A Desperate Hope by Elizabeth Camden {Review}

A Desperate Hope
(Empire State #3)
By Elizabeth Camden
Christian Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 352 Pages
February 5th 2019 by Bethany House Publishers

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.

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Review

A DESPERATE HOPE is a story of loss, desperation, love and what it means to be family. Readers won’t be able to resist falling in love with this small town with all its quirks and charm. The people who live, fight, and love there make it the wonderful place it is and surround these two main characters as they try to navigate being on opposite sides of each other and then work to save this town. There are plenty of twists, a little danger, and a delightful romance to keep things interesting. If you’re an historical romance, sweet romance, or inspirational romance fan, this story is highly recommended!

From the first page I knew I was going to easily get into this story and that it was going to be good. It did not disappoint. I adored these characters, this town, and the struggle to save what they had. The story of a town being wiped away for a reservoir was quite intriguing, as were the other parts of this story that involved sabotage and danger as well as a light inspirational element. But, the part of the story that captured me the most were these characters. I loved the townspeople with all their individual personalities and how they interacted with each other. Even more, I loved Alex and Eloise who are both so different, but so perfect for each other. The romance was sweet, fun, with fabulous banter and chemistry.

There were so many lines that I loved—little nuggets of wisdom that resonated with me or made me smile. Here is one that I especially adored because it really puts things into perspective and felt just right for this story where a detour of water was created in place of a town:

“The detour that had been thrown into their lives ended up guiding him and Eloise exactly where they were meant to be.”

I did have one misgiving with the story. It was how easily Alex dismisses Eloise and what she desperately needs at one point, even being unwilling to help her in any way. I could see things from Alex’s perspective, but it was fairly unforgivable and yet Eloise forgives him easily. I felt like that could have been worked through a little more, maybe Alex addressing that better. Although, I loved this story regardless.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I loved this story! If you enjoy small-town charm, a slue of unforgettable characters, a desperate fight for survival, some suspense, and an exciting romance, then definitely pick this up! You will love every minute.

Content: Some innuendo and references to love scenes as well as some violence, but no descriptive details. Clean.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Prism Book Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

★★★★★

Other Books in the Series

About the Author


Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida.

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Are you an historical romance fan? Have you read any of the books in this series or by this author?

The Marine’s Return by Rula Sinara {Review}

The Marine’s Return
(From Kenya, with Love #6)
By Rula Sinara
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
January 1st 2019 by Harlequin Heartwarming

He can’t be her hero…

But he made a promise to keep her safe

Wounded marine Chad Corallis just wants to be left alone. Until he discovers his best friend’s very pregnant widow is in danger. A dedicated nurse, she refuses to leave her Serengeti medical clinic when it’s threatened by poachers. Chad is honor-bound to protect her, but who will save him from falling for his best friend’s wife?

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Review

THE MARINE’S RETURN takes readers to remote Africa as a woman tries to bring medical help to indigenous tribes and as a man tries to come to terms with his new reality after losing a limb serving in the military. The story is full of heart, conviction, friendship, family, and sweet romance. Recommended to fans of the series and of sweet romance.

Goodness, these characters! They were quite entertaining. Lexi was full of spunk. She’s a strong, skilled and independent woman. She also selflessly served the children and families who needed her compassion and medical help. Pit her up again a stubborn and healing marine and you have quite a pair. There was definitely a strong battle of wills from the beginning, but I loved how they each admired the other because of it (at least when they weren’t thinking the other was pigheaded). Sparks flew all over the place and these two found themselves falling for each other even though they didn’t want to. There was a scene when it’s just the two of them stranded that was so beautiful and funny and where they finally see what they mean to each other… loved it!

I enjoyed this setting. The characters are out in the middle of nowhere, really. They’re roughing it, for the most part. And they’re happy. They have what they need. I enjoyed the different depictions and the native people. I appreciated how the author brought poaching and the situation that is ever ongoing into the story. I loved this group of characters who are friends and family, but are all family in the purest sense. There are a lot of mentions of prior characters from other books in this series… for those who have read those books, this was like meeting old friends again. I’m sad to see this series go, but looking forward to this author’s upcoming series.

I had little to complain about in this story, but there were a few things. I did feel Lexi was a little overly obstinate. I felt like she was also in denial about birthing a child where she was. Then there was the situation with Chad that he had to change what he felt he was called to do to be with her. Things played out well and was a good example of how a group can come together to raise a child, and Chad figured out what would work for him.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a sweet story that tugged on my heart. An excellent ending to the series. I’m looking forward to more from this author!

Content: Some mild swearing but otherwise clean.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the author through Prism Book Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

★★★★

Other Books in the Series


About the Author


National and USA Today Bestselling author Rula Sinara lives in rural Virginia with her family and crazy but endearing pets. She loves organic gardening, attracting wildlife to her yard, planting trees, raising backyard chickens and drinking more coffee than she’ll ever admit to. Rula’s writing has earned her a National Readers Choice Award and HOLT Medallion Award of Merit, among other honors. You can discover more about Rula at her blog A Writer’s Rush, on Twitter, on Facebook as RulaSinaraAuthor or on her website www.RulaSinara.com, where you can also sign up for her newsletter.

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This is definitely a favorite series from the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Have you read any of the books in this series?

Here Walk the Dead by Brynn Chapman {Review}

Here Walk the Dead
(The Boneseeker Chronicles #2)
By Brynn Chapman
Historical Romantic Suspense, Gothic
Paperback & ebook, 250 Pages
January 14th 2019 by The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Arabella Holmes—yes, daughter of that Holmes—wants to return to her job as a purveyor of abnormal science. She has temporarily been demoted to a botanist, until her love interest, Henry Watson—yes, that Watson—can help her get her less-than-professional outbursts in check.

Henry is tired of his new role as doctor, tired of the lack of adventure, and tired of keeping Bella’s escapades out of the papers.

Five girls are missing. Gone from locked rooms in their own houses. Arabella and Henry are called upon to help solve the kidnappings, but all they unearth is more danger.

Bella ventures undercover into a lunatic asylum, where a mute woman assaults her and scrawls the chilling words—Here the dead wake. Plus, a vial of Bella’s research poison has gone missing. Bella and Henry must find it, and the missing girls, before charges can be brought against her.

Praise for HERE WALK THE DEAD:

“Dark twists and turns abound in this fast-paced and riveting gothic thriller. I consumed it in one sitting!” ~USA TODAY BESTSELLER, Lea Nolan

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Review

HERE WALK THE DEAD is a thrilling ride as Bella and Henry try to fit into society’s expectations while also trying to figure out why girls keep disappearing and where they go. Recommended to readers who enjoy gritty Gothic mysteries with sizzling romance.

These characters are so intriguing! Getting inside Bella’s and Henry’s brains as they work through things and navigate their lives is a bit of an experience. Bella deals with some extreme tendencies and has her own fears, but her strengths… they’re amazing. I fell in love with Henry in the first book. It was fun seeing him out of his mind with frustration with Bella and trying to work out what to do while also dealing with his own issues. I especially loved them together, both in how their minds worked and in their relationship. They are both frankly brilliant. I adored Bella’s dog and the scenes with him. Then there was a slue of other characters who were each unique. The mystery and suspense were constant throughout the story, enough so that I was literally holding on to the very end. The scenes can be a little jarring here and there, but they mostly added to the overall affect. I’m a little worried about what other monstrosities these two will face in the future.

Just a note to readers… there are some disturbing parts in this story at an asylum. I would have preferred less vivid details and gore, but I also got it. Some people did terrible things. The hope is that we don’t repeat them.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I enjoyed diving back into this world and Henry’s and Bella’s characters. It’s a crazy journey and there is still more to come. This series reminds me quite a bit of Kerri Maniscalco’s Stalking Jack the Ripper series, so if you’re a fan of that one, I’d highly recommend this one.

Content: Some innuendo, violence, including some disturbing details regarding mistreatment of women, children, and those with disabilities.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through Prism Book Tours, which did not require a positive review nor affect it in any way.

