Lakeshore Christmas (Lakeshore Chronicles)

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Lakeshore Christmas
by Susan Wiggs
Release Date:  September 29, 2009
Publisher:  MIRA
Book #6 in the Lakeshore Chronicles series
Number of pages:  353
Kindle Edition
Source: MCL
Contemporary Romance/Holidays M/F
Rating: R
Read 3/10/19 to 3/11/19

 

Maureen Davenport finally gets to direct Avalon’s annual holiday pageant, and she’s determined to make it truly spectacular. But former child star Eddie Haven is turning out to be a tattooed lump of coal in her stocking. Eddie can’t stand Christmas, but a judge’s court order has landed him right in the middle of the merrymaking. He and Maureen spar over every detail of the pageant, from casting troubled kids to Eddie’s original—and distinctly untraditional—music.

Is he sabotaging the performance to spite her, or is she forcing the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas? And is it possible that they’re falling in love?

As someone who has very few regrets in life, one of them is not going back to school to become a librarian, I absolutely found Maureen to be my spirit-sister.  Every time she wandered through her library waxing nostalgic I would get teary-eyed.  A few times I even downright cried over the possible loss of that library.

I didn’t exactly fall head over heels for Eddie, but I did feel for him and wanted to see his wounded soul to find healing.  I love his connection to the kids in the community as well as his drive to help others while not really taking the credit for all he does.  So, although it wasn’t a quick fall for Eddie, he grew on me throughout this story.

Once again, Daisy’s storyline amazed me and has me screaming for more, More, MORE! Plus, we got a few more young teens added to the mix that have me curious.  So much growth can happen with these new characters if the author decides to go in that direction.

Back to the center of this story though…Maureen and Eddie seem like they shouldn’t work but somehow they do.  With a little help from Jabez, everything ends up working out for the Christmas pageant and the library.  Maureen learns to let other in and open herself up while Eddie finds he’s been holding onto more resentment through the years than he realized.  In other words, this is a perfect Christmas story.

4 stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring 2019 TBR List

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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.

Some of the weekly topics for TTT leave me at a loss.  Others have me overflowing with ideas.  I have so many books on my TBR list for this spring that I cannot leave it at just ten.  No, this week I’ll be going with 21.  I currently have 21 new releases for this spring on my TBR list and couldn’t choose just 10 to list.

Unless you deal with me a lot in person this time of year, you won’t know this little fact about me…I hate when people complain about spring weather when it’s not yet spring.  I’m a stickler for dates. Maybe part of it comes from living most of my life in Michigan, a very fickle state when it comes to weather.  This is the time of year everyone is sick of the winter doldrums and anxious for Spring to be here.  To be fair, I am also a stickler for the dates when summer, fall, and winter come around.  As soon as March hits around here, people start complaining that it’s spring and we should be warmer and have no more snow.  Well people, spring starts on March 20.  So, as I say, no complaining until March 20 that the weather is still too cold.  I digress. My point is, my list is going to span books being released between March 20, 2019 and June 20, 2019…the first and last days of spring.

So here they are, all 21 books on my spring TBR list in order of currently listed publication date…

Marrying My Cowboy (3/26)
by Diana Palmer, Lindsay McKenna, Kate Pearce

The Goodbye Café (3/26)
(The Hudson Sisters book 3)
by Mariah Stewart

Rex (3/26)
(Walkers of Coyote Ridge book 6)
by Nicole Edwards

Colorado Cowboy (4/2)
(Rocky Mountain Riders book 5)
by Sara Richardson

You’d Be Mine (4/2)
by Erin Hahn

Need Me, Cowboy (4/2)
(Copper Ridge: Desire book 6)
by Maisey Yates

I Want You Back (4/2)
(Want You book 1)
by Lorelei James

The Promise of Us (4/9)
(Sanctuary Sound book 2)
by Jamie Beck

Love, Again (4/9)
by L.P. Dover

Mad About Moon (4/10)
(The Whiskeys book 5)
by Melissa Foster

The Perfect Dress (4/16)
by Carolyn Brown

The View From Alameda Island (4/30)
by Robyn Carr

Getting Hot With the Scot (4/30)
(Sometimes in Love book 1)
by Melonie Johnson

Unbroken Cowboy (4/30)
(Gold Valley book 5)
by Maisey Yates

Code Name: Genesis (5/7)
(Jameson Force Security book 1)
by Sawyer Bennett

Hot to the Touch (5/7)
(Brotherhood by Fire book 1)
by Jaci Burton

The Last Snowfall (5/21)
(Stand Tall book 2)
by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

Still Burning (5/28)
(Braving the Heat book 3)
by Leora Gonzales

The Second Chance Rancher (5/28)
by Kate Pearce

Where I End and You Begin (6/4)
by Preston Norton

The Lemon Sisters (6/18)
(Wildstone book 3)
by Jill Shalvis

I think it’s quite obvious that I don’t need more to read in the next few months, but I still always love a great book recommendation.  Since I tend to keep up with contemporary romance and similar type of stories, is there something big I’m missing from another genre you would like to let me know about?

