Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Till I Kissed You Laura Trentham

Review of Till I Kissed You by  Laura Trentham
‘The custodian is fixing to lock up, so you won’t be able to sneak back inside.” She stomped down the stone stairs, and he fell into step beside her.

‘Just getting some air before I head out. It’s a pretty night, isn’t it?” He sounded friendly, jovial even. 

She shot him a suspicious side-eye. What was he up to? Deciding to play along, she looked up. Even with the town’s light pollution, the sky was unusually full of stars. A cool front had moved in and cut the humidity, making the night pleasant. 

When they reached the parking lot and he should have headed left toward his truck, he kept pace with her. She pivoted toward him with her hands on her hips. “Okay, what’s going on?” 

‘It’s dark. There’s no one around. I am making sure you get to your car is all.” 

A warmth unfurled in her stomach as a good portion of her vitriol faded. “I’m a grown-up. I can handle myself.” 

“I would do this for any woman, so don’t go thinking you’re special or something. ‘Cause you’re not.” 

His words snuck past her defenses. She swallowed against a sudden wall of tears. What was wrong with her? The question had too many meanings. Why was she crying over some petty insult? Why had he cheated on her so many years ago? Why did he have the power to wound her so brutally? 

Why couldn’t she let the past go and move on?” 

As a reader, I can’t say enough good things about Laura Trentham’s Cottonbloom series! The small southern town setting, the characters and the storylines in each of the three stories captivated me! Each book focusses on one couple but each of the couples journey is unique and that held my attention.

I have been eagerly waiting for Regan Lovell and Sawyer Fournette’s story since Sawyer, his brother and uncle decided to drop several rabbits in Regan’s mother’s garden in Kiss Me That Way. The plan to ruin Mrs. Lovell’s tomato crop and Regan’s chances at winning the festival gave readers a taste of this couple. It was obvious that Sawyer loved to tease prim and proper Regan. There was a definite connection between the couple and the air sizzled whenever Regan and Sawyer were in the same room.

Till I Kissed You is a second chance at romance novel with several plot twists. Regan and Sawyer dated in high school and broke up because of a messy misunderstanding. The couple is in close contact because Regan is the Mayor of Cottonbloom, Louisiana and Sawyer is the head of the Parish Council in Cottonbloom, Mississppi. They are both competing in the Best Small-Town festival contest. Sawyer and Regan go to great lengths to spy and annoy each other during the competition; the author’s dialogue is superb! I could hear the teasing tone of Sawyer’s voice and see his grin as he tormented Regan. I understood Regan’s desire to win the competition because she is very devoted to her community—she enjoys being the mayor and working with the citizens in Cottonbloom. Although Regan is self-confident in her role as mayor and in her career as a designer; she is not confident in the romance department.

The author does a fabulous job pacing the romance between Sawyer and Regan. Sawyer’s affection and concern for Regan’s safety is apparent in the first few pages of the book. There have been a few mysterious incidents which have escalated as the competition’s deadline approaches. Sawyer has carried a torch for Regan while she finds it hard to let go of his past indiscretion—this piece of the story is presented in an honest, emotional conversation between the couple. The author does a fabulous job with continuity in the series. She effortlessly weaves the characters from the first two novels into this book. The last few chapters of the book were intense. Laura Trentham does a superb job of balancing b the festival competition, the increasing threats towards Regan and the couple’s journey. The conclusion was fabulous—full of surprises and just perfect for Regan and Sawyer!

I am looking forward to the Cottonbloom holiday novella and to the next three books in this series!

I received copies of the first three books from St Martin’s Press. Enjoyed the books so much that I bought them. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I have and the Cottonbloom series rates a special spot on your keeper shelf!

