Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne

 Release Date - October 26, 2021

Sleigh Bells Ring is a feel-good romance about families, getting past the hurt, and moving on with fresh beginnings. Head to Wyoming for this snowy holiday romance.

Annelise McCade grew up on Angel's View Ranch. At one point, her grandfather owned the land, but he sold it to the Sheridan family. She's back as the ranch's caretaker and expects to have a quiet Christmas with her young niece and nephew, who are in her care while her brother finishes his drunk and disorderly sentence. It's been years since the Sheridan's have come to the sprawling ranch for the holidays, so her plans should go off seamlessly.

Until Tate Sheridan shows up. He's back for the first time in a long time. His father died tragically on this ranch, and it's a memory he can't get past. He's surprised to find her and the youngsters, and that the cook/housekeeper retired. She soon learns that the entire family is coming for one last holiday gathering before they sell the ranch. She's heartbroken, but she offers to help Tate get the ranch ready for their stay.

The more the pair spend time together, the more they're falling head over heels. But, Annelise is not happy that the ranch is going to be sold. It's a property full of memories, good and bad, but it's one that's been a big part of her life. As the family all arrives, they all start to experience the magic of Christmas and maybe second chances.

Everything about this holiday romance warmed my heart. It's simply a feel-good read with engaging characters, a home-like setting, and no huge disagreements to upset the balance of starting over and exploring what can come true when you let your heart rule. I loved it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo

 Release Date - September 28, 2021

What a joy Meet Me In London was on a rainy day. A "bomb cyclone" has hit New England, so cold, rainy weather is sticking around. I needed a cozy story to cheer me up. Georgia Toffolo did exactly that and I appreciate it. 

Victoria Scott works in a bar and teaches young adults about fashion design when she's not working. Her students are everything to her. Despite her ex, her dreams of opening up her own fashion boutique are still on her mind. But, a trendy new department store threatens to destroy her dreams.

Enter Oliver Russell. His family's store needs to be a success for his dad's sake. He's doing everything possible to get the grand opening to go without any hiccups. His mom's meddling in his love life isn't helping, That he tells her he has a steady girlfriend doesn't help anything. His mom plans to meet this woman for the grand opening. Oliver has no idea how to make an imaginary woman magically appear.

When he spies Victoria at the bar she works at, he's smitten. She's gorgeous. When he bumps into her the next day, he realizes she could be the answer to his problem. If she'd pose as his fiancee for a night, he could appease his mother and offer her a showcase for her and her student's designs. It's a win-win situation until their hearts get in the way.

This is a feel-good holiday romance packed with likable people, a trendy London setting, and plenty of passion. I loved every minute of it and was sad when it ended. To hear it's the first book in a series of four romances makes me incredibly happy.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Mango, Mamba, and Murder by Raquel V. Reyes

 Release Date - October 12, 2021

Meet Miriam Quinones-Smith, a happily married food anthropologist who finds herself uprooted from NYC to her husband's Floridian hometown. While Miriam's determined to make the best of the challenges of moving to a new community with a four-year-old, her mother-in-law is not making it easy. Nor is her husband's high school girlfriend who is back in his life and making it clear she was part of the family first.

One of her first outings brings Miriam to a Women's Club luncheon with her best friend, Alma. Alma is a local realtor and loves to network. When a woman at the luncheon drops dead during the meal, everyone is questioned. When a second person dies, it's hard to ignore that something is going on. Miriam suspects it has something to do with a local herbologist's tea blends. 

 At the same time, a local channel wants to hire Miriam to do a cooking segment that focuses on recipes and stories that share Miriam's Cuban heritage. She's on the verge of becoming a huge smash, but she can't let her new job distract her from learning the truth about these suspicious deaths.

It has been a while since I've read a culinary mystery, and Mango, Mamba, and Murder is exactly why I love them so much. I adored Miriam and hated her mother-in-law just as much as she did. If ever there was a character that could have been killed off to make me happy, she's a perfect candidate.

Nearing the end of the book, I had suspicions as to who the killer was, but it took me a while to figure out why. I do love a mystery that keeps me guessing. What I loved even more were the dishes Miriam whipped up. I was so hungry reading this book. I already know what I want to make for dinner. I just need to find a few ingredients that local stores don't carry first.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

No Memes of Escape by Olivia Blacke

 Release Date - October 4, 2021

This is the second book in the Brooklyn Murder Mystery series. I hadn't read the first, but this one stands alone without issue. I was quickly caught up in Odessa and Izzy's growing friendship and sleuthing, and that makes me eager to go back and read the first book in the series.

Odessa is adjusting to her new life in New York City. Originally from Louisiana, she's getting used to city life and making plenty of friends. It's going to be hard to leave once her aunt returns and no longer needs a housesitter. 

When she and her BFF/co-worker Izzy are out, Izzy bumps into former schoolmates. They agree to join the other women for an escape room adventure. It turns into one incredible mystery when one of the classmates is killed in one of the escape room's areas while the others are in another section. Both Izzy and Odessa are prime suspects as their cornhole trophy is the murder weapon.

Eager to clear their names, Izzy and Odessa start snooping around to figure out what happened. None of this sits well with Izzy's new beau, the lead detective on the case. But, they're not going to let his disappointment with them stop them from figuring out the truth.

No Memes of Escape is a fun romp that hits the mark for exactly what I want from a cozy mystery. While the killer's identity was never difficult to figure out, I still enjoyed their antics. The humor had me laughing, and their friendship left me feeling the warm fuzzies that make a cozy mystery so appealing. It's a great read.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Home for Christmas: Stories for Young and Old by Various Authors

 Release Date - October 4, 2021

The original paperback was released several years ago. Now, you can get Home for Christmas in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook, too. This collection of Christmas stories is an easy read, and each story shares a tale of the magic of Christmas, the power in giving over receiving, and family.

There are so many short stories in Home for Christmas. One that I loved was Katherine Paterson's "No Room at the Inn." It's set in Vermont, so it already appeals to me for that reason. It's about the son of innkeepers who go away and he has the inn to himself for the holidays. There are no guests to take care of, so he's looking forward to the relaxation ahead and knows he will refuse anyone who comes knocking, and then a family in need approaches him looking for a safe place to stay. 

Here's where it gets tricky. There were other stories that also tugged at my heart, but I didn't take notes this time. I can't recall the authors' names. One that did stick with me was a story about Catholic school boys assigned to hand out gifts to specific children in town. Unfortunately, the farther the boys go, the harder it is for them to bypass certain houses and ignore those children. Could I tell you who wrote it? Not really, and by the time I'd finished all of the stories on my e-reader, I didn't want to backtrack and find it again. That's my fault for not taking notes, but sometimes when I'm reading, I don't like having to stop and take notes. I just want to get lost in the story.

Many of the stories are religious in nature. Some of them felt a little preachy at times, which may turn some readers off. My suggestion is skip past the stories that aren't grabbing you and focus on the rest, which are true gems.

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...