11 February 2016

Review: Kissed by a Cowboy by Debra Clopton


Fun Cowboy Romance

I’ve read and enjoyed all three of the books in the Four of Hearts Ranch series, but I think this was my favourite. I thought the first two books (especially the second, Counting on a Cowboy) spent too much time introducing and getting to know the townsfolk, at the expense of the central romance plot. While Kissed by a Cowboy still had some focus on the older folk in town—particularly Rand and Pebble—it wasn’t so much that it detracted from Cass and Jarrod’s story. In fact, parts of it linked to Cass and Jarrod . . .

If there was a flaw with Kissed by a Cowboy, it was probably that Jarrod was a little too perfect. He’s spent the last eight years regretting that he ran from Cassidy, and he’s thrown himself into the ranch to compensate. Now he’s got rustlers on the ranch and seems to work about twenty hours a day managing the ranch, saving neglected horses, searching for the rustlers and his volunteer job as the Wishing Springs fire chief, but still has time to do a good deed or three for his new neighbour, Cass. But who’s going to begrudge anyone their fantasy cowboy? The closest he came to a fault was being a little impatient to develop a romance with Cass, but in his defence, he’s finally got the opportunity after eight long years.

Cassidy is a little more complex. She raced into a rebound marriage with a man who turned out to be a serial adulterer, and now she’s convinced she’s never going to trust any man with her heart. Especially not with her family history of failure in marriage. While I could understand her viewpoint, there was also a little frustration with it: this is a romance, which means they need to get together, and they can’t if she doesn’t change her mind! But that’s good frustration.

Overall I really enjoyed Kissed by a Cowboy—the plot, the characters, and especially the strong writing with flashes of brilliant humour. Recommended for those who love cowboys with their contemporary romance.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

9 February 2016

ARCBA Review: Next of Kin by Carol Preston


7 - 11 February
is introducing

Next of Kin
(Rhiza Press, May 2015)

Carol Preston


About the Book:
Fanny Franks was raised to believe in honesty, equality and acceptance, regardless of background or circumstances. When she meets brothers Jack and Jim, she is drawm to them by the alienation and injustice which seems to pervade their lives. She is determined to intervene and help them find happiness, until a trauma in her own life brings discrimination and shame for which she is ill prepared. While she deals with her own struggle she comes to understand what Jim and Jack are going through - and they find where they truly belong.
About the Author

Carol lives in Wollongong with her husband, Neil. She is a psychologist and has a part time private counselling practice, as well as being an author and speaker. Carol enjoys spending time with her children and four grandchildren, as well as bushwalking, gardening and holidaying overseas with her husband. One of her hobbies over many years has been family history research. 


It was this research which started Carol on the journey of writing novels. Her first trilogy is about the Oakes Family; Suzannah’s Gold, Rebecca’s Dream and The Price of Peace, which takes the reader from 1838 when her great great grandmother, Suzannah Casey was transported from Ireland, through to the end of the First World War. Carol’s fourth novel, The Face of Forgiveness, is about two young women who are transported to Australia in 1839. 

Carol has also written the Turning the Tide Series, based on her mother’s family, which begins with the First Fleet of convicts to Australia in 1788. These include Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets, and Truly Free. Next of Kin is her ninth novel. For more information about Carol’s books and her other interests she can be contacted on her website: www.carolpreston.com.au, on her Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/writingtoreach or her Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston

My Review

Next of Kin is another of Carol Preston’s historical novels set in the early days of Australia. She covered the convicts in her first books, then moved onto the early free settlers and their relationships with the freed convicts. With Next of Kin, she moves further forward again, to an Australia that is attracting more and more immigration … not all of it desirable.

Her storytelling and writing continue to improve, and while I’d like to say this is her best yet, I’ve already read the sequel and it was even better. So I’ll settle for saying Next of Kin is Carol’s best work to date. There is plenty of issues and conflict, and excellent characters. Well done.

Next of Kin is available via Amazon (Next of Kin) and Light The Dark (Next of Kin).

5 February 2016

Friday Fifteen: Marji Lane

Today I'm pleased to introduce suspense author Marji Lane, a fellow reviewer at Suspense Sisters Reviews. Marji is sharing her fifteen favourite authors, and it should be no surprise to learn she has a soft spot for suspense authors. Welcome, Marji!

I can definitely share my favorite 15 authors!

Suspense:

Jodie Bailey

I've only read one of her Love Inspired Suspense stories, but I loved it!

Patricia Bradley 

Patricia as a talent for unexpected twists!

Margaret Daley 

I love the action in her suspense stories!

Lynette Eason 

I don't know how she creates the twists that she does, but they are outstanding!



Elizabeth Goddard 

Whether it's suspense or romance, this lady can write!

Irene Hannon 

I've read a few of her most recent books! They certainly don't let me sleep!

Nancy Mehl 

Her Sanctuary series is full of such hope, and I love the suspense she packs into her stories.

Dana Mentink 

I get so excited when she has a new book coming out! I can always count on a story that I'm going to love!

Dani Pettrey 

I've read everyone of her books and loved all of them! My go-to for great suspense and romance!

Mystery:

Cynthia Hickey 

Not only does she spin an exceptional mystery, she makes me laugh.


Sandra Orchard 

Her mystery/suspense books are riveting!

Historical:

Sandra Ardoin 

Her latest holds the top spot in my all-time favorite list!


Margaret Brownley 

Her historical mysteries can completely throw me! Love the twists!

Patricia PacJac Carroll 

Talk about laughs! writes western romance novellas, clean, but with some crazy antics!


