Review of DON’T OPEN THE DOOR by Allison Brennan

About the Book:

Publishing Date: January 24, 2023
Publisher: Mira
ISBN-10: 0778333620
ISBN-13: 9780778333623

Synopsis:

US Marshal Regan Merritt never bought the FBI’s theory that her ten-year-old son’s murder was tied to her job. Yet as leads went cold, she’d had to walk away from the marshals, the case and her now ex-husband, Grant, who blamed her for Chase’s death.

After Regan receives a chilling voice mail from her former boss, Tommy, claiming new information about Chase’s murder, she can no longer stay away from her pain-filled past. Especially when Tommy’s murdered before she can return his call.

Now more than ever, Regan’s determined to find the truth, but the more she digs, the more evidence points to Grant as the killer’s true target. But Grant isn’t talking. As she tries to pin down her ex, Regan discovers something much bigger and far more sinister is at play—and she’s running out of people she can trust.

My Review:

I love Regan Merritt’s tenacity and boldness, but mostly I love how real she is. This is the second book in the series but can definitely be read as a standalone. Regan thought the worst pain she could ever endure was when her ten year old son Chase was murdered. But she finds out that there is pain that is equally hard to endure when a close friend and mentor is killed and she is determined to follow the clues no matter where they may lead. All of the characters are relatable and realistic although not all of them are likable. The villains are definitely not on my “I would like to meet this guy” list unless I have Regan backing me up with her Glock. The pace is fast and maintained my interest from beginning to end. There are some real unexpected twists here that I did not see coming and I really enjoyed them. I liked finding out more about Regan’s current situation and her quest to find peace with her past. The mystery is real, the red herrings are numerous and this is a well-written whodunit that had me on the edge of my seat. Loved it and look forward to the next book in the series!
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

I would rate this book PG due to content (there are murders involved in the plot).

Meet the Author:

Bio
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Allison Brennan believes life is too short to be bored, so she had five children and writes three books a year. Reviewers have called her “a master of suspense” and RT Book Reviews said her books are “mesmerizing” and “complex.” She’s been nominated for multiple awards, including the Thriller, RWA’s Best Romantic Suspense (five times), and twice won the Daphne du Maurier award. She lives in Arizona with her family and assorted pets. (From Author’s website at http://www.allisonbrennan.com

Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

BAM

Poisoned Pen

Indiebound

Google Play

IBooks

Kobo

Audible

Other book in the series:

Book #2 can be read as a standalone, but if you are like me and like to read books in order, here is Book #1! It’s also a riveting read and introduces the character of Regan Merritt.

Review of Kidnapped in Texas by Virginia Vaughan

About the Book:

Author: Virginia Vaughan
Series: Cowboy Protectors, Book 1
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Tag: Love Inspired
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Publication Year: 2023
ASIN: B0B4B5KL7G
ISBN: 9781335587534

Synopsis:

After witnessing an abduction, FBI agent Luke Harmon vows to return the teenage victim safely to her aunt, his ex, Abby Mitchell. But Abby has a secret—the girl is their daughter. To rescue his child from a human trafficking ring, he’ll partner with the woman who deceived him. But can he forgive the past before Abby becomes the next target…and his family is lost forever?

My Review:

This book has a pace faster than a speeding bullet and it kept me engaged from beginning to end. Beginning with the terrifying kidnapping of a young girl named Kenzie off the streets of a small town in Texas, this book deals with the difficult topic of human trafficking in a realistic and gut-wrenching way. Abby, Kenzie’s guardian and aunt, witnesses the kidnapping but can do nothing to stop it. Enlisting the assistance of FBI Agent Luke Harmon, her former boyfriend, Abby is determined to do whatever it takes to get Kenzie safely home again. The story of Luke and Abby’s former love and how they need to trust each other again is one that touched me deeply. Luke not only lost his love but he also lost his faith in God and needs to find his way back. I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of the characters and all of the feelings that I experienced as I read about them. I especially enjoyed the twists in the story and the way the author kept me guessing about the bad guys until the ultimate revelation at the end. I love a good mystery and this one fit that perfectly! I also liked how the fast pace continued throughout the book, as new details were added about the case and the predicament that Kenzie was in. Abby’s faith was important in the story but it does not overwhelm it; it’s just part of who she is and this makes her more realistic as well as admirable. Luke is a likable character, flawed and vulnerable but strong when the occasion demands it. He is a hero to emulate and a dynamically complex male protagonist. The fact that the book is a clean read in spite of the difficult topic it deals with was a bonus for me. The entire book was an enjoyable, quick read and I highly recommend it to all who enjoy suspense, romance and faith all mixed together to make a remarkably cohesive story.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

This is LIS and is a clean read. Rated PG due to content about human trafficking.