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Bayside Escape (Bayside Summers)

40811523Bayside Escape
by Melissa Foster
Release Date:  March 6, 2019
Publisher: World Literary Press
Book #4 of the Bayside Summers series
An offshoot of the Love in Bloom series
Number of Pages:  276
Kindle Edition
Source:  Pre-ordered through Amazon
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 3/7/19 to 3/8/19

 

Two years ago Violet Vancroft was a nomadic artist who never wanted to put down roots and Andre Shaw was a prominent Boston physician whose roots ran too deep to unearth. Their love didn’t stand a chance-or at least that’s what Violet believed when she received a plea for help from the sister she’d never really known-so she snuck away like a thief in the night. 

Now Andre travels the world setting up new medical clinics, and Violet has finally found the family she’d always craved and the roots she’d never known she wanted. When their paths cross unexpectedly, it’s not the reunion either one imagined. But they’ve never stopped loving each other, and after the dust of anger and hurt settles, passion ignites even hotter than before. As the end to Andre’s time at the Cape nears, reality sets in, leaving them no closer to a future than they were before. Violet and Andre are forced to dig deep to discover if they’re destined to live apart forever or if true love really can conquer all.

VIOLET!!! Man, it’s great to finally see her get her HEA.  Violet could sometimes rub me the wrong way throughout this series, but I always knew there was a heart of gold inside. I also knew her story would give me all the feels.

We get to see behind the curtain, so to speak, of Violet’s life.  All her friends and her sister know is that she goes off on her own a lot and doesn’t ever give any clue as to where she goes.  Due to some incidents early in her time at the Cape everyone assumed she was going out and getting her freak on.  That is so far from the truth but was an understandable assumption.  Turns out that Andre knows her far better than anyone else even thought they only knew each other for a short time in their past.  There was an instant connection back then, and there’s an instant connection when they meet up again.  Of course, there are a lot of bad feeling to be aired and apologized for first.

I loved meeting all of Violet’s friends we haven’t met before.  Well, we actually have met some of them in other books, just not in relation to Violet.  So old favorites were revisited and tied into this part of Melissa Foster’s Love in Bloom universe.  A lot of new and interesting characters were also introduced.

Andre is such a caring and warm guy.  He very cautiously helps Violet to see that she’s not only isolating herself by keeping her life in separate compartments, but she’s also hurting those that love her.  This prompts her to finally open up to Desiree about her feelings going all the way back to when their parents divorced.  By doing so, Violet was able to see a different side to that time and her parent’s story and start healing.

There is a lot of love in this story.  Andre and Violet (I love his nickname for her!), Violet and Desiree, the whole group of friends at the coffee shop as well as those at Bayside.  On and on, there is love and respect for each other and their community.  I always enjoy this author’s tales.

3.5 stars

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Claimed (Dark Protectors)

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Claimed
by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Publisher:  Kensington
Book #2 in the Dark Protectors series
Number of pages:  353
Kindle edition
Source: MCL
Paranormal Romance/Suspense M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 3/3/19 to 3/7/19

 

A Daring Rescue Emma Paulsen is a geneticist driven by science. But she’s also a psychic, so when a dark, good-hearted vampire frees her from the clutches of the evil Kurjans, she realizes he must be the man who’s been haunting her dreams. But with a virus threatening vampires’ mates, Emma may discover a whole new meaning of “lovesick”. 

A Deadly Decision As King of the Realm, Dage Kayrs has learned to practice diplomacy. Still, it’s taken three hundred years to find his mate, so he’ll stop at nothing to protect her—even if it means turning his back on his own kind.

This series is like a roller coaster.  Lots of dips and turns and free-falling drops with little the bits of building and climbing in between.

Now that the King of the Realm, Dage, has his fated mate by his side he has to find a way to convince her to actually allow him to mark her.  Emma has dreamed of Dage for most of her life.  She knows they are destined to be, but she’s also a very strong woman who has a hard time wrapping her mind around the vampire’s views on mates and markings.  She also has had visions that make her believe she is protecting Dage and other loved ones by not allowing herself to truly become his queen.

