Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Romance. Show all posts

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Mistress of the Ritz-Book Review

 


This book was introduced to me by a friend who read it for her book club.  She said it was a book all the club enjoyed.  After reading it, I can see why.  It has everything I like in a story: history, romance, secrets and true to life characters.  The story is inspired by the true life story of Claude and Blanchette Auzello.  Claude was the French director of the Ritz and Blanche was his American wife.


The Story Line

This compelling novel takes us to the glamor of the Ritz and introduces us to all the wonderful characters who enter its doors.  We see bits with Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many more memorable characters from the 1940's.

The story begins in the 1920's when Claude Auzello meets Blanche, an American who has come to Paris in the hopes of becoming an actress.  Claude sweeps Blanche off her feet and they settle into life at the Ritz, where Claude becomes the director.  Life at the Ritz is glamorous and the guests are pampered by Claude and his staff.  Blanche enjoys meeting all of the memorable characters in the Ritz bar.

Life goes along at the Ritz with the glamor of the place and the work of Claude putting a tamper on their marriage.  Blanche and Claude get along but sometimes their differences also draw them apart with each of them living their own lives and keeping secrets.  Everything changes in June 1940 when the Nazi's invade Paris and take over the Ritz as their headquarters.  The Ritz staff is kept but moved to the back of the building and now must cater to the Nazi's every wish, all the while being afraid of every move they make.  

I don't want to spoil more of the plot but the French Resistance plays a big part in the rest of the book and secrets are kept, even from those they are closest to.

The Book on Amazon



My Thoughts on the Book

I really enjoyed the book.  It is the first book I had read by Melanie Benjamin, and I will certainly check out more of her books.  I highly recommend this compelling book.



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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

What is a Coastal Grandmother?

Discover the vibe that is being called Coastal Grandmother and determine whether or not you fit in.

I have just discovered the vibe, ‘Coastal Grandmother’. Let’s take a minute and review exactly what that vibe is all about. It’s not just a reference to a woman but it is also a feeling and a lifestyle that is currently enjoying favor and being celebrated on sites like Instagram and TikTok.

According to Tik Tok user Nicoleta (@lexnicoleta), the movement includes women young and old who “love Nancy Meyers' movies, coastal vibes, recipes and cooking, Ina Garten, cozy interiors and more.” She also says the movement is about taking time to enjoy life. About slowing down.

I had to look up Nancy Meyers' movies and it turns out that the list includes Private Benjamin (Goldie Hawn), Father of the Bride (Steve Martin, Diane Keaton), The Parent Trap (Dennis Quaid, Natasha Richardson), What Women Want (Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt), Something's Gotta Give (Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton), The Holiday (Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz), It's Complicated (Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson) and most recently, The Intern (Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway). They are all very popular, fun movies geared toward women. I now know who Nancy Meyers is and can say that I love her movies even if I did not recognize the name of the American filmmaker. You can check out Nancy Meyers' movies here on Amazon. 

USA Today calls the style “classic and timeless”. You might be a Coastal Grandmother if you like Grace and Frankie’s (2015-2022) home style in the program of the same name, Diane Keaton’s style in Annie Hall (1977) and Meryl Streep’s home in Complicated (2009). I definitely love those styles though I cannot say that my home style is classic or timeless. My home is simply casual and comfortable but those are Coastal Grandmother feelings, too!

Glamour says the term applies to the “perennially summertime lifestyle of a beautiful older woman.” They say that she likes natural products and looking after herself. That she enjoys simple, quality things. That she loves wine and book clubs and life. I definitely love the ideas of an easy summertime lifestyle, of relaxing with a glass of wine and of going to my book club meetings!

Most interesting, I thought, was Glamour’s statement that the Coastal Grandmother prefers real life to life online and I will take that as a reminder to walk away from my computer and celebrate life everyday.

Anne Hathaway at 39 is much younger than you would think of as a grandmother but says that she loves the style and even shared a photo of herself online sporting comfortable khaki pants, shirt and a bucket hat. All were comfortable and all were in neutral colors. Two more great Coastal Grandmother characteristics.

