Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt


Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (224 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Small-Town Daddy

Jackson Daughtry’s jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad’s number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner’s hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie’s pretty brown eyes. Now it’ll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she’s already home.

Love has a way of working its way into life, sometimes slow and easy, other times by crashing in head-on. Either way, a sensible seatbelt for your heart is a must!

Melanie Harper is a Washington D.C. big city lawyer who knows how to get things done. She’s smart, pretty, hardworking, and she loves her aunt Phoebe enough to drive all the way to the small town of Sweet Gum to convince her she would be better off living with her in D.C. Aunt Phoebe, however, is perfectly happy in Sweet Gum no matter what her loving niece believes.

When Melanie, who “never takes a vacation,” decides to visit, Aunt Phoebe is delighted. Phoebe co-owns The Coffee Bean, a breakfast and lunch diner, with Jackson Daughtry, a local paramedic. Jackson is a single father who dotes on his little daughter, Rebecca. He is the kind of dad every little girl deserves. His faith is strong, both in the Lord and in people, but the story is never preachy.

Lovely Melanie has strong values, too, but her past could shake a person to their very core, perhaps beyond repair. When Melanie has a car crash, Jackson has to make the call to Phoebe.

Author Jill Weatherholt has created a cast of characters every reader will appreciate. They are each very different with their own strong beliefs and opinions—they are each very real people. I expected this story to be a run-of-the-mill romance, and when I first started reading, I wasn’t bowled over by any uniqueness, although the writing was good. But before long, I found myself over-the-moon surprised by the strength of its wonderful characters and its fabulous storyline, which shanghaied me for the duration.

Second Chance Romance is a story that allows you to settle in and get comfortable before it consumes you in the most wonderful way. This is a must-read for real-life romance lovers!

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection by Various Authors


The California Gold Rush Romance Collection by Various Authors
Publisher: Barbour Books, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (448 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

This is a collection of stories from the California Gold Rush days, all featuring very different women. All stories strongly rooted in the Christian faith.

The Price of Love by Amanda Barratt—Lorena Quinn goes to San Francisco on a bet from her magazine editor who wants stories from the gold rush. As many men were in the 1800s, he is a chauvinist. The only way he can get her to go west is to promise her an Assistant Editor’s position—but only if she comes back an accomplished writer, single, and not in love! With a hundred men for every woman, the challenge is a big one. What her boss doesn’t tell her is that he has sent a letter to a former employee who currently lives in San Francisco. Not just any employee, but handsome Caleb who he is promising the same job to IF he can woo Miss Quinn and accompany her back to the East head-over-heels in love. Headstrong, determined Lorena does not plan to fail, but neither does Caleb. Although a good story, it felt rushed, and at times, a bit awkward, especially with the surprise addition of a baby, which seemed to take the story off track. Those who enjoy reading about life’s challenges will undoubtedly find a champion in Lorena Quinn.

The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell—This story begins with Donovan Gallagher striking it rich in the gold-rich waters of California then heading home to reclaim his young sister from the arms of a caretaker. But just as importantly, he wants to go home and start life over again, in spite of Sophia Heyer, the woman who wrongly accused him of thievery. Both Donovan and Sophia have their own interesting life stories, so much so, in fact, that I found it hard to decide who was the bad guy/girl and who was the good? Throughout the story, I wanted to cheer for someone, but never knew whom. The addition of the carousel had me excited, but the “vision” of it all never completely came together for me, and the Gold Rush portion of the story was virtually non-existent. Overall, this was a good story, but not my favorite.

Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner—Ever watched the old Doris Day movie called Calamity Jane from the 1950s? As cute as this story is, it is eerily reminiscent of said movie, without all the singing and dancing. It’s about a very unladylike woman, rough and tumble, who is not about to wear a dress, yet gets transformed in a lady, clean and refined, before our eyes. And the man of her dreams? Ah, well, we’ll let you guess. This is a cute addition to the collection, but I would have enjoyed a more original idea.

