Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink

About the book:  

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work schoolteacher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Discover the charming story of Tippy, the dog who brought a family together.

Publicatoin Date: April 1st 2016

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction

Series: Love Unleashed #1

My review:  

A star baseball player. A down on her luck woman. A cantankerous and somewhat out of control dog. What a combination these three were to read about! Sit, Stay, Love is a sweet story of patience, love, and second chances.

I really enjoyed this sweet romance from Dana Mentink. Her writing pulled me into the story from the very beginning and kept me interested until the end. She created down-to-earth characters and a dog that had me smiling and laughing at her antics.

The story progresses at a natural and steady pace. Baseball being my favorite sport to watch I loved the “inside look” at spring training and how baseball players must feel with all the pressure to perform to the standards of fans and coaches. This really lent an authenticity to the story. I also liked the way the author wrote about more serious subjects without making the book too heavy of a read.

If you are looking for a sweet romance that isn’t too light or too heavy, Sit, Stay, Love is the perfect read. In fact, I highly recommend you purchase this book then Sit, Stay, Read!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the author:  

Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and an ACFW Carol Award as well as a Holt Medallion Merit Award winner.

Dana loves feedback from her readers. Contact her via her website at www.danamentink.com

A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick

About the book:  

From disowned to daughter to “I do?”

Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding.

Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile.

What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding?

If you like Christmas weddings, family reunions, and happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick. Pick up Picture Perfect Christmas and start celebrating the season today.

(NOTE: This book is a follow-up to Focus On Love and is best understood if read in that order.)

Publication Date:  November 12, 2018

Genre:  Inspirational Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Series:  The Wardrobe Series, book 4

My thoughts

At the end of Focus on Love, where readers followed Liz and Ryan’s relationship, I was disappointed. The book ended suddenly and I didn’t get the ending I wanted with all the details. I felt like there were loose ends that needed tying up and I also just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. A Picture Perfect Christmas is like the author saying “I heard you Kristi, and here you go”. Finally, I (and other readers) get the answers to “what happens next?”.

Readers return to Liz and Ryan’s relationship with letters to her mom from different locations. Through this, we get to learn what’s been happening with this couple and also the status of Liz and her parents’ relationship. This was a wonderful way to start the story and catch up with (or be introduced to) these characters. Throughout the story, we also get to learn more about Liz’s parents and especially her dad’s past which reveals a lot about their relationship issues.

The story has a good pace to it and at just a bit over 100 pages, it is a quick read. It’s a great book for a lazy afternoon spent reading in a comfy chair. As with the other books in the series, this book as a young adult feel to it but not so much that older readers won’t enjoy it. Although this book can be read as a standalone I wouldn’t recommend it. The story will make much more sense if Focus on Love is read first. But, I would recommend reading the entire series in order. They are wonderfully written books that will appeal to readers of all ages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author but was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:  

Author of inspirational romance, non-fiction, and devotionals. Candee is married to a high school football coach and is the mother of three, including a child with special needs (thus providing inspiration for her first two non-fiction titles).

In addition to her non-fiction devotionals, she writes faith-based romance novels for the Bling! Romance imprint. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Double Finalist/Winner in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the short novel category.

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A Family for Gracie by Amy Lillard

About the book: Gracie Glick is known for being the helpful one, always available for a relative in need. But now that she’s longing for a home and family of her own, it’s time to help herself. With few eligible men in Pontotoc, Gracie’s choices, and her time, are limited. So she takes a bold leap of faith: she proposes to Matthew Byler, a handsome, recently widowed, father of five. It’s not until after they’re married that Gracie learns Matthew doesn’t want more children . . .
 
With his grief still fresh, and his children needing care while he tends to his farm, Gracie is the answer to Matthew’s prayers. But a marriage in name only suits him fine. And when he finally tells Gracie the dismaying reason why, they must decide whether to continue
together—or apart. It’s a choice that will force them both to look deeper into their hearts than ever before . . .

Publication Date: July 30, 2019

Publisher: Zebra

Genre: Amish fiction

Series: Amish of Pontotoc #3

My thoughts: During the first two books of this series readers have watched with Gracie as her cousins, twin sisters Leah and Hannah, have found love and families of their own. Finally, Gracie gets her turn in a somewhat unusual way, especially for an Amish woman. Gracie may be in for more than she bargained for as life with Matthew isn’t the easiest. Taking on a ready-made family, a fussy baby, and a husband who doesn’t communicate with her could prove to be more than Gracie is prepared for.

This book was an enjoyable read and I liked the realness of the story. From the unique personalities of the children to Gracie’s struggles and Matthew’s reluctance at taking on a new wife, this story was so full of real-life aspects that it made for a quick and easy read. Amy Lillard does an excellent job of bringing stories to life through her characters and descriptions.

While this book is the third in the series it could be read as a standalone. It is sure to be a favorite of fans of Amish fiction. It is a book I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: During the first two books of this series readers have watched with Gracie as her cousins, twin sisters Leah and Hannah, have found love and families of their own. Finally, Gracie gets her turn in a somewhat unusual way, especially for an Amish woman. Gracie may be in for more than she bargained for as life with Matthew isn’t the easiest. Taking on a ready-made family, a fussy baby, and a husband who doesn’t communicate with her could prove to be more than Gracie is prepared for.

This book was an enjoyable read and I liked the realness of the story. From the unique personalities of the children to Gracie’s struggles and Matthew’s reluctance at taking on a new wife, this story was so full of real-life aspects that it made for a quick and easy read. Amy Lillard does an excellent job of bringing stories to life through her characters and descriptions.

While this book is the third in the series it could be read as a standalone. It is sure to be a favorite of fans of Amish fiction. It is a book I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

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The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

About the book: A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Timeslip

My thoughts: After reading The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel I knew I had to read whatever she released next. That just so happened to be The Secrets of Paper and Ink. I didn’t even read the description of what the book was about. I just knew that I loved her writing and wanted to read whatever she wrote. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book was everything I was expecting it to be and more. The story centers on two modern-day women who meet when Sophia decides to get away and go to England. She has just faced the death of her fiance but readers soon learn that there’s more to her story than just the grief she is going through. In England, she meets Ginny, who has been left by her husband with a bookstore that is on the verge of closing. Sophia rents a room from Ginny and works in the bookstore. There she comes across a notebook in which there is a fascinating story about Emily Fairfax. Sophia isn’t sure if Emily is real or just a character but she is drawn to her story and it was a story that I was drawn to as well. It was so easy to like and relate to each of these three women. The author does an excellent job of writing three original characters that worked well in the same story.

The chapters in the book jump from character to character but that was something that I really enjoyed. I liked learning Emily’s story in bits and pieces and slowly over the course of the book. I (correctly!) guessed some of the events in Emily’s story and how she would be connected to the main story fairly early into the book but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found that I enjoyed learning that my guesses were correct as the story unfolded.

Whether reading about modern-day Cornwall or the 1860s Cornwall the author does an excellent job of describing the scenes and transporting readers to England and letting them go on a journey with three very unique women who are facing difficult times in their lives. The author does an excellent job of writing a timeslip novel that gives readers two complete stories to enjoy as they combine into one fantastic read!

With her YA-leaning The Heart Between Us and now The Secrets of Paper and Ink this author has earned a spot on my must-read list. It doesn’t matter what genre or era she is writing, I will be reading it. I highly recommend this book which is quite possibly my favorite read of the year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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Hold on Tight by Shelley Shepard Gray

About the book: Jackson Koch had already lost his wife to cancer when the town’s coal mines shut down and his job was gone too. So, with a three-year-old daughter to care for and a broken heart to mend, he moved across the country to find a new life in Bridgeport, Ohio. Now he tends bar by night and tries to navigate life as a single dad by day. Luckily, his neighbor is happy to babysit while he works late nights. She’s great with little Kate, beautiful, kind … and lately he’s found himself smiling whenever he thinks about her.

Dani Brown also knows what it’s like to lose a spouse and raise a child on her own. Cleaning houses during the day, and taking online classes at night, she dreams of running her own preschool someday. And, since her fourteen-year-old son Jeremy’s baseball team requires a lot of money, she’s thrilled to earn some extra cash by watching her handsome neighbor’s adorable little girl. But even with two jobs, she’s having trouble making ends meet.

When Jackson sees Dani running herself ragged for her son’s baseball ambitions he decides it’s time to get the Bridgeport Social Club involved. Together they cook up a plan. They will run a charity poker tournament to support Jeremy’s dream and help out a hardworking single mom. But will Dani be able to accept help from the handsome neighbor she’s starting to feel more-than-friendly feelings for? And how far is she ready to let those feelings go?

Get ready to fall in love with Shelley Shepard Gray’s Bridgeport Social Club again, where a poker night is so much more than a game of cards and an extraordinary community of ordinary men and women come together to offer love, light, and hope to everyone they encounter.

Publication Date: June 11, 2019

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Series: Bridgeport Social Club

My thoughts: As a fan of Shelley Shepard Gray’s books let me start with a bit of a disclaimer. If you are expecting this book to be a squeaky clean read like her Amish books are, it’s not. There’s a teensy bit of language and this book has some heat in the romance department. If you don’t like those elements then take a pass on this book. However, if you don’t mind some language and heat then be sure to pick up a copy of this book because it’s a really great read.

Let’s talk about the characters in this book. They are very realistic and down to earth. I like that in a story. When the characters are easy to relate to it makes the book more entertaining. Dani and Jackson are both realistic characters and ones that readers can empathize with and wish the best for. Add in characters from the previous books in the series and some new ones to this story and it was like hanging out with friends. It was so easy to forget these were fictional characters.

As with all of her books, SSG has a writing style that captivates readers from beginning to end. This book was effortless to read and had me wanting to pack my bags and visit Bridgeport. Which may be a problem because it’s a fictional place so unless she writes more books set there it looks like I won’t be going for any visits. (Please write more books that are set there!) I love the little poker tidbits at the beginning of each chapter. I think they added to the charm of the story and just gave the book a little more charm.

If you like contemporary fiction then you must add this book to your tbr list. It is part of a series but I think stands well on its own so it isn’t necessary to read the other books before this one. I’ve read them though and highly recommend them as well. This book is a great weekend read or vacation read. Just be sure to clear a bit of time because once you start this book it will be difficult to put down! Happy reading!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray has published over seventy novels. She currently writes Amish romances for Harper Collins, Kensington, and Simon & Schuster and contemporary women’s fiction for Blackstone Publishing.

Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Her novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and elementary education and later obtained her master’s degree in educational administration. She currently lives in Colorado Springs and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two young adults, and always has a dachshund by her side. She is an active member of her church, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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