Review: Lies Jane Austen Told Me by Julie Wright

Another Proper Romance book that had my heart all fluttery.

I’ll admit that I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. I’ve seen the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice though, so I’m hoping that gives me a half point at least. But I still like the idea of Mr. Darcy and of finding your true love.

When I first picked up Lies Jane Austen Told Me, I was rather curious. Was this going to be a retelling of sorts? How will this happen in modern day time? That’s not exactly what happened, and I’m quite happy about that.

Emma wants to be loved, plain and simple. She’s has a bit of baggage she carries around with her, though she doesn’t realize it. She believes Jane Austen is right in all things love related. But when things fall apart she thinks Jane Austen lied and almost gives up. That is until she gets to know Lucas.

Besides the way Emma meets him, which was the most embarrassing moment in her life, I loved these two together. I liked the fact that these two weren’t insta-lovers. It was a slow burn. What started out as friends/co-workers, turned out to be much more. Now it wasn’t easy, nor was is always fun, but it was so worth it in the end. Lucas was quite the guy. He knew the right things to say and when to say them, when it came to Emma. He has his own baggage, you could say. So he isn’t exactly looking for love when he stumbles upon Emma.

Since this a Proper Romance, it’s definitely a clean romance. Super sweet and super swoony and with a bit of angst thrown in. I like Julie’s writing style and look forward to adding more of her titles to my TBR.

~Melpomene

Buy Lies Jane Austen Told Me http://amzn.to/2zpEKNB

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Review and Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

“So many people dream of living in a house with a white picket fence. Little do they know, there’s no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how white the picket fence is.”

I am always so excited when I get to read a new Colleen Hoover book. I’m so anxious to see what she’s going to do to my heart. From the very first sentence I knew I was going to like Merit. From the second one, I knew this family was going to be different. So I orderd pizza for the kids and I settled in to spend the evening reading. Best night of my year.

Without Merit is a story about a girl who keeps all the many secrets of her family. She hates it but she does it. But everyone has their breaking point, and when Merit reaches hers, the Voss family won’t know what hit them.

After the emotional book, It Ends With Us, Colleen switched gears and went back to her Slammed roots and gave us this fabulous story. This is a book that I recommend you read along with your teens. It deals with some tough and very poignant issues that many of them, and us, face today. I personally, will be having my kids read this. In fact, this will be their first CoHo book and I’m rather excited over this fact. While they may not have to deal with many of the issues being faced in this book, they may find that Merit is just like them.

This story is a mass bundle of quirkiness and emotion. I was drawn in by the over the top idiosyncrasies of each member under the Dollar Voss roof. I wish I knew this family. They’re as unique as their names. I don’t wanna say anymore, because you need to just dive in and immerse yourself in this world.

Without Merit isn’t a romance story really. It’s a life story. At first I thought Merit wasn’t the “usual” character, but then I got to thinking, “What is the usual character?” She stressed over and struggled with daily life. She feels her family is a bunch of crazies. She wishes for peace in her world but doesn’t know a healthy way of finding it. I don’t know about you, but she sounds pretty “usual” to me.

“It used to feel like I was on top of the world. Then one day, I noticed that it felt like I was no longer on top. I was just floating around inside of it. And then eventually, it felt like the world was on top of me.”

Colleen, thank you for writing a story that hit me right where I needed to be hit. Thank you for giving me lots to think about in my children’s and my own life. You bury me.

~Melpomene
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Review: The Promise of a Letter by Kathleen Fuller

Leanna is one of my favorite protagonists! She doesn’t apologize for being different (and that’s something, when you’re not a naturally domestic kind of gal, but you *are* Amish), and she doesn’t resent being different, either. Leanna uses her talents to work in a mechanical shop, and she loves it! But author Fuller doesn’t stop there; she fleshes out the full character of Leanna – a loving sibling, a fun caregiver, and a fiercely loyal friend. 

And then we meet Roman. He’s Amish too, sort of. And he is also a mechanic, sort of. He’s on a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and reconciliation with his brother. 

Fuller does a great job illustrating modern Amish life, touching on family dynamics, spirituality, unconventional career choices, education, and romance. I appreciate that Fuller wrote a strong, feminine character that performed a “man’s” job,  without making Leanna into a stereotype or a mascot for feminist politics. And I am pleased that there was a happily ever after for more than one couple. 

