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Friday, January 22, 2016

Step By Step

Crisis Team series
Candace Calvert
February 2016
Christian Fiction - Romance

Three years after a tragic accident left her a widow, ER nurse Taylor Cabot is determined to move on. Her relationship with a handsome plastic surgeon gives her hope of stepping back into life. While in San Diego to train community volunteers Seth hopes to learn why Taylor is moving away from the crisis team and their friendship. He is not prepared to see her with another man. When a community crisis hits, emotions run high and truths ooze out. Will they make it through this?

STEP BY STEP is the first book of this series that I have read. Not knowing the back story did not stall the story line at all. Many references to older books were made so that the reader could jump right in. It is a well written, easily flowing story line. I will look up other books in this series in order to know Taylor and Seth better.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4

The Great Christmas Knit-Off

Alexandra Brown
December 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-238980-0
Harper Collins

Sybil has always taken comfort in knitting and creating beautiful garments. But when her fiancé ditches her for her identical twin sister, things go from bad to worse. She also may be losing her job. To escape, she sets off to visit her friend Cher in Tindledale, a winter wonderland of quaint shops and snowy rooftops. Sybil is embraced by the town and when the owner of a vintage clothing boutique asks her to make an assortment of knits for their display window, she is thrilled. Hoping to heal her broken heart, the town doctor has even taken an interest in her. But right when she thinks things will be ok, her whole life begins to unravel.

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS KNIT-OFF takes a few chapters to figure out what is going on. The characters are very likable but the setting is a little odd at first. Soon, you feel like you have been taken back into time and the rest of the story flows nicely. It was a fun read.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 3

To Helvetica and Back

A Dangerous Type Mystery
Paige Shelton
January 2016
ISBN: 978-0-425-27725-6

Star City is known for its slopes and powder. Nestled in the valley of this ski resort town is a side street full of shops that specialize in the simple charms of a time gone by. One of those shops is The Rescued Word, where Chester Henry and his granddaughter, Clare, lovingly repair old typewriters and restore old books. When a stranger in town demands they turn over an antique Underwood typewriter they are repairing, Clare feels she may need to be the one rescued. Later when the man's body is found in the back alley, Clare begins to wonder what did he really want with that typewriter?

TO HELVETICA AND BACK is the first in a new series full of family connections and old time charm. An easy read that flows well with characters that feel like old friends and a story line that connects easily, this series will soon be one of your favorite. A wonderful new read!

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4


A White House Chef Mystery
Julie Hyzy
ISBN: 978-0-425-26240-5
January 2016

White House executive chef Ollie Paras has served plenty of meals but things are starting to heat up for her. News of a bombing and attempted breakout at a federal prison reveals that the brother of a terrorist she helped to defeat is back with a vengeance. After she gets mugged, Ollie wonders if she is now a target. When a White House staff member is murdered, the officials know there is a security breach. Now Ollie is going to have to trade in her apron for a bullet proof vest.

FOREIGN ECLAIRS is a wonderful addition to the White House Chef Mystery series. Be prepared though, the ending will leave you hanging from a cliff. I have read this series since the beginning and have never been disappointed. This one is no exception! Ollie is a strong woman that we all can envy, except when she is being mugged......

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4

Daisies for Innocence

An Enchanted Garden Mystery
Bailey Cattrell
January 2016
ISBN: 978-0-451-47688-3

Ellie's life has blossomed in Poppyville, CA, since she opened Scents and Nonsense, a custom made perfume store. Her skills with herbal essences seem almost supernatural. Customers are flocking to her store to buy her wares or to sit in her garden, sip tea, and enjoy the homemade cookies. However, she knows there will be trouble when she finds out her part time assistant, Josie, is dating her ex. Before she can warn the girl, she finds her dead in the Enchanted Garden. Now she is the prime suspect and needs to search for the real culprit in Josie's past. Not an easy feat.

DAISIES FOR INNOCENCE is the first in a new series. It is well written, flows at a steady pace and introduces you to characters that you want as friends. It was easy to become immersed in the story line and to be surprised at the ending. I am eagerly awaiting the next release to this one.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4


An Olive Grove Mystery
Kelly Lane
January 2016

After leaving a man at the altar for the second time in her life, Eva Knox decides she needs to head home and regroup. But going home is not easy, people have not forgotten or forgiven her for leaving local boy Buck Tanner at the altar eighteen years ago. A death on her family's farm soon makes her the lead suspect and the sheriff investigating is none other than Eva's old flame Buck. With the police putting the squeeze on her, Eva and her sisters will have to step up to the plate before Eva is the next victim.

ONE FOOT IN THE GROVE is the first in a new series. With a beautiful setting, true small town story line, and strong women as characters, it has all the ingredients of a good mystery. A little slow getting started, the ending makes up for it. I look forward to the next installment.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 3

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


The Brides of Bliss County
Linda Lael Miller
ISBN:  978-0373779086
October 2015
Contemporary Romance

This latest book in the popular Brides of Bliss County series tells the story of Charlotte Morgan, living in New York City as a successful advertising staffer.  Born and raised in Mustang Creek, Wyoming she has worked hard to escape her small town roots.  When she finds herself without a job, the hustle and bustle of the big city and the impersonal part of her life are too much and she packs up and goes home.

Charlotte has been raised by her great-aunt Geneva who has moved to assisted living after experiencing memory problems.  Her ark of a house is ready for Charlotte and her aunt’s friend, Millicent Klozz, is staying there with Mutley and Can-Can, her aunt’s pets.  Mrs. Klozz is a wonderful cook and the descriptions of her baked goods and meals are a bonus of this book

There is one regret that Charlotte has about New York City and it involves a veterinarian, Jaxon Locke, whom she met online.  His life was not focused on the city and they break up when he wants to return out west.  What Charlotte does not know is that he has tracked her to Mustang Creek and has taken a job with a local vet.  When they meet at the local inn, in a snowstorm, Charlotte is immediately suspicious of the handsome and charming Dr. Locke and wonders why he is showing up in her small hometown.

This charming story gets more and more interesting with many interventions from Mrs. Klozz and Aunt Geneva.  Jaxon and Charlotte are thrown together constantly in and out of the house.  This charming Christmas story is a very satisfying read that catches us up to the “brides” of previous books.  No one tells a holiday story quite like Linda Lael Miller and this one will not disappoint.  I read this in one sitting!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:  4


A Blue Heron Novel
Kristan Higgins
ISBN:  978-0-373-78908-5
January 2016
Contemporary Romance

The latest in the Blue Heron series gives us Connor O’Rourke’s story.  A talented chef and the co-owner of a successful bar and grill with his sister Colleen, Connor has nurtured his love for Jessica Dunn for over ten years.  He has had many roadblocks in the relationship, most notably Jessica’s insistence that he really doesn’t love her and their relationship can go nowhere.  The book begins with Connor proposing to Jessica and her casual denial, dismissing his serious intent.  At least Jessica wants you to think it is casual.  Readers soon learn otherwise.

Jessica, who I completely adored, is a complicated young woman.  Raised in an affluent town by poor trailer trash severely alcoholic parents, she has been the parent to her younger brother for most of her life.  Handicapped and prone to rage, Davey is her complete responsibility.  Her mother has died and her father has disappeared, likely lost in his alcoholic misery.  Jessica works as a waitress and has managed to rent a small house for herself and Davey.  She expects to spend the rest of her life caring for him.

Connor has an unfortunate history with the Dunn family, having been mauled by the family pit bull when he rode his bike by their house.  Jessica’s father blamed Connor for the dog being removed by animal control and unfortunately Davey specifically blames Connor.  His attempts years later, to woo Davey through cooking and picking out a dog are hilarious and creative.

Swirling around in the book are all the past characters from favorite Blue Heron books including Connor and Colleen’s divorced parents, Colleen and Lucas, the whole family from the vineyard, the Manningsport Animal Shelter, and all the other colorful and zany characters we’ve known and loved.

This story made me laugh and cry and through it all, cheering heartily for the gutsy young woman who is trying so hard to pull herself up from her beginnings.  Connor just wants her to believe that he loves her.  This all makes for a wonderfully entertaining book filled with humor and proof of the power of love.  Thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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Reviewed by:  Jeri Neal
Rating:  4 1/2

Sunday, January 10, 2016

                                               HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL

Now that The Romance Readers' Connection is back to it's standard Review Postings, you'll see that we have got quite a few reviews to post. We'll be issuing reviews that were delayed because our schedules did not allow us to get them out by the book's release date. You'll see these shortly and I know you'll be wondering why you're seeing reviews from last spring and summer but the intention is to not ignore a review on any book no matter how long it's been in our possession.

For the more recent reviews, you'll just need to scroll beyond this message. 

2016 promises to be a wonderful year for us booklovers. January alone has some wonderful releases, the latest Julie Hyzy White House Chef Mystery, Joan Johnston's latest Bitter Creek Novel, and historical romances by author Loretta Chase and Megan Frampton. For those of you following  Jennifer Bernard's Love Between The Bases novels there is a new release in that series as well.
We will also at some point address Tiffany Snow's Risky Business books that started in 2015. The latest release in that series is due in stores shortly and I think the story line alone is prompting a lot of discussion. So sit back, relax and experience the winter months in comfort with plenty of great new books to read.

As you can see we will be busy in 2016 so make sure you keep following us.

Until next month,



Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Coral Cove Series (Book 3)
Toni Blake
ISBN #978-0-06-239258-9
December 2015
Contemporary Romance

Jeremy Sheridan is home from the war in Afghanistan. However, suffering from PTSD is keeping him from living, so he decides to leave Destiny, Ohio and head to Coral Cove, Florida to start over. There, he tries to find a place for himself and makes a rather bad start of things. Wanting to give him a chance, Reece helps him with a place to live. Then, Jeremy risks his new found life over a cat.

Tamra Day is designing a new mini golf course for the town as they try to bring life and spark back to Coral Cove. When she spies a homeless man get into a fight and then carted off to jail, she knows her decision to swear off men was right even as she still longs for a relationship. Imagine her shock when the same homeless man shows up to build her golf course! Jeremy Sheridan is not what she had in mind, for that, or for a relationship. Slowly, she unravels the mystery of this new man in town. Sometimes things and people are not as they first appear.

I have been hooked on Toni Blake's books since SUGAR CREEK of her Destiny Series. Each book tends to add onto the other, and the Coral Cove Series is separate but still tied to the first series. Jeremy is Tessa's (WHISPER FALLS) brother. I found the trauma of Jeremy's war experience to be very believable without overwhelming the story. Tamra has kept everyone at arm's length for fear of getting hurt, but she decides to take a chance on someone at the risk of her heart. The attraction is pretty quick, even after Tamra believes him be a horrid person. Once they start peeling back the layers of each other, the sparks fly! I also loved the secondary characters, revisiting a few previous ones, and also the cat. Blake's books make you feel romantic and hopeful. Can't wait for the next one!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Highland Guard Series Book 11
Monica McCarty
Pocket Books
ISBN# 978-1-5011-0870-9
Dec 2015
Historical Romance

When Eoin (pronounced Owen) "Striker" MacLean sets eyes on Margaret MacDowell, he can't get her out of his head. Beautiful and spirited, she is also the daughter of his enemy. Try as he might, he can't stay away from her, giving her his heart and his name, even as he plans on never telling her he's with Robert the Bruce's Highland Guard. After he secretly marries her, he leaves her with his family as he heads off time and again for Robert. He never thinks one day she would betray him.

Maggie fell hard for Eoin, loving him with all she had. Yet, each time he leaves her, his family and his friend make it impossible to stay. So she leaves to go back to her home, unaware the chain of events that are set in motion, one of which leads to Eoin's death. Pregnant and in heartbreak, she is forced to raise her son alongside her father, who teaches him how to hate. Maggie agrees to marry again after six years, but on the day of the wedding, she comes face to face with her long dead husband, Eoin, who is very much alive.

Eoin has so much bitterness over his wife's betrayal, he's let her believe he was dead all these years, but now, he cannot let her marry another. Forced to come to terms with their past, their heartbreak and their subsequent reunion, Eoin and Maggie work together to try and get their son away from her father. Being together also makes them realize that they never stopped loving each other, but surrounded with so much misunderstanding and heartache, will they be able to open up to each other, or is it too much to overcome?

I enjoyed reading some previous books in this series about the Highland Guard. McCarty has done a lot of historical research of Robert the Bruce (who incidentally is an ancestor of mine) and it shows in her plots and storylines. Eoin is a hard man, sworn fealty to the would be King. However, keeping his wife aside, not talking to her, leaving her to fend for herself makes him a little less likable. Maggie is a bit of a wild child, often mistaken for a loose woman by her manner of dress and appearance. This is one of the things that draws Eoin to her. I found that if these two ever talked to each other at the beginning, it would have saved them six years of heartache and their marriage. The story opens up present day, switches to seven years prior, and then swings back to present. A lot goes on in this historical romance, especially historical elements, which may or may not be everyone's cup of tea. All in all, a good read that I couldn't put down.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4