On TikTok, Nicoleta expanded on the comments mentioned previously by saying that Coastal Grandmother “is the feeling that you get when you’re visiting your friend at the beach. A cozy, safe feeling.” I can’t imagine not loving that feeling.

In case you are wondering, no, you don’t have to be a grandmother nor do you have to live on the coast to be characterized as a Coastal Grandmother and yes, there is a Coastal Grandfather equivalent. Glamour cites Stanley Tucci as an example.

I like TheStyleEquation’s definition of the movement as shown here in this short video from TikTok:

@thestyleequation The latest trend, not just for grandmothers! #coastalgrandmother @Lex Nicoleta #lifestyle ♬ original sound - Jennifer Ebelhar
I illustrated the top of this page with a fun, printable graphic from Echowood Printables on Etsy. I love the elements that creator Logan has woven together to create her interpretation of this trend. Click here to see Logan's visual representation on Etsy.  Her print is an inexpensive way to add this trend to your home's decor.

You will also find some interesting, on trend Coastal Grandmother clothing and decor pieces here on Amazon.

Which elements of this lifestyle do you like? Are you a Coastal Grandmother in any or all ways? If you would like to learn and see more, just search for Coastal Grandmother on TikTok and Instagram.

Brenda
Treasures By Brenda





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Friday, March 4, 2022

Appetite for Love Hallmark Movie Review

When searching for a new movie to watch, I came across "Appetite for Love".  It was released in 2016, but somehow I have missed seeing it. 

As a huge Hallmark fan, I didn't feel I needed to look further. I felt confident this would be a good movie and one I would enjoy watching. 

I had seen Andrew Walker (Clay Hart) in several Hallmark movies, but Taylor Cole (Mina Jones) was new to me even though she has starred in several Hallmark movies previously.

From the very beginning, I liked Taylor Cole.  She was easily believable as a current day business executive from a small rural town in Tennessee.  Andrew Walker seems almost born to play the part of Clay Hart, a country boy committed to seeing his home town prosper in spite of outside forces that he must take seriously.  

With the typical feel-good Hallmark theme of romance & fun, and even with the challenges of big city interference, "Appetite for Love" leaves viewers happy and with an appetite for more.     

 

Appetite for Love

 Appetite for LoveCheck PriceMina loves her job, her career.  She is definitely headed in the right direction with the company. She has a great boyfriend, who happens to be a co-worker and their life together is headed in the right direction. Her life seems perfect.  It is exactly what she wanted when she left small town USA to carve out her career.  Since her parents have moved, there is really no reason for her to return to Sycamore Springs, Tennessee.  Well, that is true until her company sends her there to force their newly acquired franchised restaurant into compliance with the company rules, menus, and suppliers.  Her promotion depends on her successfully implementing the required changes at Hart's Restaurant, which happens to be owned by her high school sweetheart's family.

Since his father's recent death, Clay Hart is the operator of the towns popular Hart's Restaurant.  The chef knows what the customers want and he prepares the food accordingly.  Hart's uses locally grown products and the food is cooked fresh daily.  However, that is not in compliance with the company requirements since they are not serving food from the company menu supplied by the chosen vendors.  What's more, Clay is not interested in making those changes.  He knows what his town prefers. Unfortunately, his restaurant is no longer owned by his family.

As you can see, Mina and Clay are about to knock heads. The past has a way of interfering when old hurts become part of the present. Things get even more difficult when Mina's co-worker boyfriend shows up to "help" and report back to corporate.  After all, the people of Sycamore Springs are important to Mina too, even though she tried to forget those friends and her childhood there.

 


2 Ways to Watch "Appetite for Love"

 

 

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Friday, January 28, 2022

Snowkissed - Hallmark Movie Review

Snowkissed
As autumn has turned to winter in our area, the trees and grounds have already been kissed by snow several times. When I saw the movie entitled "Snowkissed", I immediately thought it was a rather romantic way to describe a light snow.  

When it is below freezing outside, I tend to stay inside with a cup of hot cocoa, a warm blanket, and a romantic Hallmark movie.  When the title caught my attention, I decided to check it out.

Setting my first thoughts aside, I read the movie description and thought it might be a nice love story, but I watched it because the title evoked lovely mental imagery.  

Because I prefer clean and wholesome movies, I most often scan Hallmark movies first for a new film to watch when I just want to relax, not have to think too deeply, and simply be entertained by beautiful settings and likable people.

When a movie makes me smile, or even laugh, I know I have discovered a  cinematic gem.  As it turned out, the love story was sweet, I laughed several times, the scenery was fabulous and was definitely snow kissed.

This movie clearly has it all and was a wonderful escape for an hour and a half.

 

"Snowkissed" Movie Synopsis 


 SnowkissedCheck Price Kate (Jen Lilley) is really excited when she is offered an interview with a popular author, but her excitement is quickly diminished when she finds out she will have to travel to conduct the interview.  She hates to travel.  She likes her well organized, clutter-free life in Manhattan and she has no desire to change anything. However, with the prospect of becoming a staff member instead of a freelance writer, and a lot of encouragement from her photographer friend who will go with her, she decides to face her travel fears and take the assignment.

They arrive at the B&B in Canada to find a struggling business run by two single men who are desperate to get the endorsement of an international travel company that will send a lot of business their way.  As the only two guests for the week, the guys ask Kelly & Jane to go through their 3 day tour and give them honest critiques and suggestions.  However, constructive criticism is not always easy to take, even when it is given by request.

While the set-up of two single men and two single women may seem like the perfect situation, it isn't always a guarantee that they will end up as friends, much less anything more to each other. After all, they live in different countries, all have jobs and responsiblities, and at least one definitely does not like change.

 



If you enjoy a romantic movie with a touch of humor and a lot of gorgeous scenery, then you will love Snowkissed

Watch on Amazon Prime or Buy a Hallmark DVD that includes Snowkissed.




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Friday, January 7, 2022

Flights of Fancy (American Heiresses Book #1) by Jen Turano - Book Review

Flights of Fancy Book Review
I truly enjoyed reading the entire American Heiresses series by Jen Turano.  Each book has been equally enchanting, humorous at times, and a delightful read.  

Book 1 of the series, Flights of Fancy, is a wonderful beginning for a great series. It introduces us to Miss Isadora Delafield, who finds herself being pushed into an undesirable relationship with a duke from Europe simply because her mother desires a "titled" son-in-law.  Being a member of New York's Four Hundred isn't enough for Hester Delafield. She wants her daughter to be a duchess!  Never mind the duke is twice her daughter's age and is a widower multiple times.

When we think of wealthy heiresses, we assume their lives are easy, perhaps even enviable.  However, when you really sit back and think about how difficult it would be to know if someone was interested in you or in your money, it doesn't seem quite as enchanting.  Place the heiress in historical times when a husband controlled everything, including the heiresses inheritance, then the whole idea becomes downright dismal. 

 

Flights of Fancy (American Heiresses series) Synopsis

Hester Delafield may be thrilled that the Duke of Montrose has taken a special interest in her daughter, but Isadora is not.  Something about the duke makes her skin crawl and Izzie is rather disgusted by the lecherous fiend. Plus, he makes no secret of the fact that he is seeking a 4th wife who will hopefully succeed where the others have failed.  In his words, he is "in desperate need of an heir and a spare".  Not exactly a courting phrase that makes a young girl swoon, especially when delivered by a creepy old man. 

 Flights of Fancy
(American Heiresses Book #1)
Check Price
When Izzie's butler reveals his own concern for her safety based on what he has learned from the duke's previous staff, he helps her run away.  He even writes her a letter of recommendation so she can get a job in a household and hide out in domestic service.  After all, who would search for a heiress among the staff of a household in another city.

All the fun and laughter for the reader begins when Izzie arrives at a farm in rural Pennsylvania, answering a newspaper ad for a housekeeper.  There is no way anyone would look for her in a home with two elderly people, 3 children, several cows, goats, chickens and ranch hands.  It is the perfect hideaway!  However, she is totally clueless on how to cook, clean, or care for any of them, which makes her less than perfect for them.  Or does it?

-----------


If you are seeking an easy read that will leave you cheering at the end, then I highly recommend "Flights of Fancy".

 



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Friday, December 31, 2021

A New Year's Resolution Hallmark Movie Review

This is a delightfully uplifting movie to watch for New Years!

I have previously bypassed this movie several times because the trailers simply did not appeal to me.  This has taught me that I should never solely rely on the trailers to give me a real representation of whether I will like a movie or not.

True to Hallmark style, this romantic movie is somewhat predictable when Kelly Leone meets Tom Malone, but the story is unique.  

It is clear from the beginning that they are attracted to each other.  However, due to Kelly's New Year's resolution to say "yes" to more social event invitations, their relationship doesn't start with Tom asking her out.  He doesn't want her to feel forced to accept.  Of course, nothing says Kelly can't pursue Tom.  After all, Tom is not bound by any resolution.  Plus, they have several upcoming social events in common. 

Not only did I enjoy the romantic story, I also found myself laughing over several of the scenes.  Truly a nice break and a great way for Hallmark lovers to start the new year.

 

A New Year's Resolution Movie Synopsis

 A New Year's ResolutionCheck PriceKelly Leone is a dedicated morning show producer who has spent the last year working long hours and focusing on getting better ratings for her show.  Now that she has finally gotten the show in a safe zone, she decides it is time for her to focus on her personal life.  While her friends have been extremely understanding and patient with her busy work life, they do express how much they have missed her and want her back.  Kelly recognizes that she has really missed out on some of the changes in their lives, plus the combination of "small moments that makes up the big important stuff in life". 

Because of these revelations, Kelly decides to change her standard New Year's resolution.  She commits herself to her friends and vows that she will accept any social invitation offered to her until her birthday in February.  Her friends don't hesitate to start offering those social invitations, starting with a cold New Year's Day Polar Plunge into Lake Michigan.  Other social invitations include the Blizzard Obstacle Course, speed dating, curling, and facing her greatest fear, a magician.   

When the morning show cast hears of her resolution, they decide to make her the "star" of their new story.  They follow her through her events and film her experiences for the show.  Kelly prefers to be in the background, off camera, but she makes an adorable focus for the new series, as well as for this fun Hallmark movie.

Don't let the trailers keep your from watching this movie!  Why not join me and make it your New Year's resolution to ignore the trailers and watch the movie for yourself. 





Currently, "A New Year's Resolution" is also available on Amazon with a subscription to the Hallmark Channel.  
 


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Friday, December 17, 2021

Christmas Pen Pals Movie Review

Christmas Pen Pals
I am always thrilled to find a new wonderful Christmas movie!  

Most often, I default back to classics of the past during the holidays, but this year I was searching for something new.  I tried several that ended with the movie being clicked off within the first 15 minutes.  I wanted a good movie, not just a time-passer. When I discovered "Christmas Pen Pals" starring Sarah Drew & Niall Matter, I knew almost immediately that I had found the Christmas movie gem I was seeking.

This sweet, romantic movie was perhaps a bit predictable since we knew Hannah (Sarah Drew) was going to fall in love.  However, there were plenty of fun surprises along the way that kept my attention and made me hopeful that this kindhearted woman would find someone who loved her as much, or more, than she loved them.

Yes, I know.  I am an unapologetic hopeless romantic!  I love a great love story whether I am reading a book or watching a movie.  Of course, no love story is better than a real life love story, but we rarely get to see that from the very beginning and see those first sparks. 


Christmas Pen Pals Movie Synopsis

Hannah Morris has a well organized life and in isolated from people and pain by her electronics and gadgets.  As the creator of a dating website, her financial stability is also dependent on the internet via those devices.  When her company partner shares how their site is struggling because people are leaving it in droves due to the lack of the emotional element they desire, the two woman know they need a new "catch" to continue to succeed.  

 CHRISTMAS PEN PALSCheck Price Unfortunately, Hannah also lacks a romantic relationship in her own life. That makes it rather hard for her to envision how to set up a new dating app that would have the needed emotional appeal.  When searching through her phone list of men from her past, she accidentally calls her dad.  Because she doesn't want to let her father down, she ends up agreeing to come home for Christmas.

