Friday, November 27, 2020

To Have and to Hold by Betsy St. Amant, Becky Wade, and Katie Ganshert {Review}

To Have and to Hold by Betsy St. Amant, Becky Wade, and Katie Ganshert

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Zondervan (first published 2015)  
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own and were voluntarily given

Love Takes the Cake: A September Wedding Story by Betsy St. Amant

Charlotte Cantrell is always the baker; never the bride. When Will, a regular at Charlotte’s bakery, catches her attention, she can only hope that he is the reliable man this single mother has always hoped to find. The problem is that he’s regularly stopping in to buy cookies for another girl. But when Charlotte is hired to bake a host of wedding goodies for a difficult bride and finds out Will is the best man, she has the perfect opportunity to get to know him better—and find out how serious Will is about this other girl in his life.

The Perfect Arrangement: An October Wedding Story by Katie Ganshert

Amelia Woods is a small-town wallflower and the proud owner of Forget-Me-Nots, a quaint flower shop. Her love life has always been a bit lackluster—until she ends up in an embarrassing fender-bender with handsome Nate Gallagher. Meanwhile, Amelia’s younger brother, William, has proposed to his girlfriend. Amelia would be excited except she has evidence that the fiancĂ©e is not who she says she is. It seems Nate is the only one available for any advice-giving, and he’s good at it—and pretty fun to talk to, too. As Amelia works to craft the perfect flower arrangements for other people, she begins to wonder if real love is better than the dream. And if it is, will Nate still be interested when he learns who she is?

Love in the Details: A November Wedding Story by Becky Wade

When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over. Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she longs to be with Josh but doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small-town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?



My Review: 4 Stars

Weddings are magical and I loved reading about these darling autumn celebrations. Each one was set in a small town and had a sweetness that was quintessential. 

My mouth was watering in LOVE TAKES THE CAKE. Charlotte bakes up the best desserts and her interest in Will was captivating--especially when a surprise discovery was uncovered. The romance was as light and fluffy sweet as whipped frosting and I especially loved the influence of the secondary characters.

THE PERFECT ARRANGEMENT had YOU'VE GOT MAIL vibes and I adored the way Nate and Amelia connected through email, using classic movie titles as their subject lines. Their meet cute was a literal bang and their connections were a bit messy and twisted, but that's what added a delightful element to their instant attraction.

Second chances at love is where it's at in LOVE IN THE DETAILS. Sometimes the timing might be off with the one who got away and a wedding and some heartfelt communication can put things back on track. I loved Holly and Josh and adored watching their past connect with their future.

Content: mild romance; mild religion

Thursday, November 26, 2020

It Started in Budapest (Romance on the Orient Express) by Julie Daines {Review}

It Started in Budapest (Romance on the Orient Express #1) by Julie Daines

Paperback, 184 pages
Published August 10th 2020 by Covenant Communications 
Source: Library
Molly Cooper is haunted by one simple fact: it is her fault her twin brother, Matthew, has spent his life trapped in a frail body while she has thrived. Deep in her heart, she knows he can’t hold on much longer . . .

In her desperation to save her brother, Molly finds inspiration in an unlikely source: the newly published novel Dracula. When her family embarks on the Orient Express to seek treatment for Matthew in Bulgaria, Molly is prepared to set her plan in motion: she will sneak away from her parents and journey alone to Transylvania, where she will seek a vampire, whose blood can make her brother immortal. Molly’s rash plan is going flawlessly—until she encounters Percy Hunt, a handsome American traveler running from the shadows of his own past. When he discovers Molly’s plan, Percy’s concern for the naive young woman leaves him no choice but to accompany her on her strange quest. But neither Percy nor Molly is prepared for the feelings that quickly grow between them or for the death-defying escapade that awaits.

My Review: 5 Stars
I just might have convinced my family to take a "small" detour to Forks, WA on our road trip to the Pacific Northwest several years ago, so I could completely relate to and understand Molly's desire to use the book Dracula as a roadmap and Bible to seeking treatment for her sickly twin brother. Their connection was extremely endearing.

Not only was the journey spent on the Orient Express exciting, but the secret disembarkment that began a dangerous, yet romantic, trek was thrilling. Percy, a new American acquaintance, just happened to turn up where ever Molly was and after a messy first meeting, their friendship began to blossom. Percy is great, accommodating Molly's fanciful whims, while watching out for her. I enjoyed the give and take of their relationship.
While the plot in this gothic romance is very compelling, I loved the parallels to real life that were conceived and drawn. The first book in the series is full speed ahead!

