Book Review: You’ll Think of Me

You'll Think of Me

You’ll Think of Me – Robin Lee Hatcher – Thomas Nelson – Published 11 April 2017

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Synopsis

Her mother abandoned her, her father disowned her, and her husband left her. Can Brooklyn be convinced that it is possible to forgive the greatest of betrayals?

Brooklyn Myers escaped her broken home and her embittered, unloving father by eloping to Reno at the age of 17. But when she was pregnant with their first child, her husband abandoned her as well. Not welcome back home in Thunder Creek, Brooklyn stayed in Reno and raised her daughter Alycia on her own, doing her best to make sure Alycia never knew the heartache and rejection Brooklyn herself had known.

When her estranged husband Chad Hallston dies, he leaves the family home in Thunder Creek to his daughter. Believing it is the best way to give her daughter a stable home, Brooklyn does what she thought she would never do. She goes home to the orchard and wine country of Southwest Idaho. There, she encounters Chad’s best friend, Derek Johnson, a part time sheriff’s deputy who also owns an organic produce farm next door. Derek was never a fan of former bad girl Brooklyn Myers, but he made a promise to his dying friend that he would be the father to Alycia that Chad had never been.

Although Derek and Brooklyn get off to a bumpy start, he and Alycia quickly form a bond. And soon, Derek realizes that he wants Brooklyn to trust him too . . .  even knowing that her trust won’t come easily. And then he realizes he wants even more than her trust. He wants to win her love.

While Brooklyn may be tempted to give her heart to Derek, risking her daughter’s happiness is another story. Will Brooklyn hold onto her self-reliance for dear life, or will she come to understand that the greatest gift she can give her daughter is showing her how to love and trust others?

My thoughts

A charming and relaxing romance, You’ll Think Of Me is a story of starting over and creating family.

Brooklyn knows what it takes to stand alone. So when she receives a letter from her estranged husband’s lawyer stating that she and her ten-year-old daughter have been left his family home, Brooklyn is wary of returning to her hometown. But returning to Thunder Creek isn’t the hardship she imagines. She is soon surrounded by caring townspeople including her neighbour Derek, who has his own reasons for getting close to Brooklyn and her daughter Alycia.

Absolutely every time I think about this book’s title I start humming the song by Keith Urban of the same name. I just can’t help it. Not a bad thing, I like that song, but its message is very different from that of this book. This book is all about coming together, community joining to offer support, and a young family healing and finding love.

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Book Review: Then Came You

Then Came You – Becky Wade – Bradford Sisters Romance #0.5 – Published 7 March 2017

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Synopsis

A leather-bound journal. A single father. A woman in pursuit of freedom.

Garner Bradford, heir to the troubled Bradford Shipping empire, doesn’t know much about babies. But he’s going to have to learn fast because he’s just become a single father to his newborn daughter. As he confesses through his journal entries, he’s not entirely sure how to keep a newborn alive, whether or not he’ll ever patch together his shattered heart, or how to forgive himself for his mistakes.

Career girl Kathleen Burke is wholly uninterested in settling down. She has big dreams, and none of them include Garner and his small hometown in Washington State. Yet she can’t seem to get her handsome boss out of her head or her heart. There’s something extraordinarily tempting about his beautifully sad green eyes. . . .

Told through journal entries, phone conversations, and letters, Then Came You is a unique, heart-stirring romance novella by acclaimed author Becky Wade.

My thoughts

Then Came You is an utterly charming romance told through letter fragments, diary entries, and phone conversations.

Then Came You is the prequel novella to Becky Wade’s new series, Bradford Sisters Romance. At first I was a little confused about how this story fit with the books in the series. Then I realised that this story is set a few decades prior to the first book in the series and Garner, our main male character, is actually the father of the Bradford sisters, around whom the series is based.

The story starts off rather sadly, as Garner makes mistakes and faces much tragedy. We are also introduced to Kathleen, who takes a job at Garner’s family company rather than fulfill her dreams of moving to and working in New York.

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Book Review: The Memory of You

The Memory of You

The Memory of You – Catherine West – Thomas Nelson – Published 28 March 2017

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Synopsis

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so. And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

My thoughts

The Memory of You is a delightful story. The setting truly comes alive and creates the perfect backdrop for this story of hidden secrets, guilt, and finding peace by facing the past.

