Call Her Mine (Harmony Pointe)

43882463._SY475_Call Her Mine
by Melissa Foster
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Book #1 in the Harmony Pointe series
Number of Pages:  260
Kindle Edition
Source:  Pre-ordered through Amazon
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  XXX
Read 8/14/19 to 8/15/19

 

Ben Dalton has always been honest, except where his heart is concerned. He’s been in love with his best friend—saucy, smart-mouthed Aurelia Stark—forever. But Ben’s a planner, and timing has never been on his side. When he finally decides to make his move, Aurelia beats him to the punch with a move of her own—to a different town.

Aurelia loves her new life in the charming town of Harmony Pointe. She has a great apartment and her very own bookstore, and best of all, the sinfully hot, commitment-phobic friend she’s crushed on for years is no longer just around the corner. Maybe she’ll finally be able to leave her unrequited love behind and move on.

But when a baby is left on Ben’s front porch—a baby that is presumably his—Aurelia is there for him. Neither one knows the first thing about babies, but how hard can it be? Ben and Aurelia are catapulted into a world of love, laughter, and tracking down the baby mama, and it might even add up to a very happily ever after… just not one either of them expects.

As is usually the case with Melissa Foster’s stories, there is a lot of interconnection.  Although this is the first book in a new series, this series is a spin off of her Sugar Lake series.  Neither series is technically a part of the huge Love in Bloom family, but there are crossover characters to be found for sure.  If you read all of this author’s work, it’s a lot of fun to hear about or see familiar faces.  If this is your first book by this author, that’s okay too.  She does a wonderful job of keeping her stories contained enough that you don’t have to read the other books to enjoy any of them.  So dive in!

The way this story starts, I thought it was going to be a slow build.  Joke was on me because BAM, things got real super-fast.  Same with the romance aspect of this story.  I adore the friends to lovers trope with the exception of when the author takes too long for the friends to realize they should be lovers.  When this pair admit their feelings, it is just plain hot.  And it happens even sooner than I expected…Yay!

Ben and Aurelia have stable lives and are pretty intelligent people.  They never realized what it would take to raise a little tiny baby, or how much they could fall in love with said baby so quickly.  It was fun and emotional at the same time to watch these two become three and then gel into a cohesive family unit.  There is a lot of love and respect between them and it shows.

Lest you think this story is too full of taking care of baby and major life changes to still give you butterflies and heat, I’m here to tell you different.  There is chemistry, both romantic and purely sexual, that reaches off the pages and pulls you into the story.  Another great story by Melissa Foster.

4.5 stars

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TTT: Favorite Tropes

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  There is a new topic each week for bloggers to join in with their own top ten. If you’re looking for some new or different book blogs to read, hop on over to her site and check out some of the links.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is Favorite Tropes.  I have to say, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to come up with 10 since, as I mentioned last week, my mind will often go blank when I’m typing up these posts.  I kind of let my mind wander and would jot down a trope as it crossed my mind.  Before I knew it, I had ten.

Most of these are specific to the romance genre, but some work with other genres too.  My wheelhouse is romance, though.

Friends to Lovers
Maybe it’s because my husband has truly become my best friend over the years and I know how amazing that feeling of being married to my best friend is, this is one of my very favorite tropes.  I prefer friends to lovers when both friends come to the realization of the deeper feelings around the same time, or both have had unrequited love and were too afraid to speak up the whole time, but I’ll take this trope any way I can get it.

Fake Fiancee/Fiance
Of course, this can also be fake boyfriend/girlfriend or fake husband/wife.  The forced intimacy always brings sparks and unintentional feelings. Inevitably, the person being used as the pawn will get protective feelings toward the person who needed the fake relationship and things will escalate from there. Usually this leads to tons of fun and romance.

Best-Friend’s Brother/Sister
If you never had a crush on a friend’s sibling or your sibling’s friend, you’re probably lying.  Seriously, it’s part of puberty to get those type of crushes. So to see that type of crush come to fruition in the pages of a good story can make me swoon.

Enemies to Lovers
I’ve never been one to start a fight in order to have make-up sex. If you piss me off, I don’t want you touching me.  But the fire and heat that some authors are able to capture with their characters who are enemies is just plain fire.  And the harder they’re falling, the more the resist.

Military Veteran
I’ll read a good romance with any veteran. But if that veteran is holding something inside that needs to get out. Or running from something that’s followed him into the civilian world.  Sign. Me. Up. There’s nothing sexier than a man who knows how to use his body to give joy and pain.

Marriage of Convenience
Not to be confused with the fake wife trope, the marriage of convenience trope is most often found in historical romance. It can be found in contemporary romance, just not very often.  It’s often the woman discovering that love is a real thing and it’s not shameful to show affection that wins me over with these stories.  The fall of innocence I guess.

