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review 2017-08-13 22:55
Review: The Baby Barter by Patty Smith Hall
The Baby Barter (Love Inspired Historical) - Patty Smith Hall

I read one other book by this author and that was a DNF. I picked up this book during Harlequin's October sale, so that was prior to the DNF. I struggled at times to get through this book, but it was a decent inspirational romance.


Sheriff Mack Worthington is trying to handle the changing times in his small town of Marietta, Georgia while also trying to adopt a baby girl named Sarah. Sarah was born with a mouth deformity (read to me like it was a cleft palate). The changing nature of his small town was due to the war ending (sending GIs home) and the bomber plant cutting jobs (mostly women employees). The judge for the adoption is not looking favorably on Mack's lack of marriage prospects. Lucky for Mack, his high school friend/crush has come home from the war along with the GIs.


Thea was an Army nurse during the European campaign and is home only to help out her dysfunctional family. Thea left Marietta eight years ago (for nursing school, then the Army) and her presence has the whole town buzzing. Thea's goal is to find her recently deceased sister's baby and raise it as her own. Her high school friend/crush just so happens to be trying to adopt the baby.


There was a lot to like about this story. Mack and Thea had a history that was based on friendship and honesty. Thea was a capable nurse and had a wonderful bed side manner. Ms. Aurora Adair is an angel and the confident both Thea and Mack needed individually. She was my favorite character in the book. The pacing was slow in the first half of the book, but picked up when Thea agreed to a marriage of convenience to Mack.


There were some lackluster parts to the story. For one, all the answers to the question of Sarah's birth parents can be found in Ms. Williams' letter that neither Mack or Thea ever opened or read. That was the major plotline behind the stalled adoption and it was never resolved. Mack's cousins and his lawyer were cloying and annoying, especially Beau (Mack's conversations with Beau is what I struggled with). For a book that took place mere weeks after the end of WWII, there was hardly any world building or period details. The religious tone and actions/words from the characters felt very performative and shoe-horned in and not natural to the story or the characters.


I am glad I kept reading this book, but I don't think I want to read anything more from this author. I just wasn't "Wow"ed by the writing.

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review 2017-08-10 20:38
Review: Mission of Hope by Allie Pleiter
Mission of Hope (Love Inspired Historical) - Allie Pleiter

Allie Pleiter wrote another wonderful, engaging historical romance that was also a page turner. Ms. Pleiter takes readers to some of the hardest times in American history and delivers inspiring, loving stories - she has such a gift.


The book begins 3 months after the April 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire that destroyed the growing port city. Nora is the daughter of the post master; her well to do family lost their home in the disaster as well as Nora's cousin Annette. Nora and her parents are living in her grieving aunt and uncle's house in a different part of the city. I had no sympathy for any of Nora's family; snobbish, weak assholes all of them. But Nora (and to a smaller extent, the memory of Annette) was already becoming a modern, independent woman. Living in the aftermath of the disaster only sped up the maturing process.


Quinn found a locket in the rubble of the city and fixed it up with the intention of finding the owner of the locket and giving it back. The locket held a picture of Nora and Annette, so Quinn identified Nora via her picture; it was Nora's gift to Annette for her cousin's birthday and the last remaining piece of Annette. The cute meet was what sucked me in the story, and I rooted for Quinn and Nora from that moment. Their love story is one of overcoming class differences and keeping the faith that in the worst of times, one needs hope and joy wherever they can find it. Quinn and Nora do so much good work for the people of the "unofficial" camp (aka the shanty town that sheltered the poor people of the city) and through their good work grew a strong bond and eventually love.


Reverend Baurs was a delight to read and his manipulations (all for the glory of God and to help the disaster's poor refugees) made him seem more like an impish angel than a stuffed shirt. Baurs had skills no ordinary pastor should have, but those skills came in handy when disaster strikes. I don't think Major Simon was a true villain, but I also wouldn't want to read about him as a hero in another book - he is too untrustworthy after reading this book.


Overall, an exciting and great romance. 

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review 2017-08-10 16:34
Review: Her Holiday Family by Winnie Griggs
Her Holiday Family (Texas Grooms (Love Inspired Historical)) - Winnie Griggs

This was a much better installment of the Texas Grooms series than the previous holiday one I read last month. It was more balanced between sweetness and seriousness and was overall more realistic.


Mrs. Eileen Pierce is a young widow and person non grata in Turnabout, Texas. She had a pampered but very lonely childhood, followed by a marriage where she was seen as a good hostess and a pretty thing to look at and dress up/show off.  Her short marriage to her husband ended when he embezzled money from the bank to pay bills that came about from his luxury lifestyle and he committed suicide when people started looking into the bank's affairs. She had to sell most of the marriage's possessions to pay back the money her husband stole, but her fall from the town's graces is more to having a husband die via suicide than the downturn in financial affairs. Dovie returns, as she is now living back in Eileen's house as a boarder (she was living with Eve and Chase in the last book I read). Dovie is more like Eileen's confident and mentor. Eileen's one friend in town is Dovie's foster daughter Ivy. Eileen's world is very small.


Enter Simon Tucker, bachelor and carpenter who is escorting a family friend and her ten foster children to their new home in Hatchetville. They stopped in Turnabout because the family friend/foster mother had a stroke on the train and that was the first stop. While the doctor in Turnabout sees to Ms. Fredrick, Simon is in need of shelter and food for himself and his ten charges. At a church meeting, social pressures force Eileen to open her home to the temporary visitors to Turnabout. Ms. Fredrick passes away and Simon has to make some tough decisions now that he is the sole guardian of the group. Simon had a rough childhood, but has made the most of his opportunities since reaching his majority and decides to treat all people with true respect and dignity, no matter what the locals have to say about anyone.


Eileen and Simon were so well matched and fun to get to know as a couple. There was a strong chemistry between the two that when they finally kissed, it was worth it. Eileen grew a lot during the course of the book, gaining confidence in her abilities beside being pretty. And thankfully Simon was not the picture-perfect hero; he had his flaws just as Eileen did.  Dovie did her part time and again to help them along on their journey (much as she did in the last book), but without needing to lecture Eileen or Simon on how they are treating each other. Ten kids in a romance is a lot, and not all of them got screen time, but none were annoying or cloying sweet.


Just an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.



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review 2017-08-08 21:35
Review: Falling for the Enemy by Naomi Rawlings
Falling for the Enemy - Naomi Rawlings

I read book one (Sanctuary for a Lady) almost two years ago, loved it, and picked up book two and three in the series in that time....and never read them. So COYER reading list came in handy to give me the motivation to keep reading the series. The thing is I was not in the mood for the tropes found in book two (known via the blurb on the back), so I skipped to book three.


This was quite the ride.


First, that cover. The heroine (Danielle) is giving the hero (Lord Halston) a look of "I'm going to kill you" and/or "I'm going to screw you so hard" and I am here for it. Plus the background of a spooky wooded area at nighttime is very atmospheric.


Second, Dani is a heroine to root for - she is smart, capable, and can read and react to other people to get out of dicey situations (and there was plenty of dicey situations). Dani is the niece of the book one's couple and the daughter of book two's couple, so she was raised in the aftermath of the French Revolution/Reign of Terror and the first Republic; her upbringing included how to survive in political/social unrest as well as in the woods. Dani takes no BS and doesn't give out any either. She is not a Mary Sue though; she is quick to temper and can be petty at times with certain British aristocrats. But I love a good capable heroine and Dani was awesome.


Third, the book takes place in 1805 in the woods of France; just as Dani was helping the merry band of English aristocrats get to the coast and sail away back to home, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor (bye, bye republic) and the peace treaty with British is broken. So not your typical Regency romance. Dani, with the help of her brothers and dad, help Halston and crew make it back to England. This on the run/evading capture plotline was a real page turner.


Fourth, Halston and crew. Halston was quite the decent hero and his falling in love with Dani was sweet but also realistic. Also, being the third son of marquis gave him a little more leeway with being in love with Dani, a French peasant (or is she????). He was determined to make her his wife, even if that meant moving to America. Westerfield (Halston's brother) may have been sick 90% of the book, but even he knew enough to look deeper at Dani's history to help his brother get the girl. I like that Halston's valet was the voice of reason between Halston's and Dani's fights about class structure.


Fifth, the sexual tension was pretty intense for Christian romance. Just enough kisses and touches to believe in the chemistry between Dani and Halston, but chaste enough for them not to go against their religious beliefs. You can bet your last dollar Halston didn't wait to read the banns and instead got a special license. 


Overall, another winner from Naomi Rawlings. Can't wait to read book two.

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review 2017-07-25 17:49
Review: The Greek Tycoon's Green Card Groom by Kate McMurray
The Greek Tycoon's Green Card Groom (Dreamspun Desires Book 14) - Kate McMurray

It was a decent, if lackluster category romance. The title is misleading; Archimedes Katsaros is most assuredly not a tycoon, hence his marriage to Ondrej in order to prop up his family business. The marriage of convenience trope in contemporary romance is hard to get right, and this book doesn't really make itself an exception.


Archimedes Katsaros inherited a failing real estate firm after the death of his father eight months ago. Although Archie has worked at the firm for a number of years prior to his father's death, the state of the financial mess was a surprise to Archie (who has an MBA from NYU). Seems Archie wasn't paying that close of attention to what Dad was investing in; I mean, a NYC real estate firm is pretty easy to make money from. Turns out Dad had invested a lot, and therefore lost a shit ton, of money in Greek banking and real estate. Archie isn't much better at being a businessman himself.


Enter the rescue party, in the form of a summer intern from the Czech Republic named Ondrej. Ondrej's work visa is running out and he hasn't found "suitable" employment after his internship was over. Ondrej did not look hard enough nor really gave much thought to actively look for work; he was living on inherited money he invested and was happy to spend his days at his leisure. However, since he wasn't employed, he needed a way to stay in the country. So a marriage to Archie was devised, allowing him to apply for a green card and in return, give Archie needed funds to keep the company afloat.


There was a lot of sex and a lot of inner monologues about feelings and the possibility of being caught as green card marriage frauds. A lot of repetition, a lot of keeping up appearances as wealthy men so as to attract new money/business, but really no chemistry. I think there was more chemistry with Archie and the new stadium deal than with Ondrej. Ondrej was sweet and smart but LAZY as hell; Archie was to afraid of looking bad to make good business sense. The ending was fine; I like the vow renewal ceremony and party as a way of saying "fuck you" to the immigration office who decided their case HAD TO BE investigated NO MATTER WHAT. But this story wasn't anything special.

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