Picture Perfect Love by Melissa McClone — Review

Picture Perfect Love by Melissa McClone

pictureperfectlove

Picture Perfect Love is the newest addition to the Year of Weddings series from Zondervan. Like the other titles, it’s a novella that somehow includes a wedding. This is the first of Melissa McClone’s titles that I’ve read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Picture Perfect Love is a story of trust–in others, in oneself, and in God. It’s a tale of forgiveness, faith, and second chances. Jenna Harrison is a wedding photographer who happened to be left at the altar during her wedding rehearsal. But that was two years ago, and she’s moved on…mostly. When her ex-fiance shows up on her doorstep, all bets are off. Picture Perfect Love will offer you a one to two hour getaway from the stresses of life. You’ll grow attached to the characters very quickly and be sad to see their story end after spending such a brief period of time with them. (I hope we’ll see a sequel!)  McClone sets a picturesque scene for the final wedding in the book. I probably reread that paragraph five times because I love it so much! Often novellas can feel rushed or drawn out, but McClone manages to set (and keep) the pace just right. There was only one time in the story that felt rushed by jumping a few weeks instead of letting us see a relationship develop. Apart from that, I have no criticism! If you have an hour or two for an extremely enjoyable read, pick up Picture Perfect Love. You won’t regret it!! Highly recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, Christian romance, and novellas.

Favorite lines:

His heartbeat rivaled the rumble of thunder.

No air remained in her lungs. She drew in a short breath so she could answer. “I want to believe things could be different.”

The smells of hairspray and perfume filled the dressing room. Music played from an iPod docking station. The strawberry-blonde flower girl danced barefoot.

Real love can be messy.

Publisher Info:

When image becomes everything, it’s up to love to refocus the heart.

Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to lookpicture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren’t always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God’s plan and His perfect timing.

Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture of put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton’s heart still hasn’t recovered.

It was me. His younger sister’s three words turn Ashton’s world upside down. He must ask Jenna’s forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?

About the author:

Melissa McClone has published more than thirty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She has also been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

Find Melissa online: website, Twitter, Facebook, Litfuse

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren — Review

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren

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The Wonder of You is the 5th book in Warren’s Christiansen Family series. This time the focus is on the youngest Christiansen member, Amelia. It’s a classic love triangle story–which boy should she choose? There’s Roark-the Brit she fell in love with overseas, or Seth- her hometown lifelong boyfriend. Amelia’s story is about more than romance, though. She’s struggling with her purpose and God’s plan for her life. Failure is a strong theme throughout The Wonder of You. Warren tackles the issue from several different angles, showing us self-failure in different situations and life stages and how we can react and rebound in each. While this story didn’t grab me as quickly as When I Fall in Love (book 3), it slowly worked it’s way to the forefront of my mind. By the end, I wanted more! Warren weaves in a bit of suspense in places, and she has superbly set up the next (and final) book in the Christiansen Family series. Fans of the series will be overjoyed to see a lot of Grace and Max in The Wonder of You. It’s really nice to see where they are now and what they’re dealing with, and they are strong secondary characters in this story. I give this book a solid 4 stars. Recommended for fans of inspirational fiction, family series, and Christian romance.

Publisher Info:

Mortified after her semester abroad is cut short, Amelia Christiansen returns to Deep Haven, certain she isn’t brave enough for the adventures she’s dreamed of. The last thing she expects is for the man who broke her heart to cross the Atlantic and beg forgiveness.

Heir to a European hotel dynasty, Roark St. John has trekked from one exotic locale to another, haunted by tragedy and the expectations that accompany his last name. Amelia is the first woman to give him a reason to stop running. He’ll do anything for a second chance—even contend with Amelia’s old flame, who is intent on sending Roark packing.

While one surprise after another leaves Amelia reeling, Roark’s continued presence only highlights the questions pursuing her. Like him, is she running from the life God has called her to? Could finding her new place mean leaving home behind?

Susan May Warren

{MORE ABOUT SUSAN MAY WARREN}

Susan May Warren is the bestselling, RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives. She also runs a writing community for authors. Visit MyBookTherapy.com to learn more. For exciting updates on her new releases, previous books, and more, visit her website at http://www.susanmaywarren.com

ABOUT THE CHRISTIANSEN FAMILY SERIES:

Set on the north shore of Minnesota, the series features the Christiansens, a family readers can identify with as they try to figure out how faith meets real life.

In Take a Chance on Me . . . (the 2014 Christy Award winner for Contemporary Series)

Darek Christiansen, heir to the historic Evergreen Lake Resort is angry since the loss of his wife. After a charity auction connects him with assistant county attorney, Ivy Madison, Darek begins to believe there might be love again in his future, but he’ll have to overcome his painful past – and Ivy’s secret connection to his wife’s death.

In It had to Be You . . .

Eden Christiansen’s job as handler for her NHL rookie brother, Owen, leaves her little time to focus on her own career. If only team enforcer, Jace, would mentor the young man. When Owen’s carelessness leads to an injury, Eden and Jace are thrown together and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.

In When I Fall in Love . . .

Hawaii was the last place Grace Christiansen ever imagined she’d vacation, much less fall in love. But when her family surprises her with a cooking retreat in the Aloha State, she is pulled away from her predictable life and thrown headfirst into the path of hockey player, Max Sharpe, and the romantic adventure of a lifetime.

In Always On My Mind . . .

After a failed dig in Honduras, aspiring archaeologist Casper Christiansen heads home to Minnesota to face his unresolved feelings for Raina Beaumont, the woman of his dreams. But when he arrives unannounced on her doorstep, he receives the shock of a lifetime: Raina is pregnant with someone else’s baby.

In Evergreen (CHRISTMAS NOVELLA!!). . .

An empty nest has Ingrid Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in Paris?

Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch, needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.

As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and embracing a new chapter of their future.

Coming in Spring 2016: You’re the One That I Want

I urge you to check out the Christiansen family series!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Two Roads Home by Deborah Raney — Review & Giveaway!

Two Roads Home (A Chicory Inn Novel) by Deborah Raney

Two Roads Home is the second Chicory Inn Novel by Deborah Raney. The first, Home to Chicory Lane (See my review here), centered on Chase & Landyn (Whitman) Spencer along with the Whitman clan. Two Roads Home focuses on Landyn’s older sister, Corinne, and her family. Fans of Chicory Inn will be glad to discover that the rest of the Whitman family is still very much involved in the story. I was so happy to dive into this book and catch up with the characters! The Chicory Inn is idyllic, and Raney’s description of Corinne’s house made me wish I could move right in! One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. Simply gorgeous, inviting, and relaxing. I love the continuity between the first book and this one in terms of cover art. However, this laid back picture doesn’t completely represent the tension hidden inside the novel. I was completely surprised when the book took a suspenseful turn. I was enjoying the story very much, but the added intensity made it SO much better! There’s a definite feeling of unease for much of the story. Everything isn’t necessarily resolved by the end, but it’s tied up well enough. This is a story about marriage, purpose, and faith. I’m looking forward to the next title in the series and luckily a teaser chapter is included at the end of Two Roads HomeAnother Way Home will allow a peek into the lives of Danae (Whitman) Brooks & her husband, Dallas. It’s not too late to visit Chicory Inn. Pick up the first two books right away as the next releases in a few months! Highly recommended to fans of Inspirational Fiction, Family Fiction, and books featuring an inn!

Favorite lines:

He kissed her forehead, yearning to be back in her good graces, homesick for her in a way that didn’t fit with the fact that he was holding her in his arms. -page 38

But the words seemed strangely unavailable to her. And she knew God was answering her prayer for the right words. Sometimes silence was the answer to a prayer for the right words. Thank you for closing my mouth. Perhaps there would be another day to say those things. But that day was not today. -page 266

Publisher Info:

Two Roads Home (Abingdon Press, June 2015)

What if it’s too late for dreams to come true?

Minor-but-nagging setbacks continue to sour Grant and Audrey Whitman’s initiation into the world of innkeeping, but larger challenges brew when an innocent flirtation leads to big trouble for the Whitmans’ son-in-law, Jesse. Jesse Pennington’s friendly, outgoing personality has always served him well, especially in a career that has earned him and his wife Corinne a very comfortable lifestyle. But Corinne and Jesse are both restless—and for similar reasons, if only they could share those with each other. Instead, too many business trips and trumped-up charges of harassment from a disgruntled coworker threaten their marriage and possibly put their three precious daughters at risk.

With their life in disarray, God is tugging at their hearts to pursue other dreams. Can Corinne and Jesse pick up the pieces of what was once a wonderful life before it all crumbles beneath them?

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1BdaEcG

 About the author: 


Deborah Raney’s books have won numerous awards, including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, and the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. She and her husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas-the setting of many of Deborah’s novels-for life in the (relatively) big city of Wichita, where they enjoy gardening, antiquing, movies, and traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away.

Find Deborah online: website, Twitter, Facebook

Deborah Raney’s ‘Two Roads Home’ 5-Book Giveaway

Two Roads Home Deborah Raney

Click the button to be taken to the giveaway page!

Deborah Raney also wrote one of my all-time favorite books, Playing by HeartShe wrote an updated and expanded version of the book and it released last year as A January Bride, part of the multi-authored series A Year of Weddings. I hope you’ll check out her work!!

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson — Review

Once Upon a Summertime by Melody Carlson

Synopsis:

She’s looking for her big break. She never imagined it would depend on a blast from her past.

Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it’s a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.

Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises–not the least of which is discovering that Sean O’Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position.

This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City–and into the depths of the human heart.