-calliope 

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Review and Giveaway: The Time In Between by Kristen Ashley

“She was the one then and nothing changed in the time in between.”

Oh, how I adore a Kristen Ashley book! The Time In Between was the perfect ending to a fabulous trilogy. Lots of emotion, heartache and love. This book made me swoon and smile, and made my heart race with anticipation. I wanted so many good things for Cady and Coert and I’m so happy that they finally found their happily ever after.

“I was so young, even with all these years, so much pain was covering it that I didn’t see underneath it to see that you kept your promise.

Coert felt something twisting in his gut. “What promise?”

“That I’d never be safer with anyone than I am with you.”

When we first saw Cady, we didn’t know it was her. She was fighting with Coert, in Soaring, and we only got a glimpse of her, but that glimpse was enough to intrigue us. Now we get their story. And what a story it is!

After 18 years of being apart, the heart still knows what it wants. When Cady moves to Magdalene, she confronts Coert and eventually gets him to see reason and realize that the past was both their faults and the only way to move on is to look forward, not back. They both had trials and beauty in the time in between, but the most important is what they do now with the future. Slowly all those years will disappear if they just hold on and never let go.

I was in love with Coert Yeager in a way that it just simply would never die. Never.

I gotta say, these kinds of stories, KILL ME. All those years apart just about do me in. I can’t even imagine being without my true love for so long and then finding out we could’ve been together if only someone stopped running and listened. GAH!

This is the final book in the Magdalene trilogy, so you will see all our favorite, and not so favorite, characters from the past two books, plus a few from another of her series. I was rather giddy to read about these characters. They’re interconnected standalones, so you don’t need to read the other two, but I highly encourage you to do so. These stories are epic romances that will have you gutted and crying and then smiling and swooning. And you’ll love every moment.

~Melpomene

Excerpt:
Present day…
I took in the mess of the large, circular room we were in and at first saw nothing but the mess—decaying furniture, a soot-covered stone fireplace, a kitchen that might have been put in in the forties but had not only not been touched the last nine years, it perhaps had not been touched the last nineteen (or more).
Then I saw more.
The extraordinarily carved railing to the sweeping wood staircase that ran the curved side of the house. The red brick walls. The plank wood floors.
“Once upon a time, long ago,” the realtor was suddenly talking wistfully, “someone loved this place. Put that love into building it. Put that love into keeping it. Nine years and more when no one really gave a whit, and still you can see it once had a lot of love.”
Oh yes.
You could see that.
“It’s got a basement, more like a big crawl space,” the agent declared, surprising me with his quick change in tone back to businesslike and informative. “The furnace is down there. You can get down there through a door in the floor. The furnace was put in a while back, and full disclosure, though an inspection will catch it, it probably needs to be replaced.”
Through his words I stared at the fireplace, which scoured would be magnificent, and I noticed it didn’t have a chimney as such, but the smoke probably went out a vent in the wall.
“This floor has a powder room under the stairs,” the realtor kept on. “You can look at it if you want, but if you wanna save yourself that, I’ll just tell you straight, it needs to be gutted.”
I decided to take his word for it and told him that.
He looked relieved when I did before he stated, “Place has a garage, two car. Not in good condition, but think you saw that. Still, it’s close to the house and there’s a covered walkway to that door over there.” He pointed at a door that was across from the door we’d walked in. “Means you might feel a chill but you won’t get wet, unless it’s raining sideways, which happens.”
With a breeze that plastered my jacket to me on a sunny, early spring day, I did not doubt that.
“Garage has a loft space above it, which could be renovated as a studio rental if you’ve a mind to do that sort of thing. As for the property itself, it also has a building where the generators are stowed,” the realtor carried on. “Hook up for a washer and dryer and good space in there. Lots of it for storage. Which is good because there’s not a lot of storage in here for tools and Christmas decorations and whatnot.”
I glanced around seeing he was right. There wasn’t even enough cabinetry to house the things a decent cook would need in her kitchen. Though there was room for them. In fact, if you fought back the gloom, there was quite a bit of room.
“And there’s a place outside, could call it a studio, could call it a mother-in-law house,” he shared. “Whatever, it’s got goodly space, two bedrooms, big kitchen. Could be renovated to be a guest house. Or like I said, a studio if you’re artsy. Or you could rent it out like a B and B. I’ll show you all of that after we have a look at the lighthouse.”
“Thanks,” I replied.
“Now, since I mentioned full disclosure, you have to know it all,” the realtor continued.
Slowly, my eyes went to him.
When they did, he launched in. “Like I said, it’s automated. And like I said, you won’t really have to concern yourself with the functionality of that unless the electricity goes out, but then the generators automatically kick in. There are two. But you’ll need to keep fuel on hand to keep them going in case a blackout lasts awhile. And just to say, this is coastal Maine. We get weather. Blackouts can last awhile.”
When I nodded to share I took that in, he kept going.
“And if you’re, say, away on vacation, you need to make sure someone is playing backup in such a case.”
“Okay,” I replied when he stopped talking, thinking this probably wasn’t a good thing since I knew no one in Maine (or not anyone who wanted to know me) and thus couldn’t call on anyone to do something like that.
I also didn’t hold high hopes I’d make friends and win people. I hadn’t had a lot of success in that in my life.
And last, although Patrick believed it completely, I held no hope that the reason I was out there was going to come to fruition.
That being me having a happy ending.
That being what Patrick thought would be my happy ending.
Which might mean I’d have someone, a certain someone, or actually two (at least), even though I knew I never would.

