Review: You Say It First by Susan Mallery

Happily Inc sounds like a pretty cute place to live – especially if you’re Pallas, the owner of a wedding planning company. Brides from all over go to Happy Inc to get married – and I bet some of them will want to stay. Even Nick the sculptor, son of a famous artist, walked into town, got a job, and felt the pull… or maybe it was the pull of Pallas and her love for her work. 

I liked Nick’s touchy family dynamics, especially because Mallery referenced Fool’s Gold characters I was familiar with. Pallas had some strong family interactions as well – that tends to happen with an overbearing mother and a strong willed daughter. 

In the end, everyone figured out what was best for themselves. For some, that meant some sacrifice. For others, it meant swallowing some pride. Either way, I got a view of real love in all its messy forms. 

-calliope

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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.

Enter rafflecopter giveaway HERE

Buy The Time In Between http://amzn.to/2uMe5J2

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: Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes


Love the luxuriousness and glamour that this book exudes – like Hughes’ others. Lily and Oliver were a cute couple, even divorced, so I enjoyed their banter and rapport. 

Unfortunately, Emerald Coast was a little too predictable even for me, and I wasn’t a fan of the cliched reasons why Angela and Ricky were looking for a mate. I’ll always love Anita Hughes for her rich descriptions, beautiful writing, and memorable scenery. I just wasn’t cut out for the plot of this particular story.

-calliope 

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Review (quick and dirty #5 FINALLY): Summer at the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard 

I’m all caught up! Here’s the fifth and final Friday night quick and dirty book review: 

I love this series set in the French countryside! Emmy is a wonderful Jane-of-all-trades at Rupert’s lovely inn, and there’s no shortage of chick-lit drama. “Interesting” guests, crazy ex-wives, and family secrets drive the plot forward fast and furiously. I like that Emmy is soft-hearted yet doesn’t stand for any nonsense… and the other characters appreciate that about her as well. What most impresses me is how Pollard writes about real life issues with lightness and whimsy. GUESTHOUSE is so fun that you don’t even realize you’ve read about divorce, grief, mortality, trauma, and tolerance. All you feel is love, laughter and friendship — which are balms for all of life’s messy parts. C’est bon. 

-calliope

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Review (quick and dirty #4): The Rules of Love and Grammar by Mary Simses 

I chose this cute story because it’s set on the Connecticut shore, where I spend some time on the beach with my children each summer. I liked meeting Grace, and seeing the family dynamics as she temporarily stayed with her parents. I enjoyed meeting the people in her hometown, especially the bike shop peeps. But then Grace got a little unlikeable: immature (re)actions toward men she’s crushing on, blundering through her home life, and making some disappointing choices. The bike rides were beautiful, though, and so was the happily ever after, but the ride could’ve been a little smoother. 

Note: If you like your heroines seriously flawed, you’ll appreciate this book more than I did. 

-calliope

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Review (quick and dirty #3): Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery 

I was so happy to read this smart, fun, contemporary, relatable book about two very different sisters — the farmer and the fashionista. What’s underneath is what really matters, of course, but the ladies needed to find that out themselves. There were nosy gossips, nice guys who definitely didn’t finish last, big jerks who get sent on their merry way, and a couple of romances that made me sigh with giddiness. You’ll get all you bargained for and more in this novel with terrific dialogue and likeable characters. Reminded me of Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor books. Excellent writing. 

-calliope

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