Thursday, August 31, 2023

Review - - Resonance Surge

Resonance Surge
by Nalini Singh
Psy-Changeling Trinity - Book 7
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 18, 2023
Reviewed by Nancy

Where are the broken?
 That is the propulsive question that unleashes a world of secrets in New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s Resonance Surge . . .

StoneWater bears Pavel and Yakov Stepyrev have been a unit since birth, but now Pavel’s life is veering in a new direction, his heart held in the hands of Arwen Mercant, a Psy empath—and the only man who has ever brought Pavel to his knees.

This is it. A point of irrevocable change. For Pavel . . . for Arwen . . . for Yakov . . . and for another pair of twins whose bond has a far darker history.

A low-Gradient Psy, Theodora Marshall is considered worthless by everyone but her violently powerful twin, Pax. She is the sole person he trusts in their venomous family to investigate a hidden and terrible part of their family history—an unregistered rehabilitation Center established by their grandfather.

Places of unimaginable pain designed to psychically wipe minds, leaving the victims shells of their former selves, the Centers are an ugly vestige of the Psy race’s Silent past. But this Center was worse. Far, far worse. And now Theo must uncover the awful truth—in the company of a scowling bear named Yakov, who isn’t about to take a Marshall at face value . . . especially a Marshall who has turned his dreams into chilling nightmares.

Because Yakov is the great-grandson of a foreseer . . . and he has seen Theo die in an unstoppable surge of blood. Night after night after night . . .


Nancy Says:

I’ve been waiting for the return of the StoneWater bears, and I was delighted to see them featured in Resonance Surge, the seventh book in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling Trinity series. While the DarkRiver leopards and the SnowDancer wolves have their playful sides, the bears take that trait to another level, a level that offers balance this book really needs. 

Theo Marshall carries deep emotional scars. Her grandfather, the head of their family, never let her forget that her power was so much less than her twin’s. Theo believes the old man would’ve had her killed if not for the way any attack on her affected her mental bond with Pax. Unable to destroy her, their grandfather found she had other skills the family could use against its enemies. Even though adult Theo sees that things she did were wrong, the child was desperate to be accepted by her family. If  anyone ever needed the warmth and humor of a changeling bear, Theo does. 

When the story opens, her grandfather has died. Unraveling his estate, Pax has discovered that the family owned many of the “rehabilitation” centers where the Psy wiped the minds of those who could not perfect their Silence, the absence of emotion mandated by the Psy creed. In the garbled records of one of the centers, which had been emptied when Silence fell, he found a reference that seems to be to Theo. Pax asks her to investigate. 

Theo is reluctant to do so, but she wants to know why her name—if that is her name—is in the center’s records. Concerned for her safety, Pax asks for help from the StoneWater bears. Psy Silver Mercant, mate of the bears’ alpha, asks Yakov to protect her in case the deserted facility turns out to be less deserted than they expect. But she also wants him to apply his knowledge, gleaned as a second to the StoneWater alpha, about how large organizations function. He can’t resist the chance to poke around at will in one of the centers. 

Yakov and Theo are immediately attracted to each other. He’s more open to the idea than she is because she believes the way her telepathy functions under strong emotion renders her not only unsuitable for a relationship but dangerous. But there’s just something so appealing about the warmth and strength and teasing of this changeling that she finds herself drawn to him anyway. 

As they explore the abandoned center and hunt for records, the bond between them deepens. They also make a number of disturbing discoveries, including information that sets up the twist and the all-is-lost moment at the end. 

Resonance Surge also continues Singh’s exploration of the deterioration in the PsyNet, which all Psy need to survive, and the effect of Scarab Syndrome, a corruption of the telepathy of powerful telepaths. Unfortunately, Pax Marshall suffers from it. He wants Theo to be more involved in the family’s business affairs so she’ll be prepared to take over when he succumbs to Scarab Syndrome. 

One subplot, explained mostly in letters, shows the history of Silence. Not everyone favored it, and the disagreements led to the sundering of families. 

Theo and Yakov’s discoveries about this abandoned rehabilitation center are disturbing but not nearly as much so as the memories exploring it stirs in Theo. Her grandfather did more than force her to hurt others to serve her family. I won’t spoil the story by saying what, exactly, but I will say that the flashbacks to these events, while they make one’s heart ache for this child, are not sexual and are no darker than scenes in other books of the series. Overall, the story reinforces the previous depiction of the Psy as a group with many members tainted by an unhealthy lust for power. When the Psy interdicted emotions, one that would have tempered this desire went out with all the rest, and that was compassion. 