Releases tomorrow, 1-24-23! You can order the book by following a link below:

https://amzn.to/3FAF0uA (Amazon)

http://bit.ly/3h1ViUd (BN)

http://bit.ly/3Y8Xudg (Google Play)

http://bit.ly/3iL9q4A (Harlequin)

http://bit.ly/3FABCjJ (Powells)

http://bit.ly/3FCCe8t (Book Shop)

About the Author:

You can visit the author’s website at http://www.virginiavaughanonline.com

Review of EVERYTHING IS JUST BEGINNING by Erin Bartels

About the Book:

Product Details
Publisher: Revell
Language: English
Publication Date: 01/17/2023
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 080074165X
ISBN-13: 9780800741655
SKU: 9780800741655

Synopsis:

On the night of December 31, 1989–as the Berlin Wall is coming down, the Soviet Union is inching toward democracy, and anything seems possible–a down-on-his luck musician crashes a party and crosses paths with the accomplished and enigmatic young heir to a fading musical dynasty, forever altering both of their futures.

My Review and Rating:

This book is amazing! The prose is like lyrical poetry and the song lyrics come alive and make the story so touchingly realistic. The entire plot just flowed from the page into my heart. The story of Michael Sullivan, a lyricist who has been kicked out of his band, and Natalie Wheeler, a blind musician who is extraordinarily gifted, is one that should be read and appreciated by all who need a story to make them think and feel good about life. It is the story of daring to reach out for a better future and of forgiving those who have held you back in your past so that you can achieve your dreams. I loved getting to know each of the characters, even the seemingly unredeemable Uncle Mike who drinks and gambles to forget his tragic past. I found myself wanting Michael to forgive his father Steve completely and find a new relationship with him. I was totally invested in the stories of the characters because they became like real people to me. The plot was moderately paced, not too fast which I think would ruin it and not too slow which would make it drag. It was perfectly paced for the story that was being told, the story of young love, exploration into new beginnings and support from those who had forged a path in the past. I think my very favorite character was Deb Wheeler, a talented musician who gave up her promising career for personal reasons. She elicited sympathy from me but also a great deal of respect because of her compassion and wisdom that she showed to all whose lives she touched. This is one of the most beautifully written tales I have ever read and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s refreshingly original and totally engaging.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Five plus stars for this clean Christian read.

About the Author:

ERIN BARTELS is the award-winning author of We Hope for Better Things, The Words between Us, All That We Carried, The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water, and Everything Is Just Beginning. She lives in the capital city of a state that is 40% water, nestled somewhere between angry protesters on the Capitol lawn and couch-burning frat boys at Michigan State University. And yet, she claims it is really quite peaceful.
Find her on Facebook @ErinBartelsAuthor and on Instagram @erinbartelswrites. Information and photo are from the author’s website at http://erinbartels.com

Available NOW! Purchase Links:

https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/465077

Indiebound

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Christian Book

Many thanks to Revell for introducing me to this fabulous author! I have read and enjoyed each of her books and this one is my favorite!

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Review of CRITICAL THREAT by Lynette Eason

About the Book:

Author: Lynette Eason
Series: Extreme Measures, Book 3
Genre: Revell
Publisher: Revell
Publication Year: January 3 2023
ASIN: B0B6Q42PHH
ISBN: 0800737342

Working with the son of a serial killer? That’s a first.

FBI Special Agent Grace Billingsley tracks serial killers, using her skills as a psychiatrist and behavioral analyst to get dangerous people off the street and safely behind bars. But prison psychiatrist Sam Monroe knows that just because a killer is incarcerated doesn’t mean they’re not a threat. His own father, Peter, is a serial killer—in prison but certainly not out of Sam’s life, as much as he wishes he was.

When bodies start showing up with Peter’s MO, Sam and Grace are both called in to consult. They’ve met before, and though Grace thought they’d made a real connection, Sam ghosted her. They’ll have to get past the awkwardness and mistrust to solve this case—especially because it’s about to get personal.

My thoughts about CRITICAL THREAT:

The story of Grace Billingsley and Sam Monroe is one that is a fascinating character study as well as a fast-paced suspense thriller. The clever way the author builds the story, with layers and unexpected twists, is absolutely brilliant and addictive. I enjoyed getting to know the characters who were the FBI agents and was intrigued by the personality of the villains. Sam’s father, an inmate in prison and a serial killer, was a complicated character who added to the terror that unraveled in the plot. The plot was tight, with misdirection in just the right places and a satisfying mixture of romance building just as the suspense ramped up. I also enjoyed the signature humor of the author, like the dinner date that seemed to always get interrupted. This is a compelling book to read with edge-of-your-seat action and uniquely complicated relationships that are explained well and thoroughly. The suspense gets intense at times, but that must made the story more enjoyable for me. With well-developed ideas and clues throughout the novel, this book kept me guessing and absorbed. I did not like all of the characters but all of them were fleshed out and made me see them for who they were created to be. I enjoyed the resilience of Grace and her reliance on her faith and her colleagues. And I enjoyed seeing Sam develop into a man who deserved her trust. Unpredictable and heart-pounding suspense make this book the perfect addition to the series! It can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the entire series and getting to know all of the characters who are friends and who support each other in their quest for justice.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley and from the author as part of her launch team. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

A clean read but I would rate it PG-13 because of content concerning a serial killer.

Purchase Links:

https://amzn.to/3Ycpg8x (Amazon)

http://bit.ly/3VNgtrT (Powells)

http://bit.ly/3Fkjl8L (Google Play)

http://bit.ly/3FG1bjh (Baker Book House)

http://bit.ly/3HwbCXV (Barnes and Noble)

http://bit.ly/3iVKvLJ (Christian Book)

http://bit.ly/3Yh0rIq (Bookshop)

Lynette Eason is the best selling, award winning author of almost forty books including the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, the Hidden Identity Series and the Elite Guardians series. She writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. She has won several awards including the 2013, 2016 and 2017 Carol Award in the Romantic Suspense category. She’s also the recipient of the Christian Retailing’s Best 2017 Award. She placed in the top ten (out of thousands of entries) in the James Patterson 2016 co-writer contest. Her Stolen Past was recently made into a Lifetime Movie Network movie and will air February 2nd, 2018. Lynette teaches at writing conferences all over the country. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), Mystery Writers of America (MWA), International Thriller Writers (ITW), and Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of RWA as well as the Kiss of Death (KOD) chapter. Lynette can be found online at http://www.lynetteeason.com and http://www.facebook.com/lynette.eason and @lynetteeason on Twitter
Many thanks to Lynette Eason for allowing me to be on her launch team and to the Revell Reads Blogger Program for providing an e-copy of the book for me to read and review. Once again, Lynette has outdone herself with plot, characters and suspense and Revell has published a sure bestseller!

Review of HER HEART’S DESIRE by Shelley Shepard Gray

Product Details
Publisher: Revell
Language: English
Publication Date: 01/03/2023
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0800741676
ISBN-13: 9780800741679
SKU: 9780800741679

Synopsis: A wallflower in her Amish community, Mary Margaret hopes a trip will offer her a chance to come out of her shell. When a chance meeting brings new friends and a gentle young man into her life, she imagines a whole new life in Florida. But will it all disappear once vacation ends?

My thoughts about the book:

This is a quick and sweet romance with the Amish characters visiting a beach in Pinecraft, Florida. I was surprised by the setting and the boldness of the main character to leave her protected Amish community and travel by bus to Florida, but the surprise added to the story as Mary Margaret was joined by other like-minded Amish young women seeking respite from their lives and the troubles that they faced there. Mary finds her true desires in Florida and even has to face forgiving a former enemy who unexpectedly shows up there. I loved the themes of relationships, honesty and forgiveness. I especially enjoyed seeing how all of the conflict worked itself out in just the right way for the lovable characters. I was invested in the story and wanted everyone to get a happy ending, but the ending was not without some real twists along the way. My favorite characters were Jayson who is a responsible young man who feels the weight of taking care of his diabetic sister Joy and Michael, a young orphan who works hard to escape from his cruel aunt and uncle who make him feel worthless. My sympathy lay with these two young men who were courageous and determined as well as dedicated to doing the right thing regardless of the cost to themselves. This is a quick read that can easily be read in a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed!
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads Blogger Program via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Rated G for all audiences. This is a clean Christian fiction book.
Check out the author’s website for more information about her and her books. http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com

Newly released on January 3rd! Purchase Links:

Amazon

Baker Book House

Barnes and Noble

Google Play

Powells

Christian Book

Target

Not convinced yet? Check out this book trailer on YouTube!

Her Heart’s Desire book trailer

With many thanks to the Revell Reads Blogger Program for introducing me to this author last year and for giving me the opportunity to read and review this first book in her new series.

Review of THE SUNSHINE GIRLS by Molly Fader

About the Book

A cross between Firefly Lane and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, a dual-narrative about two sisters who realize their mother isn’t who they’d always thought when a legendary movie star shows up at her funeral, unraveling the sweeping story of a friendship that begins at a nursing school in Iowa in 1967 and onward as it survives decades of change, war, fame—and the secrets they kept from each other and for each other.

A moment of great change sparks the friendship of a lifetime…

1967, Iowa: Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. A farmer’s daughter, BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to make her dreams come true away from her rural small town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by, and to hide a devastating secret from the past that she can’t seem to outrun. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely bond on a campus unkind to women.

Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure, and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.

Fifty years later, two estranged sisters are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother’s funeral. Over one rollercoaster weekend, the women must reckon with a dazzling truth about their family that will alter their lives forever…

ISBN: 9781335453488

Publication Date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: Graydon House

MOLLY FADER is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets, The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season, and more than 40 romance novels under the pennames Molly O’Keefe and M. O’Keefe. She grew up outside of Chicago and now lives in Toronto. Author Website: https://mollyfader.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/molly.fader
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mokeefeauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MollyOKwrites?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Eembeddedtimeline%7Ctwterm%5Escreen-name%3AMollyOKwrites%7Ctwcon%5Es2
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18435981.Molly_Fader?from_search=true&from_srp=true P

My review:

This is a book about friendship and perseverance, but it is so much more than a story. It is a look into the hearts of friends and the relationship that develops and endures in spite of differences in lifestyles and choices. Set in the tumultuous era of the Vietnam War and the ensuing generations following, this is almost but not quite like historical fiction. It certainly has that vibe about it as I lived in that time and can recall the draft, the solders leaving for war and not returning and the sacrifices made by those left behind. The story of BettyKay, Jenny and Kitty is memorable not only for the realistic historical details but also because of the characters themselves who popped off the page and into my heart and mind, with their wishes and dreams for a bright future. I really enjoyed reading about how their friendship evolved from not quite trusting to trusting completely with all of the secrets. There were some unexpected revelations made to the reader as well as to BettyKay’s daughters after her death. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the story was intricately and perfectly woven around the lives of the women and then spread out to include the next generation. This is a timeless novel and one that will long reverberate in my heart for the lessons it teaches about moving on, accepting and surviving the unthinkable with grace and fortitude. This book presents women’s fiction at its best!
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

My rating:

I would rate this book PG due to content.

Excerpt

Clara

Greensboro, Iowa

2019

There were too many lilies. Clara wasn’t an authority on flowers or funerals. But, it was like a flower shop—that only sold lilies—had exploded in the blue room of Horner’s Fu­neral Home.

This was what happened when everyone adored you. They buried you under a mountain of your favorite flower—in this case, stargazers with their erotic pink hearts and sinus-piercing pollen—before they actually buried you.

And it was just a cosmic kick in the pants that Clara Beecher was allergic to her mother’s favorite flowers.

“Clara!” Mrs. Place, her eighth-grade language arts teacher, clasped Clara’s hands in her bony grip. Mrs. Place had not changed at all. She was the kind of woman who seemed mid­dle-aged at seventeen and just waited for time to catch up. “Your mother was so proud of you. You and your sister, you were her pride and joy.”

“That’s nice of you to say,” Clara said, keenly aware of her sister, Abbie, across the room doing the sorts of things that would make a mother proud.

“At book club, she’d go on and on about you and the im­portant work you were doing in the city and, well, most of it went right over my head,” Mrs. Place said. There was nothing complicated about Clara’s work; Mom just lied about it so, as a former hippie, she didn’t have to say the words my daughter is a corporate shill. “But you could tell she was just so proud.”

Clara pulled her hand free in time to grab a tissue from one of the many boxes scattered around the room and held it to her allergy-induced, dripping nose. “Thank you,” she said through the tissue.

“Everyone is going to miss Betts,” Mrs. Place said. “So much. There’s not a part of this town that she wasn’t involved in. Church, the library. Park board. Community gardens.”

Like an invasive species. Invite her to something and she’d soon be running the show.

Grief is making you sharp. That was something her mother would say. If she wasn’t dead.

The Blue Room of Horner Funeral Home was hot and wall-to-lily packed with people coming to pay their respects to one of Greensboro’s favorite citizens.

BettyKay Beecher had lived her whole adult life in this tiny town, and the town had shown up bearing casseroles and no-bake cheesecakes for the reception after the burial, wearing their Sunday best, armed with their favorite BettyKay stories.

She sat with my dad when he was dying.

She helped us figure out the insurance paperwork when our son was in his accident.

They were all mourning. The whole room and the hallway outside and the people still sitting in their cars in the park­ing lot. People were crying real tears, huddling, sobbing—actually sobbing—in corners. And all Clara could think was:

Did they know?

Had Mom, in true fashion, told the entire town the secret she’d kept from her own daughters for nearly forty years? The bombshell, life-rearranging, ugly secret she’d blurted, exasper­ated and furious with Clara in their last phone call?

Would they be mourning so hard if they knew?

Clara sneezed.

“Oh, bless you, honey,” Mrs. Place said.

“It’s just allergies.” Clara folded up the tissues before put­ting them in the pocket of her new black Marco Zanini suit with the sash tie and the sky blue silk lining. She’d thought the lining might be a bit much for a funeral, but that was be­fore she knew about the lilies.

And don’t get her started on all the men wearing camou­flage. To a funeral. Were they all going hunting after this?

“She’s with your father now. I hope you find comfort in that.”

“I do, thank you.” It was, as it always had been in Greens­boro, Iowa, easier to lie.

