Thursday, January 28, 2016

A PROPER ROMANCE: My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this Regency twist of My Fair Lady, Jack would rather be at sea than fixing the mistakes of his grandfather, the late Earl of Stansworth. Instead, he finds that inheriting his grandfather's wealth and title—and securing the welfare of his sister and mother—means joining the ranks of high society and living with the aristocracy. Luckily, Ivy Carlisle, the granddaughter of a dear friend of Jack's late grandmother, is willing to teach him etiquette and properly introduce him into society. Jack soon learns that his challenge isn't surviving his new lifestyle but surviving the conspiracies against him—as well as keeping himself from falling madly in love with his new tutor.


REVIEW

This is a book that is definitely going on my favorites shelf.  I loved it, all of it.  The characters, the plot, the setting, the time period, I enjoyed it all. While I don't particularly like the movie, My Fair Lady, I found myself loving this version, probably because Jack and Ivy and such great characters.  The interactions between Jack and Ivy as they get to know each other were great, thoroughly witty and amusing. I was very sad when the book ended, I truly hoped it would never end. ;)

The secondary characters added a great deal to the story.  Jack's mother and sister's situations provide some side stories that could become books in and of themselves (I hope they do!), especially since they are the primary reason that Jack becomes the new Earl of Stansworth in the first place.  It's fun to follow the changes that Jack undergoes as he prepares to face society as the new earl.  Ivy's efforts to 'tame' the sailor are delightfully difficult.  And Ivy's grandmother is one of those characters that make me smile every time they show up in the story.  Nana is the supportive mentor that Ivy needs with her rather dull, scandal conscious parents. All sorts of details make this a fun read, everything from Ivy's secret job to Jack's twelve-year-old valet to Sophia's (Jack's sister) desire to establish a young woman's training home.  A great book for those who enjoy delightful romances with some depth.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Abby's Crossing by Darryl Harris


ABOUT THE BOOK

Fall 1862 — Following her husband’s tragic death, young widow Abby Butterfield Browett’s first responsibility is to her son. Her desire to provide a secure future for her child has led her to accept a proposal of marriage from Isaac, a man twice her age. In her heart, she knows that Isaac lacks the fire and zest for life that defines Abby, but her son will be cared for. Can she be happy with only that?

Despite her reservations, Abby joins her fiancé on the journey to the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, unprepared for the challenges that begin soon after they embark. When their trouble turns dangerous, it is a group of rough frontiersmen that come to their aid. The incident provides Abby the excuse she needs to turn back and postpone the wedding—and in truth, she simply can’t forget the connection she felt with Scooter, the leader of their rescuers. But as hostilities arise between the local Indians and the white frontiersmen, Abby’s focus turns again to the safety of her son. When the young boy disappears following an attack, Abby disregards propriety and turns not to her fiancé for help, but to Scooter. In the face of unimaginable odds, the pair embarks on a quest to find Abby’s son, a journey that will test their courage and faith as never before.

REVIEW
I've read a lot of books about the Mormon pioneers but this one stood out to me.  Abby and Scooter come from such different places it was interesting watching as they got to know each other.  The additional story lines involving relationships with the Shoshoni and other First/Native Nations groups as well as Abby adopted Shoshoni son added depth to the story. It was hard to know who to sympathize with, the Shoshoni whose land was being settled or he settlers who just wanted a place to call home.  It's clear that both good and bad, even tragic decisions were made that had a huge impact on the area.  The author has obviously done his research. Having lived in Cache Valley for much of my life I found the setting and history particularly interesting.  It reminded me that despite living here there's still a lot about the place I don't know.  This is the sort of historical fiction that I enjoy the most, both interesting and entertaining.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Double Play by Ranee S. Clark


ABOUT THE BOOK

Sophie Pope is devastated when she hears the news: her former boyfriend, college football star Anthony “Rocket” Rogers, is engaged to be married. Determined to win him back before he says “I do,” Sophie hatches a foolproof plan to stop the wedding. But when Rocket’s best man, aspiring baseball player David Savage, thwarts her plot, she realizes the game is up. For David, though, it’s just beginning . . .