One of the main obstacles to a relationship for Yakov and Theo is her dangerous difficulty with strong emotion. The scenes between them, however, are sexy and tender and sometimes humorous and engage the reader beautifully. 

Singh weaves the PsyNet plot, Theo’s flashbacks, and the truth about the centers into the romance without ever allowing them to supplant it as the primary storyline. Readers of the series will enjoy seeing Arwen Mercant and Pavel Stepyrev, Yakov’s twin, progress. 

One of the strengths of this series is Singh’s ability to revisit themes like the corruption of Silence without being repetitive. She has done that again in Resonance Surge.


Highly Recommended.

5 Stars



Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Coastal Magic Featured Author Spotlight & Giveaway - Deb Marlowe


Welcome to The Romance Dish's first Featured Author Spotlight for the 2024 Coastal Magic Convention. Coastal Magic (CMCon24) is a fun-filled, weekend reader/author event held in Daytona Beach, FL each February. Each month from now through January, 2024 all of the Featured Bloggers (including me) will be spotlighting one author who will be attending next year's event. First up is Deb Marlowe, an author I've had the pleasure of knowing for many years. Deb is here today to chat about her current historical mystery series. Please give her a warm welcome. 

Hello, Deb! Welcome to our first Coastal Magic 2024 Featured Author Spotlight! Murder on the Mirrored Lake, the third book in your historical Kier and Levett Mystery Series has just been released. What can readers expect from the books in this series? 

One of my favorite things about this series is featuring the same couple from book to book.  It’s given me a wonderful chance to do a real deep dive into their characters, background and yes, also the slow burn romance.  As always, there is a mystery to solve, and action and adventure unfolding as it happens, but there is also a chance to share some revelations about our favorite characters and the people around them.  So, yes, adventure, but also character development and world building.

And of course, the romance!   It’s been obvious from the beginning that Niall and Kara have feelings for each other, but it’s also been clear that Niall is hiding something.  Something to do with his past.  Readers have been communicating their desire to know!  And now, at last, we find just what his secrets are and how dangerous they might become.  But with the truth out, will Niall be free to express himself? 

This series is set in the Victorian era. Why did you choose that period? How did it impact the development of your characters?

The inspiration for this series was the Great Exhibition of 1851.  I’ve always been fascinated with it.  I have long wanted to use it as a setting and it just seemed perfect for the start of a mystery series.  The first book, A Killer in the Crystal Palace, is set there.  I wanted my characters to really experience the Exhibition, not just visit it, so I had to set about creating a hero and heroine who might be exhibitioners there.

 And thus was born Niall Kier—my big blacksmith who is also a forge artist, with an artist’s soul.  And Kara Levett—the daughter of a baron who has had an unusual upbringing.  She’s also artistic, but she’s very left brain/right brain and she combines all of her interests in creating the astonishingly detailed automatons that she shows at the Exhibition. 

What kind of research did you do for this series? Was any of it onsite? Did you discover anything that surprised you?

Oh, PJ, you know me—I LOVE research!  I’m such a history nerd.  J  I did a LOT of research for this series.  I did some in depth learning on the Great Exhibition and how it came to be.  That held a lot of surprises!  I was shocked to learn about some things that I think of as modern, were actually around for the Exhibition—such as carbonated water and weather predictors.  In fact, I wrote an article about some of the more surprising finds for my website.  You can find it at

I’ve researched much more—details about Victorian London, the political and international landscape, secret societies, poisons, I could go on and on!  But details provide a lot of flavor in the stories and I try very hard to make Kara and Niall’s world come alive. 

The books in this series feature a continuing lead couple. How does writing a series like this differ from writing a “one and done” book? What attracted you to this type of series?

I’m a character driven author, and as I mentioned, I’m loving the chance to delve deeper and broader into my characters.  I’ve got more scope to really explore their layers and I’m enjoying watching them peel them away, a little at a time.  I feel the same about the recurring secondary characters.  The relationships are deeper and more varied and I’m having fun with it.   I love the whodunnit aspect of the stories, but I also love creating a world I get to return to!


