Friday, February 26, 2021

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen {Review}

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen

Kindle Edition, 152 pages
Published October 3rd 2016 by Peachwood Press 
This heart-warming, inspirational romance from Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachelle J. Christensen is part of the Christmas Kisses: Echo Ridge Anthology. Read the bonus sneak peek of the newest Echo Ridge addition included!

Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.

My Review: 4 Stars 
When a grinch meets a dashing elf, sparks fly. I love Echo Ridge and this heartwarming story of a single mom down on her luck really hit the spot. Anika is doing everything she can to give her daughter, Megan, a good Christmas and her co-worker Carlos sets out to help her.  

The Hallmark movie feel of this story was sweet. I love a book with a little substance and this one delivered with not only a darling romance, but moments of conflict, threaded with glimmering strands of hope. Christensen does a good job of bringing magic to the hearts of her readers with this charming, feel-good story.

Content: mild romance; brief moment of peril/danger

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Harvey's Bashful Bride by Krystal M. Anderson {Review}

Harvey's Bashful Bride by Krystal M. Anderson

Kindle Edition, 127 pages
Published February 19th 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.


In theory, sending for a bride through a Matchmaker was a sound plan. In reality, it couldn't have been more disastrous...

As Cottonwood Creek's newly elected Mayor, Harvey Dennett is in need of a bride. Utilizing Chicago's most successful matchmaker certainly seemed like the answer to all his problems, but when Martha, his wife-to-be, faints the minute she arrives, he wonders whether he made a giant mistake.

Bashful Martha, on the other hand, is happy for her change in circumstance but unaccustomed to the wilds of her new frontier home. When a string of robberies plague the citizens of Cottonwood Creek, Martha enlists the help of two stalwart friends to conquer the threat, endearing her to the people of the town. Will her efforts be enough to win the heart of her husband?

Harvey's Bashful Bride is part of the multi-author series Matchmaker's Mix Up but can be read as a standalone story. Readers can expect a sweet happily ever after.


My Review: 5 Stars 

This darling historical western romance was so sweet. The book begins with an intriguing prologue, setting the story up for a matchmaking mishap--can you imagine? It was simply wonderful!

Harvey is the mayor of a western town in Nevada and doesn't know how to handle Martha, who is completely opposite of his marriage request. With help from her new friends, Martha grows and adapts, while a mysterious string of robberies shadows the town. 

I adored Martha and watching her metamorphosis. I loved watching her find her place and fit into it like a missing puzzle piece. But the surprisingly sweet, slow-burn romance was what really warmed my heart. 

This small town is full of feel-good characters and charm and the story was heartwarming in its entirety. 

Content: mild romance; mild religion

Monday, February 22, 2021

My After-School Tutor (Sweet Mountain High: Year Two #1) by Randi Rigby {Review}

My After-School Tutor (Sweet Mountain High: Year Two #1) by Randi Rigby

Kindle Edition, 157 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Sweet Heart Books 
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Wanting to be someone's first choice is never enough...


It's like the universe dumped on me from day one. It wasn't enough that I had to put up with having Jasmine--a walking, talking, breathing Barbie doll--for a sister.

"Let's make Milla short, so she'll ALWAYS have to look up to her as well."

Fine. I'd never wanted anything of hers anyway.
Until a certain blue-eyed boy crossed my path, that is.
And he fell head over heels.
For my sister.
Of course he did.
How can I help Zayn with his studies and still escape with my heart intact?


Getting a scholarship to play college football had been my dream since I first learned to throw a spiral as a kid. And I had the talent. Just not the grades. College programs expected their quarterbacks to not only pass their classes, but to do so by a comfortable margin. That was a skill set I needed to work on.

Maybe I needed more help than I thought.
I had an online tutor who wouldn't tell me who she was.
An ex-girlfriend I couldn't shake.
And the new girl, Milla, really didn't like me--everybody liked me. I'm a likable guy.

Whatever. I could take a hit. I'd just rather be run over by a charging defensive lineman than get on the wrong side of Milla Kent. Which I somehow managed to do. Girls.
Forget math. I needed a tutor for the opposite sex.

