Christmas Come Back (to me) – Caroline Akervik

Thank you to Caroline Akervik for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

SYNOPSIS:

Erik or “Erik the Wall” Engen, formerly one of the most feared and admired goalies in the International Hockey League, now an executive in his family’s holiday ornament company, has returned to his hometown of Noelle, Wisconsin during its annual Nutcracker Festival. It’s his job to evaluate the prospects of the Engen Nutcracker Factory, the company founded by his beloved grandfather.

After travelling the world creating murals, artist Stella Larson has returned to Noelle as well. Erik and Stella soon realize the old feelings between them linger, but she can’t seem to forget or forgive him for breaking her heart a decade before.

With a little hope and some Christmas magic, can Erik make his way back to the woman he always carried with him in his heart?

LOVE LIST:

  • I loved that this story was set during a small-town Wisconsin Christmas.  Perfect for a December read!
  • I loved the Hallmark movie feel.  Sweet, romantic, uplifting.  Every page was a delight.
  • I loved how the author’s vivid details brought the story to life.  I felt enveloped by the Christmas season as the characters made their way through town from holiday festivities in school, to a ski lodge I’d love to visit, and finally to the Nutcracker Ball.
  • I loved that the characters were well developed.  Stella’s career as an art teacher rang true for me.  Erik’s past as a hockey goalie impacted the dedication and discipline required for his role as a business executive.
  • I loved that Stella didn’t immediately succumb to Erik’s attention despite their history.  Her reluctance to dive back in was realistic.
  • I loved the concept of a high school romance ending to allow Erick and Stella to see the world and pursue their dreams until they finally met again with those experiences shaping who they became as adults.  The flashbacks to their younger days allowed me to get to know them and the events that led to their current goals.

REVIEW SUMMARY:

A wonderful holiday romance!  Pour a cup of tea, curl up in front of a fire, and enter the Christmas season in the small town of Noelle, Wisconsin.  This story has everything readers want this time of year:  snow, lights, ice skating, parades, ski lodges, and even a Nutcracker Ball.  Stella’s reluctance to take a second chance with Erik years after he ended their high school relationship will ring true for readers.  But the time spent apart as they saw the world and pursued their dreams clearly shapes the adults they become.  These fully formed characters come alive in this heartwarming story.  Each page is a wintery, festive delight.

AUTHOR DETAILS:

Caroline I. Akervik
Middle Grade and YA Author of A Horse Named Viking, White Pine, and Halcyon
https://www.facebook.com/HorseNamedViking/ @CAkervik
http://carolineakervik.blogspot.com/

Author Spotlight with Winter Lawrence

A huge thank you to Winter Lawrence for including Homemakers’ Christmas in her December Book Recommendations and for taking the time to interview me for her Author Spotlight this month. Be sure to drop by and check out the other books included on the recommendation list. Each one of them looks like a fantastic read for the season!

https://www.winterlawrence.com/post/author-spotlight-jill-piscitello

https://www.winterlawrence.com/post/december-book-recommendations

Virtual Holiday Party

It’s that time of year when many of us would like to be spending our weekends hopping from one holiday party to the next. Don’t allow the pandemic to cancel the fun. Happily Ever After Stories is hosting a virtual holiday party for sweet romance readers and authors tomorrow night. Join the fun and be sure to enter for a chance to win a prize.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/HEAstories/permalink/3484849251609871/

Lyrical Embrace – Amber Daulton

Thank you to Amber Daulton for a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.  This is the second book of Amber’s that I’ve had the pleasur e to read.

Synopsis:

Out-of-work violinist Erica Timberly decides enough is enough. She leaves her abusive boyfriend and flees the big city, but then her car breaks down in the middle of the night. Though wary of men, she accepts help from Dylan Haynes, a stranger driving by on the road, and soon recognizes him as the sexy former drummer of her favorite indie rock band. Maybe, just maybe, her run of bad luck is finally turning around.

Music teacher Dylan Haynes knows Erica is in trouble, and her black eye is only the first clue. The stubborn yet vulnerable woman needs a friend, but he’s determined to give her everything she deserves.

Will Erica listen to the music in her heart and trust Dylan, or will her past always threaten her future?

Love List:

  • I loved that this is part of a series.  I had gotten to know Dylan and Erica briefly in “Harmony’s Embrace” and was excited to see how they came together.  This is another entertaining story from the Deerbourne Inn series.
  • I loved the summertime Vermont setting.  As the temperatures dropped in my neighborhood, I stepped into July sunshine.  The close knit, small town added additional warmth. 
  • I loved the backstory about Dylan being a once semi-famous rock star.  There was just enough prior success to pique interest while also making his career change and new life believable.
  • I loved that Erica’s strength leapt off the pages.  She forced herself to remain resolute in her choice to leave an abusive situation despite the trauma and fear that continued to haunt her.
  • I loved that I genuinely wanted to see Dylan and Erica find happiness at my first introduction to them.  I need to care about the characters’ futures in order to finish a book.  For that to happen, I need to forget that they are characters and begin to believe they are real people.  The author accomplished this beautifully.