Now that you’re three books in, what are you enjoying most about these characters, their adventures, and their romance? Have they surprised you as they continue to evolve?

I’ve often featured some sort of adventure or mystery in my Regency Historical Romances, but now I really get to turn the volume up!  Actually, I feel the same way about the romance and the world building in the series.  The secondary characters are so vivid and important in my mind and to Niall and Kara.  There’s so much room to explore. 

And yes, I get a surprise in almost every book I write.  A character I didn’t plan for or anticipate.  A sudden veer from the plotted path.  A truth that just pops out of a character’s mouth.  It’s what makes writing fun! 

Let’s talk about you a bit. What are your passions (aside from writing, of course)?

I love to cook and garden.  I am the designated cook for family and friend holidays, birthdays, etc.  And I love exploring historical recipes.  You can watch me make some on my extremely amateur Deb Marlowe’s Historical Kitchen videos on my website!   I love to travel and I’m addicted to good books and good TV.  

What would readers be surprised to learn about you?

Well, if readers follow me on social media, they likely already know a lot about me.  I’m an open book.  J  But if they don’t, they might be surprised to learn I am a leap year baby and only have a birthday every four years! 

If you could time travel, where would you go, what would you do, and who (real or fictional) would you want by your side?

I would definitely want to go to Regency England and Victorian London—the places I write about!  It would be amazing to experience it for myself—as long as I could come back.  J  Hmmm..I would definitely want to meet Prinny, although I would be so tempted to scold him.  LOL.  And the real Jane Austen.  And Prince Albert.  Giovanni Batista Belzoni.  Robert Peel.  Wellington.  And by my side?  In the Regency, I would wish for Hestia Wright to be my sidekick—if readers have read the Half Moon House Series, they know she has the strength, charm, influence and heart to make it a good time!  And in Victorian London, I would love to hang around Kara and Niall from the Kier and Levett Mysteries.  We would talk art and literature and science and enjoy good drink and food and probably have an adventure or two! 

What books are on your current to-be-read list or what upcoming books are you looking forward to reading?

I’m currently reading several research books for the continuing adventures of Kara and Niall.  I’m so looking forward to the next in Mary Balogh’s Remember Series, and I’m woefully behind on both Julie Anne Long and C.S. Harris.  I need a few more hours in the day! 

Thanks for visiting with us today, Deb. I’m excited to see you in Daytona Beach next February for Coastal Magic Convention 2024. Before we wrap this up, do you have any questions for the Romance Dish readers?

Thank you so much for having me, PJ!  I can hardly wait for Coastal Magic!  I’m so impressed with the organization and I’ve heard such good things!  Plus, it’s been too long since we hung out! 

For the Romance Dish readers, I think I would ask how they feel about adventurous books with a slow burn romance.  Is there something else they would like to see included in a series like this?  I’m having a grand time with it and I want everyone else to enjoy it, too. 

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, August 31 will receive an autographed copy of A Killer in the Crystal Palace (book one of The Kier and Levett Mystery Series). If the winner is international, they will have their choice of one book from the Half Moon House Series, A Series of Unconventional Courtships, or the Castle Keyvnore Pixie Collection. 

Click for more information about Coastal Magic 2024. It would be wonderful to see some of you there! 


Monday, August 28, 2023

Review - - Through the Snow Globe

Through the Snow Globe
by Annie Rains
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Diana Merriman, a physical therapist, is probably the only person in the small town of Snow Haven, North Carolina, who isn’t looking forward to Christmas. It’s been three weeks since her fiancé Linus was critically injured when a car hit him as he biked home from the toy store he owns and manages. Watching him open his eyes is the only gift she wants, but she can’t help losing a little more hope every day.

But an unexpected visit from a friendly neighbor and finding a snow globe of Snow Haven—a gift Linus had hidden in the closet—the night before Christmas Eve changes things in ways Diana never would have imagined. Because on Christmas Eve Diana wakes up to find that it’s not—Christmas Eve, that is. Instead, it’s somehow December 4 all over again, the day Linus got hurt, and as mystified as Diana is, she immediately starts a plan to save her partner from his fate.  
Nothing is that simple, of course. Instead of a single repeat of that day, Diana finds herself in an endless loop of December 4, experiencing every possible variation of events. Along the way, she uncovers startling truths about herself, her relationship, and even her career that illustrate the ways she’s retreated from her life—and in the face of life’s slights and outright blows, from her deepest feelings. Suddenly hope is second only to joy as Diana opens her heart to the people she loves in every way she can.

PJ's Thoughts:

I've not had good luck with books using the Groundhog Day setup...until now. Where other books have left me bored and skipping pages early on, Annie Rains has written a story that engaged both my interest and my heart. 

One of the things I most enjoy about an Annie Rains novel is her characters. They are fully developed, multi-layered characters with flaws that are relatable to most readers. While there is a romantic thread in this book, this is primarily Diana's story. Her gradual evolution is a deeply emotional, realistic process that kept me flipping pages to discover what would happen next. I love how Rains uses even the smallest change in Diana's personal life outlook to show the ripples of change within her as well as among those with whom she interacts. It's a thought-provoking process that offers real-life lessons. 

If you enjoy Christmas stories with emotional depth, magical realism, life-altering growth, and hard-won, happy endings, I recommend Through the Snow Globe by Annie Rains. Like the movie, It's a Wonderful Life, I have a feeling this heart-tugging book will become one of my annual holiday traditions. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Review - - KNOCKOUT

by Sarah MacLean
Hell's Belles - Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

With her headful of wild curls and wilder ideas and an unabashed love of experiments and explosives, society has labeled Lady Imogen Loveless peculiar…and doesn’t know she’s one of the Hell’s Belles—a group of vigilantes operating outside the notice of most of London.

Thomas Peck is not most of London. The brilliant detective fought his way off the streets and into a promising career through sheer force of will and a keen ability to see things others miss, like the fact that Imogen isn’t peculiar…she’s pandemonium. If you ask him, she requires a keeper. When her powerful family discovers her late-night activities, they couldn’t agree more…and they know just the man for the task.

Thomas wants nothing to do with guarding Imogen. He is a grown man with a proper job and no time for the lady’s incendiary chaos, no matter how lushly it is packaged. But some assignments are too explosive to pass up, and the gruff detective is soon caught up in Imogen’s world, full of her bold smiles and burning secrets…and a fiery passion that threatens to consume them both.

PJ's Thoughts:

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of KNOCKOUT today because, boy howdy, Imogen and Tommy are not to be missed! This was one of those books where I wanted to race through it to find out what would happen around the next corner while at the same time wanting to slow down to a snail's pace so as to savor each perfectly placed word and emotion. I solved the dilemma by reading it twice. 

KNOCKOUT is not only my favorite (so far) of the Hell's Belles series, it's one of my all-time favorite books by MacLean from any series. Filled with action, mystery, steamy chemistry, cross-class romance, swoony emotion, and all kinds of boom, it checked every one of my happy reader boxes. 

One of MacLean's strengths is her characterization. Tommy and Imogen are beautifully developed with a multitude of layers that bring emotional depth, grumpy-sunshine goodness, and a whole lot of fun. I loved Imogen's boldness, her determination to bring justice to those easily forgotten, her fearless use of explosives, the chaos that swirls around her, and those deliciously pesky feelings she carries for Tommy. And let's talk about Tommy, a big, bearded, straight-arrow detective who can't get enough of Lady Imogen in spite of (because of?) the trouble that follows in her wake. So many conflicting emotions simmering in this good, honorable man. I loved the slow burn evolution of their relationship, the deep feelings on both sides that developed alongside the fiery chemistry that threatened to explode, but also overlaid with sigh-worthy sweetness. Gah, I loved these two so much!

The supporting cast, including the other Belles, significant others, and family members only add to the richness of the journey, offering diversity, conflict, support, humor, and a villain who deserves everything coming their way. I do love it when the bad guys are held accountable. 