The Marriage Broker and the Mortician by Anne Greene—Eve Molloy, a dance teacher at an orphanage who happens to be a former orphan herself, decides to help the “of-age” girls who are old enough and must leave the orphanage to begin their adult lives. But what is an eighteen-year-old girl supposed to do all alone in 1850? Eve sets out to find them respectable husbands, but when she herself is left near destitute after a robbery, she finds herself in quite a predicament. Rafe Riley, a mortician, comes to her rescue—sort of, anyway. This story had an interesting premise, but it never seemed to gel. Too many, “oh, yes, then this happened, and oh, that happened too,” side stories that could’ve/should’ve been part of the overall story, such as the uncle and the cousin who seemed written in as afterthoughts. This tale would have been better as a full-length novel where it might have had a chance to develop into a full-fledged story.

The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris—Jo Bass is an important woman in Dry Diggins, California, 1849. Not because she’s beautiful or charming, though I’m not saying she isn’t, but because she works at the bank and determines the amount of money given for each gold nugget. Jo and her brother Thad run the bank, but everyone thinks Thad is her husband, which made for some interesting, and often confusing, dialog. I enjoyed reading about “cashing in the gold,” which so little is written about, but overall this story seemed disorganized and had plenty of situations that only seemed to slow down the pace. With that said, this storyline is very creative.

A Sketch of Gold by Cynthia Hickey—Rose McIlroy is a devoted nineteen-year-old daughter, whose father fears for her safety in a world of wild men clambering for gold, so he talks her into cutting her hair and dressing like a boy so that no one will know she is a girl. But when Jack Westin befriends the two, things change. Interestingly, Jack has come west to sketch the miners and their search for gold, with a plan on sending them to a newspaper back East. As soon as he can, Jack wants to start his own newspaper in gold country. Adding to this interesting character is in finding out he is a preacher, too. It doesn’t take him too long to realize Rose is a girl, whom he falls madly in love with, in spite of her protests. The characters were very real, and the unsavory men had me on edge worrying about Rose. This was a well-done story.

Love is a Puzzle by Pam Hillman—Shanyn Duvall, along with her aunt, goes west looking for her missing father, who is a cartographer with the Sierra Nevada Typographical Surveyors (shouldn’t that be Topographical, Ms. Hillman?) Shanyn has not seen her father in two years and she feels certain he has found a place for them to put down roots. Unfortunately, her father is nowhere to be found and she soon receives the dreadful news that her father is dead. This story takes on the task of a rarely told side story to this era: Obadiah Duvall, her father, was not only a mapper, but also a puzzle-maker and artist. This is a delightful story that kept me turning pages and thinking about it long after I’d finished reading. If one can turn a novella into a full-length novel with more detail given to the history, this story would be a real winner.

The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola—From the Canton Province of China comes this story, which truly sweeps you away into a different tale about the gold rush days. Ming and her Uncle Wang sail to America with hopes that San Francisco is full of gold, just waiting for them. Life for the Chinese was vastly different from that of others, but both cultures believed the golden nuggets meant a better way of life. Religion played a heavy role in this one, but it is an unforgettable story, which gives a glimpse of another existence during California’s Gold Rush. Perhaps the best-written story in the entire collection.

Gold Haven Heiress by Jamie Jo Wright—The least “romantic” story of this collection borders on being one of the best. Thalia Simmons lives in a ghost town, and Jack Taylor wants to know why? Gold Haven is the deserted town and it has little to offer anyone at this point, except maybe someone who just wants to be left alone. And to be free. The first page of this story hooked me. I adored poor Thalia right away. This tale could easily have been fleshed out into a full-length novel just by adding more town residents, which would have been a major hit with me. Perfect characters with a very creative storyline. Great final story to round out this collection!

The mid-1800s had a different life story for everyone, which is what makes this collection so wonderful. No two stories are alike, and each are worthy of their own telling.

Alone by SM Ford


Alone by SM Ford
Publisher: Clean Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Holiday
Length: Full Length (303 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation.

Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the troubles that lie ahead?

Cecelia Gage is a woman with both beauty and brains who just happens to be the best housekeeper and cook in the county, maybe the whole state of Colorado, so why is her new employer firing her?

Mark Andrews is a best-selling novelist and near recluse, and he likes it that way. He needs nothing more than a seasoned housekeeper who can cook, clean, run daily errands, and most of all, stay out of his way while he writes his next novel. His only real-life attachments are to Aunt Zeena, and to his lifelong friend, suave and handsome Simon, who is an undeniable ladies man.

