Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble (review by Cathy)

because-youre-mine

About the book:

Alanna has been plagued by tragedy. So, it should come as no surprise that in the beauty that surrounds Charleston, all is not as it seems.

When her husband is killed by a car bomb while their band is on tour in Charleston, Alanna doesn’t know where to turn. Her father-in-law is threatening to take custody of the baby she carries, but the one thing she knows for sure is that she can’t lose the last piece of Liam she has left.

Their manager offers her a marriage of convenience to gain her U.S. citizenship and allow her to escape her father-in-law’s control. It seems like the perfect solution. . . but her doubts begin almost as soon as she arrives at Barry’s family home, a decaying mansion surrounded by swamp.

To make matters worse, Liam’s best friend survived the car bomb. She’s never really liked Jesse and now she can’t seem to get away from him. When he takes Liam’s place in their band, it’s almost more than she can bear.

But then things start happening. Things that could easily cost Alanna her life—or the life of her unborn child. Are they merely coincidences? Or is there something much more sinister at work?

My review (4-stars):

A bit different from other books I’ve read by this author. Not so much a mystery but more of a physiological thriller, to the nth degree!

It was obvious from the beginning what was going to happen and I was okay with that.

I wasn’t okay with Barry!  That guy really creeped me out which is how his character is written.  Ms. Cobles’ superb character development is front and center with him.  

I sympathized with Alanna at times and could understand why she took such drastic measures after the death of Liam.  Fortunately, I’ve never been in a situation such as hers so I’m not sure if I wouldn’t do the same she did.

A rundown plantation in Charleston, SC provides the backdrop for the story and what a story it is!   I was on the edge of my seat at times and that was not a bad thing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

Lisa Jones Baker~ Author Interview and Giveaway!!!!!!

 

We are so excited to have Lisa Jones Baker stop by and chat with us.  Her new book, Annie’s Recipe, releases today.  If you don’t have a copy yet don’t worry.  We are giving away an ARC (advanced reader copy) to one lucky winner.  See how to enter at the end of our chat with Lisa.  And now our chat…

 

TG:  You grew up near an Amish town.  Can you tell us what your favorite thing was about going there with your parents?

LJB:  There are so many things I like about Arthur!  From the time I was 4 or 5, I’ve always felt right at home there.  What fascinates me most about the area is the horse-pulled buggy.  Since childhood, I’ve been intrigued.

 

TG:  Could you be Amish?  What would be the easiest thing to give up?  The most difficult?

LJB:  At this point in my life, it would be extremely difficult for me to become Amish.  I admire them in every way.  They’re so strong.  Dedicated.  And their word is gold.  I would miss my laptop and cell phone.  My Amish friend does have a phone, but it’s in the barn where they keep their livestock.  They check messages at certain times of the day.  A friend’s husband left the Amish church, and he says what he misses most is the quiet.  I’ve gone without television now for three months to experience what it would be like at night without media.  I’m adjusting, but I do really miss just having the picture on and watching the news.  I find myself going to bed earlier and being more productive.

 

TG:  How did you come up with your Hope Chest of Dreams series?

LJB:   Kensington Hobbyreads did a blog, which I posted on my facebook page, that explains my fascination with hope chests from when I was a little girl.  Over fifty-nine years ago, my father made my mother a hope chest and gave it to her before they married. Now, nearly 60 years later, my parents are still married, and the hope chest is filled with love letters from my father to my mother, my mother’s wedding veil, and their most precious things.  To me there’s a natural connection between my mother’s hope chest and the ones made by creative genius Old Sam.

 

TG:  How many books are there in the Hope Chest of Dreams series?  Are any of the charactes based on people you know or are they created by you?

LJB:  There are three books in the series:  Rebecca’s Bouquet, Annie’s Recipe, and Rachel’s Dream.  I love my characters; to me, they are real.  But they are all fictitious.  Out of the three females, I bonded the most with Rachel because I fall in love with every animal I meet!

 

TG:  When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

LJB:  When I was a child, my mother was a librarian.  It was rare to see her without a book in her hand.  I spent a lot of time at the library with her; I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer, but I most certainly knew I loved to read!

 

TG:  What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a book?

LJB:  The most difficult part of the writing process is reading the book out loud for repetition.  It takes forever!

 

TG:  Who is your favorite author?  Your favorite book?

LJB:  Joel Osteen is my favorite author.  I love listening to him and reading his books.  I absolutely love how he pairs his stories with scripture.

 

TG:  If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?

