Saturday, 17 February 2018

Review: The Sweet Spot (Willamette Valley #1) by Heather Heyford

Welcome to Ribbon Ridge, Oregon, a small town steeped in history and graced with verdant valleys. In the first book of Heather Heyford’s newest series, a family-run vineyard is the perfect place to find yourself . . . and lose your heart.

A summer friendship ripens into something more . . .

The Vineyards at Ribbon Ridge is about as far away from the big city as Philadelphia music teacher Jamie Martel can get, and it’s the perfect place for her to forget her troubles for a while. But can a dream vacation turn into her real life? When she is offered a summer job at the lush Oregon vineyard, she decides it is time to find out.

Hank Friestatt took over The Vineyards when his parents passed. Committed to keeping their legacy alive, he has poured his heart and soul into the family business. With things back on track, he’s torn between tradition and a tempting opportunity to cut and run. Yet something about down-to-earth Jamie is making him question his plans. As the grapes are harvested and the leaves start to turn, Hank vows to keep the promises he made. Saying goodbye to Jamie, however, may be a lot harder than he thought . . .

Mass Market Paperback

Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by Lyrical Press, Inc

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

As in many of Heyford's work, this story uses the wine country of Oregon as a backdrop.  It is clear that she is a big fan of wine and has an extensive knowledge of wine making in this story.  There are several details that the wine connoisseur will appreciate.  While I don't hold the same love for the beverage or how it is made, those who do will appreciate the detail.

This story is essentially about lost dreams and learning to create new dreams with the cards that are dealt to you.  The journey of Jamie and Hank takes us through their self discovery as they learn what it is they want from life and each other.

I enjoyed the storyline between Hank and Jamie and a little less about the wine making backdrop.  This is individual preference and I am sure that I am in the minority and I can see how this will be enjoyed by many.

Overall a good story and I will continue to follow Heyford's work.

About the Author

Heather Heyford writes contemporary romance novels set in the wine country, where she visits frequently to drink pinot noir research books.

Heather sold her first romance series in 2014 to Kensington Publishing’s then-new digital imprint, Lyrical Press. After gaining a following in digital, her first mass market paperback series will launch in early 2018 with The Sweet Spot, a contemporary love story set in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Review: Want You (The Garner Brothers #2) by Stacy Finz

The smart and sexy Garner brothers have turned Glory Junction into California's hottest extreme sports town--and a thrilling adventure of the heart is always part of the deal . . .

The savvy CEO behind his family's outdoor sporting empire, TJ Garner has his choice of women. But the only one he wants is way out of bounds. Deb Bennett has been his brother Win's on and off girl since they were teenagers. And Deb's still waiting for Win to quit fooling around and realize she's The One . . .

Deb carves the ski slopes and rides the rapids like a champion--it's getting her every day life in order that's the real challenge. When she turns to Win's big brother for financial advice, TJ spontaneously offers the hard-working waitress an executive job at Garner Adventure. To Deb's surprise, the job is a blast--and so is working for TJ. She always knew he was a heartthrob, just like all the Garners, but he's charming and attentive too. Of course, given the choice between him and Win there's no contest--or is there? . . .

Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by Zebra Shout

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

This is the second in the Garner brother series and while it could be read as a stand alone, I recommend starting the series at the beginning simply because I love these brothers and all their stories need to be read.  Or read this one and then go back and read Colts story.  Either way I am sure you will fall in love with these brothers.

I love the town of Glory Junction that this book is set around.  A bustling adventure resort type town centered mostly around winter sports albeit not limited to it.  This is funny because I hate everything about winter (typing this while it is snowing and freezing rain outside my window).  I think it is the whole sense of community and vibe that has me smitten with the town.

Now to the actual story. The storyline with Deb and TJ is pretty typical.  They have both secretly been in love with the other since high school however have stayed away from each other for their own reasons.  The big one being Win, TJ's brother.  With the tight family dynamic between the Garner brothers, this does pose to be a problem.  As you know, these type of issues have a way of sorting themselves out throughout the pages of the story.

What I liked about this story is that there were some sub plots present that kept the story fresh.  Aside from Deb & TJ, there was a story with Win, and to a lesser extent a story with Darcy.  Could the combination of these two be the topic of the next installment?  I am certainly hoping so, I think it would be an interesting dynamic.

The only thing I am slightly confused about (and perhaps mentioned in my review of the first story as well) is why it appears Josh has already had a storyline when this is only the second book and the first featured Colt.  I can only assume that his story was told in Finz' previous Nugget series, I just cant remember.

If you are a fan of this genre, this book will be a hit with you.  A tight knit family, an tight knit adventurous town and some heated chemistry between its townsfolk.  What more could you ask for?

About the Author

Stacy Finz is an award-winning former newspaper reporter. After more than twenty years covering notorious serial killers, naked-tractor-driving farmers, fanatical foodies, aging rock stars and weird Western towns, she figured she finally had enough material to launch a career writing fiction. She is the author of the Nugget Romance series (Kensington/Lyrical Press) about a small mountain town that has a strange way of giving people unexpected reasons to start over--and find the most irresistible chances to fall in love

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Review: Finding Georgina by Colleen Faulkner

What happens after you get what you've always wanted? In Colleen Faulkner's thought-provoking and emotionally compelling novel, a mother is reunited with the daughter who was abducted as a toddler--only to face unexpected and painful challenges . . .

It's the moment Harper Broussard always dreamed of. Her daughter Georgina, snatched fourteen years ago during a Mardi Gras parade, is standing before her, making cappuccinos behind the counter of Harper's favorite New Orleans coffee shop. Harper's ex-husband, Remy, has patiently endured many "sightings" over the years, and assumes this is yet another false alarm.

Yet this time, Harper is right.

The woman who kidnapped Georgina admits to her crime. Georgina, now known as Lilla, returns to her birth parents. But in all of Harper's homecoming fantasies, her daughter was still a little girl, easily pacified with a trip to the park or a cherry snowball. In reality, she's a wary, confused teenager who has never known any mother except the loving woman who's now serving time. Harper's younger daughter, Josephine, has spent her life competing with the ghost of a perfect, missing sister. Trying to bond with the real, imperfect version isn't any easier. And though Remy has agreed to give their strained marriage another chance, he and Harper struggle to connect.

Clinging to dreams of reuniting has been Harper's way of surviving. Now she must forge new ones on an often heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful journey--one that will redefine her idea of motherhood and family.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 27th 2018 by Kensington

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

I chose to read this story because of the topic, and I chose to love this story because of the topic.  Think about it the scenario, there are so many emotional points of view to consider that it is almost as overwhelming as the topic.

Faulkner chooses three different points of view to tell the story.  Georgina (Lilla) - the child who was abducted at the age of two and it now sixteen,  Harper - The mother who had her child taken away from her, and JoJo - the fourteen year old sister who has been living with Georgina's ghost her entire life.

Starting with Georgina, I really felt for her struggle.  In one swift moment her happy life that she had known for sixteen years, technically fourteen, was completely torn upside down.  Her loving mother is suddenly in jail and she is swept off to live with a family she does not know or remember.  Expectations are placed on her that she can't possibly meet as she struggle to come to terms with what happened and figure out how she fits in to her new reality.  I felt her journey was honest and realistically portrayed.

I struggled a little more with Harper.  Her expectations of her happy family reunion were so far from realistic it was rather sad.  The fact that she insisted Georgina be called by her birth name even though that is not the name she was raised with, the fact that she insisted shew as catholic although raised Jewish, and the fact that she was controlling and over protective.  I found myself judging her frequently until I stopped to think about it.  Who am I to say how I would act in that situation.  It does make sense that she was over protective of the daughter left behind and that she wanted her returned daughter to fit right in to her family life.  As far as her anxiety and overthinking, wouldn't I do the same in her situation?  Although I would like to think I would handle it better, I am pretty sure I would also be a train wreck.

I felt JoJo's journey to be the most identifiable.  As the youngest she was the most immature however surprisingly offered the most insight to the situation.  I completely understand how she struggled to live with the ghost of Georgina to suddenly have the ghost living under her roof.  I understand her tentative steps to get to know her while at the same time trying to maintain the somewhat normalcy her life had before.  As far as her understanding of her parents she was the only one who could see in to their relationship objectively.

The jury is out on Remy.  While I found him the only voice of reason at first, I felt his action above everyone else's ended up being the most selfish and self serving.

This story made me think and I like that.  An event like this impacts multiple people and the ripples just keep going.  I really really enjoyed this read.

About the Author

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Review: Furry Christmas by Sotia Lazu

Alice is spending the holidays alone with her best friend’s cat, while everyone she knows is out partying. To add to the fun, a huge stray dog just made a mess of her parents’ living room, and her dreams are haunted by the sexy stranger she slept with almost six months ago.

Quinn thinks he wasn’t always a dog, but he can’t be certain, because the killer migraines kick in. His collar reads Prince Charming, and he may turn out to be just that, if only he manages to remember that one important thing in time for… What?

All Quinn’s sure of is he knows Alice. All Alice needs to do is believe in magic.

And they’re both running out of time.

Published December 14th 2017 by Acelette Press 
Genre: Romance
Kristine's Thoughts:

I am in the minority according to other reviews on this novella but I have to say that I did not like this book at all. In fact, I found it quite disturbing. I think it was suppose to come across a little fairytale "ish" but it came across as... I'm not quite sure. You have a woman and a dog who use to be a man who had a one night stand with said woman. The dog ends up at her house and whenever he (as the dog) is lying in her bed she has vivid sexual dreams/encounters about the dog when he was a man. I know and understand that she was not having the actual encounters with the dog form of the man but the dog was in the bed and it was just a little creepy.  Nope, just couldn't feel it.

 About the Author
Sotia cries at sappy movies and wishes she could take in all the stray dogs in the world. She lives in Athens, Greece, with her husband--whom she met through writing--their son, and their two rescue dogs, one of which might be part-pony.

Her genres of choice are romances with a twist and urban fantasy novels, always with vivid erotic elements. Her characters aren't exactly hero-material at first glance; she likes making them fight for their happiness. Still, the romantic in her can’t resist happy endings.
Connect with Sotia

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Review: Must Love Horses (Lazy S Ranch #2) by Vicki Tharp

The dust hasn’t settled on one woman’s past, but amid the breathtaking hills and valleys of Wyoming’s high country—and with the encouragement of one special man—her spirit won’t be broken . . .

Sydney Teller is as determined as the wild mustangs she was raised to train. Her reckless parents destroyed their reputation in the business—and hers, by association—yet Sydney knows she can prove herself, if she’s just given a chance. That where the Lazy S Ranch, and sexy Bryan “Boomer” Wilcox comes in . . .

Bryan risked life and limb on his tours in Iraq, and he knows damaged goods all too well when he sees them. Problem is, Sydney looks damn fine in a saddle and she’s got moves that can’t be learned. He doubted her at first, but now he wonders if they can navigate life’s obstacle course together—and indulge their own animal instincts . . .

Sydney can’t deny her attraction to Bryan, yet she’s wary of his demons. But when foul play threatens the ranch, and their futures, Bryan gets a chance to rediscover the hero he’s been all along—and Sydney gets to show she’s got what it takes to tame the wildest impulses—in both man and beast .

Expected publication: February 20th 2018 by Kensington

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

This is the second in a series and I had not read the first however it can be read as a stand alone.  My only hesitation is that I did not have a love affair with this story so not sure if reading the first story may have improved my view.  I don't think so but you never know.

This story seemed to have an identity crisis to me.  I will start with the title.  It is called Must Love Horses.  While Sydney is a horse trainer and has a back story of her parents being reckless horse trainers, the story is not really centralized around this fact.  Aside from her occupation, I couldn't see where the storyline had anything to do with the love of horses.

Speaking of Sydney, I had a hard time with her as well.  She saw the red flags when it came to Bryan and knew that she could not get involved with him.  Knowing this she still felt the need to throw herself at him at every opportunity even when he warned her he did not do casual.  The mixed messages she threw out were mind dumbing.

Then there was the storyline of their trek in to the mountains.  This may be hard to express without giving away spoilers but I had serious issues with it.  Knowing what they knew concerning recent activity, they still felt it necessary to investigate on their own without back-up.  Seriously?  They just threw themselves in harms way without thinking of the consequences?  While it was necessary for the rest of the plot to unfold, there must have been a better way to take the story in that direction without making the characters look like fools.

Lastly, and this is common to this genre of story and not unique to this only this book, but the way the L word came so easily.  I know that traumatic events can bring emotions to the surface however where was the foundation leading them to this discovery?

Sadly I was not a big fan of this story.  I just felt that some aspect were not developed enough while other aspects took up too much of the storyline.  While Tharps writing was easy to follow, the story just wasn't for me.

About the Author

Vicki Tharp makes her home on small acreage in south Texas with her husband and an embarrassing number of pets. When she isn’t writing or you can usually find her on the back of her horse—avoiding anything that remotely resembles housework—smelling of fly spray, and horse sweat.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Review: Things To Do When It's Raining by Marissa Stapley

Two families are torn apart by secret pasts and broken hearts—from Globe and Mail-bestselling author Marissa Stapley.

When secrets tear love apart, can the truth mend it?

Mae Summers and Gabriel Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge the St. Lawrence river. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. A childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak, and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline and their past unravelling around her. A lifetime of secrets stand in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.

Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: February 2018 by Simon & Schuster Canada 
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Things To Do When It's Raining was a sweeping family drama that spanned three generations but concentrated mostly on Mae and Gabe, the youngest of the generations. It was an epic story that showed how lies, deceptions and choices shaped and followed people from one generation to the next. It was a journey of self discovery and a lesson in overcoming adversity.

I enjoyed the setting of this book. Alexandria Bay or Alex Bay or A Bay (as I know it) was very familiar to me. It is not far from where I live as I am its neighbour to the north across the river. The familiarity with the setting helped to paint a clear picture of the story in my mind. In essence the river was as much a character as the people that the story portrayed.

Although I didn't dislike any of the key players in this story I can't say that I loved them either. I found that they all lacked a little bit of personality. A little more character development would have easily solved it. Most of them were depressing and because I didn't feel like I really knew them it was a little off putting.

This brings me to the plot. The synopsis gave a good overview of what the story was about so I won't go into any more detail. I will say that I really enjoyed the generational aspect of it and the telling of three different stories. However, each story I found to be a little too vague and I was left with questions about each group of people. There were tiny holes that I couldn't quite fill in and there were other aspects that I wished I knew more about. I wanted a more detailed account of Lilly and George's story particularly surrounding Everett. I also wanted to know more about Mae's parents and also her mothers friendship with Gabe's father. What was the deal with Mae's father's family? I never did understand it. I wanted to know more about Gabe's father and his back story. Finally, I wanted to understand Lilly's aversion to Gabe, a boy whom she was suppose to love. It made no sense which left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I guess you can say that I wanted more. It was a good story but I feel like it needed to be longer and more detailed in order to get fully lost in it. Each generation had a fantastic story that would have been better served with less of a "cliff notes" type feeling.

In the end I can honestly say that I enjoyed this book but I wish it had been a little more detailed. I enjoyed Marissa Stapley's writing and won't hesitate to pick up more of her work.

 About the Author
Marissa Stapley is the Globe and Mail bestselling author of the novel Mating for Life, and the forthcoming Things to Do When It's Raining. She writes the commercial fiction review column "Shelf Love" for the Globe and Mail, reports on books and culture for the Toronto Star, and lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

Connect with Marissa

Monday, 5 February 2018

Review: Playing to Win (Brits in Manhattan) by Laura Carter

A high-intensity personal trainer
The secret to Brooks’ success as a Manhattan gym owner? Being motivated to disprove everyone who doubted him long ago. He’s not about to let a perky newcomer like Izzy tarnish his reputation. Even if watching her lead a salsa class on his premises is fuel for some very unprofessional fantasies . . .

His beautiful British rival
Every time Izzy slams Brooks in her fitness blog, her book sales soar. But when their escalating media feud forces them to be up-close-and-personal for two weeks, she realizes there’s much more to Brooks than that incredible body.

And a competition that’s got their hearts racing…
Soon Izzy and Brooks are finding all kinds of creative ways to work up a sweat. A passionate workout is easy, but can their rivalry give way to a lasting partnership?

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: February 20th 2018 by Lyrical Caress

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

This is the second in the Brits in Manhattan series.  I enjoyed the first one so much that I was eager to get my hands on this one.  No worries if you didn't read the first, this can be enjoyed without.  The characters in the first story are only present as a group of friends and in no way do this influence this story or is their backstory relevant to this story.

Normally I get frustrated pretty fast with the whole hate at first sight love story.  This was not the case with this one.  I actually found it hilarious.  I think it was because the characters were actually declaring war on each other and it was fun watching it play out.  Knowing how it would turn out added to the fun.

I found myself identifying with Brooks more than Izzy.  This was really only because I agreed to his approach to health and fitness vs. Izzy.  Her approach is actually dangerous, and honestly, I could never live without meat so I naturally sided with Brooks.  Not to mention that as the reader we actually get to know more about Brooks than we do Izzy.

At the end if the day, this is a fun story that is part of a fun series.  I am hoping there will be a third and I will be in line to read it!

About the Author

Laura Carter is the bestselling author of the Vengeful Love series. She writes from her beach home in the Caribbean where she lives with her husband and (gorgeous) dog. She loves all things romance, including paper hearts, flowers, chocolates and champagne (not necessarily in that order). If she isn't writing or hanging around on social media, you can probably find her watching a romcom with a tub of Ben and Jerry's.