Category Archives: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble

Title: The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble
Lavender Tides Series Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Romantic Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

After her husband, Jack, dies in a climbing incident, Shauna has only her five-year-old son and her helicopter charter business to live for. Every day is a struggle to make ends meet and she lives in constant fear of losing even more than she already has.

When her business partner is murdered, his final words convince Shauna that she’s in danger too. But where can she turn? Zach Bannister was her husband’s best friend and is the person she blames for his death. She’s barely spoken to him since. But right now he seems her only hope for protecting her son.

Zach is only too happy to assuage his guilt over Jack’s death by helping Shauna any way he can. But there are secrets involved dating back to Shauna’s childhood that more than one person would prefer to stay hidden.

In The View from Rainshadow Bay, suspense, danger, and a longing to love again ignite amid the gorgeous lavender fields of Washington State.

Review:

The first exciting installment in the Lavender Tides series, The View from Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble is a fast-paced and intriguing mystery with elements of romance and faith.

Although it has been a year since Shauna McDade lost her beloved husband, Jack, she blames his best friend, Zach Bannister, for the climbing accident that claimed his life. Struggling to make ends meets, Shauna has been learning aerial photography from her close friend and father figure Clarence Glennon who has been separated from his wife Lucy since their only child, Darla, died from a drug overdose.  When Clarence then Lucy die under suspicious circumstances, Zach and Shauna do not think local sheriff Everett Bruchell is taking their concerns seriously so they begin their own investigation. Fearing for Shauna and her five year old son Alex’s safety, Zach convinces them to stay with him while they attempt to figure out what is happening to the people they care about.

Shauna is no stranger to tragedy and she has suffered several heartrending losses in her life. Her father is an alcoholic so she finds support from her friends. Her mother in law Marilyn has been a rock since Jack’s death and like Shauna, she also blames Zach for his loss. Extremely reluctant to accept his help since she cannot forgive him for what she perceives as his role in Jack’s accident, Shauna’s common sense prevails when they uncover very troubling information that whatever Clarence was looking into might somehow be linked to her mother who died when Shauna was a child.

An adrenaline junkie, Zach feels incredibly guilty over his self perceived role in Jack’s death. Despite his close friend’s tragic loss, he still continues to seek out pulse-pounding adventures. However, when he and Shauna begin spending time together, he comes to a new understanding of the reasons for his risky behavior. Genuinely worried about Shauna and Alex’s safety, he is greatly relieved when she agrees to stay with him. Looking over the contents of a box Clarence wanted Lucy to have, Zach and Shauna are certain these items are somehow connected to both their friends’ shocking deaths.

Zach and Shauna’s investigation into what Clarence was researching before his murder have surprising ties to her childhood and two other deaths. Some of the details they uncover are quite puzzling and virtually impossible to understand. What is the significance of a photo that Clarence apparently took during one of his flights? How did a necklace that belonged to Shauna’s mother end up in Clarence’s possession? Why is Shauna’s father so reluctant to answer herquestions? And most importantly, do the earlier deaths have any connection to most recent murders of Clarence and Lucy?

The View from Rainshadow Bay is an engaging and captivating romantic suspense novel. Shauna is a sympathetic and likable lead character who gradually comes to terms with her husband’s loss over the course of the story. Zach is quite charming and his guilt over Jack’s death is understandable but misplaced.  Zach and Shauna’s investigation into the Clarence and Lucy’s death is interesting but the Sheriff’s reluctance to take their concerns seriously is rather frustrating. The spiritual aspect is understated with Colleen Coble skillfully weaving the characters’ faith into the storyline in way that feels completely natural. While most of the various story arcs are fully resolved there is one question that will hopefully be answered in a future installment of the Lavender Tides series.