LJB:  There’s nothing I’d rather do than write!  Of course, I work another job for steady income.  It’s crazy, but I struggled over twenty-four years for a publishing contract.  Amazingly, I never gave up.  So much of it has to do with timing.  All along, I had prayed every night for publication.  Finally, I realized that it might not be God’s plan for me, so I added “if it be your will” to my prayer, and not long after that I was offered a contract.  I’ve learned many lessons in my fifty-seven years, and one of them is to realize that God’s in charge of my life, not me.  He sees a much larger picture than me.  Every set-back I’ve ever gone through is okay…because it’s in His plan.  Only He knows what the end result will be.

 

TG:  What piece of advice would you give someone who wants to write and be published?

LJB:  My advice to anyone seeking publication is to be patient and pray!  Also, you can’t do it alone.  Over the years, many people have supported me, helped me to hone my writing, etc.

 

TG:  Can you share with us what you are currently working on?

LJB:  I’m currently dreaming up new characters, and their stories will center around “Pebble Creek.”

 

TG:  Do you have a critique partner and if so, how important is that relationship to you?

LJB:  Lisa Norato is my critique partner; she has been with me on this journey for nearly 30 years!  I trust her, and throughout our nearly 30-year friendship, we have always supported each other.  Lisa is so creative, and her writing is beautiful.  And her Christian outlook on life is comparable to mine.

 

A big Two Girls and a Book thank you to Lisa Jones Baker for stopping by today.  We are so happy she took time out of her busy schedule to chat with us and let us get to know her better.  And now, for a chance to win an ARC copy of Annie’s Recipe……

Leave a comment letting us know if you had/have a hope chest and what special items you have in yours.  Contest will run through Saturday, March 4 and a winner will be announced March 5.  Good luck to you all and as always….happy reading!!!!

Annie’s Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker (review by Kristi)

annies-recipe

About the book:  Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside–to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…
Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

Paperback, 352 pages                                          Published February 28, 2017 by Zebra

 

My review:  I enjoy finding new authors to read and was happy to come across Annie’s Recipe by Lisa Jones Baker. In a genre that can sometimes be a bit repetitive in its storylines, Lisa has written a fresh story about friendship, love, and loyalty.

Annie and Levi were inseparable as friends growing up. That is until Levi’s father was shunned and the family moved away. Levi has returned for his cousin’s wedding and runs into Annie. The two agree to meet and catch up on each other’s lives. With the soft sounds of Pebble Creek gurgling in the background, these two recapture a friendship that never died. The friendship between the two seemed very genuine and believable to me. It was absolutely no stretch of the imagination to picture these two childhood friends sitting by the creek and enjoying the company of each other and catching up on old times. Everything about these two and their relationship with each other seemed very natural and pleasant to read. It was easy to picture their friendship leading into something stronger.

Annie struggles with her feelings for Levi since his family was shunned and she is a member of the Amish community even though she hasn’t joined the church. Her inner struggle with her loyalty to her upbringing and the church combined with her feelings for Levi were easy to understand. I thought the author did a great job of writing about Annie’s struggles and also Levi’s as he is conflicted with his feelings for Annie and his family’s past with the church.

I like the author’s writing style as she kept the story flowing easily from chapter to chapter. This book was very easy to read and stay interested in. Her descriptions really made the book come alive and made me feel as if I were there right along with the characters.

This book has a bit of a YA feel to it. The two main characters are young adults and I think the book would be very relatable to this group of readers. This book is a very clean read and would be good for teenagers, too. With all of that said though this book can be thoroughly enjoyed by us who aren’t in those two categories. I love that this is just a clean, sweet romance that can appeal to readers of all ages.

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

 

About the author:  Lisa Jones Baker grew up near a small Amish town in Illinois that she frequented with her family on weekends. She’s also a dog lover and a fan of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she spent nearly two decades. Lisa graduated from Illinois State University with a French major, has been on 5 out of 7 continents, and considers her parents the best in the world. Raised in a Christian home, Lisa has always been blessed with love and support.

Website

Annie’s Recipe (Hope Chest of Dreams, #2) by Lisa Jones Baker (review by Cathy)

annies-recipe

About the book:

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside–to live in with Annie.

Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…
Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

My review (4-stars)

It’s always a good day when I find a new to me author.  Finding a well written book with relatable characters is a plus which made Annie’s Recipe a pleasure to read.

Annie and Levi are reuniting after 10 years and it’s quite easy to get caught up in their story as they spend time together catching up with each other.  I felt like I’d known them from their childhood as they reminisced about their past and shared so much of themselves. They had taken different paths and changed their views over time.

I haven’t read the first book in the series but there’s enough of the back story that I could figure out the community and its residents.

I’m looking forward to reading more of this authors work.

