Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A March Bride - by Rachel Hauck

Susanna Truitt is a simple girl from Georgia, whose family runs a BBQ shack.  A simple girl, who just happens to be engaged to the king of Brighton.  She knows she loves Nathaniel, but is the life she's meant to live?  Can she be happy so far from her roots and family and friends?  Can Nathaniel make her give up all of the things that make her the woman he fell in love with?

My overall impression of this book was that I liked the characters, but I wanted more story.  Turns out that there is much more to the story, in fact, there's another whole book that comes before this one.  I wish I had read the backstory to Susanna and Nathaniel in Once Upon a Prince before reading A March Bride.  I think I would have appreciated where they'd come from to get where they were at the beginning of this novella.  As it were, it was an awkward way to begin a book and left me feeling like I was trying to catch up.  Even so, I really liked how Susanna took the time to evaluate what made her who she was - was it her country? Was it her career? Was it her family?  How much could she give up and still be who she was?  It felt authentic, and gave depth to her character in this short excerpt of her story.  I really wanted more to the supporting charcters, too; where did the prophetess-like lady in the woods come from? What's her story?  What about Suz's sister and Nathaniel's cousin - will they end up together?  I don't know how much of the Royal Wedding Series features the same cast of characters, but I might have to look into it!

I give this book 3 stars.  I wish I had known that it was just a piece of a bigger story, instead of a short story in its own right, but even so, I was able to enjoy the complexities the characters were forced to consider in such a short time.

You can find A March Bride, the 4th in the Year of Weddings series, HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Stubborn Heart - by Becky Wade

Kate has come to Pennsylvania to help her grandmother restore the family home, and to give herself a break from the job she no longer loves.  When she meets their contractor, Matt, she senses that there is something broken within him and makes it her mission to draw him out and to become his friend.  As she gets him to let her in bit by bit, however, she finds that there may be more, and less, to her mission than she'd thought or hoped for.

This book started off a little rocky for me; I found the "setting of the stage" in the prologue to be a strange start.  While it gave some background on the main characters, it took me awhile to adjust from the odd opening to get into the story.  Once I was in, however, I was hooked.  Kate's persistence in winning over Matt was sweet, and there was just enough of the story from his point of view to see when he transitioned from being annoyed by her into being impressed by her.  Her insights with what God was doing with Matt, and her struggles with choosing to follow His lead gave the story more depth than a typical romance.  Throw in a supporting cast of 70-somethings, and a quirky antiques appraiser, and this was one of the most original feeling books I've read in awhile.

I give this book 4 stars; I wish I could revisit these characters again in a couple of years and see how they're doing.

You can find My Stubborn Heart HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE. (If you browse around, you can find some fun background information on My Stubborn Heart!)

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A February Bride - by Betsy St. Armant

Allie comes from a long line of women who believe in breaking a man's heart before they can get hurt.  As much as Allie loves Marcus, she believes that her family history proves that she is incapable of a stable, loving marriage.  So rather than go through a messy, painful divorce later, she chooses to leave him at the altar, for his own good.  A short time later, however, her best friend and ex-fiance's sister, Hanna, brings Allie back into her life, and consequently back into Marcus's.  Can they find a new normal during this time of celebration for Hannah? Can they be friends?

I should have known that a book about a bride, set in February, would lend itself to be sappier than others.  A Valentine's wedding?  Couple's showers?  The book opening with a bride running away?  I found this novella to be the least believable of the Year of Weddings series so far.  With the premise already set in the title, the book only has so many directions it could go, and so it's rather predictable from the outset.  There were just too many convenient twists in this short story for me to get past to enjoy it.  I wish that the aspect of getting past your family's mistakes and generational legacy could have been built up a bit more; I think that could have made for a deeper story, with more room for growth than occurred in this one.

I give this novella 2 stars.  It had potential, but fell a little short for me.

You can find A February Bride HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received a copy of this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

A December Bride - Denise Hunter

Layla O'Reilly has worked hard to make herself acceptable to the people in her town; having lived her life being judged by her neighborhood and her family, she fights to keep up the appearances that will help her new career as a house stager.  When her date falls through to her ex-fiance's wedding, she is forced to accept an offer from his best friend, Seth, so as to not show up alone.  Her desperate plan backfires, however, when Seth announces their engagement to help her save face.  Suddenly, the whole town thinks they're getting married on Christmas Eve, and her business opportunities are expanding.  Can she keep up the farce for the sake of her business?  How can she pretend to be in a relationship with the man who she feels sabotaged her previous engagement?

This novella is short and sweet, yet manage to pack a good bit of character development into a few amount of pages.  We can really feel Layla's need to be accepted by her family and the town, and her desperation to overcome her past and create her own future.  She manages to grow, even in the short amount of time the book covers, to be able to look past her hurt feelings and see that she may have misjudged Seth over his part in her fiance's betrayal.  Layla's cousin, Jessica, only appears briefly in a few scenes, yet the author makes me hate her snootiness.  I was excited to see some familiar characters in this story, Beckett and Madison, from Barefoot Summer, make an appearance - as Beckett is Layla's brother.  Knowing Beckett from the previous novel, I wished for some more depth to their sibling relationship, but that relationship would have been extraneous to the point of this plotline.  Maybe the author will decide to continue these relationships in a later novel - I'd be in for that!

So - another short, sweet romance.  I like romances where the man works to win the woman, and it's not overly sappy or unbelievable.  Seth makes a few grand gestures, but they're not out of line with the the story or his character, and they enhance the plot rather than making me roll my eyes at the over-the-top romantic gestures.  I give this novella 3.5 stars.

A December Bride is the 2nd novella in the Year of Weddings series.  You can find it HERE.
You can find the author's website HERE.

I received this galley from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A January Bride - by Deborah Raney

In this second installment of this year's worth of novellas, Madeleine Houser has been unwillingly transplanted from New York to live in her sister's house while it's being refurbished and to visit their ailing mother in the nursing home.  Finding the construction to be distracting to her deadline of finishing her next novel by January, Maddie agrees to her neighbor's plan that she do her work in the currently underused inn run by the widower Arthur Tyler.  Assuming that Mr. Tyler is an elderly man, she agrees to the plan and finds the inn to be a delightful place to work, made more so by the burgeoning friendship with the inn's owner, forged through written correspondence only.  Mr. Tyler has also assumed the author utilizing his dining room is an elderly lady, but takes enjoyment in their almost daily letters. Will the two ever meet? What will happen to their assumptions, and hearts, should that happen?

I picked this novella for review on a bit of a whim, noticing that several of my favorite authors were included in the year's worth of monthly stories.  I was delightfully surprised to find this such a light, fun read.  While the setting felt a bit contrived for growing their friendship under the guise of each expecting the other to be a senior citizen, the writing of notes was a fresh idea, and I enjoyed the efforts they put into composing them so carefully.  I also enjoyed the book's true octogenarian, the sprightly Ginnie with the twinkle in her eye.

While I wouldn't read this book for depth, a light romance is good for the reader's soul every now and then. I'll be sure to pop back into this series over the year for some more!

You can find A January Bride HERE.
You can  find this installment's author HERE.

I received this e-book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.