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The Season of Silver Linings -  Christine Nolfi

Oh, those Sirens.    They are always having their noses in each other and anyone else that crosses their paths business.  Yet, they have the biggest, most open, and well-meaning hearts ever.   In The Season of Silver Linings we find them planning Linnie’s wedding to Daniel and matchmaking Jada and Phillip.   

 

The wedding plan was difficult.   I am not sure she meant to be but Linnie wasn’t an easy bride and she was a very busy bride who seemed to not be able to make a decision to save her life but when she finally did make a decision nothing could sway her.    I loved seeing Fancy, Phillip’s young daughter, push her boundaries, make things interesting, and put her own twist on being the flower girl.   The fashion show of picking out her outfit was amazing and so heartwarming.   These ladies dote on her but still manage to keep her in control, most of the time.

 

The matchmaking of Phillip and Jada was difficult.   Phillip is recently widowed after his wife committed suicide leaving him as a single dad to a young, precocious little girl.    The wife, Bodi, was a friend of Jada’s.     There is so much more to this story but you need to read the story to learn the rest.    But this friendship, potential relationship, was fun to watch develop.    To see them struggle with the past, move forward towards their future, and find out if they can be more than friends to each other.   While I never like to some anyone struggle but I liked that Jada was struggling.   She didn’t just jump into a relationship without having her eyes open and understanding that what could happen with her and Phillip would also affect Fancy.   

 

Christine Nolfi has an amazing series of books and The Season of Silver Linings in the perfect continuation of the story.      While this is part of a series, the characters will be familiar but each book has a beginning and an ending.   There isn’t a cliffhanger, there isn’t a need to know what happens in the other books before I read this one.   Each book can be read alone.

Claimed by Love (Love in Bloom: The Ryders, Book 2): Duke Ryder - Melissa Foster

AUDIOBOOK NOTE...I have become the biggest BJ Harrison and Melissa Foster Audiobook fan. There is nothing better than listening to BJ Harrison read me Melissa’s amazing story. The voice brings the story to life. I can hear the emotions that the characters are going through. Their stories come to life for me.

I listen while working out, cleaning the house, driving around, or pretty much anytime I can sneak more than 5 minutes for myself. It makes the time doing things I may not enjoy as much so much better.

Panty melting smile…. How can you not love a book that uses that to describe the hunky, sexy, and wonderful main character? I couldn’t pass up on reading Duke’s story when that is how Gabriella describes him. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t pass up reading Claimed by Love because it is written by the amazing Melissa Foster and is part of the Love in Bloom series.

In true Love in Bloom style, Duke and Gabriella have a true and real love. Their attraction is instantaneous but they have to work for it. It would have been easy to just fall into bed and hope for the best but Duke is just too good of a guy for a quick lay with Gabriella. Gabriella is also a wonderful character. She calls out Duke on his intentions with the island, she holds tight to her beliefs and wants, and make Duke work to win her over for good. Together these two are absolutely on fire.

I also loved that other Love in Bloom characters makes appearances in Claimed by Love. Pierce Braden (sigh), Emily, and of course those wonderful Ryder siblings all made appearances. This book can be read as part of the series, which I recommend, or it can be read as a standalone.

 

Seaside Whispers (Love in Bloom: Seaside Summers): Matt Lacroux - Melissa Foster

AUDIOBOOK NOTE...BJ Harrison you are amazing. Your voice portrays these characters exactly as I expected them to be. You take characters that have feelings and brought them to life for me. 

MY REVIEW...Melissa Foster…. Oh what you do to me. The heat, the passion, and the love are always amazing in your books. Seaside Whispers is no exception. While I LOVE LOVE LOVE all that what I really enjoy is the friendships. The Seaside Girls are absolutely the best friends anyone could ever ask for. I love how the open their “club” to other girls as they become part of the friendship circle. Of course there was chunky dipping, helping Mira achieve her goals, and support with every aspect of life. 

