To Win a Prince

Author: Toni Shiloh

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another charming romance for anyone that is a fan of The Princess Diaries movies, not to be missed.

After her best friend became Queen of an African nation, Iris Blakely decides to stay and help the citizens of the country by starting a sustainable clothing company. Iris has been asked to bring on Ekon Diallo, the man who betrayed her best friend, to work with her at her company. Ekon has been stripped of his title as prince after trying to overthrow Brie before she could become Queen. Tensions are high as Ekon and Iris struggle to work together; they realize they are completely different people from different worlds but their hearts might just be wanting the same thing.

After reading the first book in this series, In Search of a Prince, I couldn’t wait for more from this world. The story of Brie reminded me of The Princess Diaries, which I loved and was eager to see how the story of Iris held up. I may have had my expectations set a little too high with this one because I felt a little let down. My biggest problem was the immediate attraction between the characters. I enjoy a fun rom-com but the romance here was just too quick after he had tried to betray her best friend. Toni Shiloh is a great writer and I enjoy her stories, just with less eye-rolling at such early attractions. If that hadn’t turned me off so early, I would have loved every part of the book. If that is something you can look past, then this will be a thoroughly enjoyable book. I recommend this book to readers that enjoy contemporary romance with characters that are instantly attracted to each other.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Last Way Home

Author: Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Shores #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Love going back to PEI and meeting new characters mixed with those readers have already grown to love!

Eli Ross returns home to Victoria-By-The-Sea after his NHL career with the New York Rangers comes to a sudden and abrupt end.  Now without a penny to his name, he strides into town just as his mother’s pottery shop catches on fire.  Unsure if his family will even welcome him back, he has no idea how long he will stay.  He owes money to a loan shark back in New York and the only job that he can find is coaching hockey for a middle school girls league.  How much farther can he fall?

Violet Donaghy ran from her past 10 years ago after a horrific accident.  She came to Victoria in hopes of starting a new life when she met Mama Potts, who took her under her wing to become an artist.  But when their shop, and her apartment, catch fire, she is left having to work with Mama Potts black sheep son, Eli, in order to get things back in place.  When hearts collide, what is in store?

I really enjoyed Eli and Violet’s story more than I did that of Oliver and Meg in the previous book.  Not sure why, but maybe it was the hockey??  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed the banter that these two had and the unlikely situations that Eli kept finding himself in, especially when he became the coach of the middle school girl’s hockey team, The Stars.  He had a lot of growth during that period that matured him a lot.  I also loved that Eli and Violet made a stop at the Red Door Inn and I got to check in on some of my favorite characters from that series! 

This is a story of redemption for both Eli and Violet from their past mistakes.  I love that the element of forgiveness was the basis for this book with a bit of the theme of the Prodigal Son (and daughter).  This story can be read as a standalone, but it will shine light on other characters backstories. 

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Out of the Night

Author: Susan May Warren

Series: The Epic Story of RJ and York #1

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: August 9, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book in the RJ and York series gives fans of the Montana Marshalls family just what they have been longing for with this amazing couple!

York Newgate has one thing on his mind, proposing to the love of his life, RJ Marshall, but nothing in his proposal is going as planned. Trouble seems to follow them wherever they go making it difficult to get down on one knee. As they are in Paris. RJ spots a terrorist they helped put away out in the open. If it really is Alan Martin, what is he doing out and what will it mean for the happy ending RJ and York?

If you have been a fan of Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshall series, you are familiar with RJ and York and their relationship. This series is going to make readers very happy seeing this fun couple go through all kinds of obstacles just to be together. In this first book in the series, the action starts right off the bat with RJ and York trying to track down escaped criminal Alan Martin and stop whatever evil he is up to. I really enjoyed the dynamic between RJ and York, she is used to her brothers trying to protect her and now York is doing the same. She wants to prove that she is fully capable of doing all that they can do but doesn’t have the same training causing her to end up needing saving frequently. This book has non-stop action with tension in all the right places and the right amount of humor between the characters to keep the story moving along. Fans of the Marshalls will not want to miss out on this one. An easy day read for fans of romantic suspense.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Lifemark

Author: Chris Fabry

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: August 2, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Chris Fabry and the Kendrick Brothers, LLC team up again to bring another fantastic heartwarming story!

