Book Review: Sweet on You by Becky Wade

sweet on you

Sweet on You

Author: Becky Wade

Publisher: Bethany House

Published: April 30, 2019

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who’s spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He’s achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him—Britt’s heart.

When Zander’s uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?


REVIEW

Charming. Delectable. Elegant. Like the chocolates described in the third entry to the Bradford Sisters Romance series, Sweet on You delivers in all the right ways. Christian fiction star Becky Wade knows just the elements to blend for the perfect story in the way a chocolatier knows the correct amount of cocoa for each truffle. As we all wish for one more bite of chocolate upon coming to the end of the box, readers will wish for one more novel in this sister series upon closing the final page of Sweet on You.

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford bring emotional depth to the forefront of Wade’s latest story. Chocolatier and owner of Sweet Art, Britt Bradford is a fiesty, independent, resilient heroine whose determination to stand alone often gets her into trouble and brings a breath of fresh air to the leading lady category of Christian fiction. While many times I wanted to shake her refusal to open up to the man who so clearly loved her, Britt’s independent streak lent itself to a heartbreaking scene at the end of the novel that wholly supported her character growth. Bestselling author Zander Ford, a handsome hero with a Dickensian air, was a 100 percent perfect hero who was just flawed enough to give the novel conflict. His part of the ending of the novel cemented his role as breakthrough hero of the year in Christian fiction–gentleness mixed with strength, soul blended with sincerity, protectiveness embedded with love. It will take a lot to top this guy. Add in an art mystery and faith element and this novel has it all.

With epistolary elements that demonstrate Britt and Zander’s feelings for each other closing each chapter, Wade’s writing strengths are on full display in Sweet on You. This novel will surely leave each of its readers hungering for more from this talented author.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Becky WadeBecky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.  She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance!  She’s the Christy and Carol award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.

Book Review: Now and Then and Always by Melissa Tagg

now and then and alwaysNow and Then and Always

Author: Melissa Tagg

Publisher: Larkspur Press

Published: May 28, 2019

“It was just a house. Just a weathered old house in a hidden grove, shuttered and still…”

Last year, after traumatic circumstances forced her from her job as a nanny, Mara Bristol finally found a place to belong—the winsome Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa. For months, she’s helped its owner, Lenora, maintain the ramshackle property despite their shortage of guests. But when Lenora fails to return from a month-long trip and the bank threatens foreclosure, Mara worries she’s once again alone . . . abandoned . . . about to lose the only true home she’s ever known.

Detective Marshall Hawkins is no closer to whole today than he was two years ago . . . the day his daughter died. Between his divorce, debilitating migraines, and a dependence on medication, his life is falling apart. And when a reckless decision on the job propels him into administrative leave, he has no other plan but to get in his truck and drive. A one-night stay at the Everwood was supposed to be just that. But there’s something about the old house—or maybe its intriguing caretaker—that pulls him in.

Together, Mara and Marshall set out to save the Everwood. But its secrets run deeper than they could’ve imagined. As they renovate the house and search for its missing owner, they’ll each confront the pain that brought them to the Everwood in the first place . . . and just maybe discover a faith and love to help them carry on.

Romance and mystery collide in this first installment in award-winning author Melissa Tagg’s new Maple Valley series.

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

In the first book of her new series, Tagg brings readers back to Maple Valley, a quirky small town filled with memorable characters, quaint scenery, and places we’d all like to visit. Joining that list of must-visit imaginary locales is a central star of Now and Then and Always–the Everwood B&B. This charming home away from home for many of the characters is a focal point for Marshall and Mara, the hero and heroine, respectively, of Tagg’s latest novel. With her trademark rom-com style infused in every scene, Tagg has also continued to explore adding depth to her stories with Now and Then and Always. Mindful of the sensitive subject matter but up front about the issues, Now and Then and Always stars characters who are challenged yet resilient, flawed yet humble, and wounded yet (eventually) open. Blending humor, romance, realistic challenges, and a little something extra into a story that could play off of a heightened HGTV reality show, Tagg has crafted a worthy entry into her Maple Valley cannon.

RATING4 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa TaggMelissa Tagg is the award-winning author of the popular Walker Family series, the Where Love Begins series and the Enchanted Christmas Collection. She’s a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. Her recent releases include a Carol Award winner (One Enchanted Noel), an RT Book Reviews TOP PICK (All This Time) and a Publishers Weekly Spring Top Ten Pick (Like Never Before). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

Book review: After the Rain by Brandy Bruce

After the RainAfter the Rain

Author: Brandy Bruce

Publisher: Bling! Romance

Published: February 4, 2019

Debra Hart is moving on. Maybe. Hopefully. One day.

As a radio show host, Debra spends her mornings as Miss Lonely Heart on air, empathizing with all the broken hearts in the Denver metro area. She spends her evenings watching old musicals and trying not to think about the guy who broke up with her and subsequently fell in love with one of her best friends. Alone in a new city, Debra questions where she belongs and who she is now.

When she stumbles into the indie music scene, Debra meets singer Ben Price. Rock star appeal, with a day job as a worship pastor, Ben is everything Debra wants to avoid. But he’s determined to be her friend, and it so happens she could really use one. Because try as she might, nothing seems to erase the anger and betrayal she feels.

It’s time for a new dream. But how does she start over when the pieces of her broken past remain lodged in her heart?

“Brandy Bruce has weaved together a bittersweet tale that had me laughing and crying within a mere three words. Filled with loss, love, and beautiful life, After the Rain will forever be in my heart, sitting on my shelf of favorites.” ~V. Joy Palmer, Author of Love, Lace, and Minor Alterations

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


Topping my list of most-anticipated books of 2019, After the Rain proved to be a bit of a different story than I expected and so much more at the same time. I’m an avid lover of Bruce’s debut with Bling! Romance, The Last Summer, and fell head-over-heels for that hero and heroine while finding Debra my least favorite of the group for no reason other than simply being different from her. Knowing how much I loved The Last Summer and how badly I wanted a positive outcome for Debra, I eagerly jumped into After the Rain.

Bruce’s sophomore contemporary romance proves just how talented a writer she is. She took a vivacious, bubbly emotional character from The Last Summer and turned her into a mature, cautious, thoughtful heroine in After the Rain. Debra’s emotions are so beautifully portrayed in this book that I actually myself felt her heartbreak, questions, doubts, and uncertainties. By the middle of the book, when Debra’s outlook begins to shift ever so slightly back to her The Last Summer-self, I found myself thinking “atta girl.” Bruce’s use of themes and symbolism are superb in, lending depth to this already-strong story. Add one God-fearing, kind hero and a cast of characters I sincerely hope return for their own stories, and After the Rain is one book I will be recommending on many lists in 2019.


About the Author

brandy bruceBrandy Bruce is the award-winning author of The Last Summer*, as well as the novels After the Rain, Looks Like Love, and the Romano Family Collection series. She’s also the co-author of the YA fantasy novel Chosen, with her sister Sara Hanson. Brandy has worked in book publishing for more than ten years–editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s a graduate of Liberty University and currently works as a freelance book editor. She and her husband make their home in Virginia with their three children. When Brandy isn’t editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book. You can contact her through her website at http://www.authorbrandybruce.com. Find her on Twitter at @BrandyBruce. Also on Instagram at @ALittleBitofBrandy.

*Bookvana Award for Chick lit/Women’s Lit

Novel Review: All This Time by Melissa Tagg

All This TimeAll This Time (Walker Family Book 4)

Author: Melissa Tagg

Publisher: Larkspur Press

Published: September 28, 2017

Bear McKinley’s past refuses to let go.

Ten years ago, Bear gave up everything—his freedom and his reputation—for his mess of a family. But after years of distance and too many attempts at starting over, he finally has a new life doing noble work in Brazil . . . until his past catches up to him once again. Suddenly he finds himself back in Maple Valley, charged with the care of his missing brother’s children, convinced he’s out of second chances to make his life count. And yet, with every day that passes, these kids, this quirky town and the woman he never stopped missing help patch the holes in his heart. Maybe this is the fresh start he’s been longing for all along. But as his newfound hope grows, so does the mystery surrounding his brother’s activities—and when the threat reaches into the lives of those he loves, it’s clear he can’t run away this time.

Fear holds Raegan’s future captive.

