Wednesday, September 27, 2023

He Should Have Told the Bees: One of my favorite stories of 2023...So Far


After reading author Amanda Cox's stellar debut novel The Edge of Reason last summer, I was ecstatic and excited to have the opportunity to read and review her latest book, He Should Have Told the Bees.

The beautiful cover combined with the unique title instantly pulled me in and did not disappoint.

Beckett "Beck" Walsh's world is shattered with with the untimely passing of her father beekeeper, George Walsh, and owner of Walsh Farms. Through the reading of his will, she discovers her father made her a co-owner with Callie Peterson. Who is this person? How is she connected to her father?  With this news, her solace and safety net of Walsh Farms changes. 

Callie Peterson has no idea who George Walsh is or why she was named in his will. She dreams of opening a storefront for her soap, candle and bath business. She initially sees being co-owner of Walsh Farms as the answer to all her financial problems until she meets Beckett. 

For Beckett, living and working on the farm is an oasis and as natural as breathing. When it comes to chores and bee keeping she is skilled and competent. However, there might be more reasons than meet the eye for why this is. 

Having an acholic mother has taught Callie Peterson not to dependent on others. As an adult she has tried to maintain a boundary with her mother. Callie soon realizes her mother holds the key to unlocking part of the mystery of her connection to George Walsh. Will she discover what this is before it's too late?  

Together Beckett and Callie find themselves uncovering the maze of family secrets. I think the author dealt with this in a realistic way. It's not easy having the only live you've ever know be ripped out from you and adding the extra layer of uncertainty and mystery made He Should Have Told the Bees one of the most compelling reads of 2023...so far. 

I'd classify this author's books as women's fiction and the way Ms. Cox writes...she hooks you with complex believable characters, a compelling plot and raw emotion. Every books I've read by this author I've cried. If you're ok with breaking out the Kleenex when you read this book you need to add it to your TBR pile. 

Slight spoiler alert!! Stop reading if you don't like to know spoilers before reading: 

I liked that  Ms. Cox hints at romances for both Beckett and Callie proving that even broken people can find love. Found myself rooting equally for both romances. I realize the main story is between Beck and Callie, but I would have liked a little more romance.

If you love beautifully crafted stories of courage, compassion, and connection then He Should Have Told the Bees is not to be missed. 


~~He Should Have Told the Bees was provided to me by the author herself and the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~


Friday, September 15, 2023

A Royal Christmas is a Sweet Christmastime Romance

 

 

Now that September is here and we are experiencing some cooler temps in the Midwest, I'm looking forward to holiday reads. Bookworm confession...I fell in love with Melody Carlson's A Royal Christmas before I even read the synopsis. 

Adelaide Smith is working hard putting herself through law school with the end in sight and has little time for fanciful daydreams.

Having lost her mother in a car accident a few years earlier, she's shocked to get a letter in the mail through the DNA registry and informs her that she's the daughter of King Maxamillian V of Montovia, a small Eastern European principality. Skeptical that the letter is even real she researches it and discovers it's authentic. 

It begs the question....what would you do if you found out you were the daughter of a King and heir to the throne?

Curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to travel to Montovia at the invitation of the King for the Christmas festivities. 

The way Ms. Carlson describes the country of Montovia, its people, quaint villages, and dreamy fairytale-inspired castle made me want to dive headfirst into this story. Seemed like it was a country from another era combining beloved traditions with technology.  

Some readers aren't fans of novellas because the feel like they don't get an in-depth story. I found with A Royal Christmas the plot was a little more rushed, but I didn't feel like the story wasn't complete. 

I liked how the whole experience didn't change Adelaide. She stayed true to her character. Just one example, when it came to her wardrobe, she was conscientious to still dress modestly. Adelaide dressed like a royal to be respectful to her father the King, but was careful to maintain her classic timeless style.

The theme of God's plan and God's timing resonated with me and just reminded me that God's plan and His Timing are always perfect. The author did a good job of weaving the gospel into this story and not making it just an after thought.

If you're looking for a sweet romantic Hallmark-inspired Christmas novella with a dash of mystery and intrigue, you need to add A Royal Christmas to your TBR pile.


 ~~A Royal Christmas was provided to me by the author herself and the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~



Monday, September 11, 2023

Letters from My Sister...Not My Cup of Tea

 


Valerie Fraser Luesse is a new-to-me author. Her stories are set in the deep South and this genre of books isn’t what I typically gravitate towards as a reader. However, I was pulled in by the gorgeous cover. 

This tale is set at the turn of the century and centers around sisters Emmy and Callie Bullock whose father is a wealthy Alabama cotton farmer.

Callie was an interesting heroine. She preferred riding horses and climbing trees barefoot to attending social functions such as balls or garden parties. I really enjoyed her genuine love for her older sister Emmy and how she always praised her sister to others, but not in a way that seems disingenuous, but truthful. A key takeaway from this story for me was that our relationships with our family or siblings could greatly improve if we emphasize and appreciate their positive qualities and character traits rather than dwelling on their shortcomings or negatives.

Interestingly, my favorite part of the book was not the romance (which was sweet) in the book, but the tight-knit bond between Callie and Emmy, and that family really is for forever.  I also liked the connection between the whole Bullock family (Parents and Children). It was a family you wanted to be a part of.  The dynamics of the Bullock family reminded me of the Smith family in Meet Me in St. Louis although I don’t think this is what the author intended. It’s just where my reader brain took me.

I enjoyed the sense of community Ms. Luesse created in Letters from My Sister. How they looked out for one another. Which I personaly think is sorely lacking in our day, but maybe that's just my current experince. 

For me, I found the slower pace of the book made it harder to get into the story and relate to the characters. Along with this, despite it being promoted as a Christan fiction read,  I didn’t feel there was an overly spiritual/gospel thread throughout. Maybe I missed the point, but all that would be considered "Christian" to me was the family going to church and occasionally mentioning God. If you followed me for a while, I do not like when books are promoted as Christian fiction, but God is just a mention, not a part of the story. 

Usually, I know exactly what thoughts and emotions I’m feeling when finishing a book, but with Letters from My Sister I didn’t know what I was supposed to be feeling. Dramitic statment, I know.  However, to say more, would ruin the ending if you did read this book. So with that said, as you can tell from this blog, the book was mixed bag for me. I enjoyed some of it, and really didn't like the other half of it. So between it all, I am not sure I would technially recommend that you run out and get this book to read as it doesn't leave you feeling glad you spent the time reading it. At least for me, anyway. 

~~Letters from My Sister was provided to me by the author herself and the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Convincing the Cowgirl & Captivating the Cowgirl Are Sweet Historical Romances


Jody Hedlund is one of those rare, multilayered authors who can captivatingly and convincingly (pun totally intended) write any genre: YA, Medieval, Historical, and Contemporary. 


Today, we're diving into the heartwarming and humorous world of Jody Hedlund's Colorado Cowgirls series, specifically Book 3, Convincing the CowgirlIf you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know marriage of convenience tropes are my favorite romance genre. 

Our story begins with Patience Courtney, the middle sister in the Courtney family, facing a dire predicament. She's penniless and homeless, and just when things seem their bleakest, unexpected visitors lay claim to the Courtney Boardinghouse, the only place she's called home. But fear not, because Patience is aptly named. She's determined to weather this storm and find her way out of this hardship.

Enter Spencer Wolcott, a wealthy rancher and a widowed father. He offers a solution that could solve all of Patience's problems: a marriage of convenience. It's a win-win situation – she gets a roof over her head, and his daughter gains a loving mother. However, as with any great romance, miscommunication and assumptions lead to some humorous situations between Patience and Spencer. Hedlund expertly crafts these moments of tension, making them both endearing and entertaining.

Unlike her sisters, Patience Courtney has always preferred art projects to domestic ones. I liked how Patience was patient like her name and how she bonded with Spencer's daughter through her love of art, her imagination and patience. 

Convincing the Cowgirl picks up where Captivating the Cowgirl leaves off.  The Courtney Boardinghouse has been rightfully restored to the family and Felicity Courtney; the youngest sister has been single-handedly running it. While caring for sick tenants, she passes out from sheer exhaustion and reluctantly agrees she needs to find a hired hand to help.  

Newcomer Philip Berg both intrigues and irritates her. Little does she know he's hiding a secret. 
Felicity sees Philip as somewhat entitled and arrogant and above menial labor; he proves her wrong.

I love quick-witted and lively banter between the heroine and hero and Ms. Hedlund does not disappoint in Capturing the Cowgirl. The verbal sparring between Felicity and Philip for me is the best part of the story.  You couldn't wait to see what words of wit were going to be exchanged between them. The author seemed like she was having a lot of fun writing Captivating the Cowgirl

Ms. Hedlund's Colorado Cowgirls series is a delightful blend of sweet romance with light inspirational themes, where love takes center stage. If you're a fan of this style of writing and haven't already dived into these books, it's high time you did. The Cowgirl series is a heartwarming journey that will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart. So, what are you waiting for? Grab these books and get ready for a dose of romance, humor, and a whole lot of heart. 

Reading is an adventure,

Emilee 


~~Convincing the Cowgirl and Captivating the Cowgirl  were provided to me by the author herself and the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Lost Manuscript is Page-Turning Adventure

 


Mollie Rushmeyer's author tagline is "Contemporary Fiction" with a Heart for History." If this tagline speaks to you, then you need to add The Lost Manuscript to your TBR pile.  After loving Ms. Rushmeyer's debut The Bookshop of Secrets I was eager to read her latest. 

I loved the heroine Ellora Lockwood.  She is a unique, smart, and charming heroine. I liked that she had an affinity for all things vintage in both dress and d├ęcor. The love of history is in her blood passed down by her grandmother June. She was an old soul living in modern times. A heroine I felt a definite kinship with. 

Ellora's world is turned upside down when she finds her beloved Grandma June has gone missing on a search for a lost manuscript  Her estranged husband, Alex Lockwood asks her to come to England to teach a summer class at Alwick Castle. 

I was rooting for Ellora and Alex to have a second chance in their marriage, to find their way back to each other and realize they still love each other. I appreciated that the author paints a realistic view of marriage. They had to work through so many past issues and heal. In Alex and Ellora's relationship, I thought it was interesting the way their professions complemented one another. They both liked aspects of history and throughout the story they are continually playing off one another. 

The bond she shared with her grandmother was truly extraordinary and unique. I was fascinated by Ellora's knack for uncovering various clues, akin to embarking on an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt. As she collaborates with Alex, will they manage to unearth the manuscript before time runs out?

 At first, Ellora's reunion with Alex is strained, but as time goes on he proves himself through his words backed up by clear actions that he wanted a second chance with Ellora. Some of the reasons that Ellora's relationship with Alex was strained because of miscommunication and misunderstandings that were left undiscussed. I feel like this is a major issue in many relationships and the author does a good job and showing why having difficult conversations are imporatnant, needed, and healthy for a relationshp to last, but also why you root for Alex in the story. 

The Lost Manuscript's central message—that we should put our trust in God and make Him the cornerstone of our lives—struck a cord with me. It artfully expressed the idea that by doing so, we can find comfort in His protection and vigilance, illuminating a road of fortitude and direction in our lives.

The Lost Manuscript was the perfect mixture of intrigue, danger, mystery and a second chance romance set against the backdrop of historic England and the lush countryside. I wanted to dive into the book cover and visit all the places Ellora and Alex visited. 

I am so excited for more books by this author. What about you, have you read any of Mollie Rushmeyer's books? Do you love the mix of contemporary fiction and history? 

Reading is an Adventure,

Emilee 

~~The Lost Manuscript was provided to me by the author herself and the publisher in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book.  I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~