★★★★

Other Books in the Series

Boneseeker
(The Boneseeker Chronicles #1)
By Brynn Chapman
Historical Romantic Suspense, Gothic
Paperback & ebook, 213 Pages
January 10th 2018 by The Wild Rose Press, Inc

Aspiring scientist Arabella Holmes doesn’t fit the role of a 1900s lady. Her father, Sherlock, landed her a position at the Mütter Museum to pursue her dream of becoming a purveyor of abnormal science, or what her father calls a “Boneseeker.”

Henry Watson’s two-fold mission at the Mütter Museum is to join their team of forensic anthropologists in unearthing unusual antiquities and to watch over Arabella. If only he could get her to speak to him, instead of hurling knives in his general direction. Assigned to a most secret expedition to investigate a mysterious skeletal hand discovered in upstate New York, Arabella and Henry are soon caught in a scientific debate, and the search for the truth may have deadly consequences for those involved.

Are the bones from a Neanderthal? Or are they living proof of fallen angels known as Nephilim?

Watson and Holmes must put aside their differences, trust their instincts, and rely on one another to survive to uncover the truth.

*This is a new version of a previously published edition

Praise for BONESEEKER:

Winner of the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest

“Creative, meticulously researched, and terrific fun!” ~Grace Burrowes, NY Times Best Selling Author

“The characters, the setting, the descriptions and the mysteries and relationships all work together seamlessly to create a truly wonderful story that I completely adored.” ~Best Books Ever Blog

“The settings are intriguing and the way they are described make you feel as if you are immersed in the story. I could feel the gloom and damp. That is rare in so many books! Boneseeker is a book I highly recommend, and I give it 5 stars!” ~Christy’s Cozy Corners Blog

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About the Author

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love–not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. Her ancestry tree claims she’s a descendant of the House of Stuart.

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Have you read any of the books in this series? Are you a Sherlock and Holmes fan?

Beauty and Her Boss by Jennifer Faye (Review)

Beauty and Her Boss

(Once Upon a Fairytale #1)
by Jennifer Faye
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 256 pages
March 1st 2018 by Harlequin Romance

Summary

An innocent beauty, a scarred hero…

Could she be the one to open up his heart?

Handsome but guarded former Hollywood star Deacon Santoro prefers the confines of his mansion since an accident left him scarred both inside and out. But he promised to protect sparky beauty Gabrielle Dupre, his new PA. Can Gabrielle convince Deacon that love will give them the fairy-tale ending they deserve?

(Affiliate links included – I receive a small kickback if you make a purchase using my links.)

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My Review

BEAUTY AND HER BOSS is a modern retelling of the beloved classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. There’s one rather beastly actor whose life has been uprooted and one determined librarian who wants to protect her father and find the truth of the night that impacted all their lives. It’s on the lighter side, but still with plenty of heart and chemistry between the two characters. An overall entertaining read!

It took me a few chapters to really get into this one. I was trying to figure out these characters and if I was going to like them at first. There was a lot of attraction and some celebrity worship between them and it was fairly all on the surface. Then as the story continued and there was more interaction between the characters, I got to know who they each were. Once that began, it was easy to invest in them and want them to both find the truth and a happily-ever-after together. I also enjoyed seeing them both evolve during the story and how their relationship and romance developed. By the end I loved them both and was cheering them on.

I’m a big fan of retellings when they’re done well. This story had so many fun puns and twists on the classic, while also being its own story. I enjoyed figuring out how the author would implement certain aspects of the original in this modern setting. They were each like fun little wrapped-up gifts, each a delightful surprise, which made for a very fun read!

I did feel a few things could have been developed more. There was a hint towards a villain that didn’t really go anywhere. There were a few things that didn’t seem consistent with Deacon being a movie star, particularly security. And then the ending felt a little rushed.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a good mix of romance that was partially sweet and some places with a little more heat. There was also humor and heartbreak, making for an overall heartwarming read.

Content: Some innuendo, mild swearing, suggestive content, and a closed-door scene.

Source: I received a complimentary copy from the tour host, which did not require a positive review nor affect my review in any way.

