Friday, June 18, 2021

The Summer of No Attachments
by Lori Foster

Publisher: HQN
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Summer flings with no strings mean nobody gets hurt.
At least, that was the plan…

After putting the brakes on her dead-end relationship, local veterinarian Ivey Anders is ready to soak up this summer on her own terms. The way she sees it, no dating means no disappointment. Why complicate life with anything long-term? But when she meets Corbin Meyer—and his troubled young son, Justin—Ivey’s no-strings strategy threatens to unravel before she can put it into practice.

Trust doesn’t come easy for Ivey’s best friend, Hope Mage, a veterinary-clinic assistant who’s affected by an incident that’s colored every relationship she’s had. Though Hope’s happy for Ivey, she can’t quite open her own heart to the possibility of love. Not just yet… Maybe not ever. Soon, however, she’s faced with a dilemma—Corbin’s older brother, Lang. He’s charming, he’s kind…and he may just be the reason Hope needs to finally tear down her walls.

And as the sweet summer months unspool, the two friends discover love won’t give up on them so easily.

Kritters Thoughts:  The second in a series and like most romance series, you don't have to start at book one as each book centers around different characters.  Book one focused on a set of sisters who run an animal rescue farm and this book focuses on the veterinarian who volunteers her time to the sisters when they have an animal who needs special attention and one of her techs who helps her in her office.  

While I completely fell in love with the women and their story unlike book two where the women felt flat.  I didn't love their romance journeys as they felt way too quick from the hello to the I am in love stage!  Because I enjoyed these two women, their stories kept me reading even through an eye roll or two as they met a set of brothers and were instantly falling in love.  

I loved that both women had back stories and were full fledged characters.  AND the brothers that they fell in love with were too.  This book had a fantastic set of characters, I wouldn't have minded a slower roll and more than one book that followed their journeys.  

It was fun to see the couples from book one make an appearance and honestly wouldn't have minded if they had had more in this book.  I wonder if there will be another book set in this Kentucky town with two more women to follow as they find love and happiness.  

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 74 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from HarperCollins.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

The Somerset Girls
by Lori Foster

Publisher: HQN
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  No one knows you quite like a sister…

Summer in Sunset, Kentucky, means long, hot days—and sometimes surprising new beginnings. Through it all, the ties of sisterhood will be there, guiding Autumn and Ember to the lives, and loves, they need…

When they’re running the animal-rescue farm they inherited from their grandparents, Autumn and Ember Somerset are perfectly in sync. At all other times, not so much. Dependable Autumn would rather curl up with a good book than paint the town red with Ember. After the disaster that was Autumn’s last relationship, it’s pure self-protection. But when her high school crush comes back to town with his adorable young daughter, igniting memories best left forgotten, there’s only one person Autumn can turn to…

Beneath Ember’s free-spirited facade is a layer of deep hurt. She’ll gladly nudge Autumn toward a second chance. But risk her own heart? Not likely. The closer Autumn gets to her own happily-ever-after, the more Ember wonders what she might be missing—and if it isn’t her time to be bold, too.

Kritters Thoughts:  A set of sisters are running an animal rescue farm while also both holding down full time jobs - Autumn and Ember.  While sharing a home and with their aging parents on the same land in their own home, they each have a lot on their plates.  The sisters are complete opposites when it comes to personality and their parents have driven that home their whole lives, so they feel stuck in the shoes they are supposed to fill and that spills into other areas of their lives.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was that one of the romances was one of those rekindle romance where the couple is reuniting after years apart and they have some history, so it makes it feel less like instalove.  That happiness feeling bled into the other relationship that while there wasn't as much history, didn't feel too quick to get hot and heavy.  

There were definitely some sexy times in this one, but maybe its me, but they didn't feel too over the top or ill timed.  It was a little more open door than I typically like, but not as explicit as I have read before.  

