Summer Dreams by Delia Latham


Summer Dreams by Delia Latham
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (173 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

The Getaway Of A Lifetime…Kinda.

Summer Callihan isn’t in Cambria for the beach or the ocean or the pine-scented air around Paradise Pines Lodge. She’s there as a companion to her flighty cousin, Deah–with the understanding that they will have separate agendas the entire time. Summer just wants to be left alone to dream up the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym.

A Real-life Hero Who Rivals a Romance Novel…Really!

But never in Summer’s wildest writer’s imagination does she dream of being caught in an undertow and almost drowning, only to be rescued by a wealthy artist. And when Logan Bullard proves hard to shake, Summer fears for her heart–especially when Deah sets her sights on Logan.

A Cupid to pull it all together…?

But at Paradise Pines Lodge, what’s meant to be has a way of happening…at the best time and in the best way. Miss Angelina Love–who may or may not own the place–has an “in” with Heaven’s own “department of romance.” And she’s determined to see Summer and Logan together.

Logan, an artist, has been dreaming of an unknown woman who he longs to meet. In his dreams she dances before the ocean but is swept away by a huge wave. At this point he usually wakes up, but he’s aware this event will happen, he doesn’t know when, but it will happen.

Summer, an author, and her cousin Deah are on holiday at the Paradise Pines Lodge. Summer has a niche above the beach where she loves to write in peace. At the end of one session she decides to praise dance on the beach. This is when Logan’s dream comes true and he acts the hero and rescues her.

This book is inspirational in many ways more than religion. This story gave a feeling of warmth and love. The Lodge owner Miss Angie provided the right amount of stability in the background and Deah provided the conflict. This book was well written and a lovely read. The only problem I had was I felt at times the religious aspect was told not shown. Miss Angie’s Bible quotes were good and in context, Summer’s praise dance was visually wonderful, but when Logan and Summer talked to one another every other sentence seemed to have mention of God, which is not a natural way to speak in every day life. While religious talk is to be expected in an inspirational book, it seemed to be a little over the top.

This is an enjoyable read and provided the warmth, conflict and resolution to make it excellent.

Miss Fishfly by Linda S. Glaz

FLY
Miss Fishfly by Linda S. Glaz
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational
Length: Short Story (89 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Searching for love everywhere but in the right places, Christie Hayes is confounded when chocolate brown eyes wink at her at her best friend’s wedding. A narrow miss of the bedpan, and she discovers old Mr. Hartway’s grandson, Colton Keller, and brown eyes are one in the same.

Christie Hayes has a record for falling for the bad boy, then having her heart crumpled and broken. Maid of Honour at her best friend’s wedding, freshly single again, she swears not to repeat her mistakes, only to find herself unable to look away from one of the best men. Cole Keller has a new mantra – love ‘em and move on. With his shady past and wounded heart after his previous love had run off with a friend while he was captured in a cell in Iraq, Cole has no desire to open himself up to that brand of heartache again. Thrown together again after the wedding, Christie is surprised when one of her patients turns out to be Cole’s grandfather, dying of cancer but determined to live until the fireworks on Fourth of July. This is a heart warming story where Christie and Cole have more than a few cupids trying to set them up – and also some obstacles and mis-communications confounding them both.

I found this to be really well written, with characters that sucked me in right from the first chapter. Cole and Christie have both been hurt, damaged in their own way, and both are trying to make the best of their solitude. Working through their personal issues, and with friends and family urging them to open themselves more to the spiritual side of human nature, and have faith and trust in God more, there is a lot going on in this story. Full of fun antics, heartwarming friendship and complicated relationships this is a fast-paced novel that draws you in and held my attention throughout. I also got a bit of a kick out of the “friends without benefits” line they tried to describe their burgeoning relationship as it was different to so many other novels out there.

While Christianity and God are a heavy influence in this book, it’s not the sole driving force behind the plot. Instead, it’s woven quite skillfully throughout the story, instead of being Bible-bashed or hammered into the reader. I found this far more realistic, and more of a pleasure to read than other Christian inspirational books. Church, God, spirituality and Christian beliefs are a strong theme, especially relating to love, marriage and trust – but it’s worked well into the characters, their interactions and their friends giving advice. I found this still managed to give a strong impression, but not drive the whole story. I thought this left the characters and plot far more room to shine and grow, and quite enjoyed this style of story telling.