Review Summary:

This is the perfect read for anyone who loves a small-town romance.  Dylan’s backstory will pique readers’ interest as they learn why he left his band to return to his Vermont hometown and a new career as a music teacher.  Erica’s strength leaps off the pages as she forces herself to remain resolute in her choice to leave an abusive situation despite the trauma and fear that continue to haunt her.  Readers will root for her to allow Dylan and the warm welcome from his family and close-knit community to rebuild her trust in people.  Dylan and Erica are three dimensional characters brought to life beautifully by the author.  Be prepared to become invested in their journey to happiness, love, and a new path in life.

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://amzn.to/2ChIhNT
Barnes and Noble – https://bit.ly/2ChIhgR
iBooks – https://apple.co/2M3T9mW
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/lyrical-embrace
Google Play – https://bit.ly/2DqXlsV
Scribd – https://www.scribd.com/book/398892365/Lyrical-Embrace
Universal link – http://books2read.com/u/m0MYaVAudio/Audible – https://adbl.co/36q03LL

Social Media Links

Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/amberdaultonauthor1/
Newsletter – https://emailoctopus.com/lists/9d60a166-f2ea-11ea-a3d0-06b4694bee2a/forms/subscribe

Author Bio

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Guest Post with Viviana MacKade

I’m excited to share a link to my guest post, “Thankful”, on Viviana Mackade’s website.

Follow the link below for the post, but stick around for some excellent book reviews, author interviews, and Viviana MacKade’s Crescent Creek Series.

Many thanks to Viviana for including me!

Inside the Grey – Bobbi Groover

Thank you to Bobbi Groover for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

SYNOPSIS

Brayden Wakefield is quickly losing faith that hostilities between the states will end peaceably. He and his neighbors, Fletcher Stedman and Royce Carlyle, seems to be in the minority in their belief that a war would not end in a few months. They know any clash would be long and brutal. But their loyalty to one another supplants their reluctance, and they are drawn into the politics and atrocities of war to save their kidnapped comrade, Caleb Jenkins.

Nothing is as it seems, however. The gentlemen, turned raiders, squirrel behind enemy lines. Brayden uncovers lies and intrigue on both sides but as he and his fellow raiders execute their audacious plan, as they torch the layers of the conspiracy, Brayden finds love hidden among the ashes.

LOVE LIST

  • I loved that each character was fully developed.  Each personality shined through with well written dialogue.
  • I loved that Brayden came from a place of hurt and regret and channeled those emotions into writing.  Snippets from his journal allowed me to gain a truer sense of who he was.
  • I loved that the heroine was in disguise for a large part of the book.  I read in anticipation waiting for one character after another to learn her true identity.
  • I loved that Kawley’s backstory wasn’t fully revealed immediately.  This kept me wanting to learn more about her as the story progressed.
  • I loved that the action scenes were fast paced and brought each event to life.
  • I loved that unexpected secrets were revealed at varying intervals.  The twists and turns held my attention.
  • I loved Kawley’s bravery.  The idea of not wanting to become too dependent on someone else would resonate with many readers.

REVIEW SUMMARY

This read as a true saga.  Every character was fully developed and will leave readers feeling like they know each personality inside and out.  Brayden will break your heart with his hurt and regrettable loss.  Kawley will have readers cheering her on as she tackles every obstacle and overcomes past trauma.  Disguises are worn.  Secrets are held.  Friendships are made.  At any given moment, anything can happen.  This is a well told story of remorse, determination, surprises, friendship, and love. 

PURCHASE LINKS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was raised on the East coast, enjoying many years wandering the fields and freedoms of a beautiful working farm. Been writing stories of all kinds as long as I can remember. Inside the Grey is my third romance with many of the favorite characters from Season of The Shadow and The Inn at Little Bend. I also have a ‘coming of age’ juvenile adventure, Fun In The Yellow Pages.

SOCIAL

Guest Post with Amber Daulton

I’m excited to share a link to my guest post, “Social Media and the Introverted Author”, on Amber Daulton’s website.

Follow the link below for the post, but stick around to check out her books. You may have caught my recent review for Harmony’s Embrace. I’m looking forward to following up with some of her other titles. Amber’s site also includes book reviews that may point you in the direction of your next read.

https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/blog/

Many thanks to Amber for including me!

The Bootlegger’s Wife – Denise Devine

Thank you to Denise Devine for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

SYNOPSIS

Charlotte LeDoux’s nine-year marriage to bootlegging kingpin, Gus “Lucky” LeDoux, is falling apart. The same day Char learns she’s pregnant, she catches Gus in the act of adultery and it’s clear he has no intention of ending the affair. Soon after, their night club is raided by Federal agents. As she flees from the chaos, Char becomes separated from Gus and she’s faced with a choice: search out her fugitive husband or change her identity and disappear. With her life in shambles and her future in doubt, she knows what she must do to protect her child.

Char alters her appearance and takes a job in domestic service for a private investigator. At first, living in Will Van Elsberg’s home is quiet, comfortable and safe, but everything changes the day Gus seeks out Will to find his missing wife. As Will’s investigation closes in on her, Char must once again make a decision. Should she run away again or face her violent husband and fight for her freedom? With her back to the wall, Char discovers she has more strength and determination than she ever thought possible.

LOVE LIST

  • I loved that this book takes place during the roaring twenties.  The mention of any story from this era turns my head.  The expertly detailed setting had me feeling like I’d immediately been transported back in time.
  • I loved that the first chapter was action packed and ended on a cliffhanger.  There are few things greater for a book addict than knowing they need to read a book to the end.
  • I loved the disappearing and reinvention arc of Charlotte LeDoux.
  • I loved that every prediction I made about where the story would veer next was completely wrong.
  • I loved the pacing of this story.  There was never a dull moment.  When I had to put the story down, I could not wait to pick it up again.  Every chapter ended with me wanting to read ahead.
  • I loved never being totally certain of Will’s intentions.  Keep me guessing and I’ll keep reading.
  • I loved the bits of Charlotte’s backstory that were deftly woven in.  It was just enough to make me hope for a prequel.
  • I loved that there were so many different elements to the story.  There was heartbreak, hope, drive, and danger.
  • I loved that this book read like a movie I’d like to watch.
  • I loved that this is the first book in a series.  Charlotte’s new life was just beginning and I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to her.  Good storytelling is the art of creating characters the reader cares about.  Denise Devine accomplished this beautifully.

REVIEW SUMMARY

This story starts off strong and will keep readers transfixed until the last page.  The vivid details create an overwhelming sense of being transported back in time to 1925.  There was never a dull moment.  Every chapter will leave readers needing to know what will happen next.  Throw your predictions out the window.  Charlotte is full of surprises – right up until the end of the book.  The pacing was excellent with twists and turns.   This multi-faceted story offers a tale of heartbreak, hope, drive, and danger.  As the story ends, Charlotte’s life is just beginning.  Readers won’t be ready to say good-bye to her.  Good storytelling is the art of creating characters the reader cares about.  Denise Devine accomplished this beautifully.  Thankfully, this is only the first in the Moonshine Madness Series.

Author Interview with This Writer’s Life

Thank you to Susan Palmquist at This Writer’s Life for including me as a guest blogger this week. I continue to be amazed at the positive author support I’ve encountered in the writing community!

This is a site worth checking out. Each week you’ll find articles on motivation, writing prompts, and tips on writing and publishing.

https://thiswriterslife.com/

Harmony’s Embrace – By Amber Daulton

Thank you to Amber Daulton for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

SYNOPSIS

Divorced dad Birley Haynes is raising two children and running his family’s music academy. This leaves little time for romance until his high school sweetheart, Harmony Holdich, returns home to Willow Springs, Vermont for Christmas.

After the death of her unfaithful husband, Harmony plans to move across the
country for a fresh start once the holidays are over. Birley presents an unexpected complication to those plans.

As Birley tries to convince her to stay, an outside threat jeopardizes the safety of
his family and business.

LOVE LIST

  • I loved that this story grabbed my attention immediately.  Generally, if this doesn’t happen, I have difficulty finishing a book.  Harmony’s Embrace held my full attention from the first page until the last.
  • I loved the instant familiarity between Birley and Harmony.  Their prior history as high school sweethearts woven throughout left me with a sense that I knew them as teenagers as well as adults.  Seeing their growth over the years gave me all the more reason to root for them as a couple.
  • I loved that the setting was a small Vermont town during the Christmas season.  It’s a perfect read for this time of year.
  • I loved that, although this is a romance novel, there was also a focus on family.  Birley’s roles as father, brother, and son brought him to life on the page.  Readers will become invested in wanting to see Harmony fully immerse herself in his world.
  • I loved the element of danger infused throughout the story.  It provided an extra dose of excitement and kept the pages turning.
  • I love that this book is part of a multi-author Deerbourne Inn series.  It can be read as a stand-alone, but leaves the reader wanting to delve into the lives of other characters as well.
  • I love that the end of the book gifted me with a few deliciously appealing recipes.

REVIEW SUMMARY

This story will grab your attention immediately and hold it from the first page until the last. The familiarity between Birley and Harmony, stemming from their high school sweetheart history, will have you rooting for them from their first meeting on the page. The reader grows to know them as teenagers and adults, thereby gaining a true sense of their growth over the years. The element of danger infused throughout the story provides an additional dose of excitement as the pages keep turning. There’s nothing like setting a romance novel in a small Vermont town during the holiday season to evoke a festive spirit. This is a fantastic book to kick off your holiday reading list!

Available for pre-order now

Purchase Links

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Harmonys-Embrace-Deerbourne-Amber-Daulton-ebook/dp/B08L73TB9C/
Universal link – https://books2read.com/u/bPX6kR

About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through The Wild Rose Press, Books to Go Now, and Daulton Publishing, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Social Media Links

Website – https://amberdaulton.wordpress.com/
Facebook Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/amber.daulton.author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AmberDaulton1
Pinterest – https://pinterest.com/amberdaulton5/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6624921.Amber_Daulton