One thing that I didn't love as much and made me hesitate about continuing into the next book was the characters in this book.  The sisters felt flat and because of the emphasis on their personalities it felt like the author kept pushing that narrative and it just didn't feel needed.  The continual reminder of the roles the sisters play just wasn't my kind of story.

I haven't read very many by Lori Foster and still want to continue to try her out and see if I can find a series that I fall in love with.  She is a romance author that I don't want to count out just yet!

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 72 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Netgalley.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Revival Season
by Monica West 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Every summer, fifteen-year-old Miriam Horton and her family pack themselves tight in their old minivan and travel through small southern towns for revival season: the time when Miriam’s father—one of the South’s most famous preachers—holds massive healing services for people desperate to be cured of ailments and disease. This summer, the revival season doesn’t go as planned, and after one service in which Reverend Horton’s healing powers are tested like never before, Miriam witnesses a shocking act of violence that shakes her belief in her father—and in her faith.

When the Hortons return home, Miriam’s confusion only grows as she discovers she might have the power to heal—even though her father and the church have always made it clear that such power is denied to women. Over the course of the next year, Miriam must decide between her faith, her family, and her newfound power that might be able to save others, but, if discovered by her father, could destroy Miriam.

Kritters Thoughts:  A book that is an acquired taste with strong religious themes and if you don't already have an interest in the politics that happened behind the scenes in any denomination, then this book may miss the mark for you.  Miriam is a young woman who has traveled with her parents and her two siblings each summer as her dad is a revival pastor who is also a healer.  He travels with the family by car each summer in hopes of converting new believers and healing those who need it.  When one summer something goes wrong, it impacts both his summer revival plans and his home church in big ways.  

Part of the reason that this book kept my attention was my personal interest in religion and the sociology behind a group of people following the same set of rules for their life.  And at the same time that I was reading this book there were quite a few things going on with the Southern Baptist Convention and I was following that which made this book even more interesting as at the convention they were debating the ability for women to play leadership roles in the church.  And reading Miriam's father and his thoughts on women not having the ability to heal just really struck a chord with me.  My senior thesis in religious studies was about the role women play in church leadership (some odd years ago!) and its crazy to see in this book and in the current news that this a topic still up for debate.  

There were a few times where I felt as though I wasn't reading as closely and got a bit confused by details of the plot, but in the end, I think I got the moral of the story and really wonder what happened to these characters beyond the final page.  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 73 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Child in the Photo
by Kerry Wilkinson

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 318
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  I stare at the newspaper article about a baby snatched from the back of a car thirty years ago, and wonder why someone would post it through my door. Looking closer, my blood freezes. The little girl in the photo has an unusual scar – just like mine. I’ve never met anyone with one like it. Is this stolen child… me?

Trembling with shock, I know I have to confront my mother. My parents got me through a horrific accident, helped me find a job I love teaching art, and even with buying my own house. But was it all built on lies?

She tells me the day I was born was the best day of her life, and I’m flooded with guilt for questioning her – but why do I catch her burning papers in the garden the next day?

Then I come home to find a woman sitting on my doorstep, covered in bruises and claiming she knows who abducted me. I don’t know if I can trust her – or if I’ll be the next to get hurt.

Because all the while, I’ve been hiding my own secret. Does whoever sent the article know what really happened the day of my accident? Desperate for the truth, I break into the house of my supposed kidnapper. Inside, I find a handwritten list of names. A shiver goes down my spine as I realise wasn’t the only child to be stolen.

Then I hear a key in the lock, and I know my life is in terrible danger…

Kritters Thoughts:  Hope comes home to a pile of mail like any other day, but this day there is a piece of mail that is slipped in among the rest and it is a newspaper clipping from many years prior about a missing girl and this missing girl has a unique birth defect, just like Hope, what could this mean?

I love a good twisty turny mystery, but this one felt unique as one of the big mysteries is solved half way through the book, but then from there takes some interesting turns.  I appreciated that the story was more than the discovery of her link to the missing girl and that the author took it to the next level.  

