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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-20 07:45
Just A Kiss (Summer Harbor #3) by Denise Hunter
Just a Kiss (A Summer Harbor Novel) - Denise Hunter

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all. But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige. Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it. As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, now it's time to for Riley Callahan to get the spotlight! Moving in the background of the first two books, here we get to know his story a bit better as he returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. 

 

Through the earlier books in this series, the reader sees Riley struggling with the romantic relationship between his brother Beau and Riley's best friend, Paige. Riley himself has been secretly in love with Paige for years. To cope with his emotions, he chooses to enlist in the military. Almost immediately, he gets word he's getting shipped to Afghanistan. Now fifteen months later in Just A Kiss, Riley is returning home after surviving an IED attack that costs him one of his legs. 

 

Prior to the explosion, Riley had plans to return home to Summer Harbor and finally reveal his true feelings to Paige. Now things sit a little differently, as he is moved into Paige's home for the recovery / physical therapy process and Paige takes on the role of caretaker. Not exactly what he had in mind. Riley struggles with feelings of only being half a man, still tempted to confess his love to Paige but also feeling like she deserves better than what he feels he can offer as an amputee. In response to his inner struggle, Riley begins to distance himself emotionally from Paige, thinking he's doing her a favor. But as these romances tend to go, as one pulls back, the other party involved leans forward. 

 

Paige, when not helping Riley, has her own professional stresses. The shelter she runs is at risk of being shut down for lack of funding. On the suggestion of Lucy (Riley's sister-in-law you met in The Goodbye Bride), Paige puts together a bachelor auction fundraiser and, with a bit of a struggle, gets Riley to agree to serve as one of the bachelors. Seeing him in this light where many of Summer Harbor's single ladies going crazy at the chance to have a date with him, Paige is shocked at her own feelings of jealousy towards these women. Slowly the thought creeps into her mind that maybe, just maybe she herself feels something beyond the platonic for her best bud. But of course she takes the Riley approach to things, keeping her complicated emotions to herself. So as you can imagine it takes forever for these two to get anywhere fun with each other.

 

Author Denise Hunter offers a note to the reader right off the bat letting one know that any of the Summer Harbor books can be enjoyed as a standalone piece. With this closing book to the series, while it was cute I was a left a little disappointed overall. It's pretty standard romance fare, safe romance that was built a little TOO slowly for me, and closed on a pretty bland ending. 

 

Though this is technically a Christian romance series, the religious element is pretty light through most of the books. This one though, there is a pretty heavy dousing of religion near the end, which felt a little odd... like it was getting jammed in there real quick before the doors closed... when the rest of the series was so light on it. 

 

That aside, decent light summer fluff you can have fun with on a chill-out day without too much mental commitment required. 

 

FTC DisclaimerTNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

 

____________

 

My review for Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1)

My review for The Goodbye Bride (Summer Harbor #2)

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review 2018-07-20 05:09
Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1) by Denise Hunter
Falling Like Snowflakes (A Summer Harbor Novel) - Denise Hunter

Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how her life came to this—on the run with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. When a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads. Beau Callahan is a habitual problem solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over his family’s Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas alone. When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets. Eden has been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches, Eden’s past catches up to her. Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again?

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Eden Martinelli is on the run with her five year old mute son. Though her one persistent thought is "keep moving!", once her car breaks down she is forced to at least temporarily settle in the small town of Summer Harbor, Maine. With holiday season on the horizon, Eden gets a job at a local tree farm, the farm owned and operated by former cop Beau Callahan. When Beau's aunt, Trudy, suffers an accident that leads to a fractured leg, Eden is hired on as her home aide while Trudy recovers and works through physical therapy. 

 

As Eden settles into the Callahan home on the farm, her very presence seems to gradually knock loose some repressed feelings in multiple family members, feelings wrapped around long-running unaddressed hurts.Beau notices this influence, and though his heart begins to warm toward Eden, he's still troubled by the mysterious air she keeps around her. Why is she so evasive with any personal questions? What is she hiding? Beau low-key worries that she might be running from the law and he just hired a criminal to look after a beloved family member, but his gut tells him she's not dangerous, just scared. So who put that kind of fear into her?

 

This is a nice holiday read. It's not brimming with over the top holiday cheer, but instead offers a cozy balance of wit, small town charm, a slow-burn romantic interest, and a dash of mystery. Perfect for those who like their suspense on the more mild side of things...sort of in the thriller-lite vein of a Hallmark Mystery Movie. The bad guy scenes got a little cliche at times for my liking, but the Callahan brothers are so likeable in this series that minor eyeroll moments can easily be forgiven. 

 

For those in book clubs, discussion questions for this story are offered at the back of the book. 

 

I've been reading these out of order, which -- I thought I would mention -- works fine, as each book focuses on a different Callahan brother (of three). But looking back, there are some minor chronological aspects -- mainly with the storyline of Riley's military service -- that will flow better if you read in order. 

 

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My review for The Goodbye Bride (Summer Harbor #2)

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text 2018-07-17 17:30
Reading progress update: I've read 174 out of 368 pages.
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England - Amanda Vickery

Dear writer,

 

Yellow is known in Heraldry, it's what they call gold.  Of course you wouldn't colour a mundane shield in gold, you paint it yellow and your parchment would have gold, as it still does to this day, ditto for silver and white.  

 

Your friendly proto-herald who has apparently read too much on this topic.

 

 

You know what annoys me?  I have a 2:2 in History (this may be partially attributed to extreme exam anxiety, most of my college exams were sat in the college's sick room).  I graduated in 1994, I apparently know a lot more bits of history that are obscure to so many people, I still read history, and I know so many people with "better" degrees than mine who haven't read much in the topic in years and have forgotten most of it.

 

I really have to find a topic and write somethings about them.  I'm tired of yelling at the TV and books that haven't a clue.

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review 2018-07-15 11:48
How are the Mighty Fallen...
The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy

I haven’t tackled Thomas Hardy since my high school syllabus, but what a treat I had been denying myself. Various maxims spring to mind from this book (‘you reap what you sow’; ‘no man is an island’; ‘what goes up…’) emerging from the chronicled life of Michael Henchard. From very humble beginnings as a twenty one year-old hay-trusser, the main character is hard to like. He is deeply flawed on a number of levels and yet it is surprisingly fascinating to bear witness to the harsh fate which inexorably catches up with him.


As early as the first chapter, Hardy deliberately seeks to discomfort the reader, when a drunken Henchard sells his wife (Susan) and newborn child (Elizabeth-Jane) for five guineas. Notwithstanding his subsequent sense of shame and self-imposed repentance in the sober light of day, this repugnant act haunts his private life and has the attendant potential to also scupper his subsequently crafted image as the first citizen of Casterbridge.


Fast forward eighteen years and the reappearance of Susan with their now adult daughter offers the chance to make amends, but the intervening years have generated an inevitable trail of complications and though circumstances have changed, Henchard’s tempestuous nature has not. Yet, it is the tension between the social norms of English society at the time and Henchard’s earthy country perspective which is a constant source of friction. The mayor has risen to the gentrified classes a ‘self-made’ man, to be partially shackled by upper class expectations. In some ways Henchard is courageous, proud and willing to withstand public opprobrium, but he is also ruthless, manipulative and selfish, a powerful man used to getting his way (undoubtedly another key adage of the story is that ‘with power comes responsibility’).


In any event, this book is a beautifully written, unsentimental fiction, which transports the reader to a pre-industrial Wessex, by no means a bucolic idyll, but rather a class-ridden, male-dominated site of incessant struggle. Nevertheless, the characters are masterfully constructed and Hardy manages to marshal the reader’s emotions from outrage and anger through to triumph and pity, as the label of ‘victim’ seems to alight, at different times, across the cast of characters. A thoroughly absorbing read.

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review 2018-07-11 18:45
THE MOORE HOUSE by Tony Tremblay
The Moore House - Tony Tremblay

 

When I read Tony Tremblay's THE SEEDS OF NIGHTMARES, I knew that I had discovered a very special author. THE MOORE HOUSE only serves to prove that I was right!

 

In Goffstown, New Hampshire there stands a house-a house with a history. After a particularly gruesome occurrence there, Father MacLeod and his team of 3 excommunicated nuns, (specialists in identifying demonic possessions), are called in to evaluate the home. They came, did their thing, and it looked like the house was fine. But after Father MacLeod left, the door of the Moore House opened on its own and soon? What the house really is becomes clear to them all. Will they escape the machinations of the house? Will they survive at all? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

This story has a distinct New England feel to it that I recognized instantly. I don't know how to explain it unless you live here. It's the perfect setting for stories like this and Mr. Tremblay takes full advantage of the location. (The fact that many character names used are actually those of New England dark fiction writers also contributed to that feel.)

 

The characters here are all very real. You might think because 3 of the main characters are nuns, (albeit excommunicated nuns), they would all be boring or perfect. That is not the case. Each and every character here, priest included, are altogether human-with all the faults and foibles that go along with that. This fact lent the story a credible feel, which made all of the demonic things even more easy to believe. Not every author can pull this off, but Mr. Tremblay does- and he does it with style.

 

The only problem I had with this tale, and it's a slight one, was the overuse of the phrase "pawnshop owner", or some variation thereof. That's it!

 

The story surprised me in the fact that it's not your typical haunted house tale. It's a story of demonic possession, more than one in fact, which I thought was unique. The level of tension fairly hummed throughout and I had a hard time putting it down. With short chapters and lots of action, this book flew by and I was sorry when it was over.

 

THE MOORE HOUSE is definitely worth your time. To recap: we have demons, we have layered characters that are realistic, we have a cool house with a history and we have the age old fight against evil. What more can you ask for from an excellent dark fiction writer? Nothing!

 

Highly recommended for fans of haunted house tales and/or demonic possession stories! Available for pre-order here: THE MOORE HOUSE

 

*I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it. Further, I consider Tony Tremblay to be a friend in real life, but this did not affect the honesty or content of my review.*

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