One Night Stand Meets Again
I don’t see this one as often as m any of the others, but it’s always a lot of fun.  Getting over a bad breakup or trying to break a dry-spell, a person who never has one night stands has a one night stand. To discover the person they slept with is their boss, their sister’s new in-law, their best friend’s college roommate, whatever.  Hi-jinx generally ensue.

Loner/Hermit Hero
I cannot resist the odd, grizzly, heart-of-gold loner who acts as if he’s a hard-ass. As soon as he sees someone in need of help, he’s there to lend a hand.  No matter how much he wants to go back to his cave and ignore society, that never seems to work out. Whatever the hermit has been hiding from, he’s forced to face while continuing to be the hero. What’s not to love?

Ex-Husband/Deceased Husband’s Best Friend
This one can be touchy, but when done well it will tug at all of my heart strings.  I’ve also seen the ex/deceased husband’s brother, which is always extremely emotional.  I cannot stress enough that this trope really has to be done right or it will fall apart quickly.  When it’s handled by the correct author it’s a recipe for love, sorrow, and lot of warm-fuzzies.

First Loves Meet Again
When you have that first real boyfriend or girlfriend in high school or college, you can’t really imagine that you won’t end up with your HEA.  Alas, real life happens and many of those relationships end up HFN instead.  Until the couple meets up again 10 or so years down the road.  Sparks fly, the years melt away, the anger from the initial break up is dealt with, and a beautiful story emerges.

So that’s my top 10, or at least the first 10 I thought of while sitting at my computer.

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Cowboy Up – ARC Review

46304540._SY475_Cowboy Up
by Michelle Beattie
Release Date:  August 20, 2019
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Book #1 in the Tangled Up in Texas series
Number of pages:  231
Kindle
Source: Net Galley ARC
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Rating: R
Read 8/9/19 to 8/10/19

 

When Dallas Granger left his family’s Last Stand, Texas, ranch, he hadn’t planned on returning. But when a medical emergency calls him home and a legal matter affects his business, suddenly his family isn’t the only thing in need of a re-build. Unfortunately his new project involves building a house for a woman who not only awakens his desires, but also his fears. But if he wants to claim her as his own, he’ll have to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart.

Single mom Ashley Anderson knows all about juggling. Between an assortment of part-time jobs and raising her sixteen-year old daughter, she doesn’t need a hunky construction worker with an attitude as a distraction. Even one who steps in to help her when she needs it most. But life has taught Ashley that when the going gets tough, she’s on her own. It’s going to take a man with a Texas-sized heart to show her that this cowboy isn’t going anywhere.

Michelle Beattie is a new-to-me author and I’m happy I gave her a chance.  This was a great story. From the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book, I gather this is her first foray into the contemporary romance genre. Looking at her Goodreads page it seems she’s done different sub-genres of historical romance in the past, from pirates to cowboys.  I’ll definitely be looking into reading more of her work.  I don’t know that I’ve ever really read a pirate story.

Although this story starts off putting Dallas in a good light, it would be very easy to write him off as an entitled jerk by the time his first meeting with Ashley is over.  But, surprisingly, Dallas is a man who can and will admit when he’s wrong.  That bodes well for him and any hope he has of a meaningful relationship in the future.

I’ll be honest and tell you that there are a few times that Ashley’s story makes me cry.  I’m often an overly emotional person, though.  Ashley is the personification of strong-willed.  She had her child while she was still a child herself and has never had much help getting by.  She has her moments, but in the long run she doesn’t let that get her down. She does what needs to be done in order to pay her bills and give her daughter a few extras (very few) along the way.  She’s working her butt off to provide a better future for her daughter.  The problem is, she’s been doing it on her own and her own way for so long that sometimes she doesn’t realize just how impenetrable her walls have become.

Ashley and Dallas have instant chemistry.  I truly love finding a new-to-me author that can give me the warm-fuzzies right off the bat.  Even through the animosity they feel toward each other in the beginning, there is no denying the attraction.

On top of this being a wonderful story about Dallas and Ashley learning to trust each other and let their walls down, it’s also a story of brothers.  Dallas has four brothers who he doesn’t speak to but a couple times a year.  But a medical emergency with their father has forced him to spend more time with them and for the group of them to finally start airing their grievances…something that is long overdue.  While there is a resolution to the Dallas/Ashley story, Dallas and his brothers still have a long road to travel.  I’m hoping to be able to enjoy the journey with them and learn more about each brother along the way.