Conversely quite a bit of the story is dedicated to misunderstandings between Cole and Christie. While this was a bit more clichéd and predictable, there were enough surprises and fresh, different aspects that it didn’t overshadow the story or detract much from my enjoyment. One of the most notable surprises was a particular scene where Cole and Christie go on their first date, and Cole tells Christie about his experiences in Iraq. While not graphic or gore-filled, I personally found them a challenging read – and certainly something totally different for a romance novel. I think the author had a lot of guts adding this into the book. To my mind it adds an extra layer of reality to the character of Cole, an ex-solider, but also was something quite unexpected. While the mis-communications were a little clichéd, they were totally offset by some of the stronger details of soldiers getting used to civilian life after war, the realities of facing death from sickness (cancer), and learning to overcome hurt in the past and betrayal by family, lovers and other people important in our lives. This certainly isn’t your average Christian romance book, that’s for sure.

An interesting blend of classic, sweet and military – I feel certain this will appeal to a wide range of readers. There is no graphic sex, and indeed nothing stronger than a few kisses between Cole and Christie. I found this sweet enough to let mature teenagers read or to loan to your mum or granny. This is still undoubtedly a romance and filled with a strong, interesting cast of secondary characters and a vibrant moral/Christian themed basis. I think there’s also plenty of reality and enough adventures to interest a broad range of tastes. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily read more by this author.

Hidden in Pages by Laura Briggs

PAGES

Hidden in Pages by Laura Briggs
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Telstar

Adelle Bradbury doesn’t like adventure—in books or real life. As a quiet librarian who hides behind reading glasses, she doesn’t expect to be swept into a dangerous mission to recover one of the world’s most famous lost treasures. But that’s exactly what happens when a mysterious history buff enlists her help to recover a treasure map—A map he insists is concealed in one of the library’s old books, its contents revealing the secret location of King Solomon’s missing wealth. Suddenly, mild-mannered Adelle is thrust into a world of treasure hunters, secret societies, and thieving profiteers. In a mad dash to protect the treasure, she finds a courage she never expected and something more—the possibility of true love.

“Who ever said being a librarian was safe?”

This fun story with its typical bookish librarian at the forefront of dangerous intrigue will satisfy that craving for a few moments of sweet escape. And with a hero reminiscent of Indiana Jones, what more could a true lover of romance ask for? Oh, that’s right, there must be some spiteful villains, a mystery to solve and, of course, a treasure to find. It’s all in these few pages. My only complaint is that I wanted the story to continue. Author Laura Briggs does a wonderful job drawing out her characters and, even though this story is short, we get a really good view of what the future holds for Adelle and Brandon.

If you’re collecting a library of short reads for yourself, don’t pass up Hidden in Pages.

Treehouse by Delia Latham

TREEHOUSE

Treehouse by Delia Latham
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Short Story (38 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Telstar

Tim Kerschner’s attachment to a solitary aspen on property he inherits goes much deeper than aesthetics. Can he make landscape architect Ryann Dean understand his refusal to let her chop down this single tree in a forest of them?

Ryann loves her job in Bliss, Oregon. Junior high teacher Tim Kerschner, on the other hand, she’d be happy to have never met. The man’s handsome face loses any appeal in light of his arrogance and obvious inclination to violence—the latter of which Ryann despises for reasons close to her heart.

A visit to what lies within the branches of the controversial tree could give them both a whole new outlook on life…and on each other.

Can the existence of a single tree become a pivotal point of one’s life and love?

Author Delia Latham’s book, Treehouse, answers that question in a few short pages that are filled with enough emotion that its readers will swing from one end of the pendulum to the other.

In just 38 pages, the author manages to give the characters of her book both dimension and a perspective that I found unique and refreshing.

The benefits of forgiving and accepting are well illustrated within this story without being preachy. It’s well written and the pacing comfortably fits the story. With so few pages, it’s the perfect book for that afternoon break when you only have a few minutes, but want something good to read.

Wounded Faith by Mary Manners

Wounded Faith by Mary Manners
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Inspirational, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (39 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Azalea

Kylie Jordan struggles to piece her damaged life back together following the senseless death of her sister at the hands of a drunk driver. She spearheads a grief support group at New Hope Church to ease the pain, and tends to the roadside cross placed in her sister’s memory. Mason Bennett yearns to make sense of the reckless actions that stole his brother’s life, as well as the life of an innocent victim. His pain leads him to New Hope Church–and Kylie Jordan. Kylie and Mason’s lives are woven together by a single, irrevocable moment in time. When the past is revealed, will their faith–and love–sustain them, or will Kylie’s fragile trust be forever shattered?

Kylie Jordan, a social worker, struggles to mend her broken life after the death of her sister a year earlier. The pregnant nurse was coming home from work when she was broad-sided by a drunk driver. Faith lingered on for three days, but the driver of the other car was killed instantly. Kylie erected a white cross where the accident occurred, and she passes it each time she goes to the grief support group she leads at her church.

Mason Bennett also lost a family member. His brother Braden died a year earlier when his out of control car hit another vehicle. Mason was a passenger and is haunted by guilt. He was sober and he should have prevented his brother from getting behind the wheel. Life hasn’t been easy for Mason, but he’s decided to attend a grief support group to see if that will help. He meets Kylie in the parking lot and instantly finds her appearance and manner appealing. After the meeting he lingers, helps her straighten the meeting room, then asks her out for ice cream.

As the days pass, Kylie and Mason find themselves enjoying one another’s companionship ­the first social enjoyment for either in a year. Mason is a civil engineer, and Kylie has a plan to construct a bridge over the creek near the church, then landscape the area with flowers and benches. She asks Mason if he’d like to help. Only when they’ve finished the project and have extra plants to use does he finally connect the lonely white cross with the name Faith written on it with Kylie. It seems both their lives are woven together by a tragic incident. Will their faith be the catalyst to begin the rebuilding process? Can they turn tragedy into hope?

Ms. Manners has penned a moving short story of faith, love and hope. While it’s hard to develop characters with any degree of depth in such a short piece, Manners has done a credible job. I enjoyed Wounded Faith very much.

Catch Your Breath by Kathryn J Bain

Catch Your Breath by Kathryn J Bain
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (233 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Calley Regan only wants to get through her cousin’s bridal shower without anyone discovering her secret—she’s pregnant. Her sanctimonious family would never understand. Then the one person she confides in happens to tell the incredibly handsome, but seriously uptight, sheriff, Riley Owens—who’s just given her a speeding ticket! How can she trust the brooding, inflexible lawman when he’s everything she’s not? Riley Owens is instantly attracted to Calley Regan, but it won’t come to anything. For years, he’s lived mired in guilt, and carefree Calley is his polar opposite. But, when someone attacks Calley, Riley is determined to protect her no matter what it takes, and when her family deserts her, he takes Calley into his home. Years ago, he couldn’t save the woman he loved. He’s not about to let that happen again.

It’s bad enough when you find out that the attractive man you’ve been dating got you pregnant. It’s a lot worse when you find out he’s been married all along…

Ms. Bain gives you two main characters, Calley and Riley, who are independent and have no plans on getting involved again. Calley is still trying to get over the rat that got her pregnant, and Riley lost his fiancé in a bank robbery and doesn’t want to risk love again. This sets the stage for a lot of banter, a good batch of stubbornness and some antagonism on both sides. The author writes the dialogue realistically and makes the developing romance charming. The story begins with Calley throwing up on Riley’s shoes right after he gives her a ticket for speeding. She told him he needed to let her use the bathroom, but he ignored her. He deserved it.

The murder attempts are odd. Calley has no enemies and has blown off the baby’s father; she will raise the baby independently. The author writes a twisted tale that is strange enough to be true. I had no clue who the killer was until I was almost at the end of the story. Even then, I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out.

Another interesting part of the plot is how Calley is treated by her family when they find out she’s pregnant. Her mother claims she’s a Christian, but she doesn’t act like one.

All in all, the author’s words flow well, the story is interesting and the romance blossoming is sweet. I enjoyed this read. Why not try it yourself and see if you can guess the murderer sooner than I did?

Lost in Lone Creek by Mary Manners

Lost in Lone Creek by Mary Manners
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Short Story (74 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Telstar

Carson Merrill loves only one thing more than Lone Creek Ranch—high school sweetheart Jessica Tate. He has plans to marry her, until one fateful night a devastating accident nearly kills her brother, James, and claims the use of his legs. Jessica flees to Nashville, blaming Carson for her brother’s paralysis, and avoids him—and James—for more than a year. Jessica returns to Lone Creek as one of the top producing land developers in the area, and she has one goal—to banish Carson forever from her memory while taking what he still loves—Lone Creek Ranch. But God has other plans—to draw the two together in a development project that will satisfy both their desires, and help them to reclaim the love they once shared.

An offer that should never have been made. Two wounded people. Two opposing objectives. Enemies or lovers…do they have a choice?

Lost in Lone Creek is a sweet and endearing love story with characters that are easy to warm up to. For Jessica, resentment and blame have been her dominant emotions for the past year. Emotions that caused her to close her heart toward the man she loved and to flee Lone Creek. And even though she’s returned, it’s for all the wrong reasons.

The story line of misunderstandings and lost chances is nothing new. And if there hadn’t been an outstanding feature that kept me reading to the end, I would have probably given this story three stars. However, author Mary Manners does an exceptional job with dialogue. Through that, and body language, she allowed me to know her characters more deeply. Showing is so much more effective than just telling because it lets me, the reader, shape this character in my mind, forging a strong bond that compels me to stay with that character until the end.

Another aspect of the author’s writing is her use of unique, descriptive language that gives her readers a new and fresh view of familiar scenes, objects, or character reactions. It’s not easy to describe a sunset or smile in a new way, but she manages to do that and more in Lost in Lone Creek.

If you’re looking for a read to fit into one of those brief moments of private time, the length of this story will work well, not only that, you’ll also come away with having found two new friends in Jessica and Carson. And don’t forget, this is just one of the stories in the Lone Creek Ranch Series.

Gold, Frankincense, and Murder by Barbara Early

Gold, Frankincense, and Murder by Barbara Early
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (89 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

High school geometry teacher, Donna Russell likes her life well-ordered and logical, even if it is a tad solitary at times. But when a charming co-worker at the local food bank disappears just before Christmas, Donna is left with more questions than solutions.

After the missing man’s neighbor, muscle-bound EMT Sam Holton, volunteers as Donna’s crime-fighting sidekick, sparks fly between them. Donna wonders if Sam can be trusted, or if he’s trying to throw an unknown into her calculations—and her life.

And when police recover a body from the icy Niagara River, Donna is faced with the most frustrating equation of all: can murder plus mayhem ever equal romance?

Something smells fishy at the food pantry, and it isn’t the old cans of tuna.

I knew I was in for an entertaining story as soon as I met Donna on the first page. As Donna restocks the shelves at the food pantry, she’s mildly annoyed at having to fill in for Neal, who missed his shift for the second Saturday in a row. I could clearly picture her banging cans of food around as she groused about men and her nonexistent social life. Even though Donna is wishing for a romantic relationship, I like that she didn’t wallow in self pity. She finds self-worth in her job, her volunteer efforts, and her faith. Things take a more serious turn when Donna realizes something might be wrong with Neal. Soon Donna finds herself investigating the murder of a friend, but she’s just an amateur sleuth. Will she discover the culprit before she becomes the next victim?

Donna is such a fun character. She’s smart, caring, and has a wonderful, wry sense of humor. While her mind is often filled with amusing thoughts concerning those around her, she laughs at herself just as much. She’s a little on the cynical side, but not truly bitter. I think she’d be a great friend. Donna also strikes me as a bit of a control freak who does not handle the unknown very well. When Neal’s attractive neighbor, Sam, offers to help her investigate, she’s reluctant to accept his help. I laughed when she made a chart with one side labeled “Cute Sam” and one side “Scary Sam” that outlined the pros and cons of working with the man. Despite her reluctance, Donna and Sam have great chemistry and their sweet, flirty moments added a subtle, romantic touch to the story.

The secondary characters are not quite as rounded as I usually like, but they definitely frame Donna well and help move the plot along. Perhaps the most interesting secondary character is Donna’s cat, Soot. Soot’s battle with the Christmas tree had me laughing out loud.

Donna’s list of suspects is short, but I didn’t connect the dots until right before the murderer was revealed. All the pieces needed to solve the puzzle are present, and I was kicking myself for not picking up on a crucial clue earlier in the story. Once things click into place, the mystery is wrapped up quickly. Justice is served and there are no loose ends.

I thoroughly enjoyed Gold, Frankincense, and Murder. It is an all around fun mystery story with a dash of romance mixed in. Anyone looking for an entertaining cozy mystery with a touch of romance should certainly check this story out.

Husband Material by Annette M. Irby

Husband Material by Annette M. Irby
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (37 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Azalea

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can’t bring himself to break their annual dinner date-that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr. Lara doesn’t have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that’s what she tells herself so she doesn’t have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara’s business is failing, and it just may take a miracle-or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen-to save it. Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?

Husband Material is a delightful read.

Lara Farr inherits her grandparents’ restaurant. Business is okay but could be better. However, when Wyatt Hansen stops at his usual table at The Blue Hyacinth on Valentine’s Day, Lara finds herself attracted to the lonely widower. On learning that Wyatt’s business is turning failing businesses into successful ones, she knows he’s the man to help her. But can she agree to his terms when her rule is to not mix business with pleasure?

Lara first spots Wyatt in the supermarket looking sort of stunned at the big Valentine’s display. At once she sees his pain and asks if he needs help. Then later, when he reserves her best table at the restaurant, she forces herself to be nice, even though she’s puzzled that a grieving man would occupy the choice location when she has a line of patrons waiting for seats. At her break she visits the table and is astonished to feel an attraction to the handsome widower. She learns his line of work involves bringing businesses back from the brink of destruction and she asks if he’d be interested in helping hers.

While it’s often difficult to flesh out characters in a short story, author Irby has done a remarkable job of creating two hurting, but likable people who might be ready to take the next step forward. The faith aspect of the story fits well into who each character is; in fact it endears both of them to this reader. Though the plot is light, it comprises all the hopes and fears of a much longer book and made this reviewer wish it had gone on for many more pages.

Ms. Irby captured my attention with a strong story and believable characters. I felt Wyatt’s pain and his struggle to move forward with his life. I sympathized with Lara’s wariness after a long relationship with a man who couldn’t commit. Ms. Irby has created a winner.

Pursued by Lillian Duncan

Pursued by Lillian Duncan
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Suspense/Mystery, Holiday (Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Length: Full Length (269 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Big-city Lawyer. Country Farmer. In the normal course of events, their lives would never intersect… But some accidents aren’t meant to be avoided. When attorney Reggie Meyers crashes into Dylan Monroe on the freeway, it makes a bad day even worse—or so she thinks until she discovers she’s the prey in the deadly hunt of an unknown killer. Now, trusting this man she hardly knows is Reggie’s best chance for survival. The problem? Reggie doesn’t trust anyone. When Dylan catches a glimpse of Reggie’s ransacked apartment, his protective instincts kick in. He wants to help her, but she’s not inclined to believe a simple country farmer has what it takes. Reggie doesn’t realize Dylan knows a lot about hunting—and being hunted. He’s up for the task of trapping a killer, keeping Reggie safe, and winning her heart—if she’ll let him.

Reggie’s bad day just got a whole lot worse.

Reggie is certainly the most interesting lawyer I’ve had the pleasure of reading about. She had my sympathy from the very start of the book. First, she bungles an important contract, and then she’s in a wreck in holiday traffic. Fortunately the man in the other car is Dylan Monroe. Dylan insists on driving her home. Once there, they find that Reggie’s apartment has been ransacked. As if that weren’t enough, when Dylan and Reggie come back to clean the apartment on the day after Thanksgiving, someone starts shooting at her. Dylan insists he can protect her, but Reggie has trust issues. Will she take a leap of faith and trust a man she’s hardly knows?

Ms. Duncan really knows how to pace a good suspense. From the moment Reggie is in a wreck, her life becomes a series of life threatening incidents that kept me turning pages. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Reggie and Dylan next. Even though the book was fast paced, Ms. Duncan worked in some slower moments that highlighted Dylan and Reggie’s softer sides and allowed me to get to know them better. I particularly liked the scene when Dylan gave Reggie a tour of his hometown. I couldn’t help but smile as Dylan described each of the buildings and the people who lived in them. I’m sure anyone who’s ever lived in a small town will crack a smile when they come to that passage.

I also loved the way that Dylan witnessed to Reggie. Reggie grew up in foster care and doesn’t trust or depend on anyone but herself, and she certainly doesn’t have any faith in God. However, Dylan, his family, and friends slowly begin to change her mind. Dylan shared his faith with Reggie simply by living a life following Christ’s example.

I thought that Dylan and Reggie made a good couple despite coming from completely different worlds. Reggie loves the city and wants nothing more than to be a successful attorney. Her trust issues make it hard for anyone to get close to her. Dylan’s heart resides in the country on his farm. He’s an open and trusting soul willing to lend a hand to help a stranger. Despite the huge differences in their lives, Dylan and Reggie find themselves falling in love. I liked that their love for each other didn’t magically fix all their issues. They really had to work for their happy ending, but there is no doubt in my mind that they will have a very happy life together.

Pursued is a fast paced story filled with characters that defy expectations. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good romantic suspense mixed with an inspirational message.