Natalie is haunted by memories of her time at her grandparents’ vineyard. She hasn’t returned since that tragic night thirteen years ago and has tried to bury her memories and the truth of how her twin sister Nicole died. But her nightmares have returned and her symptoms are spiralling out of her control. So when her parents suggest she return to the vineyard she thinks it might be a good time to finally find peace. But the head vintner, Tanner Collins, Natalie’s childhood friend (and crush), suspects the real reason Natalie’s father has sent her to Maoilios – to shut them down – and he isn’t happy to see her.

I love a romance that starts off with the characters fighting. Sparks fly, tempers get lost. You can feel the passion, the chemistry, the possibility. I also liked that Tanner and Natalie had history. A tentative teenage friendship that got lost through the tumultuous fallout of Nicole’s death. As they confront each other about the past and challenge each other about the future, especially the future of the vineyard, they slowly (and with a few bumps along the way) rekindle their friendship and learn to trust each other.

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Book Review: Between Sundays

between-sundays

Between Sundays – Karen Kingsbury – Zondervan – Published 30 November 2007

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Synopsis

Aaron Hill has it all—athletic good looks and the many privileges of a star quarterback. His Sundays are spent playing NFL football in front of a televised audience of millions. But Aaron’s about to receive an unexpected handoff, one that will give him a whole new view of his self-centered life.

Derrick Anderson is a family man who volunteers his time with foster kids while sustaining a long career as a pro football player. But now he’s looking for a miracle. He must act as team mentor while still striving for the one thing that matters most this season—keeping a promise he made years ago. Megan Gunn works two jobs and spends her spare time helping at the youth center. Much of what she does, she does for the one boy for whom she is everything—a foster child whose dying mother left him in Megan’s care. Now she wants to adopt him, but one obstacle stands in the way. Her foster son, Cory, is convinced that 49ers quarterback Aaron Hill is his father.

Two men and the game they love. A woman with a heart for the lonely and lost, and a boy who believes the impossible. Thrown together in a season of self-discovery, they’re about to learn lessons in character and grace, love and sacrifice.Because in the end life isn’t defined by what takes place on the first day of the week, but how we live it between Sundays.

My thoughts

I have a confession to make – this is the first book I have read by Karen Kingsbury. I know! For someone who reads a fair amount of Christian fiction it seems strange that I have skipped over her books entirely. But no longer. I have had Between Sundays sitting on my shelf for a while now and the other day I picked it up on a whim. And I didn’t put it down. I enjoyed the emotionally charged story. Second chances, finding faith, love, foster children, the importance of family, and even American football all combine in a heartwarming story.

Cory knows who his dad is, his mother told him, but no one believes him. Now his mother is dead and he is living with Megan, his foster mother. But when the youth centre organises a pizza party with the the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Derrick Anderson, Cory knows it is his chance to finally meet his dad – because his father is quarterback Aaron Hill.

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Book Review: Together With You

Together With You

Together With You – Victoria Bylin – Bethany House Publishers – Published 7 April 2015

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Synopsis

 When a Lost Child warning blasts over the mall’s PA system, toy store manager Carly Mason finds the little girl playing with a stuffed rabbit. Something about five-year-old Penny Tremaine is different. An ex-social worker, Carly recognizes that Penny suffers fetal alcohol effects, and a piece of Carly’s own past suddenly confronts her. Never again will Carly become involved with a client. The risks are far too great. But something about Penny–and Penny’s handsome father–tugs at Carly’s heart. Before she has time to think it through, she agrees to a much-needed job as a nanny.

Dr. Ryan Tremaine knows he messed up his life. But this summer he will redeem himself. With his ex-wife remarried and on a trip far away, his two teenage sons and Penny are living under his roof full time. Ryan is dedicated to his sink-or-swim list, a plan to reconnect with his children. The first step: recruiting Carly Mason to be Penny’s nanny.
Ryan never anticipated being so drawn to Carly, an attraction Carly seems to fight as much as he does. Could Carly be the missing piece that helps his family stay afloat, or will their blossoming romance only complicate things further?

My thoughts

Together With You is the second book I have read by Victoria Bylin, and I enjoyed it much more than Until I Found You. Unfortunately, I had let my apathy for Until I Found You cloud my judgement of Victoria Bylin and her writing. I am glad I gave her a second chance because I enjoyed this novel of family healing, second (and maybe third and forth) chances, love, and children with special needs.

