His Baby Dilemma by Catherine Lanigan

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ – 5 hearts

Grace Railton had a crush on Mica Barzonni ever since they shared a kiss as teenagers, but she didn’t get the sense that the attraction was mutual. Twelve years later when Grace’s aunt Louise has back surgery and Grace leaves her home in Paris to come help out at The Louise House, her aunt’s ice-cream shop in Indian Lake, Indiana, Mica and Grace get reacquainted. He’s still unimaginably handsome with his black hair and Mediterranean blue eyes. The only difference is that he’s lost the use of his left arm and shoulder after an injury he suffered while trying to repair his mother’s car. The two become caught up in emotions, but their cozy reunion is short lived. Grace returns to her career in Paris and Mica doesn’t hear a word from her until fifteen months later when she is back in Indian Lake, about to present Mica Barzonni with the shock of his life—their six month old son, Jules.

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My concept of Mica Barzonni

After this shocking revelation, is Grace serious about wanting Mica to take care of Jules for a few months while she goes back to Paris to nurture her current career opportunities? Mica isn’t happy about this proposition, and he makes his thoughts on that clearly known. There’s no doubt he still has feelings for Grace, which he doesn’t make known, but their goals are so dissimilar. Mica’s a farm boy interested in farm equipment and machinery. Grace is a fashion designer who grew up in pursuit of the next beauty pageant. Mica has always downplayed Grace’s ambitions, considering them foolish. In his mind they could never be compared to the hard work and dedication that’s needed to run a farm. But after observing her at work one day, in her element, he’s forced to admit that there’s a lot more to the fashion world than he’d realized. Might he have misjudged her? His feelings of anger and betrayal are being replaced by admiration and love. But Mica’s reluctance to express his feelings might cause him to lose Grace forever. And he may be running out of time since it seems there’s an interested Frenchman on Grace’s heels ready to snatch her up.

I have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about Grace when I started reading this book. She was a difficult character to assess initially. I felt like her work ambition was eclipsing her role as mother to little Jules. But as the book progressed she redeemed herself. I saw how much she loved her baby and how conflicted she was. I recognized that Mica was unsure of himself, mostly because of his accident and the perceived limitations it imposed. Also, he’d been a loner and a brooder for most of his life and it was difficult for him to be vulnerable with anyone, including Grace. The two of them drove me nuts at times, suppressing their feelings for each other, but I grew to love them. The scenes with Mica and Jules were so utterly heartwarming that it made me feel, momentarily, like I wanted to have a little baby around again. Well…a grandbaby maybe, LOL.

I LOVED this book. It touched me. And Catherine Lanigan’s worldliness with regard to subject matter—fashion and machinery in this case, gave me insight which I appreciated since I love learning new things when I read. Her knowledge, wisdom, and/or research shines through in her books and gives them a depth that I find particularly enjoyable. Definitely recommended for lovers of sweet romance.

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Thank you for reading. Have a great day!!

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Under an Adirondack Sky by Karen Rock


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary:

Rebecca Day’s job is in jeopardy. She works in the public school system as a school psychologist for at-risk teenagers, but it’s unlikely that her tenure will be approved since faculty and parents are not thrilled about her low-key disciplinary methods. Determined to prove her worth and retain her position, Rebecca proposes a retreat to Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks with the school’s troubled adolescents, initiating a pilot program that she feels will help them with their behavioral issues. For one of the troubled students she counsels, Connor Walsh, this program’s success is particularly important because if he doesn’t make significant progress he will be expelled from school. Aiden Walsh, his older brother and guardian, is too busy working long hours at the family business to give Connor the attention he needs. Rebecca observes Aiden’s distracted presence at meetings pertaining to his brother’s future and pegs him an uninterested workaholic. Aiden thinks Rebecca’s methods are overly lax and ridiculous. The two don’t hit it off very well, especially when Rebecca makes Aiden aware that he’s required to accompany Connor on their Adirondack adventure. Things start out rough, but time away from their everyday lives reveals unique circumstances and positive qualities that neither realized the other possessed. But can Aiden make his brother the priority when his heart is being pulled in another direction?