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Photos of Celeste by Susan Gorman

Monday, August 29, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins - Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins
Movie Review

I had no idea this movie was based on a true story
before I went to see it. I have seen a number of
trailers for it and always missed that little tidbit.
Ok, so, she is a horrible singer. Really bad. Awful.
Painful to listen to.
The thing is, she loves music. From deep down inside
her soul, she loves music. I feel like God must have given
her that love without the talent for a reason. To test
others I think. Because that is the movie.
How Florence Foster Jenkins made so many other
lives so much better through her music.
It is a wonderful story. Love, learning, exploring,
trying, feelings, broader horizons.....
I recommend the movie if you are a music
lover and if you love a good love story.
Review by Lisa Hutson

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer In Good Hope by Cindy Kirk

Cindy Kirk’s Summer in Good Hope is an engaging friends- to- lovers story set in Door County, Wisconsin. Prim Delaney has returned to her hometown of Good Hope to attend her sister Ami’s wedding where she becomes reacquainted with her former flame, Max Brody.

Prim reared back, feeling like a kid caught dipping into a cookie jar.
The college- age server wore tailored black pants, a crisp white shirt, a polite expression. He held out a silver tray filled with a dozen crystal flutes.
‘I’d love some.”
Before she could reach for a glass, Max confiscated two from the tray and handed one to her. As his knuckles brushed her fingers, she felt a jolt.
Static electricity, Prim told herself.

Still, as he watched her watching him, she felt oddly out of breath."

The instant attraction between Prim and Max immediately drew me into the story! Prim makes it clear to Max that she is not going to date until her six- year old twins are out of high school! Because Prim’s job as an actuary has been eliminated, she has moved from Milwaukee to Good Hope with  her boys to be close to her family and to make a fresh start. Ami overheard Prim telling Max about her dating policy and decides to play matchmaker. She nominates Prim to become a member of the Cherries, the town’s civic group. Prim finds herself working very closely with Max on the town’s annual Fourth of July Parade.

Deb Delaney is a fabulous secondary character. The conflict between Deb and Prim is apparent from the beginning of the novel. Deb was devoted to her son Rory, who had CF. She was very disappointed when Rory married Prim, his high school sweetheart. Deb implies that Prim is responsible for her son’s death because she didn’t hold Rory’s interest. Cindy Kirk presents the conflict between these characters in an honest way. The reader may not appreciate Deb’s behavior towards Prim but, the reader recognizes that Deb’s emotional state stems from her love for her son.

The romance between Max and Prim deepens as the annual Fourth of July parade approaches. Max and Prim have reservations about their feelings for each other. Max doesn't want to get hurt and Prim needs to let go of her husband's memory. Summer in Good Hope has a bit of suspense as well—there’s someone breaking into the neighborhood homes at night .The author does a fabulous job mixing the pace of the romance, the tension of the recent house break-ins, the Fourth of July festivities, and Deb’s interference. The conclusion to the book was beautifully written and perfect for this couple!

I loved the characters in this novel so much that I purchased Christmas in Good Hope, the first book in the series and read it in one sitting. Looking forward to the next Bloom sister‘s romance set in this wonderful small town!

 Reviewed By: Susan Gorman 
 ARC: Publisher

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Heir by Grace Burrowes - Audio Version

The Heir
by Grace Burrowes
Audio Version
12 hours 22 minutes in length

I am a big fan of Grace Burrowes. I think she is brilliant,
generous and kind. She is also an amazing writer.
I have enjoyed every book I have read of hers.

Gayle Windham is the Earl of Windhaven. He has a lovely
housekeeper, Anna Seaton. Windham is trying to come to
terms with the fact that he must marry. But even more than
that, he is trying to make peace with his father. Windham
loves his father, but he wants to pick his own wife in his own
time. Without the interference of his father.

Anna is a competent housekeeper. She is well liked and
knows how to care for those in this household.
It happens slowly, Windham and Anna fall in love.
But there are secrets that make it impossible for
them to be together. Can they get through the past and
into a future together?
 "So tell me, how am I to court you if you won't stay in the same
room with me? How am I to persuade you to marry me if you
maneuver always to have others present when I am about?
You aren't playing fair, Anna."
As I said earlier, I have read a number of books by
Grace Burrowes. However, I was worried about listening 
to her. I love audible books. But I usually don't care for the
narrators performing historical romance.  Without a great
narrator, a wonderful story can be taken down hard.
But James Langton did a wonderful job! His accent is just
right. Not too much. He does a terrific job on all the different
characters. I am already head long into The Soldier. The next
book in this series. And enjoying Mr Langston again. 
I bought my audible copy from
Review by Lisa Hutson