My Review: 4 Stars
I loved high school. That doesn't mean I would want to go back, but I have good memories and this series transports me back to my past. I don't know a lot about football, but I loved going to the games and cheering my school on and in this first book of the new year at Sweet Mountain High, Milla becomes an assistant to the team and takes her job seriously. It would be hard to be a new student for your senior year, and I loved watching Milla figure her life out and thrive in her new environment.

Zayn doesn't make a good first impression, but his charm, animation, and sincerity made him grow on me very quickly. I loved how opposite they were from each other, yet how likable they both were. The tutor angle was a tiny bit strange, since it was anonymous, but that's kind of what made it so enjoyable. I liked the way Rigby switches back and forth between points of view and really gets into the characters heads.

If a cute high school romance is your cup of tea, be sure to check out this book and this series!

Content: mild romance; very mild violence (sports related)

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Second Chance (Griffin Force #5) by Julie Coulter Bellon {Review}

Second Chance (Griffin Force #5) by Julie Coulter Bellon

Kindle Edition, 180 pages
Publication: February 20th 2021 by Stone Hall Books 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
Griffin Force tracks a dangerous terrorist to Libya, but the only man on their team that can infiltrate the terrorist's lair is Augie---their computer tech. They'll take a huge risk with an undercover asset who gets Augie in and assures them he won't be killed.

But who can the team really trust when the op goes sideways?

My Review: 5 Stars
I wonder if Bellon has extreme anxiety while writing this series because I sure have moments of it while reading these books! The Griffin Force is off to Libya and danger, terrorists, and threats of death abound. Augie is immediately suspicious of Rian, who is helping the team, and the secret he learns isn't what he expected and leads to more peril than he ever could have imagined.
Bellon always does a great job of adding some romance and an emotional connection with her suspenseful stories and the situations are terrifying, giving the reader a glimpse into some pretty realistic circumstances. I love seeing old friends from previous books make appearances--these characters are a tight-knit family and their experiences bind them together in unfathomable ways. 
This fast-paced adventure is well-written and thrilling and this installment ends on a slight cliffhanger, leaving me eager for more.
Content: very mild romance; PG-13 violence (relating to war, terrorism, hostages, etc)  

Friday, February 19, 2021

Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light Book 1) by Sara B. Larson {Review}

Sisters of Shadow and Light (Sisters of Shadow and Light Book 1) by Sara B. Larson

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Tor Teen 
Source: Audiobook, but I also own a copy
The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes....

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world--including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father's Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a "roar" that drowns everything else out--leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world...until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.

My Review: 4 Stars
Mysteries and secrets swirl around the magical hedge that has Zuhra and her sister, Inara, locked within. This story captures the depth of a sister bond well, also allowing for their individual growth as they strive to unravel things. The danger, adventure, tension, budding romances, and complicated relationships (especially with family) drew me right in. There is an underlying sense of urgency flowing in a current beneath the plot that sometimes left me feeling a bit anxious, but I loved the traditional fantasy elements that were showcased in a unique way.

Larson does a good job of incorporating the beliefs of two clashing worlds and the persistence and loyalties needed to merge and compromise such a skirmish. I liked the characters right from the start and enjoyed watching this new world develop throughout the pages. The magical elements were well done and although the story started out a little slow, it gained momentum as the book progressed and the culmination of events was definitely worth the wait.
Content: light innuendo, mild romance; mild violence

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Ever Only Friends by Shaela Kay {Review}

Ever Only Friends by Shaela Kay

Kindle Edition, 230 pages
Published January 26th 2021 
Source: Kindle Unlimited

They were only ever friends... but is that how they're going to stay?

When Amie’s fiancé breaks off their engagement, she does what any rational, 24-year-old law student would do: eats her weight in Ben & Jerry's and pawns the ring her ex-fiancé could have sold a kidney for. But Amie's got more problems than her expanding waistline: her entire world was planned around (and by) Derek. Without him, she doesn't even know how she likes her coffee, let alone what she wants to do with her life.

