Book Review: Christmas Surprise on MacLean Mountain by Randi Alexander

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Not only is this the most emotional Christmas novella I have read this year, it is one of my favorite contemporary romance novellas of this year! CHRISTMAS SURPRISE ON MacLEAN MOUNTAIN by Randi Alexander is a lot of emotion packed into a very few pages.

Doctor Booker MacLean gets a call three days before Christmas from his estranged wife for a meeting. He hardens his heart for what he expects to come, but he is completely unprepared for he finds.

Sybil MacLean knows she made a horrible mistake in not trusting her husband over rumors and leaving seven months ago. She wants him back, but she wants his forgiveness and love, not just acceptance due to her secret.

This is a powerful story of a man raised to be logical and unemotional in his decisions. His pride could be the end of the happiness and love her truly wants. It is also a story of forgiveness and understanding of differences. Ms. Alexander’s usual stories are hot and steamy. This novella has no sex and yet is not really sweet because it is so emotionally charged with real feelings and emotions that make the H/h come to life. This HEA had me in tears, in a good way. A beautiful Christmas story good for the whole year!

Written for The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS (The Charmed Amish Life #4) by Shelley Shepard Gray is the last book in The Charmed Amish series, but it can be read as a standalone. When you get to the last chapter wrap-up though, you are going to want to go back and read them all. Ms. Gray’s writing about an Amish family is entertaining and heartwarming, but she also portrays her characters with all the good and bad characteristics of all humans.

Levi Kinsinger has returned to Charm still trying to deal with the death of his father and wanting to find and fit into his place in his family’s business and home. He decides to live on his own because he can’t face the memories in his family home and meets the young widow across the street when she locks herself and her young daughter accidently out of their home. Friendship grows and Levi begins to have feelings for this mother and daughter, but there are secrets to be learned that may change those feelings.

Julia Kemp has been living a lie and running from her past. Having had an abusive fiancé and being pregnant out of wedlock sent her on the run to start over away from her life and family. It has been very difficult, but she has survived and raised her daughter on her own pretending to be a widow in the Amish community in Charm. Levi has made her want to reveal her secret and hope for a better life. Her past is starting to catch up with her and it is time to decide if she will run again or fight for her future.

Levi and Julia are fully developed characters and not just Amish caricatures. That is what I love about all of Ms. Gray’s characters. The plot is realistic and emotional. This is a fast read that will leave you with your HEA and a Kinsinger home full of family and love on Christmas day.

Book Review: A Frost Family Christmas Anthology (Frost Family & Friends, #1-3)

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

If you want to read one sweet contemporary holiday romance or have time for all three in this anthology, plus the added bonus short story, this is a wonderful collection. A FROST FAMILY CHRISTMAS ANTHOLOGY (Frost Family & Friends, #1-3) contains the romance stories of all three Frost siblings, set in small town Vermont around Christmas with a connecting mystery that is solved in book #3. They can be read as standalone books, but I hope you take the time to enjoy them all as I did.

Book #1 – What Child Is This by C.J. Carmichael

Garrett Frost has taken over the full-time operation of the family maple syrup farm from his father. As a widower with a small son he relies on his mother and he hasn’t really moved on since his wife’s death two years ago. His new PR manger, Lily Parker has moved from New York City and is doing a great job, but she doesn’t let anyone get too close. When Lily finds an abandoned baby in the Nativity scene at the farm, it brings her emotional past to a head. Both Garrett and Lily have a lot of past emotions to deal with before they can find a way to move forward together.

Book #2 – Home for Christmas by Roxy Boroughs

Jimmy Frost left town to prove his worth and rarely returns, because he has a secret that has always made him feel different. When he comes home this Christmas, it is for his job. As he stops on the town square, he runs into his high school love. April Rochester is back in town on her grandfather’s farm. She wants to start a school for autistic children, like her son. When Jimmy suddenly appears in town again all of the old feelings do, too. But will he stay or will he be gone again after his visit?

Book #3 – The Holly & The Ivy by Brenda M. Collins

Jocelyn ‘Joey’ Frost has made her dream of being a police office a reality in her hometown. She is up for an upcoming promotion so she is always working to prove herself. There have been a series of petty vandalisms all aimed at the mayor and he wants it solved. As she works that case, her best friend works the case of baby Holly found in the manger. When an ice storm hits, Joey pulls her returning high school flame out of a ditch. Noel ‘Fletch’ Fletcher is an Army brat who became a military policeman and served in Afghanistan. He is visiting his aunt and has come back to claim the only girl he has ever loved.

BONUS STORY – The Gift by C.J. Carmichael

Kindergarten teacher, Amy Frost finds a battered and neglected little child at her door on Christmas Eve. Has her one Christmas wish come true? And how can she explain this to her deputy boyfriend, Gray Cassidy?

These are all fast, easy to read stories with a lot of heart and small town charm that will entertain you on a cold winter night.

Book Review: Essential Magic by Cara McKinnon

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ESSENTIAL MAGIC (The Fay of Skye Book 1) by Cara McKinnon is an alternate history romance set in a 19th century Victorian England that believes in and practices magic. An American witch is searching for her extended family for training and an English second son is afraid to use his magic since a terrible accident. This series is set around a dynasty of powerful English/Scottish magic wielders and the search for the reason that England is losing its magic.

Etta Mae Cook was raised in Appalachia by a Fay mother and a Choctaw medicine-man father. After her mother’s death, she follows her last instructions to return to her distant clan relations in England to train her exceptionally strong powers. It is quite a cultural change from running through the mountains to being in the home of a Marquiness, but Etta is willing to put up with just about anything for the chance to train. What she wasn’t expecting was an instant attraction to Mal, the second son of the Marquiness.

Malcolm Seward just wants to run his Scottish lands and forget about magic, but his family has other plans for him. When he meets Etta, there is an awakening of his power that he will fight at all costs and it could be at the cost of losing Etta. When the clan comes together for the birth of his sister’s twins, many magically secrets become clear and Mal and Etta will need to work their magic together to triumph.

The author has set a vivid backdrop to this series and the research seems very thorough. The characters are all interesting because they have differing levels of magic and come from different levels of society. The romance was spread at a natural progression throughout the story with some very hot sex scenes. This book does give you a HEA for Mal and Etta, but carries over the overall arc of the search for the reason of the magical drain in England. An entertaining start to a new series.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Silver Bells: A Holiday Romance by Jacquie Biggar

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

SILVER BELLS: A Holiday Romance by Jacquie Biggar is a holiday novella that was sweet and easily read in one sitting curled up on the couch while the weather outside is frightful.

Joel Campbell, award winning mystery writer, has moved from Scotland to Vancover Island. He wants to be closer to his grandmother and hopes the change will get him over his writers’ block. Hating his fame, he has walled off his heart, become gruff and hates anyone interrupting him and yet, he is lonely.

Christy Taylor is an artist who has started her own shop attached to her rented home. Her life cannot be more hectic. She is attempting to grow her clientele, while caring for her small daughter, Jill, who has been diagnosed with Type 1, Juvenile diabetes. Christy is a great mother, but her divorce and her ex’s attitude toward their daughter has made her distrustful of any help from any man.

These two need to open up their hearts and learn to trust again before it is too late.

This novella is an enjoyable and quick read. I loved the characters in this short read, but being short, I felt some of the character development was lost. Jill was adorable and her disease was handled extremely well. I also feel this novella was not really a Christmas or holiday story, just a winter setting.  That said, still a good heartfelt novella for a cold winter day.

Book Review: Girl In The Water by Dana Marton

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

When I was asked if I would like to review Dana Marton’s latest book, GIRL IN THE WATER, I agreed right away because she has always given me an all-around enjoyable and entertaining romantic suspense read. What a surprise I was in for! This story is more intense, dark, intricate and emotional than any of her previous works.

In the beginning of this story you are introduced to a man who only lives to drink and fight since his discharge from the Army. Ian Slaney blames himself for the death of his wife and twins while he was in Afghanistan. A world away in the Amazon rain forest, Daniela has grown up dirt poor, but happy with the dream of becoming a teacher. One day, a logger stops at her hut and Daniela is raped and becomes a prostitute like her mother. She is then trafficked to a whore house up the river when her mother drowns in a flood.

Their lives intersect with the murder of Ian’s friend and Army buddy, Finch. Finch had bought Daniela from the whore house to cook and clean for him. When she returns to find a dead body, she stays and pretends nothing has changed so she won’t have to return to her old life. But Finch has sent an S.O.S. out to Ian that he needs help and by the time Ian arrives he is dead. Ian must now deal with the mystery of Finch’s murder and what to do with Daniela.

They return to the U.S. and four years of growth and major changes occur. Ian is sober and working for the Civilian Personnel Recovery Unit of the DOD. Daniela has graduated from college. The secondary plot then pulls them back to Brazil to the area of Daniela’s youth for the recovery of a missing 7 month old baby of U.S. charity workers. The book takes off from here at a rapid pace revolving around stolen diamonds, helping trafficked children, and a romance that can no longer be denied.

Ms. Marton has written a romantic suspense novel that delivers a unique couple that both had to forgive themselves of their pasts to get to their HEA futures. It is also a unique and strong suspense novel filled with exotic locales, intrigue and danger. This is the third book in The Civilian Personnel Recovery Series, but is easily read as a standalone. This is a read that satisfied me on every level. This story is a banquet, not fast food. I recommend this book highly!