No matter how Dage thinks things are meant to go or how Emma feels she can somehow change things enough to protect everyone, they can’t truly change their fate.  They are meant to be and they will, eventually, be.  I enjoyed watching their love story play out in between all of the intense happenings in their world.  I could feel their connection and wanted to read more and more.

I felt we got to know the Kayrs brothers much better in this story.  In book one, Fated, we got to know Talen and Dage quite a bit.  But we got to see more of the rest of the brothers as well as learn more about each of their own special offerings.  From their “regular” personality traits to those that are paranormal, each brother brings his own special something to the table.  Together, it seems they will be unstoppable.

Zane, Janie’s dream friend, intrigues me more and more.  This story gave me some ideas of who (and what) he may be and I’m going to enjoy watching that aspect of this series play out.  Because Janie is still so young and the stories so far go directly from one to the next in the timeline, I can’t help but wonder how this will all play out and if there will eventually be a time jump.  Either way, I trust this author to give me a fascinating story.

There are a few new characters introduced in this story and I love them.  While Ms. Zanetti keeps so many things going on at the same time, she also keeps expert control of the storylines and never overwhelms the reader.  I cannot wait to read more.

4 stars

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The Memory of You (Sanctuary Sound)

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The Memory of You
by Jamie Beck
Release Date:  October 30, 2018
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Book #1 in the Sanctuary Sound series
Number of Pages:  364
Kindle edition
Source:  Kindle Unlimited
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  R
Read 3/1/19 to 3/2/19

 

Steffi Lockwood has survived more than most. Recovering from an assault, she returns to her coastal Connecticut hometown to rebuild her life the best way she knows how: with her hands. But starting a remodeling business with one longtime friend puts her in the middle of a rift with another. Worse, being hired by her ex-boyfriend’s mother forces her to confront old regrets.

Public defender Ryan Quinn wasn’t shocked when his wife left him, but he was floored when she abandoned their daughter. With his finances up in the air, the newly single dad returns to his childhood home in Sanctuary Sound. The last person he expects, or wants, to see working on his family house is Steffi Lockwood—his first love who shattered his heart.

Although Steffi and Ryan are different people now, dormant feelings rekindle. But when Steffi’s secrets begins to surface, will it bring them together…or tear them apart for good?

In my review of Worth the Risk I said I had the first book in this author’s The Cabot’s ready to go on my Kindle.  Then I got the chance to get an ARC of book 2 of her series Sanctuary Sound. That led me to reading this story before the other.  No matter, as long as I get to read more by this author I’m happy.

The tension between Steffi and Ryan is beautifully done.  From the guilt and anger to when it grows to romantic feelings and concern, the feelings are dripping from the pages. I appreciate that Steffi respects and understands Ryan’s misgivings when it comes to any sort of relationship between them, even friendship.  At the same time, it’s nice to see Ryan reason through his feelings about what happened in his marriage with Val and his young-love relationship with Steffi.

Ryan’s daughter, Emmy, is a piece of work.  I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way.  She is, at the core, a good person.  But her mother has her so tied in knots and raised her to be quite prissy so sometimes it’s hard to remember she’s just a little girl and acting the way she was raised to act.  I admire Ryan’s patience with her, as well as Steffi’s.  On the other hand, I cannot stand Val’s manipulations of her daughter.  Even as there eventually is a resolution, I still could not sympathize with Val.  Knowing a little girl who is about Emmy’s age myself that has a destructive mom, it’s hard for me to read about Emmy and Val without wanting to step in; just as I always want to with this real-life relationship.

Although we meet a few more friends and relatives of Ryan and Steffi, the author did her job of giving just enough information to get me intrigued. But not enough to ruin anything for the future stories.  I hope to see more reconciliations in the future for this group of friends.

4 stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Standalone Books That Need a Sequel

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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.

You may  have noticed I skipped last week’s TTT.  The subject was Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With and I just couldn’t think of any.  Sure, I love losing myself in the fantasy of fiction, but most story characters have a lot of woe before the good.  I’d love to live in the Harry Potter universe, but I don’t want all the problems that he and his friends had.  The worlds that Sarah J. Maas creates are phenomenal…if you don’t have to actually live there and have to fear for your life.  You get my point.

This week’s topic is Standalone Books That Need a Sequel, and it’s another hard one for me. What I’m going to do is list 5 books may do well with a sequel and 5 that had sequels and maybe shouldn’t have.  Here’s the thing, even when a story is left not quite wrapped up, it’s often how it should end.  We don’t need every single detail spelled out.  Often it’s best to have the readers come to their own conclusions and use their own imagination when it comes to the end.  Not everything has to be wrapped up with a tidy bow on top.