David knows that Sophie is just another pretty face, and he’s more than happy to save his best friend from her shallow advances. She’s not his type at all, so he’s baffled by his response to an awkward encounter with Donovan, another of Sophie’s former flames. Despite himself, David feels driven by an inexplicable need to protect her. Pretending to be Sophie’s new fiancé leads to unexpected sparks between the pair, and soon they’re searching for excuses to spend time together. But when a curveball threatens to send them in opposite directions, will Sophie and David step up to the plate for the possibility of true love?

REVIEW

Clark has written another cute, clean romance with fun characters and an interesting plot.  I'll admit I wasn't sure the fashion and sports angles would come together very well, but they ended up working pretty well.  It was fun to read about Anthony and Ty again (Playing for Keeps) and David was a favorite character from the first book as well so I enjoyed reading more about him.  Sophie I wasn't thrilled with at the beginning as she plots to try to break up Anthony and Ty, but as she and David get more interested in each other I liked her better.  I think what I enjoyed the most about this book though was how real the characters seemed.  Each character had his/her own strengths and weaknesses and it showed in the relationships.  Both Sophie and David have their own flaws that complicate the relationship.  It was also great to see how Sophie and David helped each other improve in terms of who they were and their actions and beliefs.  Sophie learns that how she dresses has a huge impact on how she feels and David learns that dating a girl to change her isn't the best way to go.  A sweet clean read for those who enjoy realistic stories with a dash of sports and fashion.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

CLEAN ROMANCE REVIEW: Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly


ABOUT THE BOOK

After a celebrated career in the war against Napoleon, Captain Douglas Bowden moves to a small fishing village to escape military life and put his medical skills to good use. Little does he know, it's his heart that needs the most loving care. This brand-new novel from master storyteller Carla Kelly will have new and longtime fans in raptures!

REVIEW

I am a big fan of clean historical romance and Carla Kelly is one of my favorite authors.  In Doing No Harm, Kelly demonstrates once again her mastery of the genre.  I loved pretty much everything about this novel.  The setting (Scotland), the characters (Doug and Olive as well as Flora, Tommy and all the others), and the plot (helping Scottish Highlanders who've been driver from their homes).  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Douglas Bowden, a retired Naval surgeon in search of a 'quiet, peaceful country' medical practice.  But when he comes across a young boy with a broken leg, he can't help but respond.  And as he gets further involved in the heartbreak of Edgar he can't help but try to ease the suffering he sees.  He teams up with local teashop owner Olive Grant to find a solution.  I loved the way that Doug and Olive come together to help not only each other (Doug has nightmares from his decades at war and Olive is running out of money) but the whole village.  Before reading this book, I'd never heard much about the Scottish Highlanders being run off their homesteads to make way for sheep so the book was rather enlightening in that regard.  It saddens me to continually be reminded of how cruel people can be to each other, but Doug and Olive are the kind of characters that also remind me that there is still much good in the world.  A touching, sweet romance combined with a powerful historical context creates a book well worth reading.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Return and Succeed by Robert R. Shallenberger


ABOUT THE BOOK

The first few years after a mission can be some of the most critical years in a returned missionary’s life. The transition from the mission field to normal life can be difficult, and many RMs get lost in the shuffle and struggle to make that change. Author Robert Shallenberger draws on a lifetime of experience helping youth and adults with motivation and personal development to share powerful tips and advice that will not only help returned missionaries survive the transition but also help them be successful in all aspects of their lives. With advice grounded in LDS standards, Return and Succeed is an invaluable collection of life-changing ideas, habits, and tools that will provide returned missionaries with the motivation and capability they need to stay firm in the faith and achieve their greatest potential.

