Review: Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

Sylvie and Dan try to spice up their marriage when it hits them that they have decades more of life together. In the midst of Dan working longer hours, Sylvie trying to save her employer from closing shop, and Sylvie still grieving for her late father, spicing up a marriage seems to be a tall order.

Kinsella brings to the forefront quirky characters (and I didn’t always understand their motivations until a scene was laid out for me, truth be told), family secrets, and the myriad ways people love each other. Cute, fun rom-com that was light on character development but full of charm.




Review: A Vicarage Reunion by Kate Hewitt

Oh Esther and Will… hard workers, loyal to a fault, family-oriented… and then one trauma busts it all up and unearths some unexpressed feelings. Thankfully, their little town — including Esther’s family — provides the guardrails to help Esther and Will find their way.

Their struggle was real. I’ve felt it and I’m sure all married couples have felt it at some time in their marriage. Things are going fine until they aren’t. And sometimes the solution isn’t exactly staring anyone in the face. That’s why I am grateful for all the family and friends who witness wedding ceremonies – they’re there to help support the marriage when it’s foundering.

Kate Hewitt wrote more than just Esther and Will’s relationship though. There were family dinners, lonesome walks, friends meeting at the pub, sibling love, the wisdom of a mother, the comfort of a father, and so much forgiveness … all in a little village around an old vicarage in a wonderful, delightful series.



Review: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Stacey and Harper are two very different sisters who each struggle to make their way in the world. Harper has a hard time navigating the financial and teen-parenting lands of the newly divorced, while Stacey makes bank but can’t respond to social cues to save her life.

Lucky for them, Susan Mallery has just the challenges they need to figure out that they can shift focus, ask for help, and come out the other side nearly unscathed. Nearly.

Harper’s story was a little better fleshed out than Stacey’s, but I enjoyed them both. Harper’s nutty mom, ex-husband, teenager, clients and new employees were rich fodder for big laughs and tender moments. Stacey’s story was going to break my heart until her husband’s nephew saved the day with his gentleness, gratitude, and earnestness. Just like in real life, sometimes all it takes is that one person to give a couple of meaningful minutes for you to realize you’re not alone, and you can do that thing you thought you couldn’t.

Really heartwarming, Susan Mallery. Those are some pretty awesome sisters, and they’ve got a pretty terrific circle around them.



Review: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

Through loving grandmother Anna Helmuth, author Jennifer Beckstrand successfully uses her matchmaking skills yet again – but this time it’s a little more difficult than usual.

Elsie comes to stay with her grandparents after taking a local teaching job. I loved seeing Elsie in action -she’s a firm, authoritative, fun, and loving teacher who wants the best for her students. I have to say, Elsie’s unconventional ways of dealing with troublemakers had me chuckling. When Wally — the boy with a missing leg — misdirects his anger and bullies his classmates, Elsie knows just what to do. And there starts a love/hate relationship between Elsie and Wally’s older brother Sam.

Sam and Elsie are one of my favorite Beckstrand duos. They’re spitfire. They’re full of love. They’re loyal. They’re stubborn. And I appreciate Beckstrand’s ability to make them so likeable despite their flaws.

I had fun watching Elsie’s class’ escapades, and Sam’s family dinners. And even though I’ll read the next Huckleberry Hill book no matter what, I’d totally love to see a cameo appearance by these two characters!



Review (Take Two): Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Dr. Nora returns home to Scupper Island, Maine for a while for some rest and recuperation. She decided to leave behind her old life in Boston for a while – well, her old “reinvented in medical school” life, the one where she lost weight and gained confidence.

Higgins wrote a fascinating mother daughter relationship between Nora and her mom, and then put icing on the cake adding Nora’s wayward sister into the mix. Very well done. The family dynamics sucked me in without being too over the top. And Nora’s niece … aw, man, I was endeared to her from the start!

Best thing ever: The houseboat Nora rents. Second best thing ever: reading Nora’s emotions when she hears a certain someone walking up the dock. Oh and don’t miss the dinner party of all dinner parties – thank goodness for supportive friends, slightly eligible bachelors, and a mom who doesn’t stand for any nonsense.

Want to read Melpomene’s recent review of this book? Click right here.


Buy NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT by Kristan Higgins

Review: The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn

As some of you may know, I’ve spent almost this entire year reading historical romances. I can’t get enough. My most recent binged series was The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn. Funny thing was, I had zero intentions about reading them. In fact, since I consider myself a late in life reader, I never even heard of these. But I had a friend who posted some 1-star reviews that claimed there was too much sex in them. Well now, since I love love, I figured it was my duty to see if they were correct in their rants. They weren’t. And I’m a little disappointed in that, if I’m being honest. They were a slow burn type of romance, not that I’m complaining. I don’t know what these people were talking about.

This series is about eight siblings and how they each meet their true loves. This is plenty of heartache and romance and lots and lots of banter. I was pretty much reading with a silly smile on my face the entire time. I’m not even kidding. The banter was spot on. I adore books like these. Love is important in life, but without the funny, it’s rather boring. So, if you were born under a rock, like myself, and never read these books, go and add these to your tbr right.

The one thing you need to know is that each book has a bonus epilogue that was written after the books were all done. So there may be a few minor spoilers, like who the love interests are, of the future couples. It didn’t bother me. It just made me wanna read faster. Which is probably why I had to buy a few of these, since my library was taking too long to give them to me. I was impatient. Man, I really liked these books.

I’m so glad those 1-star whiners were wrong.



Review: The Proving by Beverly Lewis

I really adore Amish fiction. Beverly Lewis is a pro at delivering believable plot lines, excellent writing, and characters so real that I start mimicking their facial expressions when reading dialogue. 

Mandy is a capable girl who left her Amish community because she was emotionally hurt. I was so glad Mandy ended up with a reason to return to her home – even if it wasn’t her first choice to do so. Though she had some family struggles and some uncertainty with the community and faith she grew up with, Mandy’s sister helped her see the truth about herself and her true home. 

I love all things B&B-related, so I was in my element with Amish baking on the inn’s farm table, sheets drying on the line, and guests who came for respite and left refreshed.  Getting to know the guests is always fun, and the carriage rides aren’t bad either. 

I read The Proving after a slew of September mediocrity, and I was very relieved to be able to effortlessly enjoy the inn, the sisterhood, and the faith of Mandy and her family.