Always Look Twice

Always look twiceAuthor: Elizabeth Goddard

Series: Uncommon Justice #2

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Elizabeth Goddard has done it again! So many spectacular lines and scenes throughout this book make it a can’t miss for romantic suspense readers.

After being a crime scene photographer, the pictures she has taken along with the trauma of her past force Harper Reynolds to take a year off to focus on some of the more beautiful things she can photograph. Traveling the country with her sister and taking pictures of national parks has been the serenity she needed to sooth her soul. Their last stop before heading home is in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Harper is taking pictures of a bear when she captures a murder. Fearing for her life, she takes off running and loses her camera with pictures of the murder in the process.

Heath Mckade is taking tourists from his ranch around the mountains when he hears shots break out and finds Harper. He is also a reserve deputy for the county and is surprised to find his childhood friend back in the area and in danger. When the sheriff goes to investigate, they can’t find any evidence of a crime and they start to wonder if Harper imagined the entire thing. Together, Heath and Harper must work to prove she saw what she said she did and also to find a murderer before anyone else gets hurt.

Elizabeth Goddard has crafted another great tale of romance, suspense and intrigue. I loved the way she crafted the characters of Harper and Heath and their interactions. Heath I really loved; Harper was great except for the way she let the past drag her down so much. It took away from her as a character and her potential strength. I absolutely loved the line , “She focused her camera on the killer, taking a kill shot of her own.” It was brilliantly done and made the book. Harper was a strong character and other than focusing on the hardships of her past she did grow throughout the story and ended up a character I was rooting for. We can all get stuck focusing on the past and if we do that it can cause us to miss the most wonderful things God has in store for us in the present and future. The suspense was great and the romance hit at just the right moments to make a great story. I would recommend this book to fans of romantic suspense and fans of Goddard. Even if you haven’t read the first in the series this would be a great one to pick up and enjoy.

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

You Belong With Me

You belong with meAuthor: Tari Faris

Series: Restoring Heritage #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Fans of small town reads will enjoy this book!

Hannah Thornton has one main goal in her mind, restore the heart of her hometown Heritage, Michigan. As a realtor in a small town, she works hard to sell off historic properties.  Unfortunately, people would rather buy newer properties than put up the money to restore older worn out houses.  Even her own brother is selling his house to pay for all the things that his fiancée wants.  When a local developer offers to buy up several properties, people begin to think it may be better to just sell out.  Hannah turns to her oldest friend, Luke, for help.  A local handyman with a dream of becoming fire chief, he reluctantly agrees to help her.  However, Luke has been facing his own demons and this endeavor will either bring them together or drive them apart.

This was a fun read that had me keep turning page after page. I enjoyed getting to see Hannah grow and mature as a person as she learned to let go of control and let things play out.  She came across as shallow at first (not as much as her brother’s fiancée, now there is a character) but she gained depth and bonded with me as a female reader.  She overcame challenges and put up a good fight to make her dream come true.  Likewise, Luke had his own challenges of abandonment, but turned out to be different than we he had believed his whole life.  Once each character was able to truly move past themselves, the romance played out great.  I’m looking forward to the next installment in Heritage.

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

Carry Me Away

Carry Me AwayAuthor: Dorothy Adamek

Series: Blue Wren Shallows #2

Publisher: Crabapple Press

Release Date: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Unlikely circumstances result in an unlikely romance.

Ada Carmichael has just lost her entire family in a shipwreck. The Black Swallow has sunk of the coast of Australia and Ada herself would have been a causality had it not been for the heroic action of midshipman Tom Darley.  As the two only survivors of the catastrophe, the media begins to go crazy.  Ada desperately needs to stay hidden before her past comes back to haunt her, but Tom could really use this publicity to make his dream come true.  When Tom’s plan to protect Ada go awry, it will take both of them to find redemption.

This is my first book by Adamek and she has a unique gift to bring a story setting to life. It takes a lot of talent to transport readers not only to a different time setting but an entirely different continent.  It is easy to see that she is a native of Australia as her descriptive scenery was bar none.  I felt as though I stood alongside the characters as I viewed the settings of the mainland and the island farms.  The romance felt natural and didn’t seem forced.  The characters fleshed out beautifully, flaws and all.  This is the second in a series but easily a standalone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances.

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

The Words Between Us

The Words between usAuthor: Erin Bartels

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A story of learning to trust.

Fourteen year old, Robin Windsor, finds herself living with her estranged grandmother in Sussex, Michigan, after her parents are arrested for unthinkable crimes, leaving Robin feeling lost and abandoned.  She soon meets Peter Flynt, who recently lost his mother.  Peter and Robin develop a unique friendship.  Through a shared love of books, they bond, as he gives her his mother’s books and she repays him with her poetry.  After a series of unfortunate events, including her grandmother’s death,  Robin feels betrayed by Peter and runs away.  After returning to Sussex years later, Robin opens a used bookstore and tries to recreate her life, while still hiding her true self, ashamed of her past.  She reconnects with a high school friend who encourages her to stretch out of her comfort zone, and maybe even attempt to have a romance.  Robin begins receiving packages in the mail containing Peter’s mother’s book collection, which she returned after her grandmother’s death.  She knows that Peter is reaching out to her.  Also, Robin begins to uncover the truth about her parents’ crimes, which she isn’t sure what to do with.  As she searches for truth, she reconciles her past with her future. In the end, Robin discovers that the truth is powerful and that there are good people in the world that she can trust.

This book switches back and forth between grown Robin and a youthful Robin, allowing the reader to see and understand her past and how it has created the person she is today.

I have mixed emotions after finishing this book.  I feel like the beginning was a series of negative events, with no redemption, or bright places for Robin.  She is a tragic character, like she reads about in her books.  Peter tries to draw her out, but it lacks a lightness, which didn’t inspire me to become enthralled in the book.  She kept her guard up through much of the book.  The second half was lighter and good things begin to happen to Robin, despite her efforts to hide and be invisible.  Even though so many parts of Robin’s life are tragic and she suffers many losses, she overcomes, and is able to reconcile many of the hurts caused by her parents.  She is able to regain trust in people.  I feel like this book, like Robin in her youth, lacked an emotional depth that would have made it better.  I liked seeing Robin both in her youth and as an adult, striving to overcome.  I like that this book ends with the idea that Robin will have her “happily ever after” allowing her to let go of the heartbreaks of her youth and start again. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the beauty of a book or who loves a happy ending.

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

Wyatt

wyattAuthor: Susan May Warren

Series: Montana Marshalls #4

Publisher: SDG Publishing

Release Date: October 12, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The fourth book in the Montana Marshalls series brings the action to a whole new level with threats crossing borders and relationships at an all-time high making this a must read by Susan May Warren

Wyatt Marshall has always felt like the outcast of the Marshall family. He never wanted to work on the family ranch or be a Ranger or SEAL like his brothers. Instead, hockey was his passion and he followed it all the way to the NHL. He is the most famous of his family and should be on top of the world but his life is missing something. He lost the only woman he has ever truly loved. Coco Stanley came to live with his family when she was fourteen and the two had a short relationship before she left to return to her home country of Russia. When Wyatt finds out Coco has been shot in Russia he lets nothing stop him from finding her and proving to her that he has never stopped loving her. Coco has never forgotten the time she spent at the Marshall ranch and the connection she had with everyone there, especially Wyatt. Is she ready to let herself love again after all this time?

Wyatt is a wonderful continuation of the Montana Marshall series. I love the way Susan May Warren has crafted this family comprised of strong, tough, and uniquely skilled individuals that all have their own talents and bring those talents together to help each other and the ones they love. Book three in the series wasn’t my favorite, so going into this installment I was a little hesitant I would enjoy it as much. I didn’t have to worry long, the pace was spectacular, the romance only fueled the tension, and suspense was spot on. Wyatt pulled at my heartstrings the way he wanted to be liked and respected but had a hard time believing he was worthy enough, something we all struggle with at one time or another. With the action taking place in Russia as well as back in the U.S., there was a lot to follow at times but Warren does a great job taking the reader along for the ride in whichever country readers find themselves. I loved the theme of redemption throughout and the calling for us to come to our Father and he will welcome us with open arms no matter how far we have strayed. Fans of Warren’s and this series will love the tie in of all the other characters and the way we get to see Wyatt’s story unfold. There is also a nice set up for the final book with a focus on Ruby Jane, which I for one can’t wait to see a female Marshall take the lead and teach the boys a thing or two. I recommend this to readers that love a great romantic suspense novel, even if you haven’t read any of Susan May Warren’s books before give this one a go and enjoy. I would recommend reading the other in the series first for readers to get a good feel for the backstory of the characters.