Another plus?  There’s a recipe for sponge cake.

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

 

 

 

 

More Than A Marriage by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

more-than-a-marriage

About the book:  In the close-knit Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, a women’s quilting circle welcomes a new member who is struggling to keep her marriage together—or let it go . . .

Quiet and unassuming Tess Smiley is new to Wells Landing. She is also newly married to Jacob Smiley. But already she is finding that married life isn’t the gentle union of contented devotion she had envisioned. Rather, the old-fashioned qualities that had endeared her to Jacob have become a source of inner confusion. As his father did with his wife, Jacob has begun treating Tess like a servant, taking her for granted, no longer surprising her with little presents. And once he began his job at the Englisch shed company, he has become more interested in his company smartphone than in spending time with Tess . . .

Jacob can’t see what Tess is upset about and continues his boorish ways, ignoring her pleas to attend marriage classes. Tess loves Jacob with all her heart, but it’s her heart that tells her she must take a stand. With surprising determination, she asks for help from her new community and is welcomed into the home of her friend Clara Rose and her husband Obie. Only then does Jacob begin to see how deeply his behavior has hurt Tess. But is he too late? He may be contrite, but he will need to show much more than that to win her love all over again . . .

Kindle Edition                                              Published February 28, 2017, by Zebra

 

My review:  After reading More Than a Marriage I truly believe if I am to continue reading Amy Lillard’s books I need to learn to speed read. She creates stories that I just can’t read fast enough to find out what will happen next. I devoured this book in one sitting.

Tess and Jacob, the Amish couple in this book, have problems that any married couple could have. The difference is in how they handle the problems and I think Amy gives us a realistic, inside view of Amish life and marriage. I was cheering this couple on and hoping they could find their happily ever after.

This novella has all the elements of a novel: developed characters, engaging storyline, and a wonderful message. So set aside a couple of hours to read More Than a Marriage. You’ll be glad you did.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a 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.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twilight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940’s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

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My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas (Priscilla’s Reveille) by Erica Vetsch (review by Cathy)

my-heart-belongs-in-fort-bliss-texas

About the book:

Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately. There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them. Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for.  Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

 

My review (5-stars)

I’d heard such good things about this book that I just had to find out for myself how good it is! I was not disappointed and can say that all the compliments are completely justified.

The vivid descriptions, the witty dialogue and strong characters are fantastic. I must say that Tessa and Timothy were my favorites in Fort Bliss. They’re a bit incorrigible through no fault of their own. They’re seven year old orphans being raised on a military fort by their bachelor uncle, Major Elliot Ryder.

Unbeknownst to him their Aunt Priscilla is about to challenge him as she arrives unannounced to take custody of them immediately.

From the moment, she arrives things get lively and that’s where the author uses her humor and creates several laugh out loud moments.

There are plenty of secondary characters that add to this pleasant and fast paced read.

The flow of the story is wonderful which is always a bonus to me.

If you like historical fiction, this is one that you’ll want to read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

Close to Home by Lily Everett (Sanctuary Island #5) (review by Kristi)

close-to-home

About the book:

The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

Kindle Edition, 304 pages                 Published February 7, 2017, by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 

My review:  I wanted to like this book. I really did. I liked the premise of a story about a couple who are already married and trying to find their way back to each other. To me, it’s a fresher storyline than the usual hate/love relationships that end in marriage. However, this story just really fell flat and I was a bit bored with it.

First, I really didn’t find any kind of connection to either of the main characters. Tessa’s character, while newly independent seemed weak to me. Johnny, on the other hand, didn’t seem as strong as I would imagine an ex-military and ATF agent to be. They didn’t really seem to have too much chemistry between them and I really didn’t care if they stayed together or got divorced. They just had an odd relationship and it didn’t seem genuine or real to me.

The storyline never really stayed on pace for me either. There were parts where the story moved quickly but then other parts it seemed to drag on. There is suddenly an awkward second storyline involving Marcus and Quinn. I’m not quite sure if Marcus is a bad guy or a good guy and Quinn just seemed like someone who was out for a good time. The entire epilogue of the book was about these two so I’m wondering if the next book in the series will be about this couple. As I’ve already got the next book I shall soon see.

One of the redeeming qualities of this book is Patty, the owner of the Patty Cakes bakery. She was a delightful character and I liked how she was with Tessa, Johnny, and Marcus. She made Marcus seem human and showed a more gentle side of him than anyone else in the book.

I read this book as a standalone and I think most readers can. There doesn’t seem to be any backstory missing from the previous books or anything that led me to believe I would have enjoyed this story more had I read the previous books in the series.

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