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Filed under Colleen Coble, Contemporary, Inspirational, Lavender Tides Series, Rated B, Review, Romantic Suspense, The View from Rainshadow Bay, Thomas Nelson Publishing

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: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter

Title: Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter
Blue Ridge Series Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

Review:

Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter is a heartwarming novel with an underlying theme of second chances. With more than just a second chance at love romance, this first installment in the Blue Ridge series is also a lovely story of new beginnings and healing.

Five years ago, Zoe Collins and Cruz Huntley’s relationship ended due to lack of communication, immaturity, insecurities and family disapproval. Zoe impetuously fled town with Kyle in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a musician. Cruz remained in town where he repaired his friendship with Zoe’s brother Brady while trying to get over losing his first love. Now, five years and many, many regrets later, Zoe returns for her beloved grandmother’s funeral and finds the courage to leave Kyle who has become increasingly controlling. Zoe also knows she needs to reveal the secret she has been keeping from Cruz but will it destroy any chance she has at possibly reconciling with the man who still holds her heart?

Zoe is one of the those characters readers might find difficult to like. When she was young she comes across as more impetuous and immature than “free spirited”. It is also difficult to forgive her choice to not tell Cruz the truth before she runs off with Kyle. Despite not being particularly likable, it is all too easy to understand how easy it was for her to allow Kyle to manipulate and control her.  After finally breaking free from her abusive relationship, Zoe initially remains a little timid and unsure but she gradually regains her self-confidence and sass.  Despite these changes, she is a little slow to own up to her terrible choice regarding keeping quiet about a MAJOR decision she made before leaving town, and Zoe is forced to deal with the consequences once Cruz stumbles onto the truth.

While Zoe is impetuous and a little thoughtless, Cruz is steadfast and loyal.  He reluctantly agreed to keep their relationship under wraps in the past and wtheir romance was discovered, her family’s reaction fed into his doubts and insecurities.  Zoe did not help the situation by her rash decisions and it was rather easy for external forces to take advantage of his uncertainties. In the intervening years, Cruz conquered his demons with the help of Zoe’s grandmother and his insecurities and lack of self-esteem are now a thing of the past.  Cruz still harbors feelings for Zoe, but once he stumbles onto her secret, will he forgive her for her lie of omission?

With a slight element of suspense and a gentle undercurrent of faith,  Blue Ridge Sunrise is an engaging romance with endearing characters. While Zoe does not always make the best choices, she does undergo believable growth throughout the story. Cruz has already come to terms with his emotional baggage but he must decide whether or not to absolve Zoe for not being honest with him. Although it takes a backseat to Zoe’s struggles to move past her mistakes, their renewed romance is quite sweet. Despite some of the predictable elements of the storyline, this first installment in Denise Hunter’s Blue Ridge series is an enjoyable read with interesting characters that readers will relate to.

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Filed under Blue Ridge Series, Blue Ridge Sunrise, Christian, Contemporary, Denise Hunter, Rated B, Review, Romance, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Title: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble
Rock Harbor Series Book Six
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Mystery, Suspense, Romance
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley</span

Summary:

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

Review:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble features two very intriguing mysteries.  Although this newest release is the sixth installment in the Rock Harbor series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

After Dana Newell’s fiancé turns violent, she decides to move back to Rock Harbor where she has family and friends to support her.  However, her ex, Garret Waterman, quickly tracks her down and begins threatening her. A murder also strikes close to home when her friend, Allyson Hegney is killed in an eerily similar manner as her cousin, Renee, whose case is still open.  Determined to try to uncover the killer’s identity, Dana joins forces Allyson’s cousin and Renee’s brother, Boone Carter, to investigate the deaths. Is it just a coincidence that Allyson is murdered right around the same time as Garret arrives in town? This is just of the angles that Dana and Boone are looking at as they begin looking into the unsolved murders.

Eager to put her failed relationship behind her, Dana is grateful to her brother Chris for offering to let her live with him in his newly renovated home when she moves back to Rock Harbor.  Dana comes across as a little naive due to a couple of questionable decisions she has made regarding Garret. She is also quite loyal and while this is an admirable quality, when combined with her naivety, she is a little slow to realize that not everyone is as truthful and honest as she is. Dana is a personable woman whose desire to help others is her best trait as is her warm and compassionate nature.

