Review: The Cotswolds Cookery Club by Alice Ross

This book is actually a compilation of three serial novellas… just so you know… because I was thrown for a loop when I finished the first novella at 34%, previously having thought it was a novel, and wondering what the heck the other 66% could be! Now that that’s sorted…

I really enjoyed these entertaining novellas, each focusing on one member of the casual, put-together-on-a-whim, friendly club of women who like to cook. Alice Ross did a wonderful job making the friendships come to life and drawing the reader into each woman’s joys and pains. These are lighthearted stories, though there are a few heavy-hearted conversations among the friends about love, marriage, and children.

As an aside, I found it pretty awesome that one of the recipes a character makes is Patatas Bravas – the same dish my teenager had to make as part of a group project for her high school Spanish class.

So… each story has some seriousness, some playfulness, and a couple of out-loud laughs, but my most favorite happily ever after was in book 3 when karma makes an appearance, and the comeuppance is delish.

-calliope

Buy THE COTSWOLDS COOKERY CLUB

Review: Two Christmas novellas- Forever Christmas & My True Love Gave to Me by Christine Lynxwiler

November means Christmas reading, so I hunkered down the past couple nights with two novellas in my Kindle’s “Christmas” folder. 

These charming and heartfelt stories felt like full-length novels in that the characters were many and varied, the plots had time to twist and meander a bit, and the main characters were wonderfully developed. 

In Forever Christmas, Kristianna tries to live out her own authentic life, fighting through family pressures and a stressful romantic past. I loved that Kristianna’s best friends never wavered in their love and loyalty to her. I enjoyed Kristianna’s fun dates, her surprise gifts, and the relationships she had with the quirky townspeople. Although saving her town of Jingle Bells from corporate intrusion was top of mind, Kristianna eventually got the message that working together for a solution is more effective than cutting off your nose to spite your face. 

In My True Love Gave to Me, loving wife and mom of two Penny has had it up to here with her newly-unemployed husband’s moping. But when he finally does something to snap out of it, she’s not truly on board with that either. The plan? A family RV trip. The reaction? Horror, as you might guess. However, in the spirit of a good Christmas story, the lessons are in the journey. Lynxwiler gives us an entertaining road trip where relationships are strengthened, trust is built, and true love abounds. 

Both novellas have a Christian perspective, with a mentions of “God’s plan” and positively describing other characters as Christian. They both have a happily ever after, too. 

You’ll be glad to know my Kindle’s Christmas folder is full of myriad holiday novels. These were only the tip of the iceberg! 

-calliope 

Buy MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME
Buy FOREVER CHRISTMAS

Review: Christmas at Evergreen Inn by Donna Alward

   

What a well-written Christmas novella! I enjoyed this story even more than my last few Christmas reads, because the characters’ behaviors were consistent, the dialogue was realistic, and the tension was so real I felt my own shoulders tightening up. Alward impressed me with a tightly written plot and just the right balance of sweet versus strong. Most importantly, Evergreen Inn was Christmassy. The hot chocolate, tree ornaments, and snowstorms helped Todd heal Lainey’s broken heart, and certainly warmed mine. 

-calliope

Buy CHRISTMAS AT EVERGREEN INN

Review: Master of Freedom by Cherise Sinclair

01 master I am fascinated with BDSM and all things Cherise. She has a way of writing BDSM books that feel real. It’s almost as if I’m in the room watching and feeling everything they are. I know this is a novella, but it totally didn’t fell like one! This felt like a full length novel, with all the emotions and excitement.

SYNOPSIS
Detective Atticus Ware gave up his beloved Idaho to start again in the mountains of California, close to his imprisoned brother. He has a rewarding job and friends, but the experienced Dominant wants more than the Do-Me submissives who flock around him. He needs a woman who will give her heart as well as her body.