Jason is stuck running the family business, when all he really wants to do is make filet mignon and perfect his crème brûlée. When his childhood friend shows up next door with a broken heart, he takes it upon himself to cheer her up, just like he did when they were kids. She's only around for the summer—what could possibly happen?

Amie and Jason were only ever friends, so when sparks start to fly it catches them both off guard—especially since Jason’s culinary dreams are about to come true and Amie finally has her life figured out. With summer drawing to a close and Amie heading back to school, will their friendship survive the tug-of-war between them? Or will the summer end with more than just Amie's broken heart?


My Review: 5 Stars

It's so easy in life to go along with what makes others happy. I don't like conflict and don't enjoy rocking the boat, so I could understand and relate to Amie and how she found herself trapped in a persona that doesn't truly reflect who she used to be. A quick jilt just before walking down the aisle was actually the blessing in disguise that helped her dig out her long forgotten identity. I enjoyed discovering who Amie really was.

After a move back home, Amie reconnects with her childhood best friend, Jason. I loved how they each helped each other recognize their potential and callings in life. Fantastic characters are what really drove this book deep into my heart. I love good connections and the feel-good warmth of friends, familiarity, and love.

I'll drool over Ben and Jerry's any time, but it was Jason's cooking creations that left me with a wet spot on my shirt. I loved the flow of this story--the pacing, comfort, delicious descriptions, and dazzling chemistry made for a great story. This is my first book by this author and it won't be my last.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Proper Charade (Proper Scandals Book 2) by Esther Hatch {Review}

A Proper Charade (Proper Scandals Book 2) by Esther Hatch

Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 1st 2020 by Covenant Communications 
Lady Patience Kendrick was born to a life of privilege, and with the London Season looming, she finds herself facing unprecedented pressure to adhere to the rules of society. Unfortunately, the free-spirited young woman is anything but proper. Patience's elder brother, a former military man, bemoans his sister's antics - but when he accuses her of incurable frivolity, it is simply more than she can bear. Determined to prove her brother wrong, Patience undertakes a drastic experiment: she will disguise herself as a maid and demonstrate her ability to work as hard as anyone.

Taken on as household staff by her brother's former general, Patience soon learns that willingness and ability are two very different things. While her plan sounded promising in theory, the reality is that she is out of her depth - and the irresistibly charming son of the house isn't helping matters. Patience soon finds herself embroiled in a charade far more complicated that she imagined. With both her pride and her heart at stake, she is determined to prove her brother wrong - even as her plans spiral delightfully out of control.

My Review: 5 Stars
I don't know why I waited so long to read this book, other than there are just too many books and so little time. Hatch writes a darling, unconventional story that captivated me from the very first page.
Patience is a stifled young lady and hatches a hair-brained plan to pose as a maid for one month in her older brother's general's home. From the moment she steps into this other world, mishaps and predicaments, along with humor and swoon, abound. 
I loved Patience as a character. She was so cheerfully unpredictable and optimistic, which made for a great time as she stepped into yet another charade. The layers were delightful and very entertaining. Anthony is much more serious, yet Patience managed to unraveled his uptight persona with her winsome personality. Separately they're each likable in their own rights, but together, they're wonderful.
Hatch does a fantastic job with this story. The romance is sweet with great sparks and banter. There are so many facets to so many of the characters and each nuance plays a part in the plan in some way. I adored everything about it and can't wait for another proper scandal!
Content: mild romance

Monday, February 15, 2021

Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2) by Jennifer Moore {Review}

Wrong Train to Paris (Romance on the Orient Express #2) by Jennifer Moore

Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 1st 2020 by Covenant Communications 
At nineteen years of age, Julia Weston fancies herself a capable woman, far too old to require a traveling companion. But at the insistence of her overprotective father, Julia finds herself aboard the Orient Express in the care of an approved escort. In an ill-advised demonstration of independence, Julia leaves the train on a quick errand and then re-boards and sleeps away her exhaustion. Upon awakening, however, she realizes her plan went terribly awry: she boarded the wrong train and is now stranded alone in the French countryside of Provence.