If you can imagine 20 troubled teenagers in the wilderness, and the verbal exchanges that take place amongst today’s youth, then you can get a pretty good picture of what’s taking place here. There’s irritability, competitiveness and quarreling. But in time the kids learn to interact together and they begin to see the value of teamwork and that life can still be worthwhile without their smartphones. I liked how the teens personalities are portrayed through their dialogue. You get a good sense of each character. The descriptions of the setting are great, and Karen Rock is definitely skilled in writing convincing romantic scenes that are suitable for a Heartwarming book.

I enjoyed this book. It had a down-to-earth feel that I think many would appreciate. I did.

Heart’s Refuge by Cheryl Harper

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫  4.5 stars

Sarah Hillman’s no-kill animal shelter, Paws for Love, is in dire need of funding. Desperate for help, she reaches out to Will Barnes, a former H.S. classmate, and owner of Barnes Financial. Trouble is, Sarah was formerly the little rich, snarky, mean-girl who taunted her classmates, including Will, and “Beanpole Barnes” doesn’t feel much compassion for daddy’s little rich girl when she approaches him for assistance—at least initially. Sarah verbally taunted Will’s sister, Jen, too. And Jen and her two friends are the source for the funds needed to keep Paws for Love running. But Sarah seems to have changed, there’s no denying that, and Will’s attitude towards her begins to soften. Could it be that the shift in financial status since Bobby Hillman skipped town, leaving his shady luxury auto business behind and his daughter broke, has humbled her? Only time will tell, but meanwhile Paws for Love is a worthy cause and Will feels an obligation to seek aid for the foundering shelter. Sarah may be slowly winning his heart, too. Can Sarah be trusted, or is she putting on an act to get what she wants?

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How can you grow to love a mean-girl character? A former bully?  In Heart’s Refuge, Cheryl Harper makes you do it. This story stole my heart. The sweet shelter animals, the main character’s transformation and the community support were all reasons why I enjoyed Heart’s Refuge so much. This book is part of a series, and I suspect that a few loose ends will be tied up in the next book. Even so, I loved it and would definitely recommend this sweet, heartwarming story.

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Until next time….

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4-stars

Roxanne Cartwright, 47, is Fashion Director for YourStyle magazine.  A 30-year veteran in the magazine industry, she’s an ace at what she does and enjoys putting together glamorous fashion shoots for the magazine.  So when she’s told by her new boss that the magazine is being taken in a new direction to cheap, figure-fixing pieces, Roxanne is shocked to learn that her position will be replaced by the new fashion-director-in-chief, Tina Court, who will oversee the transformation. Wary of her imminent dismissal, Roxanne uses her temporary time off from work to escape from London and retreat to her sister’s home in the small village of Burley Bridge in Yorkshire, where they grew up.  After their mother’s death two years before, Della used her mum’s collection of cookbooks to open a cookbook bookshop and effectively changed the Burley Bridge landscape as Roxanne remembered it.  The success of the bookshop has necessitated an expansion, and Roxanne heads to the village to help her sister with the finishing touches before the upcoming party and unveiling of the expanded space.  At first reluctant to relinquish certain duties to her domestically impaired sister, in time Della realizes Roxanne’s effectiveness in handling matters in her absence and the two women become a great team.

Meanwhile, Roxanne is confused about her fashion photographer boyfriend back in London, Sean, who didn’t seem particularly displeased that she’d be leaving for two months.  Sean is the first responsible boyfriend Roxanne’s ever had. Prior relationships consisted of a host of losers, and until Sean she wasn’t much concerned about having a stable relationship with anyone. The idea of a responsible, reliable man who fussed over her and could provide security seemed boring to Roxanne.  But ever since she started dating Sean, suddenly she’s craving commitment.  Nevertheless, something is off-putting about him. She’s heard rumors of his being a philanderer, but she can’t seem to resist his good looks and impish charm.  She believes she’s in love with him, although his odd behavior, particularly that of chiding her for inconsequential incidents, is starting to get on her nerves. Roxanne finds herself continually making allowances for Sean’s bad behavior whenever he apologizes, and she feels conflicted in her emotions about him. Especially since she’s met the owner of the Bakery on Rosemary Lane, Michael.  He’s handsome, talented, available, and he seems to be interested in her.  Suddenly, Sean doesn’t dominate her every thought.  But then Sean shows up and surprises her in Burley Bridge while in Michael’s company, rendering her noticeably flustered. What will Roxanne do?