Boone has built a successful business and he is well regarded in the community. He despairs his sister’s killer will ever be found and although three years have passed since her death, Boone still reaches out to the detective on her case on a regular basis. When Allyson is murdered in Rock Harbor, he quickly hones in on the similarities to his sister’s death. Due to circumstances of the end of his previous relationship, Boone is quite leery of becoming involved with Dana despite his growing feelings for her.

The relationship between Boone and Dana is sweet but not without a few obstacles for this lovely couple to overcome. Boone’s situation presents a valuable lesson in the importance of character over looks.  Despite how badly Dana misjudged Garret, she is still willing to take a chance on love and it is quite refreshing to see that she refuses to let her  previous experience prevent her from exploring the possibility of a new relationship with Boone.

Although it is fairly easy to guess the murderer’s identity fairly early in the story, Beneath Copper Falls is still an engrossing mystery.  Dana and Boone are appealing characters and their romance is an absolute joy to watch unfold.  With some unexpected twists and unanticipated turns,  Colleen Coble  brings the novel to a very action-packed, exciting conclusion. A nice addition to the Rock Harbor series that old and new fans will enjoy.

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Filed under Beneath Copper Falls, Christian, Colleen Coble, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Rock Harbor Series, Suspense, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

Title: Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Christian, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage–and okay, the botched divorce–was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife–still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone–including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?

Review:

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter is an emotional second chance at love romance.

Noah Mitchell is stunned, dismayed and angry to learn that his divorce from his wife, Josephine, was never finalized.  The discovery stirs up all of his unresolved feelings about the demise of his marriage. Readily accepting responsibility for both the divorce and the paperwork mix-up, Josephine wants to fix the mistake as soon as possible. When an unexpected situation forces Noah and Josephine to spend time together, will they take advantage of this opportunity to heal the wounds from their past?

When Noah and Josephine first meet, neither of them is looking for a relationship.  Noah is well-adjusted with a loving family and although Josephine is new to town, she has a bit of a reputation.  Noah does not give any credence to this gossip and over the next several months, the two enjoy several sweet dates. Although his family and friends try to convince him to wait, he and Josephine marry after a bit of whirlwind courtship and there is no reason to doubt their love for one another.  While Noah does not know much about his new wife’s past, they are very happy together which is why he is so shocked when Josephine betrays him.  Devastated, Noah refuses to discuss what happened and immediately files for divorce.

Fast forward eighteen months and Noah is living on an isolated ranch where he raises horses. Josephine is still living in town but the two have managed to stay out of each other’s way since they split up. Their unexpected reunion is fraught with tension, hurt and anger. Unbeknownst to Noah, Josephine has taken steps to understand how her painful and unresolved past was still influencing her actions after she moved to town and throughout their marriage. Noah remains deeply conflicted over why their marriage ended, but is he finally ready to discuss the events that precipitated their divorce? And if he can understand what motivated Josephine’s behavior, will he, at long last, find it within his heart to forgive her? Although they make considerable progress working through their unresolved issues, is it possible for Noah and Josephine to truly leave their past behind and heal their fractured relationship?

Sweetbriar Cottage is a deeply moving story that deals with some very difficult subject matter. Denise Hunter deftly explores these complex topics with sensitivity and she never downplays the lasting effects of childhood abuse.Noah and Josephine are multi-faceted characters whose flaws, weaknesses and insecurities are easy to relate to. The storyline is richly developed with complicated and all too realistic issues that are addressed in a forthright and delicate manner. The resolution of Noah and Josephine’s problems is believable and readers will love the novel’s heartwarming conclusion.

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Filed under Christian, Contemporary, Denise Hunter, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sweetbriar Cottage, Thomas Nelson Publishing