However, home is where Hannah must come face to face with pain, the past, and the reality of Christmas at home without her mother.  But, she is also greeted by family and friends who welcome her home with open arms. 

The town is celebrating Christmas this year by having secret pen pals assigned to participants who decide in advance if they are seeking love or a new friendship. Because of her current work problem, she decides to check "love" on the application, hoping she will find that needed inspiration for her dating website.

Does she find that inspiration and the "catch" she needs to be professionally successful?  I won't tell!  

You must watch the movie for yourself to find out.


 

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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Reviewing Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Sometimes I need a break from whodunnits and psychological thrillers so when I came across a novel that had the same title as my favourite Simple Minds song and a ringing endorsement from Marian Keyes I just knew I had to read it.

Don't you forget about me by mhairi mcfarlane review

Mhairi McFarlane certainly didn't disappoint, this was the exact book I needed to read.   It was a romance, but it was so much more.  The characters were awesome (even the ones you loathed!), the only one that really irritated me at times was the main character, Georgina, but even when she was annoying me she was so relatable.

The story starts with a budding romance in the sixth form between our heroine Georgina and the mysterious Lucas and I have to say that having spent my sixth form years in the UK Mhairi McFarlane did an amazing job at invoking memories I'd actually forgotten I had.   

We quickly fast forward to the present day and Georgina is 30 and working in the worst restaurant in town and even the way this restaurant and staff are described allowed my mind to actually see the restaurant.  When she was totally unfairly dismissed from the restaurant she decides to pay an unexpected visit to her boyfriend.   This turned out to be a mistake as said narcissistic boyfriend was in bed with his PA.

Then she receives an offer to do a one-off gig to tend bar at a wake - the bar in question has been newly refurbished and is looking at opening up again.   Georgina absolutely loves working the wake and gets on really well with one of the owners, Devlin.   At the end of the night, he offers her a permanent job which makes her feel like her life is on the up again.

Of course, it would be a boring book if that was all ..... enter Devlin's brother and the other owner of the bar, Lucas.   Whereas Georgina recognises Lucas instantly, he doesn't appear to have any memory of her whatsoever and is not happy that Devlin hired her without consultation. 

I won't tell you anymore of the storyline, I will let you discover it for yourself.  Yes, it's a romance, but it is so much more.   The characters are really well-rounded (I do hope Kitty gets her own novel one day) and it is also a book that deals with gaslighting and not ignoring red flags in relationships.   It's about great friends and complicated families and about overcoming adversity.  Oh, and the one-liners will have you in stitches!

I thoroughly enjoyed Don't You Forget About Me and couldn't put it down until I had finished.

As with most of the books, I read this was downloaded as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership something I highly recommend no matter what genre of book you like to read.   In fact, it's also a great way of exploring new genres too, I've recently read some supernatural and some science fiction books through my membership.




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Friday, December 3, 2021

The Christmas Train Hallmark Movie Review

The Christmas Train
The Christmas Train is a wonderful star-studded Hallmark Hall of Fame Christmas movie.  The movie is based on the book by David Baldacci.  This movie originally aired in 2017, but I only recently discovered it on the Hallmark channel. 

During the holidays, I occasionally need a break from cooking, company, noise, and the annual chaos generated by a large family. Please understand, I wouldn't change a thing, but I do still need brief intermissions in the midst of our family multi-day holiday gatherings.  That is when I grab my iPad, seek out a quiet spot, and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie.  Works like a charm!  After the movie, I am refreshed, happy and ready to interact with real people again. 

I really needed a good movie to watch the day I happened upon The Christmas Train.  It turned out to be the perfect movie with a cast of fabulous actors who were all endearing for various reasons.  Every passenger on The Christmas Train had their own story and their own reasons for being on a train the week of Christmas.  From a film director, a writer seeking a new story, to the quirky, nosy woman who seemed to be overly interested in everyone, they all added value to the movie.  

 

The Christmas Train Synopsis

 The Christmas TrainCheck Price

Tom Langdon (Dermot Mulroney) was the last person Eleanor (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) expected to encounter on the Christmas train and she was the last person he expected to see.  It is immediately obvious to everyone that they already know each other and that there is "history", and pain, between them.  