Content: mild romance; mild violence/danger

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

All for You (de Piaget #12) by Lynn Kurland {Review}

All for You (de Piaget #12) by Lynn Kurland

Mass Market Paperback, 303 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Berkley Publishing (first published January 1st 2012)  
Source: Audiobook

Peaches Alexander is thrilled to receive an unexpected invitation to a weekend party given by the handsome, eligible Duke of Kenneworth. The only problem: Stephen de Piaget, a stuffy medieval studies scholar who seems determined to get in the way. Peaches has absolutely no desire to get involved with Stephen, until a quirk of Fate sends her hurtling through time…


Stephen de Piaget has been leading a double life: respectable professor by day, knight-in-training during holidays and summer terms. When Peaches goes missing, Stephen knows he’s the only one who can rescue her from medieval peril. Little do they know that the greatest danger they’ll face won’t be the business end of a sword, but their own unruly hearts….

My Review: 4 Stars
The mystical elements of time travel are present in this wonderfully sweet opposites attract story. Peaches and Stephen don't immediately click, but when a rescue to the past is in order, things change.
Peaches is such an interesting choice of names for such a go-getter type of character and I enjoyed watching her figure out her spot in life when things go awry. Her trek to the past was very entertaining, especially when Stephen arrives. I loved the way they worked together on his medieval work and most definitely liked it when the sparks and jealous darts started to fly. Stephen, although a bit stuffy, is fascinating and manly. It was a joy to watch him spar and fend off the flirtatious women chasing him.
Kurland always weaves a magical tale, full of love, romance, and danger and this one was especially lovely.
Content: mild Bible swears; mild violence; mild+ romance   

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Snowed In For Christmas by Kimberly Krey {Review}

Snowed In For Christmas by Kimberly Krey

Kindle edition

Published: November 24, 2020

Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given


Three things are to blame for the chaos:

Easton lost a bet.
Ivy wants a promotion.
And Denver was hit with the biggest blizzard its seen in years.

Now, they're stuck in a hut for Christmas with nothing but the fire to warm them. Unless, of course, they can warm up to each other.


My Review: 5 Stars

I have yet to meet a Kimberly Krey book that I haven't loved! When Easton loses a bet to his baby sister, he finds himself roped into the latest bachelor-finding-love on TV series. He's the manliest man ever and thrives in the great outdoors. Ivy has to interview him before heading home for the Christmas holiday and will do anything to get that interview--including renting a 4x4 SUV and driving through a blizzard. The magic of Christmas snow allows for a steamy clean chemistry to develop and I was frozen in my spot, devouring this one as fast as a batch of delectable fudge.

Although Easton and Ivy know each other for a very short time, they instantly click into place. They slide into an easy relationship of sarcasm, useless facts about random things, and balancing out their opposite pasts, and I loved every minute of being snowed in with them. I was transported right into their yurt, absorbing their sweet and spicy connections with big gulping breaths.

Of course, there has to be some drama, but it was perfectly written, allowing for some soul-searching character growth. I adore the way Krey writes her romances. The underlying swoon is present throughout the entire story, but it isn't sickly sweet. There are some wonderful moments of loyalty, family ties, and insecurity, which even out to be an incredibly fun and swoony story. This one is perfect for the Christmas romance lover.

Content: mild+ romance (steamy clean kissing, some innuendo); very mild moments of danger/peril

Monday, November 23, 2020

On the Second Day of Christmas by Deborah M. Hathaway {Review}

On the Second Day of Christmas by Deborah M. Hathaway

Kindle Edition
Publication: November 21st 2020 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given 

Slipping on the ice is bad enough—being treated by the physician she rejected years ago is simply unbearable.

Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair
Sweet, Regency Christmas Romances
Five Christmas romances and the Frost Fair that started them all

Headstrong and independent, Miss Lucy Lincoln wishes to find a husband who shares her taste for adventure. Until then, she is determined to live her life without regrets. Well, except for the one she already has—humiliating poor Benjamin Kent after his unwanted marriage proposal years earlier. After an accident at the Frost Fair draws that same insecure gentleman to care for her injury, she finally asks for forgiveness. But Dr. Kent, now a respectable gentleman and physician, is unwilling to accept her apology.

Benjamin Kent wants nothing more than to live out his days in peace and seclusion away from London Society—and away from his memories of Lucy Lincoln. But when his conscience forces him to treat the woman, he cannot pass on the opportunity to finally let her know that she no longer has him under her spell.

Rather than being relieved with Benjamin’s indifference, Lucy struggles to accept the fact that little, shy Benjamin now shows irresistible confidence—and an unsettling apathy toward her. When sparks smolder between them, though, Benjamin must fight to keep his old feelings in the past, and Lucy must realize before it’s too late that either Benjamin has changed…or her own feelings have.

This is the fourth book in the clean and sweet Regency romance Belles of Christmas: Frost Fair series.
Although this second chance romance is a stand-alone novel, the books are best enjoyed when read in order.

