Review: Through the Storm

Through the Storm
Through the Storm by Rula Sinara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 Tessa Henning lives in a swanky villa in South Africa with her husband Brice and her 13-yr. old nephew, Nick. Tessa suspects that her husband is involved in the illegal ivory trade and desperately wants to expose him based on her suspicions. It’s a dangerous undertaking; Brice is not one to be messed with, and if she doesn’t handle it properly she could put not only her own life in peril, but her deceased sister’s son Nick’s life as well. Tessa decides that it’s necessary to flee to Kenya where Nick’s co-guardian and uncle, Mac Walker, lives and operates a small touring company, Air Walker Safaris. Tessa’s intent is to leave Nick with Mac in Kenya while she seeks to substantiate her husband’s guilt. Mac is unaware of this. Despite their dissimilar paths in life, as well as their opposing natures, Mac and Tessa will have to work in tandem to expose Brice while keeping themselves and Nick safe. Can they achieve it? Mac still feels the sting from Tessa’s irrationally blaming him for her sister’s death, and he views her as uppity and snooty, a gold digger of sorts, because of her decision to marry wealthy Brice. Tessa sees Mac as a thrill seeker and adventurer who didn’t step up and take responsibility for his role as co-guardian to Nick, and has feelings of doubt in the trust department where Mac is concerned. Could there possibly be love in their future?

Through the Storm is book 3 in the From Kenya, With Love series, and I really enjoyed it. I love how Rula Sinara captures the essence of the landscape so beautifully and presents it to the reader in such a way that you can close your eyes and feel as though you’ve been transported to the African wilderness. Descriptions of the animals in the wild and their behaviors was equally fascinating and enlightening. There was intrigue, a blossoming romance and the camaraderie of congenial friends and family members that brought warmth to the story. An enjoyable read. I hope there will be a book 4 to look forward to.

Thank you Rula Sinara for providing me with a free copy of this book. My opinions of it are honest and solely my own.

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Review: A Haven on Orchard Lane

A Haven on Orchard Lane
A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is my first book by Lawana Blackwell and she’s been added to my list of favorite authors. I was beaming with pleasure while reading A Haven on Orchard Lane. What a delightful historic tale it was, filled with characters of substance that I could envision so clearly; and beautiful, refreshing dialogue that made this book the epitome of comfort and warmth. To be honest, I had taken a break from historic novels because I was growing weary of the same plot lines and scenarios. This book has caused me to regain faith in the genre. The story was unique and unlike any other book I’ve read in this category, with writing that spoke to my heart and nourished my soul. I was always ready to pick up where I’d left off. Now a little of what it was about….
Mrs. Charlotte Fosberry was a highly respected actress in her former days. Now at 50, she’s no longer on stage, but married to Lord Fosberry who did not marry her for love. Presuming she possessed more wealth than was the case, he confessed his true motives for marrying her and has grown critical and mentally abusive to Charlotte; making off-color comments about her weight and such. She desperately needs a way out and it comes by way of a theater part that she is called upon to play. Knowing that Lord Fosberry won’t allow her to just walk away from their marriage, Charlotte must devise a scheme to make her exit. Things don’t turn out the way she expects regarding her big break on stage, and she finds herself at the mercy of her estranged daughter, Rosalind, who Charlotte did not raise. Forgiveness is the order of the day, and Rosalind will learn almost immediately that her mother isn’t the person she’s made her out to be. In fact, Charlotte has much to contribute to many secondary characters by way of wisdom, and even theatrical experience. There’s a little mystery and intrigue in the story, a love triangle and ultimately the most wonderfully fulfilling ending.
Ms. Blackwell does Christian Fiction right. There are a few brief scriptural references to bible passages and characters, and a mention here and there of the folks making their way to worship services. But happily it wasn’t a lesson in Christianity or didactic in any way (I attend my own worship services for that). Oftentimes when reading a Christian Fiction novel I find that the author’s views don’t align with my personal beliefs and ultimately upset my delicate sensibilities related to religion. Because of this I find it difficult to review these preachy books objectively. This was not so with A Haven on Orchard Lane. What little I didn’t agree with wasn’t enough to affect my enjoyment of the book. It was mainly just solid story-telling without profanity, violence or graphic sexual scenes. What I personally expect from a Christian Fiction novel. I loved it!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Thank you Bethany House for a free copy of this book. I have not received any payment for my honest opinions about it.

