Category Archives: Romance

Review: You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Title: You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Who knew fate could twist a tragedy into a second chance at love?

Samantha Winters lives her life the way a good accountant should—measured, deliberate, and safe. After watching her father die in a tragic skiing accident, she decided never to allow risk into her life again. But she didn’t count on falling for Nick Chastain, who embodies everything she doesn’t want in her safely constructed world.

Against Samantha’s warnings, Nick plans a dangerous kayaking trip over spring break. Furious that he’s so careless with his life, she ends their fledgling relationship with harsh words.

Two years later, Samantha is desperately in need of a change. When she learns her grandmother has had an accident and is in need of a caretaker, Samantha quickly packs her bags and heads to Thunder Creek, Idaho. But nothing could prepare her for the surprise awaiting her in her grandmother’s hospital room . . . Nick.

With the charming backdrop of small-town friends, beloved cousins, and a whole church congregation rooting for them, can they set aside the disastrous ending of their first try at love? Has Nick changed enough to meet Samantha in the middle—and can she realize that a risk in love might be worth taking?

Review:

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher is a charming second chance at love Christian romance which is set in the delightful small town of Thunder Creek, ID.

Samantha Winters is risk-averse to the point it affects her personal and professional relationships. Even though she is passed over time and again for promotions, she remains in a stagnant job with a boss she dislikes. In her personal life, Samantha’s fears lead her to end her eight month relationship with outdoorsman and adventure seeker Nick Chastain.  When her beloved grandmother, Ruth Johnson, is injured in a fall and needs some assistance with day to day tasks, Samantha does not hesitate to take a leave of absence from work to care for her. What she does not expect is to immediately cross paths with Nick, whom she has not heard from since their painful break up two years earlier.  She is stunned by how drastically different he is from the man she once dated, but can Samantha trust that Nick will not revert back to his daredevil ways?

Samantha avoids confrontation at all cost and runs away instead of facing problems. She has worked for the same company and boss for several years and despite her unhappiness at how her boss treats her, she refuses to look for another job since she does not like change.  However, spending time with Ruth, Samantha begins to question some of her decisions but will she be willing to walk away from the comfortable (and somewhat boring) life she has created for herself?

Nick has undergone dramatic changes since he last saw Samantha and he is refreshingly honest about how selfish  he was during their relationship.  While these significant alterations in his life might not have been of his choosing, Nick readily admits he is a much better person than he was when he dated Samantha. He is quick to take responsibility for how his actions affected their relationship in the past and he is not shy about discussing the reasons his life has changed so radically. Nick has also undergone a considerable amount of spiritual growth in the intervening years and he is now quite devout.

In spite of Nick’s assertions these changes in his lifestyle are permanent, Samantha is doubtful he can resist his adventurous spirit.  Despite her reservations, she is willing to give him a second chance, but she is also quick to doubt him when she misconstrues his actions in emergency situations. Samantha’s propensity to run away from problems also causes trouble between them because her first instinct is to shut down instead of discussing the issues between them. Will Samantha finally deal with her deep-seated fears or is her second chance at love with Nick doomed to fail?

With a strong element of faith, You’re Gonna Love Me is a heartwarming novel of forgiveness, reconciliation and love.  Nick and Samantha are wonderfully developed, likable characters that readers will find it easy to root for. Their romance moves at a slow but realistic pace as they try to work through the issues that ended their relationship in the past. Since Nick’s life changes occurred during their separation, the story focuses mainly on Samantha’s character growth. Robin Lee Hatcher has created  a warm and inviting community in the small town of Thunder Creek and readers will enjoy revisiting characters from previous works. A heartfelt romance that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Rated B+, Review, Robin Lee Hatcher, Romance, Thomas Nelson Publishing, You're Gonna Love Me

Review: Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman

Title: Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman
Hidden Justice Series Book Two
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romance, Suspense, Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . .  can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?

Review:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman is an intriguing legal mystery with a gentle undercurrent of faith. This second installment in the Hidden Justice series easily stands on its own.

Emilie Wesley is a lawyer who is employed at a foundation that helps women escape from abusive relationships. She is worried when her client, Kaylene Adams, does not show up for a court appearance for an order of protection but nothing can prepare her for the reason Kaylene missed their appointment. Emilie is absolutely stunned by the news Kaylene is dead and authorities suspect she shot both her daughters, killing one and critically wounding the other,  before turning the gun on herself. Emilie knows Kaylene would never do anything to harm her children so she is very eager to help when her client’s younger brother, Reid Billings, requests her help in gaining custody of his niece, Kinley.