Another person came up with another story about Bet­tyKay Beecher. “Is that your sister?” She pointed across the room after sharing an anecdote about their time together in the Army Nurse Corps. “Abbie?”

Abbie was surrounded by her friends from childhood—who used to be Clara’s friends from childhood, not that it mattered—who kept bringing her mugs that were not filled with coffee. Abbie’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes were bright and she was half-drunk, crying and hugging and not at all bothered by the lilies.

“Yep. That’s my sister,” Clara said, ushering the woman toward Abbie and not even feeling bad about it. “She’d love to hear your story.”

Three years ago, they’d stood in this exact same room, mourning their father, Willis Beecher. It was hard to be home and not see him in the corners of rooms. She couldn’t drink rum or Constant Comment tea and not miss him. The smell of patchouli could bring her to tears. A sob rose up in her throat like a fist, and her knees were suddenly loose. She put a hand against the table so she didn’t crumple onto the floor.

I’m an orphan. Me and Abbie—orphans.

She was a full-grown adult. A corporate lawyer (about to make junior partner, fingers crossed) who billed at $700 an hour. She had a condo on Lakeshore and a good woman who loved her. Abbie had two kids of her own, a husband of twenty-five years and kept slices of homemade lemon loaf in the freezer that she could pop in a toaster in case someone stopped by for coffee. They were far from orphans.

But she couldn’t shake the thought.

Clara found the side door and stepped out.

The wind was icy, blowing across the farmland to the west, picking up the smell of fries and burgers from The Starlite Room, only to press her flat against the yellow brick. She felt the cotton-silk blend of her suit snag on the brick.

The first few days of March were cold, too cold to be out here without a jacket, but the freshness woke her up. Spring hadn’t committed to Iowa yet and the cornfields were still brown, lying in wait, like everything else in Greensboro, for the last blizzard to come hammering down from the Dakotas.

Her phone buzzed. She left it in her pocket.

Horner’s Funeral Home was on the other side of town from the Greensboro University, and St. Luke’s School of Nursing’s white clock tower was just visible over the trees. The univer­sity had all the flags lowered to half-mast for the week. It was a nice touch. Mom had been a student there and then a teacher and for the last twenty years, an administrator.

She closed her eyes, letting the wind do its work.

“Hey.”

Clara felt her sister lean back against the wall next to her, smelling of vanilla and Pinot Grigio.

“Hey,” she said, eyes still closed.

“The lilies—”

“Yeah.”

“You okay?”

Clara hummed in her throat, a sound that wasn’t yes or no. That was, in fact, the exact sound of the exhausted limbo the last few days had put her in.

“Me neither,” Abbie said. “It just… I feel like I’m missing something, you know? Like I’m walking around all wrong.”

Clara felt the same. Being BettyKay Beecher’s daughter was a part of her identity she didn’t always carry comfortably, but it was there.

“Where’s Vickie?” Abbie asked, and Clara caught herself from flinching at the sound of her girlfriend’s name.

“She wishes she could be here but she has a case in front of the Illinois Supreme Court.”

She felt Abbie’s doubt, the way she wanted to probe and pick.

“Did you have to blow up that picture so damn big?” Clara asked, before Abbie could get to her follow-up questions.

All around the funeral home were pictures of the Beecher family. And—God knows why—Abbie had decided to blow up to an obscene size, the picture of their mother that was on the back of her book: Pray for Me: The Diary of an Army Nurse in Vietnam. In it BettyKay was a fresh-faced twenty-two-year- old, with a helmet-shaped brunette bob wearing an olive green United States Army Nurse Corps uniform.

“Darn.”

“What?”

“Fiona’s turning into a little parrot, so we don’t swear any­more. We say ‘effing’ and ‘darn’ and ‘poop.’”

“That’s effing nonsense.”

“Probably.” Clara could hear the smile in her sister’s voice. “And yes, I did. I love that picture of Mom. She looks so brave.”

Clara thought she looked terrified.

“Max and Fiona don’t understand what’s happening,” Abbie said. “They keep asking why Gran is lying down.”

Clara’s laugh was wet with the lingering allergic reaction to the flowers. “That’s awful.”

“Denise from the hospital keeps trying to get the kids to touch Mom’s hand. So they can feel how cold she is and then they’ll understand.”

“What will it make them understand?”

“That she’s dead.”

“That’s morbid even for Denise.” They were both laugh­ing, which felt alien but sweet.

“She says it will give them closure.”

Abbie reached out and grabbed her hand. Clara started to pull away, but Abbie didn’t let go.

I should tell her. Part of her even wanted to. To share the burden of information like they were kids again. And Abbie, who liked the view from the perch her reputation as a Beecher in this town gave her, would tell Clara it wasn’t true. Couldn’t possibly be. That Mom had been wrong. Angry. Something.

Some excuse to keep everything the way it was.

That was why Clara couldn’t tell her. Because Abbie had to live in this town side by side with the memory of Mom. Bringing Abbie into it would make her sister’s life harder.

“Abbie, don’t get upset but I am going to leave after the re­ception at the church.” There. Done. Band-Aid-style.

“And go where?” Abbie asked.

“Back home.”

And here comes the look. “Chicago? You’re kidding.”

“We have a new client—”

“You’re leaving?” Accidentally Clara caught Abbie’s furious gaze and wished she hadn’t. She could see her sister’s rage and her grief and it felt worse than her own.

“I’ll be back,” Clara lied.

“Bullshit.” So much for not swearing.

“Abbie—”

“You know. I should have expected this. You show up last-minute in your car and your ugly suit—”

“Hey!”

“With your nose in the air—”

“I’ll pay to have the house boxed up.”

Abbie sucked in so much air Clara went light-headed from the lack of oxygen around her.

“Can we please not make this a big deal?” she asked.

“What did I ever do to you, Clara? To make it so easy for you to leave me behind?”

The wind caught the side door as it opened, banging against the brick with a sound that made Clara and Abbie jump like they’d been caught smoking.

Ben, Abbie’s husband, stuck his head out and Abbie stepped forward. Ben was a good-looking guy in a gentle giant kind of way. Constantly rumpled, but usually smiling. He reminded Clara of a very good Labrador retriever.

She wanted to pat his head and give him a treat. And then yell at him for tracking mud across the rug.

“There you are,” he said.

“I was just getting some air,” Abbie said, with surprising defensiveness. “Is everything okay?”

“There’s…” Ben glanced over his shoulder and made a face, bewildered and somehow joyful in a way that made Clara and Abbie push off the wall. It was his mother-in-law’s funeral after all. Joy was a strange sentiment.

“What?” Clara asked.

“Well, I think you should come in and see for yourself.”

Ben held the door while Abbie and Clara walked back into the packed room. Everyone was silent now, pressed to the walls and corners in little clumps, whispering in that painfully fa­miliar way out of the corners of their mouths and behind their hands. There was a path down the center of the room right to Mom’s casket, where she lay with her arms crossed, wearing her favorite green dress and way too much blush.

Standing at the casket, was a woman. A stranger.

Everything about her screamed not from around here. She wore an elegant long black skirt and a pair of boots with low heels of rich black leather. A gray sweater (Ralph Lauren Col­lection cashmere or Clara would eat her own boots) with a black belt around her trim waist. Her hair was long and sil­very blond, the kind that appeared natural but Clara would put money on the fact that it cost a lot and took a lot of time to keep that way.

She kind of…glittered.

“Who is that?”

“You don’t recognize her?” Ben whispered between Abbie and Clara’s shoulders, his breath smelling of coffee and cough drops.

Something about the woman did seem familiar, polished.

“Is she from the publishing company?” she asked Abbie.

“I don’t think so. They sent a cheesecake.”

“That morning show Mom did sometimes, in Des Moines? Ramona?”

“Ramona Rodriguez died, like, ten years ago.”

Clara should know this woman. But her mother’s funeral was throwing her off.

“Are you kidding me? You really don’t recognize her?” Ben asked. “It’s Kitty Devereaux.”

Excerpted from The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader. Copyright © 2022 by Molly Fader. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Purchase Links:

BookShop: https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-sunshine-girls-original-molly-fader/18408170?ean=9781335453488

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335453488_the-sunshine-girls.html 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sunshine-girls-molly-fader/1140810565?ean=9781335453488 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sunshine-Girls-Novel-Molly-Fader/dp/1335453482/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sunshine+girls+molly+fader&qid=1668111685&sprefix=sunshine+girls+molly%2Caps%2C109&sr=8-1 

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Sunshine-Girls/Molly-Fader/9781335453488?id=8292090795540

With great appreciation to HTP Books for including me in the Fall 2022 booHTP HTP Books HTThWomen’s Fiction Blog Tour.

Review of AUTHENTICALLY, IZZY by Pepper Basham

About  the Book

“Dear Izzy—I feel certain there’s a book-loving man living relatively nearby waiting to speak bookish to you ’til death do you part. You just haven’t met yet.”

Izzy Edgewood is a wannabe bookstore owner, quote queen, and Lord of the Rings nerd who has been waiting for Prince Charming to sweep her off her sneakered feet. But it’s hard to meet people when you spend more time with fictional humans than real ones. Which is why her pragmatist cousin Josephine decides to take Izzy’s future into her own meddling hands and create an online dating profile for the hopeful romantic.

To Izzy’s shock (and suspicion), Josie’s plan works. Soon, she’s dialoguing with a Hobbit-loving man named Brodie who lives in a small town an ocean away from her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. But is their shared love of books, family, and correspondence enough to overcome Izzy’s fear of flying and the literal distance between them? And is a long-distance relationship even worth considering when a local author has been frequenting the library where she works and is proving to be a perfectly fine gentleman?

