Review: Together Forever by Jody Hedlund

Together Forever

Paperback, 384 pages                                                   Rating 5*

Published:  May 1st 2018                                              Bethany House Publishers

ISBN13: 9780764218057                                              Series:    Orphan Train #2

As noble as Marianne Neumann knew becoming a placing Agent with the Children’s Aid Society, she had another goal in mind when she applied.  Marianne had to find her lost sister.    Along with Marianne was another Agent who accompanied her with all of the orphans – Andrew Brady who she discovered had once been a former schoolteacher.  Marianne couldn’t help but notice how wonderful Andrew was with the children and as the journey continued, she couldn’t help but admire his dedication and love for their charges.   They couldn’t help growing closer during the journey but, unfortunately, a tragedy changes all the plans they were developing for a happily ever after.  

***  First of all, I found this this novel fascinating.  I had never heard of the Orphan Trains but I must admit I think I would have signed up to be a volunteer to help find these children a better life than living in the cramped and unsanitary conditions most were pulled out of in search of a better life.   Yes, some probably weren’t better off but the fact that some folks were dedicated to help them makes my heart glad.  

It was also wonderful to have this focused on the people were such good Christians that they saw and felt the hand of God helping them to get the best placements in the best situations they could and that they went back to check on the children to make sure the children were happy.

I loved the characterizations of all involved from the two protagonists to the orphan children who were written with such care, love and emotion.  When the author is as good as this you can totally visualize the children and all the characters as real people as well as hear their voices.  

The journey was not an easy task keeping the children from boredom and keeping them amused, but the author showed how competent both Marianne and Andrew were at making the best of a tough situation.   Eventually it was a no brainer to see these two wonderful kind and beautiful people come to admire then love one anther.  

Bottom line:   A most endearing story I didn’t want to see end.  

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review for : FALLEN INK by Carrie Ann Ryan

Fallen Ink

Review by Annetta Sweetko

In FALLEN INK Adrienne Montgomery, with her brother Shep, is opening a tattoo shop MIT (Montgomery Ink Too), which can be stressful enough but a number of other things come into play adding more. Someone doesn’t want “their kind” in the neighborhood, forcing them to deal with threats and vandalism. Mace Knight, her best friend and fellow tattoo artist, suddenly becomes a full time father to his adorable 4 year old daughter, Daisy, when his ex-decides she wants to go overseas to work.

On top of all that – these two best friends, Adrienne and Mace, find that the other has much deeper feelings than they had ever expressed. It is simple, neither of them wanted to lose their best friend and sex once the thrill wears off could lead to just that. But, what if the thrill just kept getting better!

FALLEN INK is steamy, sweet, complicated story of friends to lovers who in the end are still friends and lovers. It is well written, though there might be just a bit too much angst over losing the friendship if things go wrong. I thought Adrienne and Mace are perfect for each other and the Montgomery family are as always amazing people who band together.

I think it is family, being together, helping each other and being there for each other, that is always the main stay in all the Montgomery books. No matter what happens you can bet a Montgomery will be there and I love seeing families like them in books. I can’t wait to see where the next in the series takes us

REVIEW: The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor

The Luck of the Bride

ISBN13: 9781250116161.                    Series:   The Cavensham Heiresses #3

Rating 5*

March Lawson, after the death of her mother, has had little to no luck especially after making a promise to keep her siblings together and care for them no matter what.  And March has done that, but lately it seems the estate funds she was supposed to be getting were not forthcoming.  As a result, she had – out of necessity – turned to forging the signature of the Marquess of McCalpin who was supposed to have taken over the guardianship of the Lawson family.   The thing of it was – there was money.  Three generous dowries had been set up for the girls including March; so in her mind – March was only ‘borrowing from her own money’.

Alas, one of the Marquess’ accountants noticed right away that the sums requested had been increasing and this latest one was a dead giveaway that something wasn’t right.  March was summoned to com and explain to Michael Cavensham, the Marquess himself why his signature was so perfectly drawn and why sums of money were being deposited in her account.

*** What a delightful story as well as realistic.  You have to love March for taking the bull by the horns and working out ways to keep the Lawson siblings from near starvation.  [Not counting the great hunter Max who helped fill the larder – but you’ll have to discover that one by reading the book yourself!].  No spoilers  here.  

I loved the fact that Michael had a secret that would have truly destroyed his self image should it become common knowledge.   But the one person he did trust was March and the more he came to know and admire her he began to see just how valuable a helpmate she would be as a wife.  

The romance built itself slowly and March’s cousin Rupert was a real toad who was foiled in the end as he tried his best to torpedo March’s chance at happiness.

Bottom line:  Loved this book and all the characters, except of course, creepy cousin Rupert!

Marilyn Rondeau

REVIEW: Come Home to Me by Liz Talley

ComeHome-Liz Talley

Paperback, 332 pages                                  Publication: April 17th 2018 by Montlake ISBN:  9781503900998

Summer Valentine has returned to Moonlight, South Carolina for the sake of her son David.  She had left Moonlight a different person than how she has returned.  No longer shy easy going naive young girl but a strong woman who has survived the nasty rumors of being an unwed mother. No longer the pushover who could be taken into anything, she was an intelligent and savvy woman who would do right by her son who wanted a relationship with his dad.

In spite of her anger over the past and Hunter’s continued defense of his actions towards Summer, she is willing to put that aside to see if Hunt really wants to establish a relationship with his son.  Hunt was at one time a big time baseball player but his illustrious career has faded, and yet his wealth and privilege still keeps him protected from the mistakes of his past.  

Another person from Summer’s past has also returned to Moonlight  –Rhett Bryan, the Golden Boy from Hollywood, who has come home to find some healing after a tragic accident that took the life of a child.  Finding Summer home and rekindling their friendship Summer is not sure she could handle having her heart broke again when she knows he will be returning to California.  

There is a lot of painful history between all three of these high school friends and while it is nice to see Rhett kind of re-connecting with Summer, there is a whole lot of hurt and unresolved feelings that all has to come out before there can be any type of happy ending.

Bottom line:  A great story with high emotional content and wonderful characterizations.

Marilyn Rondeau

REVIEW: A Lady’s Honor by A.S. Fenichel

Lady'sHonor

Published:   April 3, 2018                     by:   Lyrical Press

ISBN:   B073PB8P6N                     Series:  Everton Domestic Society #1

Rating:     5*

REVIEW:  Phoebe Hallsmith doesn’t regret the years of caring for her ailing grandmother.  No, discovering that the man she was once betrothed to turned out to be a rat-bastard doesn’t really bother her as well; so all in all Phoebe is more or less resigned to ‘spinsterhood’.   She has disappointed her parents and her brother has disowned her since she is now working as an employee of the Everton Domestic Society of London.  Phoebe generally doesn’t accept positions where she is acquainted with the client, but upon a special request she agrees to try and sort out the chaos of her best friend’s grieving husband’s life – Markus Flammel.

After Markus’ wife Emma passed giving birth to a beautiful baby girl he’d been drowning his grief inn a bottle.  Not even his toddler daughter can bring him  any form of happiness.  Phoebe who had been best friends and missed Emma was not about to let Markus get away with drowning his sorrows and neglecting his daughter – not if she had anything to do with it!

***  Again, I have been enthralled and moved by a book! I will also confess that I was originally drawn to this book by the luscious cover art and was thrilled to find that the beauty of the cover translated into a beautiful story as well!  Lucky me!!

Phoebe had known how much her friend Emma loved her husband, although she herself didn’t have that much interaction with him. However, knowing Emma, she knew that only a good, honest, and honorable man could have had her friend so mush in love.   For the sake of Emma’s beautiful daughter Phoebe would fight tooth and nail to bring Markus back to the living.  Once Phoebe convinced Markus to stop drinking and look at his daughter, she began the long process of bringing his estate back to rights and letting him discover the joy of loving the precious gift of his daughter that Emma left behind.

With a few twists and turns from an old beau and a new conquest, Phoebe now had to examine  her heart and decide if falling in love with her best friends widowed husband was the right thing to do.  Also, was Markus ready to move on as well?

Bottom line:  A wonderful story – high five star rating!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review – Becker’s Circle by Addison Bray

BeckerCircle

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing (March 14, 2018)

ASIN: B07B3HT15Y                           Rating: 4*

Gillian’s  boyfriend believed she was too gutless and dependent upon him to leave. WRONG! Gillian graduated Harvard early and left his hot temper and everyone else behind for Dallas quite determined to make it on my own.   She found  a job in an accounting firm as she worked towards her CPA and then landed a second job bartending at the neighborhood pub.  Tips were good but it’s smack in the middle of drug central where almost every jerk in the neighborhood hits on her.

Soon after starting her bartending gig, the neighborhood’s very popular drug dealer fell to his death a few feet from the table Gillian was serving. The cops say suicide, but the hot guitar player in  the band and she suspect foul play.   They started their mini investigation and as they discover more and more they’re drawn closer to each other. Before long they discovered, they knew who the murderer is!

*** Well talk about some colorful characters!  BECKER’S CIRCLE had them all and then some!  From the ‘witchy’ boss from hell at Gillian’s ‘day’ job at the accounting firm, to the girls who frequented the bar scene identified by their drink of choice names.

