Precious Fire (Diamond Knot Dreams Book 3) by Mary Manners

My Review

Mary Manners has written another cute romance novella centered around the Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique, complete with all the mysterious happenings in the shop.

Precious Fire introduces us to Claire McLaughlin, friend of Lila and Avery from the first and second story in the series, and Ryan Kendrick. Claire has come to Clover Cove at their request to be the baker for the boutique. Ryan came to care for his step-brother after the death of their grandmother. In addition, the city hires him to renovate the town square.

Both Ryan and Claire are hesitant to fall in love. Both were hurt in previous romantic relationships and are not interested in forming another one anytime soon. However, people and other events conspire to bring them together.

I really liked Ryan’s little brother, Caleb. He overcame some huge adversities but still maintained a positive outlook. I hope in future books we can revisit Caleb and get a glimpse at how he is doing as he grows up.

I loved being able to learn more about Clover Cove and enjoyed the way everyone worked together to make their hometown a more pleasant and fun place to live.

Mary Manners has the unique ability to put you in the middle of the plot. This quality endears you to the characters and helps you become vested in their lives. It is so much fun to learn of each new couple, while at the same time catching up with the other Clover Clove residents. You feel as if the area is your home away from home and the people are your friends!

Publisher’s Review

Claire McLaughlin, weary of running a corporate rat-race, dreams of pursuing her passion to bake sweet confections. So, when former college roommate Lila Brooks asks for her help with catering services at Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique, Claire grabs the invitation with both hands.

Ryan Kendrick has returned home to Clover Cove to raise his step-brother following the death of their grandmother. Hired to renovate the Town Square, he rents office space on the second floor of Diamond Knot Dreams and soon succumbs to talented Claire McLaughlin’s sweet confections—as well as the blue-eyed beauty herself.

As their romance blooms, so do the shenanigans of Diamond Knot Dreams’ meddling spirit, Ellie. Will her antics help to draw Claire and Ryan closer together, or bring the blossoming romance to a grinding halt?

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A Tender Season (Diamond Knot Dreams Book 0) by Mary Manners

My Review

A Tender Season is Mary Manners’ prequel to the Diamond Knot Series of novellas (In case you wondered about the Book 0 in the title!).  The story, by necessity, is short, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book, or have a good plot!

I enjoyed this short, tender story of love the second time around, where the two main characters of the novella weren’t sure if they would ever face love again.

One aspect I really enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised by was the age of the characters. It’s unusual, but refreshing, to encounter a couple that is older-by that I mean, past college, career building and child-bearing years.

A Tender Season is short enough to read quickly but long enough to whet your appetite for more, so be sure to take a 30 minute or so break and read this delightful story!

Mary Manners has done a wonderful job with her prequel, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Publisher’s Summary

Love blooms in the most unlikely places…

Hattie Cutler and Anthony Moretto have both survived the death of their spouses. With children grown and the Cutler Nursery business flourishing, Hattie decides it’s time to turn her attention to other endeavors. A community garden on the church grounds is just the place to start. She spearheads the project, and when Anthony steps in to offer his assistance more than gardening is on the agenda. The two have shared a long-time friendship which has blossomed into love; that truth is clear to everyone—with the exception of Hattie and Anthony. But can the two learn to sow more than vegetables and, in turn, reap a beautiful future together?

Valentine Bride: A Sweet Romance Novella (Holiday Brides Book 1) by Shanna Hatfield

My Review

What a fun novella to read. Shanna Hatfield’s first story about the city of Holiday is sometimes whimsical and silly. However, everything, at least for a while, isn’t coming up roses for her characters.

Fynlee Dale’s grandmother is droll and entertaining and manages to keep poor Fynlee on her toes while she tries to save herself and others from her grandmother’s lovable and laughable schemes.

Carson Ford’s aunt, Ruth, moves into the same retirement home where Fynlee’s grandmother, Matilda lives. Carson has his hands full, too, with his aunt and her escapades with Matilda.