Melissa had a tough life after her parents divorced.  She stayed with her dad, but after he remarried, he spent less time with her and more time with his stepchildren.  Before long, she decided it was best to leave home behind and move in with her boyfriend, Bryan.  What she never counted on was getting pregnant.  After much turmoil, she decided it was best to put her baby up for adoption so that he could have a better life than she could give him, but she never forgets about him, thinking of him often. 

Susan and Jimmy Colton have had heartbreak in earlier pregnancies and trying to adopt a child.  On a whim, Jimmy decides to resubmit their application letter when they receive a call that a mother in Indianapolis has chosen their family to be the recipient of her baby.  Both Jimmy and Susan have always been open with their son, David, about his adoption and have been supportive if he ever wanted to reach out to his biological parents.

David has always kept the topic of his adoption closed except for the people who are closest to him.  When he gets a call from the legal team of the adoption agency that the birth mother has updated her contact information, he decides to make contact to appease his parents.  He never expected the flood that would be released in the future!

As usual, the Kendrick Brothers idea mixed with Chris Fabry’s storytelling makes for a fantastic story!  The plot is a pro-life story and the good that can come out of choosing adoption over abortion.  It is predictable, but a story like this is intended to be, especially because of the bigger audience, but someone might find this book who is in this situation and be riveted to see what can happen when you look at a bigger picture.  I love to read books before watching movies and this will be no exception.  There will likely be a little bit of storyline removed for the movie, but only enough that it won’t be that noticeable.  It was easy to relate to the characters and Melissa’s predicament was well written.  I love the way this story comes full circle from beginning to end!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Walking in Tall Weeds

Author: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: July 19, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Robin W. Pearson tells it like it is in her newest book!

McKinley Baldwin is returning to his childhood home of Hickory Grove, North Carolina after he fled to Philadelphia over a year and a half ago.  His parents aren’t bad, just stubborn with their traditions.  Now he has big news to tell, he is planning to ask the love of his life for her hand in marriage but knows that it will be a difficult step to take with his parents.  With a black dad and white mom, McKinley has learned all about the difficulties a mixed race can bring, and his future fiancé will be no exception to that as a white woman.  What complicates things even more is that she is the daughter of the furniture company that his dad works at and has a grudge against the family for years after they stole his grandfather’s land.  Can past hurts be healed?  Or will grudges be just as stubborn as traditions?

Robin Pearson has penned another impressive story tackling many of today’s toughest issues.  Set in North Carolina, Fred and Paulette are a mixed-race couple that have an only child, McKinley.  Pearson brings to light the issues that many mixed-race couples face from both a public and private perspective.  Possibly the most difficult issue are the issues with outside family members who can’t seem to hold back their thoughts and opinions throughout all the time these two have been married.  There is not a tremendous amount of spoken dialogue throughout the book but focuses more on intrinsic issues with thoughts that occur and how different people deal with those thoughts.  I love that Pearson has always managed to bring things to light that people deal with to help readers gain insight into what different people go through.  Great book as usual!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Record Keeper

Author: Charles Martin

Series: Murphy Shepherd #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An exciting conclusion to the Murphy Shepherd series that will have readers wanting to read the whole series again and again!

Murphy Shepherd has been in the shadows his whole career.  He stays off the radar and rescues those who have been taken for human trafficking.  To cope with all the things he has seen, he began writing stories about his adventures using the pen name David Bishop that have become some of the most sought-after books in the world.  But he owes everything to his mentor, Bones.  After his last mission to rescue his wife and children, he very nearly died at the hand of someone who looked eerily similar to his mentor.  When Murphy learns the truth about the mystery man, he and Bones vow to stop at nothing to finally dismantle the trafficking empire and keep those who have been rescued safe.  But when Bones is taken and used as ransom, Murphy has just discovered this will be the most difficult mission that he has been preparing for throughout his whole life without even knowing it!