Carly has worked with children and teens with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) before. But she left that life after a mistake cost a young girl her safety. When Dr Ryan Tremaine, a young dad with three children, one of whom has FASD, asks her to be their nanny, Carly’s first response is a firm no. But the father’s desperation and cold aloofness towards his children and the family’s general meltdown at her workplace convince her that this is a family who could use her help and love. Carly works with little Penny on boundaries, helps the older boys understand their sister and grow within their own interests, and shows Dr Tremaine how to connect with his children. She fills a hole Ryan didn’t even notice they had. But Carly’s belief in God, forgiveness, and a pure life are vastly different to Ryan’s own beliefs.

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Book Review: Where Two Hearts Meet

Where Two Hearts Meet

Where Two Hearts Meet – Liz Johnson – Prince Edward Island Dreams #2 – Revell – Published 18 October 2016

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Synopsis

In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.
Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He’s also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he’s falling in love with the island’s red shores and Caden’s sweets.
When Caden discovers Adam isn’t who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he’s writing could do more than ruin the inn’s chances for survival–it might also break her heart. 

My thoughts

The day I started reading this book I made a batch of cinnamon (and apple and coffee) scrolls. It was just a coincidence, but a very nice one, especially when the first line of Where Two Hearts Meet is: “There was only one thing better than the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning. The taste of freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning.”

This book made me very hungry – for cinnamon rolls, lobster pasta, muffins, eggs Benedict, you name it. I was reading this just after eating dinner thinking about what meal I could eat next. But it also made me hungry for sea air and small towns, rugged coastlines and good friends.

Caden is the executive chef at Rose’s Red Door Inn. She loves her job, but the future of the B&B may be in danger if they don’t find a way to increase their bookings. When Marie discovers that a travel writer will be staying at the Inn, she and Caden are sure it is the handsome Adam Jacobs. Marie asks Caden to make sure Adam sees the best of the Inn and Prince Edward Island, and they forge a strong friendship as they spend time in Caden’s kitchen and exploring the Island.

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Book Review: Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On

Keep Holding On – Melissa Tagg – Walker Family #3 – Larkspur Press – Published 27 September 2016

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Synopsis

Beckett Walker hasn’t stepped foot in Maple Valley in years. There’s no getting past the painful memories, and there’s every chance he’ll be arrested as soon as he shows his face. Which is exactly what happens when he finally returns. Suddenly his dream of adventure as a military lawyer comes skidding to a halt.

Horticulturist Kit Danby has spent too much time missing home and her childhood best friend–Beckett Walker. Now she might have a shot at reclaiming both. After years of living abroad, she returns to run her family’s apple orchard. She has one season to turn a profit and impress the father she barely knows. But she can’t do it alone.

It should be simple: Beckett needs community service hours. Kit needs a helping hand. But there’s more at stake than either of them planned. With a tangled past and futures that look nothing alike, they’ll have to find a way to weather the storms of the present . . . or risk losing everything.

My thoughts

Once again Melissa Tagg has delivered with an achingly beautiful story of family (crazy, big, loud, loveable family), friendship (childhood best friends falling in love – my favourite kind of friendship), and life, love, laughter and tears. I wanted to both savour this book and devour it.

It’s lovely to return once again to Maple Valley and the Walker family. I loved catching up with Logan, Amelia and Charlie, Kate and Colton, Seth and Ava, Raegan, Megan, Case and all the familiar faces of Maple Valley. But it is Beckett Walker who is the star of this story. Beckett has been absent from Maple Valley for six years. He left one night six years ago when the hurt of his life had tangled around him and he just needed to get out. Since then he attended college and has been working as a lawyer in Boston, but a chance to become a JAG officer has him finally returning to Maple Valley, where he knows he must face his past (including the criminal arrest warrant waiting for him), his family and his childhood best-friend, Kit Danby.

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Book Review: Finding Hope

finding-hope

Finding Hope – Melanie D. Snitker – Love’s Compass #2 – Published 1 July 2015

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Synopsis

Cancer.