I am always vague when reviewing mysteries and will do so for this one, just to avoid spoiling the book.  With that, I thought the way that this book unfolded was entertaining and it ended up being a quick read, but within the large bookshelf of mysteries that I have read it was just ok.  There were a few moments where I felt like the main character made some decisions and moves that didn't feel right and honest to her and maybe even some things where I rolled an eye or two!

I would like to try more from this author to see if how I felt during this book was unique to this experience or common for his writing.  I would love to experience another one and see if the things I liked remained.    

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 71 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Bookouture.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Message in the Sand
by Hannah McKinnon

Publisher: Atria
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Wendell Combs is as local as they come. Born and raised in the small town of Saybrook, Connecticut, his venture into the larger world was met with heartbreak. Now, middle-aged and a confirmed bachelor, he seeks solitude from his tour of duty as a soldier back in his hometown, working as head caretaker for wealthy Alan Lancaster’s forty-acre estate, White Pines, a place he has come to love for its beauty, peace, and quiet.

Alan’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Julia, also loves White Pines, but for very different reasons. She and her little sister spend their days riding horses, swimming in the lake, and painting landscapes inspired by the property they adore. While her parents prepare to host their annual summer gala fundraiser, Julia’s eyes are set to the simpler joys of summer: she’s fallen in love with the boy-next-door and longs for their next encounter.

But as the last guests leave on that magical summer night, a tragedy no one could have predicted suddenly occurs, shaking the entire town to its core. Wendell and Julianow face an uncertain future. At the height of their grief, two very different women return to Saybrook: Ginny Foster, Wendell’s first love, who cannot stay away any longer, and Candace Lancaster, Julia’s estranged aunt who wants nothing to do with the town or the family estate she escaped decades earlier. Now, the only familiar things Julia has to cling to are Wendell and White Pines, but it looks like she’s about to lose both...

Kritters Thoughts:  A little mystery and a little women's fiction rolled into one book where a cast of characters takes turn to share the story from their own points of view.  The book starts with Wendell Combs who moved back to a small town in Connecticut after a stint with the National Guard that took him overseas and changed his life and now he is a caretaker on a property where he finds joy in taking care of the land and the animals for a living.  The eldest daughter of the property owner is fifteen-year-old Julia and she is dabbling with her first love when a tragic night changes everything for them and others.  

First, I am so thankful that in the synopsis the tragic event isn't spoiled, so I won't spoil it here, but man did I not see it coming and it is the catalyst for the entire novel, so I will try hard to talk about the book without divulging the big plot moment!  

Other than Wendell and Julia, there is a judge who also narrates a few chapters and I was so thankful the author provided her perspective as she gave color to a big piece of the plot and the ins and outs of family court.  Ginny Foster was another character who had a moment in the limelight and as Wendell's first love, she returns to this town for reasons of her own and she brought great romance and heart to the book.  And Candace Lancaster who I just can't share as it would spoil so many things, she was a great anthesis to a lot of things and although a possible villain, I think the author humanized her very well.    

I am a fan of Hannah McKinnon and love how she creates this great books with full characters and plots that are perfect reading for the summer, but honestly any time of the year!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Atria books.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Stepsisters
by Susan Mallery

Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  Once upon a time, when her dad married Sage’s mom, Daisy was thrilled to get a bright and shiny new sister. But Sage was beautiful and popular, everything Daisy was not, and she made sure Daisy knew it.

Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts—she had to go back a grade to enroll in the fancy rich-kid school. So she used her popularity as a weapon, putting Daisy down to elevate herself. After the divorce, the stepsisters’ rivalry continued until the final, improbable straw: Daisy married Sage’s first love, and Sage fled California.

Eighteen years, two kids and one troubled marriage later, Daisy never expects—or wants—to see Sage again. But when the little sister they have in common needs them both, they put aside their differences to care for Cassidy. As long-buried truths are revealed, no one is more surprised than they when friendship blossoms.