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dear Eleanor - Movie Review

Dear Eleanor
Movie Review

When I saw this movie in the Redbox machine,
I had no memory of it being at the theaters.
But it has several rather well known actors
in it, so it must have been.
It's a sweet fun story of two best teenage
friends. A tragedy drives  them to travel across
the country. Their aim was to meet former
first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. Along the way,
they meet family and strangers that
make the trip worthwhile. For everyone.
Each of the characters have a personal epiphany.
It was so funny at times. Then other times,
it was eye opening. A reminder to all of us.
Don't forget what is really most important.
I enjoyed it very much and I would recommend
it to just about anyone.

Review by Lisa Hutson

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match by Juliana Gray

Juliana Gray’s The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match is a delightful and charming novella! The fast- paced story takes place during an eight- day voyage from the United States to England on the White Star oceanliner Majestic. The Duke of Olympia is one of my favorite characters from the authors A Princess in Hiding series and I was excited to read a novella devoted entirely to him! 

The novella contains the expected shipboard romance between two couples with a bit of intrigue added to make the transatlantic voyage exciting! Olympia needs to locate a portfolio of papers and a female French undercover agent before the ship docks in London. He has eight days to figure out which of the guests is the spy and he encounters several roadblocks while on his quest. Mrs. Laura Morrison is one of the obstructions as she has decided that the Duke of Olympia is going to marry her daughter Rose. During the course of the voyage , she plots and schemes to get the couple together. Unbeknown to Mrs. Morrison, Robert Langley, Rose’s suitor from New York, booked a last minute berth on the ship and the couple is meeting in secret. And to complicate matters, Olympia is attracted to Rose’s companion Penelope Schuyler, a widow and poor relation to the Morrison family.

Olympia knows that Penelope has papers hidden in her trunk and suspects that she may be the foreign agent he has been asked to locate and capture! The author does a fabulous job balancing the couple’s growing attraction towards one and another and the Duke’s mission. The dialogue between the Duke and Penelope is very witty and affectionate as their relationship progresses. The author tucks in a bit of history and social commentary throughout the novella as well. The secondary characters are well developed and each plays an important role in the storyline. The conclusion to the novella was fabulous and the author kept me guessing as to the identity of the spy until the very end! The novella reads like a full length novel—great story, well developed characters and great descriptive writing infuses with humor!

Will the Duke of Olympia determine the identity of the spy before the ship docks?
Is Penelope working for the French government?
Read Duke of Olympia Meets His Match and find out! 

Reviewed by: Susan Gorman
Book purchased on Amazon

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Scoundrel and I by Katharine Ashe

"She backed away a step. 'You have ruined me."

The blue eyes flicked down her body, then up again before his grin broadened.

"Fairly certain I'd recall that." he said.

Her cheeks flamed. "That was not, of course, what I meant by those words."

His eyes laughed. "You don"t say?"

"You are a scoundrel, sir."

"Assuredly. Now tell me your troubles and I'll do my scoundrelly best to solve it."

The Scoundrel and I captivated me from the first paragraph. Katharine Ashe's rich, descriptive writing style lends itself to this Cinderella-themed story. Gabrielle Flood works at Brittle & Sons print shop where Lady Justice's  pamphlets are published. Gabrielle is startled by a stranger and drops a chase of type-set broadsheet on the ground scattering more than 50 pieces of type. Elle fears for her job and searches for the missing pieces on the street. She meets Captain Anthony Masinter; the scoundrel who startled Elle. He offers to help Elle and she reluctantly accepts.

Katharine Ashe is well-known for creating complex, honorable heroes in her novels and pairing them with forthright, educated heroines. She blends humor, passion and romance into each one of her stories. I was drawn to the character of Anthony Masinter as he was sincere in his motives to help Elle recover the missing pieces of type. Honor and duty are very important to this naval officer. Elle works at the print shop and proofreads the letters between Lady Justice and Peregrine. She believes that Anthony is a scoundrel but needs his help to keep her job. Elle cares for her ailing Grandmother and the scenes between these two characters are written from the heart.

There’s quite a bit of fun and great dialogue  between the characters during their journey. Anthony and his sister transform Elle from a shop girl to a princess. Loved the shout out to Lady Beaufeltheringstone from the author’s former Ballroom blog! Anthony and Elle attend Lady B’s ball as part of their scheme to steal some type from Anthony’s uncle. Loved the sense of suspense in these scenes.

 Anthony and Elle are keeping secrets from each other and the secrets are revealed as this well -paced novel reaches its conclusion. The last few chapters were intense and not what I expected. Katharine Ashe has the ability to deliver a 200 -page novella that reads like a novel! All of the characters are unique and well-developed, the plot is original and works within the Falcon Club series. I enjoy that the author writes great dialogue and keeps within her time period ( i.e. no Americanisms) in tone, dialogue and social setting. 

The importance of the written word is an important theme in the novel and the author gifts the reader with the collection of letters written by Lady Justice and Peregrine. After reading the letters, I can’t wait to read The Earl in October!! 

If you are looking for a fabulous summer romance filled with passion, humor and intrigue—pick up Katharine Ashe’s The Scoundrel and I!

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
ARC and graphics provided by the author.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Me Before You - Movie Review

Me Before You
Movie Review

Released 3 June 2016
Running time is 1 hour 50 minutes

When I saw the trailers for this movie, I was sure
it was going to be so sad. Depressing. A real downer.
Which, when I think about it, I wonder why anyone
would ever want to see such a movie?? But I did.
My husband even came with me.
Both of the starring actors were completely

new to us. We didn't recognize either of them.

There really is not much I can say about
Me Before You without spoiling it. Only that we
enjoyed it. We both did. I did tear up a
couple times.  But in the end, the story was a
magnificent one of love and broadening ones
horizons. I will say, please, keep your mind
open at the end. We both thought it was
a fabulously done movie and a great ending.
Really, the best possible way to end it.

Review by Lisa Hutson

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Marriage Season - Audio Version - by Linda Lael Miller

The Marriage Season
Audio Version
This is book 3 of a four book series.
I have not read the first two. I found this one on
sale. So I decided to try it out.
I was not disappointed. It was a wonderful love story.
Really, that was it. There weren't any real
earth shattering tragedies.
It's a story of Bex, one of the three best friends starring
 in the series. She was engaged years ago. But he was
killed far from home and she has never recovered from
the loss. She has no intentions of ever truly loving again.
Tate has suffered his own love loss in the past. He has
two young sons that kept him from slipping under
after all the sadness.

The story has a steady pace and some terrific characters.
It is love at first sight at its best. Even though it's not
love at first sight for everyone. The Marriage Season
is an easy enjoyable love story.
Jack Garrett does a great job with the
narration! I am a big fan of men narrating love
stories. I will be looking up more from him.
I bought my audible copy of 
The Marriage Season at audible.com
Review by Lisa Hutson 

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Lucky One - Movie review

The Lucky One
A Movie Review
Released in 2012
Starring Zac Efron &
Taylor Schilling

I read this story before going to see the movie.
It was my first and only Nicholas Sparks books.
I was not warned ahead of time that his stories are notorious
for their sad endings. Thankfully, the movie was not.
It was close to the book. But I preferred the movie.
Kind of a strange ending but happy.

I have never been a fan of Zac Efron, he is so pretty.
Its really hard to watch him. But he really did a fabulous
job on this one. A brooding, struggling Marine suffering
with ptsd. He is trying to find an angel he thinks saved
his life more than once on the battle field.
I have never seen Taylor Schilling in anything else.
She was perfect for this part. Her grandma is played by
Blythe Danner. Never much cared for her movies in
the past but she was perfect for this role and did a
great job.
Its a romantic movie with real actual hard, destructive,
scary, sad, emotional life. Because it winds up the
best possible way, you can only sigh.
Review by Lisa Hutson