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**Interview and Giveaway** with Harlequin Heartwarming author Amy Vastine

I am interviewing Harlequin Heartwarming author Amy Vastine over on Goodreads today.  She has a new book out, The Girl He Used to Love, and she tells us all about it, and about her life as a writer.  Stop over, read the interview and comment for a chance to win one of her books.

http://bit.ly/29NYoCA

Thank you for following Cozynookbks.  ( :

 

Review: Now She’s Back

Now She's Back
Now She’s Back by Anna Adams
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫  Stubborn, unyielding and proud Noah Gage possesses more of his father’s undesirable character traits than he realizes or would care to admit.  His family’s a mess, but he seems to have made a commitment to caring for and protecting his mother and siblings from his abusive father for a lifetime at the expense of his relationship with his fiancé, Emma Candler. Emma is fed up with Noah’s guarded reserve, and the way he puts his family’s needs ahead of hers. This is the last straw, so after an altercation involving Noah’s father and some members of her family, Emma leaves Bliss, TN without Noah.  Fast forward four years and Emma is back in Bliss to make repairs to her deceased grandmother’s house, which has been left to her. Now that she’s back, will Noah and Emma bury the hatchet and rekindle the flame that may still burn within them for each other?

This sweet romance kept me engaged and in the end warmed my heart. The setting was very appealing since I am familiar with the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.  I relished the descriptions of the scenery, and enjoyed wondering how Noah and Emma would mend their broken relationship. The secondary characters were interesting and added flavor to the story.  Overall I thought Now She’s Back was a gratifying read and I recommend it to those looking for a sweet, satisfying romance book.

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Review: The Truth About Hope

The Truth About Hope
The Truth About Hope by Kate James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 The residents of Canyon Creek, TX are nursing a grudge against Hope Wilson and her father, Jock. Ever since Jock abandoned the town and closed down his manufacturing plant that employed many of the people of Canyon Creek, and Hope seemingly followed suit by carelessly and abruptly leaving over a decade later, the town is not particularly fond of either one of them. Now that Hope is back with intentions to make good on all of the hurt her father caused so long ago, it’s apparent that it will take more than a good deed to earn this town’s trust again. Even her boyfriend Luke who was a casualty to her leaving seems put off and aloof by her return. But in life things are not always as transparent as they might seem, and that’s certainly true in Hope’s case with regard to why she left Canyon Creek. Turns out even her father had his reasons.  Will the truth about Hope turn a town around, and will she find love again with the man whose heart she broke when she left him behind years earlier?

I loved this story right from the start. As it progressed I was pulled in and fully absorbed by the perseverance, determination, persistence and dedication of Hope Wilson. Her ex-boyfriend, Luke Carter, was a character that you could easily root for. I liked his level-headedness, bullheadedness and charismatic charm. Add to it a lovable old dog named Einstein, angry townsfolk and a couple that’s destined to be together but just as likely to have obstacles keep them apart, and you’ve got a page-turner that will delight you to the tear jerking end. The pace was great, the story was heartwarming and the ending was flawless.  This is a sweet romance that’s not to be missed.

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Review: After the Silence

After the Silence After the Silence by Rula Sinara

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💜💜💜💜💜 Hope Alwanga needs a break. Interning in the emergency room of a public Nairobi, Kenya hospital with limited staff, working feverishly on the sick and injured for little money and with hardly any sleep is challenging even for a person in optimum health. So when Hope’s brother Simba sees her faltering in his lab during a visit after work, he insists that she take some time off from her hectic job. Simba’s friend and colleague Jack Harper has recently lost his sister Zoe. Zoe’s husband, instant single dad and Marine Ben Corallis, is caring for their three children back in Pennsylvania, USA with the assistance of Zoe’s parents. But when Simba and Jack suggest that Hope take a vacation to the U.S. to help out Ben with his kids as a nanny of sorts for a few months, Hope is skeptical.  How can caring for three young children, one of which hasn’t spoken since her mother died, be considered a relaxing vacation? After some gentle prodding from both men she agrees and heads to America.  Will Hope be satisfied with a few months of respite from her demanding job and return to Kenya rejuvenated and ready to dive back in, or will she find that the needs of a broken family are too important to leave behind?  Will she discover that dreams come in many forms, and that it’s always best to follow your own rather than those that others have mapped out for you? After the Silence is Book 2 of the From Kenya, With Love series—The Promise of Rain is the first in the series. After having read The Promise of Rain I eagerly anticipated the sequel, and as expected it fulfilled my expectations in the form of a deeply emotional and thoroughly gratifying read. (Although this is Book 2 in the series it can be enjoyed as a standalone as some backstory details are interwoven in the narrative to acquaint the reader with the characters and circumstances.) I loved the way the characters from The Promise of Rain were incorporated into After the Silence. Rula Sinara did a beautiful job of alloting many of the characters an inner conflict of their own that kept me fully engaged and wondering how each one would overcome their challenges and embrace the life that was meant for them to live. I also felt that the characters’ stories could be further expounded on, in what I hope will be Book 3 in the series. A tender and deeply moving story of loss, love, absolution and healing. After the Silence will grip your heart and won’t let it go until it concludes and you feel warm and comforted from the inside out. View all my reviews

Review: A Case for Forgiveness

A Case for Forgiveness
A Case for Forgiveness by Carol Ross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💙💙💙💙💙 Shay James is conflicted. Deep down she still loves Jonah Cedar, but she can’t reconcile herself to the fact that he chose to leave her 10 years ago to pursue his law degree at Yale.  Now he’s back in Rankins, Alaska, after only a few measly visits over the years, to help out his “ailing” grandfather. Shay is livid that Jonah has rarely bothered to visit his granddad after all he’s done for him.  She feels that Jonah has accomplished his goals in the form of money, career and material comforts, so why would he be interested in her again, or her comparatively unassuming life of running the Faraway Inn in a remote town?  Shay can tolerate Jonah’s brief existence in Rankins, but will a prolonged visit have the same effect on her resolve?  Can old embers be stirred up into a flame and reunite these seemingly incompatible lovers?
A Case For Forgiveness is the second book in the Seasons of Alaska series, and it was an excellent follow-up to the first, Mountains Apart. Whereas newer characters take center stage here, we get a glimpse at the lives of some of the former characters, and it was nice to see them make an appearance from time to time throughout the book. I enjoyed the pace of this book—for me it gained intensity toward the middle and kept me fixated until the end. I laughed out loud at some of the humorous parts, felt deeply touched by the romance aspects, and was mystified by the intentions of a mysterious character who finds her away into the lives of the James family. Overall I really enjoyed A Case For Forgiveness, and I expect that lovers of a sweet romance with a bit of mystery and a warm and fuzzy happy ending will too.  This book didn’t receive a 4.5 star rating from RT Book Reviews for nothing!!  Well done.
Thank you Carol Ross for a free copy of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Review: Together with You

Together with You
Together with You by Victoria Bylin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Carly Mason made a promise to herself that she would never again form close personal bonds to children under her tutelage after she’d failed Allison, a teenage girl to whom she was counselor while employed at Sparrow House for troubled teens, who was now missing thanks to a bad judgment call on Carly’s part. Although Carly’s faith reminds her that God forgives her, she just can’t forgive herself. Meanwhile, her resolve to never again form attachments is shaken when she finds little 5-year old Penny Tremaine in a shopping mall where she’s wandered away from her family.  Penny suffers from a form of FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), and needs someone with Carly’s expertise to come look after her. Ryan Tremaine has had 4 nannies in the past 6 months and Carly seems to be the perfect candidate for the job. When Carly finally acquiesces to Dr. Ryan Tremaine’s prodding, she not only defies herself, but she takes on far more than she bargained for. Nobody’s perfect, and Ryan committed an indiscretion that tore his family apart and resulted in the birth of his special needs daughter, Penny. Although he may need to loosen up a bit and learn to enjoy life more with his 3 kids, Carly eventually sees that Ryan is in fact a decent man who’s made a mistake he sorely regrets, and who deserves a chance at a new life. As more and more of his good qualities come to the fore, Carly reluctantly begins to fall for the handsome, caring and sensitive doctor. There’s only one very BIG problem. Ryan Tremaine does not share her faith, and faith is central to Carly’s life. This presents challenges, the biggest of which is Ryan’s struggle to embrace the concept of an Almighty God, and Carly’s own doubts that arise about her beliefs when Ryan forces her to confront the reasons why she can’t learn to forgive herself, even though her religion dictates that her faith in God and his grace should allow her to do so.  What will she do?
Together With You is an inspirational story about two people struggling with their flaws and imperfections, but who eventually gain the ability to forgive themselves and accept the love they both need and deserve. I like to see characters develop and grow to the point where they can resolve their inner conflicts and go on to lead more fulfilling, productive and happy lives. That was the case with just about every character in this book and that was a plus for me. The only minus was that some of the scriptural explanations in the book differ from my interpretation and understanding of Bible texts, but I tried to overlook those bothersome portions since I know that Bible interpretations vary among Christians.  Overall, Together With You was an enjoyable read and I believe that people who relish Christian Fiction will find it uplifting and satisfying.
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

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Review: His Hometown Girl

His Hometown Girl
His Hometown Girl by Karen Rock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ Jodi Chapman has a real dilemma on her hands. A single parent to her 4-yr. old autistic son Tyler, she wants desperately for him to attend Wonders Primary, a school with staff that’s trained to give specialized help to children like Tyler.  The problem is tuition is $16,000 a semester and Jodi doesn’t have that kind of money. She can’t even count on her low-life ex-husband who abandoned his family because he couldn’t deal with having a son with autism. To make matters worse he’s looking to decrease his child support payments. Just when things are beginning to look hopeless Jodi’s boss assigns her to a project that involves buying up farms for the company, Midland Corp., from struggling farmers in her home town of Cedar Bay, Vermont. If she can acquire 5,000 acres of farmland she will get a bonus and promotion that will enable Tyler to attend Wonders Primary.  But in the process will she lose the respect of her former boyfriend and nemesis, Daniel Gleason, whom she left behind in Cedar Bay 10 years prior without explanation?
Karen Rock wrote a beautiful wholesome romance story of love, redemption and healing.  While conflicts in life are inevitable, help can be attained when we’re willing to look in the right direction and accept it.  His Hometown Girl will tug at your heartstrings with its intimate look at autism, the value of close-knit community in times of hardship, and the realization that things are not always what they may appear to be; that assuming what seems to be the obvious is not always right.
If you’re looking for a sweet romance read with a little conflict, a bit of stubbornness and just the right amount of love, you’re sure to enjoy His Hometown Girl. I loved it!!

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

IMG_3823-0 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My synopsis:  When a reversal in financial circumstances causes Abigail Foster’s family to sell their cherished family home in London’s trendy Grosvenor Square, and remove to the dilapidated and foreboding Pembrooke Park in Berkshire, a manor house that has stood uninhabited for 18 years, Abigail wonders what the future holds for herself and her family. But as mysterious and sinister occurances associated with the old house come to light, her once somewhat optimistic view of residing at Pembrooke Park begins to change.

REVIEW:  When the book unfolds we find Abigail Foster and her family getting ready to attend a going-away party that their long-time neighbors and friends are hosting for their son Gilbert, who’s leaving for a year to study abroad. Abigail has formed an attachment beyond friendship to Gilbert, and expects a proposal upon his return; but as the night progresses Abigail witnesses Gilbert with her younger sister Louisa engrossed in a tête-à-tête. Gilbert appears interested in Louisa and Abigail is crushed. To make matters worse, during dinner Gilbert’s father addresses Mr. Foster, alluding to financial woes involving one of the Fosters’ recent investments.  This painful development further saddens poor Abby, especially since she feels principally responsible for her family’s financial predicament.

When the worst is realized and the Fosters are forced to retrench, they are concerned about where they will take up residence. Fortunately their situation is remedied when a distant but undisclosed relative conditionally offers them the use of their vast, uninhabited, decrepit manor house, Pembrooke Park.  When they agree to the stipulations, Abigail and her father head to Pembrooke Park to assist the servants with readying it for habitation. Things seem to be looking up for the Fosters until Abigail begins receiving cryptic torn-out journal entries and letters from an anonymous source, warnings from neighbors of treasure hunters, mysterious visitors around the estate, footsteps in the house at night, and other unexplained phenomena. Although these are unexpected challenges, Abby is determined to stay at Pembrooke Park, and the local curate, William Chapman, is quickly becoming an incentive to remain. Is he the man she thinks he is or is he possibly seeking the hidden treasure rumored to be in her new home?  Can the servants be trusted?  The neighbors? Are the journal entries and missives she receives, seemingly chronicling her goings on inside the house, proof that someone is watching her?