Their fragile truce is threatened by one careless act that could have devastating consequences. They could turn their backs on each other again…or they could learn to forgive once and for all and finally become true sisters of the heart.

Kritters Thoughts:  I will pick up a Susan Mallery stand alone before even looking at a synopsis and such was the case with this one and even though I don't love reading about troubled marriages, I was thankful that this book more focused on these three women with a troubled marriage on the side!

Daisy is the main character and she is the one with the marriage on the rocks as her husband Jordan abruptly announces he is leaving and isn't sure of their future.  She has two sisters, one is Sage and she has returned to Los Angeles after her third divorce and has no idea what is next for herself.  The other sister is Cassidy and after an accident she has returned to Los Angeles and with these sisters each going through something they may be able to reconnect and form close bonds while helping each other out with what they are going through.  

I love a good story about sisters and the ups and downs of that unique relationship.  Susan Mallery can write a woman who is so full and honest and I love how she shows women in moments that show real vulnerability and then growth.  In each of her books, especially the stand alones, I find a woman who I can relate to or who I would love to be one of my best friends!  I hope she continues to write these as they are perfect books to intersperse in my reading life.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 70 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from HarperCollins.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

I have no clue how I finished all of these books this week!

 meme hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. 

Finished this past week:
The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt
The Beach House by Jenny Hale
The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery
The Child in the Photo by Kerry Wilkinson
Message in the Sand by Hannah McKinnon

Currently Reading:
The Somerset Girls by Lori Foster

Next on the TBR pile:
Revival Season by Monica West

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Beach House
by Jenny Hale 

Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 300
Format: eARC
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads:  “Oh, my goodness,” she whispered. At the bottom of the box was a stack of letters. Tied with a ribbon, the pages were faded with age. “These are all addressed from here,” she said, “but they’ve never been sent.”

When her gram passes away, Melanie Simpson feels utterly lost. She has no idea what to do with her life after she has devoted years to looking after her beloved grandmother.

But Gram’s will may hold the answer, instructing Melanie to use her inheritance to buy a crumbling house in Rosemary Bay. They used to visit the village every summer, sit by the sparkling gulf on a beach the color of a fresh pearl, and daydream about turning the place on the corner into a bed and breakfast.

Fulfilling her grandmother’s legacy, Melanie decides to restore the beach house to its original glory. She sets out on renovations of the wrap-around porch weathered by the coastal breeze, and the peeling white paint faded by the sun.

When Melanie runs into local carpenter, Josh Claiborne, whose eyes match the dazzling sea, she jumps at the chance to ask him for help. But that’s the last thing he wants. He’s off to New York soon, leaving his troubled past behind. Over a game of darts Melanie gets her wish, even if Josh isn’t happy about it.

As they work together, Melanie tries to ignore their undeniable chemistry and how Josh’s rare smiles take her breath away––because soon they’ll be thousands of miles apart. But hiding in a closet is a yellowing stack of letters that could change everything. The looping handwriting reveals the mystery of the rickety house––a buried history that touches everyone in Rosemary Bay. Will its secrets bring Melanie and Josh together or tear them apart?

Kritters Thoughts:  Melanie returns to Florida to the dream home that her gram always adored when they visited and she has decided to repair the house and open it as a bed and breakfast.  When she heads to Florida she doesn't realize the state the home is in until she arrives and it will be quite an undertaking, but of course in walks Josh, a local who is a carpenter and after losing a bet ends up helping her get the house back up to a living standard.  

This is one of those romance books that just makes you happy while reading.  Of course from the beginning, Josh and Melanie aren't bitter enemies but it isn't love at first sight, so it is a slow roll for this romance and I enjoyed the journey.  I loved the ups and downs that they had.  They didn't feel forced but like they could have happened in real life.  

A book that would be perfect for a week at the beach this summer or some days by the pool.  These characters were fun and charming and who doesn't love a good home project!  

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Ebook 2021 Challenge: 69 out of 100

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Bookouture.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.


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