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

Christmas in Winter Hill

Christmas in Winter HIllAuthor: Melody Carlson

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

If you love a good Hallmark movie, you will enjoy this book

Krista Galloway has taken a job as City Manager in the small town of Winter Hill, famous for its Christmasville celebration.  Not being a fan of the Christmas season, Krista is hesitant, but knows this is a great opportunity.  She and her daughter settle into their small apartment and life in their new town.  Krista faces many challenges as a young executive taking on a big position.  She is slow to accept the idea of Christmasville that so many citizens adore, which makes some of the citizens question her.  The CFO of the town gives her a run for her money, challenging her authority.  While facing many of the challenges of putting Christmasville on in City Hall, Krista grows close to Conner Harris, the son of her assistant.  She and Emily are taken in by the Harris family, making Krista realize that life in a small town may not be so bad.  She even realizes that she finds some joy in Christmas, which up to this point has been a reminder of her difficult past.  After Emily wins a town contest, Krista and Emily move into “The Christmas House” but Krista believes that it is too good to be true. After fighting for the good of the town, Krista fears she will be turned away as the new-comer who wants to run it into the ground.  Truth is revealed and Krista is accepted as a member of the community.   Like all feel-good books, this one ends happily for Krista and Emily.

This book was an easy read and very spirited.  The Christmas theme was fun to delve into.  Krista has a difficult past, including growing up in foster care and a divorce.  Her fear of good happening to her can be off-putting at times, but in the end, she is redeemed and gets her happy ending.  This book lacked an emotional depth.  It was a light and easy read.  While feeling slightly bored with the book in the middle portion, the end really did bring me back in.  Krista was able to overcome her fears and see that she may have a future in this small Christmas centered town.  I even had a tear in my eye reading her daughter, Emily’s, letter she wrote to the Christmasville Council.  Overall, I enjoyed reading the book.

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

The Painted Castle

Painted castleAuthor: Kristy Cambron

Series: Lost Castle #3

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: October 15, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Cambron does an incredible job bringing this series to a close!

In present day Dublin, Kiera Foley has returned home from a venture in New York working on art history. Her career and relationship both fell apart at the hands of the family she hoped to join.  Now working at the family pub, she has a patron that continually comes in every night, orders a pint of Guinness that he never drinks, and offers her a job proposal.  Emory Scott, also disgraced from the art world, has found what appears to be a lost copy of a famous painting of Queen Victoria.  This could be a tremendous find, but he needs Kiera to help authenticate the painting.  As the pair begin to investigate the estate that the painting was discovered, they find information linking the painting to two other time periods.  The stories that surround this painting begin to bring life back into the manor that was once forgotten.

Once again Kristy Cambon does a great job of weaving three stories that center around a common object, which is painting in this book.  The present day time period centers on the youngest of the Foley siblings, who has been mentioned in previous books but not met until now.  Kiera is young and has been recently hurt both emotionally and professionally.  She returns home to heal and figure out a new direction for her life.  Similarly, Amelia Woods, who is set in 1945 during the end of the second great war, has also been hurt emotionally by the death of her husband.  But her hurt is much deeper than just his death.  One hundred years prior, Elisabeth has been lied to her entire life and once she finally learns the truth, it shocks her to the core.

I’ve so enjoyed this series and am sad to see it end. Each story has centered around a strong female lead that isn’t looking for romance, but always manages to find it at just the time it is needed.  I love the history that she weaves into each of the books.  Readers will be able to tell that her passion is writing during the World War II era as it shines through each of the books.  The previous books centered around a castle and this one centers around an English estate, but still has plenty of charm.  I recommend this book to readers who love different history periods as well as great time slip reads.

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

Dark Ambitions

dark ambitionsAuthor: Irene Hannon

Series: Code of Honor #3

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Irene Hannon gives another terrific installment in the Code of Honor series. This book will leave you with all the feels long after you turn the last page!