In this epistolary novel from award-winning author Pepper Basham, bookish dreams and happily-ever-afters collide to create a beautiful sort of magic that’s even better than fiction.

My Review

I was enticed to read this book by a fellow book blogger (thank you, Nicole) and I am so glad that I did! This is a book just made for book lovers like me. Written as an epistolary novel, this is a fairy tale type love story with characters that you just want to embrace. Izzy is looking for love and in a hilarious way seems to find the bottom of the barrel offerings first. When she starts communicating with a too-good-to-be real man from an island that no one has heard of before, then the real fun starts. The emails between Brodie and Izzy show a developing interest in each other and a lot that they have in common. I really enjoyed their quotations from great classics, especially their references to “The Lord of the Rings” and their use of the characters’ names to describe themselves and others. I especially enjoyed the unwelcome and unsolicited advice that Izzy’s well-meaning family members gave her. Levi’s advice was humorous, Penelope’s was wise and cautious, but Josephine’s advice was the best. Josephine was determined that Izzy should be with boring and one-note Eli, but Izzy knows that Eli is a passing fancy and her reaction to Josephine’s advice is priceless. This is a book that uses words well, with tongue-in-cheek humor and not a little bit of a Cinderella focus. I enjoyed seeing Izzy mature through her correspondence and become more like the person she was always meant to be. The pacing is moderately fast and entirely enjoyable. This is an engaging book, perfect for fans of stories with happy endings and a little drama to get there.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Clean Christian romance, rated G
Photo and Bio from the author’s website at http://www.pepperdbasham.com

Available Now! Purchase Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Christian Book

Powells

Google Play Store

BAM!

Bookshop

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing and to Netgalley for the ARC to read and review. And a big shoutout to Nicole at http://www.christianfictiongirl.blog for her recommendation!

Review of SUNDOWN by Susan May Warren

About the Book:

Former Delta Operative Colt Kingston knows when someone is lying. He may not know the truth, but he sure doesn’t trust Tae, the woman who is caring for his ailing father at Sky King Ranch. Behind those beautiful blue eyes, he can tell there is a troubled–and smart–woman.

A few of her stories prove true–he’s found the crashed plane and the dead body inside. Still, her story of survival seems too incredible to believe . . . until the thugs she claims to be hunting her show up and threaten Sky King Ranch. Now Tae must disappear, along with her secrets.

But Colt’s not about to let her go it alone. And when they discover that her secrets include the antidote to a plague that threatens the world, it’ll take all three Kingston brothers to save the country they’ve vowed to protect.

Susan May Warren brings her Sky King Ranch series to a climactic close with this high-stakes race against the clock.

Details:

Author: Susan May Warren
Series: Sky King Ranch, Book 3
Genres: Contemporary Romantic AdventureContemporary Romantic Suspense
Tag: Epic Romantic Adventure
Publisher: Revell
Publication Year: 2022
ASIN: 0800739841
ISBN: 9780800739843

My review:

Oh, my! This book and this series had me captivated from beginning to end. I must admit that I missed the first book in the series, but I have since purchased it and plan to definitely go back and read Dodge’s story. This third book in the series wraps everything up well as it tells the story of Colt Kingston, a man who has yet to feel worthy or accepted in his life. He is still carrying the guilt of being with his mom when she died and blames himself for her death. Enter on the scene a young woman named Tae, a brilliant scientist working on a vaccine against a bio-weapon that is as deadly as it is useful to enemies. The danger that Tae is in is presented so realistically that I thought I was watching a movie in my mind. The action was fast paced and non-stop, changing settings from ice in Alaska to the sunshine state of Florida, with the bad guys always right there. Colt has tasked himself with keeping Tae safe and that is no small chore since he has to almost sacrifice himself to secure her and her vaccine. I enjoyed the way the story unraveled, with lots of layers and plenty of brilliantly written dialogue. The relationship between the brothers is a central theme since they need to find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses in order to work well together. I enjoyed reading about the themes of forgiveness, acceptance, self-discovery and coming to a feeling of self-worth. This is a story that made me tear up a few times, gasp others and even chuckle sometimes. This book had everything that clean romantic suspense should have and the addition of high intensity action that made it a compelling read. This book can be read as a standalone, but my recommendation is to read the series of the Sky King Ranch and the heroes who call it home.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell via Netgalley as part of the Revell Reads Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

This book has some really intense scenes in it. It is a clean read but it is also scary at times, so I would rate it a PG-13.
Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award-winning novelist of over sixty-five novels. An eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.
A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: The Story Equation.
She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, and Novel.Academy, a school for aspiring novelists. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.

