Book Review: Reaching Her Heart

Reaching Her Heart – Kimberly Rae Jordan – The Callaghans & McFaddens #8 – Three Strand Press – Published 26 October 2018

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Synopsis

Will her heart ever be free to love again? Does she even want it to be?

He had been the love of Shayna Caron’s life. Her husband. Her protector. Her world. But then he was tragically taken from her. As a single parent, her focus is completely on raising their son and trying to provide the best possible life for him.

But is that enough?

It is sensitive and smart young Timothy Caron who first grabs his attention—then he meets the boy’s mother.

Timothy’s fascination with Tristan Callaghan’s latest project brings the pair into Tristan’s world. Though he usually prefers a solitary life, Tristan finds himself wanting this boy and his mom to stay there—in a place where he’s only ever allowed members of his family and a couple of close friends. Though he knows the story of Shayna and Timothy’s loss, he hopes that maybe there is room in their hearts and lives for another love.

But can he risk his own heart before knowing for sure?

My thoughts

Another brilliant book by Kimberly Rae Jordan. I am a big fan of the Callaghan and McFadden series and I love this large family. It is a delight to return to this ever-expanding group with each new story.

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Book Review: Things Left Unsaid

Things Left Unsaid – Courtney Walsh – Waterfall Press – Published 30 October 2018

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Synopsis

Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best—and worst—memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.

But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.

Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart—to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.

My thoughts

Things Left Unsaid is a poignant story of terrible tragedies and regret, of love and forgiveness and grace. At first a little slow and confusing, Things Left Unsaid quickly wormed its way into my heart and captured my attention. It’s the perfect book for readers who enjoy touching stories of loss, grief, second chances, romance, family, forgiveness and love.

Lyndie left Sweethaven after the death of her best friend Cassie and vowed to never return. But with her friend Elle’s wedding taking place in the town they once called their summer home and the ten-year anniversary of Cassie’s death coinciding on the same weekend, Lyndie has no choice but return to the place that took so much from her. Returning to Sweethaven also means coming face-to-face with Cassie’s brother Tucker, the man Lyndie has tried so hard to forget.

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Book Review: The Heirloom

The Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations – Karen Witemeyer, Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, Becky Wade – Bethany House Published – Published 2 October 2018

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Synopsis

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

My thoughts

The Heirloom is a collection of four delightful novellas. While each are set during Christmas, there is nothing to stop you enjoying this collection all year round. From a story set during the Georgian era to contemporary story, these four novellas span many generations of women following their dreams and their hearts.

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Book Review: On Magnolia Lane

On Magnolia Lane – Denise Hunter – Blue Ridge Romance #3 – Thomas Nelson – Published 6 November 2018

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Synopsis

Pastor Jack McReady has secretly carried a torch for Daisy for two long years. She’s a member of his congregation, after all, and she’ll never see him as more than a trusted counselor. Jack’s best friend Noah has taken every opportunity to encourage his lovesick friend, but when Noah catches wind that Daisy has joined an online dating site, he takes matters into his own hands and orchestrates a meet-cute of the most unconventional kind.

Owner of the local flower shop, Daisy Pendleton is content with her small-town life, but she’d sure like someone to share it with. After several disastrous first dates, she’s about to give up—and then she finds a seemingly wonderful man online. Daisy gets to know TJ through a series of messages but finds herself spending more time with Pastor Jack outside of the church at the same time. What she doesn’t know is that her online prospect and Jack are one and the same. 

Just as Daisy’s love life starts to look promising, a mysterious woman appears in town. Daisy is faced with a revelation about her family that turns her world upside down, and she looks to both TJ and Jack for help.

Jack must find a way to reveal himself as her online suitor without breaking her heart and losing her trust. As Daisy faces Jack’s betrayal, she’ll have to learn to extend grace to herself, her family, and the man she’s grown to love.

My thoughts

On Magnolia Lane is utterly delightful. A story about grace and forgiveness in the face of betrayal, of falling in love even if it’s a little unexpected, and of community coming together to support and protect, On Magnolia Lane is so very easy to savour and enjoy.

Daisy Pendleton doesn’t mind being single, but she’d really rather like to find a wonderful guy who can love her and she him. That’s why she has joined a dating site and suffers through blind date setups. Jack McReady has been in love with Daisy for years, but knows she doesn’t see him as anyone other than her pastor. When Jack’s friends create him an anonymous profile on a dating site, Jack has a chance to show Daisy another side to the man she thinks she already knows.

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Book Review: A Little Ray of Sunshine

A Little Ray of Sunshine – Kimberly Rae Jordan – The Callaghans & McFaddens #7 – Three Strand Press – Published 28 July 2018

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Synopsis

Ryan McFadden warns his BlackThorpe Security team that he senses something wrong with the plan that has been put in place for one of their missions. By the time they realize he’s right, the worst has happened. Trapped in darkness, he has lost track of his teammates as well as the days. Alone, Ryan is left to wonder when—or if—he will ever see his family again. Then he wakes one day to hear a woman’s voice singing a familiar hymn, but is she a friend or foe?

