A Broken Bone

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Melinda Leigh

General Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Published November 3, 2020 by Montlake

On Widow’s Island, the secrets are dark…and everybody has one. So when Deputy Tessa Black responds to a call about an explosion in a quiet neighborhood, she gets more than she bargained for: the body of a teen who went missing weeks ago.

Until recently, Gavin was living in a reputable foster home. But now that he is found dead—Tessa can’t help but wonder if sinister forces are at play. Who would want to hurt him, and why?

With the help of her partner, Park Ranger Logan Wilde, Tessa tries desperately to decipher what happened to Gavin before another life is cut short. Someone on Widow’s Island knows the explosive truth. Will Tessa find the answers she needs before someone else turns up dead?

My Thoughts:

This book is not a stand alone book. I highly recommend reading the previous 5 before reading this one. In the 6th book of the Widow’s Island series we switch back to Tessa and Logan’s story. We have the usual murder to solve and I was surprised by the resolution of that problem. I didn’t figure out who the murderer was before it was revealed in the book. I really liked how Tessa and Logan’s relationship is played out and portrayed, although I was a little confused that he was consistently her back up. Maybe in his role as a forest ranger it was okay? But I digress. Logan is a companion that grounds Tessa and keeps her going. Dementia is a hard, hard disease. We had my husband’s grandmother with us for one week while arrangements were being made for her care and it was a very difficult week. We didn’t know what to expect from one moment to the next, if she would know us, if she wouldn’t and how she would react. Ms. Leigh did a good job of showing the beginnings of the disease with Tessa’s mom in this book and previous ones. I enjoyed how the book ended.

Below the Bones

⭐⭐⭐

Kendra Elliot

General Fiction, Mystery, Romance

Published October 27, 2020 by Montlake

Former FBI special agent Cate Wilde is a new bakery and bookstore owner—and retirement is now complete with a doctor boyfriend. Although she struggles with PTSD, the sweet life she’s living is a far cry from the gruesome work she left behind six months ago.

But when skeletal remains turn up on Widow’s Island—and the MO of the killer is too familiar to Cate—the dream comes to an abrupt end. What if the case she solved eight years ago isn’t as closed as she thought? Her hometown needs her, and despite her mental health and her boyfriend’s protests, she has no choice but to return to her dangerous past life.

Soon Cate is in a desperate race to stop a cold-blooded murderer from killing again, once and for all…only this time, she’ll have so much more to lose.

My Thoughts:

First off, this is not a stand alone book. You will be lost if you haven’t read the previous 4 novellas.

This one is hard to review. Because I can’t tell if the novella was lackluster or if I was so distracted by events all around me that I couldn’t concentrate on it. I listened to the majority of the book on Election Day and I would find myself tuning out and then having to rewind to try and listen again. I don’t think it pulled me in as much as the previous 4 books did. The relationships between the characters was barely there. There was a internal dialog with Cate as she tried to decide what to do about the FBI, and in turn the murder, but not much dialog between her and the other characters.

I have alternately listened/read the previous 4 books so I know I have heard the narrator, Christine Williams, before but this time I thought her performance was lackluster as well.

I remain a fan of Ms. Elliot, but I don’t think this was her best.

Christmas at the Island Hotel

⭐⭐⭐

Jenny Colgan

On the tiny, beautiful, and remote island of Mure, halfway between Scotland and Norway, a new hotel opening is a big event. New mother Flora MacKenzie and her brother Fintan are working themselves half to death to get it ready in time for Christmas. 

The new hotel’s impressive kitchens throw together two unlikely new friends: Isla Gregor is the hardworking young girl who has been a waitress in the island’s cafe, dreaming of a bigger, better life now that she’s at a proper fancy hotel. Konstantin Pederson is working his way up in the hotel’s kitchens too…but he is also, secretly, the only son of the Duke of Utsire. Konstantin has been sent to learn what it is to work hard for a living, before receiving his inheritance. Although he’s initially resentful, the place grows on him; he has never met anyone quite like Isla and her fellow Murians before. 

As the island’s residents and special VIP guests gather for the hotel’s grand opening gala, Christmas is in the air. But so are more than a few small-town secrets.

My Thoughts:

The 4th book in Jenny Colgan’s Mure series is a fun read. Predictable, but fun. It was nice to revisit the island and all the characters you have gotten to know in the previous 3 books plus a few new ones.  This is not a stand alone book. Lots of characters, lots of backstory, so you will be lost if you haven’t read the first 3.

A big thank you to #JennyColgan, #NetGalley and #WilliamMorrow for providing a free Advance Reader Copy. This is my honest opinion.

Love Your Life

⭐⭐⭐

Sophie Kinsella

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities–Ava and Matt–must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

My Thoughts:

I really liked it at first. I struggled through the middle and thought the end was good. Ava and Matt immediately connect and all is well until they go back to real life. Then the problems start.  Ava was optimistic and positive to a fault. I felt like it got bogged down in the middle because it was like listening to a teenager talk about the boy she just met, how they are in love, their going to get married. Obstacles? Bah! They don’t matter because they are in LUUUV. It might have been in the wrong mood when I was reading, but I thought it  was obnoxious, unrealistic and over the top. Any time the main characters group of friends voiced their objections to her  I was nodding right along with them. But, I’m glad I kept going. The characters grow up a little along the way and I ended up liking the choices Ava makes. The end was really sweet and really enjoyed her friends. 

A big thank you to #SophieKinsella, #NetGalley and #DialPress for providing a free Advance Reader Copy. This is my honest opinion.

The Lost Love Song

⭐⭐⭐

Minnie Darke

Concert pianist Diana is finally ready to marry her longtime fiance, Arie; she’s even composing a beautiful love song for him, and finishes it while on tour. Before she can play it for him, though, tragedy strikes–and Diana is lost to Arie forever.

But her song might not be.

In Australia, the world has gone quiet for Arie and he lives his life accordingly, struggling to cope with his loss. In Scotland, a woman named Evie is taking stock of her life after the end of another lackluster almost-relationship. Years of wandering the globe and failing to publish her poetry have taken their toll, and she might finally be ready to find what her travels have never been able to give her: a real home. And through a quirk of fate or circumstance, Diana’s song is passed from musician to musician. By winding its way around the world, it just might bring these two lost souls together.

With heart-wrenching emotion, The Last Love Song explores what it means to be lost, what it means to be found, and the power of music to bring people together.

My Thoughts:

This book is very character driven and holy moly there are a lot of characters to keep track of. For the length of this book I felt the main characters’ backgrounds should have been developed a bit more so I really knew who they were, but not knowing the backgrounds better didn’t stop my heart from breaking a bit when tragedy strikes. That said, it was an enjoyable read and had a sweet ending.

A big thank you to #MinnieDarke, #NetGalley and #BallantineBooks for providing a free Advance Reader Copy. This is my honest opinion.

In a Holidaze

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Christina Lauren

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.

But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.

The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

My Thoughts:

A fun start to the 2020 Holiday season. Going home after a disastrous Christmas break Maelyn wishes she could know what would make her happy. That was the beginning of a groundhog-esque Christmas adventure. Reading about Maelyn’s repeated attempts to “get it right” was fun and there were some laugh out loud moments. The romance was pretty rushed and while I realize there were some time constraints (the book takes place during the week of Christmas) it felt too abrupt and out of the blue. But I am a sucker for a happy ending. I love it when my books end with everything wrapped in a tidy bow, so the ending made me happy and I was willing to let some things slide. 

A big thank you to #ChristinaLauren, #NetGalley and #GalleryBooks for providing a free Advance Reader Copy. This is my honest opinion.

Amish Christmas Twins

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Shelly Shepard GrayRachel J. Good,  Loree Lough

THE CHRISTMAS NOT-WISH

Shelley Shepard Gray

When the foster parents they’ve cautiously grown to love discover they’re expecting, orphaned Roy and Jemima Fisher, ages six and seven, are secretly devastated by the certainty they’ll be given up. With Christmas around the corner, their only wish is for new foster parents as nice as Mr. and Mrs. Kurtz. Meanwhile, the Kurtzes have wishes of their own–and with faith, they all may be gifted with twice the blessings.

NEW BEGINNINGS 

Rachel J. Good

Still grieving the loss of her husband and unborn baby in an accident several months ago, Elizabeth Yoder is oblivious to her neighbor Luke Bontrager’s deepening affection for her. But while she bleakly faces Christmas alone, it’s Luke who reminds her it’s the season for giving. And when Elizabeth donates her handmade baby clothes to New Beginnings, a home for teen moms, she soon finds her gifts repaid beyond measure, with Luke’s love–and new beginnings of their own.

TWINS TIMES TWO 

Loree Lough

What happens when two secretive, stubborn people find themselves thrown together to help four rascally youngsters–twins times two!–create a Christmas surprise for their parents? Mischief and mayhem, and just maybe . . . love!

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed these novellas. I was looking for something uplifting, where I wouldn’t have to wince at the language or skip over the sex scenes. This book fit those requirements. I can probably count on one hand how many books I’ve read that fall under the Amish category, but I am going to seek out more books by these authors. It was a heartwarming and happy read. During the last two stories I was a little frustrated and thought “Just talk to each other already!” But what romance is complete without a little angst?

A big thank you to the authors, #NetGalley and #KensingtonPublishing for providing a free Advance Reader Copy. This is my honest opinion.

See Her Die

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Melinda Leigh

New sheriff Bree Taggert is called to a shooting in a campground shuttered for the winter. But she arrives to find a perplexing crime. There is no shooter, no victim, and no blood. No one but Bree believes the sole witness, Alyssa, a homeless teenager who insists she saw her friend shot.

Bree calls in former deputy Matt Flynn and his K-9 to track the killer and search for Alyssa’s friend. They discover the battered corpse of a missing university student under the ice in Grey Lake—but it’s not the victim they were looking for.

When two more students go missing and additional bodies turn up, Bree must find the link between the victims. She knows only one thing for certain: the murders are fueled by rage. When Alyssa disappears, Bree must race against time to find her before her witness becomes another victim.

My Thoughts:

Another great book from an author who is becoming a favorite of mine. The second book in the Bree Taggert series kept me guessing to the very end. I was having an anxiety filled day and who would have guessed a murder mystery would put the smile back on my face.  I love the characters of Bree and Matt. They are honest with themselves, each other and the story picks up shortly after the first one left off. I like how the conflict between Matt and Jim was resolved as well. This could be read as a stand alone, but I wouldn’t recommend it. You would miss too much of the backstory of just about everyone. I can’t wait for the next one. 

Miss Janie’s Girls

⭐⭐⭐

Carolyn Brown

A bittersweet reunion becomes a time for looking back and starting over in a heartwarming new novel from New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown.
Miss Janie is at the end of a long and full life, but she has no intention of crossing that finish line until she’s found her girls…

It’s been ten years since Teresa and Kayla shook off the dust of Birthright, Texas, went their separate ways, and never looked back. Apart from their foster mom, Miss Janie, they don’t have many fond memories of their hometown. Or of each other. Still, neither can forget the kind woman who opened her home and heart to two teenagers in need.

When a private investigator—who just happens to be Miss Janie’s handsome nephew—tracks them both down and tells them Miss Janie is dying, Teresa and Kayla know deep down that they’ve got to be there for her as she had been there for them.

With Teresa and Kayla together again under the same roof, old tensions may flare, but with Miss Janie’s help, they might rediscover that home is the perfect place for new beginnings.
My Thoughts:This was enjoyable and quick to read while I traveled. A lot of it was about perspective, how our past can shape us, hold us back, or propel a person forward. The chains of the past are pretty heavy for Teresa and Kayla. They come home reluctantly, and embarrassed, about where life has led them and the choices they’ve made. It’s Miss Janie’s, the only positive mother figure they have ever known, dying wish to have her girls home again. We journey with them as they discover truths about themselves, their past and find the courage to trust again. A light, clean read with a happily ever after ending. 

Return to Virgin River

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Robyn Carr

Kaylee Sloan’s home in Southern California is full of wonderful memories of the woman who raised her. But the memories are prolonging her grief over her mother’s recent death. A successful author, Kaylee hoped she could pour herself into her work. Instead she has terrible writer’s block and a looming deadline.

Determined to escape distractions and avoid the holiday season, Kaylee borrows a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing, and as she drives north through the mountains and the majestic redwoods, she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local watering hole is the heart of the town, and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a friend—or a stranger—in need.

Kaylee’s world is expanding in ways she never dreamed possible. And when she rescues a kitten followed by a dog with a litter of puppies, she finds her heart opening up to the animals who need her. And then there’s the dog trainer who knows exactly how to help her. As the holidays approach, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Virgin River.

My Thoughts:

It is hard to top the first few books in the Virgin River series. I fell in love with Mel and Jack, Preacher and Paige, and Brie and Mike and loved it when I could visit Virgin River again through Kaylee’s eyes. Kaylee has lost her mom and has a complicated relationship with her dad. She’s come to Virgin River to grieve and to hopefully write again. But life is what happens when you are busy making plans! 
This is a stand alone book, but readers who are not familiar with the series will be a little lost with all the names and couples that are referenced. I *have* read the whole series and I occasionally had to reference previous books so I could remember who was being talked about.  Kaylee’s and Landry’s story was lovely to read. It was believable and I was pretty surprised by the bump in their road to romance. The only thing that I didn’t find to be believable was how fast Kaylee got over her fear of dogs. But that is getting pretty picky. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a light read or an escape to the pine scented mountains of Virgin River. 

A big thank you to #RobynCarr, #Mira, and #NetGalley for providing a free Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review.
#ReturntoVirginRiver