Shades of Wrath (A Caprice DeLuca Home Staging Mystery) by Karen Rose Smith (review by Cathy)

shades-of-wrath

About the book:

SHADES OF WRATH is book 6 in Karen Rose Smith’s Caprice De Luca Home Staging cozy mystery series.

Between her booming business, her family, and her work rescuing stray animals, home stager Caprice De Luca’s life is packed. But when a murder unsettles peaceful Kismet, Pennsylvania, she adds amateur sleuth to her resume.   Thanks to a wealthy patron, Kismet’s women’s shelter, Sunshine Tomorrow, has inherited a run-down mansion. Now the shelter’s director, Wendy Newcomb, wants Caprice’s decorating expertise. Caprice is happy to help, but when she glimpses a few heated encounters between Wendy and some locals, she fears that Wendy may be in need of protection herself.   When Wendy is found dead inside the old house, Caprice is compelled to poke around in her affairs–and discovers she had her share of enemies.

Now, with countless clients, a TV gig that could make her a household name, and rumors of a marriage proposal on its way, Caprice must find time to design an investigation that will lure a crafty killer into the wide open–before someone else winds up in a state of permanent disrepair

 

My review:

In the sixth installment of the Caprice De Luca Mystery Series, the protagonist Caprice is redecorating Sunrise Tomorrow. I found this to be a one of my favorite projects that she’s undertaken. The idea of Wendy Newcomb wanting to do something so worthwhile and meaningful as a women’s shelter made me very interested in reading this book. Of course, I knew that Caprice would return to her sleuthing because, well, she’s Caprice!

The pace of the book was close to perfect and of course, you’ll be kept guessing who the murderer is.  I really enjoy this  authors cozy mysteries and recommend them to readers of this genre.

Karen’s characters are always engaging and I love how she’s developed Caprice and given her a personality.  Her choice of clothing, her relationship with Grant and her love of animals.

Speaking of animals. That’s how I discovered the author.  I came across one of her Facebook posts about her cats and how she and her husband have helped so many.  There are references to their cats in Shades of Wrath and one brought tears to my eyes, and that is Sunnybud. I and many of her readers will always remember Sunnybud.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter (review by Kristi)

just-a-kiss

About the bookRiley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Paperback, 336 pages                   Published September 6, 2016 by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  I was a little hesitant to read this book due to some of the subject matter. Having just lost his leg I was afraid that Riley may have been a real jerk or too depressed and I didn’t want to read either of those scenarios. I was also worried that Paige might be too clingy. I’m happy to say that none of these things were issues and this was a really well-written book.

I found Riley and Paige to be realistic characters. The author did a fantastic job of portraying Riley and his state of mind upon returning home under circumstances that were less than ideal. Like I said earlier, Riley could have come across as a real jerk but instead, I found him to be someone who was just trying to adjust to his new normal and I found him easy to relate to. It was easy to understand his feelings and attitude. I thought Paige was the perfect compliment to Riley’s character. She was understanding and helpful without being suffocating to him. I liked the fact these two were long-time friends who had strong feelings for each other. I’m glad the author didn’t go over the top with their friendship but instead kept it feeling natural and realistic.

It was nice catching up with the rest of the Callahan clan and others in Summer Harbor. I liked the way the town was described. I felt like I was there at the community center and the Roadhouse. I truly felt a part of the story and found the book a smooth and easy read.

This book was a quick read for me. I became engrossed in the story from the very beginning and found it hard to put the book down. The book wrapped up the series nicely and would be an enjoyable read for fans of romance or someone looking for a good realistic read.

I was provided a free copy of this book and was in no way required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are entirely mine.

 

About the author:  Denise Hunter is the award-winning author of 30 novels, including The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, which have been made into Hallmark movies.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town romances. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

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The Wedding Shop by Rachel Hauck (review by Kristi)

The Wedding Shop

About the book:  Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

Paperback, 384 pages                         Published August 16,2o16 by Zondervan

 

My review:  I liked the first book in this series, The Wedding Chapel, but I absolutely loved The Wedding Shop. From the cover, which is so pretty, to the last page, this dual timeline story captured my attention, kept my interest, and left me wanting more. A perfect book for readers of romance.

I love dual timeline stories when they are done right and this one is done right! The stories focus on Cora Scott and Haley Morgan. Cora’s story takes place in the 1930’s and Haley’s story takes place in the present. I thought the author did a wonderful job of going back and forth between the two main characters and their stories. It was a perfect mix of both stories and both storylines unfolded wonderfully.

I found myself drawn more to Cora’s story and loved reading about her life as the proprietress of the wedding shop. With the author’s attention to detail and descriptive writing, it was so easy to imagine the daily happenings in the shop. I could easily picture myself there with the brides and their families going through the process of finding their perfect gown. I also liked reading about Cora’s life outside the shop but got somewhat frustrated with her because she couldn’t see Rufus for what he really was. It was easy to dislike Rufus while being enchanted by Birch Good. Birch was a gentleman and true friend to Cora.

Haley’s story was interesting and while I felt a connection with her it wasn’t as strong as the one I felt with Cora. I liked the way Haley was determined to open the shop and wouldn’t let the naysayers get her down. I did enjoy reading about the restoration of the wedding shop.

Dual timeline stories always connect at some point and I wasn’t sure how this one would. I really enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t obvious and there were surprises along the way. I thought the author did a wonderful job of connecting the two storylines. Cora and Haley had similarities in their relationships with people and I liked the way the author presented these in a way that wasn’t overly obvious but something the reader discovered naturally while reading.

While this is the second book in the Heart’s Bend series, it can be read as a standalone. Two well-written romances combined into one wonderful story. This book is one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author: New York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida.

A RITA finalist and winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year, she writes vivid characters dealing with real life issues.

She loves to hear from readers. She also loves to encourage new writers and sits on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers..

A graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism, Rachel is an avid OSU football fan. She hopes to one day stand on the sidelines in the Shoe with Urban Meyer.

An avid Diet Coke fan, she is caffeine free. Sometimes you just have to compromise.

She’s never skied or jumped out of an airplane. She leaves such hijinks to Jason Bourne.

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Titus Returns by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

titus-returns

About the book:  In Wells Landing, Oklahoma s warm and welcoming Amish community, there s always hope for a new beginning and a second chance ”
Five tumultuous years have changed Titus Lambert in every way. Back then, Titus was preparing to marry his longtime sweetheart, Mandy Yoder. Then came the unthinkable a tragic car wreck that left Titus serving time for vehicular manslaughter.
Titus isn’t sure he belongs in this peaceful place anymore, but he must make amends. When he goes to visit the Kings, whose son, Alvin, died that terrible night, he s shocked to see that their farm has fallen into disrepair. Alvin’s sister, Abbie, resents Titus s reappearance, but there s no denying she needs his help. Honest toil and their evolving friendship slowly help his soul to heal. But with his feelings for Mandy still strong, Titus must choose between two very different futures, and find the strength and faith to claim the surprising gift of a fresh start.

Paperback, 352 pages                                 Published December 27, 2016, by Zebra

 

My review:  Titus Returns is a touching story of starting over and forgiveness. Broken characters and a poignant storyline made this the best Amy Lillard book I’ve ever read. Once I started reading I just couldn’t put this book down.

The characters in this book touched me. The way Amy wrote about Titus it was easy to understand his feelings of not belonging and trying to adjust to life out of prison. While he goes back to his Amish community he doesn’t really feel as if he belongs and at the same time doesn’t feel as if he belongs in the Englische world either. It was so easy to feel the conflict going on inside of Titus as he tried to adjust to life on the outside. Abbie King was another character easy to understand. It was easy to understand her feelings of despair as she tried to hold her family together and keep the farm up and running. Abbie had a lot on her shoulders and the arrival of Titus didn’t make things easier. It was easy to understand her attitude towards him and the situation she was in. Mandy was a character I had mixed feelings about. While I understood her feelings I thought she was a bit too forward and I times I was embarrassed for her.

I loved the natural way the story progressed. I liked how the characters struggled to deal with the past and the present and tried their best to make the future better. Their issues were real and the way that they dealt with them was very organic. It made the story believable and authentic.

This book is my favorite of the Wells Landing books. I felt connected to these characters from the beginning and wanted them to find their happily-ever-after. I definitely recommend this to fans of Amish fiction or anyone looking for a really good read. Set aside some time to read this book because once you pick it up you won’t want to set it down.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

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Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower (review by Kristi)

prose-and-cons

About the book:  Magic, books, and cats collide in a village near Niagara Falls in the latest mystery from the author of Crime and Poetry
 
In Cascade Springs, New York, Violet Waverly and her grandma, Daisy, are the proprietors of Charming Books, where the power of the written word is positively enchanting…
 
October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe on the shop’s front porch to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.

Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead in the shop moments before the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore…

Kindle Edition, 368 pages                               Published December 6, 2016, by Berkley

 

My review:  I love reading cozy mysteries by Amanda Flower. When I open the book I know I am in for an entertaining and fun read with a mystery that won’t scare me senseless and have me sleeping with one eye open. Prose and Cons delivered in all areas.

It was fun to return to Cascade Springs and visit Violet and Grandma Daisy again and stroll through Charming Books (where the perfect book picks you). I really wish this were a real bookstore because I would love to spend time looking at all the books and perhaps catch a glance of Faulkner and Emerson. Oh, and to see what book would be picked out for me would be so much fun! During this trip back to Cascade Springs a death is discovered inside the bookstore while outside there is a gathering for a Poe-try Reading. Violet is soon on the case much to the chagrin of Chief Rainwater, the local chief of police.

Amanda Flower has once again written a story that will make readers smile, chuckle quietly, and sometimes just laugh out loud. Yes, I know the book is a cozy mystery but some of the situations Violet finds/gets herself into made me laugh out loud. I love the descriptions she uses. It is so easy to picture what is going on and soon you believe you are actually in the story.

There are some of the quirky characters we met in the first book of this series and some new characters to meet and get to know in this book. As to the mystery part, well, I was kept guessing until the reveal and then was shocked at who it was. I had no idea! I must admit that along with being shocked I was a little sad when I found out who it was. But in typical Amanda Flower fashion, you can’t dislike the killer too much. Amanda creates quirky characters you come to care about even when they do things they shouldn’t.

I can’t wait to read the next installment in this series and hope there are several more books to follow. I enjoy these characters and the village of Cascade Springs. While you don’t have to read the first book before you read this one I would recommend it so you get the entire backstory of the characters and the bookstore. Amanda Flower has once again made murder fun so grab this book and a cozy reading spot and enjoy your trip to Cascade Springs!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are mine.

 

Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Prose and Cons and help Amanda Flower give back! (Click on the title for more information and purchasing options.)

 

About the author:  Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an adult services librarian for a public library near Cleveland. She also writes mysteries as USA Today bestselling author Isabella Alan.

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A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (review by Cathy)

portrait-of-emily-price

About the book:

Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

My review:

I loved the premise of this book.  The career paths of both Emily with her art restoration and Ben being a chef.  That appealed to me and what drew my interest.  The fact that I like the authors writing was another deciding factor.

I didn’t connect with either Emily or Ben unfortunately. I was surprised at just how fast the relationship progressed and how fast Emily accepted his proposal, the speediness of her move to Italy.   I guess I just wanted a slower build up to their romance.

I’m probably one of the few people who didn’t love the book, and felt it fell a little too flat.

I received a copy of the book from Book Look Bloggers and have given my honest opinion.

 

Finding Margo by Jen Turano (review by Cathy)

margo

About the book:

Off the charts and on the run.

International pop star Margo Hartman could use a night off. A grueling tour and overbearing entourage have sent her over the edge. It’s time for this diva to disappear. And who would think to look for the superstar in a small Dutch town in Ohio?

Sheriff’s deputy Brock Moore is undercover as well. He knows Margo isn’t who she appears to be, but her uncanny resemblance to a local Amish woman is raising all sorts of questions…the kind that make her a target for a killer.

Both are determined to find answers, but their mutual attraction stands in the way of either of them doing it alone. Is finding Margo the solution to Brock’s problems or just the beginning…?

My Review:

The book started off a bit slow for me, but once Margo hit the open road, the pace picked up considerably.   This turned into a sweet and funny story.  Heavy emphasis on funny because there are several laugh out loud moments in this book.  Several of them involving a duck.

I liked Margo and Brock and found their story line unique and well written.  I didn’t connect on an emotional level with either one, but that didn’t hinder my ability to thoroughly enjoy this book.  There’s a bit of lightheartedness in the story to offset some of the serious matter of someone trying to harm the pop star.

I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.  4 Stars

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.