Emilie is quite shaken and she has a bit of a career crisis in the aftermath of Kaylene’s death. She is having difficulty concentrating as she tries to figure out whether or not she might have overlooked crucial information in her former client’s case. Her friends are aware of her distress and they quickly rally around her and offer unsolicited advice about her career. Adding to her worries is Emilie’s fear that her stalker is back but she  is having difficulty getting anyone to take her concerns seriously.

In the aftermath of his sister’s death,  Reid feels incredibly guilty that he let his professional aspirations prevent him from spending more time with her and her family. Stunned by his brother-in-law Robert’s demand that he stay away from him and Kinley, Reid cannot help but fear for his niece’s safety. After stumbling onto a worrying letter written to him by Kaylene, he ramps up his efforts to gain custody of Kinley. He immediately requests Emilie’s help since she has intimate knowledge of what was going on in his sister’s life.

Emilie and Reid are well aware that gaining custody of Kinley is a long shot, but fearing what will happen if she remains with Robert, they immediately begin investigating the shootings.  They leave no stone unturned as they question neighbors and Reid’s oldest niece’s friends. Reid uncovers information that supports Emilie’s assertion that Kaylene was planning to escape her marriage with her daughters but they have yet to find definitive proof that Robert was abusing her. Will they find the evidence they need before Kinley is released from the hospital into her father’s care?

The romantic element of the storyline is somewhat understated but there is no mistaking the attraction between Emilie and Reid. Emilie is also very aware that she must take care not to blur the lines between her professional and personal lives. However, Reid and Emilie do enjoy a few sweetly romantic dates during their investigation.

Imperfect Justice is a even but somewhat slow placed legal mystery. The characters are interesting  and well-developed but the storyline is a little busy due to multiple story arcs. The domestic violence aspect of the plot is realistically and sensitively depicted. Cara Putnam brings the novel to a somewhat exciting and satisfactory conclusion.  Old and new fans will enjoy this latest addition to the Hidden Justice series.

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Filed under Cara Putnam, Contemporary, Hidden Justice Series, Imperfect Justice, Inspirational, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Romance, Suspense, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier

Title: Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 386 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

How far would you go to protect the ones you love?

Rain has taken care of Ethan all of their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, and Rain takes comfort in being the one who holds their family together. It’s nice to be needed—to be the center of someone’s world. If only her longtime crush, Liam, would notice her too…

Then one night, her life is upended by a mistake she can’t undo. Suddenly Rain’s new romance begins to unravel along with her carefully constructed rules. Rain isn’t used to asking for help—and certainly not from Ethan. But the brother she’s always protected is the only one who can help her. And letting go of the past may be the only way for Rain to hold onto her relationships that matter most.

Review:

Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier is a heartwarming and poignant young adult novel.

Rain Rosenblatt has always protected and taken care of her twin brother, Ethan, who is autistic. Now sixteen,  both siblings find romance which unexpectedly throws their relationship into a bit of turmoil. Rain is surprised to discover that her crush, Liam, returns her feelings and their relationship is off to an awkward but promising start. At the same time, her best friend Hope and Ethan are exploring their feelings for one another and Rain is not exactly on board with their burgeoning romance. As Ethan begins to expand his horizons beyond the safe, comfortable confines of their home, Rain finds herself continually off balance when she discovers she does not know her brother as well as she thought.

Rain is very loyal to Ethan and since her single mom has abdicated his care to her, her life pretty much revolves around her brother’s schedule and predictable routines. Always anticipating his needs and certain she knows what is best for him, she bases most of her decisions around him including her plans beyond high school.  Rain is definitely not in favor of his relationship with Hope, but once she realizes her opinion is not going to change anything, she tries to push her misgivings aside.  However, Rain is also struggling to adjust to the changes in her relationship with Ethan as he continues to be more independent.

Liam is a great character but he comes across as a little too perfect. He is great with Ethan and he treats him just any other kid their age. He is beyond patient with Rain’s quirks and he is her biggest cheerleader. Liam’s plans for the future are quite different than hers but with so many changes occurring with her brother, she is a bit adrift as she tries to figure out if her dreams are what she truly wants for herself.