Now she must rely on the help of Luc Paquet, a young French farmer who offers her accommodations with his aunt while Julia awaits the next train to Paris in five days’ time. As she settles into the rhythms of the household alongside Luc and his aunt, Julia learns more than she ever dreamed she would about France, farm life, and her handsome rescuer. There is more to Luc than meets the eye, and their chemistry is undeniable. But Julia and Luc are from different worlds, and all too soon, the train will bear Julia back to a life that suddenly feels incomplete.

My Review: 5 Stars
The whole concept of finding love on the intriguing Orient Express caught me from the very start and this installment delivers more of the same. I've noticed one common character--a mysterious man by the name of Nicholas, whose pipe smells differently for different people. 
In this story, Julia is on her way to Paris in 1900 and while trying to prove her independence, finds herself in the middle of the French countryside. The farm life and simpler times brought up wistful, sweet feelings. Julia is adventuresome and proper, and while Luc is charming, he is all about duty and honor, which is very admirable. 
I loved the adventures Luc and Julia embarked on, while trying to help her reach her father in Paris. I enjoyed the setting immensely and I was especially fond of the animals. Moore does a great job of taking the reader along on this escapade with her engaging writing style.
If I have one piece of advice, it's this: DON'T get off the train and DON'T listen to a man with an interesting smelling pipe! Okay, fine. What's interesting is that love wouldn't have been found without this mistake and sometimes veering off the path is exactly where you're meant to be. 
Content: mild romance

Friday, February 12, 2021

Give Me One Good Reason (Shaped by Love #4) by Michelle Pennington {Review}

Give Me One Good Reason (Shaped by Love #4) by Michelle Pennington

Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published February 4th 2021
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given

No calling dibs on dream guys.

Why do short girls always get the tall guys?

Don't they know that those of us who more closely resemble giraffes than dainty little wood sprites should have first pick of any guy who isn't eye level with our cleavage?

But what happens when the embodiment of all my tall-girl fantasies gets hired to work at Booms and Nibbles?

My short best friend snags a date with him first.

What do I get to do? Butt heads with him all day every day as I try to educate him on selling women's underwear, that's what. He's opinionated, blunt, and... Sigh. It's no use. He's amazing. Especially when his beautiful brown eyes glint at me from behind those nerdy glasses—sending messages that both confuse and captivate me.

Well, Adam had better fortify those walls he keeps putting up because I've always been the type to go after what I want. And my sights are set on his heart.

Get ready to laugh and flutter and possibly even squeal a little. This is Angela's story and things are about to get fun. Don't hesitate. Grab your copy now.

My Review: 5 Stars
There are a lot of things that I adore about this series but one of the biggest is the message that all women are beautiful and important, no matter their shapes or sizes. Angela is tall--very tall--and because of that, she endures many comments and jokes, which leads her to feel insecure about her height, going as far to call herself a giraffe. It seems that we always want the opposite of what we have, but landing a job at Booms and Nibbles was perfect for her and she excels at what she does. 
Angela is the type of character that I want to be best friends with. Not only is she sweet and fun, but she is passionate about her interests and loyal to her friends. Working closely with the new guy causes the butterflies to swarm. Adam is a great character too--hilarious, sometimes clueless, easily embarrassed, yet kind. I loved catching glimpses of past characters and I'm settling right into this company, so please don't take it away any time soon!
Pennington has found a solid niche with this romantic comedy series. I was on the treadmill reading and I was snorting and laughing so hard at a few different parts--I almost lost my footing! The unexpected moments of humor, stolen glances, burgeoning friendship, and swoon were captured perfectly and the nod to Korean dramas set my heart afire. Lucky for me, I know for sure at least one more book will be coming and I cannot wait!

Content: mild+ romance (kissing, some light innuendo, talk of underwear since that's the type of company B&N is)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Dear Clara by Shelly E. Powell {Review}

Dear Clara by Shelly E. Powell

Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published February 9th 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.
He thinks she is a rare beauty. She knows he is charming on paper. Both hope for romance, but when letters are no longer enough, Clara must face the truth and decide whether to let go of pride or protect her heart.

