Review: The Ever After of Ella and Micha (The Secret, Book 4) by Jessica Sorensen

Jessica SorensenReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Ella has dreamed of the day when she will marry Micha, her dear beloved. It’s due to be the best Christmas she’s to have, but Ella receives a package that becomes a reminder of her past. This makes her wonder if she will ever be able to settle down with Micha when her life keeps on delivering such awful problems. Problems don’t just come from Ella’s side of the romance, Micha has an offer of touring with his famous band for a stretch of three months, but how can he expect her to drop everything and come with him?

Review: From the writer of Breaking Nova, The Secret of Ella and Micha, The Forever of Ella and Micha, and the Ever After of Ella and Micha. Build as being perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook, Jessica Sorenson’s new novel in the Ella and Micha series has the two of them finally becoming a couple, if only the past did not keep coming back to haunt her. Chapter one sees Micha wondering why Ella had not come to the wedding, finding out when he gets back home she has left. The chapters are written from Ella and Micha’s own viewpoints and the build up to the time they were expected to get married. Lots of angst ensues with the both of them expressing their worries and feelings as if through diary entries. At first Micha thinks Ella handles the arrival of the package well, but the reality is Ella is keeping all her troubles inside as she does not want to cause even more problems. Finding who wrote the journal is quite a shock as it is the reason Ella decides it isn’t a good idea getting married.

Good Bits:

  • The arrival of the package from Gary!
  • Further reading of the journal prove interesting, and harrowing at the same time.
  • Reading about the both of them and their views on life is intriguing.

Summary: All that Micha wants is to make Ella happy and he sees it as his goal to do that. They have deep feelings for each other but Ella doesn’t want to disappoint him with her choices and what her mother felt if she opens up to him. This is a story that has gone from strength to strength with every novel.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Ever After of Ella and Micha (The Secret Book 4)

Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

reluctant elfHeroine: Lottie and her daughter, Mabel, are planning to visit Aunt Kate this Christmas because Aunt Kate is starting a bed and breakfast (B&B) business. When Kate is hospitalized, Lottie and Mabel leave a day early for their Christmas vacation. The B&B is in dire straights, so are Aunt Kate’s finances, and the help just absconded for a break to recuperate. Everything hinges on getting a good rating from the reviewer. But Lottie hasn’t the foggiest clue what to do to run a successful B&B.

Hero: Danny, the taxi driver, is an unlikely but most definitely needed hero. When Lottie offers him enough money to fund a trip to see his young daughter in America, he agrees to aid her in anyway he can. He helps paint, fix, repair, clean, and cook. And along the way the two find they have an affinity for each other.

Review: The B&B reviewer and his family are seriously dysfunctional. I am very glad that the creepy brother/in-law doesn’t barge in on Lottie in the bath. He was a very ignorant self-absorbed cad. His wife was a hypochondriac and couldn’t stand her children. The two kids were terrors. I’d be afraid for Mabel to hang out with them. The only one sane was the reviewer. Are you up for some crazy hijinks involving scolding plumbing, falling down ceilings, holes patched with toothpaste? Then you’re in for a treat with this wifi-less Victorian-themed holiday chick-lit. Happy ending for all. There’s definitely room for continuation.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Reluctant Elf

Review: What a Lady Needs for Christmas (MacGregors, Book 4) by Grace Burrowes

what a lady needs for christmasHeroine: Lady Joan Flynn flees her family’s estate ill prepared to join her extended family for the holidays. Her maid deserts her halfway there and she’s stuck at a train station with no help in sight. She’s not so much worried about getting to the party as she’s worried about not having a husband by the end of the holidays.

Hero: Dante Hartwell needs to drum up investors for his mills. He’s going to a house party of a wealthy Scottish gentlemen in order to do just that. But he doesn’t really like nobbing with these folks. If it wasn’t for his secretary he might not go at all. When his daughter requests he assist a woman at the train station he’s more than happy to oblige.

Review: Lady Joan was compromised by an unrepentant rake. He wanted her talent, but not her, and when Joan finds him engaged the next day it is no wonder she’s all in a panic. This fashion designer spinster needs a man willing to take her on. When Dante proposes marriage he’s the blessing she was looking for. He gives her plenty of outs – she can wait to decide or change her mind if she finds she isn’t pregnant. Their romance is a sweet one. I particularly enjoyed their wedding nights as they worked to figure out their husband and wife routine.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: What a Lady Needs for Christmas (MacGregor Series)

Venice – It Surprised Me

XmasAtTiffanysGuest Blog by Karen Swan, author of Christmas at Tiffany’s

When I think of this book, it’s this scene in Venice that I tend to think of. The sequence in Venice had come as a bit of a surprise to me when I was writing, to be honest, as the book is firmly and clearly set in three cities: London, Paris and New York. However, I had realized I needed somewhere where both Cassie and Henry went off-plan, free-range- if you like, from the lists and Venice had such a different vibe to the other cities – it’s not at all urban in the way that the others are, it’s a city for people walking hand in hand down the lanes and across the piazzas, drifting in gondolas along the canals – and it felt absolutely right for Cassie and Henry to be there as they begin to transition from being old friends to the first inklings of something more. In this scene particularly, Cassie has so much fear of getting it wrong, there’s confusion and crossed wires about what is really going on between them and beating beneath it all, is this powerful, pent-up sexual tension. For me, this is the scene upon which the entire love story pivots.

‘…The clock read 3.43am when she felt the mattress dip behind her and Henry’s body heat gradually emanated across the white-sheeted expanse to her side of the bed. She had slept fitfully, dreaming too vividly, her brain feverish and revving too hard. She had got up at midnight to get a glass of water and had seen his side of the vast bed was still cold and smooth. Where was he?

He wriggled into a comfortable position and she felt her heart punching against her ribs at his closeness, and she wondered whether he could feel it through the mattress, vibrating through the coils to where he lay.

‘Cass?’ His voice was quiet and low – but even in that one word she could hear the slur or sambucas – and she heard his hair rustle against the pillow as he turned his head.

She froze. She knew he was going to apologize to her, he was that kind of man: it had been ungentlemanly to slam a door in her face, to leave her abandoned in a foreign city, to have advanced upon her like a lover when she was just an old friend, to have made her want him and then left her hanging…

His apology would cover all those things, she knew, though they’d both leave the specifics unsaid. But she didn’t want it now. Not here, lying in the dark together, the smell of him covering her though his hands wouldn’t.

He turned over fully and she could literally feel the weight of his stare. She wondered whether he could tell she was feigning sleep. She struggled to keep her breathing slow and steady but it was tricky with her heart pounding like a jackhammer. A deafening silence contracted between them in the blackness. She heard his hand rest on the sheet behind her, and she could feel it glowing like an ember between them….’

 

About the Book

In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, a young woman leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world—New York, Paris, and London—in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.

Ten years ago, a young and naïve Cassie married her first serious boyfriend, believing he would be with her forever. Now, her marriage is in tatters and Cassie has no career or home of her own. Though she feels betrayed and confused, Cassie isn’t giving up. She’s going to take control of her life. But first she has to find out where she belongs . . . and who she wants to be.

Over the course of one year, Cassie leaves her sheltered life in rural Scotland to stay with her best friends living in the most glamorous cities in the world: New York, Paris, and London. Exchanging comfort food and mousy hair for a low-carb diet and a gorgeous new look, Cassie tries each city on for size as she searches for the life she’s meant to have . . . and the man she’s meant to love.

Buy: Christmas at Tiffany’s

Biography

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and an ADHD puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest in Sussex, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs. Her first novel, Players, was published in 2010, followed by Prima Donna and Christmas at Tiffany’s in 2011.

http://karenswan.wix.com/karenswan

Twitter: @KarenSwan1

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KarenSwanAuthor

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/karenswan2

Review: A Highland Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf, Book 15) by Terry Spear

a highland wolf christmasHeroine: Calla Stewart is not walking but running away from the aisle. She has no interest in reconnecting with her ex-fiance and leader of the pack, Baird. She has a holiday party to plan at her friends the McNeils and Grants and is looking forward to getting away. Until Baird chases her from her car to their property.

Hero: Guthrie MacNeill, is there to protect Calla with other members of his pack. The two have a little history, but peripherally because of their commitments to previous partners. Guthrie is the financial advisor for his clan and werewolf pack, and doesn’t see the point of spending money frivolously. He remembers a time when the clan was near the brink of starvation and doesn’t want to see them there again.

Review: Terry Spear juggles a lot of names and wolf clans in this book. The major players were easy enough but the plethora of side characters and cameos from previous books left me a little confused. I think some of the motivation would have been clearer to a reader who’d read previous books in the series than it was to me. Some of the wolf-logic was lost on me. They were immortal wolves? Wolves only had sex with other wolves when mating? I’m just glad that her ex was all bark and no bite.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: A Highland Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf Book 15)

Review: Take Me Home for Christmas (Whiskey Creek, Book 5) by Brenda Novak

Take Me Home for ChristmasReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sophie DeBussi seems to have a sorry existence with no means of escape. Ted Dixon knows Sophie personally from high school and what he describes is someone that very well may have been someone you went to school with. Their lives reconnect during a time in Sophie’s life when she can really use a friend.

Our author reminds us that tragedy can strike at any time of year – even the holidays. It’s also a time when Sophie finds out who her real friends are. It’s a tough read because you just can’t imagine the pain that Brenda has created. But that’s what makes a great author – we come to care for the characters as if they’re part of the family or a really close friend.

This was my first book in the series so I’m behind in knowing who all the couples are. Sophie’s story can be read as a stand-alone but if you want to know all the couples better, you’ll want to go back and read books one through four. It also had me wanting to know more about the people of Whiskey Creek.

This is not a book that I could read without stopping every once in a while (but that’s not a bad thing). I guess my glasses are slightly rose-colored – it’s just you can’t believe people will act that way. But sad to say, that’s not the case. Brenda had me making comparisons to the family of Bernie Madoff – were they her inspiration for this story? It certainly gives you another perspective.

What I loved about this story is that it didn’t start at Christmas time. So, technically you could read it at any time of year. But the “moral of the story” definitely has the holiday spirit involved. It has a great lesson to it and it shows that miracles do happen – amidst tragedy love can blossom. The ending will also have you smiling. It has me looking forward to March when book six, titled Come Home To Me, will be coming out. This also gives me time to catch up on the series in the meantime. So, if you’re getting your holiday reads together and you want something that’s slightly different from most make sure to pick up a copy of Brenda’s book.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Take Me Home for Christmas (Whiskey Creek)

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Audio Review: The Way You Look Tonight (The Sullivans, Book 9) by Bella Andra

the way you look tonightReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Audible Audio Edition
Version: Unabridged
Listening Length: 7 hours, 3 minutes
Narrated By: Eva Kaminsky

Rafe Sullivan owns an investigation firm. Brooke Jansen makes sweets – I love her already (where’s smell-a-vision when you need it). Rafe and Brooke are old family friends. And our setting is a lake where they would spend summers with family.

Ms. Kaminsky does a great job of narrating Bella’s book. She has the type of voice that just seems to make you think of the Sullivan family. I found myself closing my eyes so that I could concentrate on the scenes that Eva was painting. By having someone read to me, the book seemed to go by more quickly.

I wasn’t feeling good on the day I was listening to this book and it made me realize that this actually worked in my favor. You don’t seem to want to read on those types of days and this is a great alternative. It brings more life to what is written on paper.

The more I listened to this narrator, the more I realized that I would search out other books that she is a part of. She just seems to have the right type of voice and you don’t get bored listening to her. When she got to chapter five, I got curious about something and decided to play with it and see what would happen. I found that I could control the speed of how fast our narrator is telling the story. This is not a book that you would want to have Eva talking faster. The speed I’m listening at seems just right – it makes it sound sexy.

This would be a perfect book, and medium, to bring on vacation – especially if you’re going to the beach. It reminded me of when my family vacationed at Lake Sebago. You could put your earphones in and just sit back and recline in your beach chair or on your towel and let Eva take you away and fall in love with Rafe and Brooke’ story.

The only difference between an audiobook and reading this book is that you can’t really listen to music. You could probably try some nice instrumental music but you don’t want to have anything that will distract you from Eva’s voice – you don’t want any distractions.

This is a great way to experience Bella’s series. If you’ve never read one of her books, why not try one this way. I didn’t have a good experience with the first audiobook that I listened to and I’m glad to say that with both the right author and narrator, I’m ready to listen to my next book. Being adventurous is a good thing because I may have missed out on a great audiobook otherwise.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Way You Look Tonight: The Sullivans, audiobook version

Movie Review: The Perfect Wedding (2012)

the-perfect-wedding-posterReviewed by Sharon S.

Title: The Perfect Wedding (2012)
Run time: 82 min
Genre: Comedy
Director: Scott Gabriel
Writers: Suzanne Brockmann, Ed Gaffney, Jason T. Gaffney

Line-Up:
Paul Fowler – Eric Aragon
Gavin Greene – Jason T. Gaffney
Alana Fowler – Apolonia Davalos
Kirk Corbett – Brendan Griffin
Vicki Carabella- Annie Kerins
Zack Gastineau – Sal Rendino
Roy Madigan – Roger Stewart
Meryl Fowler – Kristine Sutherland
Richard Fowler – James Rebhorn

The Perfect Wedding is the story of Paul Fowler (Eric Aragon) and Gavin Greene (Jason T. Gaffney), two young gay men who meet and fall in love over the Christmas holidays.

Charismatic, handsome Paul is a recovering alcoholic, eighteen months sober, but still picking up the pieces of the destruction he’d wrought while drinking. He lives at home with his parents, Richard (James Rebhorn) and Meryl (Kristine Sutherland), and with their support and the help of his AA sponsor Zach (Sal Rendino), Paul is learning how to live one day at a time.

But Christmas is approaching, and Paul’s adopted sister Alana (Apolonia Davalos) is coming home for the holidays. This won’t be just a regular family celebration — she’s recently engaged and the weekend will be spent planning her June wedding. She’s bringing her best friends Roy (Roger K. Stewart) and Vicki (Annie Kerins) home with her, to help with the task.

Problem is, Roy is Paul’s ex-boyfriend, and their relationship was a casualty to Paul’s drinking. In fact, the two young men haven’t seen each other since their very messy breakup. Nervous about seeing his ex again, Roy talks his good friend Gavin into joining him for the weekend, and pretending to be his new boyfriend.

When Paul and Gavin meet, sparks of attraction fly — but Gavin thinks Roy’s still hung up on Paul. And of course, the last thing Paul wants to do is hurt his ex all over again.

Meanwhile, like all families, the Fowlers must deal with bad news as well as good, and we discover that patriarch Richard has been recently diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s. He is essentially symptom-free, but Meryl is terrified of what the future holds and throws herself into planning a lavish wedding for their daughter, Alana. Even though Meryl knows it’s foolish, she wants to create a wedding so big and so beautiful that no one — not even Richard — will ever forget it.

When Paul realizes that his sister’s wedding plans are getting steamrolled by their mom, he gets involved and convinces Alana’s fiancé Kirk (Brendan Griffin) to re-propose to her, asking her to marry him that very day, in a small ceremony at sunset near the water, with only close friends and family attending, just as Alana has always imagined. And with Paul’s help, Richard also confronts Meryl and convinces her to join him in the present instead of living burdened with the uncertainties of the future.

The proposal, the intimate wedding, and Paul and Gavin’s ultimate connection are touching scenes in a warm and funny story about a very real, modern American family.

Review: The above summary pretty much details the entire movie so no sense talking about that. I enjoyed the film despite the over used romantic comedy plot devices. It seemed they tried to include every social issue in the family dynamic. You have adoption, Alzheimer’s, alcoholism, and mixed marriage. The only thing it didn’t do was make an issue of being gay, which was the point of the movie. The creators wanted to make a romantic comedy. It just so happens the two lead characters were men. This story would have worked just as well with a man and woman. The plot is a formula romantic comedy with no twists or turns, and the humor is generic.

Despite all the things I knock the film for I wanted to see Gavin and Paul’s happy ever after. I liked both characters and the actors did a fine job with them. The acting skills for the cast as a whole, wasn’t stellar, with the exception of Kristine Sutherland who played Meryl Fowler (Paul’s mom). She was the most convincing.

This is a nice indie film that will leave you with a smile on your face.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Perfect Wedding