4.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Tangled Threat – ARC Review

44178477._SY475_Tangled Threat
by Heather Graham
Release Date:  August 20, 2019
Publisher: Harlequin Intrigue
standalone
Number of pages:  256
Kindle
Source: Net Galley ARC
Romantic Suspense M/F
Rating: R
Read 8/6/19 to 8/9/19

 

A body hanging from the infamous History Tree unraveled their teenage love. Now Maura Antrim is again tangled up with Brock McGovern. Twelve years later, they’re back where that murder occurred—where Brock had been arrested and then released, where Maura had run, too scared to stand by his side. But with two women missing, and Brock now an FBI agent, Maura is determined to help. Together, they’ll have to confront a threat that never died and see if their passion has withstood the test of time.

I’m going to try to keep this short because I don’t want this review to turn into bashing the author.  This has taken me a while to write because I know this author has a lot of books under her belt and has quite a following.  She’s a new-to-me author that I had high hopes for.  Unfortunately, I just did not connect with this story at all.  I kept waiting for things to turn around but it just never did.

The concept of this story is interesting and really had me looking forward to reading this book.  I just didn’t feel the connection between any of these characters on any level.  And I really struggled with the way the dialogue is written.  It seemed very unnatural and stilted.  On top of that, I felt as though there was quite a bit of repetition. Plus, I never really felt the suspense.  I honestly didn’t care about the mystery.

Again, I don’t want to use this platform to bash anyone.  Maybe this book is an anomaly in this author’s vast library.  Or maybe I’m just not her audience.  Whatever the issues, it just wasn’t a good fit for me. 

1 star

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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The Empty Nesters – ARC Review

43713207The Empty Nesters
by Carolyn Brown
Release Date:  August 20, 2019
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
standalone
Number of pages:  312
Kindle
Source: Net Galley ARC
Contemporary Fiction/Chick Lit
Rating: PG-13
Read 8/3/19 to 8/6/19

 

Dear friends and army wives Diana, Carmen, and Joanie have been through war, rumors of war, marital problems, motherhood, fears, joy, and heartache. But none of the women are prepared when their daughters decide to enlist in the army together. Facing an empty nest won’t be easy. Especially for Carmen. With emotions already high, she suffers an even greater blow: divorce papers. Diana understands the fury and tears. She’s been there.

With nothing to lose and no one at home, the girlfriends impulsively accept an unexpected offer from their elderly neighbor. The recently widowed Tootsie has an RV, a handsome nephew at the wheel, and an aim for tiny Scrap, Texas, to embrace memories of her late husband. Still grieving, she can use the company as a balm for her broken heart. So can the empty nesters.

Embarking on a journey of hope, romance, and healing, Diana, Carmen, and Joanie are at a turning point in their lives. And with the open road ahead of them, it’s just the beginning.

I guess it’s only natural for a writer as established as Carolyn Brown to have a range of hits and misses. I never pass up an opportunity to read one of her books because I never know what I’m going to get.  In this case, I got a touching tale of friendship and perseverance.  The Empty Nesters is a heartwarming story.

There is romance in this book, but that’s not what this story is about.  No, this is a story of women who have stood with each other through raising their daughters practically alone while they’re Army Special Forces husbands took off for months at a time, sometimes with no advance warning.  This is a story of a former Army wife who lived a long and wonderful life with her husband finding a way through her grief when he passes away unexpectedly.  This is a story of moms having to cut the apron strings and allow their daughters to spread their wings, even if the direction the young ladies took wasn’t exactly what these moms planned for their futures.  They’ve banded together in the past when one went through a painful divorce, they’re banding together again when another is served surprise divorce papers and feels like she’s lost at sea.  These ladies are tough, compassionate, resilient, and loving.  They can make it through anything, especially if they stick together.

Being an Army mom and having been a Navy wife for the 10 years my husband was enlisted, I will admit I picked up every little inaccuracy regarding the military when I began this book.  I know that authors often must take creative license with these things in order to serve the story.  As long as things don’t get too crazy and the story is well written, I will often be able to overlook these things.  I’m happy to say that the little tweaks the author made to “real” Army life soon fell by the wayside in my mind as I got more and more engrossed in the lives of these women.  Plus, the characters actually acknowledged some of the issues, like them all staying in the same area for so long.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is romance in this book.  And it’s a sweet, slow-burn kind of romance.  I won’t post names since that will spoil things, but you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.  To add to the new romance, there is an “old” romance with one of the ladies and her husband.  It’s a confusing time for them all with their daughters all leaving for Army Basic Training on the same day, not long after their beloved Smokey passed away and all of the husbands gone on a mission.  As long as these women have been friends, their husbands have been friends even longer and are battle buddies. If one husband is being a jerk and the others are covering for him, what does that mean?  Are any of their marriages safe?  So as things sort themselves out and each lady comes to terms with the new direction her life is leading, there is definitely romance afoot in several different ways.

