The Family Blessing Series by Stephanie Dees on Tour with JustRead Publicity Tours

My Reviews

I recently read Stephanie Dees’ 4 books in the Family Blessings Series, and I must say, I was impressed not only by Dees’ writing but also how she handled the characters life situations.

The books are geared more toward those over 16, and also those not new to the Christian faith.

Dees adeptly illustrates that becoming a Christian doesn’t get you a “golden ticket to a life free from sin. Mistakes will be and are made, consequences occur and lessons are learned.

I haven’t read Harlequin Inspirational books in years. However, this series intrigued me. I am glad I decided to read it. The author does a great job with interweaving a Biblical message while at the same time handling some very complex and realistic stories. We have all made mistakes in our lives, and Dees illustrates how God can take some of those mistakes and as a portion of Isaiah 61:3 says “… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; …”

The Dad Next Door, book one in the series, introduces us to Red Hill Springs, Alabama. I enjoyed reading about a small town, full of the good and the bad that one encounters there.

The story takes three lost, broken people, Joe Sheehan and his daughter, plus Claire Conley, and shows how with help from God, friends and family things can become better and home can become home.

I ached for both Joe and Claire. Joe wants so desperately to bond with his daughter, Amelia. However, in typical hurt, bewildered and angry pre-teen fashion she pushes him away. Claire came to Red Hill Springs with such high hopes wanting to help foster children. But her inheritance is nothing like the picture she saw. Both must work hard to overcome many obstacles and the town’s preconceived ideas.

Book two in the series, A Baby for the Doctor, focuses on the siblings of the two main characters in The Dad Next Door, Jordan Conley and Ash Sheehan.

The story intertwines Jordan’s life with Claire’s when Jordan begins equine therapy for Claire’s children. Ash becomes a vital member of the team when he becomes the pediatrician for Claire’s foster children.

Equine therapy is defined as a form of therapy based on experience and observation that involves interactions between patients and horses to promote human physical and mental health.

Not far into the story, I realized Jordan was “just what the doctor ordered” (pun intended). Ash’s persona was that of someone who just stepped out of GQ magazine, hardly a candidate for a doctor to children on a farm full of horses, goats and kittens. In contrast, Jordan was not afraid to get in the mud and get dirty, mucking out stalls and playing with animals and children alike.

In Their Secret Baby Bond, we meet Wynn, Joe and Ash’s sister, when she returns home broken and lost after losing the man she loves when she tells him she is pregnant.

Wynn fell, and fell hard, for her dreams. She dreamed of being a politician’s wife and her job working for a Congressman that loved her fit the bill. That is, until she realized he didn’t love her but was only using her and wanted nothing more to do with her, and wanted her to get rid of their baby.

It wasn’t hard to feel great empathy for Wynn. How difficult it must have been for her to return home and admit not only had she been so wrong in what she thought, but she was also pregnant.

The Marriage Bargain tells the story of Juliet “Jules” Sheehan, who becomes an instant mother when her best friend, Glory, is killed in a car accident.

Cam Quinn, the girl’s uncle, returns to town with every intention of adopting his nieces, but he didn’t count on Jules being there, nor her determination to fulfill his sister’s dying wishes.

I can’t imagine what Jules and Cam went through after losing Glory. I lost my baby brother several years ago, and I’m still not fully recovered from the suddenness and sadness of losing him.

Before Glory’s death, Cam had created a new life for himself as a writer of adventure stories, traveling to distant countries for research when he was unable to continue living in Red Hill Springs. Jules was an entrepreneur with a thriving business. When there seemed no way to keep the children except for them to marry, they accepted the challenge and married.

I received this series from JustRead Tours. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Information

The Dad Next Door

A Place to Call Home

Lawman Joe Sheehan is desperate to bond with the daughter he’s just discovered he has. But as a virtual stranger to twelve-year-old Amelia, the task seems impossible. Until Claire Conley moves to town. A social worker renovating a mansion into a foster home, Claire is the first person to get through to Amelia. Falling for the single dad was not on Claire’s to-do list. But with Joe and Amelia around, the house finally starts to feel like home. Claire’s ready to fight to convince Joe that together they’ve done more than fix a house…they’ve built a family.

A Baby for the Doctor

A Family to Call Her Own

After becoming a foster parent to a young boy, equine therapist Jordan Conley’s life gets turned upside down. Little Levi is in need of an exceptional pediatrician, which means seeking help from Dr. Ash Sheehan — a man that, despite her heart-pounding crush, isn’t her type. Her life is horses and hay, and she can’t imagine the suit-clad doctor in a pair of cowboy boots. As a confirmed bachelor, Ash has never been nervous around women, but there’s something about Jordan that flusters him, and working closely together doesn’t help. The last thing he’s looking for is long-term romance. But the more involved he gets, the more he wishes they could stay together…always.

Their Secret Baby Bond

He wanted roots. She chose career. Can a baby bring them back together?

Wynn Sheehan planned to change the world — not return to Alabama alone and pregnant. Her life is in shambles, but at least she can help take care of Latham Grant’s ailing grandpa. Latham isn’t ready to trust the woman who eagerly left him and their small town behind. But can they ignore the spark rekindled by unexpected Family Blessings?

The Marriage Bargain

Falling for her convenient groom…

Jules Sheehan will do anything to keep custody of the two orphaned girls in her care- including a marriage of convenience with their uncle. Cam Quinn crosses the globe as a travel writer, but he’s ready to settle down. Now tough, tender Jules is offering the home he’s secretly longed for. Can this marriage in name only become a family of the heart?

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Hummingbird Kisses (Hummingbird Hollow Book 1) by Delia Latham

My Review

Toni Littlebird owns Inn the Hollow (love the play on words!) and is known as the hummingbird whisperer.

Dax Hendricks arrives at Hummingbird Hollow’s Inn in the Hollow on a Harley that is barely able to make it to the front door.

Delia Latham’s Hummingbird Kisses is a winsome, inspiring book. The main characters, Toni and Dax, have both been told by God that when they meet their “one and only,” they will know them. Imagine that you are Toni or Dax and realize that the other person is the one God means for you, but you just know God made a mistake!

I felt, at times, they weren’t giving each other the proper respect-especially Toni in the beginning. However, as the story went on, they became more familiar with one other and “settled” down. They became adept at sparring and teasing each other, which was a cute, entertaining quality of the novella.

I experienced feelings of serenity and wonder at the descriptions of Hummingbird Hollow and its surrounding areas. The sensations evoked were ones of astonishment and amazement, making me wish I was there with Toni and Dax, sharing in the phenomenon they witnessed.

I also enjoyed reading about Toni Littlebird because I am part Cherokee. She was a very remarkable and slightly querulous woman, with the ability to “whisper” to hummingbirds!

The story is well written, and the personalities have depth and complexity which draws you into the tale.

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

Publisher’s Summary

Toni Littlebird believes God has created someone especially for her. When she meets him, she’ll know he’s The One, and she will love him. But that’s before Dax Hendrick roars into Hummingbird Hollow on a noisy, crippled Harley, spitting stinky filth into the air and scaring away Toni’s beloved hummingbirds. Dax sports over-long hair, an unkempt beard, and a condescending attitude toward her ancestral home. Toni takes one look into his mesmerizing blue-green eyes and…she knows. This uncivilized creature is “The One.” She’d been right about knowing him, but wrong about something far more important: She will never love him. Why God sent Dax to this beautiful place is a mystery, and it’s clear he can’t expect any answers from the lovely but unsympathetic owner of Inn the Hollow—a haphazardly constructed dwelling that goes against every professional rule in Dax’s area of expertise. He hopes to get the green light on getting out of there before the uneven corners, crooked floor slats, and random construction wither his architectural creativity. Is it possible that, between God’s gentle leading and a lesson or two from the fascinating hummingbirds that populate the hollow, Dax and Toni will open their hearts to each other? Or will their stubborn wills ruin God’s beautiful gift of love?

Blue Ridge Sunrise (A Blue Ridge Romance) by Denise Hunter

My Review

Denise Hunter’s newest book, Blue Ridge Sunrise, is a little edgier than most of her books, indeed more so than most books in the Christian genre. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story.

Zoe Collins ran from Copper Creek as fast as she could. A tragic misunderstanding undermined her feelings of self-worth, and she took off, with the town’s bad boy-Kyle Jimmerson-to become a famous songstress. Things were seeming to go well, and their band, Brevity, was making a name for itself. However, as is often the case, life got in the way.

Cruz Huntley could not understand why Zoe fled, leaving him with a broken heart.  Now that she is back, he’s not sure where he stands.

There are some weighty issues dealt with in Blue Ridge Sunrise, for instance; two issues are premarital sex and domestic abuse. Portions of the book are a little difficult to read. Readers should be aware that Blue Ridge Sunrise does not have an explicit gospel message in which its characters’ broken lives are redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ.  Rather, the characters in this novel are strengthened by hardship and adversity. Seeing them emerge stronger, in the end, is inspiring and fits the book well into the genre of inspirational fiction. Due to some of the situations depicted in the story, I would suggest this book be read by those in their mid-teens or older. This novel could be used as a catalyst to open up a line of meaningful dialogue (and I sincerely hope it will!).

I received this book from Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now–five years later.