Raegan Walker is fine. She’s happy working a slew of part-time jobs, still living in her childhood bedroom and rarely venturing from her hometown. At least, that’s what she tells everyone . . . and herself. But she can’t help wondering what might’ve happened if she hadn’t abandoned her art so many years ago—and if Bear McKinley had never left. When Bear returns and she’s commissioned for a painting that just might revive her artistic ambition all in one week, it’s time to finally reach for more than fine. But doing so means facing the fears that have held her back all this time, including admitting the secret she’s kept from Bear and her family. With her dream and her heart on the line, how much will Raegan have to risk to finally chase her happy ending?

AMAZON GOODREADS BARNES & NOBLE


REVIEW

What a beautifully moving book. All This Time by Melissa Tagg exemplifies Christian contemporary romance at its finest. With themes of redemption, grace, love, and faithfulness, Tagg spins a story that is equally reminiscent of her trademark writing style of which so many of us discovered her novels and her newfound freedom in writing books for the independent market. Humor abounds in heroine Raegan Walker, whose love for the artistic is embedded in everything she does and is. Deep and wounded hero Bear McKinley is the hero all female readers love to love. Where Tagg stands out in All This Time is delving deep into the painful and heart-wrenching stories these two characters have lived–and all too often, what readers experience in our day-to-day lives. With freedom to explore these deeper and heart-wrenching subjects that CBA publishing houses typically restrict, Tagg is able to fully gift her readers with God’s truth, grace, and love. This book will speak to readers long after they close its final page.


Melissa TaggABOUT THE AUTHOR

Award-winning author Melissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant-writer and total Iowa girl. The second book in her popular Walker Family series, Like Never Before, was named to one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Spring 2016 Top Ten lists. Her most recent releases include Keep Holding On (Sept 2016) and One Enchanted Eve (Nov 2016). Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever–not that she’s biased–watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at her website and on Facebook and Instagram.

Novel Review: The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

The Esther ParadigmThe Esther Paradigm

Author: Sarah Monzon

Publisher: Radiant Publications

Published: November 2, 2017

​The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.

As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?

Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance.

AMAZON GOODREADS 


REVIEW

This book is unbelievably beautiful. As a wordsmith, I rarely find myself unable to express my thoughts through the written word, but The Esther Paradigm has proven there is a first time for everything. I picked up The Esther Paradigm while reading other books, and this story captivated me so much that I finished reading it quicker than other ones I was in the middle of and that I completely put those others aside so I could read Mozon’s story in its entirety. Putting aside those other books so I could read The Esther Paradigm with my entire focus on the book was worth the delay on the others.

The Esther Paradigm is quite simply one of the best novels–independently or traditionally published–that I have ever read. From her use of metaphors to her descriptive prose to her realism to her complex and unique story, Monzon used every writing technique to its best ability in this story. I was immersed in the Bedouin culture from the first page of The Esther Paradigm; one of my favorite aspects of this book, in fact, is that I became so interested in a culture and location that previously I knew nothing about. If I come across another story set in this culture or location, I’ll be much more open to reading it thanks to Monzon’s book. The Biblical aspect of The Esther Paradigm sold this book to me above all because I love connecting with and learning about my faith as much as I can when I read Christian fiction.

I have high hopes that this book will win awards next year, if only so that more readers will hear about The Esther Paradigm. Mozon has climbed her way to the top of my list of authors whose books I would buy without even reading the back cover. Well done, Ms. Monzon!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah MonzonSarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Sarah loves connecting with readers on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.

 

Book Review: A Twist of Faith by Pepper Basham

A Twist of FaithA Twist of Faith (Mitchell’s Crossroads #1)
Publisher: Firefly Southern Fiction
Published: April 6th, 2016
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Love does not have an accent … 
Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.

 

For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.

But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?


REVIEW:

Crossing the genre lines between historical fiction and contemporary fiction can bring about heated discussion amongst readers. Sometimes people tend to lean towards one genre or the other; history fans love reading about times past while contemporary fans like the ease of familiarity that comes from reading stories set in the present. Other times,    although admittedly not as often, readers–myself included–fall into both camps. In history books I can be whisked away to the romance of the Regency era, the adventure and drama of World War Two, or the retellings of fairy tales. With contemporary books the possibilities of a different life encompassed by what I know bring both comfort and newness to my world. No matter history or contemporary, when I put down a book I know I will be living a totally different life. That’s a beautiful prospect.

Publishing houses tend to prefer authors choose one genre to write in because, as creatures of habit, people like to know what to expect when they purchase a product. Authors who write in multiple genres face the possibility that readers will not know what to expect from their stories because different romance, contemporary, historical, suspense, thriller, and other genres are comprised of different elements. It is rare, then, for authors to cross genres between historical and contemporary fiction. Pepper Basham, author of the Penned in Time historical fiction series, has broken that rule, though, with A Twist of Faith, the first book in the Mitchell’s Crossroads series. From early twentieth century England to modern day Appalachia, Basham has proven with her latest novel that some rules are meant to be broken.

Set in rural North Carolina, Basham’s Appalachian background provides solid support for a novel that sets out to prove that labels do not define who we are. Dee, the heroine of A Twist of Faith, is everything a modern woman should be: successful, driven, poised, and focused on her career. Reese, a hardworking farmer with a strong love of family, helps set the Southern stage with his Appalachian accent and love of the land. Over the course of the novel Dee comes to accept, through the often painful idea that she has to let go, that God’s dreams and plans for her are not what she has expected but are just as beautiful. While Dee comes to find her place in Appalachia, Reese learns how to give his past over to God, which includes giving and receiving a hefty dose of forgiveness. These two unlikely heroes bring us on a faith-filled journey comprised of new dreams, challenges enlivened by grace, and the sentiment that pre-conceived notions rarely show us who people really are.

RATING: 5 stars


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pepper BPepper Bashamasham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, and has already garnered its first award with Readers’ Favorites International Awards. Pepper’s second and third books in the series arrive in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in April. You can connect with Pepper on her websiteFacebook or Twitter.

 

Book Review: Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never BeforeLike Never Before (Walker Family #2) 

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher…if only she new who he was.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime–a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he’s inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.

But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley’s quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

REVIEW:

There are certain things I know will bring me smiles: purring kittens, Broadway musicals, Disney movies, Jane Austen adaptations, trips to Barnes and Nobles. The underlying theme of this list–the belief that love conquers all. (Well, maybe that Barnes and Nobles trip doesn’t quite fit that statement, but hey, this *is* my list…and I can find many “love conquers all” stories in B&N.)

And if I want one of those “love conquers all” stories that will make me smile, I know without any doubt that all I need to do is pull a Melissa Tagg novel off the shelf. That’s right, reader friends. Some stories make your heart flutter with the sweet delight of first love; others make your heart pound with the spice; and some make you swoon with the romance. Melissa’s novels have a little bit of all of that, ensuring that no matter what kind of love a reader longs for, they will find it amongst her witty dialog, punchy plots, and quirky characters.

Witty dialog, punchy plots, and quirky characters are enough to make a novel successful, but I fully believe that readers keep coming back for more of Melissa’s books because of the heart of the stories. Melissa crafts characters and storylines that speak to the  heartaches, joys, loves, and dramas that we all experience. Like Never Before demonstrates her natural ability to reach people on a heart-level through seemingly ordinary circumstances (in the book) but truly beautiful life lessons (woven into the story through her unique author voice).

I’ve long loved Melissa’s novels for all those reasons mentioned above, but in Like Never Before I noticed what first caught my attention last winter with her stand-alone novella: this author’s craft is strong, unique, and improved upon in each book she writes. Like Never Before stands out from Melissa’s preceding novels because of her use of wit in her dialog and prose, deep plot lines, and comedic timing. While Melissa’s novels are always funny, the wit and comedic timing in Like Never Before actually had me laughing out loud. She also deepened her story with a historical subplot that strengthened her character’s motivations and added a layer of complexity to her writing. These two elements alone tell me that Melissa is more than capable–and likely will–make a name for herself in a niche market of authors who can write complex contemporary romance novels.

Like Never Before is now one of my favorite novels ever. I am so excited to read Melissa’s future novels, including the next novel in the Walker Family Series (starring Beckett)!

Rating: 5 stars


About the Author: 

Melissa TaggMelissa Tagg is a former reporter, current nonprofit grant writer and total Iowa girl. She’s also a multi-published novelist, writing romantic comedies in the banter-filled style of her favorite 1930s and 40s classic films. Her latest book, Like Never Before, was named by Publishers Weekly to their spring 2016 “Religion and Spirituality” Top 10 list. When she’s not writing she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa loves connecting with readers at http://www.melissatagg.com and on Facebook and Instagram.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.