Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

In a town whose name inspires hope, heartache and pain reside.

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Michael Hunter has travel across the county from Chicago to the Oregon town his wife had loved as a child. Desiring to find peace—or something—he is desperate to spend time in this town and grieve his wife while taking stock of his life. Fate (or perhaps more) brings him across the path of Anna Williams, a curmudgeon who seems to have plenty of secrets of her own. And then there’s Tracy Campbell. A woman who raises feelings in Michael he hasn’t felt in a long time, feelings he needs to ignore.

Anna is nursing a twenty-year-old heartache. She shut herself off from the outside years ago, preferring to care for her wounded animals and staying inside her small house. So why in the world did she offer for a stranger to live in her annex? Is she that lonely?

Tracy Campbell loves the town of Hope Harbor, Oregon. Even when she left for college and then for a job away from home, she always knew she would return to her family’s cranberry farm. But now they are in danger of losing it. And she’s in danger of losing her heart…again.

This story moved along well. While not one of the romantic suspense Irene Hannon is best known for, there is plenty of mystery. Why is Michael really in Hope Harbor? What happened with Anna and her son? Or Tracy’s husband? And all of that keeps the story moving along at a rapid pace. They chemistry between Michael and Tracy is almost immediate and the anticipation of when they are going to act on it keeps you turning the pages as well. Hannon also introduces readers to the difficult life and the labor of love that goes into running a family farm. Despite the struggles and the monetary strain, the family pushes on. The characters were well-rounded and likable—even Anna with her curt words and need for privacy grows on the reader as you learn more of her story. This is definitely one to pick up.

***Revell Publishing provided me with a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

To Win Her Favor Review and Giveaway

FAMILY CHRISTIAN PROVIDED ME WITH A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST AND FIAR REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN.

Available now at your local Family Christian or online.

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Maggie Linden loves her home, her father, and her horse but is about to lose them all. With her father’s failing health and the threat of losing their beloved home looming close on the horizon, Maggie’s only hope is for her thoroughbred, Bourbon Bell, to win some races. But when the horrors of the world strike, and her jockey and his family leave, Maggie has little hope.

When Cullen McGrath, an Irishman recently arrived from England, arrives in Nashville, he finds he’s as unwelcome as the recently freed slaves. No one will do business with him, give him a loan, or sell him their property. He visits Linden Downs and Maggie’s father makes him a generous offer—one he is hard pressed to refuse. Pay the back taxes on the property and marry his daughter and the land and everything on it is his.

This is my favorite book by Tamera Alexander yet. There are so many themes running throughout this book—a father’s love for his daughter, prejudice against people who are different, trusting a virtual stranger with your future and your dreams—and each and every one of them is handled well. Both Cullen and Maggie are likable characters despite their flaws (Maggie has been sheltered in her world and blind to the plight of others around, even to the point of prejudice only because of what she’s read and heard from other people. Cullen is bound and determined to leave his past behind, even if it means crushing his new wife’s talent and dreams). The supporting characters are given as much attention to character development as Cullen and Maggie which gives more depth to the story. And, as always, characters from Alexander’s other books make cameos—which I always enjoy.

I’ve been to Belle Meade once, when I first moved to Nashville. After reading To Win Her Favor, which brought the people and land to life, I’m ready for another visit.

Visit Family Christian online and check out their fantastic sales.

While you’re there, you can pre-order “Among the Fair Magnolias,” a collection of four novellas (one of which was written by Tamera Alexander)

Does this sound like something you’d like to read? Is there something else on your TBR list? Family Christian is generously allowing me to give away one $25.00 Customer Appreciation Certificate. Enter for your chance to win.

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The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

From the desperate streets of London to a wealthy country estate, Sarah E. Ladd draws readers into England’s past, secrets, and heart.

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Camille Iverness has spent the past ten years of her life attending her father’s shop. Since she was young, she has kept the accounts and inventory of the curiosity shop—a place where wealthy people come to find treasures for their collections, a place she has called home. When a man breaks into the store asking about something she’s never heard of before, life as she knows it is about to come to an end.

Jonathan Gilchrist cannot, in good conscience, let a woman be hurt. When he intervenes during the robbery, he immediately feels protective and responsible for the young woman in the curiosity shop. Unsure of whether or not she is involved in the theft of his father’s ruby, Jonathan considers his options and determines that if Camille Iverness trusts him, then perhaps she will assist with retrieving the ruby—something which he wishes he’d never heard of within a couple of days’ time.

Camille’s grit and courage are a mask that disguises years of hurt, of feelings of inadequacies, something Jonathan Gilchrist has experience with himself. He has no desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and run their estate. He is happy working as the local apothecary and caring for the people of his small village. From their first meeting, readers will want the best for these two people. Two people who have not lived under the best circumstances, two people who deserve happiness. While the mystery of the ruby is woven throughout the book (and I believe readers will have a pretty good idea where it the entire time—at least I did), the true beauty in The Curiosity Keeper is the journey Camille embarks on to find her new life.

***Thomas Nelson Fiction provided me with a complimentary advanced reader copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I’m Happy for You by Kay Wills Wyma

In a world where escaping comparison gets more and more difficult, is it possible to change our thinking? Instead of looking at our friends or neighbors and being envious of their house, their car, their accomplishments, can we tell them we’re happy for them instead?

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Using real life conversations and situations from her former career, her friends, and her kids, Kay Wills Wyma believes we can shift out thinking. We can say, “I’m happy for you” to someone who has been given more than we have. She contends that while we see just a glimpse of the big picture and think someone has it all together, they may be struggling with their own heartache and hurts. She shares about running into a friend in the grocery store and how difficult that conversation was to hear but when she talks to that friend again, she learns there was more going on than that thing. With humor (be sure not to miss the dedication page, if it doesn’t make it you laugh, it will at least bring a smile) and insight, much of which come from teaching moments this her kids, Wyma challenges readers to take the focus off of themselves and put it on others instead.

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One of my favorite example in this book is when she’s talking to her daughter about her volleyball practice and was put in the position of setter instead of spiker. She realizes that the other girls on the court probably like to be cheered for and comes to the conclusion that her job as the setter will help make the other girls on the team feel good. What a great insight from a young lady about taking the focus off of herself and putting it on others.

If you’re struggling with how much more exciting life is for your friends (in both real life and social media), perhaps it’s time to take your eyes off yourself and lift up others. With enough practice, it just might become a way of life.

***Blogging for Books and Waterbrook provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.

London Tides by Carla Laureano

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Book number two in the MacDonald trilogy follows the oldest, staid, responsible brother, Ian MacDonald. If you read Five Days in Skye, you probably caught the reference to Ian’s one and only love in his life. As well as the subsequent broken engagement when she walked out on him. It’s been ten years since Grace Brennan left her engagement ring on the kitchen counter and left Ian but she’s back now. And she’s ready to give everything up from him (even her career in conflict photography and her mission to make her brother proud). The problem? Grace has seen so much tragedy, she’s been in the most difficult situations, seen horrific sights. Those aren’t things you can just drop off like your luggage. You can’t unpack the emotional baggage and stuff it in a drawer. Well, you can try but, as Grace finds out, it can only be hidden for so long before it starts to leak into other areas of your life. Ian wants nothing more than to be the man Grace needs, the man Grace turns to when she’s struggling but when she starts to shut herself off for him, his worst fear is that she’ll leave again. And this time it will destroy him.

I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy London Tides as much as Jamie and Andrea’s story (and yay, their wedding is in this book). While I understand Grace’s struggle and her longing to pull herself out of the despair of her path, she felt too focused on herself most of the book. While she wanted to come back for Ian, to stay for Ian, when something in her life didn’t go as planned, she didn’t even talk to him about it. But, to be fair, if you had to manage on your own in war torn countries where you often feared for your life for ten years, you would probably be hesitant to put your trust in anyone as well. And, hey, I’ve lived on my own for twenty plus years and I’m pretty self-centered quite often too because I’m the only one I have to worry about. So, maybe Grace was a little too much like me and that hit home a little bit.

All that said, Laureano did another fantastic job of making me feel like I was walking the streets of London with her characters. The added bonus that the wedding was in Skye so readers are transported back to Scotland for a little while too. The author also drew me into the overwhelming fear of a panic attack the couple times they happened to Grace. And while I felt Grace was selfish, I still had my fingers crossed she and Ian would eventually work everything out and finally get together. Any couple who waits more than ten years for their true loves deserves happiness.

***David C. Cook provided me with a complimentary copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions expressed are my own.