I had only read two and a half pages before I was spontaneously laughing hysterically, picturing Matilda as she was described. The Valentine Bride is a fun, adorably imaginative and creative story. The novella opens with Fynlee having to leave work to rescue her grandmother from another typical escapade, and it keeps you on a wild roller coaster ride from there. Toss Carson’s shrewish girlfriend, the other residents at Golden Skies (the retirement home), and some situations that leave Fynlee, Matilda and Ruth understandably confused into the mix, and you have a wild ride on your hands. You’ll find yourself excited for the characters when things are going at a steady pace. Your heart will plummet when things seem to be out of control. Then you will coast into the ending with a smile as things straighten out with a little help from friends.

I received the book from the author. However, I was under no obligation to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Two unlikely matchmakers set the stage for love…

Fynlee Dale returns to Holiday to take care of her wacky grandmother. Although it means giving up her dreams of a career and husband, she needs to be there for Grams.

Carson Ford vows to take care of his elderly aunt after buying her ranch. Comfortable with all aspects of his life, his world turns upside down when he meets a woman who’s impossible to forget.

They find themselves in the midst of a plot by two scheming old women determined to make them fall in love.

Valentine Bride is a funny, sweet romance novella given a liberal dose of humor through a cast of colorful characters intertwined around a heartwarming love story.

Friday Flashback-A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) by Tamera Lynn Kraft

My Review

Anna Brunner faced many obstacles and a rough life in Schoenbrunn Village, Ohio, in 1773. One of the things she didn’t want to face was her husband’s need to hide details of his mission work from her.

John Brunner felt protecting his wife from things that would distress her justified his half-truths.

John’s desire to help ease his wife’s anxiety was admirable. However, his methods were not.Even though we know it is to avoid conflict and ease our conscience, many of us fall into the same trap John did, with half-truths and evasions. We justify our actions by telling ourselves we are doing it for the other person’s feelings.

We all, as individuals like Anna, sometimes want to bury our heads in the sand to avoid hurt and pain. However, this only sets us up for more heartbreak and pain.

There are many lessons to be learned from A Christmas Promise. Even though the story is a novella, therefore it is short, it packs several messages into the pages you read.

A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) by Tamera Lynn Kraft focuses on Christmas for Moravians in colonial America. I am a little familiar with the Moravian faith and some of its Christmas traditions, so I especially enjoyed learning more.

I received A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) from the author. However, I was not required to give a review.

Publisher’s Summary

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away two days before Christmas to help at another settlement, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day. When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas. Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Thursday Throwback – To Gain A Mommy

to-gain-a-mommy

About the Book

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

My Review

Widower Carl McGuire is trying to carry on after the death of his wife, Faith. He and his children, Mary and Brody, are getting on with their lives, until Hope Michaels moves in across the street, throwing everyone’s life into an uproar.

Hope relocated her pediatric firm back to her hometown to be close to her Mom. Little did she know, she would be moving across the street from the only man she had ever loved, the one who betrayed her and broke her heart.

I really enjoyed To Gain a Mommy. The children were so true to life. Mary is twelve with a going on 20 attitude and Brody is eight, and loves dogs, and don’t even get me started on Hope’s dog, Goldie. She is such a sweetheart! I appreciated feeling as if I was getting to know each character, and in getting to know them, to also understand why they chose certain paths or behaved a particular way.

Even though this is a novella, the characters are well-rounded. As you read the story, you become invested in their pains, hopes and dreams.

Tanya Eavenson has written a short (only 93 pages), sweet story of heartbreak, betrayal and redemption. To Gain a Mommy is a quick read and a great book to curl up with on a lazy day.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

(Originally posted 2-27-2017. I am re-posting in conjunction with CelebrateLit’s tour, I am under no obligation to do so, nor was I asked to do so.)

Spur of the Moment Bride by Anne Greene

My Review

After being labeled as a tease by her father, and being told to find a husband within 30 days, or lose her inheritance, Abby Hollister sets out to comply.

I enjoyed Abby’s pluckiness in setting out to find a husband. Her experiences on the stagecoach leave you feeling as if you were there with her, feeling cramped, gawked at and made uncomfortable. Also, the dangers of stagecoach rides are aptly illustrated in the portrayal of bad guys, rough terrain and consequences from harsh elements.

Anne Greene is a new author to me and this is the first of her stories I have read. Overall, I enjoyed the story and its uniqueness. However, there were a couple of incidents where Abby’s reference to another character’s personal attributes that possibly could not be helped and a couple of items on her list, were not kind. (I feel it gave me a small insight into the author’s thoughts on other people.)

Spur of the Moment Bride by Anne Greene is a short story, quick and easy to read.

I received the book from the author through The Book Club Network. However, I was not required to write a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Heiress Abby Hollister’s Papa demands she stop toying with young men’s hearts and marry within a month or be disinherited. After reading an ad for a mail-order bride in untamed Laramie, Wyoming, Abby makes a list of characteristics she expects for her husband and sets off to claim the perfect mate and secure her personal fortune.

Stage coach driver, Zach Tyler likes his exciting job where he outsmarts robbers and Indians and keeps the stage running regardless of weather, break-downs, and ornery passengers. But passenger Abby Hollister proves to be an unusual challenge. He protects her on the journey to Laramie, but in that town women are as scarce as a bird’s nest in a cuckoo clock, and men go crazy when the beauty arrives.

GIVEAWAY STARTS TOMORROW CHECK BACK FOR DETAILS

A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) by Tamera Lynn Kraft

 #ReadChristmasinJuly

Welcome to our last Christmas in July story!

Publisher’s Summary

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away two days before Christmas to help at another settlement, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day. When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas. Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

My Review

Anna Brunner faced many obstacles and a rough life in Schoenbrunn Village, Ohio, in 1773. One of the things she didn’t want to face was her husband’s need to hide details of his mission work from her.

John Brunner felt protecting his wife from things that would distress her justified his half-truths.

John’s desire to help ease his wife’s anxiety was admirable. However, his methods were not.Even though we know it is to avoid conflict and ease our conscience, many of us fall into the same trap John did, with half-truths and evasions. We justify our actions by telling ourselves we are doing it for the other person’s feelings.

We all, as individuals like Anna, sometimes want to bury our heads in the sand to avoid hurt and pain. However, this only sets us up for more heartbreak and pain.

There are many lessons to be learned from A Christmas Promise. Even though the story is a novella, therefore it is short, it packs several messages into the pages you read.

A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) by Tamera Lynn Kraft focuses on Christmas for Moravians in colonial America. I am a little familiar with the Moravian faith and some of its Christmas traditions, so I especially enjoyed learning more.

I received A Christmas Promise (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza) from the author. However, I was not required to give a review.

Christmas in July sponsored by          https://www.asimplyenchantedlife.com/christmas-in-july-signup/

Angel Song by Mary Manners

#ReadChristmasinJuly

Publisher’s Summary

Down on her luck, college-educated art teacher Quinn Sanders is a single mom who’s returned to Landers Hollow to raise her five-year-old daughter, Linsey. While working at the local diner, Quinn is befriended by Jason Graves. She has no idea Jason’s the youth director of Landers Hollow Community Church until he asks her to lend a hand with the children’s Christmas pageant. Jason is dealing with issues of his own—a painful divorce following a doctor’s confirmation that he’ll never be able to father a child. Jason longs for a family of his own, but, rejected and disheartened, fears it may never come to pass. Jason and Quinn are both searching for a Christmas miracle. What they find is sweeter than an angel’s song.

My Review

Quinn Sanders, single mom, lost her job because of budget cuts and has returned home, only to find work as a waitress. She’s barely able to eke out a living for herself and her daughter. To make matters worse, it’s almost Christmas, her car won’t start and all four of the tires on her car are bald.

Jason Graves, church youth director, lost his help for the annual Christmas pageant and thinks Quinn is the answer to his prayers. Only one problem; she doesn’t agree!

Mary Manners’ novella, Angel Song, is an enchanting short story about the Christmas season. I felt the bitter cold as Quinn unsuccessfully tried to start her car, the frustration of her feeling as if it were just one more thing on a mountain of disappointments and the feeling of redemption as her life began to slowly turn around. I also delighted in Linsey, Quinn’s daughter! She added warmth, laughter and tenderness to the lives of everyone she touched.

Miss Manners does a wonderful job of portraying two souls reeling from rejection and heartache, learning to trust God in all circumstances.