Virginia, “Gin,” is damn good at her challenging career as a prison psychologist. However, one problem inmate is mired in misery and unable to overcome his guilt at causing a friend’s death.
To clear her mind, she joins a friend’s kinky backpacking excursion, planning to hide in her tent during the evening BDSM pursuits. But Atticus lures her into the activities. She’s read about BDSM, but submission under the hands of a powerful Dom is beyond anything she’d imagined. She doesn’t trust men, doesn’t want a relationship, and yet…wants more from him.

Finally, Atticus has found the woman he wants in his life. In his bed. In his cuffs. But she’s not only his brother’s therapist, but also works in a prison. How can he tolerate his woman walking into danger every single blasted day?

Gin knows she has no future with Atticus Ware, but still, hope is rising in her heart.

I loved these two together!! They were made for each other. They balanced each other and helped each other with their pasts. Their chemistry was off the charts HOT!! Even the plain ol’ kissing was hot. Actually, with Atticus, there is no plain ol’ kissing. But as they grow closer, parts of their pasts creep up and threaten to break these two apart.

Virginia, I’ll always come after you. I keep what’s mine.”

~Melpomene

Buy Master of Freedom: A Mountain Masters Novella (Mountain Masters & Dark Haven Book 5)

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 99¢.

-calliope

buy CHRISTMAS AT CARRIAGE HILL

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. 🎁🍷🎄❄️
-calliope

buy THE KISS BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Review: Happenstance 2, by Jamie Mcguire

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“There’s only one you.”

If you haven’t read the first Happenstance, you must go and do that now. I can wait….

Done? Good.

Erin is trying to still work through all of the information she has received, while living with her real parents. Having caring and attentive parents is something she has never had, so it’s hard for her to adjust. She just wants love, not things. But she is slowly growing closer to her real parents, while still battling the bullies at school, who don’t seem to care who she really is.

Weston is still her constant, throughout all of this. He will take one anyone who chooses to cause her trouble. But soon she makes a discovery that may change the way she looks at him and the way she looks at herself. As if her life hasn’t been flipped upside down already.

“She doesn’t need us to fix this for her. We’ll just love her through it.”

This was a nice little story. I can’t to see how she handles this information she has been given, in the next book. Thank God she has loyal parents, who would give her the moon if they could, and her boyfriend, who would wrestle dragons.

~Melpomene

Buy Happenstance: A Novella Series (Part Two)

Get caught up with Happenstance

Review: In Her Wake, by K.A.Tucker

In Her Wake cover (1) Oh my, Trent. You poor broken soul. Let me start out by saying that even though this is a .5, you MUST read Ten Tiny Breaths beforehand. MUST!! If you don’t, you’ll kind of ruin the surprise in TTB, and you don’t want to do that.

Synopsis
Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision…and loses everything.

When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends—the ones who have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.

Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional, and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. Nor can he shake the all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip on what once was important—college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.

And there’s only one person who can give that to him…

This was a very fast read, but it still had all the emotions of a full length novel. K.A.Tucker has created a world around these characters that make you feel as though you truly know them. My heart was breaking for what Trent had to go through. I knew he felt guilty, but never on this level.

Trent had everything he wanted, until one mistake changed the rest of his life. Now he must move on and carry on. Easier said than done. Being the one left behind, and having no one to help him, he find that life is way too hard alone. The brokenness he felt, made my heart hurt. He had guilt, the size of mountains. The ‘What ifs” were almost too numerable to count. No amount of them would bring his friends back. So after months of desperation, he finds a way to come out from the fog and to move on.

I have always loved Trent. He was my favorite TTB character. But watching him like this, was a bit hard for me. I think guy’s POVs are always a bit more emotional for me. I guess, in some backwards ways, guys are supposed to be strong all the time. But it’s not true. This book shows that perfectly.

~Melpomene

Buy In Her Wake: A Ten Tiny Breaths Novella

Get caught up with the Ten Tiny Breaths series
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Ten Tiny Breaths: A Novel

One Tiny Lie: A Novel

Four Seconds to Lose: A Novel

Five Ways to Fall: A Novel

Happenstance is LIVE!!!