For the first time in her life, Clara Everton has done something truly improper. She has written to a gentleman she hardly knows, simply to avoid an unwanted marriage proposal and perhaps to prove to herself that her first London season was not such a disappointment after all. As one letter grows into many and her feelings for James Thayne deepen, Clara begins to wonder whether a letter is as innocent a thing as she once thought. Meeting Mr. Thayne in person shakes her hopes, and she must reconcile herself to the unexpected truth. Yet, as circumstances continue to bring them together, Clara can't help but question whether opening her heart to Mr. Thayne is riskier than protecting it.

My Review: 5 Stars
Sometimes a debut novel is a little rough, as it takes a few stories to find a groove, but that was definitely not the case with this charming book! Powell captures the spirit of the Regency time, or how I like to imagine it, with her lively characters, dreadful rakes, cases of mistaken identity, and clandestine romances. I was held captive by these pages and couldn't wait for all the pieces to fall into place.
Clara is slightly persnickety in her quest to find love and won't settle for just anyone, yet I found myself identifying with her sweet and caring personality. I love how she fell into friendships and found herself in interesting situations, which she handled with grace. Mr. Thayne is an appealing character, with his determination and awkwardness. The combination of the whole cast of characters was delightful.
There are many intricate threads holding this story together and each tangent was entertaining in their own rights. It was fun to tie things together as the plot progressed and while the events weren't necessarily action-packed, the gentle and steady nature was very engaging.
Content: mild romance (some vague innuendo, kissing) 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

My Totally Off-Limits Best Friend (Sweet Mountain High) by M.L. Collins {Review}

My Totally Off-Limits Best Friend (Sweet Mountain High) by M.L. Collins

Kindle Edition, 175 pages
Published January 1st 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given
There’s this guy…
And he’s hot, smart, fun, and totally off-limits.
Why? Because he’s my best friend.
Never fall for your best friend.
Too late, you say?
Right. Me too.
My next piece of advice: whatever you do…
Do not—as in never ever—offer to help him practice kissing.
Worst. Mistake. Ever.

There’s this girl…
And she’s awesome, but she thinks I’m totally off-limits.
Why? Because I’m not on her radar as boyfriend material.
Never let other people define you.
Too late, you say?
Right. Me too.
My next piece of advice: whatever you do…
Do—have a plan—because you only live life once.
Take. The. Risk.  

My Review: 4 Stars
I love a cute YA high school romance and this one dropped an unrequited best friends love right into my hands. True to teenage fashion, there wasn't a lot of in-depth communication between Tessa and her best friend Spencer, but there is a loyalty there that was endearing. Setting aside your own wants to help someone else find theirs isn't an easy thing to do.
Tessa is a model student, but I loved the way she took the senior art project that fell into her lap and ran with it, landing her in some trouble, but bringing some fun and laughs to the scene. She's a sweet, yet quirky character, with her own unique style, which reflects her personality. Spencer is a character who had me both cheering him on and flinching with the awkwardness of his quest.

Full of cliches and stereotypes, this story was comfortable and relatively free of an overload of drama and angst. I loved the garage band element and even reluctantly enjoyed "the plan," and although the ending is fairly predictable, it still caught me off guard and I didn't like that. I wanted it to come around on a different path. All's well that ends well and I'll just keep thinking about the cute and funny moments throughout.

Content: mild romance (kissing); one party scene that was thwarted

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Chute Boss by Sophia Summers {Review}

Chute Boss (Lost Creek Rodeo #2) by Sophia Summers, Heather B. Moore, Rebecca Connolly

Kindle Edition
Publication: February 9th 2021 by Kings Row Press 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given 

The perfect vacation: Rest. Therapy. And miles away from Reid Browning.

At first Eden thinks she's spending three weeks at Broken Hearts Ranch to heal her head. But the longer she works with Kellie, the more she realizes her head is not the only thing hurting. Images from her tour in Iraq stay hidden but not deeply enough, and she knows she will need to forget or heal or both if she is ever going to move on. As a bonus, the ranch was going to be a good opportunity to avoid the dating scene, and men in general. Or so she thought.