Fantasy:

Jackie Castle 

Writes young adult fantasy, but in the realm of Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. And with the same epic effects!


Marji is about to release the third book in her Grime Fighter Novella series, which I'll be reviewing in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, here's a bit about the book:

About Grime Spree


Shadows from her past have haunted Dani’s dreams for months. Now, however, the ghosts are real and bringing a trail of death and destruction.

What begins as a romantic evening, the first in far too long, collapses into yet another crime scene. However, this one has someone involved who is familiar to Dani. Too familiar.

And worse, he recognizes her.

Jay’s new promotion has increased his working hours considerably, as well as interrupted and cancelled more than one date with Dani. His attempt to make it up to her at one of the nicest restaurants in the area backfires when the place is robbed.

But the biggest problem is that Dani seems to be in on the crime.

About Marji Lane

Marji Laine writes what she loves to read—mysteries, suspense, and romance with characters relying on an authentic faith in God to carry them through treachery, betrayal, and impossible circumstances.

A Home schooling mom of four, she has two still left in the nest. She coordinates high school subjects at a large co-op while teaching writing, psychology, and government classes. She also manages the co-op’s website, directs a children’s choir at her church, and is the senior reviewer at Suspense Sisters.

When not writing, she loves game night with the family, crocheting in front of a NASCAR race or Texas Ranger baseball game, or scrapbooking along with a Hallmark movie and her black Labrador mix at her feet.

4 February 2016

Review: Love Blossoms Box Set

Seven Lovely Novellas


From Amazon:


Seven contemporary Christian romances for your springtime reading pleasure from your favorite authors:


A Handful of Flowers (The Callaghans & McFaddens Book 1) by Kimberly Rae Jordan

They had a deal. She’d watch his kids, and he’d do the repairs on her aging home. Neither wanted anything more, but sometimes God has a different plan.

The Bridesmaid’s Hero (A Snowgum Creek Novella) by Narelle Atkins

Serena Blaxland’s job at her parents’ B&B in Snowgum Creek, Australia, is only temporary. Sparks fly when hire car driver Harry Westmore saves the beautiful pastry chef from disrupting her sister’s wedding day, but the opportunity of a lifetime threatens to push them apart. Can Harry and Serena’s love and faith overcome the obstacles in their path?

A Lesson in Love (The Macleans Book 3) by Autumn MacArthur

Love can make life complicated! Sports teachers Fraser Maclean and Sarah Browne have worked together all year, but when a garden project for their church brings them together outside of school, everything changes. Can they learn God’s lessons in love, or will secrets and fear keep them apart?

Spring at the Barncastle by Lynette Sowell

After a career disaster, Sadie Barncastle finds herself in rural Vermont, starting over and opening up a shop at the family inn. She meets up with an old friend from childhood, Peter Appleman, a widower next door with a precocious daughter. But Sadie's not sure if life in the Green Mountains is for her and feels the call of Boston drawing her. Peter, however, is drawn to Sadie but isn't quite sure if he's ready to move on yet. As Easter approaches, a time of forgiveness, restoration, and joy, the two realize that it's also a time for new beginnings, but does that include with each other?

Walk You There (Savannah Sweethearts Book 5) by Jan Thompson

A local tour guide who makes a living off Savannah history goes to battle against an award-winning developer who wants to demolish the old city block she lives in.

A Match for Magnolia (Seven Suitors for Seven Sisters Book 1) by Marion Ueckermann

Magnolia Blume’s life is perfect, except for one thing—Davis Rathbone is everything she’s not looking for in a man.

Spring Break (Seasons of the Heart Novella Series) by Susette Williams

Kelly Sanders volunteers at an orphanage and loves working with children—even if they can be a bit mischievous at times. Marc Stevenson is used to fighting fires, not rescuing damsels in distress out of trees. He thinks Kelly would be perfect for him, except for that one flaw. How does a man, with visions of children, fill a nest that’s sure to be empty if he spends it with the woman he loves? 
Will some munchkins playing matchmaker be able to bring Kelly and Marc together? Or will love’s ember never have the chance to be ignited?

My Review

Okay, I’m slow. I’d wondered why this box set was called Love Blossoms. There was the obvious: that each of the stories has a flower or garden theme. But I’ve only just realised that it’s also around spring blossoms, because it’s coming into spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Duh. It’s high summer here. Spring is almost a year away.

Anyway, onto the stories.

Several of the novellas were part of a series, although all were effective standalone stories (although after reading them, you might just want to check out more in the series).

I think my favourite story was A Lesson in Love. It’s the third Autumn MacArthur novella I’ve read, and her writing is getting better and better. I loved the way she dealt with a sensitive topic, and the way both her characters had a strong Christian faith and allowed God to speak to them.

The Bridesmaid’s Hero was a fun Aussie story from Narelle Atkins (although I come from a snake-free country so could have done without that opening!) with two characters who have to decide if their attraction and common faith is enough to overcome the obstacles in their way.

A Match for Magnolia was a lot of fun, especially the idea of seven daughters all named after flowers. This looks like being a fun series, as does the oversized modern Brady Bunch introduced in A Handful of Flowers. Spring at the Barncastle was a sweet romance set on a maple syrup farm (I would have liked a taste!), and Walk You There was the perfect combination of sweet and bittersweet. Finally, Spring Break: a lovely story, and my only complaint with Spring Break was that it was all over too quickly.

Overall, an enjoyable set of romance novellas, perfect for long summer days (or long winter nights).

Thanks to the authors for providing a free ebook for review.