Starfish Pier

starfishAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Hope Harbor #6

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 31, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another wonderfully written Hope Harbor edition with our favorite characters and more you can’t help but fall in love with!

After moving to Hope Harbor a year ago to reconnect with his brother, Steven Roark left his past as a Delta Force operator and is working as a charter fishing boat captain. During this year, his relationship with his brother hasn’t improved but he has hope that will change. Parts of his past still haunt him and the more he tries to put it behind him the more he finds himself coming face to face with his demons, especially when he runs into first-grade teacher Holly Miller. Holly is trying to help with a fundraiser for the town and asks Steven to donate a fishing expedition. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to feel the sparks for each other and no matter how much they try to deny it, the feelings are real. A problem arises when their pasts come to light and Holly doesn’t know if she can accept some of the decisions Steven has made and let her feelings for him progress.

Hope Harbor is one of the best contemporary Romance series I have read, evident in the fact there are six books in the series so far and each one seems to be better than the previous. I think my favorite thing about the series is Charley and his taco truck. I can’t see any reader not liking Charley. Each new book in the series brings a new set of main characters but also has some of our favorites as secondary characters. Holly and Steven have an interesting dynamic; at first glance you wouldn’t think they would be a good fit, but the longer the story goes it is hard to not see them ending up together. Steven starts out incredibly rough but as the story progresses, we get to see a lighter side to him. He has made mistakes, but he owns up to them and shows that a person can change if they have the right motivation and rely on a higher power for help. Holly has a rough past as well, with her medical issues and trying to convince everyone that she can take care of herself, she has her plate full and isn’t sure how much more she can take from others. It’s a back and forth dialogue between the two and I found the way their relationship was written very satisfying. Even though this is the sixth in the series it could be read by as a standalone. The reader might miss a few things from the previous books that would cause a smile. That being said, I do recommend reading the whole series to get the most enjoyment out of it.

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

Beach Haven

beach havenAuthor: T.I. Lowe

Series; The Carolina Coast #1

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: April 7, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A great quarantine read for all of us staying home who need a world to escape to right now!

Opal Gilbert has always been a free spirit and loves her life in Sunset Cove running her store selling vintage furniture. As her store grows, she needs help with deliveries and hires Lincoln Cole, an ex-marine who is new to town trying to recover from wounds both physical and emotional. At first, he doesn’t want the job, but it doesn’t take long for him to come around after a hurricane strikes causing damage to Opal’s shop. Lincoln decides to help her restore the shop and the furniture. As he is trying to help restore the shop, Opal is trying to help restore Lincoln and all that he is dealing with. Even though Lincoln doesn’t want to admit it, his wounds are healing the more time he spends around Opal. He knows that if he wants to pursue any kind of future with her, he will have to step out in faith and repair some of the damage on his own.

With extra time on our hands, I decided to pick this one up and was pleased with the fun, entertaining read it was. I finished this in two days, could have been one if I had pushed it. Beach Haven is a fun start to a new series that I foresee being an enjoyment for readers that love a book they can pick up and escape into for a few hours. There is nothing in this book that is too heavy or extra that would take readers extra time to push through. Opal and Lincoln have a relationship that can be hard to understand at first, but the more time they spend together the more the reader will want to see them grow closer. I particularly enjoyed the way Lowe brought things to a conclusion; I don’t want to give anything away but the last several chapters were my favorites. Lincoln is a hard man to get along with and doesn’t want to allow anyone to get close to him. Once you learn a little of his back story, it is easy to see why he feels the way he does. This was a fun easy read for me and I am sure many will enjoy as well. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a clean, contemporary romance that will pass the time and put a smile on your face.

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

The Happy Camper

The Happy CamperAuthor: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: March 4, 2020

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This book is a real Christian Hallmark movie!

Dillon Michaels breaks up with her boyfriend of two years and quits her job leaving her feeling lost. On a whim, she loads up her car and moves home to Oregon to help her aging grandfather. On the way, she stops at a cute trailer park and rests for the first time in a long time. When she arrives home, she finds that her mother has moved in with her grandfather, leaving her nowhere to sleep but the old couch. Her living situation is starting to wear on her when her grandfather gives her an old trailer to fix up and live in. This is a dream come true for Dillon. She has independence, a trailer she loves, and is interested in the local hardware store owner. A wrench is thrown in her plans when her ex shows up to win her back. Dillon must fight for her new life and the new joy she has found.

This book was a light and easy read. Dillon felt like a real person. I felt at times the book got a little bogged down on some plot points, but I really enjoyed it and wasn’t ready for it to end. Carlson always finds a way to draw me into an easy read that I find enjoyable. It’s nice to throw in a story that is not always so tense and suspenseful to balance out the reading stack! A true feel good book!

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

The Solid Grounds Coffee Company

Supper clubAuthor: Carla Laureano

Series: Supper Club Novel #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another terrific installment to the Saturday Night Supper Club series!

Bryan Shaw is one of the best rock climbers in the world. After a climbing incident in Colombia involving his past flame, Bryan loses his sponsor, turning him into an unemployed hobbyist. The night before he plans to return to the States, Bryan is approached by a man who is in need on an interpreter to help with a ministry that converts farms used to grow drug products into coffee beans. This chance encounter leads to Bryan purchasing the coffee farm to see if he can put that BA degree he has to good use.

Ana Sanchez is a high-profile public relations specialist in Denver. She makes her living cleaning up other people’s messes and she is one of the best. When a high maintenance client puts her in the position of trying to cover up the drug overdose of an underage girl, Ana makes a judgement call, which saves the girls life but lands Ana on a paid suspension. Now with loads of time on her hands, she is not sure what to focus her time on.

When Bryan returns to Denver to start up a roastery business, he visits and old group of friends who run the Bittersweet Café. Ana is there too and while the two are polar opposites, Bryan offers Ana a business proposition to help get the roastery off the ground. She accepts the challenge and the two begin to work closely together. While neither is looking for a relationship, they become closer. Could this match bring fulfillment to their lives?

This series is such fun to read. Each installment has become like a member of the family or at least of the supper club on family and friends night. Even though this is the third in the series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone. I loved the story between Bryan and Ana. They both had to overcome their demons, Bryan in the early stages of the book and Ana in the later part, but they were still able to do it. Ana’s story spoke volumes to me. She had been through so much and always took failure as a personal blame and built walls up around herself so that even her most personal friends could not get through. Once those walls finally came down, she was a different person. I feel as though she could easily be one of my closest friends.

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I learned a lot about the process. It was very interesting to see what all goes into making a cup of coffee. Laureano did a lot of research into this process and if you love cover art, there is a story behind it that you can read about. If you haven’t picked up a supper club novel yet, then you need to grab a copy of one today!

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

If For Any Reason


If for any reasonAuthor: Courtney Walsh

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 3, 2020

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story about second chances, forgiveness and how loving someone can lead you on a grand adventure!

Emily Ackerman has grown up as a child star. But when fame slips away and she loses her grandfather, Emily returns to Nantucket, a place she spent time as a child. She hasn’t been back since her mother was killed in a car accident. Everywhere she goes, she carries a book of letters with her from her mother. It is as if her mother is right beside her with advice she needs at the hard moments in her life. She has never known her father and never spends long enough in one place to make lasting relationships. As she arrives back in Nantucket, Hollis McGuire is one of the first faces she sees. They knew each other before she left the island and even though she has no intention of staying, it is nice to have a familiar face. Hollis had a career as a baseball player, which ended in injury. He has returned to the island to get to know the daughter he has never had time for. Emily starts to learn secrets about her mother’s death and falls for Hollis, making her plans to keep her time on the island short harder and harder. Emily must decide if her mother’s advice to guard her heart is worth it or if she should take a chance on Hollis.

Emily is a character that has trouble dealing with her past and the failure she has recently experienced. I loved the way she was written with a controlling grandmother but still finds the strength to stand up for what she believes in and find out the truth. Love is hard and can be painful at times, but Walsh has written characters that learn that heartache and difficult times can help them grow into who they are meant to be. Emily and Hollis’s relationship has a great start, but I do think the ending was a little rushed for them. The other members of the family make the relationships come alive, especially Hollis’s daughter. The interactions between her and Emily were some of the most authentic in the whole story. Emily was going through a hard time and I felt for her, more than some of the other characters. She didn’t whine about what she was going through, instead she kept trying to find her spot in life and without realizing it found her instead. If you are looking for a good contemporary love story, I would recommend this one.

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

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback

OutbackAuthor: Jessica Kate

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 28, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This is the novel I have been waiting for from Jessica Kate! Her fun sassy attitude comes through on every page. The way she takes readers across the world to Australia makes me want to pack my bags and head to the outback!

After his business failed and his father died, Samuel Payton decided it was time to leave Australia and try his hand at something new. He makes his way to Virginia and sets out to help others by becoming a youth pastor. He works with Kimberly Foster, a start-up expert that is working through her own personal issue of rejection from her mother who never really wanted her. Sam and Kimberly don’t always get along as their personalities clash, but they can’t help the attraction they feel towards each other. When Sam gets news from home that his family needs help, he decides that even though he loves being a youth pastor the recent troubles they have had and the conflict with Kimberly needs to take a back seat to helping his family. As Sam leaves, Kimberly finds herself in a bind to find his replacement and board members start to lose confidence in her. Kimberley’s at a loss and knows it is hopeless to try and convince Sam to come back, when he calls her for help with their family business troubles. They make a deal that if she comes to help then maybe Sam will reconsider returning to the states with her. The longer Kimberly is in Australia, the more Sam realizes he made a mistake leaving the job he loved and the woman he thought he could never get along with becomes someone he can’t see not being in his life.

With fun, sassy characters and a setting that will transport you to the great outback, readers will enjoy this new book by Jessica Kate. Her first novel was good, but I knew she could do better. I was waiting for this one right here. She is from Australia and brought a totally new feel to this contemporary romance. The Aussie slang along with the setting was a perfect blend to keep me engaged and entertained. Kim had never been to Australia and her main knowledge with the country was based on her interactions with Sam, which transplanted me as the reader to her character. I have always wanted to go to Australia and see the land, so as Kimberly made her way there and spent time with Sam and his family I felt as if I was traveling with her. And when Sam’s sister went to the Gold Coast I felt as if I was sitting on the beach watching the sun set with her. These little moments brought the book alive for me while making it all feel authentic. This story hit so much deeper for me than a lot of the contemporary romance I read. If Jessica Kate can keep this up as she continues to write, she has a bright future ahead of her. This is a light and fun read, not suspenseful, but still a quick read. I recommend this to readers that enjoy a romance with a little bit of sass at just the right places.

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

Promised Land

Promised landAuthor: Robert Whitlow

Series: Chosen People #2

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 14, 2020

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another terrific story with one of my favorite characters ever written!

A lot has changed since Hana and Daud were married. They feel that they can no longer stay in their homeland of Israel because of enemies Daud made while working with the Mossad. They believe it is best to return to America and live in Atlanta, which is where Hana’s law office. Hana continues with her work and Daud sets himself up a company to assist corporations looking to open an office in the middle east as his primary employment, but the CIA likes to use him as a contractor. While on a covert mission to extract a Ukrainian scientist, events don’t go as planned and Daud becomes the suspect of interest in a disturbance, branding him as a fugitive in Egypt.

When Jakob Brodsky calls Hana about another client, she knows it will never be a dull moment. Jakob has a new case involving some artifacts that were stolen by the Russian government during World War II. His client is hoping to locate and recover them if possible. Hana agrees to help in a limited capacity as her firm only wants her time spent on billable clients. Her boss, Leon Lowenstein, has also asked Hana to participate in a Jewish information forum to share her story. Daud agrees to oversee security for the event to not only keep Hana safe, but also show people in the United States what attending an event is like in the middle east.

Hana likes the safety of living in Atlanta, but Daud feels the call of Jerusalem. While overseas for work, he stops over in Jerusalem to talk to someone about Jakob Brodsky’s case. He never knew the events set off by this trip would eventually put everything he loves in jeopardy.

I’d like to start off by letting people know that this is the sequel to Chosen People and while it can be read as a standalone, to get the full effect of the book and characters, I highly recommended reading the first book. Promised Land is the continuation of Hana and Daud’s journey together after they were joined in the first book. This story really focuses on struggles of a newlywed couple and their adjustment to a new life. Through it all, readers get to see the selflessness of both Daud and Hana and how they are willing to give up on their own dream to see their partner’s dream come true. Sure, there are times that each character struggles with the actions of the other, but Whitlow shows how important constant communication is in a marriage.

Hana is one of my favorite characters that has ever been put into print. Her actions and demeanor speak to my soul when I read about her. I loved how her habit of waking up during the night and praying carried over from the first book. She speaks life to me and I feel like I know her. That is an extremely powerful attribute to any book. I hope she does the same to other readers.

The only issue I have with the whole book was the lack of Emily’s presence. She was a consistent supporting character for Jakob in the first book and now she is reference by name only. Here is to hoping that there is a third book that will reprise her role.

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

A Long Time Comin’

long time cominAuthor: Robin W. Pearson

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: January 7, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A breakout debut novel about love, family, heartbreak and healing. Great read to kick off the new year!

Evelyn Lester is trying to figure out if she wants to save her marriage. She discovered that her husband has been having an emotional affair with a subordinate at work. Once discovered, he quickly dissolved the relationship and is trying to show Evelyn that he wants to keep their marriage alive. To complicate matters, she just found out she is pregnant, which is making the decision that much more difficult. She decides to take some time away and goes to stay at her mother’s home. Shortly after arriving, she learns that her grandmother, known as Granny B, has leukemia and has decided not to pursue treatment. Granny B has had a rough life herself raising seven children without having a husband present. She became a hard woman and even harder on her children. Even so, her children have become very successful professionally, but they all harbor secrets from the past and present. Evelyn begins spending more and more time with Granny B and each begins to unburden their secrets to the other. Before long, they devise a plan to help Granny B close out her grievances before she passes on from this life.