My Review: 5 Stars
Have you ever done something that you regretted? Lucy can definitely relate. Years ago, she rejected Benjamin's proposal and now there are sparks igniting against her will, though it seems he no longer cares for her. 
I loved watching Lucy recognize her impetuous behavior, especially as it relates so oppositely to Benjamin's solid, deliberate, and contemplative nature. As this opposites-attract couple interacts and continue to run in to each other, they clash and tumble into something that resembles tolerance and friendship...and maybe even more.

A second chance at love during the Frost Fair, along with an adamant and meddling old aunt, gave way to a marvelously entertaining story with heart. Hathaway does a phenomenal job of bringing the reader right into the pages and I was swept away, much like some of the characters literally were. This is definitely a Regency Christmas story not to miss!

Content: mild romance; mild moments of peril

Friday, November 20, 2020

Christmas at Holly Berry Cottage by Jennifer Griffith {Review}

Christmas at Holly Berry Cottage (Sugar Plum Falls Romance #1) by Jennifer Griffith

Kindle Edition, 170 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Stewart Plaid 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
A dreaded holiday wedding, Christmas duets, and dating the off-limits crush.

Chelsea Sutherland is a wreck this Christmas. Not only is she reeling from the world’s cruelest breakup, now her ex-boyfriend is marrying her meanest cousin. At Chelsea’s childhood home. And there’s no way Chelsea can skip it. No matter how deep she buries herself into the number-crunching at work, this wedding will not go away.

Wyatt North has been handed a career-making opportunity. If he gets it right, he’ll be able to steer his banking firm toward its roots of helping the local community again. If not, he’s a blot on the family name—which he already jeopardizes by spending all his time with the Sutherland family, singing with Chelsea and her brother in Christmas Tree-O.

When Wyatt learns of Chelsea’s dreaded wedding problem, the solution is clear—take Wyatt as her significant other. Since the trio has become a duet, long-suppressed feelings between them are heating up. But a romance could endanger the friendship and their singing group’s dynamic—not to mention risk both families’ disapproval.

My Review: 5 Stars
Griffith never fails to deliver a charmingly sweet romantic comedy that's heavy on the swoon and considerably funny. Add to that, a delightful story of a brother's best friend turned fake fiance during the Christmas season, and it's tastier than a decadent holiday treat.

Chelsea and Wyatt are part of a singing group, along with Chelsea's brother, and a tricky family wedding situation lands them smack in the middle of an unlikely, yet believable, fake relationship. As that's one of my favorite tropes, I was in heaven! I adored how playboy Wyatt and math-whiz Chelsea interacted. Their scrabbles games, flirting, and spot-on duets were worthy of a Hallmark movie. 
The setting of this new series is adorable. With a tight-knit family and all things Christmas, the small town allure made me want to pack up my bags and move. 
Content: mild romance (cheating, kissing)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Home Sweet Holiday (Holiday Harbor #2) by Michele Paige Holmes {Review}

Home Sweet Holiday (Holiday Harbor #2) by Michele Paige Holmes

Kindle Edition, 425 pages
Published September 22nd 2020 by Mirror Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
Nearly four years have passed since Anna Lawrence fled her hometown the same day her best friends broke her heart and she was left at the altar. She’s hardly looked back since, while forging a new and solitary life in Seattle. When duty calls her home, she reluctantly returns to take care of the family store while her parents are away.

Eli Steiner is visiting his late great-grandfather’s estate in Holiday, Alabama, for the first and last time—to see the place he’s inherited and meet the other benefactor of his great-grandfather’s will before turning everything over to her. When the woman he meets is both the same, and very different, from the one in his grandfather’s letters, Eli’s intrigue leads him to stay longer, to uncover the mystery of Anna Lawrence and possibly heal her heart. 
My Review: 5 Stars
This book isn't fluff. It's full of real-life problems, gut-wrenching heartache, and a journey to forgiveness, but this path is anything but easy. However, with as much as I love fluff, I enjoy a story with meat to it and this one delivered that full-course meaty meal, along with a side dish of a very sweet romance.

I would say to definitely read The Holiday Affair first. Anna was hurt deeply and badly and has let the bitterness fester for the last four years. With her dad's health on the line, she returns home and is slapped in the face with all kinds of memories and people, which forces her to take a big look inward and step onto a path she's not sure she's ready to take. Eli is a man whom she encounters before she even begins the process and while he's attractive, he's so opposite her and almost a thorn in her side at times, yet she just can't toss him aside. This man has had a very difficult past! But I absolutely adored the reason they were brought together when they were.

I love, love, loved this small, eccentric town and all the people who live there. Holmes does a great job of encompassing the ups and downs, successes and hardships, of such a life. She also writes these characters in ways that bring their personalities, struggles, and progresses to life, allowing the reader to feel like a secondary character, while feeling all the feels. 

The book did feel a tad bit long, but I thought it did a great job of bringing Anna full circle--in all the ways--and I loved it. 

Content: mild+ romance (kissing, talk of infidelity)