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.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Too Far Down

While trouble has been following the Boden family and their ranch for years, their powerful and well-connected enemies seem to have begun targeting the profitable CR Mining Company too.  When someone purposely detonates dynamite at the entrance of several mines and kills five men, and the life of patriarch Chance Boden is threatened again in far-away Denver, the Boden children decide to find and eliminate their elusive enemy once and for all.  

Having served as the mine's manager ever since he returned from Harvard, the destruction at the mines hits Cole Boden particularly hard.  Will the love of his family and his confusing feelings for his neighbor-- Melanie Blake-- be able to keep Cole in the New Mexico territory, or will the rugged danger send him back to the intriguing world of business he left behind back East?  Melanie Blake grew up with the Boden children, and has been a friend to Justin and Sadie for years.  More interested in horses and guns than silk dresses, Mel has never quite understood her infatuation with Cole.  When Cole begins to show an interest in her, will she have the strength to protect her heart from a man who hasn't truly decided what he wants in life? 

Mary Coneally brings her Cimarron Legacy trilogy to an exciting and satisfying conclusion in Too Far Down.  Much like the second installment, this novel takes place just weeks after Long Time Gone, and the plots of all three novels are intricately intertwined.  Readers should view The Cimarron Legacy as a three-part story, rather than a series of three individual novels.  Having made the mistake of not re-reading No Way Up when Conneally released her second installment, I brushed up on the Boden family before starting this newest addition.  I'm certainly glad I did.  In re-reading the first two installments, I also decided that the first and last novels are superior to the middle one.  Cole's struggle to find his identity and reconcile his two lives is compelling, Melanie's need to protect herself from Cole's indecision shows wisdom and strength, Chance and Veronica's mistake in making unfair demands on their grown children is (finally) addressed, the chance to see Sadie, Heath, Justin and Angie in their first weeks of marriage is enjoyable, and solving the mysteries surrounding the CR's enemies was sufficiently satisfying.  As a resident of New Mexico these days, I particularly enjoyed this glimpse into American history.  

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

101 Days

No reviews this week... the boys and I have been busy celebrating the return of a certain pilot after a 3-month deployment!

It was a lonely summer... but definitely not boring!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Christmas at Carnton

Recently widowed, pregnant, out of work, and facing the foreclosure of her home, Aletta Prescott is desperate to find a new job that will allow her to support herself and her six-year-old son.  She eventually finds a short-term position working with the Women's Relief Society auction, but has to work alongside and depend on a wounded soldier also assigned to the auction.  Will Aletta learn to trust God to supply her needs when her temporary position at Carnton ends?  Will she have the courage to give her heart away after it has so recently been broken?  

Wounded confederate sharpshooter Jake Winston begrudgingly takes an assignment working with the Women's Relief Society while he waits for his vision to recover from a serious head injury.  Wishing  he was back on the battlefield with his unit, Jake must learn to define himself outside his rank and occupation.  Will his friendship with Aletta show Jake that he still has value?  Is he willing to risk forming attachments when the war still seems far from over? 

In her typical fashion, Tamera Alexander tells a lovely story full of fascinating historical detail in Christmas as Carnton.  While the plot was a bit predictable-- even with the supposed twists toward the end-- Jake and Aletta's characters were beautifully written and compelling to explore.  I loved Aletta's gumption and Alexander's feminist undertones woven throughout the story.  Why can't a woman build a nativity set?  Jake's struggle to accept the end of his sharpshooting career and the guilt he feels being away from the battlefield was equally interesting.  As a matter of personal taste, I would have preferred that Aletta hadn't been quite so recently widowed.  One month seems like an awfully short amount of time to have recovered from the death of her spouse to the point that she feels as drawn to Jake as she was.  Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to Alexander's upcoming series set at Carnton, and cannot wait for more! 

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