Book Review Tuesday: Second Chance Romance by Jill Weatherholt, Keeping Bailey by Dan Walsh #christianromance #christianfiction @JillWeatherholt

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Welcome to another Book Review Tuesday. I shared books from both of these author’s series the end of June. In that post (which you can find HERE ) I mentioned I enjoyed the stories so much, I purchased an additional title in each series. Today, I’m happy to report the new books I picked up are every bit as enchanting as the first. Take a look . . .

BOOK BLURB:

Jackson Daughtry’s jobs as a paramedic and part-owner of a local café keep him busy—but the single dad’s number one priority is raising his little girl with love and small-town values. And when his business partner’s hotshot lawyer niece comes to town planning to disrupt their lives by moving her aunt away, Jackson has to set Melanie Harper straight. When circumstances force them to work side by side in the coffee shop, Jackson slowly discovers what put the sadness in Melanie’s pretty brown eyes. Now it’ll take all his faith—and a hopeful five-year-old—to show the city gal that she’s already home.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a delightful book with characters who quickly become friends. Jackson is a single dad, raising his five-year-old little girl, Rebecca. A paramedic, he’s also business partners with Phoebe in a local café called the Bean. When Phoebe encounters health problems, her niece, Melanie—a high-profile divorce attorney from Washington—shows up to take Phoebe back to D.C. But Phoebe has no intention of leaving the small town of Sweet Gum, and Jackson has no intention of allowing it to happen. Phoebe is family to him, which means Melanie has an adjustment in store.

One that is long overdue. Since losing her husband and children over a year ago, she has buried herself in work and the unfeeling isolation of urban life. Sweet Gum and the people who populate the town are friendly, sociable, and truly care about one another. What’s more, she finds herself falling for Jackson and becoming involved with Rebecca.

Weatherholt writes from the heart, delving into the emotions and tribulations of her characters. A Christian theme is beautifully woven into the story, especially in the character of Melanie who has lost her faith. I loved the relationship between Melanie and Rebecca almost, if not more, than the relationship between Melanie and Jackson. And Aunt Phoebe is a charmer!

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Especially when an unexpected character causes havoc in the last quarter of the book. I loved the HEA ending, and the small-town values. This is a well-written, feel good story that leaves the reader with a smile long after the final page is read. If you want a sweet escape… escape to Sweet Gum with this talented author!

BOOK BLURB:

Through no fault of her own and after spending her entire life with an owner she loves, Bailey’s life is turned upside down. She’s dropped off at the Humane Society where Kim Harper works as the Animal Behavior Manager. Alone and confused, Bailey shuts down completely. She won’t eat or even acknowledge anyone who reaches out to her. Kim knows older dogs are hard to re-home. If Bailey can’t come out of this, it will be impossible.

A retired widow named Rhonda Hawthorne volunteers at the shelter. Rhonda’s dog recently passed away after a long and full life. Rhonda can’t even think about getting another one but hopes doing this will give her a chance to be around dogs, make a small difference in their lives, but without making a permanent commitment. Soon she decides to do whatever she can to help Bailey, before it’s too late.

What life-changing difference will this decision create in her own life? Kim Harper is also wondering about something else…will Ned, the boyfriend she loves, ever get serious and pop the question? Bestselling Author Dan Walsh adds a fourth installment to his fan-favorite Forever Home Series (which begins with Rescuing Finley). Fans of this series and dog lovers everywhere will thoroughly enjoy this touching, emotional tale.

MY REVIEW:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I read a lot of psychological fiction and domestic suspense, but sometimes I just want a simple feel-good story that I know is going to leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling. Keeping Bailey is the fourth book in Dan Walsh’s Forever Home Series. It’s the second book I’ve read in the series, caught up in the lives of a small set of people who populate a tiny town, particularly those centered around the local humane society. This book reads fine as a standalone (each novel is designed that way) but I appreciated it more, having an understanding of a few supporting characters from book three.

Rhonda, the MC in this novel is a widow who has made a decision to volunteer at the humane society. She starts out as a dog walker, then transitions to a foster parent when her path crosses with Bailey, an eleven-year-old dog who suddenly finds herself displaced after her elderly owner has to transition to a nursing home. Because of her age, and some behavioral issues (she doesn’t do well with other dogs or small children), Bailey’s chances of adoption are limited. When placed at the humane society, she shuts down, refusing to interact with others until Rhonda gradually wins her over.

Rhonda’s initial thought is to foster her and help her find a good home, but the more time she spends with Bailey, the more her thought process is altered. It takes a dangerous situation to open Rhonda’s eyes to how Bailey’s future should play out.

I like these books because not only does the author provide POV from the characters, but the reader also gets to experience what the dogs are feeling. I fell in love with Bailey immediately. Her situation tugged on my heart strings. I felt for all of the characters involved. From her previous owner, to Rhonda, to all those who are trying to do right by Bailey, I was invested from start to finish. The ending is beautiful, and brings closure not only for Bailey but for several human characters, too.

If you love animals, and well-deserved HEA’s, this story is for you. I like how characters continue book to book but each novel is complete as a stand-alone. Best of all, every single animal—including Bailey—finds their forever home.

Welcome Guest Blogger Judi Lynn with Cooking Up Trouble

Happy Thursday, Friends! I’ve got a new writer to introduce to you today. Judi Lynn and I are sister authors with Kensington Publishing. We’re also blogging and Twitter friends so naturally when she announced a new release, I was more than happy to roll out the red carpet and invite her to my blog. I hope you’ll do the same by welcoming her.

I’ve already got her new release COOKING UP TROUBLE downloaded to my Kindle, awaiting my reading pleasure. And (psst!) I’ll let you in on a little secret…Judi writers in another genre as well, but I’ll let her explain that—and how she came to develop the characters who populate Mill Pond.

~ooOOoo~

Thank you, Mae, for inviting me to your blog.

I know from reading your posts that you love folklore, legend, and cryptozoology.  (I had to look that up).  We have similar tastes. I love Greek and Norse myths, along with witches, vampires, shifters, and succubi. That’s why I write urban fantasy under my real name—Judith Post.  It’s fun to think about “others” with special powers, powers that make their lives more complex instead of easier. I like the struggles and battles, the good vs. bad.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my agent asked me to try my hand at romance.  “No paranormal, no magic, just boy meets girl and eventually an HEA.”  No magic?  No supernaturals?  I panicked. How do you build a plot like that?  I spent the next four months treading my plot across emotional ups and downs, misunderstandings, and unspoken desires.  It felt like hiking across a soufflé that you didn’t want to fall.  Fitting—because I love to put cooking and food in my stories.  But I discovered that I like writing romance, too.   Romances focus on feelings and character studies, innuendos and inner battles.  When I finished COOKING UP TROUBLE, I wanted to stay in Mill Pond for a long time.  I wanted to bump elbows with the people who live there.  I used the pen name Judi Lynn, so that readers who followed my urban fantasy would know Mill Pond only houses mortals.  I’m working on my fourth Mill Pond romance now, and I hope people enjoy these stories as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Book cover for Cooking Up Trouble by author Judi Lynn shows an attractive young couple facing each other in front of an open doorway

BLURB:

It’s impossible not to notice when someone new shows up in Mill Pond. Especially someone as obviously out-of-place as Ian McGregor. His stylish suit and fancy car scream “city slicker.” And when Tessa Lawrence discovers he can’t even change a tire, she has no choice but to help. That’s just what the locals do. And when she finds out Ian’s her new neighbor, of course she’s obliged to invite him to dinner too…

Turns out Ian’s come from New York to open a luxury resort on the property next door to Tessa’s farm, where she grows berries and sells her famous jams and delectable baked goods. But despite their quickly growing friendship and temptingly close proximity, Tessa plans to keep things with Ian strictly neighborly. For one thing, Ian’s got a fiancée who, unlike Tessa, doesn’t have dirt under her nails. Plus, Tessa knows from bitter experience that a guy this gorgeous is all too likely to break a simple country girl’s heart. Even if he’s as sweet as one of her cinnamon buns—and equally hard to resist…

Purchase From:
Kensington Publishing
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes 
Google 
Kobo

Connect with Judi at the following haunts:
Website
Blog
Facebook
Twitter @judypost 

Today’s Pen Pal: Cindy Flores Martinez with Mail-Order Groom by Mae Clair

Feather and ink bottle isolated on paper backgroundPlease welcome new Pen Pal, Cindy Flores Martinez to my blog with her release, Mail-Order Groom. Isn’t that a fun title? Grab your beverage of choice (early morning for me has to be coffee), and say hello to Cindy!  

Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

I’ve been writing for many years, but for much of that time, I wrote screenplays and I helped other people with their screenplays. My novel Mail-Order Groom started out as a full length feature script, which I spent years trying to have made into a movie. After I shopped it around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world and didn’t find the success I wanted, I had to rethink my plans. I had this story to tell that I was so passionate about and that I had invested so much time in. Was I really going to let it remain untold? I decided that I couldn’t stand back and watch it end that way. That’s when I stepped into the world of writing fiction. Turning my screenplay into a novel was the best decision I could have made. I discovered an absolute love of writing fiction.

What an amazing path to publication you’ve taken . . . and re-inventing yourself as a writer of fiction. Kudos to you for not letting Mail-Order Groom fall by the wayside. Tell us which character you enjoyed writing the most and why. 

I loved the quirky Janusz, Edyta, Lisa’s parents, and of course Krzysztof, but if I had to choose only one, I would say Lisa was my favorite. I’ve always liked that she’s so flawed. I found it so easy to write that part of her because I’m so flawed myself. I also enjoyed the inner growth she experiences, and I especially loved the way her story ends. I see her life as an example of how we might think our dreams have died and that nothing can ever repair them, but if we wait and hold on, we might find that it’s really only the beginning of something better. I hope her story will be an inspiration to others.

Flawed characters are my favorite kind and your take on fulfilling our dreams is definitely inspiring. How did you choose the setting for your novel? 

Mail-Order Groom is set in a fictional small town with a picture perfect Main Street. When I was trying to have the screenplay made into a movie, a friend offered to film it for me in the small town where he lived. I adjusted the screenplay to reflect that location, but also, my fascination with Main Streets played a part in inspiring the setting in the story. I’ve visited so many Main Streets throughout the years, and I’ve always wanted to live near one. Placing my fictional characters in a location like that was an easy decision. I think it gives the story a certain charm that wouldn’t exist if they lived somewhere else. I found myself going back to that same town for the next several stories that I’m writing.

I love small town settings and frequently employ them myself . . . usually fictional, loosely based on an area I’m familiar with. Small town Main Streets are inherent with charm. Great choice of setting! Now please share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love. 

With each breath I took, I fell further and deeper into him until I lost all awareness of earth, sky, time, and space.

That’s lovely, Cindy, and so beautifully romantic. If you couldn’t write, what else would you choose to do?

If I could no longer be a writer of any kind, not even a screenwriter, I would probably become an artist. I love to paint, and I hope to do more of it in the future.

How wonderful! My father was an artist and I envy that talent in others. He gave me my love of writing, but I zeroed out on his artistic ability.

And now for some quick personal likes and dislikes. What is your:

Favorite season: I live in Southern California, so I can say with confidence that winter is my favorite season. It doesn’t snow here and it hardly ever rains. The cold temperatures are very comfortable. The combination of the cold weather and the holidays of winter are absolutely exhilarating.

Favorite time of day: I’m a night person, which isn’t easy in a world where everything happens during the day. I love the darkness and quiet of late night because it’s so peaceful. I can often be found writing during that time.

Favorite color: Aqua blue that is more blue than green. It’s such a calming color. It reminds me of the ocean, which is my favorite place to be near.

Favorite TV show: Right now I’m a big fan of “Reign”. I was originally drawn to the show because it’s about Mary, Queen of Scots, but the story and all of the characters have kept me watching.

Food you never grow tired of: Is chocolate a food? I can’t imagine ever growing tired of chocolate. I enjoy making my own chocolate using ingredients like coconut oil and natural sweeteners.

Yes, chocolate definitely qualifies! And I’m envious of your winters — being a Northern bird whose winters never seem to end. Aqua blue is my favorite color as well (with varying shades of green a close second).

And now, let’s take a look at MAIL-ORDER GROOM!

Book cover for Mail-Order Groom depicting a bride and groom from back holding hands BLURB:
Mail-Order Groom, a debut romantic comedy novel by Cindy Flores Martinez, was inspired by the author’s own Polish ancestry and is based on her screenplay and movie project of the same title, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world.

A sweet romance about an American woman who marries a stranger from Poland after her fiancé leaves her right before the wedding.

Lisa is about to marry her first real love and have the wedding of her dreams, but her world is shattered when she finds her fiancé, Jeff, in the arms of another woman. When he calls the wedding off, Lisa is heartbroken.

In a twist of fate, she meets Krzysztof Zielinski from Poland on Mail-Order-Grooms.Com. He needs to marry an American woman so that he can stay in America, and he’s willing to pay money for it. His reason for needing to stay tugs at Lisa’s heart and convinces her to say “I do” to him. After all, it’s going to be strictly a business deal. She won’t even have to live with him, and marrying another man would be the perfect revenge on Jeff.

Lisa races to the altar with her stand-in groom, but she soon learns that she actually does have to live with him. Things become even more complicated when she finds herself falling for him, and he’s not planning to stay in America forever. Will Lisa’s heart break all over again or will she find love and happiness in the end?

PURCHASE MAIL-ORDER GROOM FROM AMAZON 

AUTHOR BIO
My name is Cindy Flores Martinez. I was born and raised in a suburb of Los Angeles. I have an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. I have been a screenwriting instructor, screenplay consultant, script reader, and screenplay collaborator. My debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, which was inspired by my own Polish ancestry, started out as a screenplay and movie project. I spent years shopping it around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world and had two well-known actors, one of them Academy Award nominated, interested in portraying the lead character’s parents. After not finding the success I wanted, I officially canceled my film production company in November 2009 and embarked on the journey of turning my screenplay into a novel.

Connect with Cindy Flores Martinez at the following haunts:
Website
Twitter
Facebook