Thursday, October 6, 2016

For Sale by Owner by Marlene Bateman {Blog Tour Review and Giveaway}

For Sale by Owner by Marlene Bateman
Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: October 3rd 2016 by Covenant Communications, Inc.
McKenzie Forsberg is headed home. She's quit her big-city job to return to her roots in the small town of Lake Forest. Kenzi hopes to buy her childhood home from her brother, Tom, as a way of revisiting the peace and security she's been missing in her life. But soon she is shocked to discover that the house has a pending sale, and Tom won't budge from the sale—not even for his sister.

Handsome widower Jared Rawlins catches Kenzie's eye until she realizes that he's the one who is buying her house—but he can only close the deal if he sells his own house by Christmas Eve. Jared is more than a little interested in Kenzie but has second thoughts when it seems that she may be sabotaging the sale of his home.

Slippery feelings of animosity and distrust ensue, with both Jared and Kenzie denying the chemistry between them. But then an unexpected discovery about their connected past puts a new twist in the dynamic. Now, can they put their differences aside and come to terms on a relationship that could last forever?
My Review: 3 Stars

Kenzie is moving back to her small hometown to make a new life, after a job change, a divorce, and a need for a change of pace. She has a plan--to buy her childhood home from her brother, but without making her plans known, it's sold to someone else--Jared. In an attempt to get that house, make amends with her estranged father, and engage in a possible new romance, Kenzie's Christmas holiday is anything but boring.

The story starts out to be very engaging, but I quickly found Kenzie to be quite hypocritical, selfish, and bitter. She displays some of the same tendencies as her father, which is what led to their falling out, and refuses to acknowledge them, which is very aggravating. She has her shining moments, times when I really liked her, but for the most part, she wasn't high on my 'favorite people' list for the first 2/3 of the book. I love the way she mothers Sara and relates stories of her childhood. Having grown up in a small town myself, I can understand the desire to have that same atmosphere for raising her daughter in. But Jared has the same desire for his son. Jared is quick to assume, which gets him into trouble too, but he's more mature about the issues at hand and, in my opinion, more likable. 

I love the idea of Christmas magic and loved the day-to-day events that take place in this book, even though they don't have a lot to do with the issues at hand--baking cookies, Christmas shopping, skating on the pond, serving others, and the heart-to-hearts. I really enjoyed the ending, but I'm not giving anything away.

This is a nice, sweet, Christmas romance, splashed with some changes of heart. I love the theme of new starts, in all aspects. The bonus cookie recipes in the back are a plus.
Content: mild romance; very mild religious elements, specific to the LDS faith (no preaching). Clean!
*I received this book for free in exchange for this post*
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About the Author:

Marlene Bateman 
I grew up in Sandy, Utah, where my parents had a mini-farm on an acre and a half. My father raised a lot of things, but the two main ones were gladiolus and mink. Think flowers and fur coats. My mother, a creative person, was a florist. I was blessed to be raised as a Christian and I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). I’m thankful to know God lives and loves me and I’m grateful for Jesus Christ, my Savior.

Loves and Interests
I love my children and am so proud of them. They are all so amazing and wonderful, as are their terrific spouses. And although I know others brag about their grandchildren, I have to smile indulgently, because my grandchildren actually are the cutest, smartest, sweetest, and most talented kids in the world!

I have a lot of interests. For one thing, I’ve always loved animals. Right now, I only have four cats, and three dogs—a dachshund, a Westie, and a Welsh Corgi.

For fun, I like to read. A few of my favorite authors are; Maeve Binchy, Elizabeth Berg, Agatha Christie, Andriana Trigiani, and Anne Siddons. I also enjoy watching animated movies like Despicable Me, Over the Hedge, How to Train Your Dragon, Ice Age, Frozen, etc. I’m a kid at heart, I guess.

I also love to go camping, although I no longer enjoy roughing it. Must. Have. Popcorn. Which means we need to take along a popcorn popper. During the summer, my husband and I take our RV to the mountains, to explore new places, and we often travel to research new settings for my books.

I also like to garden. I love flowers and often go a little nuts planting in the spring and adding a few more tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulbs each fall. I’m having fun raising iris—right now I have more than 70 varieties and each year I add a few new colors.

On Writing
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I started writing stories in elementary school and after receiving parental acclaim for one of my masterpieces, “The Old Blue Car,” felt encouraged enough to continue.

In college, I met and married Kelly R. Sullivan and my writing career was put on the back burner when we had children.

As my children got older, I began carving out some time to write and began writing short articles and stories for magazines. Then I started an LDS, non-fiction book.

When my husband and I found we needed a second income, we remodeled our garage and opened a floral shop. I enjoyed the work but regretted that it left me very little time to write. However, as the years passed, I managed to finish my first book, Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines.

After being a florist for ten years, I had a health scare and while waiting to learn the results of the tests, I took stock of my life. I asked myself, “If I had the chance to live my life over, would I do anything differently? Other than wishing I had been a better mother and person, I could only come up with one thing—I wished I had been able to spend more time writing. So, with my dear husband’s support, we sold the floral business and I began writing full time.

My next three books were about angelic experiences in early LDS church history; And There Were Angels Among Them, Visits From Beyond the Veil, and By the Ministering of Angels. Then I wrote Brigham’s Boys.

Around this time, I went back to college. It had always been another dream of mine to graduate. So I returned to college and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah.

While in college, I began working on my first novel. One thing I decided when writing fiction was that all of my novels would be “clean”—without profanity and free from inappropriate sexual scenes. Being a novice, it took me three years to write Light on Fire Island and I was thrilled when became a best-seller.

Next I wrote the LDS, non-fiction book, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History.

I then bounced back to writing a second novel, a fun mystery

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