Review: Christmas in the Park by Laura Lockington

This is a quirky little story about Sarah who leaves her high-stress tv show career, and decides to start her own baking business. The focus is actually on the next newest thing in Sarah’s life… a dog! If you’re an animal lover, you’ll be charmed by Sarah’s comings and goings with sweet yet demanding Malteaser at her side. He follows her to the cafe where she gains a few clients… and new friends. He also gives her a run for her money at the park! 

What I enjoyed most were the baked goods and coffees, the meeting up with friends, and the new beau… all fulfilling Sarah in a way her old life never could. 

-calliope

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Review: The Amish Christmas Kitchen by Long, Baker, Beckstrand

This book is a collection of three novellas that center around Amish kitchens at Christmas time. 

Baking Love on Ice Mountain introduced Clara, who managed to bake up a storm even while grieving … and moving on. I enjoyed this well-written story and the mountain setting, as well as the wisdom of the older people being passed down to the next generation. 

The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill is by one of my most favorite authors, Jennifer Beckstrand. Beckstrand didn’t disappoint, bringing her signature silly grandparent pair Anna and Felty to Katie’s life, ready to be matchmakers once again. I loved that they maintained a sense of humor even when the wrong boy was trying to court sweet Katie – for the wrong reasons… her triple chocolate cakes! 

The Special Christmas Cookie contained a fun twist on one of my favorite tropes – governess/nanny/tutor falls in love with guardian of a sweet child. Problem was, the writing was sloppy. Many repetitive paragraphs and pages should have been cleaned up during editing – especially when it came to telling (in addition to the already sufficient showing) how independent and strong Jonathan wanted to be. 

The three authors send a common message with these novellas: loneliness can be overcome by taking a step forward. Each novella had a character that suffered loneliness because he or she was afraid to reach out. Once they could extend themselves, they found a brighter, more joyful season waiting for them. 

And at the end of each novella, you’ll find a recipe waiting for YOU. ๐Ÿ™‚

-calliope

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Review: A Lady’s Favor by Josi S. Kilpack

01 alady I just finished this sweet romance and my heart is so very content and happy. A Lady’s Favor is short novella that will have you swooning and smiling all over the place.

Bianca is under the constant attention of a very pompous, Lord Strapshire. No matter what she does, she can’t sway him away. Even though she hasn’t spoken to Mathew, since the embarrassing “incident” a few years ago, she has asked for his help, in trying to persuade Lord Strapshire to move along.

Mathew is still quite embarrassed from causing Bianca such comfortableness, years ago, but he is thrilled to be asked for his help, even if it’s only to repay his debt to her. But soon he quickly realizes that he isn’t playing a game and he doesn’t want her to think that anymore.

I loved Mathew. He was a great friend to her and I liked being in his head. Watching him go from acquaintance to friend to more, was so much fun. He may have done foolish things, but when it counted he stepped up and helped her out.

If you like sweet romances, I highly recommend A Proper Romance titles. They will make your romantic heart happy.

~Melpomene

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Review: Cocktails in Chelsea by Nikki Moore

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If you like chick lit, this is a perfect lunchtime read. One hour of fun-filled romantic tension, with relatable main characters and a setting that holds your interest. The alpha male has personality, tenderness, and toughness. Sofia’s efforts to impress provide some laughs, and her eventual return to “herself” warms the heart. 

Cocktails in Chelsea grabbed me right out of reality for a while, ordering cocktails in a posh bar, and falling in like at first sight with a guy who’s much more than the bartender. 

-calliope

Only 99ยข!!!

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Review: Christmas at Carriage Hill by Carla Neggers

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I think 2014 was the first year I read anything by Carla Neggers, and I’ve become a fan. I was happy to see that Neggers wrote a Christmas novella, set in the part of Massachusetts where my mother grew up.

Christmas at Carriage Hill is a contemporary romance with an old-fashioned feel. There’s an impending wedding, New England snow, ice skating, English scones, and a military man who won’t let go of his true love.

Alex and Ian dated, broke up, then ran into each other while traveling abroad for a wedding. While the plot wasn’t thoroughly fleshed out and the secondary characters were a little flat, those are acceptable in a novella. I appreciated the great scenery, the main characters, the recipes, and the happily ever after. The power of nostalgia got to me, too, as I remember visiting the Quabbin as a child.

I enjoyed this light, uplifting, Christmassy novella by a favorite author… and it’s a steal at 99ยข.

-calliope

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Review: The Kiss Before Midnight by Sophie Pembroke

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Molly is the baby of the family, and her siblings always took her for a flake. So the year she finally moved out and got a job in London on her own merit was supposed to be the year of her dreams.

Instead, Molly spent the year thinking about family friend Jake, and the kiss he shared with her last New Year’s Eve. Jake spent the year thinking about it too.

It was so much fun to watch Molly and Jake dance around the kiss they shared the year before. Sophie Pembroke wrote in the perfect amount of flirting, holding back, candor, humor, and misunderstanding.

This was a lovely story around Christmas time… Joyful, uplifting, romantic, full of family love, and ending happily ever after. ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿท๐ŸŽ„โ„๏ธ
-calliope

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Review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

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This would be a fantastic book to listen to in the car on the way to the beach for a week. Or while basking in the sun on your back deck. It’s a beach read… about the beach and its freedom and isolation and peace.

I admit I went into this book expecting something heavy. Instead I found an easygoing story about four women who get together for two weeks at the beach. The catch is, one woman is the new girl. The other three don’t let her forget it, and make her life miserable until personal tragedies bring them all together.

The Girls of August leaves many loose ends: we don’t know what happens with the health of two of the women, or the marriages of the other two. We never find out what happens to the island natives, or to the land that was supposedly left to one of the husbands. We don’t know if there’s a next vacation planned or a wedding.

I’m uncomfortable finishing a book without closure. I felt like I read a short story that was supposed to share a moral or a theme, but left the plot hanging.

However, The Girls of August has the wonderful redemptive quality of authentic friendships and introversion. These ladies were real with each other. They were snarky and sarcastic and bitter and loving and comforting and witty. They used the quiet of the beach to peel away their layers and discover themselves – not the women other people *expected * them to be, but who they really were. These women didn’t necessarily change, they just figured out who they were and who they were going to be from now on.

–Calliope

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