MY THOUGHTS:  I really enjoyed this book.  I loved reading about Roxanne’s life both in London and then Burley Bridge.  I appreciated that she was a middle-aged woman, as most female protagonists I read about are much younger.  I could easily relate to some of the witty references with regard to her age, and how it sometimes made her feel in the fashion world.  And yet, this book could be read by persons young and old.  Roxanne was a very chic, hip character, and didn’t come across as dowdy in any way.  The relationship she shared with her sister, and that which she developed with Michael’s daughter, Elsa, was endearing and added to my enjoyment of the book.  I was interested to know how she would resolve her relationship issues, but events that transpired in the book ultimately dictated her decision, and I was happy about her choice.  The only negatives I have about this book are that I’m not sure why it’s called The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane since the Bakery in the story is not center stage.  It’s more in the background, so I found that a little misleading.  Also, I’m not sure how to categorize it.  Although it reads somewhat like a romance book, there wasn’t very much romance in it.  At least not enough leading up to the outcome of the story, in my humble opinion.  There was sort of a few themes going on too.  I would have liked to have seen a little more fulfilling wrap-up of everyone and everything at the end.  Aside from that it was a very good read.  It kept me interested and I would read another book by Ellen Berry in the future.

I received an E-ARC of this book from the publisher via netgalley.  All of the opinions stated in this review are my own.

Painting the Moon by Traci Borum

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

Noelle Cooke has just received word that her reclusive great aunt has died and left her Primrose Cottage and her art gallery, in a little village called Chilton Crosse in England. Settled in a beach house in California and relatively content, Noelle still can’t help but to recall the fond memories of spending time as a young girl with her Great Aunt Joy and grandmother, “Gram,” in the bucolic, tranquil setting of the English countryside. The memories prompt her to immediately arrange a trip to England to settle details regarding her aunt’s estate. Being back in the familiar surroundings of summers spent during adolescence is a welcome respite for Noelle. Having not been in contact with her aunt for several years after many attempts, Noelle is hoping she will uncover why her Aunt Joy suffered a meltdown during a gallery event and retreated to her cottage for nearly a decade. As Noelle navigates Primrose Cottage she discovers a room with a locked door.  Could the contents of that room hold the answers to what happened to her?

Not long after returning to England to claim her inheritance, Noelle is reacquainted with two old friends, both of whom she spent time with when she visited during the summers. Her friend Jill, a sassy, outspoken and generally lovely person is now married and faring well domestically and financially. Her other friend, Adam Spencer, is now a very handsome Architect. Noelle is dismayed to learn that Adam, her childhood sweetheart that got away before things developed romantically between them, is engaged to a woman named Laurel. But if Adam and Laurel’s relationship is solid, why does Adam seem to find so much pleasure in Noelle’s company?

Painting the Moon was a delightful read. I enjoyed getting acquainted with both the primary and secondary characters— particularly Mac, the gardener, who proved to be an asset in many ways to Noelle. I liked the steady progression of the story, and wondering what had happened to aunt Joy to cause her to become a recluse. And what, if anything, would become of Adam and Noelle. There’s also secrets and hidden treasures that added a bit of intrigue to the story.

I enjoyed this book and recommend it highly. Thank you Kathy of Katie’s Cottage Books for reviewing this book on your blog. As a result I have found another great author. And thank you, Traci Borum, for providing me with an e-copy of your book.

 

Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4-stars

Divorce attorney, Melanie Harper, is a sad soul. She lost her family in a tragic accident and now she’s all alone, living in her three-story townhouse in Washington, DC. She lives to work. The only family she has left is her 65 yr. old aunt Phoebe who operates The Coffee Bean, aka “The Bean,” with co-owner, Jackson Daughtry, and lives happily down in the valley of a little town called Sweet Gum. Phoebe continually invites her niece to come visit, but she’s always too busy. Until now. Melanie decides to visit, but she intends to convince her aunt to come back and live with her in DC.  Jackson, paramedic and handsome, young, silent partner to The Bean, is not happy about this new development. Phoebe has been like a mother to him, especially after his mom, Phoebe’s best friend since childhood and original co-owner of The Coffee Bean, died only one year after his father. And though he feels frustrated by her plans to take Phoebe away, he can’t help but notice how attractive she is. But women are off limits for Jackson. He has some major trust issues since his wife abandoned their family—he and his young daughter, Rebecca. Life being unpredictable, Jackson and Melanie wind up working together. Will this turn out for the best, or will a sudden appearance from his ex-wife derail any hopes of them finding love.