Upon Cecelia’s arrival at her employer’s country home, the older housekeeper instructs her on household etiquette stating clearly that her new boss does not like to be disturbed. An entire day passes before the novelist realizes he has a new housekeeper he has never personally met. He takes one look at her and says, “Tomorrow you can go back where you came from.” When Cecelia asks why, he says, “You are too young for this position.” Determined to prove her worthiness, Cecelia stays and continues working, cooking up some wonderful dishes while the writer, who never officially fires her, stays somewhat hidden. Soon enough she meets his Aunt Zeena, an odd-bird but likeable enough, and the adorable friend Simon. Both are impressed with Cecelia, and Simon grows intent on wooing her.

Although Cecelia goes on a few casual dates with likeable Simon, her heartstrings pull her toward the novelist and her boss, Mark Andrews. A friendship forms, and Mark softens, but it becomes obvious that he is ever so careful not to step on Simon’s toes.

All of the characters were strong in this story, even the bit players, which is refreshing. The descriptions were written nicely, too, and it is a well-rounded story. There were some disappointments though. First, the title “Alone” feels like it was picked out of thin air without any basis. Next, I quickly grew frustrated with the novelist being referred to only as “Mark Andrews” or “her employer.” When the initial walls starting coming down and a friendly relationship began to form, I expected to hear Cecelia use the name Mark, simple and acceptable, but rarely was his first name used without tagging it with his last name. It felt awkward and uncomfortable. Another distraction was that too much time was wasted on unimportant events. Lastly, but most importantly, I felt the prologue nearly ruined the story for me. You learn right off that Mark goes to jail accused of murder. I really wanted to find that out in the course of the story! Then halfway through the book, without any further mention of jail or murder, Cecelia spouts out that she just bought her employer a murder weapon. No mention again until the end is near.

Although this is a romance story for all to enjoy, the mystery of the eventual murder and the identity of the killer will most likely surprise you. This is a clean Christian mystery/romance that kept me reading. Do you pride yourself on being a sleuth? Try this one on for size!

Let it Be Christmas by Hebby Roman


Let it Be Christmas by Hebby Roman
West Texas Christmas Trilogy Book 2
Publisher: Estrella Publishing
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (141 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

After losing both her parents, Lindsay MacKillian has been living with her Aunt Minerva in Boston, learning to be a lady. When her unscrupulous fiancé gets her in the family way and absconds, she escapes home to Langtry, Texas to hide her shame.

Bart Houghton, a professional gambler, wants to quit his old profession and become a rancher, giving the MacKillian’s ranch a much needed infusion of capital. But he didn’t count on marrying Chad’s sister as part of the deal. And to make matters worse, Lindsay doesn’t approve of his former profession and believes he is unworthy as a husband.

Lindsay and Bart, despite their differences and having a marriage in name only, can’t help but being attracted to each other. As their attraction matures, they have to face the obstacles of their pasts. Can Lindsay put aside her preconceived notions about Bart? Is Bart ready to settle down and give Lindsay the family she wants?

It’s easy to be judgmental when the consequences of your judgments never directly affect you, but what happens when your own character and values are measured?

It’s 1896 and the infamous Judge Roy Bean is the self-appointed lawman of a small Texas town known as Langtry. The town has no doctor, no lawyer, and not much of anything else of importance, but it does have Lindsay MacKillian coming home in disgrace and shame, carrying the unborn child of a gambler.

After the death of her parents, Lindsay went to live with her aunt in Boston, a town of immense respect and class—a vastly different city than the tiny town of Langtry where Lindsay left her brother behind, alone, to run the family ranch. With nowhere else to go, Lindsay hightails it home hoping to hide her indiscretion and shame.

Once there, she finds out that her brother is planning to take on a ranching partner, the handsome Bartholomew Houghton, a former gambler. Of all things—a gambler! The lowest of the low life, in Lindsay’s eyes anyway. Never mind that her pregnancy is not showing yet, it will soon enough and she will deal with it, but to be associated with a gambler, like her former fiancé, is unacceptable…if she could just keep her eyes off of him.

Bartholomew, aka Bart, could be the man of most women’s dreams. He certainly is through the eyes of Lindsay, until her brother suggests that Bart marry Lindsay as part of their partnership deal, thus hiding his sister’s unwed pregnancy. And once we find out that Lindsay’s brother, Chad, saved Bart’s life and now Bart is indebted to him, the readers will cheer his creative matchmaking.

The reality of it all is…is Lindsay worthy of Bart? Is Bart worthy of Lindsay?

This is a short book, which touches on Christmas, but not nearly as much as the title pretends. The holiday aspect is almost non-existent, which is a shame, really. I was looking forward to experiencing a real Christmas in 1896, but alas, it was not to be so. No decorated tree, no ornaments, no presents, no holiday, at all, really. Christmas day is important, but not in the traditional, festive sense.

I also found Lindsay a bit grating, maybe too judgmental for me, and the story was too short to care a lot about the characters. It is a good historical short read, and I can never imagine myself finding a Hebby Roman story disappointing, she is so talented, but I would have enjoyed a more in-depth storyline and more of Ginny and her family. (Props to the addition of Minnie, a Maltese!)

Anyone who loves historical fiction (the addition of Judge Roy Bean, albeit short-lived, was wonderful!) will sink right into this story, probably finishing it with delight by the firelight before the year ends.

Stitches by Kathy Weyer


Stitches by Kathy Weyer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (342 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Jen Conrad always did things exactly as expected. Raised by an imperious mother and a Superior Court father, she found comfort in her marriage to a brilliant lawyer and became an admired woman for her hostessing and fundraising skills.

When she is widowed, she has to shed her skin and learn to fight for herself, find financial resources to start a new venture, support her dying mother, and overcome a devastating event that occurred forty years ago.

She has choices to make, choices that a year ago would have been unthinkable.

Spending a lifetime as a socialite with a secret is easier when you’re married to a rich, successful, caring, and intelligent man. But what happens to your world when he dies, and you find out he had secrets of his own?

Fifty-eight-year-old Jen Conrad is a grieving and brokenhearted woman. Yes, she knew her husband Arthur was dying and they both had plenty of time to prepare, but life always seems to have unexpected twists and turns. Since meeting and marrying Arthur thirty-seven years ago, Jen has never wanted for anything, until now. With Arthur dead, Jen realizes she has no access to their money, doesn’t know how bills are paid, doesn’t know what she owes, and has no credit of her own. Arthur’s law firm has always taken care of everything for them, and her brother-in-law, who was Arthur’s law partner, won’t talk to her about finances. Fortunately for Jen, being a genuinely good person, she has many friends who do not hesitate to rally around her during this difficult time. Her blood relatives, however, are another matter.

Enter Mom, an eighty-five-year-old woman with two daughters and a husband in an Alzheimer’s facility, who truly believes her motherly advice should be followed to the letter, even when it opposes everything Jen Conrad stands for. To make matters worse, Jen’s sister, Maggie, agrees with Mom. It seems as though Jen can’t do anything right anymore, so why bother trying to please anyone other than herself? With a true talent for needlework, Jen reinvents herself in the most creative way!

This is an in-depth story with unforgettable characters and believable circumstances. After finishing this novel, I felt as though I had made a room full of new friends and found a little extra meaning to living life itself. This is a debut novel for author Kathy Weyer, which amazes me further. Stitches does not read like a book written by a novice writer, but rather one written by one of the greats.

Is it without its flaws? No, unfortunately it has many editing errors, simple ones that even a novice proofreader should have caught and fixed before sending it to print. Considering the high quality of writing and storytelling, these errors were disappointing. I would have gladly elevated this to a “Best Book” status if it were not for the editing mishaps.

Stitches is one of those rare books I am sure to find myself reading again before too long. And I am genuinely excited to see what comes next from this author! If you’ve ever read and loved best-selling author Jacqueline Susann of “Valley of the Dolls” and “Once Is Not Enough” fame, you are going to adore the work of Kathy Weyer. Ms. Susann may have had more sex in her novels, but she certainly didn’t have more heart.

Bride Brigade: Rachel Book Five by Caroline Clemmons


Bride Brigade: Rachel Book Five by Caroline Clemmons
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (190 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

A shameful past…

Rachel Ross secret haunts her. She joins other women leaving Virginia for Texas, object matrimony. Vowing never to trust again, she is rebuilding her life. She likes the dusty little town of Tarnation and is attracted to Zane Evans. Her past has made her cautious, but she allows him to court her.