My Thoughts:

Another winner from Melody Carlson! I was so excited when I heard Melody Carlson was coming out with a new contemporary series. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on a review copy and dive head first into the Follow Your Heart series! Book 1 is called Once Upon a Summertime and centers on Anna Gordon, who has a less-than-fulfilling career and not much else of which to speak. Following a series of events and decisions, Anna winds up in New York City to interview for her dream job. While this story has definite fairy-tale tendencies, it’s not a fairy tale. Anna faces ups and downs in her new city, including a new romance. New York City itself is a main character in this story and has as much a part in the romance as the actual couple. Carlson’s descriptions of the city left me wanting to visit more than any other book has. If you’ve been to NYC, you’ll be itching to go back. If you haven’t been (like me!), you’ll be dying to plan a trip! The setting, characters, and plot are both inviting and envy-worthy. While the ending feels a bit rushed and possibly too easy, it’s well worth the read. Highly recommended for fans of NYC, romance, and Melody Carlson’s other works. I can’t wait for the next book in the Follow Your Heart series!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than 6.5 million. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, includingFinding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber — Review

My Review:

If you’ve never read a Debbie Macomber book, you’re missing out. Blossom Street Brides is book #10 in the Blossom Street series, but it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. I haven’t read any other titles in the series, and I really liked this one! Macomber’s tale follows several characters and couples who are all somehow connected through a yarn shop on Blossom Street. Bethanne and Max are happily married but living in different states, Lauren has been dating Todd for years and still doesn’t have a ring, Elisa and Garry are dealing with shocking news from their college daughter, and Lydia (who owns the yarn store) and Brad are struggling with raising a teenager. Macomber’s characters are like-able and live compelling lives. You can’t help but care about them. The author is able to construct realistic situations and make you feel like the oh so lucky fly on the wall. The story moves along at just the right pace, keeping the reader interested by alternating character focus with each new chapter. I love falling into a series in which I feel the characters could actually be my friends, and I think Blossom Street is a place I’d like to visit often. Warning: Blossom Street Brides will make you long to knit in Seattle! (I received a digital ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.) 4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber has won the hearts of millions of readers with her moving and inspiring stories. Now wedding bells are ringing in the tight-knit community that gathers around A Good Yarn, a store in a pretty Seattle neighborhood. Knitters come to the store to buy yarn and patterns but somehow they leave richer in friendship and love.

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice—one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.

Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.

Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?

As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead.

To read the first chapter of Blossom Street Brides, visit the Amazon page here.

To view the trailer, go here.

 

A March Bride by Rachel Hauck — Review

The fourth title in ‘A Year of Weddings’ is A March Bride by Rachel Hauck.

I’m already a huge fan of Hauck’s work, so I knew I would like this novella. A March Bride is about Susanna, a country girl from Georgia, and Nathaniel, the King of Brighton. I really appreciated that Hauck allowed us to see the story from both points of view, as I feel like that doesn’t often happen in stories of princesses. Susanna and Nathaniel are engaged and royal wedding preparations are being made. However, they’re both allowing fears from past relationship failures to cloud their judgment and threaten their engagement. Susanna thinks Nathaniel regrets proposing, and Nathaniel suspects Susanna wishes she’d said no. The real problem for Susanna is that she doesn’t feel worthy. If you like epic romance or royal love stories, this book is for you. While reading A March Bride, I kept getting an itch to watch The Prince & Me or Princess Diaries! However, I think I’ll start on another of Hauck’s titles, Once Upon a Prince, to quell my need for royal romance. [The sequel to Once Upon a Prince is Princess Ever After. It just released!]

 

If you’ve never read a book by Rachel Hauck, I highly recommend Love Starts with Elle, Sweet Caroline, Dining with Joy. The trilogy makes up Hauck’s Lowcountry series, and it’s SO GOOD!!

Here’s the Goodreads Synopsis of A March Bride:

Susanna has found her true prince, and their happily ever after is just around the corner. But when Nate asks her to give up something precious to her, Susanna can’t help but wonder if it’s a sign that their love is not meant to be.
Susanna Truitt (Once Upon A Prince) is three weeks from royalty. She’ll soon marry King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom. But when the government insists she renounce her American citizenship before the wedding, coupled with the lack of involvement by family and friends, her heart begins to doubt whether this marriage is God’s plan for her.
Nathaniel would do anything for his bride-to-be. But he knows his position requires that she give up a lot to be with him. Her life will never be her own — right down to her very identity. When she travels home to St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, right before the wedding, Nathaniel fears she won’t return. Gathering his courage, he devises a plan to win his bride all over again, and together they seek out a kingdom to treasure above all.

What are your favorite royal romance movies and books?

*I received a digital proof of A March Bride in exchange for an honest review.

A December Bride — Review

I always fall so easily into Denise Hunter’s stories! This is the first in a series called A Year of Weddings. Each novella will be written by a different author. A December Bride focuses on Layla. The story starts with her scramble to find a date for a wedding–but not just any wedding. Her ex is marrying her cousin, and it still stings. She ends up going with her ex’s former best friend, Seth. Things get tricky when Seth offers a lie about his and Layla’s relationship, and that’s when the story really starts to take off. Hunter has created a realistic tale with heart and holiday spirit. An easy read for a cozy evening!

Goodreads Synopsis:

What started as a whim turned into an accidental – and very public – engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the facade in Chapel Springs this holiday season – for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy, the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiance would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency, a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client. For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart.

I’m really enjoying this series! The books are standalone novellas, so you can start with any month you choose. Pick up “A March Bride” and come back next month to let me know what you think!

I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes.