The Sweet Life by Suzanne Woods Fisher

MY REVIEW:

Dawn has had a difficult year, what with losing her dad and throwing herself into her work in order to achieve the goal of a partnership in her firm. When her fiancé cancels the wedding, Dawn runs to her mom for comfort only to find out that her mother is recovering from cancer surgery without telling Dawn about it. When Kevin offers the already paid for honeymoon reservations in Cape Cod to Dawn and a friend, she chooses to take her mother. And that is where the fun begins!

I was totally entranced by this book from the beautifully described Cape Cod setting, to the volatile yet loving relationship between Dawn and her mother Marnie, to the wonderfully quaint and quirky characters scattered throughout the tale, and finally to the spiritual and personal growth that took place in more than one character.

The Sweet Life is the perfect book to settle in with on a summer afternoon. It would pair well with a nice cold and tasty bowl of your favorite ice cream. Doesn’t that cover tempt you to grab a bowl immediately? One warning though. Ice cream plays a major role in this story so be prepared to be tempted more than once.

I loved my visit to Cape Cod and sincerely hope that the author will take her readers there again soon.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Book: The Sweet Life

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release date: May 3, 2022

Click here to get your copy!

Jilted by her fiancé, Dawn Dixon escapes to beautiful Cape Cod on a groomless honeymoon–with her mother. But she didn’t expect her mom to risk everything, on a whim, to move there permanently or buy a rundown ice cream shop in need of repair. In order to make their new life work, they’ll also need her ex’s help.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

With over 1.5 million copies sold, Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of over 30 books, ranging from novels to children’s books to non-fiction. She is a Christy Award finalist, a winner of Carol and Selah awards, and a two-time finalist for ECPA Book of the Year. She writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. Suzanne lives with her very big family in northern California.

MORE FROM SUZANNE:

The Sweet Life is a story about a mom and a daughter who, both in need of a little respite from life’s bumps and bruises, start an ice cream shop on Cape Cod…thinking it will be easy. After all, who doesn’t love ice cream?

Well, sure. That’s true. Everybody loves ice cream. But ice cream can be tricky. This I can say with authority. My husband is a serious hobby ice cream maker. He even attended Penn State’s Ice Cream School. While Steve was working on his vanilla recipe, he experimented fifty-nine times before he was finally satisfied. 59 times! Other flavors, like chocolate, can mask mistakes. Not vanilla. Too pure.

Here’s a few other things you probably didn’t know about ice cream:

The very first mention of a frozen dessert dates back to Persia in 550 BC, though it might have been sorbet-like. It’s said that Emperor Nero had ice brought down from the Apennine Mountains to produce a sorbet of honey and wine. And then there are those who insist that ice cream came out of China, and were introduced to Italy with the help of Marco Polo. Regardless of its origins, a love of ice cream has been around for a very, very long time.

Quaker colonists introduced ice cream to early America, having brought their recipes with them from England. Some argue that the French brought ice cream to America. Regardless, during the colonial era, ice cream was sold in shops in New York.

George Washington loved ice cream. So much so that he even brought ice cream making equipment to Mount Vernon! There are many accounts of “ice creem” (as it was then called) served during his administration.

First Lady Dolley Madison, wife of U.S. President James Madison, served ice cream at her husband’s Inaugural Ball in 1813. Common colonial flavors were soft fruits, like peaches or strawberries, added to a vanilla custard. Dolley had a curious favorite flavor: oyster. (Ugh.)

In September of 1846, a Philadelphia house wife named Nancy Johnson filed patent #3254 for a simple hand cranked ice cream churn. Prior to this point, ice cream belonged to the wealthy. Her hand cranked ice cream churn made it affordable for everyone. Nancy Johnson’s design is still used today.

During the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, an ice cream vendor ran out of cardboard dishes. The vendor next door offered to make cones by rolling up his waffles. Voila! The birth of the ice cream cone.

The majority of American ice cream companies have been in business for more than 50 years. Many of them are still owned by single families.

For the last 128 years, Penn State University has held Ice Cream School for professionals and serious hobbyists during January (for obvious reasons). All the greats have attended: Baskin & Robbins, Ben & Jerry, Dreyer’s, Nestle’s, Blue Bell Creamery, Dairy Queen, and…my husband.

The most popular flavor in the world? Vanilla. Of course.

BLOG STOPS:

 

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1e36c/the-sweet-life-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Night Songs by Jennifer Sienes

MY REVIEW:

She married the wrong brother for all the wrong reasons so Charlie blames herself for everything that has gone wrong in her life. Two miscarriages and a cheating husband must surely be her fault, right?

After losing her lucrative home decorator job and with no other choices left, Charlie returns to her grandmother’s house where she was raised after the deaths of her missionary parents. No job, very little money, but full of determination, Charlie decides to fix up the deteriorating house with her limited budget and her grandparents’ furniture.

There was one fly in the ointment though – Derek, her husband’s brother was back home next door and his presence was a mixed blessing. After all she was still married and angry with Nick as she was, the last thing she needed was to let herself become involved with Derek.

Night Songs was an emotional story that probed deeply into the wounded hearts of its characters. Charlie, Derek, and Nick were forced to do some soul searching in order to make the proper decisions about the remainder of their lives. Faith, forgiveness, and loyalty were important components of the plot. A bit of mystery woven into the tale added even more depth and interest to it.

I liked the integrity that Derek showed in his interactions with both Charlie and Nick. No matter what his true feelings were, his aim was to do what was best for his brother and Charlie. I also loved the Southern setting which was totally authentic. As a lifetime Tennessean, I should know!

This was my first book by Jennifer Sienes but I will certainly be checking out her other books when I have time to read them.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Book: Night Songs

Author: Jennifer Sienes

Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction/ Romance

Release date: April 12, 2022

Click here to get your copy!

What’s a girl to do when her life sounds ripped from the lyrics of a country music song?

Charlotte Van Cleave’s hissy-fit reaction to her husband’s infidelity sours her world like a pot of boiled chitlins. She’s left with no husband, no job, and no home—well, besides the dilapidated farmhouse inherited from her nana.

But Charlie learned early that southern girls dig deep when things go sideways. She’d climbed out of the mire when her missionary parents were killed in Congo, endured two late-term miscarriages, and survived the death of her nana and papaw. Too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash, Charlie follows a new path with her interior design skills.

Derek Daniels spent his life serving his country until a helicopter accident ended his military career. Now back home on the family farm, he’s stuck between his philandering brother, Nicky, and the only girl he’s ever loved—sweet Charlie Van Cleave. Unwilling to cross a line, he vows to keep his feelings to himself. Easier said than done when Charlie discovers a mystery surrounding her parents’ death and asks him to help investigate.

What’ll Charlie and Derek have to do to turn those lyrics into a country hit?

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Sienes holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education, but discovered life-experience is the best teacher. She loves Jesus, romance and writing—and puts it altogether in inspirational contemporary fiction. Her daughter’s TBI and brother’s suicide inspired two of her three novels. Although fiction writing is her real love, she’s had several non-fiction pieces published in anthologies including several in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She has two grown children and one very spoiled Maltese. California born and raised, she recently took a step of faith with her real-life hero and relocated to Tennessee.

MORE FROM JENNIFER:

I love everything about the South. The seasons are more vibrant, the pace is slower, and the hospitality warmer than what I’ve previously experienced. I wasn’t born and raised here, but I’ve always felt an affinity for it. When my husband and I relocated from Northern California to middle Tennessee over three years ago, I was happier than ol’ Blue layin’ on the porch chewin’ on a big ol’ catfish head. Yes, there are times we need a translator, but we’re quick studies.

Setting is an important element of storytelling, whether it’s fictional or true. I will be the first person to tell you, I don’t have much imagination. I don’t read or write fantasy or sci-fi because I can’t picture myself in the story. I am in awe of writers who are able to create an alternate world in their minds and then share it in a story. Me? I need to see it to write it.

For that reason, I was very excited about how this move from the only place I’ve ever known to one I’d dreamt about most of my life would impact my novels and novellas. We landed here in the middle of July to magnolia trees with waxy leaves as big as my head and sweet-smelling white blossoms I couldn’t enclose in both hands. Mockingbirds chattering all hours of the day (and a lone guy at night), bright red cardinals flitting from tree to tree, and even an armadillo or two lumbering across our yard.

The character of Charlotte Van Cleave (Charlie) was born out of my imagination. Why I can create fake people but not fake settings is anyone’s guess. Her nana and pawpaw’s dilapidated farmhouse is a real home that had been abandoned outside the city limits of Shelbyville, Tennessee—in Bedford County, which is also the title of the series. I saw the house through a real estate website, and fortunately for me, it was empty. My husband and I snuck around the perimeter looking through broken widows to get a feel for the place. It didn’t hurt that there were several photos on the website, as well.

The rest of the story came in fits and starts. I first decided on Charlie’s personality, because if I know that, it’s easier to trip her up with all manner of chaos. If you’re familiar with the enneagram personality indicator, she’s a three—the Achiever. The other main character, Derek Daniels, is a six—the Loyalist. Throw in missionary parents, sibling rivalry, and southern culture and a story was born.

While I was working on Night Songs the mockingbirds were particularly active. They’re the Tennessee state bird, so they’re always around, but it’s only during the mating season they are vocal. I was lying awake in the middle of the night, and I heard one of them singing. I’d only ever heard them during the day, so I was surprised. Why would a lone mockingbird be singing at night? What I learned after a little research is that only those who are mate-less will do this. It made me sad to hear the little guy over the next several nights, pouring out his heart. Not unlike Charlie Van Cleave. Thus, a title was born.

BLOG STOPS:

 

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card & a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1db53/night-songs-celebration-tour-giveaway

Persuade Me by Joanne Markey

MY REVIEW:

I hate to admit it but my literature education is woefully inadequate. Yes, I have probably read thousands of books including War and Peace and Anna Karenina, yet somehow I missed out on the Jane Austen novels. I hope to remedy that some day if I ever catch up on reading the many unread books already in my library. So I find myself unable to actually compare Persuade Me with Austen’s Persuasion. That being said, I did enjoy Persuade Me very much.

Another story about second chances, Persuade Me takes place on an Australian cattle station. A series of unexpected circumstances places Anne Elliot back in the presence of the man she once loved and has never gotten over. Neither of them welcomes the situation but attempt to make the best of it.

With its well paced plot, interesting character, dynamic events, and the always intriguing Australian setting, Persuade Me follows Anne and Fred as they renew their acquaintance. Observing Anne as she struggled to overcome the unhealthy control of her family was encouraging. I loved how she depended on her faith to guide her through her difficulties, even when she was tempted to run from them.

Persuade Me is an excellent novel with a strong message of faith and forgiveness. I highly recommend it.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Book: Persuade Me

Author: Joanne Markey

Genre: Women’s Christian Fiction/Romance

Release date: April 5, 2022

Click here to get your copy!

One horrible misunderstanding. Two heartbroken people.

For seven long years, Anne Elliot of Kellynch Station quietly mourned the loss of her first love. Now that she’s finally over Fred for good, her sister offers the perfect escape: Uppercross.

This move, from one cattle station to another, offers new friends, new responsibilities, and now that she’s out from under her father’s domineering thumb, a whole new world of possibilities.

The sky is the limit.

Or maybe the sky is the perfect place for helicopter mustering pilot Fred Wentworth to spend his days. It took a while for him to regroup after their breakup, but now he’s back, he’s successful, and he’s put the past so far behind him he doesn’t even think about Anne more than a couple dozen times a day.

Life is good.

Or it was until he quite literally runs into the one person he hoped to never see again. After that, what’s a bloke to do other than rethink every lie he’d convinced himself was the truth?

Although they both seem willing to admit they were wrong all those years ago, when things take a bad turn, Anne is left to wonder… Is it too late for a reconciliation?

Persuade Me: Austen’s Persuasion meets the rugged Australian bush—plus dingoes.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Originally from Australia, Joanne Markey now lives in Ohio with her husband and seven children. When she’s not reading or writing, you might find her wandering the property with her kids in search of whatever seasonal treasure they’re trying to find.

MORE FROM jOANNE:

Can a book be partially autobiographical without actually being an autobiography?
 
Probably not. Persuade Me comes close though. Not in it’s entirety, but I did draw heavily on my own life when I wrote this book. Many of the situations that occur in the book were things that happened to me back in the late ‘90s when I worked on a cattle station as station cook. I also set the book in places where we lived—stations we lived or worked on. The autobiographical part ends there though.
 
As a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the family situation in Persuade Me is patterned on the Elliot family, not my own. I was easily able to imagine a family like this living in Australia though. The family pride, boasting of being descended from free settlers, knowing how long the family has been in the country to the exact generation—were all things I ran into as a kid.
 
Not every Australian knows how many generations of the family have lived over there (or cares to know), but in high school there was this one girl… She knew exactly how long her family had been there, and anyone who couldn’t count as many generations of Australians as she could wasn’t as Australian as her. Other people have quite plainly offered the information that their family descended from free settlers, without a single convict in the lineage. Still others can tell the exact year their first ancestor moved to Australia. All I needed was to package all of those things into one prideful being—Mr. Elliot. He doesn’t play a huge role in the story, but his influence can be felt throughout the pages.
 
From there it was easy to imagine him as a grazier—a station owner—who’d run into hard times. His daughter, Anne, is the heroine who has a hidden past, a broken relationship she’d rather not remember. The hero of the story can’t exactly be a ship’s captain, but there is one occupation in the bush that does bring in a lot of money—helicopter mustering—and having gotten into that line of work his personal finances have taken a drastic change for the better. I won’t spoil the story, but the rest followed in like manner.
 
And then came the writing… To craft a uniquely Australian book one has to use Australian terms, phrases, and spellings. And when the author has been living outside the country for 21 years, sometimes it’s hard to remember what words go with what country! We worked it all out in the end though, and if you come across a word that looks like it’s been spelled wrong—it’s the Aussie spelling, which is correct for the setting.
 
I hope you enjoy this contemporary retelling of Persuasion set in the Australian bush. Happy reading!

 

BLOG STOPS:

 

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Joanne is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1d729/persuade-me-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

Shadowed Loyalty by Roseanna M. White

MY REVIEW:

Shadowed Loyalty, latest stand alone novel by Roseanna M. White is a gripping tale where the protagonists must choose where their true loyalty lies. Set in Roaring Twenties Chicago and featuring members of the ruling mafia families, this book illustrates a life where men had two personnas, the loving family man who attended church every Sunday and the crime boss who would do almost anything to stay at the top – perhaps even murder.

It was interesting to me how the women of the families seemed to turn blind eyes to how their husbands and fathers made their livings. It had to be nerve-wracking to always wonder if their husband would come home that evening or could he be a victim of a street shooting, a police raid, etc.  Sabina Mancari was one such woman. The daughter of the leading mob boss, she had been sheltered and had never actually given it much thought until she met the truth face to face. Knowing the truth, it was up to her whether to make the right decision about her own life.

From the very first page, my interest was captured. The plot moved at a steady pace with plenty of action and suspense and numerous twists and surprises. Although I thought Sabina was a spoiled and fickle young woman at first, I was pleased to observe her growing maturity as the story progressed. I liked Lorenzo somewhat better but in his zeal to protect Sabina, he actually hurt her.

Shadowed Loyalty is  a wonderful story with all the necessary elements to satisfy me. A sometimes emotional tale, it delves into family dynamics and true faith. It is definitely well worth picking up a copy.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Chrism Press?. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Sabina Mancari never questioned her life as the daughter of Chicago’s leading mob boss until bullets tear apart her world and the man she thought she loved turns out to be an undercover Prohibition agent. Ambushes, bribes, murder, prostitution—all her life, her father sheltered her from his crimes, but now she can no longer turn away from the truth. Maybe Lorenzo, the fiancé who barely paid her any attention in the last two years, has the right idea by planning to escape their world. But can she truly turn her back on her family?
 
All his life, Lorenzo’s family assumed he would become a priest, but he has different ideas—marrying Sabina and pursuing a career in the law. Despite his morals, he knows at the core he isn’t so unlike his mafiosi father and brothers. Has he, in trying to protect Sabina, forced her into the arms of the Prohibition agent bent on tearing her family apart? How can they rebuild what has so long been neglected and do it in the shadow of the dark empire of the Mafia?
 
Shadowed Loyalty, set amid the glitz and scandal of the Roaring Twenties, examines what love really means and how we draw lines between family and our own convictions, especially when following one could mean losing the other.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Roseanna M. White is a bestselling, Christy Award winning author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, editing, designing book covers, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books…to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

GIVEAWAY:

 

One lucky winner, to be drawn on June 3, 2022, will receive:

A set of the art deco dangling earrings featured on the book cover
A tin of Italian pastries
A seat at the July Tea Party Book Club where we chat about the book!

Enter between now and June 2 using the form at this link!

 

A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti

 

Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for A Strike to the Heart by Danielle Grandinetti, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

MY REVIEW:

A Strike to the Heart is an intense historical suspense novel that leaps into action from the very beginning when a rescue mission goes terribly wrong and Miles Wright loses several of his team members. To make things even more difficult, the woman he managed to rescue despite the odds is exceptionally stubborn and uncooperative. How in the world will he manage to keep her safe?

Set during the early 1930s in Wisconsin dairy country, this book weaves a twisted path through its well developed plot and raises multiple questions along the way. Multiple characters make it hard to determine just who Miles and Lily can trust, especially when they are unsure why she has been targeted. Even family members are suspect!

I enjoyed learning more about the dairy wars as I attempted to help Miles and Lily solve the case. I truly became that absorbed in the tale.

I would highly recommend A Strike to the Heart to all who love both historical and suspense novels. It is worth your time. I look forward to more novels by this new-to-me author.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by Just Read Tours. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by JustReads Publicity. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Title: A Strike to the Heart

Series: Strike to the Heart #1

Author: Danielle Grandinetti

Publisher: Iron Stream Media

Release Date: April 12, 2022

Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense

 

She’s fiercely independent. He’s determined to protect her.

Wisconsin, 1933?When a routine mission becomes an ambush that kills his team, Craft Agency sniper Miles Wright determines to find the persons responsible and protect the woman he rescued. But the fierce independence that led Lily Moore to leave her family’s dairy business for the solitary life of a dog trainer and the isolation of her farm don’t make that easy. Neither does his unwanted attraction to her. Meanwhile, escalating incidents confirm that she’s far from safe.

Lily fears letting the surprisingly gentle retired marine into her life almost as much as she fears whoever is threatening her. As Wisconsin farmers edge toward another milk strike, one that will surely turn violent, it becomes clear that the plot against Lily may be part of a much larger conspiracy. When the search for her abductor leads close to home, she must decide whether to trust her family or the man who saved her life.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository | Christianbook | BookBub

MORE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Danielle Grandinetti is author of To Stand in the Breach and a book blogger at DaniellesWritingSpot.com. Her short stories have appeared in several publications and her writing has won the University of Northwestern Distinguished Faith in Writing Award. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she now lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. Danielle especially loves quiet mornings served with the perfect cup of tea.

CONNECT WITH DANIELLE: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

(1) winner will receive a signed paperback of A Strike to the Heart & $10 Amazon gift card!

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight April 18, 2022 and lasts through 11:59 PM EST on April 25, 2022. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

 

 

Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!

*NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.

Her Darkest Secret by Jessica Patch

MY REVIEW:

Author Jessica R. Patch has seriously upped her game with the first book in her latest series, Strange Crimes Unit, South Division. Most readers might want to avoiding reading Her Darkest Secret right before bedtime or when home alone at night. This intense novel is more than a little creepy and could create nightmares for those who are sensitive.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a graphic or gruesome story. BUT the idea of a stalker/killer who leaves nursery rhymes and a goose feather with his victims is definitely not normal. On the surface Her Darkest Secret is what the title says – dark, but as we Christians know, darkness is overcome by the light. This story is all about how that light overcomes the darkness.

A second chance romance plays a minor role in this awesome tale of forgiveness and redemption. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book and can’t wait for the next installment.

I voluntarily reviewed a digital copy of this book provided by the author through Netgalley. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When a cold-case serial killer returns, FBI special agent Fiona Kelly has one last chance to stop him before he claims the prize he’s always wanted—her.

The sight of a goose feather at a murder scene modeled after a children’s poem is enough to make FBI special agent Fiona Kelly’s blood turn to ice. Almost two decades ago, a feather was left with her sister’s body—and with every subsequent victim of the Nursery Rhyme Killer. Now he’s back. Only this time, his latest gruesome murder is a message to the only one who ever got away: Fiona.

Finding “Rhyme” is an obsession that’s fueled Fiona’s career—and destroyed her marriage to fellow FBI agent Asa Kodiak. Now Fiona and Asa have to put their past tensions aside and work together one last time. But Rhyme is watching, and catching this killer may force Fiona to reveal her biggest, darkest secret…the one only he knows.

Coming June 2022! But you can read it in March 2022 in paperback exclusively through Walmart!

Preorder now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Publishers Weekly Bestselling author Jessica R. Patch is known for her dry wit and signature twists. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, you can find her cozy on the couch in her mid-south home reading books by her favorite authors, watching movies with her family, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Sign up for her newsletter “Patched In” at www.jessicarpatch.com.