Second Chance Romance is a very sweet account of how two emotionally scarred individuals learn to trust and to have faith in love again after suffering loss. I chuckled at the main characters’ verbal sparring when they first became acquainted with each other. Jackson’s young daughter, Rebecca, is a prominent figure in the book and she is adorable.

I enjoyed this quick, light romance book. If you’re looking for a little sweet escape from more emotionally draining reads, you’ll find solace in Second Chance Romance.

A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Abby Rhodes has returned to the home of her youth, her grandmother’s little flat in Hartley-by-the-Sea, a lovely coastal village in the Lake District, with her 3-year old son, Noah, in tow. Mary, who raised Abby since the age of 2, has suffered a heart attack.  Since Abby needed somewhere to go after abandoning her veterinary education in Liverpool due to unforeseen circumstances, returning to Hartley-by-the-Sea to help manage the family’s beach café with her grandmother became a feasible option. Two years later Abby is finally feeling settled when her estranged mother shows up and announces that she’s moving in. Abby is not in the least bit amused by her mother’s sudden arrival and pronouncement that she’ll be staying on indefinitely. Laura Rhodes took off when Abby was a toddler, rarely returning to visit.  As a result, Abby feels no real connection or attachment to her mother, and her attitude towards Laura clearly reflects her feelings.

But when Abby observes the interaction between her mother and grandmother, she discerns that their dynamic is much the same as what exists between herself and Laura.  Why is there so much resentment in their family?  In small doses Abby begins to question Laura about events in her mother’s life, and her answers cause Abby to rethink the assumptions she’s made about her mother, and her grandmother.  Both women submit to learning more about one another when tragedy strikes and Laura comes through for her daughter in ways she could never have imagined.  Carefully concealed within the mysterious layers of her mother’s rigid facade are compassion and decency—characteristics that Abby didn’t know her mother possessed. Nevertheless, Abby interacts cautiously with her, defenses always up, afraid that her mother will leave her again.  Abby is clearly suffering from abandonment issues, and she wants to protect Noah from the disappointment and pain that Laura caused her when she fled motherhood. Of course Noah views his “nana” in a benevolent manner, as a young child would, oblivious to the flaws that caused the rift between Laura and his mother.

But when circumstances necessitate that Laura and Abby align themselves to handle matters relating to the future of the beach café, Abby can’t deny Laura’s practical business sense and keen judgment. Soon, mother and daughter are collaborating on ideas about changes to the tired looking beach café, and as they share space together more regularly, the negative, pre-conceived ideas Abby once held about her mother are slowly replaced by feelings of empathy and compassion, as she learns the truth about Laura’s not-so-glamorous life when she left Abby behind.  Laura has even adopted a more selfless attitude and puts Abby and Noah’s needs ahead of her own. She’s starting to resemble a real mother.  Still, Abby has questions. Who is her father? Why did her mother choose to give birth to Abby when it clearly had a tremendous negative impact on her young life?  These questions and many more are what will cement or destroy the relationship that mother and daughter are slowly building.

My Thoughts:

I devoured this book. I loved it. Kate Hewitt portrays emotion in such a profoundly realistic way.  Relatable, life-altering situations—marriage, children, death, are spoken of in such a way that it caused me to stop and ponder.  I love books that evoke that reaction.  And her ability to convey the natural conversational quality of the characters is one of the many reasons why I’ve enjoyed every single book of hers that I’ve read. I also appreciate how she incorporates beloved characters from prior books in the series. Knowing some of their back stories gave the book more depth.

I highly recommend A Mother Like Mine. It’s book three in the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, and can be read as a standalone.

Thank you, Netgalley, for a free e-ARC of A Mother Like Mine.  In exchange I have provided an honest review.