The relationship between Matt and Mira was sweet. They’ve been flirting through text and occasional visits for over a year and when he decides to take a sabbatical for 3 months their relationship takes off. Matt didn’t just have a relationship with Mira he had a relationship with Mira and Hagen, Mira’s 6 year old son. The way he accept and included Hagen in all they did warmed my heart. I could understand how Mira was anxious about just letting Matt into their life when his plans were to leave again. Hagen and Mira both fell in love with Matt and him leaving would shatter them. 

I loved the ending. Theresa is hilarious. Bella, one of the Seaside Girls, has pranked Theresa each season and Theresa gets the last word this season. I laughed so hard as tears fell because the moment was just so sweet and wonderful. I see a future with many more pranks.

The Tuscan Child - Rhys Bowen

The Tuscan Child is set in WWII Italy and the 1970’s.  While the story goes back and forth between the two eras’ there is no confusion as to what is happening.    

 

WWII is told from a pilot, Hugo, whose plane has been shot down and he has landed in enemy territory where he is hidden in a monastery that had been destroyed by bombs and taken care of by a local woman whose husband is off fighting in the war.     The 1970’s centers around the pilot’s daughter, Joanna, who is searching for the beautiful boy who is mentioned in a letter she finds after her father’s death.   The beautiful boy is assumed to be the pilot and the woman’s son so she is looking for her brother.    

 

Rhys Bowen is a talented author.   She describes the scenery, the food, and the local is such detail that I could easily picture the story as I was reading.    I could smell the wonderful dishes the Italian woman, Paola, makes.   I could hear the men at the restaurant telling their tales.    I was picturing the monastery where Hugo stayed, the mountains surrounding the town, and washed out mud roads that had to be travelled to get around.

 

The Tuscan Child is amazing.   I fell into the story, got to know the characters, and loved every minute of my time reading.    I recommend picking up your own copy. 

 

 

Perfect Summer Read

Rainy Day Friends: A Novel (Wildstone) - Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends is the perfect summer, it's too hot to be outside story.    I loved the story of Lanie escaping her life after finding out her husband was a husband to other women and finds herself pulled into the amazing family of the Capriottis.    This family is wonderful.    They are loud, obnoxious, nosy, and so welcoming.   Anyone who comes to their winery is instantly taken under Cora's, the owner, protective wing and welcomed into their crazy family.   

When River arrived at the winery, peeking in the window, living in her car I knew that she would be accepted with open arms but I also knew that there was more to her story.   It didn't take long for me to figure out what drew her to come to the winery and why she was interested in Lanie.  I liked that Jill Shalvis had them become friends first then told the rest of their connection.   I cannot blame River for coming to the winery.   It was probably the only way that she could survive with her baby. 

Mark... oh Mark and his gorgeous,naughty, sweet, lovable twin girls.   I loved the paragraphs that included the twins and Mark.   Those twins were too much and I could picture their cute blonde heads, the two of them wandering the winery and causing havoc to the adults.   And Mark with his big bad teddy bear attitude trying to keep them in line, going to work, and visiting Lanie all while to hide his heart.    There was no doubt that his heart was going to bust open when he first set his eyes on Lanie and I was excited to see how long he could hold out and how he would convince Lanie that she could trust a man again.     

Jill Shalvis is so talented.   She is a definite must-read author for me.     I recommend picking up Rainy Day Friends and then going back and reading the rest of her books.    

The Widow of Wall Street: A Novel - Randy Susan Meyers

I was not sure what to expect with a Ponzi Wall Street money scheme story.    This is not my normal reading material, usually, I would pass on it but since Randy Susan Meyers wrote the book and I am a fan of hers I gave it a try and love it.    I was in a reading funk and it got me right out of it.   I devoured each page, couldn’t stop reading and felt connected to the characters.     I needed Phoebe to stand up for herself and do what was right for her.   The children were a small part of the story but I love that they were strong, smart, and willing to protect themselves.   I wanted Jake to realize he messed up and admit it.  

 

Randy Susan Meyers takes the young love of two 15-year-olds and shows how it can grow stronger as they marry, have kids, and grow old together.     Phoebe and Jake wanted it all from a young age.   They wanted true love, successful careers, amazing kids, and a life together.   While they got it all there was also secrets, darkness, and trouble in their relationship.    

