Review: Falling Hard (Falling for the Freemans Book 2) by Kate Hewitt

No need to read book one to enjoy this second installment of Falling for the Freemans. Hewitt made it easy to get to know Quinn Freeman, youngest brother in the family, commitment-phobe, and general screw-up. Well… in the past. And it was smooth sailing figuring out Quinn’s direction once he arrived in his former hometown of Creighton Falls:  fix up the old family inn, and bring some vitality back to the town. 

I adored Quinn’s plumber, Meghan. What a strong woman, to choose to be the primary caretaker of her sister with special needs, and deny herself her own dreams to be an integral part of her family and her town. 

Quinn and Meghan aren’t perfect in Falling Hard, but they sure are cute together. Hewitt brings in ancillary characters just enough to add interest to the plot and tie the series together. This book focuses mostly on Quinn and Meghan — and it works for this small-town romance. 

-calliope

But FALLING HARD ($3.99!)

Review: The Art of Us by Teri Wilson


Harper Higgins (what a great name!) is a reserved art history professor looking for tenure, until she literally bumps into soldier/dog-walker/artist Tom Stone and realizes she’s really looking for something more. 

Oooooh I just loved that Tom Stone. Talk about the perfect alpha … he’s an ex-soldier, doesn’t take crap from anyone, lives on a boat, doesn’t talk about his feelings but he HAS feelings, and shows his sensitive side when he’s supposed to. 

Harper is a pain in the neck who won’t get out of her head or out of her own way. But between her friends, her part time job teaching social art classes, and that handsome Tom Stone… well, Harper figures out a couple things that might do her some good. 

I liked the art discussions — I learned some fun facts! — as well as Frank’s flowers, the art classes (it’s a big thing where I live – go as a group to paint a picture while having a glass of wine), and the chemistry between Harper and Tom. The writing was fun and funny, even when addressing some serious issues. 

I even liked the villain, in that he tried to be tricky but really wasn’t smart enough to pull it off. As my teenager might say, “Oooh Lars, you just got burned.”

The Art of Us is totally entertaining on many levels… 

-calliope

Buy THE ART OF US ($3.99!)

Review: The Seekers (Book 1 of The Amish Cooking Class series) by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Amish couple Heidi and Lyle live a simple life on their farm, but with Lyle out most of the day and no children to care for, Heidi finds her days empty. When Heidi advertises a cooking class – that she will teach in her home kitchen – an unexpected variety of participants arrives. They’re nervous to start cooking, but also nervous about being judged by a new group of people. 

The Seekers is very predictable, and an easy, straightforward read. I kind of needed something like that when I read this, so I appreciated the no-effort, feel-good experience! The Seekers wasn’t overly simplistic, though. The author wrote in a few characters that I myself judged … and by the end she had taught me a little lesson about that. *hangs head in shame* 

Once in a while it’s necessary to get back to basics, on an Amish farm, with a cooking class worthy of The Breakfast Club, and a lesson much more important than the pie crust turning out. I found that in The Seekers. 

-calliope

Buy THE SEEKERS

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Think Devil Wears Prada, but with a stronger protagonist and a nicer antagonist. And parents who live out in farm country. And a cute guy. With a tasteful tattoo. 

Sigh. 

Katie loves her job — and London — but not so much the people. Good thing for her, then when she’s needed at the family “farm” and actually has an opportunity to show her marketing skills and get a little sweet revenge. And fall in love. Action on the farm reduced me to tears of hilarity, and I literally read while brushing my teeth because I needed to see out the rest of Demeter’s bespoke resort activity. Well done you, Katie! 

I appreciate that Kinsella put family at the heart of this story – Katie’s family, Demeter’s family, and the true family at the London office. Though I always adore a satisfying romance, this might be one of the first times I eagerly anticipated the next friends-and-family move over the the next romantic move. 

So… there was more than one happily ever after in My Not So Perfect Life. What went around came around, to the winning pleasure of Katie, her friends, her family, and her man. We won’t talk about the losers. 

-calliope

 Buy MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE

Review: Sunrise at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

I love this entire plot! Mia hides away at a beach house, renovating gradually as a way to deal with deep-seated grief. Famous artist Daniel happens along and avails himself of the quiet retreat. They learn to put one foot in front of the other, slowly at first, and then together like a dance. Sarah Bennett writes a lovely waltz, with other couples swirling around, supporting Mia and Daniel individually and as a couple. 

Of course a few figurative storms hit- and Bennett uses the cast of secondary characters as both the cause and the solution. 

The only misstep was the description of the budding relationship between Mia and Daniel. I didn’t think Mia would have felt comfortable enough with a stranger to sit on his lap, for example. But once you get past the awkward stages, it’s all good. From there on out, Mia and Daniel are like two old souls who know just what the other needs. Their friends are just as intuitive, serving as loving, merciful family when biological relatives don’t come through. 

I really can’t wait for book two. These characters are terrific — and I need to see the transformation of the barn! 

-calliope

Buy SUNRISE AT BUTTERFLY COVE

Review: One Distant Summer by Serena Clarke

What a cool book! Jacinda Scott goes to New Zealand to take time off from the pressures of LA life. She doesn’t bank on staying next door to Liam Ward, cute younger brother of her decade-old teenage fling. 

One Distant Summer isn’t a simple story. Author Serena Clarke does a phenomenal job giving us something more than just unrequited love or “I fell for the wrong guy.”  Jacinda has her own life with fun and loyal friends. She focuses on a successful career, but not to the detriment of her own welfare. She’s a whole person… who just happens to fall into Liam’s neighborhood. Subplots abound — always in support of the main storyline. 

Without too much angst, Liam and Jacinda fall in and out of like and lust, trying to determine what will hurt the least. There are lots of gatherings with friends, sandy beach talks, and stolen moments with guitars, as the couple journeys to find a resolution. Serena Clarke successfully takes the reader on that journey — the characters feeling like my own friends, and New Zealand feeling home.  

-calliope

Buy ONE DISTANT SUMMER

Review: The Bookshop on the Corner

I loved Nina and her van full of books! As she traveled and matched up the right books with the right people, Nina also experienced personal growth. Along her journey from England to Scotland, Nina did more than just drive some kilometers. She transitioned from roommate-situation to living alone, and from depressed to wide-eyed in awe. 

I also liked Nina’s relationship with her roommate Surinder – everyone needs a best friend who can share unvarnished truths. And Surinder was so fun! Nina also had a beautiful friendship with teenage Ainslee, a girl who just needed a good book and a nudge in the right direction. 

I didn’t enjoy the Marek storyline at all, but I did see the necessity of a “transition” guy during Nina’s transformation. So while Marek and his subplot made a lot of sense, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  The chapters with Nina’s landlord were similarly nose-wrinkling. He was a great guy, but I didn’t like his circumstances in the story. 

Overall, I sailed happily through this lovely story about a woman making a big life change. While the romantic parts weren’t my cup of tea, Nina’s friendships and journey of self-discovery were on point. Author Jenny Colgan made me feel like I was part of Nina’s book van, and that was a thrill in itself! 

-calliope

Buy THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER