Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Movie Review - The Christmas Train - by David Baldacci

The Christmas Train
by David Baldacci
Audio Version & Movie Review

A few years ago, I listened to the audio version of
The Christmas Train. Tim Matheson did a great job
on the narration. His voice is rather familiar and was
a good choice for the fun and romantic story.
This year, Hallmark channel introduced
The Christmas Train in movie form.
And very well done indeed. Perfect casting.
The characters are so varied and distinct.
Which makes the casting very important.
The Christmas Train is the story of a group of people
taking the Christmas Train across the country. 
There is a mystery. I should say there are several 
mysterious parts of the story. Then there is the 
romance. Ahh, the romance. 
Turns out, everyone on the train is a romantic. 
 You will not miss anything no matter which you do
first. Audio or movie. But I recommend both of them.
Lighthearted and full of generous spirit and kindness.
I got my audio copy from
Review by Lisa Hutson 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Susan's Review of Melissa Foster's Bayside Passions

Warm up the winter nights with this HOT new romance!

Bayside Summers #2
Melissa Foster
Releasing January 10, 2018
World Literary Press

When Emery Andrews’s best friend, Desiree, moves away, falls in love, and opens an inn all in one summer, she feels her absence like a missing limb. Until she visits over the holidays and meets sinfully hot Dean Masters, who’s as easy on the eyes as he is to talk to. After returning home, what starts as a flurry of late-night flirtations quickly turns into a deep connection and unexpected friendship. Now, months later, Desiree offers Emery a job teaching yoga at the inn. Adventurous Emery jumps at the chance and heads for Wellfleet, Massachusetts, to reunite with her BFF and her new close friend, Dean.

After months of sharing their lives, and their secrets, over video chats and phone calls, Dean’s ready to move things to the next level. The fact that Emery seems oblivious to the sparks between them and has recently put her foot down about dating friends just means he’ll have to bide his time.

When Emery finds a naked man in her kitchen the first morning she’s there, Dean doesn’t hesitate to move her into his guest room. Maybe now Emery will see what’s right before her eyes–although that guy she’s got a date with might be a problem.

Don't miss the other Bayside Summers titles

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.

Melissa Foster’s Bayside Passion is a well-paced, sensuous novel which features landscaper Dean Masters and yoga teacher Emery Andrews. The sexual chemistry between the couple is apparent in the first few pages of the novel. Melissa Foster’s descriptive voice and her fun, fresh dialogue bring these characters and their unique friends- to-lovers romance to life.

Emery and Dean met when she visited the Cape at Christmas. They kept in touch with each other daily via text, Facetime or by talking on the phone. I enjoyed this modern day version of long distance friendship. The references to the texts and conversations enabled the reader to understand the depth of Dean and Emery’s friendship and this story technique moved the couple from friends to lovers.

Emily Andrews realizes she needs to make changes in her both her personal and professional life. She realizes that the impact of the failed relationship with her former boss and a non-compete clause in her contract means that she needs a fresh start. She decides to move from Virginia to Massachusetts to be closer to her friends Desiree Cleary and Dean Masters. Emery is a fun character-she’s flirty, outgoing and a true free spirit—the exact opposite of the calm, thoughtful, serious Dean.

Dean Masters is one of my favorite Melissa Foster heroes. He’s a former trauma nurse who made a tough decision to leave the medical field which angered his father. Dean understands Emery; her quirky behavior, her caring, compassionate side and her devotion to the healing aspect of her work. He accepts Emery and doesn’t want to change her. I loved the many ways he showed her that he loved her during the novel. This good, caring, sentimental man stole my heart.

I enjoyed reading how the characters grew during the novel. Dean understood Emery’s decision not to date employers or that she wasn’t comfortable with traditional dating. He solved the first problem by firing her and his well thought out ‘example outings’ with Emery were untraditional but just perfect for them! One of my favorite parts of the novel is when Emery decides to cleanse the bad feelings and conflict from the cottage after meeting Dean’s arrogant, judgmental father. Emery’s unique way of showing her support for Dean was heartfelt, humorous and very sexy from Dean’s viewpoint.

Bayside Passions is the perfect read for a cold winter night. The chemistry between the characters who begin the story as friends is off the charts. The secondary characters of Rick, Drake, Desiree and Rose all add to the depth of the story. Emery and Dean’s friendship takes a few unexpected turns but their love story made for an excellent read.

Reviewed by Susan Gorman

ARC provided by the author

There were a few things worse than being stuck in traffic and needing to pee, but after driving since the crack of dawn and sitting on the same stretch of highway for the past forty minutes—which was about thirty minutes longer than her bladder could handle—Emery Andrews couldn’t think of a single one. Her back teeth were floating, and if she didn’t find a bathroom soon, her car would become a swimming pool. She should have thought about weekend traffic before hauling ass out of Oak Falls, Virginia, and heading for her new home and workplace, Summer House Inn, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. But thinking things through wasn’t Emery’s forte. She was more of a just-do-it-and-worry-about-things-later type of girl, as evident in her move to the Cape.

Now, if she could only get there.

She’d needed a fresh start, and when Desiree had invited her up to Wellfleet to teach yoga at the inn, she’d jumped at the chance. Desiree answered the phone on the second ring. “Hey, Em. I can’t talk. It’s changeover day. I have three customers waiting to be checked in and two on hold. Call you later?”

“Wait! I’m in Orleans, trying to get there. But—”

“Orleans? Really?” There was no missing the excitement, or the hesitation, in Desiree’s voice. “I thought you were coming next week. I don’t have an open room until this Wednesday. Why didn’t you call and let me know you were coming early?”

“Because after quitting my job and packing up my apartment, the emptiness freaked me out and I was excited to get the heck out of Oak Falls and see you!”

Emery had always been the adventurous one, while Desiree had been cautious, thinking things through to the nth degree. But along with Emery’s boxed-up belongings came a big what if. What if she couldn’t find enough clients to make a living? And as she’d sat in her empty apartment contemplating that worry, she’d realized that leaving the only place she’d ever lived, and leaving her family, wasn’t going to be as easy as she’d imagined. But although she’d been sad about leaving them, her three older brothers had called her several times during her long ride up, making her glad to be moving out from under their watchful eyes. She knew if she had stayed in town for another week, they, and her other worries, would have driven her batty. She had never letanything stop her from doing things in the past, and she knew the only way to get over those fears was to plow full speed ahead—and plow she did!

“But with this traffic,” Emery said, “I’ll never get there. I’m stuck on the highway right before the rotary. Should I get a motel room until you have a vacancy?”

“Oh, Em, you’ll never get one. It’s peak season. Everyone’s booked. But don’t worry. I’m sure Vi will let you stay in her cottage.” Desiree and Violet had renovated the old Victorian and the four cottages that had once been owned by their grandparents. “I’ll mention it to Vi, but you might as well find someplace to hang out for a few hours until the traffic eases up. Maybe you can do some shopping in Orleans,” Desiree suggested. “I’m so sorry, but I really can’t talk right now. Will you be okay for a few hours on your own?” Before Emery could respond Desiree said, “Of course you will be. You love new adventures! We’ll catch up when you get here. And if you hang out in Orleans, be sure to bring me something from the Chocolate Sparrow!” Desiree blew a kiss into the phone and the line went dead.

She squeezed by the line of cars waiting to get onto the main drag and drove halfway around the rotary to a side road. As she pulled onto it, she realized it ran in the wrong direction, back the way she’d come. She scrolled through her contacts and called the man who had become her second best friend, Dean Masters. She’d met Dean when Rick, who was Dean’s business partner and one of his closest friends, had flown Emery in over the holidays to surprise Desiree the night he proposed. They’d hit it off right away, and they’d kept in touch after she’d returned home to Virginia. What had started as a storm of daily teasing texts about a big red ribbon she’d had tied around her body the night they’d met had turned into evening phone calls and morning wake-up messages, and eventually, into a friendship she’d come to trust and rely on.

“Hi, doll. How’s it going?”

Dean’s deep voice, and the endearment he’d used since the day they’d met, brought a smile, and just like that, the knot in her stomach eased. Dean had seamlessly filled the gap Desiree had left behind, binge-watching shows with Emery while they Skyped and talking until the wee hours of the morning about everything and nothing at all. They were so different, they shouldn’t have clicked. While Emery barreled into situations with little thought about repercussions, Dean was a thinker, careful and methodical, like Desiree. And, like Desiree, he’d become the yang to her yin. “Hey, big guy. Please tell me you can get me to the inn from”—she glanced at the road sign—“Rock Harbor Road.” At the next corner, she turned off the main road and onto a residential street, hoping to find a back way to the inn or maybe one of those small-town shops Desiree was always talking about, so she could use their bathroom.

“You’re in town?”

“Yes! Please get me to someplace with a bathroom fast. Traffic is a nightmare, and I’ve got to pee so bad I swear I’m going to knock on the next door I see.”

“Okay, slow down,” he said with a serious tone. “Before you make some stranger’s day, follow my directions. Turn right onto Bridge Road.”

“Um…” She looked for road signs. “I turned off the main road already, and I have no idea what street I’m on now.”

“Of course you don’t.”

She rolled her eyes at the smirk in his voice.

“Why don’t you use your GPS?”

Two weeks ago, she’d called him when she’d gotten lost coming home from a concert and he’d walked her through how to use the GPS. Even with his careful instructions, she’d gotten frustrated and nearly thrown the damn thing out the window. “You know I hate that thing. The stupid voice tells me what to do way too late, and I can’t hear it with the radio on, and I really think it should have a male voice option anyway.”

He laughed.

She tried to concentrate on the narrow, windy road and not on her near-bursting bladder. “Don’t do that!”

“What?” He chuckled again.

She squeezed her thighs together. “Don’t laugh! If I laugh I’ll wet my pants.”

He was silent for so long she checked her phone for a signal. “Hello? Dean? Are you there?”

“Sorry. I muted you.”


“You told me not to laugh, and I’m picturing you bouncing in your seat trying not to pee, and…” His words were lost in his laughter.

And so went the next fifteen minutes as Dean figured out where she was and directed her to his house. By the time she got there she was ready to burst. She flew out of her car, tearing a path around gorgeous, overflowing gardens, and headed for Dean’s front door. He came around the side yard, shirtless, carrying an enormous rock that covered his entire torso. His jaw was clenched tight. Veins bulged in his thick neck, broad chest, and massive arms as he bent his knees and set the rock at the edge of a garden.

Her breath whooshed from her lungs.

Holy mother of hotness.

She’d almost forgotten how large and powerful, how commanding, he was in person, and how from their very first glance, he’d made her stomach flip and tumble. His hair was the same honey-wheat color as hers, cropped so short he looked military. And damn, he’d kept the beard he’d grown over the winter after all. He’d told her he usually went clean-shaven over the summers, but she’d pleaded with him to keep it. She’d told him the girls would love it, and she knew she was right. He looked even more badass than usual, and coupled with his perpetually serious expression, he appeared as if he were going to snap at any moment.

The big faker.

Beneath that big, bad facade was the most patient man she’d ever met. That trait had taken her by surprise, and now she found herself swallowing hard to silence the sex-starved woman inside her who was preparing for a coming-home party.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank - Audio Version

Porch Lights
by Dorothea Benton Frank
Audio version
I always find it hard to begin a review. But it is
especially hard when the review is for a rolling,
overflowing story. A southern family, lead by the
larger than life Annie Britt. Her daughter is Jackie. Every bit a
southern woman. Jackie is a strong mother, to young Charlie.
She has managed to find her way out of the south and into the military.
Who would think it?

But now, Jackie is struggling with a life altering tragedy.
Her husband, a fireman, has died. Both Charlie and Jackie
are looking for a path to deal with this. The first path that
comes to Jackie is to go home. To the south. To her parents.
To the beach. To the predictability of her childhood home.  
A good plan? That is what the story is all about.

Porch Lights is a story so full. Wonderful characters. Family 
history. Relationships. Mistakes. Shocking moments.
Revealed secrets that will surprise you.
Dorothea Benton Frank has made every word count
in this story. There is a lot to write!
Robin Miles is the narrator. She does a fine job of making
them all sound southern without over doing it. Feelings
come through in her performance.
I liked this audio book and I will recommend it to
people that enjoy listening to sweeping stories.


I bought my copy from
Review by Lisa Hutson 

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Ones Who Got Away by Roni Loren

The Ones Who Got Away
by Roni Loren
 The Ones Who Got Away is a deep,
thoughtful story. Don't we always wonder
about the ones that escaped mass disaster
and loss? How do they go on to make a life?
How do they pick up and move on?
Roni Loren found them. And we get to
read their story without nosing into their
private business. Roni has done that for us.
 Liv and Finn were a hot and heavy thing back
then. But it was a hidden thing. 
All those years ago. And that fateful night. 
The night that splits their life stories into 
before that night and after that night.
The Ones Who Got Away is romance the hard way.
No easy love life for these survivors. But love
none the less.
Review by Lisa Hutson