That one word has rocked Lexi Chandler’s life to the core. Her focus has always been to help others. She loves being a nurse and enjoys spending time with her family. Things had been going according to plan. Now she’s struggling to pick up the pieces and make sense of the changes in her life.

Lance Davenport has cared for Lexi since they were kids. Between their age difference and bad timing, he’s turned burying his feelings into an art. Now, watching Lexi battle with cancer has made him realize just how much he’s missed. He doesn’t know what their future holds, but he’s determined to not waste another minute.

The people closest to Lexi pull together as she tries to navigate her way down a path none of them ever dreamed she’d have to travel.

My thoughts

I was pleased to find this book had the same tone as many of my favourite Christian contemporary novels. Think Melissa Tagg, Irene Hannon, Kimberly Rae Jordan. Romance, strong family connections, trials, faith – great stories that leave you feeling uplifted. This is the first book I’ve read written by Melanie D. Snitker but it certainly won’t be the last.

Finding Hope is the second book in the Love’s Compass series. It gave away a few major plot points from the first book and set in place events for the third but otherwise was fine to read out of series order.

Lexi Chandler has just been diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t what she was expecting, especially after recently losing her father suddenly to the same horrible disease. She doesn’t want to rely too much on her mother, so when her brother’s best friend and long-term family friend Lance Davenport offers to drive her to her appointments she gratefully accepts. She doesn’t expect to develop feelings for Lance, nor to discover that he has been hiding his own feelings for many years.

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Book Review: Beauty From Ashes

beauty-from-ashes

Beauty From Ashes – Kimberly Rae Jordan – BlackThorpe Security #5 -Three Strand Press – Published 12 August 2016

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Synopsis

Adrianne Thorpe has watched as both her twin brother and her sister have had love enter their lives in the past few months. With one already married and the other in a serious relationship, she has had to watch them live out her dream. Though she has dated plenty over the years, Adrianne hasn’t found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Does she just have impossibly high standards? Or is it the small voice in her head telling her that no man would really love her that keeps her from letting anyone get close enough to touch her heart? 

From the moment Connor Mackenzie learns that his sister Rebecca is married to Alex Thorpe, he knows his past has come back to haunt him. After over a decade of working in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, he had plans to retire so he could move closer to his sister and nephew. Doing that now will mean being in almost constant contact with the woman who, as a teenager, he had rejected most cruelly. Has she been able to get over their hurt-filled past? Or will he be forced to reconsider where he spends his time post-retirement? 

My thoughts

Another great title by Kimberly Rae Jordan.

Beauty From Ashes continues the BlackThorpe Security series. This is Adrianne Thorpe’s story, as her past resurfaces and she determines what she wants as from future.

Beauty From Ashes didn’t quite unfold as I expected. There is  much less emphasis on the past mysteries and dangers that have been plaguing the people at BlackThorpe than I expected, especially the very minor continuation of Alana and Justin’s story (have I missed a novella somewhere?) But I really enjoyed getting to know Adrianne more. We met Adrianne in previous BlackThorpe titles. She is a strong woman, but still deeply hurt by the words of Conner Mackenzie, someone she considered a friend, in her teenage years. Her story of forgiveness and redemption with Connor is very sweet.

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Book Review: The Red Door Inn

Red Door Inn

The Red Door Inn – Liz Johnson – Prince Edward Island Dreams #1 – Revell – Published 1 March 2016

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Synopsis

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

My thoughts

It took me two tries to read this book. I’m not sure what happened the first time as on my second go I was sucked into the story and more than happy to stay there. Great scenery is perhaps an understatement, as The Red Door Inn is set on Price Edward Island (yes, home of L.M. Montgomery and our favourite red-haired orphan). And there is a romance to match the charm of the rolling seas and windy coastline. But what is most alluring about this story is the characters.

Marie is on the run from a past she doesn’t even like to think about. She’s not sure where she is going, she just knows she can’t look back. But with less than a handful of change to her name she knows she might need to take up the offer a kind stranger on the Prince Edward Island ferry proffers – come and stay at his B&B and help him finish its design in time for its opening in a few weeks’ time. But she doesn’t count on the kind man’s nephew – tall, burly and kind of unfriendly Seth – also staying and working at the Inn, nor how interacting with the two men along with the other residents of the small coastline town would challenge her to step outside the shadow of her past and maybe even learn to trust again.

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