As a world class bareback rider, Reid has given his all to rodeo and does everything he can to forget his law degree and the fast paced life he left in Washington DC. That includes the woman he recently met who got under his skin in all the wrong ways. The trouble is, she got under his skin in the right ways too. When he escapes to Texas to support his college brothers in the Lost Creek Rodeo, he couldn't be more surprised to find her there.

Sparks fly and not always the good kind, but when circumstances throw them together and barriers come down, the two just might find a path to healing and maybe even love.

My Review: 4 Stars
I love that this series takes some serious issues, broken-hearted women, swoon-worthy cowboys, and melds them all into a giant pot of deliciously sweet romance. And I enjoy learning more about the rodeo life and the events that are a part of that career.
Reid is a bareback rider and those bucking horses would be not only thrilling, but terrifying. He has two completely different lives, yet he's solid and chivalrous. His way of coping is off-putting for Eden, and causes an intense enemies-to-love story. Both Reid and Eden experience a similar type of injury that almost forces them to bond, against their wills. Eden is a war vet and that took me by surprise, because I don't read many books where the woman is the vet, suffering the effects of her service. I loved that she was so strong and stubborn, but I wanted her prickles to be a little softer.
The chemistry in this book was passionate. I wasn't ever sure if it would explode into a rage or into something romantic, but those fiery emotions were definitely present, making this story very enjoyable. 
From a massive dog, to collisions, to dances, to journal writing, to kissing...this book drew me right in and brought a lovely story to life. 
Content: mild romance (kissing); mild violence (rodeo and war flashbacks)

Monday, February 8, 2021

Of Sword and Shadow by A.L. Sowards {Review}

Of Sword and Shadow by A.L. Sowards

Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Expected publication: February 8th 2021 by Covenant Communications 
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Netgalley. All opinions are my own and were voluntarily given
Greece, 1379

She is known by many names, none of them her own. In truth, she is an unnamed slave, nothing more than a weapon in the hands of her owner in his attempts to provoke political mayhem. When she encounters a handsome young man while on an assignment, she thinks little of him—until he attempts to take what she has stolen. But in her line of work, failure is not an option.

Gillen is intrigued by the mysterious woman who thwarts his mission. But when his path crosses hers again, his intrigue turns to gratitude as the thief he comes to call Eudocia saves his life. The two form a bond of friendship and join forces to wrest control from a group of ruthless rulers. But as their camaraderie blossoms into something more, Gillen and Eudocia must fight for love even as they wage war for a better future.

My Review: 5 Stars
The Middle Ages are intriguing--knights, fair maidens, royalty. But what I haven't thought a lot about is the slavery situation during these times. Can you imagine remembering nothing before your time as a slave, not even knowing your own name? That's the situation this young girl, who later becomes Eudocia, finds herself in. With no hope of escape, a bond is formed with Gillen, and gradually, ambitions and ideas for a better life start to grow.
This whole story is well-written and delivered in a very appealing way. Sowards writes in a way that draws the reader right in to the dangers of the time and brings thoughts and feelings to the surface--things I've never pondered before. There are so many interesting facets to this story and the time period that captivated me--slavery, freedom, loyalties, to name a few--and Eudocia's story was inspiring. Both Gillen and Eudocia are strong, ingenious characters.
The slices of intrigue blended with the inklings of hope and glimpses of romance, melded into an adventurous and moving tale that touched me.

Content: PG-13 for mild romance (kissing, with some references to slavery, virginity, groping, seduction); moderate violence (war, torture, abuse) mild+ religion references

**The author has a content warning on her website:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Uncharted Freedom (Uncharted #9) by Keely Brooke Keith {Review}

Uncharted Freedom (Uncharted #9) by Keely Brooke Keith

ebook, 257 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Edenbrooke Press
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given

Naomi McIntosh is running from her family’s oppressive expectations and the loathsome man her father has demanded she marry. Renaming herself to live incognito, she takes a housekeeping job at the Inn at Falls Creek and promises God this false identity will be her last.