The Record Keeper is the third and final book in the Murphy Shepherd series.  This has been one of the most intense series that I’ve read over the last decade.  Readers are pulled in quickly during the first book and it doesn’t let up until the end of the third.  Whereas the first book is just setting the stage with a little bit of Murphy’s history, the second book really dives into his past and what made him into the man he is.  The Record Keeper is more about the story of his mentor, Bones, and how the organization that he and Murphy work for came to be.  Word of caution, this series and this book are not for the squeamish.  This dives heavily into human trafficking and sexual abuse, particularly at those who seem to live just and righteous lives.  However, there is also a humbling truth of forgiveness and leaving the ninety-nine to find the one, regardless of who that one might be. 

I would love this to become a movie or miniseries, but who knows if it will.  The writing is real, raw, and very emotional at times.  The characters are easy to connect with and quickly make readers love or hate them.  To get the most out of this book, I recommend that the full series be read in order as it follows a timeline and storyline that need to read to fully understand what is going on.  Hands down one of my favorite books of the year!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

City of Likes

Author: Jenny Mollen

Publisher: NacelBooks

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I must praise Jenny Mollen for writing a book that had characters I couldn’t stand and a story line that was so real that could be hard to read for some but needs to be read by others.

Megan Chernoff has just moved from LA to New York after her husband’s work relocated them. She has been a stay-at-home mother with her two boys but now wants to get back to work as a copywriter. Shortly after arriving in New York, she meets Daphne Cole, a social media influencer who shows interest in Megan and the two quickly become close. Megan is now immersed in the influencer world and sees her life changing which draws her closer to Daphne and her circle but farther away from her family. The closer she becomes to Daphne, the more she sees the world she has been drawn into is not real and is making her lose track of what is real.

It has taken me a few days to form my thoughts for how I feel about this book. As I read it, it took me back to a time and friendship that hurt me. Daphne is a clear narcissist and the things she does to Megan and those around her pulled me deep into my memories of this friendship and how it hurt me and can still hurt when I go down memory lane. Jenny Mollen did a fantastic job of writing these characters in a way that made me really not like them. This story can be hard to read for those that find themselves obsessed with social media and spending so much time preoccupied with likes and followers that they lose track of what matters: their family. I have been trying to limit my scrolling time on social media and it makes me happier knowing I’m spending less wasted time and more intentional time with my family. The book was on my list to read right after another that dealt with how social media can make people forget their true worth because of making the likes and followers more important than those actually in their lives. There is a lot of adult language and content within the pages so I would not recommend this to younger readers. Those that enjoy dark humor and satire will enjoy this book, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

Author: Sara Brunsvold

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Not at all what I expected from this book in the best possible way! A story that pulls at the heart strings and captivates readers from the very beginning!

Aidyn Kelley feels her talent as a writer is being undervalued at the Kansas City Star. When she pushes for better assignments, it backfires, and she gets assigned to write an obituary for an ordinary woman dying of cancer. What is supposed to be a punishment of an assignment turns into the assignment of a lifetime. Clara Kip is a spunky lady that is dying, but not ready to let go of the life the lord has blessed her with. When Aidyn shows up to speak with Clara about writing her obituary, Clara knows that God brought the young girl into her life for a reason, and she vows not to waste the opportunity.

The Extraordinary Death of Mrs. Kip is just that, an extraordinary book, especially when you realize this is a debut book. Sara Brunsvold has written a delightful new story that is going to be in the running for one of my favorite books of the year. The characters of Aidyn and Clara are opposites but also need each other in ways neither of them could have realized making them great characters to read about. This book hit me in all the right places and even had me wiping away a tear or two towards the end, not something that happens often when reading. The subject matter is tough but handled delicately with Clara knowing she doesn’t have long to live but wanting to make the most of her time and help those she can. Her outlook on life is written so beautifully, this is the type of story that many need to read and take to heart how these characters act and try to incorporate that into their own lives. I am blown away that this is the first novel by Sara Brunsvold, this reads more like a seasoned author’s writing. I recommend this to readers that love a good contemporary book with fantastic characters and a story that flows so naturally you forget everything else you need to do.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Turn to Me

Author: Becky Wade

Series: Misty River Romance #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Turn to me is whimsical, adventurous, and sweet romance not to be missed by fans of contemporary romance.

Luke Dempsey has let guilt hold him back in life since his brother died in an earthquake. Since that time, he has sabotaged any happiness that has tried to enter his life and even ended up in prison. While in prison, he befriends an older man that makes him promise to protect his daughter Finley. Luke learns that Finley is left a treasure hunt by her father and others may know and try to get the treasure from her. When Luke is released from prison, he finds Finley and starts working for her animal rescue non-profit. He is grumpy and gruff, but she sees something good in him that she wants to bring to the surface and help him find happiness. With each new clue they uncover, their feelings grow for each other along with the danger as others want what they are trying to find.

This is the third book in the Misty River romance series dealing with the Miracle five, a set of characters who survive an earthquake. Luke is the most reclusive of the members and his story revolves around him being released from prison after making a promise to protect someone. He has dreams of a quiet life, building his own cabin, and working from home without having to be around many people. When he meets Finley all that changes. The romantic tension between the two is obvious from the beginning. What bothered me was the fact Luke’s criminal past. I get that her father was in prison and he talked about Luke to her and she has a soft heart for rehabilitating others, but she never hesitated falling in love with someone with a criminal past. I liked the way Luke was portrayed, he had a hard time letting go of what he had done and didn’t think he would be good enough for Finley even though she never questioned it. They are complete opposites but in this case, opposites attract and it works well. Towards the end of the book, I was completely drawn into the story and wanted to see them with each other to have the happy ending. Even though this is the third in the series, I feel that readers could pick this one up without having read the previous two and still enjoy the story. There is enough backstory of the characters that I had no problem following along having not read the others. This is a great story for those that love contemporary romance.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Sweet Life

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Series: Cape Cod Creamery #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sometimes you have to seize life by the moment to get your second chance!

Dawn Dixon and her mom Marnie could not be more opposite.  Dawn is like her dad, very calculated and views the world as black and white.  Marnie is a free spirit who feels that everyone should embrace their creative side as often as possible.  When Dawn’s dad dies from a workplace accident, she and her mom grieve in their own way.  Then they each face another battle: Dawn’s fiancé Kevin calls off their wedding and Marnie deals with breast cancer.  Kevin tells Dawn to still take the honeymoon on Cape Cod since it had to be paid for in advance, so she and her mom go vacation on the Cape instead of celebrating her wedding.  During the trip, Marnie makes an impulse decision to purchase a defunct ice cream shop on main street with hopes of starting a new chapter in her life.  Dawn is flabbergasted and tries everything to get her mother to change her mind, but when it’s evident that things have already progressed too far, Dawn decides to help her mother at least for a time.

If you need a Memorial Day read, this book is for you.  Not only is it set in beautiful Chatham, Massachusetts, but it is set trying to get an ice cream shop ready to open on Memorial Day weekend.  This is a clean contemporary story that will give many readers the feels.  Both Dawn and Marie have tremendous character growth throughout the book as they are both pushed way outside their comfort zones and learn that life can be lived and enjoyed differently.  I also loved the way that Fisher tied in the Three Sisters Island series to the start of this book.  I wonder if there will be some common characters make an appearance in an upcoming story? 

This book really brings out the best in a community.  Not just from a support prospect, but how both newcomers and natives can work together to achieve a common goal.  Such a fun summer read!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.