One has to commend Gillian by taking control of her life and setting off for a new life away from a toxic boyfriend who wanted complete control over her.   Yes, she made a couple of mistakes before she hooked up with her guitar wheeling buddy but overall I think she did well; juggling full time and part time  jobs while studying for her CPA exam.  The clues she came across to discover who the murderer was  were actually pretty minute, but in the end she persevered, and came out the heroine of Becker Circle.

Frankly this was a pretty sweet and suspenseful story with lots of twists and turns.  At the end  I loved the career choice!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

BrightAsHeaven

Hardcover, 387 pages                                    Published February 6th 2018 by Berkley Books

ISBN13: 9780399585968                               Rating  5*

Set in 1918 Philadelphia, this was the story of an average family household of husband, wife, and three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa. The mother Pauline Bright had just lost her infant son and the and her family were dealing with their grief.  Change was in the wind men leaving to fight in the Great War and so life would go on.   However, when an opportunity came along for them to take their family out of the tobacco fields for a new life in Philadelphia, they decided to take the chance.

Not only was the Great War going on with daily lists of soldiers wounded or dead but an even worse enemy had entered the United States and that was called the Spanish flu.  The Spanish flu epidemic was a monster that killed with no cure in sight.  Yet, through it all the Bright family was reborn through the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

*** And with that said AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is probably one of the most moving books I’ve read in a very long time.  Brilliant!  The story shows the strength of the Bright family, the love and goodness of the family bond holding them together over overwhelming losses which would have crippled weaker souls to give up.    From each daughter you see the resolve and strength that kept them together weathering each hurdle that fate tossed in their path.     I simply could not put this book down once I started it and most assuredly am HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this be on your to read list.  FANTASTIC and MOVING story!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose

Edgeofdarkness

Paperback, 608 pages                RATING – 5*

Published February 8th 2018 by Headline (first published November 2nd 2017)

SBN13: 9781472245854

Series: Romantic Suspense #20, Cincinnati #4

As the fourth and final book in Karen Rose’s nail-biting Cincinnati Series I cannot help but be sad – very sad!  Reading Karen Rose is such a pleasure and I know that while the Cincinnati Series is ending – Ms. Rose will be back with another series that will be equally good – or better!  

Homicide detective Adam Kimble is no stranger to battling demons working for a good year on battling his PTSD.   Meredith Fallon is a different kind of weakness: one that could actually be good for him, if only he would let himself depend on her. Meredith has loved Adam for a year, and seeing how hard he’s worked to deal with his PTSD makes her feelings only stronger, but she respects his need to work it out for himself.  Meredith keeps busy anyway: counseling sexually abused women to help them reintegrate into the world.  Yet someone doesn’t want Meredith helping woman and is ready to kill to make her stop!

***  As usual, Mr. Rose doesn’t pull any punches and slaps right into the middle of some of the worse type of killers around.  Killers who love to terrorize and bring the most pain to their victims.  In EDGE OF DARKNESS there are several folks who are killers and one boss who also delights in killing as well.

Meredith has escaped violence several times by people not wanting her to discover how much of an animal they are in how they treat their children, spouses and females of all persuasions.  But when Meredith takes one of her patients out to celebrate and is almost killed  the question becomes who were they trying to kill?  Was it Meredith or her companion.  In the meantime, Adam, assigned to Meredith’s case is fighting his own demons and trying to not break an oath he made to himself a year ago before he approaches  Meredith as a ‘new’ man.

This definitely a full body novel with a plethora of secondary characters all central and playing big parts in the tall of murder, violence, kidnapping, betrayal and greed.  In fact, it will take most of the book before you even get an inkling of who the real bad guy is!    Fast read – thrilling, exciting and simply one of the best!

Marilyn Rondeau

Eternal Mourning

AUTHOR: Carrie Ann Ryan

Walker Brentwood is a healer for his pack but there is nothing he can do about the changes in the mating bonds. Shifters have always “known” their mate by scent or sight but that has changed. They struggle now just as the humans search for love and sometimes get it right.

Aimee Reagan knows shifters and magic are real, but she isn’t sure about herself. She knows something is wrong but not what and when someone other than a Talon Pack member sets his sights on her, her battle to survive begins in earnest.

Walker and Aimee are what I have been waiting for in this fascinating series. Their story is truly magical and one that stays with you long after “the end “appears. I love this series with it’s twists and turns as the packs deal with daily life and with things beyond their control. There is a number of moments that will have you smiling, laughing and just might bring you to tears.

We also get a better look at the enemy pack and their Alpha, Blade. I am so hoping he gets his soon.

If you want a heart touching, scorching with steamy moments, family and friends that have the couples back then get your hands on ETERNAL MOURNING.