Angel Song is the perfect story for Christmas in July, evoking memories of the joy of the season and the reasons we celebrate it.

                                          Christmas in July sponsored by                                                 https://www.asimplyenchantedlife.com/christmas-in-july-signup/

An Apple for Christmas by Darlene Franklin

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#ReadChristmasinJuly

Publisher’s Summary

Ruby Nelson trades her job in the laboratory for teaching in a small girls’ school in Vermont. Twin sisters challenge her position—and their father captivates her imagination. Will the orchard grower graft Ruby onto his heart?

My Review

Ruby Nelson, the teacher for Spruce Hill Female Academy in Vermont, is clearly overqualified for her position.

MacIntosh “Mac” Cortland, widowed father to twins, Pippa and Margil (all three of the Cortland’s are named after a type of apple), is curious as to why Ruby is teaching instead of following her original vocation as a scientist. He’s not sure he wants her teaching his girls.

I especially enjoyed Pippa as she is spunky and inquisitive, sometimes to her detriment. Both Pippa and Margil are lonely without a mother and are trying to find their way through life, trying the patience of their father and their teacher.

Darlene Franklin has written a cute, heart-warming and enjoyable story focused around apples. Although An Apple for Christmas isn’t centered around Christmas, it does address the holiday and has inspirational overtones.

(Some of the book appears to be in draft form. Nevertheless, the story is fun to read.)

                               Christmas in July sponsored by                                                 https://www.asimplyenchantedlife.com/christmas-in-july-signup/

The Fruitcake Challenge By Carrie Fancett Pagels

Banner Christmas in July 2

#ReadChristmasinJuly

Publisher’s Summary

When new lumberjack, Tom Jeffries, tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake, “as good as the one my mother makes,” she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp—and the cockiest. Moreover, she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help—and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother.

Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?

My Review

Josephine “Jo” Christy has two brothers, Ox and Moose-whose nicknames are representative of their sizes- who protect her while she works as a cook in their father’s lumber camp. She doesn’t know of their protection either, but she wouldn’t mind even if she did because all she wants is to start her own bakery someday. Her job as camp cook is providing her with good training.  However, when Tom Jefferies has a “proposal” involving a fruitcake, she decides to take him on so she can teach him a lesson. However, maybe Jo learns a lesson!

I enjoyed getting to know the characters in the story; they were fun and sweet. Everyone contributed to the “proposal,” making it a most “delicious” part of the plot.

Carrie Fancett Pagels has written a delightful Christmas story in book 1 of The Christy Lumber Camp Series. Miss Pagels draws from her own history to authenticate and realistically depict the lumber camp setting.  As you read The Fruitcake Challenge, you feel the bitterly cold wind, revel in the competition and root for the main characters. Miss Pagels also includes a strong inspirational message in the book, which I appreciate.

The Fruitcake Challenge is an enchanting book to read, be it at Christmas or any other time of year!

I received this book from the author. However, I was not required to write a review.

From the Author

I wrote this book with inspiration from the memory of my mother, who was moved to a lumber camp when she was a young girl. My grandmother served as the lumber camp cook where my grandfather had his logging camp and my mother helped. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and met many of my mother’s friends from her lumber camp days. Many people of different nationalities who still could speak their native language, e.g., Finnish. I set my story in the 19th century, however, at the end of the “White Gold” book in Michigan’s lower peninsula.

If you enjoy lumberjacks and logging camps, I suggest you visit the Tahquamenon Logging Museum in Newberry, Michigan. My paternal great-grandparents’ cabin is housed there. That side of the family had lumberjacks, too, but not like on my maternal side. The museum is a great place to visit to learn more about lumber camps. And if you visit, try to plan when they are doing their famous “Lumberjack Breakfasts” because they are not to be missed!

Another place I love is Hartwick Pines, which has old growth trees including some of the big white pines that are now gone.

The right fruitcake is very tasty! I challenge you to set any prejudices against this holiday cake aside and come up with a version that suits your own taste buds. And my mom really did make the best fruitcake–just like Tom’s mother.

                                            Christmas in July sponsored by                                                 https://www.asimplyenchantedlife.com/christmas-in-july-signup/