Rick Jordan has tried hard to leave his army days behind him and is now running a camp to help foster children. During the winter, he has the place to himself and that’s the way he likes it until one night when he finds a trail of blood and clues which lead him to suspect a blast from his army past has come back into his life. Rick hires a detective agency to help him track down his friend and figure out what has happened. Heather Shields has worked as a PI since leaving the police force and is one of the best in her field despite the hardships placed in front of her being a female in a male driven career. When she finds Rick’s friend dead, she wants to continue looking into what might have happened even when Rick asks her to leave the case alone feeling it is getting too dangerous. The questions start to add up along with their feelings for each other.

Anyone that has ever read anything by Irene Hannon exactly what they will be getting when they open one of her books: action, undeniable romance, suspense and a great story. Hannah and Rick made an absolutely wonderful pair and I loved watching their story develop and grow as the story progressed. The story paced easily with plenty of tension and lots of page turning suspense. Over the years, I have grown to love Irene Hannon books. It doesn’t matter if she is writing contemporary romance or romantic suspense, the story is going to be top notch and fully enjoyable. While the story had many changing points of view, which might confuse some readers, I found it an easy way to keep up with all the different aspects of the story. Dark Ambitions is a great romantic suspense with characters that have more than enough chemistry to keep the reader attracted to their romance and pull for them to succeed. Even though this is the third book in the series, it could be read as a standalone.  Some of the secondary characters are from previous books but don’t play a big enough role to keep new readers from enjoying the story. I recommend this book to fans of Hannon’s and new readers alike.

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

No Judgements

No JudgementsAuthor: Meg Cabot

Series: Little Bridge Island #1

Publisher: William Morrow

Release Date: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Animal lovers and romantics will truly enjoy this book!

Bree Beckham has run away to Little Bridge Island in Key West, Florida, after suffering some major setbacks in her life. The death of her father and inappropriate behavior by a close friend have led her to drop out of law school and move to her favorite vacation spot, despite her mother’s disapproval. As Bree makes a life for herself on the little island as a waitress, she finds herself loving her new life. She has sworn off men and is enjoying her new found freedom.

As Hurricane Marilyn looms in the distance, Bree finds herself on the receiving end of calls from her past, her mother and ex-boyfriend begging her to evacuate. Bree is determined to weather out the storm. She finds herself drawn to the playboy of the island, Drew Hartwell, as she relies on the kindness of his family for protection from the storm.

After the hurricane, Bree finds a new passion in helping the pets who had been left behind when their owner evacuated, no judgment. This draws Bree and Drew closer as he helps her.

Bree’s past threatens to catch up with her and ruin her new and perfect life when her mother and ex-boyfriend arrive in Little Bridge. Bree learns to stand up for herself with the new confidence she has found.

This was a fun, easy book. Bree was a relatable character with passion for her new life.   Her chemistry with Drew is electric. The plot kept me interested and wanting to come back to the book. I feel that this book could have pulled on the heartstrings of the reader more by putting more emotion into the climax, but overall a great read.

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

Diamond in the Rough

Diamond in the Rough

Author: Jen Turano

Series: American Heiresses #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Witty, hysterical, and all-around fun story!

 Poppy Garrison is a social misfit.  She doesn’t feel that she truly belongs in high society and wouldn’t be a part of the New York Four Hundred if she hadn’t had to agree to her grandmother’s terms to help save her family from financial ruin.  Every step she takes towards becoming high class seems to land herself in some sort of unexpected fiasco.  Through it all she keeps her wits about her if she can manage to make it through.

 After almost being plowed over by Poppy during the Gypsy Quadrille, Reginald Blackburn wonders if he will see her again.  To his surprise, he is requested to teach etiquette to Poppy by her grandmother, who admires his British manners.  If their first encounter is anything to judge by, he just bit off more than he can chew.

 I’ll admit that reading historical romance set in 1880s New York is not one of my usual go to genres.  However, this book was downright hilarious to read.  The situations that Poppy found herself in were so comical that I often laughed out loud.  The wit displayed by both Poppy and Reginald made the book flow so smoothly that I just had to keep moving forward to get a little bit more.  Not in a suspenseful way, but just in a way that you want to keep that feel good feeling as you read.  The character development was spot on throughout the entire book.  This is the first book that I’ve read by Jen Turano, but I can see why so many people see her as a go-to author.  It is also the second in a series, but easily reads as a stand-alone.  I recommend this to readers who love historical romances and to those who just want a good clean story.

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