Review: Barefoot in the Sun by Roxanne St. Claire

barefoot in the sunReviewed by Patsy F.

This book begins in an unusual way. The “life secret” of the main character is revealed in the prologue and you get a good sense of the history of the characters. Then Chapter 1 starts with 9 years later. So immediately I was intrigued and excited to be reading a romance mystery.

The story begins when Zoe Tamarin confesses to her true love (Oliver, a hot, strong, prestigious doctor) that she had a nightmare childhood. She tells him that the woman that she calls, Aunt Pasha, is really the woman that saved her from a tragic life and abducted her. They were always on the run because Pasha was afraid they would be caught and she would be sent to prison. Little did Zoe know Aunt Pasha had another secret.

As Zoe grew into a beautiful young woman, her love for Aunt Pasha grew too. Pasha had given Zoe a wonderful loving life but a life on the run nonetheless. Zoe had developed three strong sisterhoods during the years. These friends were just as much family to Zoe as aunt Pasha and although the friends had no idea that Pasha had changed Zoe’s real name and been on the lamb, they loved her as much as Zoe did.

Though they were only together for four months, Dr. Oliver Bradbury was the only true love Zoe ever knew (her soulmate). She had left Oliver nine years ago in the beginning of the story. Oliver was about to tell a secret of his own to Zoe that his ex was pregnant with his child. He had met Zoe months after he separated from his ex. But then when she left he knew Zoe would never return, so he married his ex and raised their son just to do the right thing.

Finally now that Zoe is grown and after years of running, Zoe and Pasha decide to go to meet Zoe’s friend on an island in Florida. The friend has opened a beautiful resort and is about to give birth to her second child. When she goes into labor, there is a handsome, respected, well qualified doctor at the resort with his son.

The real mystery of the book is Pasha’s secret. The end of the story is what you would expect after a story such as this, but leaves you with a feeling of…love conquers all…no matter what.

This is a very good read, the only negative would be some of the chapters were a little too wordy in the scene description.

I would like to read more of this author’s Barefoot Bay series. I rate this book at 4 stars!

[Rating:4]

Buy: Barefoot in the Sun (Barefoot Bay)

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Review: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island, Book 2) by Susan Mallery

three sistersThis book is not an anthology, but there are three stories intertwined in it. Three Sisters is the nickname for three Victorian houses on a cul-de-sac and with a name like that, it is easy to see that the three women who own it will become as “sisters” in their friendships to one another.

Romantic relationships are at the heart of the novel, but it is not your traditional romance novel. It’s more women’s fiction with romantic elements. I found two of the three stories very depressing for much of their page time and should come with a warning label for some readers. The issues in the novel are not lighthearted ones and could be tough to read emotionally for some women.

One woman deals (or not) with grief over the death of her infant son and it is destroying her marriage. (Her husband isn’t handling it any better and gets drunk to avoid his grief.)

Another woman is struggling in her marriage because she needs order and perfection to counter her childhood abusive relationship with her mother. Her needs, which are silent and never spoken, affect her household and all her children see her as the bad guy. (How could her husband who indicates knowing this tragic past, say/think the things he did and not be more sympathetic or handle his own concerns/needs better/sooner?)

The last woman faces the challenges of new beginnings after her fiancé dumps her at the altar and runs off with his secretary to get hitched in Vegas. I by far, enjoyed her story the most. I liked her, her new fella, and the daughter.

Each of the married women’s struggles is handled with respect, but the story is at times very much a downer. It’s not until over halfway through the book that things start to look up for the two married women on the street, but getting there was painful for me. Their husbands also had to come around and I wasn’t convinced by one of them for a while because it seemed like all the blame was on the wife. Not fair.

The book will tug at your heartstrings, but you have to ask yourself do you want them to be tugged so hard? It ends happy. I give 2 Stars for the married couples’ stories and 4 Stars for the single gal’s story…

[Rating:2.25]

Buy: Three Sisters (Blackberry Island)

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Review: Fortune’s Hero (Soldiers of Fortune, Book 1) by Jenna Bennett

Fortune's HeroReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Quinn Conlan is attached to a very creepy machine. You can see right away that he is a soldier. Automatically, I thought of Han Solo of “Star Wars” fame. Elsa Brandeis works for the enemy but is she as bad-ass as Quinn thinks she is? Elsa does not remind me of any “Star Wars” character but she is an interesting choice for Quinn.

I grew up in the age of the original “Star Trek” series and the first “Star Wars” series. Just a few paragraphs in, and I was reliving the shows/movies that I loved growing up. Then I had to think that this would fit in perfectly and I could see this as a movie. I would pay to watch this or at the very least see it on the Sci Fi Channel.

This book was listed on Amazon as romantic suspense. I get the suspense part – especially at the end – but I don’t think romance was a major part of Jenna’s story. I found it more of a science fiction action adventure. The action, not the romance, is what held my attention throughout as each chapter went by – and that is not a bad thing.

Jenna shows her readers that sometimes we may not like one another but that if something needs to be accomplished it is going to take team work. When it comes to survival, egos and attitudes have no place in this type of situation – it’s a waste of energy.

For those of you looking for the romance, you will get your sex fix – just relax and enjoy the adventure. Jenna gives you the sex but at just the right time. A good author will not rush it but puts it in just the right spot. She also reminds you how people change when confined for any length of time.

I have two words for the ending – What? No!! I was not expecting it but what a great way to have the reader wanting to read book 2. The next title in this series is titled Fortune’s Honor. But if you go to Jenna’s web site, http://jennabennett.com/Home_Page.html, she doesn’t give you any hints as to what she has in store next for readers. I can’t even tell you when it will be coming out. In the meantime, you can’t go wrong in adding this book to your shelf.

[Rating:4]

Buy: Fortune’s Hero (Soldiers of Fortune)

Review: My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River, Book 20) by Robyn Carr

robyn carr my kind of christmasReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Angela LaCroix is celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with her family. And they’re arguing over what’s good for her. The following day finds her in Virgin River. She’s come to stay with family for a while. At the mini family reunion, she “meets” Patrick Riordan. Paddy is also visiting Virgin River. Just like Angie, he has issues he’s trying to deal with.

Angie gives us a look into her background. You almost have to feel sorry for her – reminds me of what gifted children, or childhood protégées, have to go through. Their aspirations are so much different from most people. Plus having to deal with the expectations of your parents – makes me glad I grew up “normal”.

I love how in every book of the Virgin River Series that I read, I feel as if I’m part of the town. It’s a place that makes everyone feel welcome. It also makes me remember my days growing up and visiting my Aunt and Uncle up in the town of Bethel Maine.

http://www.bethelmaine.com/index.php?page=country-christmas-in-bethel

I never got to enjoy the town around the holidays but I can just imagine that it would be similar to Virgin River. Another town that reminds me of Robyn’s town is a town not too far from where I live. It’s called Stockbridge. They had a famous resident and his name was Norman Rockwell. I’m sure that he would have loved to have visited Virgin River.

http://www.stockbridgechamber.org/christmas.html

These towns, like Virgin River, would not be commercialized – not like a big city like New York. They are quaint towns with an almost old fashioned feel to them. Those are the types of places that I would love to visit around the holidays.

Angie and Paddy remind the reader that our life is not set in stone. There are stops, curves, and things that come along and change our path. But do you follow that new path or do you ignore it and feel like that isn’t for you?

I love the way Robyn writes about the Riordan family – how much they all care about each other. Made me wish I had a family like that. You will also love the scene where the mothers came to town – one word, priceless! Robyn could have made it a time to be serious – parents ya know. But instead it’s more of a comic relief. But being mothers, they are also very wise.

This story may give you the idea of going back through the series and visit, or revisit, some of Robyn’s other characters. You can do that starting in January. Robyn is going to start doing reissues. She’s going to start with the first book titled most appropriately Virgin River. We all know how hectic the holiday season can be so if you’re looking for a read that will get you into the spirit but not take a lot out of your busy schedule this is a book that will fill the bill. I also can’t wait to start catching up on books from the series that I haven’t read yet. Happy Holidays everyone!

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: My Kind of Christmas (A Virgin River Novel)

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Review: Worlds Collide (Family Heirlooms Series, Book 6) by Karen Wiesner

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Under the romantic setting of Japan, Dr. Marcus Samuels works there as a medical missionary at the Childrens Christian Mission Hospital. His whole life has centred on him doing God’s work, but after twelve years of being away from home, he feels he has to go back to the US and make another family for himself away from a foreign land. Now that he is forty, he thinks he might not attract any women at all, but he would be wrong in that assumption, and there are those around him who would definitely prove him wrong indeed!

The reason for his sudden decision is his mother taking ill. Guilt mixed with panic makes him leave, yet he knows he has a life in Japan too. With Keiko and Haruki around who are the paediatricians who work with him, he knows by leaving there, he will feel as though he is being pulled in two different directions. If he leaves he will miss Japan and the people there, if he doesn’t he risks not seeing his mother when he should and the possibility of starting a new family with a wife who will care about him.

Keiko tells him how she feels about him leaving, and can’t take the loss of being without him. He on the other hand has never thought of Keiko as anything other than his best friend, yet in her he could see a potential wife, though there is one problem that could stand in their way. Her family are strict about her changing her religion to Christian, and her doing so could cause a rift between her family and him. So for the both of them, leaving Japan has the power to be life changing.

I loved the way Karen explained the Japanese words used in her novel. I have a liking of Japanese culture in general, and their language, and anyone else out there who has a similar liking will enjoy this book. Readers will find out how Keiko feels when she thinks about her own family and their staunch traditions. Their definition of respect is different than in the West, and she sees that the Japanese way is very selfish and doesn’t allow room for her own thoughts and opinions at all. Showing respect toward the family is seen as uncomfortable and a burden, and views Western life much easier as a result. He likes how independent she would like to be, and the fact that they have been together for so long as best friends tells him she might just be the woman for him and his new life abroad.

The question is, will he leave?

[Rating:4]