This was really an incredible debut novel. There is a lot of pain displayed throughout this book caused between family members. But deep down, people begin to realize how alike they are, which can be why the pain is caused. And do we ever really understand each other’s circumstances to judge? As it is said, Remove the log in your own eye so that you can see the speck in your neighbor’s eye more clearly. That is part of the message of this book. Everyone seemed to think they knew what was best, but no one knew the whole story.

The local North Carolina dialect written throughout the book made me feel like I was there. The letters written showed the education that some of the characters received made it very believable. Sometimes it is easy to take for granted how things were in the past because some of the readers never experienced it. Pearson did a great job with this story. Terrific novel to kick off the new year!

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

Top Contemporary for 2019

It’s time to release our top picks for the contemporary category.  This category has stories set in modern times that focus on realistic fiction.  Any of these books are all around great reads, which is why we couldn’t narrow it to five!

how the light gets in

  1. 1Th
  2. 1. How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim

This modern day retelling of the bibilcal story of Ruth is simply phenomenal.  There is so much raw emotion in this book that every reader will be affected.  However, we must warn you that there is a controversial ending that has left many readers unsettled.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Unscripted

 

2. Unscripted by Davis Bunn

This was easily one of our favorite stories of the entire tire.  This fun and easy read boasts some great character growth and Bunn’s trademark ability to engage the reader within the first paragraph.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Offscript

 

3. Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated by Kaley Rhea and Rhonda Rhea

This book may have just released but it was such a fun read that it quickly worked its way up our ranks.  When the Rheas get together to write a book, you know it’s going to be fun, witty, and good.

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

Last Summer

 

4. Last Summer by Kerry Lonsdale

Lonsdale is no stranger to our annual top contemporary selections.  Last Summer took us for one crazy ride that will keep readers heads spinning to the last page trying to figure out what actually happened.  She has created some devious characters in the past and this story is no exception.

Read the full review here.

 

 

Luis Velez

 

5. Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Every single novel we’ve read by Catherine Ryan Hyde pulls us in further and shows that she is one of the best at crafting a story that pulls at readers’ heartstrings and character relationships that very few other authors could pull off.

Read the full review here.

 

 

Glitter of Gold

 

5. A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson

Johnson has a way of developing flawed characters that readers can easily relate to.  Set against the backdrop of picturesque Savannah, Georgia, its easy to get lost in the folklore of this story.  Oh, and there be pirates!

Read the full review here.

 

 

 

brunch

 

6. Brunch at Bittersweet Café by Carla Laureano

A sweet savory treat that will leave the reader’s palate thirsting for more of this scrumptious tale.

Read the full review here.

Off-Script and Over Caffeinated

OffscriptAuthors: Kaley Rhea, Rhonda Rhea

Publisher: Bold Vision Books

Release Date: December 11, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When Rhonda and Kaley Rhea join forces, readers are guaranteed to have an excited read full of laughs, adventure and enough romance to put an extra smile on your face!

Harlow Cruise secretly despises the fact that she loves the cute little Heartcasts movies on TV. Her life is full of drama and the last thing she needs is to add more to it with drama from television. She spends her days directing the small community theatre for the church and helping her best friend Teagan work on screen plays for the theatre. When Teagan finds out Heartcast channel has opened submissions for new movies, she feels this is her chance to get her movie on the network. Harlow sets herself up to work through Teagan’s newest script and ends up being partnered with Jack Bentley, the newest member of the theatre team. Jack has never seen a Heartcast movie and isn’t sure how he got roped into helping with the production. When he meets Harlow, he wonders if all their talk of romance and made for TV movie plots can actually happen in real life.

When Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea team up to write, the outcome is truly wonderful. Reading this right before Christmas is perfect to get you in the holiday spirit with fun filled dialogue, festive storylines and genuine characters connections. There aren’t that many books that are just fun to read; many are thrilling and keep you on the edge of your seat, but it is hard to find a book that is just fun. I love picking up a book by the Rhea’s, because I know I am going to get a fun read. Harlow and Jack had a great relationship and even the unlikeable characters brought the perfect amount of rust and hardness to the story. The theater is a fun setting for the characters to work in along with a dragon, a very pregnant screen writer and a crusty old church member that is against most of what they are trying to accomplish in their fun little community plays. There is something for every reader here, a little romance, a lot of laughs and a sprinkling of suspense at the will they or won’t they moments. I recommend this book to readers looking for a fun read this holiday season. Once you pick up a Rhea book you won’t be able to put it down.

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