely connect easily with these novellas.

I wish these authors all the best.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Beyond the Tides by Liz Johnson

Beyond the Tides by Liz Johnson

Isn’t that a gorgeous cover? I love books set on or near an ocean. We’re visiting Prince Edward Island in Canada for this novel.

Let’s begin with the summary:

When Meg Whitaker’s father decides to sell the family’s lobster-fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should inherit it instead. Though she’s never had any interest in running the small fleet—or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness—she can’t stand to see Oliver Ross take over. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago.

Oliver isn’t proud of what he did back then. Angry and broken by his father walking out on his family, he lashed out at Meg—an innocent bystander. But owning a respected fishing fleet on Prince Edward Island is the opportunity of a lifetime, and he’s not about to walk away just because Meg wants him to.

Meg’s father has the perfect solution: Oliver and Meg must work the business together, and at the end of the season, he’ll decide who gets it. Along the way, they may discover that their stories are more similar than they thought . . . and their dreams aren’t what they expected.

And now, my review:

Great setting! The author’s extensive research about the world of lobster fishing was obvious, and it was enjoyable learning more about the occupation. I sure don’t think I’d be cut out for those pre-dawn sails and frigid weather conditions. Not to mention handling the bait they use in the traps or seasickness. But what fun to read about it.

Our heroine is very strong. I respected her career and know-how, the fact that she was an engineer. She could rewire engines or convert electrical appliances to battery powered. It was refreshing to see her save the day. She also wants to give back to her family, to help, to be strong for them. She’ll need to learn that they can each support the others. She doesn’t have to carry everything on her own shoulders and deny her true emotions. This may be relatable for some readers who’ve felt burdened by family stresses.

The hero is a competent fisherman who is determined to prove himself, to rise above his family’s reputation, to secure his future. I respected him. He’s also honest and noble, along with that competence. I rooted for him as well.

One of the lessons in this story was making lasting memories with loved ones. So touching and relatable. Great advice for readers to take away from the experience. Another theme was family legacies. This was skillfully handled when the author mirrored a positive inheritance against the negative reputation of an ancestor.

The spiritual theme was that of leaning on God for strength and help during hard times as He is the believer’s anchor. The process of learning that will be very relatable for Christian readers. The emotional theme, that love is worth any cost, played out in several areas of the story as the author expertly displayed contrasts in a variety of relationships and situations.

I like novels where the MCs set out to prove their competence or nobility, where characters rise above their own self-doubt or family circumstances to achieve their potential. I believe readers will cheer these characters on.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinions.