At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love's Bidding

First thoughts: While filled with humor and crazy situations, At Love’s Bidding also has plenty of heart.  The characters were fun, but they also had depth and interesting back stories.  I really enjoyed sharing the adventures with them.  There were enough unknown factors and plot twists to keep me guessing how the story would end.  It was not at all as I predicted.

Plot:  Miranda Wimplegate’s family runs a prestigious auction house in Boston.  When her grandfather auctions off a client’s family portrait, they must retrieve it before the family business is ruined.  After tracking the portrait to an auction house in the Ozarks, Miranda’s grandfather purchases the entire business and shuts it down until he and Miranda can travel to Missouri.  When they arrive, they’re surprised to learn what sort of auction house they’ve purchased.  Auctioneer Wyatt Ballentine has taking care of the livestock and is quickly fed up with the changes the pair want to make.  The fact that Miranda and Wyatt are attracted to each other is complicated when it becomes apparent there’s more to the story of the missing painting than anyone realized.

Characters:  Miranda is very likeable and down-to-earth.  She shows her character when dealing with the orphaned and homeless children in the city.  She may be out of her element when she travels out west, but she’s willing to try fitting in.  As for Wyatt, how can you not fall for a guy who buys a rhubarb pie he doesn’t even like every week just to keep from hurting a widowed woman’s feelings?  There’s also plenty of supporting characters with unusual quirks that keep things very interesting for Miranda and Wyatt.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy historical westerns and humor.  While it’s the second book in the series, it can completely stand alone.

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter

Falling like snowflakesFirst thoughts:  Once again, Denise Hunter shows why she’s one of my favorite authors.  A swoon-worthy hero, secretive mother travelling with her mute son, and brothers that don’t always get along combine for a delightful adventure.  This story had a little more suspense and danger than I’m used to from Denise Hunter, but I enjoyed every bit of it.

Plot:  Eden Martelli is headed north with her son, Micah, when her car breaks down, stranding her in Summer Harbor, Maine.  A series of events lead her to the Callahan’s Christmas tree farm.  When Beau Callahan discovers the pair sleeping in a freezing cold shed, he feels compelled to help them out.  Plenty of mystery surrounds Eden and Micah, or Kate and Jack, the names they’re currently using.  Their past slowly unravels throughout the book, in unpredictable ways.  Beau finds himself fighting his attraction to Kate.  He’s already got a girlfriend and a strained relationship with his younger brother, who’s just enlisted.  As a former sheriff’s deputy, Beau can’t help being curious about Kate’s secrets, but his digging may put them all in more danger.

Characters:   Eden (aka Kate) is just a mother trying to protect her son.  She’ll do anything to keep him safe.  I admire her strength and need to be independent.  Beau is the rescuer type, giving up his career to take care of the family business.  Beaus’ girlfriend Paige and brothers Riley and Zac add plenty of interesting dynamics to the story, and foreshadow some great things to come in the series.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys inspirational romance with a little bit of sparks.  Absolutely fantastic book!  I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Whispers

First Thoughts: This book didn’t go at all like I expected it to!  It was an enjoyable story, well-paced with a bit of mystery.  This cover is gorgeous and piqued my interest, so I was pleasantly surprised to receive a copy to review. (Thanks, Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild!)  It’s the first I’ve read from this author, and I’ll be looking for more of her books to read.

“I learned long ago that life if full of peaks and valleys.  It takes both to build character.  And, if the Lord is good, one has years to experience both.” ~Sebastian Marks

Plot:  Lydia Bancroft runs the library where she’s often observed a certain gentleman.  While they’ve never been introduced, she finds herself attracted to the stranger, despite being engaged to another.  Then one day, the stranger comes to her rescue.  Sebastian Marks isn’t the man Lydia thinks he is, and he’s certain that as soon as she finds out his secret, their blossoming friendship will be over.  Meanwhile, Lydia struggles with the choice to marry her cruel fiancé or face financial ruin, as she’s running out of family heirlooms to sell off.