Be ready to laugh, cry, and get angry along with this group of friends.  You will want to give them each a hug at some point along the journey, that’s for sure.  We would all do well to end up with friends such as these in our lives.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**

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Random Ramblings #15

One of these days I’ll catch you up on my son and daughter-in-law’s visit to Michigan more than a month ago. But I’m a procrastinator and my good pictures are on my camera and not my phone so that’s been too much work for me lately. Here’s a sneak peek, only because my aunt sent me this picture so it’s on my computer.  She made this adorable quilt for the baby.  I can’t wait to read all of those stories to my grand-baby after she gets here!

IMG_20190630_161948

Instead of pictures from their visit, you’ll get pictures of a short getaway my hubby and I took at the beginning of the month.  We headed up to Midland, Michigan to visit Dow Gardens and Whiting Forest.  We had gone for the first time back in November for our anniversary. We had heard about the canopy walk and wanted to check it out.  Of course, it wasn’t the best time of year back in November since the colorful leaves had already left the trees and the flowers were definitely not blooming.  (It actually snowed the day we went, but that made it pretty special.) We still had a great time and got a season pass since they were having a special at the time to promote the canopy walk. Of course, we had to go back while things were in bloom and I’m so glad we did. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to go again before my trip to Washington in the fall so we can catch the fall colors on the trees and the fall blooming flowers and bushes.  This is just a drop in the bucket of what there is to see there.

You could really take a blanket and a book and spread it anywhere on these grounds and have a peaceful and beautiful reading spot.  

The children’s garden is amazing.  So much to see, and there are plots of vegetables that local families tend to for their own little garden space.  Those areas are decorated with scarecrows that are dressed as Pikachu, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more.  So adorable.  The scarecrow above is not one of the kid made scarecrows, this was in among the corn stalks and made out of straw.  Really cool, but I wouldn’t want to run across him in the dark!  One of the workers asked if we’d checked out the popcorn plant and was excited to watch my face as I realized the leaves smell just like buttered popcorn!  I need to get me one of those!

There were butterflies all over, of course.  It’s not the best shot, but this little guy was fluttering on the flowers long enough for me to get a halfway decent picture.  It was really a beautiful day all around.

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As we were hiking through the woods, there were a few spots they had chairs for resting.  This was toward the end and I just really liked that they were orange so we had to sit and take a picture.

After spending the day in Midland we headed back south to Frankenmuth for the night.  I didn’t really take any pictures there.  We did some shopping in town that night and headed to Bronner’s on our way out of town in the morning.  We got our granddaughter some ornaments at Bronner’s.  I know I most likely will not have a chance to go back after she’s born to get an exact date on an ornament for her, but I’m happy with what we got.  I’m not posting pics because my daughter-in-law will most likely see this.  She’s going to have to wait until I visit to see them!

In other news, the coffee shop I work for is going out of business.  Unfortunately, the shop never got the foot traffic needed to sustain the business.  I feel terrible for the owners, they were friends before I worked there and I’ve only become closer to them all since I’ve worked there.  They’re a great family and I know that they’ll land on their feet.  I’m going to miss all of my co-workers and our regular patrons.  I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in my community through that job.

I don’t know who sent this to me…maybe my sister-in-law in Louisianna?  She knows I love both coffee and yoga.  But I’ll end with this cute funny…

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What have you been up to lately? Any summer travels?

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TTT: Book Characters as Besties

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  There is a new topic each week for bloggers to join in with their own top ten. If you’re looking for some new or different book blogs to read, hop on over to her site and check out some of the links.

Sometimes when I see the topics for Top Ten Tuesday I get super excited.  Like this week’s them of Book Characters I’d Love to be Besties With, what a cool thing to think about.  I know I’ve often found myself thinking about meeting characters in real life while reading books, as I’m sure most avid readers have.  Yet, when I sit down to make my list, my mind goes blank.  I know I cannot be the only one this happens to.  So I’m going to try to just put the ideas down as they pop into my head and hope I can come up with ten.  As usual, when I see everyone else’s lists I’ll wonder why such and such characters didn’t make its way into my brain.

Savannah aka Savvy from To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin

Amun from The Darkest Secret (and others) by Gena Showalter

Beau from Ethan and Beau (and others) by Nicole Edwards

Max from Tempted (and others) by Rebecca Zanetti

Jessie from Cowgirls Don’t Cry by Lorelei James

John aka Preacher from Shelter Mountain (and others) by Robyn Carr

Derek from Love Like Ours by Melissa Foster

Nina Romano from Dockside (and others) by Susan Wiggs

Chris from The Body aka Stand By Me by Stephen King

Jumper from Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony

I did it! Ten characters I’d love to be have as friends.  I got lucky and books started popping into my head.  There are so, so, so many more.  I was trying my best not to to with the obvious (I’m looking at you Hermione Granger!), although I have no issue with others doing that.  But I was trying to exercise my foggy brain and not end up with a list that looked too much like anyone else’s. Who’s your book BFF?

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