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Have I mentioned how much I love Jamie McGuire’s books!! Of course I have!! Beautiful Disaster is my all time favorite book. So when she said she was writing another book, I was thrilled!!

Teaser2

#1 New York Times Bestseller Jamie McGuire returns to self-publishing with this page-turning YA account of Erin Easter, one of three Erins in the small senior class of rural Blackwell High School who not only share a first name, but also their birthday. Easter, raised by a neglectful single mom, keeps to herself and admires Weston Gates from afar. The other Erins, Erin “Alder” Alderman and Erin “Sonny” Masterson are the darlings of the community: daughters of the two wealthiest families in town, best friends, cheerleaders, and everything Easter isn’t–and they never let her forget it. Alder has even claimed Weston since the 8th grade.
Weston is a well-liked star athlete, and the son of two prominent attorneys. He struggles daily with the pressures of living up to his family name and secretly empathizes with Easter’s feeling that she belongs somewhere else; in a different life. Not until he begins sneaking nights out with Easter does he gain the courage to buck expectations and acknowledge his feelings … both for his future, and for her.
A shocking tragedy rocks the tiny town, and Easter’s life is turned upside down in the best way possible. But when the truth is revealed and everything she thinks she wanted falls into her lap, life only becomes more complicated.

My Review

Well, I LOVED this!!!! This was the perfect action packed story. So much happened and I was left fully satisfied. It was nice to have a shorter book to read, instead of another epic. With Beautiful Oblivion coming out in a few months, this was a nice little taste of Jamie’s awesomeness.

Erin Easter has a rough life. Bullying, and absent dad, and an there but not there mom, are the gist of her life. She is just trying to hold it together until she graduates, then she is out of this town. She used to love it here, with the other Erins, but at some point, it all changed for the worse.

But one day, her life seemed to change for the better. Weston actually talked to her. Soon he was sneaking out to see her and showing her that she is worth more than what these people of her.

I totally loved Weston!! He was so kind, when he finally decided to be. I loved how protective he was of her, even to his own girlfriend. I love the way he slowly began to grow a backbone and stood up for things that were wrong. When he started to care more for Erin, the words he would speak, totally made me smile. He was so very sweet.

“I can’t give up on you now. When we spend time together, I feel this peace that I don’t get when you’re not around. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid and you put on fresh PJs after a bath and get into a made bed with clean sheets straight out of the dryer. That’s what being with you feels like.”

The strength that grew from them being together, was totally needed when the tragedy of the story happened. Which then leads to the shocker of the story, which rattles the entire town. They must lean on each other, in order to get through this next phase of their lives.

I can’t wait to read the next in the series. I am dying to know what happens in their relationship and where they’re headed after they graduate.

A bonus in the book is the first chapter of Beautiful Oblivion. But I can’t read it. I need to be shocked and surprised. I never read teasers. So this is taunting me. That sneaky Jamie McGuire. 🙂

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

~Melpomene

Buy
On Amazon Happenstance: A Novella

On BN Happenstance: A Novella

Review: Sarasota Dreams by Debby Mayne

20140228-144652.jpg Sarasota Dreams is the compilation of three novellas. Each novella focuses on a Mennonite man and woman and their search for romance.

I like Amish/Mennonite fiction, and Debby Mayne writes it well. I appreciated that we could see what the men AND women were thinking. Abe had to figure out how to make Mary trust him. Jeremiah had to prove his faithfulness to God before Shelley would let herself fall in love, and Charles had to commit to becoming Mennonite so Ruthie’s reputation wouldn’t suffer.

Besides the romances being very well written, Mayne illustrated her knowledge of the Mennonite lifestyle without making the novellas feel like documentaries. The reader gets more than a glimpse of small business management (diner and souvenir shop), farming, and church life.

These were three lovely, realistic, fun, clean romances. The loyalty to family and community was comforting, and the food sounded delicious. Bring on some coconut cream pie!

–Calliope

New Release March 1!

Buy Sarasota Dreams