Max Powers (Danny Glover) is the film director who believes Tom and Eleanor should set aside the past and work together to write a new film for him.  They reluctantly agree to collaborate, only because Eleanor couldn't find another form of transportation.  

As Tom and Eleanor interact with the other passengers, tidbits of their past together are shared.  But what really makes this a fun ride, is the combination of the stories of the passengers and their willingness to befriend one another. 

We have all had an "Agnes" (Joan Cusack) in our life. The nosy "neighbor" who seems to know everything about everyone.  We learn a lot about each passenger thanks to Agnes making their business, her business, and then sharing it with others.  

There is also an eloping couple who become important to the story because both Eleanor and Tom must dredge up old memories in order to offer advice to this struggling couple.  Even Max gets involved with helping them find their way to the altar.  

There are several other passengers on the train who are important to the complete story.  I'll let you discover them for yourself! 

 



If you enjoy a sweet romantic movie, then you will love The Christmas Train starring Danny Glover, Joan Cusack, Dermot Mulroney, and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. 

After seeing the movie, I definitely want to read the book now!



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Friday, October 22, 2021

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer - Book Review

Full Steam Ahead
Sometimes you pick up a book and know you are going to love the plot from the very beginning.  That was the case for me with Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer. 

I want to start this review by saying that I don't think the cover does this book justice.  It looks too whimsical in my opinion for a story that is not silly or juvenile.  I almost didn't read this book because of the cover image, but since I am familiar with the author, I trust her to provide an excellent story.  I am really glad I ignored my first impression based on the picture and read the book.  Frankly, I was rather sorry when it ended and I found out there isn't a second book to continue their story.

The book is set in 1851, but begins with a prologue that is essential to the plot.  It is about a catastrophic event in 1849 that changes the course of Darius Thornton's life which puts him right in the path of Nicole Renard, who is also experiencing unexpected life changes.

You can read the entire prologue by clicking here and opening the "look inside" tab at the top of the book image. 

 

Full Steam Ahead Synopsis

 Full Steam AheadNicole Renard is summoned home before the end of the school year due to her father's deteriorating health.  When thieves break into their home and threaten her parents, an unusual plan is made to secure the family's future and fortune.

Nicole's father needs an heir for his business.  While his beloved daughter is smart enough to run his business, she is not a man.  Therefore, he needs her to get married before he dies.  Since he previously agreed to allow her to choose her own husband, an arranged marriage is out of the question.  However, he believes if he sends her to New Orleans, she can choose a husband from his business acquaintances and their sons.  After all, it is preferred that she marry someone knowledgeable about the shipping business since he will not have time to teach them.

Because they know the brothers who broke into their home, they want to secretly get Nicole on a ship bound for New Orleans. However, when they discover the men are watching the docks, Nicole leaves her luggage behind and jumps on a boat headed to Liberty using an assumed name.  She believes she can book passage to New Orleans once she arrives in Liberty.  However, once she is there, she realizes she doesn't have money for a ticket to New Orleans.  Therefore, she needs a temporary job and is eventually hired as a secretary by Darius Thornton, a man who the whole town believes is quite mad because he has spent the last year blowing things up.

Casting all caution and warnings aside, Nicole moves full steam ahead!


 



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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed

If you're after a cozy, feel-good romance with a touch of mystery and intrigue then let me transport you to a little place called Starlight Cove.   Want to know more?

The Lighthouse Keeper by Cynthia Ellingsen Reviewed
Image created using Canva

I read a lovely cozy book called A Bittersweet Surprise as part of my Kindle Unlimited membership and when I finished it I realized that the author (Cynthia Ellingsen) had created a few books based in Starlight Cove so I decided to read another one!

The Lighthouse Keeper was written before A Bittersweet Surprise so there were a couple of things that I already knew would happen, but that didn't deflect from the feel-good feeling this novel gave me.   This certainly isn't the novel for you if you want to have to think hard about things or get caught up in some psychological thriller.   This book is like a comforting blanket on a cold winter's evening when you just want to be left alone.

The main heroine of the book is the daughter of treasure hunters and when her life gets thrown a couple of curveballs she decides to bid on a lighthouse.   As you can probably tell from the title of the novel her bid wins and she moves to Starlight Cove to restore the town's lighthouse.

Her parents have settled down in Starlight Cove and are running an antique shop there, she also meets some of the town's residents along with some not-so-nice non-resident treasure hunters.   Did I mention that there was a long-lost treasure to be found too?

While she endeavours to try her hand at a little matchmaking between her first friend in Starlight Cove and one of the hunky Henderson brothers she also finds herself falling a little in love herself.  As with any romance, there's a little bump in the road which has her overthinking things (a trait I can totally relate to myself!).

With The Lighthouse Keeper, Cynthia Ellingsen has once again shown how well she can create her characters as I can totally relate to a few in this book, just as I did in the other book.    Now I need to grab the only other book I can see in the Starlight Cove series to see if it's as good.   An extra bonus is that all three of these are free to read with a Kindle Unlimited account!




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Friday, September 18, 2020

Otherwise Engaged by Joanna Barker - Book Reviewed

Otherwise Engaged is a fabulous book!  It is a clean and wholesome romance for those of us who do not like explicit content.  It is also a historical fiction which is one of my favorite genres.  

This is the first book I have read by Joanna Barker, but it will not be the last!   She is a phenomenal writer who includes vivid descriptions of people and surroundings.  I was barely into the first chapter of Otherwise Engaged when I noted how much I loved this author’s captivating descriptions. I could easily envision the people and places in my mind’s eye. 

I also enjoy the touches of humor Barker includes throughout the book.  Several times I laughed out loud at the witty repartee between characters. 

All of these exceptional elements made this a thoroughly enjoyable book which I would highly recommend.   


Synopsis of Otherwise Engaged
England - 1822

Rebecca Rowley has just returned home from Brighton.  She has a big announcement to share with her family.  One that she knows her family will not be excited to hear.  Rebecca is engaged to Edward Bainbridge, whom she just met while in Brighton.  
 
She had heard the Bainbridge name before.  Their fathers had been business partners years before.  The reasons for the dissolution of that partnership had always been a secret that the parents never shared with their children.  Neither Rebecca nor Edward knew why they couldn't be together.  They agreed to find out the secret and, together, try to get their families to leave the past in the past, forgive and forget whatever was necessary, so they could be married with the acceptance and support of both families.  
 
 Otherwise EngagedCheck PriceRebecca had another secret.  She loved to ride her horse, Stella, but she enjoyed riding bareback.  She knew her family would disapprove of her riding in such an unladylike and dangerous way.  So, she would leave the estate with Stella saddled, then remove the saddle when they reached a secluded meadow.  Together, they would run like the wind, free and unencumbered by restraints. 
 
After one of their unconventional rides, Stella heard someone crying for help.  She and Stella immediately responded.  A child was drowning.  Rebecca ran into the water and swam to the girl, whose dress was caught on an underwater tree branch.  Once Rebecca freed her, she pulled her to safety on shore where they were joined by the child's very angry adult half-brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery.  This was definitely not the best way to meet new neighbors, especially since Rebecca was soaking wet and anyone could see that her nearby horse was not wearing a saddle.  This stranger now knew one of her best-kept secrets.  
 
Rebecca soon learned that Nicholas Avery was his sister, Olivia's, guardian.  Her mother had recently died and their father had died a few years before.  Nicholas barely knew Olivia since she was a much younger step-sister.  He had been in the navy all of her life and had only seen her a few times.  He wasn't always sure how to handle Olivia.  As a navy lieutenant, he knew how to make men obey his orders, but was clueless about how to deal with his little sister.  Rebecca stepped in to try to help.
 
Over the next few weeks, Rebecca and Nicholas became friends.  She confided in him and he kept her secrets, plus he enabled her to pursue activities that were otherwise not considered acceptable for a lady in society.   Rebecca's mother thought Nicholas would make the perfect suitor for her, but Nicholas knew Rebecca was otherwise engaged.
 