 

This is a love story, the story of a man wanting to have it all and share it all with his family.   But it is also a look at the trouble that money can cause.   Once Jake got a taste of money he just wanted more and more.   He was always thinking he’d catch up, have enough, be happy enough but it just never happen and he got caught.    Jake was portrayed as a guy who didn’t start out to be shady, he wanted to be successful and provide for his family and then it just snowballed on him.    Yet, he never admitted he was wrong.    He never accepted that he messed up and because of that he never let his wife go.   He expected her to stand by him and to go down with him.   

 

Phoebe was wonderful.   She stood by her man, took the brunt of the world outside of prison, and stayed strong.    I want to believe that was love but I really think it was because she didn’t know who she was without Jake.     She was always Jake’s girlfriend or Jake’s wife.      She didn’t know how to be Phoebe.  I enjoyed seeing her becoming strong, becoming self-sufficient and figuring out how to be without the man who gave her everything.  

 

The Wall Street Widow is a story about money, greed, love, betrayal and so much more.    I loved the entire story from beginning to end.    Pick up your copy immediately.

The Intermission - Elyssa Friedland

I like the idea of this book.   The idea that marriage can get hum-drum boring is not a new idea.   I am happily married and there are times that we have to shake it up some.   That is what Cass wants to do.   She needs to make sure that she is happy with her life before starting a family and committing to the rest of her life with Jonathan.   Do I agree with her way?  Nope, not even a little but I respect that she doesn’t want to start a family and then tear it apart if she is that unhappy that she cannot stay with her husband.  

 

The book is divided into three parts with alternating chapters between Cass and Jonathan.   There were quite a bit of repetitive thoughts, a lot of talking about what might happen, what could happen, what should happen but yet not much happen.  I struggle to connect with anyone in the story.  Cass seemed to want the separation but then didn’t want Jonathan to find any happiness without her.    Jonathan was a pushover.   He couldn’t make Cass stay but yet gave in to every request she made without pushing for what he wanted.   

 

The premise of the story was interesting and the ending was predictable.  I couldn’t not finish the book once I started reading because I had to know if Cass and Jonathan actually ended up together but it was slow reading for me.

Whispers at Seaside (Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers) - Addison Cole

Oh Addison Cole, you write such amazing stories with wonderful characters.    The Seaside Girls are my favorite friendship ever.   They are so strong, sweet, and naughty.     They pull pranks, tell secrets to each other, love each other, and love their men so deeply.    Each time I pick up a Sweet with Heat:  Seaside Summer book I know that I will get to catch up with women.  

 

Whispers at Seaside is the story of Professor Matt Lacroux and single mother Mira Savage.   The instant chemistry between Matt and Mira is off the charts.   There is no doubt that they belong together but there is also Hagen.   Hagen is the best character in the story.   As Mira’s son he is the most important person in Mira’s life and anyone who wants to be friends with Mira must be friends with her son.   Matt comes in and becomes friends with Hagen from the very beginning, he includes him in discussions, dates, and activities without being put out (heart melting).      

 

 

This book in the series is now my favorite.   Matt Lacroux won be over just by his interactions with Hagen.   The heat is perfect, the sweetness is wonderful, and the love is just right.

What Happened That Night - Sandra Block

Sandra Block wrote a book that grabbed me from the very first time I looked at the gorgeous cover and held me until I read the very last word.    When I first saw the book I knew that this was a story that I had to read.   I knew that the suspense would keep me on the edge of my seat, the characters would make me want to be part of their friend circle, and that there would be so many twists and turns that I wouldn’t know which way I should go next.    

 

The storyline was not an easy one to read.   There were subjects, especially the rapes, that had to be tough to write about but Sandra Block did an amazing job.   She gave enough detail for the reader to have no doubt what was happening but not too much.   I had no doubt how much pain and fear Dahlia felt while being raped and the intense feelings that she was trying to figure out how to deal with.   I love that Dahlia was strong enough to continue her life, she fought to find a way out of the black hole, and she found a way to move on.   I was concerned when Dahlia met James, was he leading her down the right path or would he hurt her more than she already was hurting.  By the end of the story, I enjoyed seeing the friendship grow and loved that Dahlia had someone she could trust.

