Silver Bells by Luanne Rice

Silver Bells by Luanne Rice
Publisher/Year: Bantam Books, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pages: 298
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The enchantment of the holidays meets the pure storytelling genius of New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice as she presents readers with a special gift for the season and a Christmas favorite in the making…

On a quaint, snowy Chelsea street, librarian Catherine Tierney and a widowed Christmas tree seller from Nova Scotia will rediscover the magic of the season, in a chance encounter that leads to a holidays surprise of love and hope powerful enough to last a lifetime.

What I thought

Update – 2020

Still found this a charming, easy-to-read Christmas tale. While nothing remarkable, this book is a cozy and enjoyable read–perfect for some light reading during the holidays! I love the thought of Christmastime in NYC!

Initial review – 2010

There is just something about this semester that has me craving brain candy and sweet-and-sappy stories. This is obviously not going to become the next literary classic, but if you’re looking for a story to get yourself in the holiday mood, I recommend giving Luanne Rice a try.

This is one of the rare (and I mean very rare) occasions where I’ve seen the movie before reading the book. I actually had no idea that this book existed until I had watched the Hallmark movie adaptation. I liked the movie a lot, and quickly added it to my Christmas movie repertoire. I was then planning on checking this out of my library until I realized that I owned a copy. D’oh.

When I first started this, I wasn’t too sure about it. It just didn’t grab me like I had been hoping it would. Once I gave it the time to develop the plot a little bit, I started enjoying it immensely. I found myself looking forward to the little breaks I had in between homework assignments so that I could curl up with this. I eventually found myself surprised at how much they had changed or left out from the movie, even though that shouldn’t really surprise me.

The plot of the story always kept me interested, but be forewarned that it can get pretty cheesy. However, despite that, it was not predictable at all. The chronology of the book is completely different than the movie, so it even had me guessing from time to time. The only thing that I found a little predictable was the location of the silver bells, but it was easy to look past that.

This was such a heartwarming story, and one of my favorite parts about reading this book was that it completely transported me to NYC at Christmas time. I’m not quite as familiar with NYC as the author, so some of the streets and area descriptions were lost on me. I did get chills though when she described the Rockefeller Christmas tree lighting. Rice really had a handle on the hustle and bustle of the city during the holiday season, and I enjoyed the escape from end-of-semester work that this book gave.

I also enjoyed each of the characters. Rice gives enough background to let the reader know her characters and to get a feel for the way that they would act. We know and understand why Catherine is haunted, why Christy can be hard on his son, and why Danny wanted to escape to NYC so badly. The dialogue was written effectively, too. It just seemed completely natural, which made it easy to forget that I was actually reading a book. I heard the voices perfectly, even down to the inflections of the words.

Overall, it’s the perfect book to curl up with if you’re in the mood for some cheesy holiday fun! It’s an easy read if you’re looking to take your mind off of some stress, and will be guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

The Fortune Cafe (Tangerine Street Romance #1) by Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson, and Heather B. Moore

The Fortune Cafe (Tangerine Street Romance #1) by Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson, and Heather B. Moore
Publisher/Year: Mirror Press, 2014
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 235
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Welcome to Tangerine Street

Tangerine Street is a must-see tourist stop with a colorful mix of one-of-a-kind boutiques, unique restaurants, eclectic museums, quaint bookstores, and exclusive bed-and-breakfasts. The Fortune Cafe, situated in the middle of this charming collection of shops and cafes on Tangerine Street, is a Chinese restaurant unlike any other because, well, to be honest, the fortunes found in the cookies all come true…

MIS-FORTUNE: Emma, a waitress at The Fortune Cafe will do anything to avoid opening a fortune cookie. Each fortune is rumored to somehow magically come true. Being a girl grounded in reality, she doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. But when trying to prevent a food fight at the cafe, Emma accidentally cracks open a fortune cookie: “Look around, love is trying to catch you.” If there is one thing that Harrison, her former best friend in high school is good at, it’s catching her unaware.

LOVE, NOT LUCK: Lucy has always been lucky…until her parents meet her fiance’s parents at a disastrous lunch at The Fortune Cafe, and she breaks her lucky jade necklace. Even worse, her fortune cookie reveals that “True love is for the brace, not the lucky.” How is she supposed to read that? She’s always considered it lucky how she met her fiance. But after breaking her necklace, Lucy’s luck takes a dive. And when her fiance dumps her, the only person she can turn to is Carter, the unluckiest guy she knows.

TAKEOUT: Stella is content in her new life of taking over her mom’s jewelry shop. No more boyfriend to worry about, and as long as she stays busy, she doesn’t have to dwell on her non-existent love life. When Evan comes into the shop with his young daughter, Stella is charmed. But she is reluctant to complicate her straightforward life, so when she reads her fortune after ordering takeout from The Fortune Cafe, she completely ignores it. After all, how can a fortune as vague as “Do the thing you fear and love is certain,” apply to her?

What I thought

Okay, so THIS is why I’m always downloading Nook freebies! I thought this was SO cute. This was an easy-to-read, light-hearted collection, perfect for fans of Hallmark movies. And surprisingly enough, even though the first story was my favorite, I still really enjoyed all of these stories as a whole. I would certainly read the next collection in this series–I am ALL about small town romance stories. All in all, I thought this was a really cute collection of sweet romance stories. My only wish was that these characters could have their own full length stories–I didn’t want to be done with these characters yet!

Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley

Six Months in Montana by Pamela Kelley
Publisher/Year: Piping Plover Press, 2013
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 147
Rating: ⭐⭐


Molly Bishop loves living in Manhattan and managing a boutique luxury hotel. She’s about to be promoted to her dream job of General Manager, the roles she’s been striving for her entire career.

There’s only one thing standing in her way.

The will of her childhood friend, Christian Ford’s grandfather. She hasn’t even seen Christian in over ten years, but a recent run-in with his grandfather during a rare visit home, resulted in a new condition to the will. Christian will only inherit the ranch he’s been running and the real estate development business that he has expanded if he marries Molly and stays married for at least six months…

What I thought

Another Nook freebie that just didn’t do it for me. The only thing it did do was make me hungry. It was cute and simple enough, but in the end, I just thought it was okay. I’m sure there are others who would enjoy this one–it just wasn’t my cuppa tea.

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry
Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 308
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


She’s got spunk. She’s got charm. She’s got the goddess Venus on her side. But can she save her city and her love life one letter at a time?

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Where’d You Go, Bernadette in this hilarious and heartwarming novel about twentysomething Roxy, an unlucky-in-love Whole Foods employee, aspiring artist, and sometimes-vegan, who teams up with her two best friends to save Austin from gentrification–and to save Roxy’s love life–in whatever way they can. The Roxy Letters is a hilarious and heartwarming novel told through the letters that the charming and hapless Roxy, a twenty-eight-year-old Austin native, sends to her ex-boyfriend (and current roommate), Everett.

Roxy is underemployed, sexually frustrated, and uninspired. Tired of her job as a deli maid at the original Whole Foods, Roxy daydreams of breaking out of her funk and finding a job that will get her creative juices flowing. She also wouldn’t mind finding love and finding herself off the brink of financial ruin–though Everett’s late rent payments aren’t helping her with the latter.

On top of it all, gentrification is slowly changing her beloved Austin in new and evilly corporate ways. When a new Lululemon pops up at the intersection of Sixth and Lamar where the old Waterloo Video used to be, Roxy can stay silent no longer.

Encouraged by her ex-deli counter comrade Annie–now assistant to the Whole Foods CEO (Chief Ecosystem Officer) and planning an animal rights revolution from the inside–and her new friend Artemis–a vivacious and mercurial man-eater with a string of personas and paramours all over town–Roxy decides to take action. But can this spunky, unforgettable millennial keep Austin weird, avoid arrest, and discover good sex, true love, and her purpose in life in the process?

What I thought

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Shelf Awareness for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

Oh friends, this was a wild ride of a book! I never thought I could have this much fun reading a book in 2020. Let me pause before I go any further–if you are someone who is easily offended, especially by swearing or sex, this is not the book for you. If, however, you fall into the wicked category like the rest of us kids, you will find this book laugh-out-loud funny. Initially, I wasn’t sure about the epistolary format, but once I got used to it, I enjoyed it. Roxy is one helluva gal. At first, I found myself feeling increasingly frustrated with her, but after I put my Enneagram 1/Reformer self to bed, she became so endearing to me. You can’t help but root for her. The plot is too wacky to be even remotely believable, but I don’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a book, so I just went with it and ended up having a great time. If you’re looking for something totally off -the-wall and different, but also heartwarming, Roxy’s your gal!

Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie

Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 324
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Agnes Murphy Nash is the perfect Hollywood wife–she has the right clothes, the right career, the right friends, but the wrong hot-shot movie producer husband.

Surrounded by menopausal adolescent moms, TMZ videos gone wild, and a tween with DOATM (Disgust of All Things Mom), Agnes is riding the escalator down to the bowels of divorce hell. Her only way out is to throw a grenade the size of a Beverly Hills diamond onto anyone that gets in the way of taking back her life.

A fabulously fierce and hilarious romp, Been There, Married That delivers an irresistibly outrageous blend of Crazy Rich Asians meets Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.

What I thought

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I seem to be in the minority here. While this book was not at all what I was expecting, I did think it was a wickedly funny satire of a Hollywood divorce, which made for an excellent escapist read for the moment.

I won’t lie, I found this rough-going at the start. It took me a while to get used to Levangie’s choppy, almost stream-of-consciousness style. But her little quips and asides and one-liners were so damn funny to me that I felt like I had to keep going.

Once I did get into the story, it really did feel like escapism at its finest. This book 100% read like a trashy Hollywood TV drama, if you’re into those. There weren’t really any likeable characters, although I did root for Agnes, flaws and all, and I did really like Fin. The Hollywood lifestyle here is so over-the-top ridiculous as to be completely unrelatable, but it truly was like a TV show, so ridiculous and cringeworthy that you couldn’t turn away. Side note, I totally pictured Agnes as Kristen Wiig–which probably had to do with Agnes being SO HILARIOUS to me.

All in all, I had mixed feelings about this one. I liked it for its entertainment value, but it really was all over the place. So, if you need something right now that reads like The Kardashians, then yes, I recommend it. But if you, like I did, go into this expecting a heartwarming, redemption story of a rom-com, you might look elsewhere.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Publisher/Year: Forever, 2019
Format: E-book (NetGalley)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


A “deliciously hot, sweet debut” (L. J. Shen, USA Today bestselling author) contemporary romance between a stubborn, sassy woman and the sexy firefighter who melts her heart.

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen–especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

What I thought

ALL THE STARS for this one, folks. Hands down, this will be one of the best books of 2019. If you like your romances steamy with tensions running high, a side of laugh-out-loud humor, and (let’s not forget) a good ole gut-wrenching punch to the feels, look no further–The Friend Zone has all of this and more.

Once I started reading this one, it was pretty much physically painful to put it down. And here I am, days after finishing, unable to get it off my mind. It absolutely blows my mind that this is a debut novel because I loved everything about it. Josh and Kristen were incredibly well-written characters, and I loved reading their alternating perspectives. I think this was what made the push-and-pull between them less frustrating to read because as a reader, I was able to understand their choices and mindsets. My heart swooned over Josh, and my heart broke for Kristen. I loved that everything about their relationship felt real–from having period talk to getting through life’s many difficulties together. Sometimes feelings are complicated things, so it was nice to see how Abby brought that in–the story became just that much more relatable.

Not only that, but there were some more difficult subjects (infertility, grief, mental health) that Abby was able to compassionately shed some light on, and I know readers will appreciate that. Again, that added depth is part of what makes this story feel so real. Along those lines, for as often as this book had me crying, it also had me laughing out loud at some of the banter between characters, especially Josh and Kristen. For example:

“I cocked my head curlers shifting. ‘When did you stop drawing penises on stuff?’
He snorted. ‘What?’
‘Like, how old were you when you stopped drawing penises on stuff? I was just thinking about how great a guy roommate would be and I realized the only downside would be finding penises drawn in the steam on the bathroom mirror.’
His dimpled smile made me grin.
‘I just drew a penis on Brandon’s truck the other day.’
I laughed. ‘So men never outgrow it. Nice.'”

All in all, a truly good book can’t get much better than this. The Friend Zone is not some fluffy romance (which I’m okay with, now and then). This book will run you through a full gamut of emotions. You will laugh, you will cry, you will cheer, you will want to throw things. I’m not kidding, friends–you DO NOT want to miss this seriously impressive debut. It releases on June 11th–pre-order now and prepare yourself for one of the best books you will read in 2019!

**Note: I received a free e-ARC of this book via NetGalley from the publisher Forever in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Publisher/Year: St. Martin’s Press, August 2019
Format: E-galley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?

Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.

What I thought

It’s been days since I finished this read, and I still can’t get it off my mind. If that’s not the mark of a 5-star read, I don’t know what is. This heartfelt novel has definitely made it onto my “favorites of 2019” list. You will not want to miss this one when it releases on August 13th!

I love women’s fiction & I read it for a number of reasons. Sometimes, I’m looking for something on the “fluffy” side, and sometimes, I’m just in the mood for a “feel-good” story. But I know I’ve found a favorite when I have a book that’s easy to sink into and hard to put down, and not only that, but one that makes me feel a whole range of emotions. And that’s precisely what I found with Things You Save in a Fire.

My heart alternately ached and soared for Cassie. I know it sounds cliche, but by story’s end, she truly felt like a friend. Center’s writing of her character (and just in general) blew me away. If you are a fan of Emily Giffin’s novels, I’d highly recommend this book. This wasn’t just a fluffy story (not that there’s anything wrong with them!)–there’s heartbreak, anger, fear, guilt, resentment…basically, depth to the story.

And back to Cassie–what a heroine! It was a joy to read along her journey and watch her grow. I won’t delve too much into that–just trust me, you’ll love her. And the rookie? You won’t be able to help being won over by him, too. The rest of the characters are wonderful, too–vivid and fleshed out. I honestly can’t get over how “real” this story felt to me, and maybe that’s part of why I can’t stop thinking about it.

I could gush about this book all day, but since I can’t force a copy into your hands, I will just highly recommend that you find a copy for yourself when this hits shelves in August!

**Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinions presented here.

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish

Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA by Kris Radish
Publisher/Year: Bantam Dell, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 343
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


From the bestselling author of The Sunday List of Dreams and Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral comes a poignant, funny, and uplifting novel of a woman at midlife whose search for happiness within her marriage–and within herself–turns a whole town upside down.

After twenty-eight years of marriage to her husband Lucky, Addy Lipton feels anything but happily married. In fact, just thinking of their garage, crammed with Lucky’s useless junk collection, drives Addy dangerously close to plowing her car through it. But when Lucky wins a trip to paradise–aka Costa Rica–Addy has a faint hope they may turn things around. Or maybe they won’t. Either way, Addy never gets the chance to find out.

On the morning of their departure, Lucky fractures his back tossing their luggage into his truck. Now, with the man she feels she barely knows anymore parked indefinitely on her couch, Addy can’t see their already shaky relationship surviving much longer. It’s time to make some big changes–and some drastic choices.

With the love and support of her devoutly single sister Hell and her workout friends, the Sweat-hers, Addy begins a crusade to revive her dreams–and she takes the women of Parker along for the ride. Soon the men will realize they’ll have to step up to the plate to keep their wives and lovers happy. And Addy will have to decide if the paradise she’s creating in Parker is big enough for two…

Filled with small-town characters and big-time soul-searching, this sparkling and inspirational tale will hit you where you live–and show you that just as happiness can get buried beneath the jumble of years, it can be rediscovered…if you look hard enough for it within your heart.

What I thought

This was my second Kris Radish book, and I am so glad–I loved it! Kris Radish has a very unique writing style, and it’s not for everyone. I’m not even sure how to describe it. All I know is that it works for me, and I definitely consider myself a fan of hers now! Her writing is just witty and hilarious and biting and totally honest. It’s great.

Here I am, nearing the end of my 20s, and I was able to laugh, cry, and get angry with a group of women who are a generation ahead of me. If that doesn’t speak well for Radish as a writer, then I don’t know what will. And as frustrated as I got with Addy at times, I also know that it’s hard to stand back and objectively make decisions about our own lives. And we all tend to be a little self-focused at times, like it or not. If anything, Addy’s flaws just made her that much more relatable.

Again, Kris Radish’s writing takes some getting used to (it’s just her style, it’s different–in a good way), but if you are looking for a hilarious, heartfelt female-centric look at the relationships and differences between men and women, then I highly recommend Searching for Paradise in Parker, PA.

Barefoot Beach (Harmony Harbor #8) by Debbie Mason

Barefoot Beach (Harmony Harbor #8) by Debbie Mason
Publisher/Year: Forever, June 2019
Format: E-book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Can a summer of love make up for a lifetime of secrets?

Wedding fever has taken over Harmony Harbor this summer, and the local matchmakers have set their sights on Theia Lawson, a former navy pilot who’s in town for a stay at Greystone Manor. And while Theia’s got her reasons to put this small town behind her as fast as she can, there’s a certain tall, dark, and irresistible man that she can’t seem to get off her mind.

Firefighter Marco DiRossi wants to beat the matchmakers at their own game so he conspires with Theia to pretend they’ve already fallen in love. It’s only for the summer. What could go wrong? Yet as the beach season draws to a close, Marco and Theia find their pretend relationship has led to very real attraction. But when a secret from the past is revealed, jeopardizing everything they hold dear, can this unlikely couple find their way to a happily-ever-after?

What I thought

What a perfect summer time read! This was entertaining enough to keep the pages turning, but also light enough to be able to kick back, relax, and just enjoy a good story. I truly enjoyed watching Theia and Marco’s story unfold. Theia was a strong female lead, which I can always appreciate, and it was also nice to see a major hunk like Marco with a soft side. And hello–a man who not only loves to cook, but cooks well? Sign me up! I also really enjoyed all of the antics that go with getting a large family together. It felt realistic and added an extra element of depth to the story so that the whole story didn’t just revolve around Marco and Theia.

My only complaint here doesn’t even really have to do with the book. I’ve never read any of the Harmony Harbor books before, and while for the most part, this works fine as a standalone, I still think I would have liked to know more of the family history. Again, this is no fault of the book, just more of an FYI for readers.

All in all, if you’re looking for a page-turning read to take to the beach with a set of characters you can’t help but grow attached to, I’d highly recommend looking for Barefoot Beach when it releases on June 4th!

**Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions presented here.

Know Me Well (Wishful #3) by Kait Nolan

Know Me Well (Wishful #3) by Kait Nolan
Publisher/Year: Kait Nolan, 2015
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 221
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Welcome back to Wishful, Mississippi, full of eccentric characters and southern charm, where author Kait Nolan delivers another heart-warming story of a strong, successful woman and the equally strong man who learns how to be her partner.

Liam Montgomery is the last person who’d call himself a hero, but he does have a tendency to try to save the world. Now that he’s left the Marine Corps and returned to Wishful, he feels out of place and unsure of what comes next. He does know one thing: The girl who used to look up to him like a brother is all grown up. No way he can see her as a little sister now. And she won’t give him the time of day.

Riley Gower isn’t holding out for a hero. In fact, a knight in shining armor is the last thing she wants. She’s been watching her mother chase that fairy tale for most of her life, with Riley the one left to pick up the pieces of unhappily ever after. Running Wishful’s downtown pharmacy is a dream Riley’s worked toward for years. Now that the business is finally hers, the realities of the current economy have made it seem like the dream is falling apart. So when her mother calls, expecting yet another rescue, Riley feels like she’s spread thinner than the last pat of butter at Sunday dinner.

It’s hard enough for a woman like Riley to admit she could use a hand, but mixed up with the embarrassment of a childhood crush and the devastating attraction sizzling between them? No way. Liam is determined to help, but taking down insurgents is less complicated than infiltrating Riley’s defenses. This will require reinforcements. And a plan.

What I thought

For being a Kindle freebie, I will give this book credit–it was a cute, steamy small-town romance that I actually did enjoy reading. I was a little nervous when I found out that this was the third book in a series, since I haven’t read the first two, but I needn’t have worried–this works perfectly fine as a standalone. I will say, though, that after having read this installment, I would absolutely read more of this series.

While Know Me Well is certainly not an earth-shattering read, sometimes it’s nice to sink into a light and easy, feel-good story. Riley and Liam were perfect for each other, and I thought that their romance was absolutely adorable. Riley was a strong, independent heroine, and Liam was the perfect gentleman, and I loved watching them come to terms with their feelings about each other.

One of the other parts of this book that I thought was kind of fun was that the side characters were just as enjoyable to read about. I definitely would like to read some of their stories in the other books of this series.

If you are looking for a heartwarming but all kinds of steamy small-town, Southern romance, look no further than Wishful, Mississippi!

The Trail to You by Lindsay Detwiler

The Trail to You by Lindsay Detwiler
Publisher/Year: Hot Tree Publishing, 2019
Format: E-book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


An independent blonde seeking a fresh start.

Orphaned and unhappy, Ally Hunter makes a life-changing decision to move across the country to a small town that once felt like home. As she reinvents herself, she realizes there’s one part of the equation missing–love. However, a tragedy from the past makes her hesitate when it comes to giving up her heart.

A betrayed man looking for a sense of pride. 

Abandoned by his first love and family, Ronan has one friend he can truly count on–his two-hundred-pound mastiff, Henry. When he returns home from service in the National Guard, though, he find his entire life catapulted in a different direction with the disappearance of his beloved dog.

A loyal four-legged friend who will unexpectedly bring them together. 

When Henry, Ronan’s brindle mastiff, finds himself far from home, Ronan sets out on a journey to bring him back. However, as the trail to Henry leads Ronan to Ridgewood, Virginia, and an interior designer with a big heart, he’ll realize some hardships lead to beautiful discoveries.

What I thought

So, before I get into my review of this, I’d like to offer a little bit of background on how I came to read this wonderful book. Let me preface this by saying that I love the area of central PA where I’m from, so much so that I moved back home after college. However, one of my very few complaints is that there’s not much here for readers in terms of local authors, author events, or even bookstores (we have a local Barnes & Nobel and a Bradley’s Used Books, and that’s about it). So, when I happened to go past Bradley’s on a day in 2017 and saw that they were set up for a local author event, I made a beeline into the store. I met Lindsay, as well as her husband and Henry (who is ADORABLE), and we talked about her upcoming release. You guys, she is SO friendly! And her books sounded right up my alley. So, when she contacted me about reviewing her newest upcoming release that has the most adorable premise, I jumped at the opportunity!

And I loved it! I’m so glad I’ve finally read a book by Lindsay, and this definitely has me interested in reading her other works.

The Trail to You is one of those feel-good reads that you want to curl up on the couch with, leaving you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s not to say that this book is empty fluff, though! Our two main characters both have to deal with some of life’s harder “stuff,” which I felt added some extra depth to their story. And let’s face it–with these kinds of stories, you know the guy and the girl will end up together in the end, so I was touched by how beautiful Ronan and Ally’s tale turned out to be. As a dog lover myself, it brought tears to my eyes to watch the mutual love of a dog bring two people together.

Besides that, I have to say that I was very impressed by Lindsay’s writing, as a whole. The story flowed with an ease that made me forget that I was reading, and the character development was spot-on. “Insta-love” was nowhere to be found, and I truly appreciated watching a love story progress naturally. Through all of the “Will they? Won’t they?” I couldn’t help but root for Ronan and Ally. Not to mention, the star of this book (Henry, of course!) had me at work constantly counting down the minutes until I could see my own pup.

I know that sometimes, readers are hesitant to try a book from a self-published or, in this case, an indie-published author, but let me assure you, you’ll be missing out if you don’t read Lindsay Detwiler’s books. The Trail to You is a great place to start! It releases on March 14, 2019, and I’d highly recommend pre-ordering this one, friends!

**Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC of this book thanks to the author, Lindsay Detwiler, and her publisher, Hot Tree Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion or this review.

Goody Two Shoes (Invertary #2) by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Goody Two Shoes (Invertary #2) by Janet Elizabeth Henderson
Publisher/Year: Janet Elizabeth Henderson, 2014
Format: E-book
Pages: 290
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Take one American singer who doesn’t believe in falling in love…

Josh McInnes’ biological clock is ticking and he wants to get married–now. After 20 years singing soppy love songs, he knows that there is no such thing as romantic love. There’s only hormones and lust. At thirty-five, he’s tired of his playboy lifestyle. He wants a wife who isn’t interested in fame, money, or romance. A sensible wife, who values commitment. He wants a partnership, a friendship, and none of the craziness that goes with falling in love. As far as he can see, there’s only one way to get exactly what he wants–he needs an arranged marriage. 

…add a Scottish librarian who has given up on ever falling in love…

Caroline Patterson terrifies men. With her no-nonsense attitude, and ice queen demeanour, she’s in control of everything–and everyone–around her. Her sensible shoes and grey skirt suits act like a force field, repelling male attention. At thirty-one, she can’t remember the last time she went on a date and is beginning to think she’ll never have a family of her own. When an American stranger approaches Caroline with a marriage proposal that resembles a business contract, she quickly accepts. She doesn’t expect romance. But she does expect to control each and every detail of their lives together. Because as life has taught her–if you aren’t in control, bad things happen. 

…and you get romance Invertary style! 

Josh and Caroline learn the hard way that falling in love isn’t something you can avoid. And it definitely isn’t something you can control. Their well laid plans are about to degenerate into chaos, as they fall in love the Invertary way. 

What I thought

One of my guiltiest pleasures is downloading free reads on my Nook. Even if it’s something I wouldn’t ordinarily read, if it’s free, I figure, “What the heck–why not give it a try?” Usually, this ends up backfiring on me because I never learn. But every once in a while, I end up pleasantly surprised, and I’m happy to report that this is one of those instances!

Let me say first that even though this book is the second in a series, it works well as a standalone. From my understanding, characters appear in other books, but it isn’t necessary to read the books in order to be able to understand the story. 

Anyway. This book was so entertaining! If you enjoy rom-coms, you would like this book. Is it over the top and unbelievable? Yes, but usually the best ones are! And it’s so entertaining and easy to read as to be worth it. It’s so funny at times, too! It’s a little predictable and there were times when I wanted to just shake Caroline and Josh, but all in all, I really did have a good time with this one. Sometimes, it’s nice to just kick back with a fun read that doesn’t require a whole lot of thought and a cast of characters you can’t help but love! 

If you are in the mood for a rom-com with just a small amount of steam, a hilarious small-town group of characters, and an easy, quick read, this book is for you!