Conclusion


I immediately adored the free-spirited Miss Rebecca Rowley.  I applauded her desire to take on difficult tasks and live life on her own terms, not by wealthy society rules that stifled women.  I was tickled by Lieutenant Nicholas Avery’s independent little sister, Olivia, who clearly had a mind of her own.  I loved the witty quips of Rebecca’s family, as well as her conversations with Nicholas, and the jocular repartee they shared with each other.   
 
There are some authors who leave me wondering how they do it. How they write so well that they capture my attention.  How they describe their characters with such detail that I feel as if I know them, that they are close friends who have shared every confidence. How they weave a story that captivates me to the point of tears, laughter and even anger. 
 
Joanna Barker has done just that, and more, in “Otherwise Engaged”.  I have no doubt that I will miss Rebecca, Nicholas, and even Olivia in the upcoming weeks.





I received an advance copy of "Otherwise Engaged" to review from NetGalley. I would like to express my appreciation to Netgalley, the author, Joanna Barker, and the publisher, Covenant Communications, for this opportunity.



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Friday, January 24, 2020

The Gregory Sisters: While Love Stirs - Book 2 Reviewed

The Gregory Sisters: While Love Stirs - Book 2 Reviewed
The Gregory sisters were all strong willed, independent thinkers, and activists who were ready to challenge the social norms of their day.  Even though they were not prepared to be financially independent, when their supporting parents died, by necessity, they faced that challenge head on with determination and action.

In my last article, I reviewed the first book in the series, When Love Calls, that focused on the oldest sister, Hannah.  In this review, I'll tell you about Charlotte, the middle sister and the second book in the series, While Love Stirs.

Each of these books is categorized as a historical romance.  While that is true, the stories are so much more than simple romance novels.  They are about women who must survive in a time that females were not expected, in many cases not even allowed, to work outside of the home.  They each must find a niche that will allow for an income and is acceptable in their society.


While Love Stirs Book Synopsis


 While Love Stirs
(The Gregory Sisters Book #2)
Although an independent thinker like her sisters, Charlotte Gregory's interests follow a more traditional role for a woman in the 1910's. She loves to cook!  Believing that the only job for her would be a chef, or chef's assistant, she heads to a renowned restaurant in a local hotel. After all, she is a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery.  Surely an esteemed hotel/restaurant establishment would recognize her value and give her a chance.  

After being directed to the side entrance of the hotel designated for unaccompanied women, she quickly discovers the head chef's "not a chance" attitude toward a woman being employed in the kitchen.

Then, when she visits her sister in the hospital, she is disgusted with the lack of concern for proper nutrition for the patients.  She tries to explain to the doctor how the right meals could help patients get well sooner, but she is once again met by the steel wall of male dominance and superior thinking.  Not to mention the hospital's very limited budget and inability to make changes.

Dejected, distressed, yet still determined to get a job cooking, Charlotte returns home to consider what other options might be available to her.  When she finds a newspaper article advertising a contest being hosted by the gas company promoting gas ranges, she believes she has found her answer.  If she can just win that contest, surely she would be recognized as a real chef with an education in nutrition and be able to find suitable employment.  But, there are other women who wish to win that contest too and will stoop to deceptive levels to accomplish their own personal goals.



And, that is the limit to how much of the plot I will divulge.  You will simply have to read the book to find out what happens!


My Thoughts & Opinion of "While Love Stirs"


I admit, it had not occurred to me that a woman would have trouble finding a job as a cook in the 1910's.  This book gave me a new appreciation for the plight of a single women who did not wish to be forced to marry just to survive.  I believe I have taken the vast opportunities for granted in my lifetime.  I've always had the right to vote, I've always been able to wear comfortable clothing, I've always been allowed to walk through the front doors of public places, I have always been able to get a job when needed, and I was most certainly allowed to make my own marriage decision.  

While this series has been entertaining to read, it has also been somewhat educational and thought provoking.  I knew the history of the suffrage movement, the history of fashion in America, and the history of etiquette.  But, I still found it enlightening to read how it could have affected individual lives.  I have no doubt the real life stories would be far worse since there is not always a happy resolution in reality.








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