Monday, October 19, 2020

A California Christmas by Brenda Novak

 Release Date - October 13, 2020

I loved this holiday romance. I'm a fan of the Silver Springs series by Brenda Novak anyway, but this installment was a delight. 

Emery Bliss flees her home after her boyfriend, who happens to be her co-worker, publishes a sex video she had no idea he'd filmed. She's lost her job, her dignity, and her boyfriend in a matter of days. She's staying at Silver Springs for now with her mom's friend Aiyana. She never expects Dallas Turner to come home.

Dallas is back in town in preparation for his mom's wedding. Aiyana's wedding is a long-time coming, and he plans to be there for every minute of the preparations and big event. When he finds Emery in his mom's home, he's stunned. He's had a crush on her for years. When he learns why she's there, he wants to do everything possible to help her get justice for the way she was treated.

It isn't long before sparks are flying. Emery doesn't want any part of a new relationship, but Dallas is really hard to ignore. Dallas also isn't one to stay in one place for too long, so he's going to break her heart if she's not careful.

Brenda Novak does such an exceptional job at building up romantic tension and creating characters you want to spend time with. I loved seeing Emery come out of her shell. I also enjoyed seeing Dallas's protective nature coming into play. 

Every page of this romance left me hooked. By the time it was done, I was satisfied and eager to reach the next Silver Springs romance.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery

 Release Date - September 29, 2020

Graphic designer and single mom Wynn Beauchene is very content in the cozy town of Happily Inc. When her neighbor asks for her help, she can't resist. She's harbored a crush on Garrick for a long time. He needs help getting his house set up for a long visit from his daughter and his bachelor lifestyle won't fit with a mom-to-be.

Garrick's been estranged from his daughter for years, but the 21-year-old is coming to stay with him until her military husband returns. Joylynn is nearing the end of her pregnancy and she's not happy with anything. Could Happily Inc. be the town that turns her around and makes her the joyful girl Garrick remembers?

Happily This Christmas is the sixth book in the "Happily Inc" series, though you can read them independently. I'd read a couple of them and enjoyed catching up with those characters. Wynn is strong and an incredible mom. I loved seeing her paired with Garrick, who is also an incredible dad.

Watching them form a relationship while making sure their kids came first was enjoyable. The humor, romance, and emotional pull all worked for me and made this a holiday romance I'm thrilled I didn't miss.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

 Release Date - October 6, 2020

If there's one thing I needed right now, it was something light and fun. Between news stories, family health matters, the ongoing pandemic, and the topics I research for work, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. In a Holidaze was a heavy dose of exactly what I needed. Rush to get your hands on this engaging holiday romance.

College friends gather with their families every year for the holidays. Maelyn Jones, her parents, and her younger brother are back for another gathering, but this year is different. They learn that the Hollis family is going to sell their vacation home. Mae's already having a tough time with a job that's not what she expected. She's never told Andrew Hollis how she really feels about him.

After learning this could be their last Christmas together, her family is in a car crash. She wakes up on the plane days earlier with Christmas week ahead of her. Something is going on. December 21st keeps happening over and over, and it seems that this may be her one chance to change her future.

Christina Lauren's holiday romance is heartwarming. There are moments of humor, plenty  of sizzling romance, and strong family bonds. The characters and setting draw you in and make you wish you were there. I loved every moment of the story and kind of wish it hadn't come to an end. 

If you want an uplifting romance, don't miss this one!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

 Release Date - October 6, 2020

In the 1970s, Joan and John Creighton are in the midst of raising their children and doing things to grow together as a couple and on their own. John's goal is to put his novice woodworking skills to the test to build Joan a family dining room table. Joan is learning how to cook by following her mom's recipes and tips.

Skip forward to 2012. Lauren Mabrey is a new wife and cooking is still something she's getting used to. When she learns she's pregnant, she wants to turn their house into a home. A dining room table is on her list. In the refinished table she comes across, she finds a stack of recipe cards and becomes intrigued by the recipes and stories they tell. She becomes determined to track down the family.

The Christmas Table is an inspirational holiday story that takes place in the past and present. It shares the stories of two growing families and the challenges and joys they face. The recipes are an added perk. Some are included at the end and others aren't. I highly recommend finding a recipe for Hummingbird Cake. It's one of my favorites.

I enjoyed the stories within this book. While they connect to an extent, they're really two separate stories. They're light and heartwarming and perfect for the holidays and a rather turbulent year of being separated during quarantines and social distancing.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The House of Secrets by Sophie Draper

 Release Date - September 1, 2020

The cover art on The House of Secrets caught my eye. The plot sounded intriguing. Unfortunately, that's where my interest in the book ended. I wanted to get swept up into a deep mystery, but I knew what was going on in terms of one aspect of the story well before the twist was revealed. I didn't find it surprising.

Claire's son is her world. Stuck in a marriage with a man who seems happier in other women's arms, Claire's plotting to leave their waterfront home. She just needs her son to come with her. When he disappears, her world starts to unravel and she must go back over the events that led her here if she's to find him.

I'm not always a fan of books where the storyline jumps back and forth in time. While you know who is speaking and if it's past or present, the jumps were distracting to me. Sometimes it works well, in this case, the switches pulled me out of the action and had me struggling to stay interested.

I never loved the characters. Joe I found to be rude to his mom and while I get his interest in metal detecting, his comings and goings were not acceptable given that they were letting him live with them when he was old enough to be on his own. I didn't like the husband. Duncan could have easily left his marriage and then moved on to the woman of the week, but he opted to basically torture his wife emotionally. It made him a jerk. Claire's reasons for staying also seemed weak.

In the end, I read the book to see how things played out, but I ended up thinking it was a waste of my time. It had strong moments, but they weren't strong enough to keep me hooked.

The Road to Christmas: A Sweet Holiday Romance Novel by Sheila Roberts

Release Date - September 20, 2022  Sit down and explore the holiday season through four sets of eyes in Sheila Roberts' latest holiday...