Zane Evans is a former Pinkerton agent who wants to forget all he saw in that profession and the war and found a good life in Tarnation, Texas. He has carefully planned his future. When he meets Rachel, he is instantly attracted.

One event reveals her past in a spectacular way. Will Zane forgive her silence?

Could anything be worse than being an innocent woman wrongly convicted and jailed in 1873? Only if your family and friends turn against you, believing you are guilty!

Rachel Ross has only one ally the day she steps out of prison—her brother, Patrick. He takes her home where her mother, father, and sisters are waiting, only to find them ready and anxious to throw her out, shamed by her crime and imprisonment. Surely, she could convince her family that she is innocent of the charges. After all, her wretched boss framed her to cover for his embezzlement! Unfortunately, her homecoming was the worst one imaginable leaving Rachel in the predicament of finding a new home fast. With the help of her brother, Rachel sees a newspaper advertisement seeking women “for the purpose of marriage.” She arrives for her interview with Mrs. Lydia Harrison and is soon on her way to the town of Tarnation, Texas, along with several other single women. More than a dozen eligible bachelors await the bride brigade. It doesn’t take long for Rachel to meet the handsome Zane Davis, owner of the local freight office. But the thought of telling him about her past and the conviction hanging over her head fills her with enough shame and self-doubt that she decides to stay silent while keeping her heart locked up tight.

This is a unique storyline with good characters making for an entertaining read, but it had its flaws. Its multitude of editing errors (“Adam shifted rose and shifted” or “what if she they came across someone,” etc), coupled with the book’s almost indistinguishable “voice” identifying the 1873 time period, took me completely out of the story many times. Lines such as, “when the cab arrived” and “Ken Hill followed in the second vehicle” are not words that reflect the 1873 time period when horses, wagons, trains, and stagecoaches were the mode of transportation. As a fan of historical fiction, accuracy is important, too, and giving Rachel an alarm clock that she could tote around in her luggage was a tough one considering the first wind up mechanical clock didn’t come along until 1876. Alarm clocks that were in existence at that time would not have been easily transportable.  Still, I found myself making excuses for the anachronisms, because I enjoyed the story so much.

I am not normally a fan of prologues or epilogues, but this story ends with a well-written, satisfying epilogue, which ties up loose ends and unanswered questions nicely. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and I will definitely try this author on a future book.

If you crave unusual circumstances with a “mail order bride” scenario then this book will be right up your alley!

Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery

sweet-texas-kiss-by-monica-tillery
Sweet Texas Kiss by Monica Tillery
Sweet Texas Secrets 1
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (172 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Small town. Big secrets. Welcome to Sweet Ridge.

The Cooper brothers receive the shock of their lives when their deceased father, owner of the lucrative Guac Ole company, wills away their inheritances to three random women.

No one’s more surprised when Jack Cooper leaves the family estate to music superstar Macy Young than his oldest son. Seeing his childhood memories being handed over to his high school rival – the first woman to break his heart – stings, especially when Gavin is left only a pair of old reading glasses and a cryptic note. Luckily, Macy can’t sell the house for one year – plenty of time for Gavin to find a way to get it back.

Living in the harsh spotlight of country music fame has cost Macy, and a little hometown peace and quiet just might heal her soul. But giving up and giving back Gavin’s greatest prize may not be the tune she plans to sing.

Can a country star and a country veterinarian find a way to bury their animosity and rediscover their first love in the process?

Knowing what your inheritance is long before the fateful day arrives has its comforts, but can you ever be sure of what an aging and ailing father might do in his last days?

Jack Cooper built a successful guacamole company called Guac Ole with his middle son primed to take over. Grayson had worked at Guac Ole since he was old enough to earn a paycheck. Older brother Gavin became the local Veterinarian while taking on the job of caring for their father in his declining years. He was there until the end amid promises that the family home now belonged to him. Youngest Gage had nothing to fret, because Dad was leaving him oil-rich land. Jack Cooper was definitely the family patriarch and he was leaving his three boys well set.