 

The setup of the book with short chapters and multiple points of views had me flying through the story.  I was anxious and excited to get to the end to find out what happens.    The ending… oh, the ending… PERFECT.   I didn’t see it coming, I didn’t even dream it but it was amazing.

Dreams of Falling - Karen   White

Family secrets and drama are something every family experiences.   Larkin ran from her hometown and family to escape all that but when she is pulled back due to her mother being in the hospital she starts to realize that her memories may not be quite so spot on.     What she thinks she remembers may not be the entire truth, there might be more to her family that she was never aware of, and there are friendships she left behind that might have more to tell.   I loved that the friends she ran from still had open arms welcoming her home as if she had never left.     The family that she left doesn’t push her to stay just work on reminding her what she was missing and why she shouldn’t leave again.   

 

Dreams of Falling is a story rich with family history.   The history starts with Margaret, CeeCee, and Bitty and their amazing friendship.   Add Ivy, Margaret’s daughter, to that history a few years later and the story just gets more interesting.     Then Ivy has a daughter, Larkin, and you have three generations of wonderful, strong, and smart women.    The thing with history is that there are secrets kept, hidden, or needing to be forgotten.   

 

I am a Karen White fan and recommend this wonderful Southern fiction story.

Fighting for Everything - Laura Kaye
I love this book so much.    Friends to lovers is a story that I find myself drawn to.   Laura Kaye tells the story of Kristina and Noah.   Best friends growing up with an underlying of attraction until they come together after Noah returns from his deployment injured and feeling broken.    The minute Kristina walked into the picnic and sees Noah the sparks flew.     The attraction was there and there could be no doubt that something had changed.    While they jumped right into exploring the attraction there wasn't an insta-relationship.    They fought it, they pushed it away, and they worked hard to figure out how they could come together without losing what was so important to them.   
 
Fighting for Everything is a romance book but it is also the story of a soldier coming home from deployment different from how he left.    It is the story of PTSD and how it affects not only the soldier but those who love him.  It is also a story of people, strangers, coming together and pushing each other to find themselves again.   The story of other retired military who have gone through what Noah is going through and helping others. 
 
This is a heart breaking, heart warming, wonderful, eye-opening story.     I am excited for more from the Warrior Fight Club. 
All the Little Lights - Jamie McGuire

This is a story that starts with two teenagers who are seen as awkward and like each other.    They don’t really know how to act on that and tread very carefully with each other.     While they may not know how to act on their like of each other they do know that they can trust each other and share their secrets.    Then Elliott gets torn away at the time Catherine needs him the most.     They both don’t stop thinking about each other but being teenagers they are lost to their parent's rules.     Elliott finally returns to Catherine their senior year of high school but must work to earn her trust again.

 

I was entirely invested in this book.   Elliott’s persistence in earning Catherine’s friendship was wonderful.   He warmed my heart by never giving up on her yet realizing that there were times that he had to give her some space or he would lose her forever.    I like that Catherine made Elliott work to earn her back.    She wasn’t mean, she wasn’t unforgiving, she was careful with her heart.  

 

Jamie McGuire tackled bullying, racism, peer pressure, and mental health all while keeping the story realistic.   She didn’t cover up the real world of being a teenager and showed that there is help available when needed.     This is the first book I have read by Jamie but I am excited to read more from her.

Her Last Word - Mary Burton

Her Last Word is a book that has a face paced, intense storyline.   The police procedural part tells the story of a cold case that has the potential to tie into a current case.    It was interesting to me to see how Detective John Adler was able to take a case that had been all but forgotten for so many years and use the clues from that story to bring back to life, working to solve it, and working to use the clues to solve past and present murders.    