Links to purchase SUNDOWN:

Baker Book House

Audible

Google Play

Amazon Kindle

Amazon

Nook

Barnes and Noble

Christian Book

Indie Bound

The Revell Reads Blogger Program introduced me to this author when she wrote the second book of this series. I have been a fan since then and look for all of their books now. Much appreciation to this Blogger Program that has kept me reading good Christian fiction and allowed me the opportunity to introduce authors to the readers of my blog.

Review of A NANNY FOR THE RANCHER’S TWINS by Heidi Main

Welcome to the Blog + Review Blitz for A Nanny for the Rancher’s Twins by Heidi Main, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

About the book

Title: A Nanny for the Rancher’s Twins

Author: Heidi Main

Publisher: Love Inspired

Release Date: October 25, 2022

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Returning to small-town Texas was her fresh start.

She never expected a ready-made family.

What could be better than running a rustic wedding venue? Event planner Laney Taylor has it all laid out…except for the serious renovations her inherited property needs. Rancher Ethan McCaw will help—but only if she’ll nanny his toddler twins. Laney’s all about planning weddings for others and shielding her own heart, but Ethan, Zoe and Tori might be just the ones to change her mind…

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | IndieBound | Christianbook | BookBub

My Review

This is a sweet romance with just enough drama to keep me engaged and interested in reading. The story of the rancher who needs a nanny for his twins and the events planner who wants help with renovating the property she has inherited is a friends to lovers trope that is well-written. Although it is predictable, it is also an enchanting love story with characters who make flawed assumptions and who have to understand what is really happening in order to form a romantic relationship. The twins were absolutely endearing and so adorable in their insistence to get into mischief in the cutest and most amusing ways. Laney and Ethan have to both discover how to trust again while also continuing to guard their hearts from getting hurt once more. The story is rich with realistic and believable details and sparkles with characters that are lovable and warm. I enjoyed the fast-paced plot although I was sorry to see the story end since I really liked getting to know Laney, Ethan and the twins. This is a delightful and clean romance that includes humor and a charming story of self-discovery and the resulting romantic love.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Just Read Blog Tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Rated G. This is a clean and captivating romance!

About the Author

Heidi Main writes sweet inspirational romance novels set in small towns. Though she lives in central North Carolina’s suburbs, she dreams of acreage and horseback riding, which is why her novels include wide-open ranches and horses. Before starting her writing career, Heidi worked with computers and taught Jazzercise. A perfect Saturday is lounging on the deck with her husband and watching the many birds in their backyard.Connect with Heidi by visiting heidimain.com to follow her on social media or subscribe to email newsletter updates.

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card and a print copy of A Nanny for the Rancher’s Twins.

(1) additional winner will receive a $10 gift card and a print copy of the book.

Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight November 9, 2022 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on November 16, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.
ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

JustRead Publicity Tours

Review of SECLUDED CABIN SLEEPS SIX by Lisa Unger

Reading this book was like entering a labyrinth or maybe a tangled spider web inside a spider web and I felt like the fly. I was captured from the beginning as I dove deeply into this intricate story of family relationships and unknown darkness. Wow! Just wow! Hannah and Mako are siblings and both have secrets. One of them has a secret that can kill. Together with their spouses and two friends, they go to a cabin in the middle of nowhere just to get away. But they soon find out that you can run but you can’t hide. The premise of this book is clever and intriguingly original with so much happening that it held my attention the entire time I was reading. I could hear the sound effects portrayed and jumped when the thunder roared, just as I’m sure the characters did. The theme of good vs. evil was definitely a part of the story, but it is mostly a story of accepting your family and knowing that you are an individual and cannot change where your roots are. I especially liked the characterization and how there seemed to be two different story lines that were flowing down different rivers, but they seamlessly merged into a giant waterfall at the end. The imagery was fantastic, creating an environment that was perfect for the story and for my mind to go wild as I built up the scene visually. The characters were well developed but a bit confusing until I caught on that there were two storylines and dual time as well. I didn’t have a favorite character since I enjoyed getting to know all of them. Some, of course, are more likable and relatable than others, but they all realistically portray human actions and reactions. Buckle up for a wild ride and prepare for a long night when you pick up this book because it will hold you in its grasp until the final satisfying sentence. Dynamic, energetic and twisty spellbinder that every fan of thrillers should read.
Disclaimer
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. (I also preordered my own copy because I love Lisa Unger’s books.) I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Rated a definite PG-13, with violence depicted as well as grab-your-throat scary kind of scenes
Photo and Bio from the author’s website at http://www.lisaunger.com

Today is release day, so if you are in the mood for some creepy thrills and chills, you can enjoy this new book from Lisa Unger. Purchase Links:

Apple Books

Target

Bookshop

BAM!

Barnes and Noble

Google Play Store

Powells

Amazon

With thanks to Netgalley and Park Row Books for the ARC to read and review!