The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March

The Christmas Wishing Tree by Emily March
Publisher: St Martin’s
Genre: Romance, Holiday, Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Sometimes life’s most magical journeys bring you back to where it all began…From New York Times bestselling author Emily March comes The Christmas Wishing Tree, an enchanting account of the magic and miracle of Christmas.

A man who loves adventure and the open sea, Devin Murphy returns for a short Christmas trip to his small hometown of Eternity Springs. Immersed in the joy and magic of the holiday season all around him, he doesn’t hesitate to play along when a young boy phones Santa to ask for a very special wish. Devin never guesses that a wrong number has the potential to make everything in his life so right.

Jenna Stockton adopted Reilly when he needed a mother and she intends to keep him safe. A small town across the country called Eternity Springs seems like a good place to hide from their past without any complications —until sexy Santa himself discovers her secrets. When Devin proposes a daring plan to face down the danger together and defeat it once and for all, she is tempted. Maybe Devin really is capable of making wishes come true? Perhaps in a Christmas wish they’ll both find the miracle they’ve been looking for all along…

A cute story for a sweet time of the year.

I’d never read a book by Emily March and when I saw this one, I had to pick it up. I’m glad I did. The writing was engaging and the story interesting. It’s a good read.

I liked the characters. Dr Jenna is a smart woman who has a kid and some issues to deal with. That’s fine. I liked that she wasn’t afraid to deal with the issues (no spoilers given) and her attitude was good, too. Have a problem, deal, move on and forward. The one thing I wasn’t crazy about with her wasn’t so much her, but how she managed to fall into situations that worked out. Sure, there was one big one that wasn’t working, but things seemed to fall into place rather easily for her, despite her other troubles.

I liked Devin, too. He’s an adventurer, but he’s also a romantic. It was cute to see him get together with Jenna and her son.

One thing that kept me from totally enjoying this book was the pacing. It took a long time for the characters to get together in the same place. I liked how the author strung the story out, but at the same time, it was a little too long. But that could be me.

If you’re looking for a sweet, holiday romance with some action, some suspense and love, then this might be the one for you.

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

shell seekers
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (632 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Camellia

The Shell Seekers is a novel of connection: of one family, and of the passions and heartbreak that have held them together for three generations. The Shell Seekers is filled with real people–mothers and daughters, husband and lovers–inspired with real values. The Shell Seekers centers on Penelope Keeling–a woman you’ll always remember in world you’ll never forget. The Shell Seekers is a magical novel, the kind of reading experience that comes along only once in a long while.

At the end of a long and useful life, Penelope Keeling’s prized possession is The Shell Seekers, painted by her father, and symbolizing her unconventional life, from bohemian childhood to wartime romance. When her grown children learn their grandfather’s work is now worth a fortune, each has an idea as to what Penelope should do. But as she recalls the passions, tragedies, and secrets of her life, she knows there is only one answer…and it lies in her heart.

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Penelope is an elegant woman even in her well-worn, often shabby clothes. Her generosity, industry, joy of life, tolerance, and caring for others never seems to falter. Her gentle, steadfast inner strength shines like a golden thread in the tapestry of her whole life. Her elegance comes from within, one sees IT as she gives unstinting love, rises above mistakes and hard times and “makes-do” with what she has to work with.

Another bright thread, ever present, is her belief that money buys, not necessarily just material things, but it also buys freedom, independence, dignity, learning, and time. As she deals with her children, she comes to believe that the greatest gift a parent can give the children is to maintain one’s independence, be self-reliant, and not witless.

The reader first meets Penelope when she is in a secure place in life, even though her good health is iffy. She takes the reader back to not-secure times when mistakes were made, when World War II governed their lives, and when never-to-be-forgotten love abided for a time.

The reader get to vicariously experience life in Cornwall, England with Penelope and her artist father and his young wife Sophie, One gets to know the village people and the evacuees Doris and her two sons during scary, deprivation times of WWII. Later, life is shared with her in London with her children and a wrinkle-in-time month visit in Spain when one gets to know her daughter Olivia and her friends Cosmo and Antonia. The reader gets caught right in the middle of the never-ending conflicts that her other two children, Nancy and Noel, have with her. But one of the best experiences for this reader was the time Penelope shared with Antonia and Danus, the gardener—made my heart feel good.

Rosamunde Pilcher makes no excuses for the sins of the characters (there are many), but the reader is privy to so much more than missteps. One sees the beauty of life through Penelope’s eyes as she copes and accepts whatever comes her way, never admitting defeat, and all the while stays true and honest to herself.