Or so everyone believed…

On the day of Jack Cooper’s death, family friend and attorney Rodney has a bombshell for each of the three boys: Gavin’s house has been left to his high school rival, Macy Young, a television star and hit country singer. The oil-rich land Gage expected was willed to Charlotte Wilkinson, an environmental scientist, and Guac Ole, the company Grayson had worked to build, now belonged to Rebecca Nash, a floor supervisor at the same company. It seems the world has been turned upside down!

When Jack Cooper became too ill to take care of himself, Gavin moved home. He had been his father’s caretaker and companion in his final days. So after his father’s death, he planned to stay and move into the master bedroom, and most importantly, keep the home in the family. But now that his high school rival owns the home, what is a handsome, single man to do? It isn’t until lovely Macy Young arrives to check out the home left to her that the two clash—again.

Country singer Macy openly wonders why Jack Cooper, the nice father of her high school rival, would leave his house to her, but lately she is feeling the need to get away from the Hollywood rat race. She shows up to pay her last respects and check out the house. Gavin and Macy clash big time—he blames her for the death of his best friend (her singing sidekick) and she thinks he is still mad about her beating him out of the valedictorian seat in high school.

The two had several run-ins soon after Macy arrived. To me, it was unrealistic that the fact never came up that Gavin lives in the house willed to Macy. In fact, it never comes up until Macy decides to use her key and bunk there for the night! Yet when Macy realizes Gavin is living in the home, she becomes outraged. Seriously, the guy’s dad just died, his childhood home was given to you instead of him, and you’re going to barge into his house and plan to live there without any remorse?

Here’s the funny thing … I actually liked the story! It was well written, although character flaws and plot holes abound, but I can’t help but recommend it to you. There is a love scene (okay, who didn’t expect that?) between Gavin and Macy that had me fanning myself while still being clean enough to read and re-read, which is why I rated this “spicy,” albeit mild. It was tasteful and well done. By the way, the cover is so NOT this story!

Surely, stories of the other brothers must be in the works, right? Yeah, I’ll be watching for them. If you enjoy unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary romance stories, maybe you should be watching for more, too.

Finding Mimi by Gerald A. Jennings

MIMI
Finding Mimi by Gerald A. Jennings
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (56 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

David McClain, retired teacher, is depressed as he faces the fourth summer since the death of his wife. The big Victorian house, once full of the happy sounds made by his beautiful wife and three lively daughters, now is silent, and he has resigned himself to stoic loneliness.
But life still has more in store for him than he imagines, as a series of dreams begin to haunt him, awakening echoes of a forgotten love…Who was she? Why can’t he remember? Does she still exist?

Do dreams carry an underlying message that points to a situation in one’s waking life that remains unsettled? Sometimes, digging deeper is the only way to know.

David McClain knows true love better than most. Meggie was all any man could ask for in a wife. She was beautiful. She was smart. And she loved him with all her heart, just as he loved her. Together they raised three wonderful daughters before her untimely death brought his world crashing down. Four years have passed since Meggie’s death, and now, for no apparent reason, David has begun to have dreams of another woman. One whom he feels he should know, but cannot see her face well enough to remember.

Pastor Mike encourages David to seek out the help of their mutual friend, Ben, a psychologist, to help decipher the meaning of his sudden recurring dreams. Ben finds his friend’s dreams interesting enough to warrant writing a paper about them. David, however, is only interested in finding their meaning. Then one day, a dream comes when David finally sees her face clearly: Mimi.

Although this novella has an interesting tale to tell, it is disappointing in that it does just that—it tells the reader about every event. There is no firsthand experience with the sights, sounds, tastes, emotions, or lives of its characters. As a reader, I did not get to live the story with its characters, but rather stood in the background for its retelling. One early chapter gives the entire long ago backstory of the main character’s original meeting (dialogue and all) and his subsequent relationship with Mimi via a counseling session with his friend and therapist, making this feel more like an extra-long synopsis than a novel.

Finding Mimi is a quick easy read with a hint of mystery, and you’ll not find a single typo or misused word. It might be the perfect novella to take along on your next flight or quiet getaway.

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

FRENCH
The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard
La Cour des Roses Book 1
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (344 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?

Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Nick Alexander will want to join Emmy for a glass of wine as the sun sets on the terrace at La Cour des Roses.

Does La Cour des Roses, the perfect French getaway worthy of rekindling waning love, have more amenities than meets the wandering eye?