When shepherd James Roberts goes home to the Inn at Falls Creek for his sister’s wedding, he doesn’t expect the woman who once broke his heart to be working there. No matter how much he wants to be with Naomi again, he can’t go along with her charade, especially since he is trying to persuade his father to make him the inn’s heir.

Though Naomi yearns for a future with James, if she confesses her deception to everyone, her estranged fiancé will find her. And the longer James goes without telling his family the truth about Naomi—and their growing relationship—the further he jeopardizes the inheritance. But just when their relationship looks promising, the inn proves to be a poor hiding place from Naomi’s past.

Meanwhile, in Good Springs…
Connor Bradshaw wrestles with the overseers’ decision to preserve the Land’s pacifist ways. His desire to build a defense system for the Land keeps him up at night, secretly scanning for radio transmissions from the warring outside world. His training to be a village overseer will require him to lay down his weapons, but a voice over the radio waves ignites his worst fears.

My Review: 5 Stars
The world that Keith has created is one of the most fascinating ones I've read about. Most of the series takes place in the not-too-distant future, yet the world is completely different and this small land, undetected by most everyone, is intriguing. I love how each book unveils a tiny bit more to the mysteries surrounding it, and delves deeper into the lives of the characters inhabiting it. Sometimes it gets to a point when it's time for a series to come to an end, but I don't feel like this one will ever reach a conclusion.
I also love how intertwined the characters lives are and how they intersect at such interesting spots. In this story, Naomi has had enough and is lying her way to a better life, being free of abuse and control. She's spunky and sweet, yet determined to break free and I loved that tenacity. James has a past with Naomi and still loves her. His support is endearing and I loved watching him work to build the life he wants.
The mystery seeping in at times was a little eerie and had me on edge, and I can't wait to discover what's next for the land.
Content: mild romance; very mild religion

Monday, February 1, 2021

Her Athlete's Wedding Secret by Cindy Ray Hale {Review}

Her Athlete's Wedding Secret (A Maple Creek Brides Sweet Romance) by Cindy Ray Hale

Kindle Edition, 160 pages
Publication: January 30th 2021 
Source: I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given 

Can a fake marriage save their careers? Or will their feelings turn everything real?

Small Town newspaper reporter, Tessa Randall, dreams of scoring a job with a big city newspaper. An interview with Benson Patrick, quarterback for the New York Giants, might be the opportunity she’s been looking for. When he comes home to Maple Creek for their mutual friends’ wedding, Tessa hopes it’s the perfect chance to interview him. Only Benson isn’t being as cooperative as she’d wanted, and before she knows it, he’s proposing to her. A marriage, even a fake one, might be the edge she needs to land her dream job.

New York Giants quarterback Benson Patrick has never backed down from a dare. When the police catch him doing donuts in Central Park with his beloved truck, Ol’ Bessie, he’s afraid his career is over. After being put on suspension, his coach tells him to settle down and get married or get kicked off the team. When he goes to his buddy’s wedding at his hometown, the beautiful Tessa Randall catches his eye. If he can convince her to marry him, she might be the solution to all his problems. As long as their feelings don’t get involved.

If you enjoy fake marriages, sports romance, and small town sweet romance, then you'll love this book.

My Review: 4 Stars
Hale has found her stride with this Maple Creek series. The combination of small town shenanigans and quirky characters makes this series a hit. But when a fake marriage with mutual benefits between former high school classmates, a pro athlete and a newspaper reporter, and lots of swoon in a tropical location is thrown into the mix, encompasses almost everything that I love about a sweet story.

Benson and Tessa aren't a match on paper per say, but they're both willing to give this fake marriage a shot to boost both of their careers, and it proves hard to hold their feelings close to their hearts. Honestly at first, Benson was kind of a selfish jerk, but when life happens, he became much more likable. Tessa is the sweetest--almost too sweet for her own good, as she's had a hard life with a mentally ill mother. Together, they are a very complementary opposites attract concoction. 

Jetting off on a romantic Caribbean honeymoon was just what I needed and watching their lives mash together was a treat. I'm already looking forward to more Maple Creek.

Content: mild romance