Monday, November 6, 2017

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection



Mary Connealy tells eight entertaining love stories in this newest novella collection.  The six novellas  that revisit families from Connealy's previous series were decidedly my favorite.

A Bride Rides Herd, His Surprise Family, Sophie's Other Daughter, The Sweetwater Bride, Texas Tea, and Hope for Christmas will delight fans of the Harden, McClellan and Reeves families.  While I enjoyed The Advent Bride and Homestead on the Range, they were certainly less engaging and almost unnecessary additions to the otherwise excellent collection.  Someone unfamiliar with Connealy's previous books would likely not enjoy these stories as an avid fan would, however.  I sometimes find Connealy's   character development a bit too obvious and heavy-handed, but this is strikingly less distracting in the novella genre.  In fact, many of my favorite of Connealy's works have been novellas, rather than her full-length novels.  I could not put this book down, and foresee reading it many times over.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Engagement Plot



When William betrayed Hanna's trust on national television months ago, she retreated to her farm in Minnesota to avoid the accusations and media attention that followed her appearance on a reality dating show.  While not ready to forgive William, Hanna agrees to his plan to fake an engagement in an attempt to save her reputation and his career.  Will Hanna be able to protect her heart against the charming CEO a second time?  Can Will earn Hanna's forgiveness once an for all, and admit that his feeling for her might be genuine?  When both of their worlds come crashing down, will they choose to trust and depend on one another, or go their separate ways?

Kristina Phillips tells a timely and entertaining story in The Engagement Plot.  I will openly admit to The Bachelor having often been a guilty pleasure for me, so was immediately intrigued by the premise.  Phillips brings up a number of excellent themes given today's media-obsessed culture.  How much should we care about what other people think?  How much does God require us to forgive?  Is deception ever justified?  Can we ever rebuild trust once it has been lost?  The plot itself, while obviously a bit predictable, was fun and moved along quickly.  I like both Hanna and William, and found them compelling romantic leads.  The conclusion, however, was a bit abrupt and unsatisfying.  I would have appreciated one more chapter or an epilogue to cement the overall happy ending.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Dangerous Engagement


With her small dowry, Felicity Mayson begins to despair of ever making a good match.  When her aunt, Lady Blackstone, sends her an invitation to a house party and introduces her to the charming and affluent Oliver Ratley, Felicity begins to believe she may have finally found a man who does not mind her lack of fortune.  She accepts Ratley's abrupt proposal only to discover the alarming purpose of the house party and its guests.  Rather than a country getaway, Lady Blackstone has convened a meeting of a radical group of men and women bent on a violent overthrow of the British government.

Government agent Phillip McDowell has infiltrated the group, and soon discovers Felicity's dangerous position.  In order to gather necessary evidence against the group, Phillip convinces Felicity to continue her engagement with Ratley.  Will they each be capable of playing this dangerous game without any of the guests discovering their true intentions?  Will Felicity be forced into a hasty marriage to a terrifying revolutionary?  Will the respect and admiration Phillip and Felicity develop for one another ever have a chance to grow amid such intrigue?

Melanie Dickerson takes readers of a thrilling adventure in A Dangerous Engagement.  This was my first experience with Dickerson's Regency Spies of London series, and I found that the strengths and weaknesses in her various medieval series have followed her to this one.  Her historical descriptions and overall storytelling is, once again, excellent.  Character development?  Still flawed.  As always, I admire her male characters, and continually wonder what they see in the female love interest.  While Felicity manages to be function as a spy in a dangerous situation, she still makes stupid decisions (that of course require her to be rescued) and often faints.  Why can't one of Dickerson's female leads be strong and independent for once?  My inner feminist wants more to cheer for.  Overall, though, Dickerson's latest is a fun, entertaining story with a satisfying conclusion.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

No review this week (I'm working on some, I promise...) but here's a look at our family's first trip out to Albuquerque for Balloon Fiesta! 












Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lies Jane Austen Told Me


Having "broken up" with Jane Austen in college, Emma Pierce does her best to live an a practical, grounded way-- always surpassing her inner romantic.  When her long-time boyfriend, Blake Hampton, invites her to his family home for a weekend, Emma lets her friends convince her that Blake intends to propose.  When Emma finds Blake dining with another woman, though, her romantic dreams come crashing down once again.  Determined to focus on her fast-paced job as the CMO of a growing gym franchise, Emma finds it difficult to forget Blake when her boss hires Blake's brother, Lucas.  Though a deep friendship develops and sparks fly between Emma and Lucas, Emma can't understand why Lucas continually tries to convince her to give her relationship with Blake another chance.  Will Emma decide to follow her heart and embrace her inner Jane Austen, or will she continue to maintain that romance itself is a lie?

Julie Wright tells an entertaining contemporary love story in Lies Jane Austen Told Me.  While I appreciated the concept of the plot and enjoyed Lucas and Emma's love story, Wright's writing was a bit casual and scattered for my taste.  I grew tired of the almost schizophrenic ramblings of Emma's mind.  Additionally, the conclusion of the story itself was satisfying, but it took an unreasonable amount of time to get there.  Too many characters made too many mountains out of molehills to be really believable.  I genuinely liked the book, but never really lost myself in it.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Regency Brides Collection



As an unabashed lover of all things Regency England, it shouldn't be surprising that I jumped all over the chance to review this wonderful little collection of seven novellas.  Michelle Griep and MaryLu Tyndall happen to be favorites of mine, so I was reasonably sure I'd love at least two of the included stories.  Luckily for me, I thoroughly enjoyed almost every single one!  Each takes a look at different aspects, regions, and peculiarities of a fascinating time in English history, while telling a host of lovely love stories.  I was least impressed with Susanne Dietze's Three Little Matchmakers, and Nancy Moser's When I Saw His Face, but Griep and Tyndal's additions did not disappoint, and I was particularly impressed with Amanda Barratt's First Comes Marriage.  I also may have re-read the end of Erica Vestch's Jamie Ever After an embarrassing number of times.  I'll certainly be adding Barratt and Vestch to my list of authors to watch.  Short and sweet, these seven stories kept me more than entertained on a rainy weekend a few weeks ago!

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Dangerous Legacy


Associated Press telegrapher Lucy Drake loves her job at the very heart of the American news industry.  During her free-time, however, Lucy and her brother spend most of their waking hours and hard-earned salaries on a court case involving a contentious and complicated family feud.  When Sir Colin Beckwith arrives to manage the Reuters-- the AP's rival news agency-- Lucy can't help but enjoy his company, and eventually finds a way for him to gather vital information for her court case.  

On the hunt for an American heiress to help save his family's home and tenets, Colin uses his British title to rub elbows with America's gilded elite.  Though enchanted by Lucy's tenacity and gumption, Colin cannot afford to fall in love with a fortune-less woman.  Will their deepening friendship and undeniable attraction to one another lead them to follow their hearts, or will Colin and Lucy continue to sacrifice their own desires for family obligations and money?  

Elizabeth Camden takes readers on a compelling journey in A Dangerous Legacy.  As a devoted fan of Camden's work,  I had been somewhat disappointed in her last two novel attempts, but am more than happy to assert that this latest work may be one of my new favorites.  Both Lucy and Colin were believable and flawed, but still likable as protagonists-- which had been my primary complaint in To the Farthest Shores and From this Moment.  I truly enjoyed their individual journeys to let go of past expectations and disappointments in an attempt to finally embrace the lives they'd been given.  I have always loved America's gilded age, and the depictions of unabashed fortune-hunting European aristocrats, the fast-paced world of the burgeoning news industry, and even the field of mental health were fascinating.  With her typical talent, Camden brings a lovely story to a beautifully satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader ready for yet another journey into the past. 

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.