Monday, August 07, 2017

The Summer That Made Us: My Review


The Summer that Made Us

About the Book:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again. 

That was then… 

For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything. 

This is now… 

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth. 

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

My Comments:

In a lot of ways, this is the proto-typical "beach read".  There is a beach house which has been in the family for generations; the family that used to gather there yearly; the summer romances;  the guy across the lake; and the tragedy that tore everyone apart.  Nevertheless, Robyn Carr does a good job with this trope.  Her characters include the likable, the pitiable and the one you just want to shake. The story has just enough twists to keep it interesting.  

As the summer draws to a close, all have had their lives changed, and improved by facing the demons of their past and realizing that things really weren't just thier fault.  

I'd like to thank Little Bird Publicity for inviting me to participate in this blog tour and providing a complimentary review copy.  Grade:  B.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Until You Loved Me: My Review

Until You Loved Me: A Novel (Silver Springs) by [Novak, Brenda]


About the Book:

After catching her fiancee cheating—with another man—usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy's full name, something that shouldn't have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive. 

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she's carrying his baby, he's stunned. And more than a little betrayed. 

But after growing up as an orphan, he'll do anything to stay involved in his child's life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…

My Comments:

I loved Ellie.  She wants what so many people want--to be loved and to have a family.  She was smart but a little socially lacking.  When her fiancee paid attention to her, she was thrilled, and thought the lack of bedroom action was based on morality rather than on sexual attraction.  They had talked about having children and she was looking forward to being a bride and a mom until she caught him in bed with a male friend.  Amazingly, he still wanted to go forward with the wedding and with having a child, which his boyfriend and he would help raise.

Not long thereafter, she becomes pregnant via a one-night stand.  She feels like she should tell the father--the only problem is that she has no clue who he is, until she sees him on television and realizes he is a famous athlete.  Once Hudson knows she is carrying his baby, he wants her where he can take care of her and the baby, so he moves her into his house, and of course it isn't long before she is in his bed.

Both Ellie and Hudson are afraid to get hurt; both have walls up, though Ellie's come down more easily.  It was fun watching them get to know each other in a non-Biblical sense and sure enough, they decided they liked each other.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Review: The Innkeeper's Sister



About the Book:

Grayson Blake always has a purpose—and never a moment to lose. He's come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery…and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger. 

Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can't erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she's lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth…and hope.

My Comments:

One thing I like about romance novels is that they have happy endings.  Nevertheless, I like the endings to be realistic and sometimes, particularly with books that try to be more than just romance novels, I think the authors sometimes twist themselves (or the story) into knots to get the happy endings.  Things just don't add up, too many abnormal things happen and then voila, happy ending!

The Innkeeper's Sister is part of a series that introduced us to two missing boys--one from the Civil War era and one from the modern era. This story tells us what happened to one of them, and the author's note says that she didn't tell us about the other because it just didn't seem realistic.  I think that took courage on her part as it would be very easy, and very unrealistic, to write the story with both boys being found. 

In the other Honey Ridge books Valery is the drunken sister; the one who doesn't shoulder her share of the weight because she is always hung over.  In this book we learn about her demons and how she has not let them keep her from helping a sister she felt needed her.  We also watch her confront those demons and move past them into a promising future (its a romance novel after all).  

Like the other Honey Ridge books there is one story set in the modern day (Valery and Grayon's story of course) and one set in the Civil War era.  

I enjoyed the book and the series and based on the author's note, I suspect this will be the last Honey Ridge book, unfortunately.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  A.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Finding Our Forever: My Review

Finding Our Forever (Silver Springs) by [Novak, Brenda]


About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak welcomes readers to the town of Silver Springs, where surprises wait around every corner! 

The search for her birth mother brought Cora Kelly to the New Horizons Boys Ranch. Getting a job there was easy enough, but confiding in Aiyana, the ranch's owner, that she's really her daughter? Cora's not sure she can do that, not unless she's confident the news will be welcomed. And once she gets to know Elijah Turner—Aiyana's adopted son and ranch manager—that decision becomes even more difficult. 

Although Elijah can't deny his deep attraction to Cora, he's always struggled with trust. Anyone with his past would, and there's something about the ranch's newest employee that isn't exactly as it seems. But if the feelings she awakes in his guarded heart are any indication, she might be just what he's long been waiting for.

My Comments:

Somehow I missed this one when it came out, though I've read other books in the series.  Luckily I've recently become a fan of my library's Overdrive account where I can check out Kindle ebooks and audiobooks.  

The main story in this book is the romance between Cora, a young woman who was given up for adoption as an infant, and Elijah, a man abused as a small child and later adopted by the woman who turns out to be Cora's birth mother.  Cora feels like a part of herself is missing and wonders if that is why she cannot seem to give herself completely to someone else.  Eli is so afraid of being hurt that he knows he closes himself off to others.

Besides the story of Cora and Elijah, this is the story of Cora and Aiyana.  When the story begins, Cora knows Aiyana is her birth mom--the detective had recently given her that information.  Cora decides to get to know her birth mom without letting her birth mom know who she is--that way, if having her reveal herself would cause problems, she could just leave without doing so.  She'd have her questions answered and wouldn't disrupt Aiyana's life.  I really liked that attitude--all too often books about adoptees who find their adoptive parents show people who burst into other people's lives with the attitude of "its my right and its what I want to do" without considering that their might be a reason their birth mother chose a closed adoption, or chose not to search for them after doing so became legally easier.  

The book has several steamy scenes, but if they aren't your thing, they are easy to skim and don't really add anything to the story.  

I enjoyed this book and I'm glad my library had a copy.  Grade:  B.

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