Hannah Walsh had joined a medical mission, CanadAids, to work with refugees in the Middle East. She’d become a nurse in order to help. To have a way to connect with people. Though she’d been aware of the danger, she’d felt it was worth it to serve and to be needed. Wanted. But then came the day when she and two other members of the mission were kidnapped. A year later, Hannah struggles to keep her faith while feeling abandoned by everyone else.

In the darkness, Ryan and Hannah begin a tentative friendship—neither one hundred percent certain that the other can be trusted. But as the days pass and they find things in common, their friendship grows. But as long as they are trapped in a dark room, unable to even see each other, their future seems bleak.

And even if they are rescued, can what began in the darkness, flourish in the light?

My thoughts

A Little Ray of Sunshine is another fantastic offering from Kimberly Rae Jordan. I love returning to the Callaghan and McFadden family, and Kimberly’s books are now automatic preorders for me.

A Little Ray of Sunshine is Ryan McFadden’s story. Readers who have been following the series, will know that Ryan was captured in the last book in the series, and this book picks up where that leaves off – with Ryan still being held by his kidnappers. After months of abuse and wondering if he will ever return home, Ryan is surprised to find he is moved into a cell with fellow captive, Hannah Wells. As weeks of darkness and fear bear down on them both, they find comfort in each other’s presence. When a chance to return home finally seems a possibility, Ryan and Hannah may have the opportunity to discover if their connection will expand pass their imprisonment.

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Book Review: Heart Land

Heart Land – Kimberly Stuart – Howard Books – Published 17 July 2017

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Synopsis

Grace Klaren has finally made her dream of living in the Big Apple and working in the fashion industry a reality. But when she’s unexpectedly fired and can’t afford the next month’s rent, Grace does something she never thought she’d do: she moves back home.

Back in Silver Creek, Iowa, Grace is determined to hate it. She rails against the quiet of her small town, where everything closes early, where there’s no nightlife, where everyone knows each other. She’s saving her pennies and plotting her return to New York when she almost runs over a man who’s not paying attention at a crosswalk. It turns out to be Tucker, her high school sweetheart whose heart she broke when she left ten years ago. They reconnect, and Grace remembers why she fell for him in the first place.

And her career begins to turn around when she finds a gorgeous but tattered vintage dress at a flea market. She buys it, rips it apart seam by seam, and re-creates it with new fabric, updating the look with some of her own design ideas. She snaps a picture and lists the dress online, and within a day, it sells for nearly $200. Suddenly, Grace has her ticket out of here.

But Grace can’t fight her growing feelings for Tucker. Sometimes when they’re together, Tucker paints a picture of what their future could be like, and it feels so real. And when she finally gains the funding to move her new business back to New York, Grace must decide where home really is—will she chase her long-held New York dream, or find a new dream here in the heartland?

My thoughts

Heart Land is a sweet romance, a story of love given a second chance, the cost of following your dreams, and a touch of the glamour of high fashion.

Grace Kleren has fought hard to follow her dreams of becoming a top fashion designer. After years of brutal, hard work on the lower rungs, Grace is on the verge of a promotion. But instead of being rewarded for her passion, Grace finds herself without a job and mounting debts she cannot pay. Giving herself time to regroup, Grace returns home to a small town in Iowa, to the love and care of her grandmother, Gigi. But Grace left many people behind in her mad dash to the city, including her first love, Tucker. After a shaky reunion, Tucker and Grace quickly return to their strong friendship and growing romantic feelings. But when a new design opportunity presents itself, Grace will have to choose between the draw of the big city lights of New York or the simple but true love she could only find in Tucker’s arms.

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Book Review: Just Let Go

Just Let Go – Courtney Walsh – Harbor Pointe #2 – Tyndale – Published 5 June 2018

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Synopsis

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out–and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town–and Quinn’s life–possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

My thoughts

Just Let Go is as delightful as its gorgeous cover; a beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness, and starting over, of learning to work for your dreams and learning when to let go.

Grady is a professional skier, Olympian, and, according to the world, a wash-up bound for forced retirement. A self-imposed road trip leads Grady to Harbor Pointe, where a judgmental comment leads to a fist-fight, which leads to Grady being sentenced to weeks of community service and being stuck in the infuriatingly small town. As soon as she sets eyes on Grady Benson, Quinn Collins knows he is bad news. They come from different worlds – while he was off living the high life and has no qualms putting holes in the walls of diners, she has lived her whole life in Harbor Pointe, working towards her dream of owning her own flower shop, creating the best design for the upcoming Winter Carnival, and entering her designs into the Floral Expo. She is on the verge of realising that dream and the last thing she needs is to babysit the egotistical skier for the duration of his community service. But there is more to Grady than is reported in the tabloids, and Quinn is holding onto her own hurts. Can the two learn to work together?

Just Let Go was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it was everything I expected it to be. After reading Just Look Up and loving it, I was excited to read this second novel in the Harbor Pointe series. Each of the two books can be read as standalones, with complete story lines, a few character crossovers, and the same delightful, small-town setting. Just Let Go is a complicated and layered story of relationships, dreams, and the faith needed to overcome the hurts of the past.

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Book Review: A Touch of Romance

A Touch of Romance – Kimberly Rae Jordan – The Callaghans & McFaddens #6 – Three Strand Press – Published 29 April 2018

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Synopsis

Mitch Callaghan had a great example of a wonderful relationship as he grew up. Watching his dad show his love for Emily, Mitch’s step-mom, through the years has made Mitch want to do the same for a special woman in his life. But instead, he’s watched as his brothers and sisters have found love while it has continued to elude him.

Belle Jacobs spent most of her growing up years watching her mom’s never-ending search for her prince charming. As an adult, she found out the hard way that flowery declarations of love and gifts of bouquets and candy didn’t mean the feelings were genuine. So while she’s busy running Belles and Beaus, the wedding planner/bridal clothing business her mom had started years ago, Belle has no plans to make use of the services for herself.

When Mitch accompanies Maya, his twin brother’s fiancée, to the meeting with the wedding planner, it’s under duress. He soon realizes, though, that what he’d seen as a favor for Gabe and Maya has become a life changing moment for him. But only him. Though Mitch has hoped for a love-at-first-sight type start to the most important relationship of his life, he’s also kind of assumed it would work that way for both of them.

Belle trusts very few people in her life, and she trusts emotions even less. So when a client’s brother seems interested in her, she tries to gently dissuade him while still keeping their business. Unfortunately, she has a situation in her life that he is perfect to help her out with.

Mitch never figured he’d have to battle for the love of his life, or that she would resist his attempts to romance her. Will the challenge scare Mitch away? Will Belle trust her heart once again? Or will she let fear of history repeating itself keep her from opening up?

My thoughts

A Touch of Romance is the sixth book in the Callaghans & McFaddens series. It continues the story of this large, loud, and loving blended family that I have come to love so much. A Touch of Romance is Mitch Callaghan’s story. And what could be more touching, sweet and romantic than a young man finally finding the answer of his dreams to fall in love?

Mitch Callaghan has watched his brothers and sisters one by one find their perfect match, fall in love and, in some cases, tie the knot. If you had asked him years ago, he would have said that he would have been the first sibling down the isle. Yet lasting love has eluded him so far. When his twin brother asks him to step in for him at a wedding planning meeting, Mitch meets Belle Jacobs. Yet, Belle, after years of planning weddings and experiencing her own crushing relationship that has left her weary of men, has no desire for anything other than a friendship with Mitch. Mitch is sure Belle is the girl for him, but he knows that pushing her too hard might mean losing her forever.

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Book Review: Where Hope Begins

Where Hope Begins – Catherine West Thomas Nelson – Published 22 May 2018

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Synopsis

In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward, or face an unknown future without him.

My thoughts

How do you cope with something that tears apart your marriage and destroys your dreams for the future, leaving your self-esteem in tatters? How do you hold on to hope through all that? Catherine West delivers a powerful novel that is at once both utterly heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful. As the title suggests, Where Hope Begins is about starting over and finding that glimmer of hope in the harshness of broken dreams.

Savannah’s husband is leaving her. After twenty-one years of marriage, three children, and facing devastating challenges, he is leaving her for another woman. Unsure what her next move should be, Savannah heads to the safety of her parents’ holiday home. There she connects with her charming neighbours, writer and single dad, Brock and his sweet daughter Maysie, and Brock’s charming and quaint aunt, Clarice. They open their hearts, home, and greenhouse to Savannah and show her that she is worthy of love and grace. But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah’s world is sent into a spin once again as she must decide what she wants.

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Book Review: The Theory of Happily Ever After

The Theory of Happily Ever After – Kristen Billerbeck – Revell – Published 1 May 2018

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Synopsis

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious science, as serious as Maggie takes herself. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies–for instance, why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

My thoughts

The Theory of Happily Ever After is a romantic comedy with a hidden, tender heart.

Maggie might be a doctor on the science of happiness- and she has a bestseller to prove it- but that doesn’t mean she has all the answers. So when her fiancé leaves her for another woman, she is unsure how to move forward. Overwhelmed with the choices she must now make to direct her future research, resume her employment in the same place as her ex, and finish (or actually start) her next book, she finds that ice cream and movies are the only cure. Until her friends drag her on a cruise for singles where, surprise, Maggie is to be a guest speaker. Can Maggie prove to her friends, the handsome stranger who challenges her research, and ultimately to herself that she has the power to change her life and choose what she wants?

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