REVIEW

While aimed specifically at returned missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS or Mormon church), there is much here of benefit for the lay reader.  Like most adjustments returning from a mission can be a really challenging experience and it becomes easy to slack off on habits practiced during the mission.  In this book, the author shares some important concepts and some inspiring stories about the importance of maintaining certain habits such as prayer, attending the temple, scripture study, having good friends, and setting worthwhile goals.  I especially enjoyed the stories that Shallenberger shared showing the Lord's hand in the lives of His servants.  The Lord is ready and willing to bless all who come unto Him and that needs to be our focus whether or not we have recently returned from a mission.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Three Little Words by Jennie Hansen, K.C. Grant, and Aubrey Mace


ABOUT THE BOOK

The road to true love never did run smooth, but a few bumps along the way make it all the more thrilling. This timeless truth is showcased in Three Little Words, a charming compilation of short stories written by a trio of popular LDS romance novelists. Readers are invited to follow the journeys of three young women as they encounter love where they least expect it.

Rescuing Bailey by Jennie Hansen

For as long as she can remember, Bailey has loved the boy next door. But despite her feelings, his schedule and his little brother keep getting in the way. Will her childhood crush finally blossom into something real, or will she discover that true love is waiting just around the corner?

Three Little Words by K.C. Grant

The bet is simple: Elizabeth, a speech therapist, has three days to teach a country bumpkin with a drawl as thick as molasses how to speak like a gentleman. But as she gets to know her charming student, it soon becomes clear that there may be more to him than meets the ear.

A Crying Shame by Aubrey Mace

Cassidy is in love with the idea of love, though after her most recent breakup, the possibility of finding Mr. Right seems hopeless. But when she meets a handsome classmate in her painting class, she may end up learning more about chemistry than about art.

REVIEW

This novella collection contains three stories about finding love where you least expect it.  While the first story was my favorite, I enjoyed all three.  The first story revolves around Bailey who discovers that the man she was planning to marry is engaged to her best friend causing her to take a job in Chicago rather than have to face the humiliation.  But when she comes home in response to her father's heart attack she discovers that her former boyfriend's brother, Gunter, is also around and her feelings toward him start to shift.  The second story revolves around Elizabeth and Matt.  This one I didn't enjoy quite as much because both characters are hiding something from the other as their feelings start to develop, but things work out in the end.  And the third story flirtation I found rather amusing as Cassidy is just getting over being dumped and learning to paint at the same time.  For those who like short novellas that can be read quickly and easily, that have clean, sweet romance to them, I can recommend this collection.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Financial Freedom by Greg Kesten


ABOUT THE BOOK

Financial Freedom: Finding What Works for You is the first in a series of pocket books that work as a primer for anyone seeking financial independence.The first in the series contains case studies of real people who have been coached by an expert in the field, Greg Kesten.

REVIEW

I admit that I'm not hugely into books about finance, not because it's not an important topic, but because my brain tends to glaze over when words like finance are used.  But this is an area that I definitely need to know more about and so I was interested in reading this book to see what kind of advice it offered.  And I was not disappointed, in fact I was quite pleased to find that this isn't a big huge book full of jargon and confusing terminology.  I found it quite easy to read and full of good common sense advice.  I didn't find much here that seemed new to me (I have a family member in the financial planning business after all) but I appreciated the direct approach the Kesten used along with the examples from people he has worked with over the years.  He starts by pointing out the importance of knowing where you want to go, having a financial vision to help focus one's efforts.  Then he explained the importance of facing your real situation, knowing exactly where you stand in financial terms. He gives further advice on facing spending addictions, comparing what you have to what others have, and being a 'paranoid saver'.  If you need a book on finance that is short and sweet and direct, I can heartily recommend this one.  For more information, visit Keston website here.

GIVEAWAY

As a gift to help families start off 2016 with tools on how to improve their financial situation, author Greg Keston is giving away 10 copies of his book, Financial Freedom: Finding What Works for You. All you need to do is visit www.freefinancialbook.com and be one of the first 10 people to request a FREE copy (shipping and handling will be paid).

 
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