Review: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Sierra shows up at Sullivan’s Crossing and finds more than just her brother and sister-in-law with welcoming arms. Sierra finds a father figure, some peace of mind, and Connie (Conrad) the firefighter. 

Carr did a wonderful job pacing the romance and the family dynamics, making the relationships realistic as they grew. I liked that Sierra and Connie had a support system, and that the people around them were part of the fabric of the story – not just background characters. 

I’m not exactly a fan of the “quirky drifters appearing at the campground” type setting of these Sullivan’s Crossing books … but the endearing characters make up for it. 

-Calliope 

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Review: Kiss Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

I love these quick and fun Willoughby Close novels. Trying circumstances send a person to Willoughby Close to rent a cottage on manor property. The person grows in various ways, gets a hand up if necessary, chooses a direction, and makes their life the best they can. Kiss Me is Ava’s story… and boy howdy does she need a cottage to live in after her rich husband dies and leaves her with next to nothing, not even one of their several homes. 

At Willoughby Close, Ava learns how to interact with people on a friendly and neighborly level, reach out when someone needs help, and show her true colors instead of putting on a façade. Ava finds more than just her strength at Willoughby… she also finds the handsome and sensitive alpha groundskeeper, throwing a wrench into all her plans to be independent. 

While Ava is surrounded by good people who want to help her, she does plenty of helping herself — and even taking the time for a young woman who could use a break. 

I love that Hewitt focuses on second chances, and it’s uplifting to see good people making something positive out of those chances. 

-Calliope

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Review: Return to Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand

This installment of The Matchmakers series is just as good as the rest were – and fine to read as a standalone. What sets this one apart is the angst! Most of Beckstrand’s other books are fun and flip, adventuresome and whimsical. In Return to Huckleberry Hill, Reuben deals with the demon of pride, and though I didn’t feel bad for him in the least, I did sympathize with those around him. 

Fern King, too, deals with demons. Oh how I wanted to cry for her — trying to be strong, always showing a cheerful face, never complaining, yet truly dying inside. Fern endures so much, and I really almost couldn’t take it! (I’ll never forgive you, Ms. Beckstrand, if Barbara Schmucker doesn’t get her due.)  But Fern also gets to see Reuben and her brother John in a new environment – and witness their growth (or lack of it). 

Anna and Felty remain the cute elderly couple that gets in everyone’s business trying to make love connections. I haven’t tired of them yet, and I’m almost endeared to Anna’s creative cooking.  

This is a non-traditional Amish novel in that it doesn’t center around faith and obedience as much as some might; yet Beckstrand gives the main characters the gift of self-reflection… something that made me want to be best friends with Fern, and let me forgive Reuben for almost all of his trespasses. 

-Calliope

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Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart 

I’m so glad I started this series! Allie and Des find out they have a half-sister… and the trio is required to cooperatively restore an old theatre in order to get their inheritance after their dad’s death. Restoring a theatre – what fun!

Watching the three characters learn about each other and grow in themselves was great. Steward develops the characters evenly, even though the story is told through Cara’s eyes. The introduction of Allie’s daughter shows Allie’s heart – at a point in the story I had just about had it up to here with her! And Stewart’s illustration of Des’s flair for fashion gives positive personality to this third sister – and adds another light, fun aspect to the story. 

I love how open Cara is to new friendships with her sisters and the small-town neighbors watching them restore the theatre. Reading the story from Cara’s viewpoint was an exercise in optimism, hopefulness and adventure. And as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking I really can’t wait for the next book … so I’m signing off and checking the internet for Book Two’s pub date. 🙂

-calliope 

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Review: Find Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt 

This is book three of a super cool series by Kate Hewitt. Even though you can read them as standalones, they’re each so good that I think you should read them all! 

I thought I wouldn’t like cool, haughty, richy-rich Harriet with the snotty daughter, but I did! Harriet fit herself right in to Willoughby Close, despite her own discomfort, for the good of her children. She made some missteps, screwed up a few things marriage-wise, and was more materialistic than I could stomach … but Harriet redeemed herself by showing heart and diving in to a journey of self-discovery and development. 

I so enjoyed Harriet’s adventures with her children, the elderly neighbor, and the family next door. I also appreciated Harriet’s time spent alone – where Hewitt showed the reader quite clearly Harriet’s struggles and growth.  Who knew I would come to love Harriet so much? And that after she changed she would be loved just as dearly by her family and new friends. 

I can’t say enough about Hewitt’s masterful development of characters. Applause from me for writing light stories with meaningful messages and big heart. 

Here’s the link to my reviews of all the books I’ve read by Kate Hewitt

-calliope 

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Review: The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary by Sue Ann Jaffarian

  
Jaffarian’s Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series is ostensibly cute, but actually delves into some pretty heavy social issues. It’s always nice to have some substance, even when you’re expecting a cozy mystery. 

Jeremiah Jones is a former cop, current private investigator, who uses his extra sensory perception to communicate with spirits of dead people. One of those people is Granny Apples, who acts as a fly on the wall to help him catch bad guys. 

In this episode, Jeremiah tries to find a missing woman while helping the homeless, the down and out, and those trying to turn away from the criminal edge of society. 

You’ll read about a caring agency who helps people get back in their feet, a shootout led by drug dealers, a double-cross that almost seems legit, and the first step in healing for a few key characters. 

I enjoyed this gritty look at Southern California. I appreciate the blessings that people bestow upon those in need. Granny’s ghost provides some much needed comic relief, and lightens up an otherwise dark look at life on the streets. 

-calliope

Buy THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY

Review: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt

  
Ohmygoodnessilovedthisbook. 

Lucy has been living in Boston – the same city as her überfeminist mother for the past two decades. With her egomania and focus on art, Fiona has managed to simultaneously  humiliate, neglect and drive away Lucy. So Lucy reaches out to her sister Juliet in the western Lake District of Cumbria, England. Juliet takes Lucy in, and there begins the roller coaster of estranged sisters, emotional numbness, putting on a happy front, and trying to find love in all the right places. 

Though it reads like chick lit, Rainy Day Sisters illustrates some heavy inner conflicts. Hewitt masterfully describes the mental anguish of the sisters and their love interests. Totally believable. Alex’s daughters were written well, also, from the sullen and reserved teenager to the perky and innocent primary-grader. Best of all were the townspeople of Hartley-by-the-Sea. They were quirky but not over the top. They developed authentically and I was just as interested in their stories as I was in Lucy, Juliet, Alex and Peter. 

I laughed and cried and sighed at the happily ever after… And then I ran to Amazon.com looking for the next one in the series. Which isn’t out yet. Because this one was just released. 🙂 But I was just so excited to hear more about the realistic, endearing, and lovely people in the HARTLEY-BY-THE-SEA. 

-calliope

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