Rain and Ethan’s family situation is less than ideal. Their parents went through a somewhat acrimonious divorce and they live with their mother in Montana while their dad lives in DC.   Rain’s mom is one of those parents who becomes fixated on using alternative methods to “fix” Ethan and rejects traditional medical advice when faced with her own health crisis. Rain’s dad is making more of an effort to be present in their lives but Rain is struggling with their reconciliation.

Rules of Rain by Leah Scheier is thought-provoking journey of self discovery for both Ethan and Rain. Their relationship is wonderfully depicted and Rain’s difficulties with accepting the changes in their relationship are frustrating yet realistic. Ethan’s romance with Hope is so incredibly sweet and surprisingly free from drama. Rain’s relationship with Liam is also quite endearing but an ill-thought out decision results in unintended consequences. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this captivating young adult novel to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, Leah Scheier, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Rules of Rain, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Title: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
From Manhattan With Love Series Book Six
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Sarah Morgan is back with more love and laughter in her acclaimed series, From Manhattan With Love, which Publishers Weekly calls a “sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic experience.” 

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list—dealing with Madi’s temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi—how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple—he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all—letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

Review:

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan is a heartwarming novel of love and new beginnings. Although this newest release is the sixth in the From Manhattan with Love series, it can be read as a standalone.

With both of her siblings finding love, Harriet Knight knows it is time for her start fighting her own battles. In order to do just that, she devises a “Challenge Harriet” plan to help her conquer her fears (of which there are quite a few).  Since she has always been shy and lacking self confidence, Harriet’s twin sister and brother protected during their tumultuous and dysfunctional childhood and this habit has continued well into adulthood.  She continues to avoid confrontation and situations that make her uncomfortable, but Harriet knows if she is to find happiness, she has to be the person in control of her life.  Although a little naive, Harriet is a kind, compassionate woman with a big heart and a soft spot for dogs. Which is exactly why she finds it so difficult to say no when Dr. Ethan Black asks her to temporarily stay with him while he is pet sitting his sister’s rambunctious dog.

With a demanding career as an trauma doctor in the ER, Ethan puts in long hours so he does not have much of a personal life. He also discovered early on that he must shut down his emotions in order to effectively deal with the drama that comes with some his patients. This need for emotional distance coupled with his failed marriage have led him to the conclusion that he should not be in a relationship. Ethan is quick to surmise that Harriet is not one for casual dalliances, so he tries to tries to ignore his attraction to the very charming dog walker.

Their acquaintance is off to a bit of a rocky beginning due to Ethan’s angry outburst and his uncomfortable questions about a very personal aspect of Harriet’s life.  His insistence she stay with him to help take care of his sister’s dog is also rather heavy-handed and insensitive due to her insecurities.  However, Harriet is unexpectedly feisty when her back is against the wall and she does not allow her discomfort to stop her from dealing with these challenges. Ethan also learns a lot about of himself when she calls him on his behavior. Harriet is surprisingly open to exploring their mutual desire and she has the self-respect to walk away when her emotional needs are not being met. With the future of their relationship in his hands, will Ethan find the courage to admit his feelings for her?

With an adorable canine, a gutsy heroine and a gruff hero, Moonlight Over Manhattan is an uplifting holiday romance.  Harriet and Ethan are endearing  characters who bring out the best in each other despite their rather inauspicious beginning. The romance between them is heartfelt and moves at a realistic pace. The inevitable conflict that threatens their future is believable and thankfully, short-lived. Old and new fans are sure to enjoy this latest addition to Sarah Morgan’s delightful From Manhattan with Love series.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Manhattan with Love Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Moonlight Over Manhattan, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sarah Morgan

Review: The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

Title: The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

Review:

The Temptation of Adam is a young adult novel about addiction. While pornography addiction takes center stage,  Dave Connis also touches on other types of addictions as well.

Sixteen year old Adam Hawthorne’s expulsion from school from an undisclosed infraction sets him on the path for treatment for his addiction to porn. A benevolent teacher, Mr. Gratcher, intercedes on his behalf with his school principal and as a result, Adam must spend one on one time with his teacher in addition to attending meetings similar to AA. He also must join Mr. Gratcher and three other young men, Elliot, Trey and Mark in Knights of Vice meetings.  Like so many people who have addictions, Adam is not only completely in denial about his dependence on porn, but he is also quite unaware of the reason he relies so heavily on it.  With a well-rounded group of people supporting him, (including his romantic interest,  Dez Coulter, and  his older sister, Abby), will Adam finally open his eyes to the truths that Mr. Cratcher is attempting to show him?

Adam is a highly intelligent young man who was blindsided by his parents’ divorce. Now referring to his absent mother as “The Woman”, he lives with his dad who is physically present, but emotionally checked out. Adam adores Abby, but since she lives with The Woman, they are not as close as they were prior to the divorce.  Since he is deeply in denial about his addiction to porn, Adam refuses to accept responsibility for the incident that resulted in his suspension. He is extremely resistant to  Mr. Cratcher’s attempts to help him but with the threat of permanent expulsion from school hanging over him, he has no choice but to continue attending meetings and spending mornings with his teacher.

Adam’s realization that he is addicted to porn occurs at a realistic pace. He gradually beings to understand the reasons why he turned to porn and  despite this self-awareness, he is often powerless to fight his addiction. His romance with Dez also offers him a new perspective on his destructive behavior and  provides him with an added incentive to try to conquer his demons.  Unlike the young men Adam meets, Dez is a bit of a stereotype and it is rather difficult to take her addiction to addictions seriously.

The Temptation of Adam is an engrossing and insightful young adult novel about porn addiction. Adam is well-rounded character who is genuinely likeable and easy to relate to despite his flaws. The storyline is well-developed and Dave Connis’s handling of various addictions is exemplary as is his realistic depiction of recovery. All in all, a well-written novel that will appeal to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Contemporary, Dave Connis, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sky Pony Press, The Temptation of Adam, Young Adult

Review: Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason

Title: Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason
Harmony Harbor Series Book Four
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

“Heartfelt and delightful!” -RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author

Romance writer Julia Landon knows how to write a happily-ever-after. Creating one for herself is a whole different story. But after a surprising–and surprisingly passionate–kiss under the mistletoe at Harmony Harbor’s holiday party last year, Julia thought she might have finally found her very own chance at true love. Until she learns her Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broodingly Handsome has sworn off relationships. Well, if she can’t have him in real life, Julia knows just how to get the next best thing….

Aidan’s only priority is to be the best single dad ever. And this year, he plans to make the holidays magical for his little girl, Ella Rose. But visions of stolen kisses under the mistletoe keep dancing in his head, and when he finds out Julia has written him into her latest novel, he can’t help imagining the possibilities of a future together. Little does he know, though, Julia has been keeping a secret that threatens all their dreams. Luckily, ’tis the season for a little Christmas magic.

Review:

Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason is an endearing holiday themed romance.

Julia Landon is upbeat, positive and always has a smile on her face. With the holidays fast approaching, she is stretched to her limits as she frantically attempts to get her latest novel turned in on time. Juggling many duties, she nonetheless never tells anyone no when they for help. For rather mysterious reasons, Julia is determined to ensure everyone in the Gallagher family is blissfully happy and she has her hands full trying to ensure her last matchmaking attempt succeeds.  She is also doing everything she can to make sure her secret crush Aidan Gallagher has everything he needs to win custody of his daughter Ella Rose. Unfortunately her attempts to secure his future with the Harmony Harbor Police Department run into numerous problems with the police chief, but Julia is undeterred as she continues her attempts to “fix” things for Aidan.

Aidan is extremely suspicious of Julia which has resulted in quite a few inauspicious run-ins between them.  Despite knowing she is keeping secrets, he is also very attracted to the quirky, perky darling of Harmony Harbor.  But with his divorce behind him, Aidan is concentrating on improving his relationship with Ella Rose while also trying to gain custody of her.  Although he is frustrated by Julia’s interference in nearly every aspect of his life, he is also charmed by her.

Despite feeling a little lost due to not reading the previous novels in the Harmony Harbor series, Sugarplum Way is an enchanting holiday love story. Julia is a likable character despite being just a tad too perfect. Aidan is realistically depicted and it is wonderful watching his scenes with his daughter.   The romance between Aidan and Julia is slow moving and peppered with witty banter and laugh out loud humor.  Although the storyline is rather busy due to several story arcs, Debbie Mason beautifully weaves the various threads into a cohesive and entertaining novel.  Readers of the previous books will enjoy this latest addition to the series whereas newcomers will most likely feel confused by the first few chapters. All in all, a charming love story with a few mystical (and magical) elements.

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Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Mason, Forever, Harmony Harbor Series, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sugarplum Way