The Shell Seekers is a family-love saga—compelling , satisfying, memorable, and is beautifully,masterfully written.

Deeper Than Need by Shiloh Walker

Deeper Than Need by Shiloh Walker
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Time heals all wounds

Eager to put a dark, troubled past behind her, Trinity Ewing buys an old house that will make the perfect refuge for her and her young son once renovations are complete. The last thing on her mind is finding someone new…but the contractor she’s hired is an irresistible distraction—and Trinity can’t help but fantasize about all the business they could be doing behind closed doors.

So does one man’s touch

Noah Benningfield thought he’d put his demons behind him. But the moment he lays eyes on Trinity, the temptation he feels is too powerful to deny. Soon the attraction between them explodes into something neither of them could have imagined. But their desire will be put to the test when a shocking local murder has them dodging danger at every turn. Can the beautiful and damaged Trinity trust someone like Noah, whose own past is as haunted as her own? The only thing she knows for sure is that she can’t live without a man who makes her feel this good—over and over again…

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Noah Benningfield has troubles of his own. His demons haunt his dreams and waking hours. When he sees Trinity, he thinks maybe there is a chance to find something more.

Deeper Than Need had a good premise. Two characters with haunted pasts coming together in a house with a less than savory history. Trinity needs a new start with her son and Noah wants to silence the voices that keep him up half the night. Organizing the clean-up and repairs for the old Frampton place, the two find the past is very much alive-or dead if you count the body waiting for them underneath the floorboards of the house.

Just like that a local murder is discovered, and with it the door to the past is wrenched open. Two wounded characters fumble their way through attraction, murder, taking care of Trinity’s son and the deaths of kids under Noah’s protection. The story spins up and the plot has some interesting twists. Bodies. A murderous history in Trinity’s new house. Missing kids. Missing women. Addiction. Coping. Random sex with people who hate each other.

I hadn’t read any of the previous novels/novellas in this series. From the start I felt like I was missing something. Pieces that should have made sense didn’t as a stand-alone book. The other issue I had was I could not connect with the characters. They were not relatable to me. I tried to like Trinity, but ended up being annoyed with her most of the time. Her thoughts were disjointed and much of her thoughts about Noah were insipid and repetitive. Noah was much more likeable because of his work with troubled kids, but even still the back and forth of the foreshadowing was distracting. I kept putting the book down and had to struggle my way through to the end.

One thing about the book that did resonate with me was the aspect of healing as part of the reconstructive process. Noah wasn’t just there helping Trinity repair her house, a house that held a prominent place in his past. He was rebuilding himself along the way. Trinity was as well. They both had shattered and scarred lives and were desperately trying to build something on a solid foundation. That something just happened to be a house with a body buried beneath it. The love Trinity bears for her son and her willingness to sacrifice herself for his safety was also something I appreciated.

This book is more mystery than a contemporary romance.  The mystery and sinister goings on were a good start. Not being able to connect to the people and feeling lost really put a damper on this story for me. If you are going to read it, I would go back and read the beginning. It would have filled in some of the plot holes.

An interesting mystery with some potential as a series.

Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman


Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (334 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Lily Andrews, the beautiful, headstrong Countess of Merrill, is rumored to have authored a scandalous pamphlet. Secrets of a Wedding Night has scared the ton’s young ladies away from the marriage mart. The young widow soon meets her match when recently jilted Devon Morgan, Marquis of Colton, issues her a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced!

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I’ve not read many historicals. For me, they can be hard to get into because I don’t know much about the time period and I just accept what’s happening even if it’s wrong. Then came this book. Ms. Bowman sucked me in to the storyline from the first page and didn’t let go until well after the last. I thought about the book when I couldn’t be reading it and wondered what the characters would be doing next. The writing is crisp and tight, but pulled me right along.

The thing I liked the most about this book is that the characters are realistic. Yes, it’s historical, but they don’t read like stodgy old time characters. The situations are olden times, but the way they deal with the predicaments is very human and relatable. I not only rooted for them, but I sped on to make sure they got their HEA. I’m glad I did. There is a great deal of miscommunication and heartbreak for these two, Lily and Devon, to work through and I liked how they did. The pamphlet is deliciously sexy and fun, even if it does break up Devon’s current relationship. I could relate to them and hoped they’d work things out.

This a delightfully sexy read that you won’t want to miss. So don’t! Grab a copy today!