Five books that may or may not need a sequel:

Mr. Big
by Delancey Stewart

The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
by Rebekah Crane

Just Kiss Me
by Rachel Gibson

Promise Me You
by Marina Adair

Gather the Daughters
by Jennie Melamed

The next five books have sequels but I don’t necessarily believe they needed one (or more, in some cases). With some of these, I read and enjoyed the sequel(s).  In others, the sequel ended up ruining it for me. Unlike with the first five, with these next five I’ll give you my reasoning for each one.

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Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

This book has an amazing ending, made more amazing and iconic by the dashing Clark Gable in the movie adaptation.  While it didn’t have the HEA we all wanted for Scarlett, it was satisfying to see the spoiled, self-centered, narcissistic woman get what she had coming to her.  To see Rhett finally see that no matter what he did she wasn’t going to change her ways.  I admit that I enjoyed the book Scarlett, mostly because I love Rhett. It doesn’t mean the book was needed. It wasn’t.

 

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The Giver
by Lois Lowry

This one has received many awards, including the Newberry Medal. There are so many layers to this story and I remember we had quite the insightful and deep discussion on this one at book club when we read it a few years back.  As with Gone With the Wind, it doesn’t have a very satisfying conclusion (at least in the way we are used to things having a tidy ending). I felt that the way my imagination went after the ending was better than the way the story went off the rails over the next few books.

 

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Divergent
by Veronica Roth

This is one of those books that I got sucked right in and couldn’t wait to read the following books in the series.  While they were okay, even great at times, they couldn’t live up to the experience I had with this book.  They got more jumbled and bogged down as the series went along. It’s a shame that I was left with a bad taste in my mouth by the time I finished this series.

 

 

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Flowers in the Attic
by VC Andrews

I have a confession to make, it’s been well over 20 years since I read this book. Possibly over 30. I remember finding this story fascinating and terrifying at the same time. With each book in the series after this one, I think I got more and more confused. Partly because I was a teenager and probably too young to understand what was really happening. But this series really fell apart when I read the prequel.  The creepy terror should have been kept contained in this first book, it was just too much.

 

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The Bronze Horseman
by Paullina Simons

I may file this one under too much of a good thing. I adore this story for its gritty real feeling.  Those same real-life feel and raw emotions started to weigh a bit too heavily in the following books.  Where I’m glad I read the whole series, if I ever do a re-read it will probably only be of book one.  It will break my heart too much to read the rest again.

 

 

I’d love to hear from you. Especially if you read any of the last 5 books I listed and felt differently.

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Faking Forever (First Wives) – ARC Review

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Faking Forever
by Catherine Bybee
Release Date:  March 12, 2019
Publisher:  Montlake Romance
Book #4 in the First Wives series
Number of Pages:  329
Kindle Edition
Source:  Net Galley ARC
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 3/3/19

 

Shannon Wentworth’s biological clock is ticking, and she isn’t going to let her single status keep her from having a baby. When her wedding-photography business takes her to Mexico, she has every intention of finding a willing baby daddy to help her out. Until the bride goes AWOL, leaving Shannon to coddle the arrogant fiancé who has accused her of sabotaging his wedding.

Victor Brooks never could have imagined that he’d be on a honeymoon for one. Only here he is, taking a hard look at his life after the younger women he thought he loved walked out. The woman who volunteers to help him reflect is the last person he expects to be attracted to. Between the tequila, the sun, and one earth-shattering kiss, Victor finds Shannon a distraction too sexy to ignore.

They strike a deal: wait three months, cool off, and see if their tropical beach attraction is worth taking up when they go back home. Unfortunately, that’s just enough time for the past to come calling. All their best-laid plans are at risk. So is the last thing Shannon expected to matter the most: her heart.

It’s finally time for level-headed, quiet, supportive Shannon to get her HEA.  It’s amusing how the shy woman we’ve gotten to know through this series lets her true self show in this book.  So much so that Victor can’t even believe the woman her friends describe is the same woman he knows.

This story doesn’t have the same suspense/danger element of the other stories in the series, but it’s still a wonderful read.  I loved watching Victor and Shannon both grow and seeing their love blossom.  As always, it was also wonderful to watch this group of friends band together.  The men support their women but also support each other when they know the women aren’t able to break their friend code.  It’s a lot of fun to read.

While there are other characters in this series I could see getting their own stories, I’m pretty sure this is the last book in this series.  But that doesn’t mean the author won’t spin this off into another series.  After all, this series is a spin-off of her Weekday Brides series.  I adore this author and believe she writes some of the best female friendships.

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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