About the Author

Award-winning author, Jennifer Faye pens fun, heartwarming contemporary romances with rugged cowboys, sexy billionaires and enchanting royalty. Internationally published with books translated into nine languages. She is a two-time winner of the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award, the CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Award, named a TOP PICK author, and been nominated for numerous other awards.

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Sunsets at Seaside by Addison Cole (Review)

Sunsets at Seaside

(Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers #4)
by Addison Cole
Adult Sweet Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 308 pages
August 23rd 2017

Summary 

Sweet with Heat: Seaside Summers features a group of fun, flirty, and emotional friends who gather each summer at their Cape Cod cottages. They’re sassy, flawed, and so easy to relate to, you’ll be begging to enter their circle of friends!

Sunsets at Seaside by Addison Cole is the sweet edition of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster’s steamy romance novel Seaside SunsetsThe stories and characters remain the same, and convey all of the passion you expect between two people in love, without any explicit scenes or harsh language.

In SUNSETS at SEASIDE…

Jessica Ayers has lived a sheltered life with little more than cello lessons and practices taking up her day. Now a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, she escapes the prim and proper symphony to vacation in the Seaside community in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to determine if she is living life to the fullest or missing it altogether.

For the first time since developing the second largest search engine in the world, billionaire Jamie Reed is taking the summer off. He plans to work from the Cape and spend time with his elderly grandmother—and falling in love is not in his plans.

From the moment Jamie and Jessica meet, the attraction is white-hot. Once-overly-focused Jamie can think of little else than sweet, smart, and alluring Jessica, and Jessica discovers a side of herself she never knew existed. But when Jamie’s business encounters trouble and his attorney and best friend intervenes, he proves that the brown-haired beauty is too distracting for Jamie. To make matters worse, it appears that Jessica might not be who she says she is, turning Jamie’s life—and his heart—upside down. In a world where personal information is always one click away, Jamie must decide if he should trust his heart or watch the woman he loves walk away.

SWEET WITH HEAT: SEASIDE SUMMERS SERIES
Read, Write, Love at Seaside
Dreaming at Seaside
Hearts at Seaside
Sunsets at Seaside
Coming soon!
Secrets at Seaside (releasing October 25th)
Nights at Seaside (releasing December 13th)
Seized by Love at Seaside
Embraced at Seaside
Lovers at Seaside
Whispers at Seaside

(Affiliate links included – I receive a small kickback if you make a purchase using my links.)

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Review

SUNSETS AT SEASIDE is a romance story about a woman who is trying to find out what a normal life would be like and a man who has been largely labelled for his wealth and business acumen who find a chance for love with each other. There is a group of friends who are the focus of other stories in the series who bring a family/small-town feel to this story. Readers can expect some drama, romantic tension, and the usual twist in the story that creates a barrier to these two finding their happily-ever-after.

The romance is fairly all encompassing, making up the bulk of the story. It also isn’t drawn out. In other words, lots and lots of kissing plus the relationship going all the way and the characters falling in love come into play almost immediately. I would have liked the romance to have been much more subtle and drawn out so that there was more tension and a more meaningful relationship. I’ve always felt that less is more in romance in so many ways. The romance also goes full tilt even before I was able to really get to know or be committed to the characters, so emotionally, as a reader, I wasn’t invested in the characters. It reads very much like a general romance with plenty of innuendo, lots of lustful comments, fairly descriptive making out, but with closed-door scenes and no swearing.

Content: Lots of innuendo, descriptive making out, closed-door love scenes.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Prism Book Tours, which did not require a review nor affect it in any way.

Other Books in the Series

And coming October 2017…

Review: The Cowboy’s Twins by Tara Taylor Quinn

The Cowboy’s Twins
(Family Secrets #3)
by Tara Taylor Quinn
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 368 pages
January 3rd 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Summary

It looked so good on camera…

If it weren’t for the money, Spencer Longfellow would happily drive Natasha Stevens and her TV crew right off his ranch. But his land, and his kids, mean the world to him—and he’ll do anything to secure their future. Even cohost Natasha’s cooking show, Family Secrets, in his barn. Even play the token hunky cowboy to her sophisticated city slicker and flirt with her on national television… It could never amount to anything real anyway. After all, he was fooled and left in the dust by a city girl once. And he will never let that happen to him—or his kids—again

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My Review

THE COWBOY’S TWINS was full of heart, family, and two individuals who have to decide if trusting someone else and falling in love is worth risking all they hold dear. Heartwarming and romance fans alike will find much to love here.

I started this one about an hour before bedtime because I felt like reading a sweet romance. I stayed up into the early morning finishing it because I didn’t want to put it down. I fell in love with these sweet twins, one mischievous and the other wanting to please. These kids were spot on and added so much to this story. Then there’s the charming cowboy, Spencer, who has been hurt in the past and isn’t willing to open his heart to that kind of hurt again. I liked him right off with his deep loyalty and love to his kids and the ranch. I did want to do some lecturing or shaking when he was so thick-headed to what he could have, but he redeems himself in a very sweet way, so all was saved. I also loved Natasha. She was a little too business-like in parts, but it also fit her character. I loved how her character developed and the realizations she came to. I also enjoyed the tidbits of wisdom her mother throws in.

In the end, was it what I wished for? Yes. Sweet, charming, with a little heartbreak that ends in happily-ever-after was exactly what I was hoping for.


Content: Clean

Source: Received a complimentary copy through Prism Book Tours, which did not require a review nor affect it in any way.

Have you read any of the other books in this series?

Review: Her Summer Crush by Linda Hope Lee

Her Summer Crush
by Linda Hope Lee
Adult Contemporary Romance
Mass Market Paperback & ebook, 368 Pages
March 1st 2016 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Summary

She’s over her crush…isn’t she?

Luci Monroe is on top of the world. She’s just graduated from journalism school and she’s already landed her dream job in PR. Then Cody Jarvis saunters into her office. Nothing like finding out that your teenage crush, now a gorgeous, globe-trotting, freelance photographer, is going to be your staffer for the summer. Never mind. They’re both professionals. And she’s over him. Kind of. Anyway, he’s not interested. Cody is always waiting to disappear on his next assignment, and Luci needs someone stable. Someone who wants to build a life right here in Willow Beach…

 
  
(Affiliate link included.)


Tressa’s Review

HER SUMMER CRUSH was about two characters who think they want nothing to do with each other, who are on opposites sides of what they think they want out of life, but find that sometimes what they really want is what they find in each other. It was a fun and sweet story from beginning to end, with fun characters, complex family relationships, and a light romance.

Parts of the story were full of humor. I loved the missteps and the way the characters circled each other, but at the same time attempted to stay blind. They definitely tended to find themselves at odds with each other, especially at first, some of it being romantic tension in disguise. There was also quite a bit going on in the story. Luci’s perfectly constructed life isn’t exactly as perfect as she thinks and things kind of implode on her. It was good that Cody became a closer friend and could offer a shoulder to Luci even if she didn’t want to trust him with her heart. By neither of them being willing to speak what was in their hearts they almost lost out on love.

I really loved this part:

Love takes time to develop. It’s more than looking at the other person with stars in your eyes and thinking he’s perfect. Love is knowing he’s not perfect and caring for him, anyway. Love is sharing your life, the good and the bad. It’s making sacrifices to be with each other.

I would have liked to have seen the romance develop a little more between the avoiding and liking each other to what happened in the end. It jumped without the relationship really progressing. There were also a few other things that didn’t completely come off as genuine or realistic, but those would be my only hang-ups. 

Overall, HER SUMMER CRUSH was a sweet and heartwarming story. Just what to expect from this line of books.

Content: Clean

Source: Received a complimentary copy for the purposes of a review for the book’s tour, which did not affect my review in any way.


About the Author

Linda Hope Lee writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries. She enjoys traveling especially to small towns in search of story ideas. She’s also an artist, specializing in watercolor, pen and ink, and colored pencil. Photography provides inspiration for both her writing and her art. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where many of her stories are set.

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