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5% of the proceeds from the first week of sales of THE TIME IN BETWEEN release will be given to HALO Animal Rescue in Phoenix, a no-kill shelter. HALO stands for “helping animals live on” and is a shelter started by a mother/daughter team of committed animal advocates who have done a huge duty for animals in this area, and continue to do so with unwavering love, support and energy.For more information on HALO or to donate to the work they do, go to http://www.halorescue.org.

Fall in love with the town of Magdalene by reading the first two books.
The Will http://amzn.to/2uN89z9
Soaring http://amzn.to/2gUKyH2

Review: Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber 

Sometimes predictable is just the thing you need, especially when it’s painted with the brush of faith and hope. Macomber is an expert in helping her characters gain faith in humanity and hope for themselves – even when it seems impossible. 

Any Dream Will Do is the motto of Shay’s new friend — the one who will help Shay save herself from the pit of despair she needs to step out of. But Shay hasn’t believed in dreams in so long, that’s a tough order to fill. 

I enjoyed this quick read centered around redemption and loving others. I’m not sure the story was quite realistic – there were some hokey parts where I suspended my disbelief – but it certainly was hopeful. And although only a small part of the book focused on romance, Macomber wrote a lovely happily ever after. 

-calliope

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Review: Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson

This is a cute summer read set in Savannah, where we find art teacher Nicole house-sitting for a family friend and working at an art gallery. Nicole thought she’d have a quiet summer with plenty of time to paint, but instead finds herself overwhelmed with a difficult co-worker, childhood friends-turned-handsome-men, and a teenager who just needs a little love and direction. 

I loved all the references to art and architecture, the Savannah sunsets, and the diplomatic way Nicole finessed her way through a few unexpected situations. As usual for her novels, Carlson includes a little bit of God to illustrate his presence, but doesn’t use the novel to preach or proselytize. And as usual for my favorite summer reads, this one ends in a happily ever after. 

-Calliope 

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Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart 

I’m so glad I started this series! Allie and Des find out they have a half-sister… and the trio is required to cooperatively restore an old theatre in order to get their inheritance after their dad’s death. Restoring a theatre – what fun!

Watching the three characters learn about each other and grow in themselves was great. Steward develops the characters evenly, even though the story is told through Cara’s eyes. The introduction of Allie’s daughter shows Allie’s heart – at a point in the story I had just about had it up to here with her! And Stewart’s illustration of Des’s flair for fashion gives positive personality to this third sister – and adds another light, fun aspect to the story. 

I love how open Cara is to new friendships with her sisters and the small-town neighbors watching them restore the theatre. Reading the story from Cara’s viewpoint was an exercise in optimism, hopefulness and adventure. And as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking I really can’t wait for the next book … so I’m signing off and checking the internet for Book Two’s pub date. 🙂

-calliope 

Buy THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE