Saturday, February 27, 2016

Review: The Promise of Forgiveness

The Promise of Forgiveness

About the Book:

When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.
But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma. 
As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind.

My Comments:

I enjoyed this story of love, family and new beginnings.  Ruby is a woman who has had to make her own way in the world.  One year when she was a young teen her father inexplicably seemed to reject her; and as often happens when girls do not feel loved by their dads, Ruby sought love from another male--a boy who impregnated her but who was not ready to be a father.  Shortly thereafter, her parents died in a car wreck so she was a young single mother with no family.  Years later, she was the mother and her teen daughter was looking for love in all the wrong places, so she decided to move to a new town.  As they were preparing for the move, Ruby received a letter from someone she did not know existed, her biological father, offering her an inheritance.  She decides to stop and see him during their move.  

During the story we come to see how much living in the past can limit our futures.  In a lot of ways Ruby is still mourning the loss of her father's love and the lack of love she got from the father of her daughter.  She is afraid to trust men and that lack of trust keeps her from loving and being loved.  Jack is mourning the loss of the love of his life and had never chosen to move past it.  All the main characters in this book have a lot going for them--they are their own worst enemies and I enjoyed watching them help each other to grow and learn to take chances again.

There is a "who dunnit" subplot to the story that just never rang true.  Still, it was a minor enough part of the story that it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book as a whole.

While it is mentioned that couples are intimate, we are on the other side of the door when it happens.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Book Review: The Rain Sparrow

The Rain Sparrow (A Honey Ridge Novel)

About the Book:

Renowned yet private, thriller writer Hayden Winters lives a life colored by lies. As he is deeply ashamed of his past, his hunger for an honest relationship and dreams of starting a family remain unsatisfied, and he can trust no one with his secrets. He's determined to outrun his personal demons, but the charming old Peach Orchard Inn and a woman whose presence is as gentle as a sparrow's song stops him in his tracks. 

Carrie Riley is afraid of everything from flying to thunderstorms, and pretty much of life itself. But meeting the enigmatic writer staying at the inn emboldens her to learn everything about him. When they discover a vulnerable boy hiding at the inn, Hayden is compelled to help Carrie protect him. Soon they're led to a centuries-old mystery that haunts Hayden's sleep, and his only safe haven is Carrie. As the secrets of the past and present cause their lives to become entwined, all that's left to come to light is love—if the grim truth doesn't tear them apart first.

My Comments:

I love stories set in two different time periods and that is exactly what this second book in the Honey Ridge series is.  You can read my review of the first, The Memory House, here.  Like The Memory House, this story is set at the Peach Orchard Inn.  The modern-day thread is the story of Hayden Winters  and Carrie Riley.  The historical thread is set during Reconstruction and involves a local woman and a Yankee who is working for the family.  While the historical story in The Memory House is told through letters, in this book the historical story is dreamed by Hayden.  The unanswered mystery at the end of The Memory House was the fate of two boys; one from the modern day and one from the Civil War era.  The Rain Sparrow mentions that the boys are missing; however if you didn't read The Memory House  I'm not sure you'd even notice the reference to the modern day boy and I doubt you'd consider the reference to the Civil War boy to be all that important.  There was no resolution to that part of the story, or any real movement toward resolution.  Despite the fact that this book is the second in the series, it stands well by itself, though knowing the back story on some peripheral characters does make the experience of the story a bit richer.  

I'm not usually one to comment on the writing but in this case I will; I loved Linda Goodnight's writing and consider it above the usual writing found in romance novels, particularly series romance novels.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: A-

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On: My Review

A Girl's Guide to Moving On: A Novel

About the Book:

In this powerful and uplifting novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber, a mother and her daughter-in-law bravely leave their troubled marriages and face the challenge of starting over. Leaning on each other, Nichole and Leanne discover that their inner strength and capacity for love are greater than they ever imagined.
When Nichole discovers that her husband, Jake, has been unfaithful, the illusion of her perfect life is indelibly shattered. While juggling her young son, a new job, and volunteer work, Nichole meets Rocco, who is the opposite of Jake in nearly every way. Though blunt-spoken and rough around the edges, Rocco proves to be a dedicated father and thoughtful friend. But just as their relationship begins to blossom, Jake wagers everything on winning Nichole back—including their son Owen’s happiness. Somehow, Nichole must find the courage to defy her fears and follow her heart, with far-reaching consequences for them all.
Leanne has quietly ignored her husband’s cheating for decades, but is jolted into action by the echo of Nichole’s all-too-familiar crisis. While volunteering as a teacher of English as a second language, Leanne meets Nikolai, a charming, talented baker from Ukraine. Resolved to avoid the heartache and complications of romantic entanglements, Leanne nonetheless finds it difficult to resist Nikolai’s effusive overtures—until an unexpected tragedy tests the very fabric of her commitments.

My Comments:

Debbie Macomber writes fluffy feel-good reads, and this is no exception.  It is a sequel to Last One Home which I found to be poorly written (see my review).  A Girl's Guide to Moving On is somewhat better.  While Nicole's sisters make appearances, the primary relationships are between Leanne and Nicole and between them and the new and old men in their lives.  Macomber explores the topics of love, trust, moving on and relationships between ex-spouses.  I found it interesting that both Leanne and Nichole found new men who were definitely beneath their former husbands on the social ladder, but of course they turned out to be great guys.  

Chapters are titled with the name of the woman whose story is told in that chapter.  Sometimes, we hear what Leanne thinks of Nicole's story and vice-versa. 

Like Macombers other recent books, characters in this one do not get beyond passionate kissing.  I liked the fact that one night Nichole almost threw herself at Rocco, who, despite his bad-boy past, refused to take advantage of the situation, and insisted they wait.  He told her she wasn't ready, however, he did not say that waiting until marriage was necessary.  

While classified as general-market fiction, it is mentioned that Leanne goes to church.  She and Nikolai visit a Russian Orthodox church to pray for her ex.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B.  

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Review: The Things We Keep

The Things We Keep: A Novel

About the Book:

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

My Comments:

This is a book about loss.  Anna is losing her memories, and with them, her intelligence and ability to function.  Eve has lost her husband and her lifestyle.  Clementina is Eve's daughter.  She has lost her father, her home, and who knows what else.  This book is also about hanging onto what is important; a man who still sees his dead wife with him, the love of family and the love of a man and a woman for each other.

The story is told in chapters by either Anna, Eve or Clementina.  From Eva and Clementina's viewpoint the story start when Eva's husband is caught running a Ponzi scheme and commits suicide.  This makes her a social pariah and she loses her upper class lifestyle overnight.  Trying to minimize the change to her daughter's life, Eve gets a job at an assisted living facility in her daughter's school district (since she can't afford a house there) as a cook since she went to culinary school.  She is also asked to fill a cleaning position "temporarily".  She gets to know the residents, including Anna and Luke, who are two people in their thirties who are suffering from forms of senile dementia.  

Anna and Luke met at Rosalind House, the assisted care facility.  They are young people who, in the beginning, realize what is happening to them and where it will lead.  They are also young people who fall in love.  Because of things that happen, their families ask that they be kept apart, but Eve thinks this is wrong.

Clementina knows that her beloved father has died, but she does not know about his crime or his suicide.  Unfortunately, one of the girls at school makes sure she learns.  Clementina spends time with her mother at Rosalind House so we see the residents through the eyes of a young girl.  We also see her adjusting to a new apartment, not being part of the "in" group at school and not having her Dad.  

I loved the characters.  This may have been a book that would have been easier to follow had I read a hard copy where it is easy to flip to chapter headings.  On my Kindle I found the time sequence difficult to follow since different characters were writing about different times.  It all came together in the end, but I still don't have a clear timeline in my head.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Review: The Friends We Keep

The Friends We Keep

About the Book:
After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can't wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband's crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own. 

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny—no matter how high the cost. 

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn't as painful as it should've been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time's the charm…but how can she trust herself to recognize true love? 

My Comments:
...and they all lived happily ever after.  Given that the book is classified as "women's fiction" and is written by Susan Mallery, that can't be any great spoiler.  I enjoy books about groups of women whose lives intertwine and Mallery did a good job with this one.  She also showed that there is more than one way to get what you want in life.  

The women were true friends to each other and I enjoyed joining them for their long conversations where they figured out what was wrong with themselves and others.  I liked the way they learned to stand up for themselves and their needs without ignoring the needs of those around them.  

It is mentioned that non-marital sex takes place, but we aren't watching.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B+

View My Stats