This is a romantic suspense book with twists and turns that I never saw coming.    I loved the different timelines between the present story and Kaitlin's interviews.   Sometimes the storylines didn't come together when going between the two of them as smoothly as I thought they should but that was part of what happen.   The fact that the notes that Kaitlin got did not always match what the police were finding out.   The romance part of the story was minimal and I liked that it was not at the front of the storyline.  That allowed me to focus on the murders and try to figure out who dun-it.    I will say I never guessed correctly.

First Crush, Last Love - Elizabeth McKenna

My Thoughts…

 

A romance novel set in the 80’s & 90’s is right up my alley.  I grew up in this time and loved flashing back to my high school years.   The clicks, the attitudes, and the crushes were all perfect for the setting and the characters.   While in high school who hasn’t hoped that a couple would break up so that she could jump into the open spot in the relationship?    That is exactly what Jessie spent her entire high school hoping would happen with Lee.    

 

It was refreshing to see a friendship between Lee and Jessie.   There was more than just hormones and lust.    Their friendship was true to their age, with the witchy girlfriend being jealous and the other friends looking at them like they were hiding something.    At some points in the story I was hoping Jessie could move on, forget Lee, and just get on with her life.  Until she did… then I was screaming for her to find Lee and get back to the good things in life.  

 

I really enjoyed First Crush, Last Love.  It was fun to reminisce about the high school years.  

The High Tide Club - Mary Kay Andrews

My first book of summer and I loved it.     Mary Kay Andrews stepped out of her normal writing style and did an amazing job.    The mystery, the family, the friendships, and the Southern Charm are all amazing.  The dual timelines of 1941 and the present time come together perfectly.   The two different eras tell the story of amazing characters learning about their history and of their future while making friendships that will last forever.   

 

The story is narrated by many different characters, which could cause some confusion, but Mary Kay Andrews did an amazing job in keeping the reader in line and aware of who was telling the story.    I enjoyed knowing the different perspectives of the characters.   This allowed me to get the true feelings and emotions of those who are telling the story, those who are living the events, and those who are hearing the story for the first time.    

 

While Josephine is the character that starts this story it is truly The High Tide Club members that bring the story to life.      As with most groups, there is one person who seems more in charge, in the know than the rest of the group.  Josephine is that person.   With her all-knowing personality came so many secrets of her own and others that she kept for her entire life that as her life was coming to an end (she is 99) she knew she needed to share the secrets with those who deserve to know them.    I felt like the fact that she kept the secrets for so long proved what a good friend she was.

 

This is an amazing book.    Everything about it was written in a way to pull the reader in and never let them go.    From the first page to the last I could not stop reading.    If you are new to Mary Kay Andrews or a long time fan this is a book of hers that you cannot pass up.    

Lovers at Seaside (Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers) - Addison Cole

Have you ever started a book and known from the very first pages that this couple MUST be together?   That is what I felt when Grayson walks in on Parker in a candy eating, watching a scary movie, and getting drunk.     There is no judgment, no harsh words, just concern, understanding, and acceptance.   He is the forever gentleman taking care of this woman that he only knows through emails in a time when she is so alone.    SIGH… what an amazing man.  

 

I loved the Bert and Abe storyline.     Bert, the man Parker thought of as a father, knew exactly what he was doing by leading Parker to Abe.   While Abe is a mean, crabby, old man he opens his heart to Parker and Grayson.    Abe’s death leads to a happily ever after for Parker which is exactly what she deserved.   I love that Grayson was with her every step of the way.  

 

Addison Cole is talented in her writing.   She has a knack for her wonderful seaside settings, amazing characters, and sweet storylines.    The settings are described in such detail that they are easy to picture, making the reader feel as if they are there with the characters.     The characters are fun, sweet, and real.     They end up being friends of the reader while taking the reader on their amazing life journeys.    And the storylines…oh so sweet.     The attention to the little details pull the reader right into the book and never let them go.   Even when the last word is read I continue to think about their story and wonder what will happen next in this series.  

 

I am a HUGE fan of the Sweet with Heat series and am always excited when another book is being released.     With each book I get to know new characters, catch up with some old favorites, and revisit some of my favorite book places.