Emmy is a marketing whiz with a good job back home who thinks her life is going fairly well. She doesn’t even worry too much about the fact that she and Nathan, her boyfriend of five years, have no real marriage plans. They work together. They co-own a chic apartment. They have lots in common. Their relationship is just missing that “spark” it used to have and she is sure a two-week vacation in the lovely French countryside is exactly what their hearts need.
But just four days into their vacation at the breathtaking La Cour des Roses guesthouse, Rupert, its silver-haired owner, has an episode that resembles a heart attack. Emmy rushes to find Gloria, the man’s svelte wife, only to discover her in the throes of unbridled sex … with Nathan! What transpires after this incident is life changing for Emmy.

The main characters are expertly drawn, while the many secondary players in the book are given just enough life for us to know them without overburdening the story. There are also sprinkles of French phrases throughout adding an authentic flavor to the dialogue. The pieces are so well written they simply flow onto the pages without causing difficulty to the reader, even for those of us who do not speak French. As an added delight while reading this story, I found myself countless times saying, “what a lovely way to say that!”

The descriptions of the Loire region of France are wonderful and written in a style reminiscent of the finest travel brochures. This is the third book I’ve had the pleasure of reading by this author. All three have given me the same “traveling abroad” feel whilst still at home in my own reading chair enjoying a light romance. Her stories have the ability to whisk me away setting me down amidst the lives of people I’d enjoy knowing myself.

If you’re looking for the “perfect feel good summer read” then this book should be at the top of your list!

Sweet Kiss by Judy Ann Davis

KISS
Sweet Kiss by Judy Ann Davis
A Candy Hearts Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Valentine’s Day)
Length; Short Story (72 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Hard-working Kate Clark opens a thriving coffee shop that quickly becomes the local hang-out for students and the community. Her one wish is to eventually buy out her sister’s share of the old Florida home they inherited. However, Violet is in desperate need of cash and has other plans.

Tappe Vanderberg, Kate’s childhood friend and high school sweetheart, has sold his lucrative internet security business to return to Little Heron Shores and fulfill his dreams of owning a marina. Now the handsome Dutch-born businessman is making waves with single women all over town—including loony, post mistress Eva May Poole who’s in search of husband number three.

But it’s Kate Clark who’s wreaking havoc with Tappe’s heart, not Eva May. Can he find a way to shake the dingbat post mistress and convince Kate to give him a second chance and the sweet kiss he remembers from an earlier time?

Losing a diamond ring down the drain could put a damper on anyone’s day, but when the plumber turns out to be a former boyfriend who stirs old feelings, the day starts looking brighter! That is, until he sees the ring and decides his former flame is engaged to be married.

Kate is the hardworking, dedicated co-owner of Kate’s Coffee Shop in Little Heron Shores, Florida. Her only living relative, other than her sister Violet, passed away last year leaving Kate and Violet her homestead, which has been in the family for four generations and was their childhood home. Kate loves the old place. It leads to the backwaters and it holds many wonderful memories for Kate, most of which include her childhood friend/boyfriend, Tappe. Violet, however, doesn’t seem to have fond memories of anyone or anything. She wants Kate to sell.

Tappe is recently back from the Netherlands after a failed marriage, and he looks better than ever. He’s living and working at the nearby marina, but he would much rather buy the old homestead that Violet is so keen on selling. The fly in the ointment keeping everyone’s dreams at bay is a girl named Eva May, who you may find yourself laughing at the whole time you’re hating her.

Most of this story has a comfortable flair—friends, love, quirky people, and a hometown with old-fashioned character, but there were a few confusing instances in the story where character traits turned topsy-turvy. For example, Melanie, Kate’s best friend and business partner, has given the reader reason to believe she is hopeful Kate and Tappe might reconnect, yet when Tappe asks to see Kate, Melanie turns into an over-protective grouch and balks at even giving Kate a message from him. Even odder is Kate’s behavior when she shows no interest in even saying hello to Tappe even though their friendship has been rekindled. I was also disappointed to find a few editing errors beginning on the very first page with the word “facet” instead of “faucet.” Most glitches, however, were simply missing or omitted words.

This is a quick, clean read, especially fun around Valentine’s Day given its candy hearts theme. Readers who like romance and old friendships will settle in nicely with this cute story!