Characters:  While I enjoyed the storyline, the characters could have been better.  Lydia wasn’t a very strong heroine and there was one pivotal scene in the book where I felt she was acting out of character, but it was crucial to the plot of the book, I suppose.  Sebastian is quite the scoundrel. He runs a gentleman’s club, with drinking and illegal gambling.  I thought that this was a perfect set-up for him to have a great conversion, but I was a little disappointed that the author steered clear of any spiritual themes.  I really enjoyed having the perspectives of Bridget O’Connell and Vincent Hunt, Sebastian’s employees, included in the story.  They made the book better.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend this book as a clean romance with a little bit of mystery.  For those more sensitive readers, there is a little discussion of prostitution, although nothing of the sort takes place in the story.  It didn’t bother me, but it’s not something my grandma would have enjoyed.

Rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

One Enchanted Christmas by Melissa Tagg

One Enchanted ChristmasMelissa Tagg does it again. This Christmas novella was delightful! I just adore her writing style, full of humor, warmth and romance. I’ve always felt that there’s a lot of Melissa Tagg in her characters, and this story, based off of her crush on her own cover model, makes me feel so connected to the main character.

“I may write mystery, not straight romance, but trust me, I know how meet-cutes work.”

Author Maren Grant says this in the first chapter, and sure enough, she knows how they work, as she gets not one, but two adorable meet-cutes in the story. First she gets introduced to Colin Renwycke, the attractive model for the cover of her upcoming book. Then, at Colin’s invite, Maren travels to the Renwycke family’s farm in Maple Valley and meets his brother, Drew. The two brothers are very different, and Maren soon finds out that everything is not how she expected it to be.

This story read like a full-length novel. The pacing didn’t feel rushed and we got to know the main characters well. I love the setting, in the fictional town of Maple Valley. If you’ve read any of the Walker Family Series, you’ll see some familiar faces popping into this book.

I’d highly recommend this story to those who enjoy romance with a dash of humor and fans of the old classic movies. The story has a narrator dropping in from time to time, reminiscent of It’s A Wonderful Life. (I was hearing Clarence’s voice reading it in my head.)

Miracle Drug by Dr. Richard L. Mabry

 

Miracle Drug

First thoughts:  This was a great, entertaining medical thriller with a dash of romance.  The story felt very believable and I’m glad the author noted at the beginning that the disease in this book is completely made up!   From the moment the book opened with a murder, the story kept me turning the pages.  It had plenty of action and suspense plus a few plot twists that were surprising.

Plot:  Dr. Josh Pearson is asked to become the personal physician to the former president, David Madison.  Shortly after Josh takes over, David Madison becomes very sick, along with Josh’s girlfriend, Rachel Moore.  As Josh struggles to determine what the strange disease is, he must depend on an experimental drug and the help of many others.  With a limited supply of the miracle drug, Josh is faced with the decision of which patient gets treatment: Former President Madison or Rachel, the woman he loves.

Characters:  The story is told through multiple points of view, which makes for a well-rounded story.  Josh and Rachel are the main characters, but we also get to see things happen through the eyes of the former president, his secret service protector, his influential assistant, and members of the medical community that Josh reaches out to.  I thought they characters were all well  written, with enough mystery around them that you’re not sure who to trust.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this book to those who enjoy medical drama and suspense.  If you enjoy books by Candace Calvert, you should try Dr. Mabry’s stories.  Miracle Drug is a stand alone, for those who don’t enjoy reading a series.

Rating: 4.5 /5 stars

 

A Respectable Actress by Dorothy Love PLUS GIVEAWAY

A Respectable Actress

First thoughts:  This was a difficult one for me to rate because parts were really good but some of it was just mediocre.  The mystery was interesting, but the romance fell a little short to me.    I didn’t feel like there was really a reason for the main characters to be falling in love.  The historical look into the theater world and the trial were interesting enough to make up for any other shortcomings.  The story had enough twists to keep me wondering.

Plot:  Actress India Hartley’s co-star is stealing the limelight and making enemies.  When he’s shot in the middle of the play and it appears India is the culprit, it’s up to lawyer Philip Sinclair to keep her from going to prison.  Philip needs time to prepare a defense, so he takes India to his plantation on Saint Simon’s Island.  While there, India realizes that Philip and his servants all have secrets.  As everything comes together, India’s life becomes endangered as clearly the real murderer doesn’t want to be found.

Recommendation:  I’d recommend this story to those who enjoy historical and mystery.  This was the first I’ve read from Dorothy Love and I’ll be looking for more of her books.

Rating:  3.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway: Leave a comment to enter to win my gently used copy of A Respectable Actress.  What have you been reading lately?  Giveaway ends on Dec. 12th at midnight.