MY FEELINGS: Extraordinary!! I found this book to be a cleverly crafted story, somewhat of an amalgam of several of Jane Austen’s brilliant novels, and at times reminiscent of Charlotte Bronté’s Jane Eyre. For me this was by far a good thing as I am an admirer of both authors.  Reading The Secret of Pembrooke Park was like consuming the most decadent dessert, each layer richer and more succulent than the one before it. This regency period, semi-gothic, historical romance and inspirational fiction novel (whew), involving an old manor house, family secrets, obscure identities, hidden rooms and lost treasure engrossed me from beginning to end. And although this book is considered Christian Fiction which I appreciate for the lack of profanity, explicit sexual content, vulgar language and wanton violence, I don’t necessarily appreciate an influx of scriptural references, heavy doses of doctrine or preachiness. Klassen did a superb job at balancing scriptural content. Whereas there was mention made regarding things of a theological nature, it fit in with the plot and did not supersede the storyline. I will admit I was apprehensive when I saw the size of the book, 456 pages, which is normally a bit lengthy for my taste.  However, I found it was surprisingly well sequenced and fluently paced to the degree that it kept me fully absorbed and in eager expectation of the next reading opportunity.  In fact, it was actually hard to put down, and I read it in about the same time it ordinarily takes for me to read a book about half its size.

If you relish the masterful storytelling of authors like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronté, then I expect you will find The Secret of Pembrooke Park a thoroughly enriching experience. I absolutely LOVED it!!

Thank you Laurel Ann Natress of Austenprose for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given. Thank you Bethany House and Julie Klassen for providing this publication for my enjoyment.

QUICK FACTS:

• Title: The Secret of Pembrooke Park
• Author: Julie Klassen
• Tour Dates: February 16 – March 02, 2015
• Genre: Regency Romance/Gothic Romance/ Historical Fiction/Austenesque/Inspirational Fiction
• Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (December 02, 2014)
• Trade paperback ISBN: 978-0764210716
• eBook ISBN: 9781441264824
• Audio: B00QXKRDZ6
• Video Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X4nLZlzBSQ&feature=youtu.be

IMG_3819AUTHOR BIO:

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website, follow her on Twitter, and visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

Mountains Apart by Carol Ross

image💚💚💚💚💚 I adored this book!! The storyline, setting, characters and conclusion were all well developed, and I remember thinking on several occasions how I couldn’t believe this was the author’s first novel. I thought it was so well written. There were laugh-out-loud moments, some treachery and deceit, and of course a sweet romance. The story flowed so nicely—I never felt bored. When you can get lost in a story you know it’s a winner, and since that’s what Mountains Apart did for me, I’d call it a winner. I recommend it to anyone who loves great wholesome romance novels.

Return to Pelican Inn

Return to Pelican InnReturn to Pelican Inn by Dana Mentink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💛💛💛💛💛 I really enjoyed Dana Mentink’s Return to Pelican Inn. I was pleasantly surprised by all of the intriguing twists and turns that the story took. It kept the pages turning. Rosa and her twin brother Cy, owners of the fledgling Dollars and Sense Design, are entered in a contest to re-decorate The Pelican Inn on a modest budget, a place that holds bittersweet memories for them. If they win, it would mean a ton of publicity and will probably be their final chance at salvaging Dollars and Sense. As they embark on this seemingly impossible task it becomes evident that perhaps they’ve taken on more than they’ve bargained for. Within the walls of The Pelican Inn lies more than drafty windows and rotted wood; more like hidden secrets and buried treasures waiting to be revealed. Will Rosa and Cy rise to the occasion, restore a beloved Inn and rescue their failing business? Or will they conclude that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, surrender the business and move on with their lives? This was a HEA if ever I’ve read one!! Another great read from the Harlequin Heartwarming line. There were secrets and a bit of mystery, along with sweet, tender romance. If you like a great wholesome story, solid characters and plot twists that you don’t see coming, you’ll enjoy Return to Pelican Inn.

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A Minute on the Lips

A Minute on the LipsA Minute on the Lips by Cheryl Harper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💛💛💛💛💛  A Minute on the Lips by Cheryl Harper gave me exactly what I’d expect from a wholesome romance book, and thus I am awarding it 5 stars. In it we find a small town with quirky characters, a little mystery, a lovable grandma, a confused female Sheriff, a cat named Mojo and a bit of tender romance, all the makings of a satisfying heartwarming story; and so it was. I was able to get lost in the story, the romance aspect was believable, and the characters were interesting. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates fast-moving, sweet romance books.

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