You could read KNOCKOUT on its own but for full flavor and appreciation of these characters and their journey, I recommend reading the series in order, beginning with BOMBSHELL then following with HEARTBREAKER. Next up is Duchess's story and after reading that cliffhanger at the end of KNOCKOUT, all I can say is bring it on! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Review - - Hot to the Touch

Hot to the Touch
by Kate Meader
Hot in Chicago Rookies - Book 3
Publisher: Kate Meader LLC
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

I might be a rookie Chicago firefighter, but I’m on top of the world. I’ve just earned my spot on Rescue Squad at legendary Engine 6, can get all the action I want both in and out of the bedroom, and am possessed of an enviable sneaker collection. Nothing can harsh my vibe except 
her—Cassandra Ferguson, my brother’s sister-in-law, or as I affectionately label her: the blister-in-law. Ever since I met her, she’s looked down her perky little nose at me, never mind that I’m a good foot taller. Apparently, I offended her with a few risqué jokes and an offer for a fun, no-strings night—crimes that have relegated me to lower than dirt in St. Cassandra's eyes.

These days we’re at a stalemate. Don’t get along, can’t get along. Only when tragedy strikes, we have no choice but to put our animosity aside for the sake of our hurting niece and nephew, who need us now more than ever. As co-guardians, Cassie and I are enemy combatants in an uneasy truce, flailing around in a no-man’s land of grief and lust, forced to work as a team.

Thing is, when Cassie and I team up—when we really work together—the results are explosive. In a sexy way. In an amazing way. Maybe … in every way. But with stakes this high, we can’t get it wrong.

Even though it feels so, so right.

PJ's Thoughts:

Are you in the mood for a steamy, enemies-to-lovers romance with snappy banter, forced proximity, self-reflection, and a deep well of emotion at its core? If so, Kate Meader's Hot to the Touch is the book for you. It's a roller coaster of a ride that had tears flowing more than once, kept me eagerly flipping pages from beginning to end, and left me with feelings overflowing for this new family formed from the depths of heart-wrenching grief. 

Whether it's humor, grief, lust, animosity, or love, Kate Meader is my go-to contemporary author for steamy, funny, sometimes dangerous, and frequently emotional romance. The characters she creates are complex and multi-faceted, often with unseen layers that are expertly peeled away as the story progresses. In Hot to the Touch, that applies to both Sam and Cassie as well as the young niece and nephew for whom they are now responsible. I loved watching their story unfold as each character evolved, began to see one another in a different light, began to see themselves in a new way. They broke my heart but then they put it back together even stronger than before. That's part of the beauty of Meader's writing. 

Hot to the Touch is the final book in Kate Meader's Hot in Chicago Rookies trilogy. Characters from earlier books make appearances in this one but it stands well on its own though I do recommend all three books. Click the title to read my review of Up in Smoke (book one) and Down in Flames (book two).


Monday, August 21, 2023

TLC Tour Review - - The Highlander's Kilted Bride

The Highlander's Kilted Bride
by Vanessa Kelly
Clan Kendrick - Book 6
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

Charlotte “Charlie” Stewart would rather don a kilt and ride her horse than simper in a ballroom. But with her younger sister about to be wed, she can’t escape the pressure to be next. A husband has been chosen, and Charlie’s fate seems set. Until an afternoon gallop sends her horse colliding with Kade Kendrick, the broad-shouldered Highlander who was once her childhood pal . . .

As a youth, Kade felt overshadowed by his older siblings. Now he’s a renowned musician whose fame provides cover for his other work—as a spy. Home from his latest mission, he’s annoyed to be roped into attending the wedding of a family friend—until it reunites him with the fearless tomboy who has become a breathtaking beauty. And though his thoughts should be on a new concerto, Kade is soon distracted by rival suitors, a dangerous quest—and the unconventional woman who fills his soul with music and his body with desire . . .

PJ's Thoughts:

I fully expected Logan and Donella (The Highlander's Christmas Bride) to finish out Vanessa Kelly's Clan Kendrick series as my favorite couple. Leave it to youngest brother, Kade and unconventional Charlie to slide in at the eleventh hour and steal the title away.

Kelly incorporates all my favorite facets of this series into this sixth and final book. There's mystery and mayhem, meddlesome family, pitch-perfect humor, heart-tugging romance, a nasty villain, plenty of twists and turns, and did I mention meddlesome family? Oh yes, the Kendricks are at it again. Kade's Grandda Angus is front and center (of course) but this time he has Kade's brother Royal and Royal's wife Ainsley (The Highlander Who Protected Me) helping. I especially enjoyed the relationship that developed between Ainsley and Charlie and the understanding and acceptance that was missing within Charlie's own family.

I loved the romance between Kade and Charlie. These two were perfect for one another. Watching them come to that conclusion and finally claim the love and life that was meant to be was pure joy. There's much more I could say about their journey but each reader should have the opportunity to discover all the delicious little details on their own. 

If you're new to the Kendrick family, you should still be able to read and enjoy this book on its own merits. However, for those of you who have read the entire series (like me), it's very satisfying to tag along on Kade's journey to love after watching him grow up through his siblings' books. The Highlander's Kilted Bride not only offers another fun, swoony, heartfelt highlander romance but also a fond farewell to a much loved family. It has my enthusiastic recommendation. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Tour Review - - The Keeper of Hidden Books

The Keeper of Hidden Books
by Madeline Martin
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Release Date: August 1, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

All her life, Zofia has found comfort in two things during times of hardship: books and her best friend, Janina. But no one could have imagined the horrors of the Nazi occupation in Warsaw. As the bombs rain down and Hitler’s forces loot and destroy the city, Zofia finds that now books are also in need of saving.

With the death count rising and persecution intensifying, Zofia jumps to action to save her friend and salvage whatever books she can from the wreckage, hiding them away, and even starting a clandestine book club. She and her dearest friend never surrender their love of reading, even when Janina is forced into the newly formed ghetto.

But the closer Warsaw creeps toward liberation, the more dangerous life becomes for the women and their families – and escape may not be possible for everyone. As the destruction rages around them, Zofia must fight to save her friend and preserve her culture and community using the only weapon they have left - literature.

PJ's Thoughts:

I've read a fair amount about the effects of WWII on the populace of France, Italy, England, etc. What I don't know as much about is what happened during this time in Poland. Or, I didn't, until reading Madeline Martin's The Keeper of Hidden Books. What an intense, inspiring, heartbreaking, hopeful, poignant story, authentic story about a group of Poles (both Christian and Jew) working together to fight their Nazi occupiers in a courageous effort to protect the treasures of Poland: her citizens, her history, her cultural heritage, the knowledge of her leaders (doctors, lawyers, scientists, etc.), and perhaps most important of all, her humanity.

This book was almost impossible to put down. The characters are so incredibly well developed and complex. They put a human face on a devastatingly difficult time in our world's history, immersing me in their lives in a realistic and relatable way that left me in tears more than once. Martin doesn't shy away from the heart-wrenching realities of the Nazi regime. That, and her impeccable research, bring an authenticity to the events in the book that affords intimate insight into Zofia, Janina, their family, and friends. It's that intimacy that brings these characters to life as they risk everything to protect all they hold dear, including one another.

As a lover of books and a staunch believer that all books should be available to all people, I was especially impressed to learn that this book is based on actual people who risked everything during WWII to preserve and protect the libraries of Warsaw and the books housed within. It speaks to the knowledge to be found in books, to the free thought, ideals, patriotism, and resistance within. To the empathy that occurs from learning about and understanding other people, religions, and cultures rather than attempting to homogenize a populace by denying access to any book that goes against the government's chosen ideals. It's no wonder the Nazis were determined to ban and then destroy the literature of Poland. There's a lesson there that all generations should take to heart.  

The Keeper of Hidden Books is a powerful, thought-provoking, beautifully-written story. I highly recommend it. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Review - - Treasure Coast Promise

Treasure Coast Promise
by Leigh Duncan
Emerald Bay - Book 2
Publisher: Gardenia Street Publishing
Release Date: August 22, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

She has a new career and a promising relationship, but will the secrets of her past ruin her hopes for the future?

No matter where she lived, Kimberly Ann Dane considered the Dane Crown Inn her home. As a child, Kim looked forward to frequent visits to the inn where she enjoyed building sand castles on Emerald Bay’s sandy beaches, learning to cook in the inn’s spacious kitchen and hunting for buried treasure with her cousins. As she grew older, she paid her way through college by working summers and school holidays at the inn. It’s no wonder that—divorced, at odds with her grown children and hoping to make a fresh start—Kim returns to the one place she’s always been welcomed with open arms. But things have changed. Kim’s cousins have scattered and face problems of their own. And the inn, which was once hailed as the “gem of Florida’s Treasure Coast,” has lost its luster. Kim has barely settled into her old room at the top of the stairs when her Aunt Margaret shocks the entire family with the news that she has decided to sell the estate that has been in the Dane family for more than fifty years. Before she does, though, Margaret asks Kim and her cousins to make one final wish come true.

While Kim and her cousins work to fulfill their aunt’s last request, they begin to rebuild the closeness they once treasured. As the women work to restore the inn to its former glory, a new career and a promising relationship with Emerald Bay’s most eligible bachelor open up a world of fresh possibilities for Kim. But when hidden secrets come to light, will her past ruin Kim’s hopes for a second chance at happiness?

PJ's Thoughts:

Events surrounding the Dane cousins continue to unfold in this second book of Leigh Duncan's Emerald Bay series as we begin to know each of the characters and the challenges in their lives. One cousin's marriage is falling apart. Another is in the first bloom of a surprising new relationship. Still another is about to hit rock bottom following employment woes. One by one, they each begin to gravitate back to the Dane Crown Inn, the location of their fondest childhood memories, the place that needs them as much as they need it. 

I'm already hooked on this new series of Duncan's. Meeting her characters is like meeting new friends in real life, with first impressions slowly evolving as bits of their lives are revealed. These are multi-layered characters with relatable flaws, complicated relationships, and the strong, core-deep bond of cousins who may have scattered as adults but grew up more as siblings. She brings them to life on the page, makes me care for them, cry with them, and cheer them on to better days. I'm totally invested in each of the cousins, in Aunt Margaret, in their happiness, and the future of the Dane Crown Inn. I have a feeling there will be many twists in the four books remaining in the series as all of the cousins reunite, find their own paths, and move forward, hopefully stronger, happier, and more confident. I'm eager to make the journey with them. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Review - - Meet Me in River's Edge

Meet Me in River's Edge
by Nan Reinhardt
The Weaver Sisters - - Book 2
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Release Date: August 17, 2023
Reviewed by PJ

He ticks every one of her “never again” boxes…

Jo Weaver loves her job as a boat mechanic for her family’s marina in River’s Edge, Indiana. But when she’s pulled away from her high school reunion with her sisters to fix a stranded yacht, she can’t restrain her irritation. Jo doesn’t like wealthy men who think they can have whatever they want, and she has no intention of falling for rich and charming again.

Born into the international Briggs Hotels empire, Alex Briggs has never felt comfortable with his life of privilege. Abandoning his family’s business to pursue medical research, he’s far more at home in his lab. When the yacht he restored himself breaks down on the way to an important conference, Alex begrudgingly goes in search of a boat mechanic and falls, literally, into Jo Weaver’s arms. The fireworks he feels are impossible to ignore.

Jo does her best to keep Alex in the business zone, but he keeps slipping into something more. Can she trust her fragile heart, especially when Alex and his life-altering research are so far from River’s Edge?

PJ's Thoughts:

If you're a regular here you already know how much I've been enjoying the books set in Nan Reinhardt's River's Edge. I love this town and the people who live there. Each one of their stories has touched my heart but this one, Meet Me in River's Edge, didn't just touch my heart, it out and out stole it. Jo and Alex are my favorite River's Edge couple. I've read their book twice. Pretty sure I'll be revisiting them again...and again...and again. 

There's so much to love about this couple and their up and down journey to a happy ending, all of which Reinhardt executes flawlessly. We have triplet sisters dynamics, a relationship-averse heroine, smitten hero, snappy banter, mountains of emotional baggage, swoony romance, complicated family (hero), perfectly placed humor, drool-worthy food, delicious chemistry (kissing only), life-threatening obstacles, and a grand gesture that I read while sobbing happy tears. Sobbing.

I love the time the author takes with Jo and Alex, not only developing their relationship gradually but also their individual characters as well as relationships with those surrounding them. Jo's father and Rich, the man who is more father to Alex than his actual father are particular favorites. I like how she weaves mistaken assumptions into the story, as is often the case in real life, as a way of growing both Jo's and Alex's characters and showing that first impressions are not always correct. I also appreciate the communication between Jo and Alex and the way they slowly open themselves emotionally to one another, though that is significantly tested during a particular crisis. Again, a turn in the story that is realistic and relatable, leading to the forgiveness, understanding, and healing which is necessary to move forward and claim that happily ever after. 

Meet Me in River's Edge is book two in Nan Reinhardt's Weaver Sisters trilogy set within the author's River's Edge world. Characters from earlier books pop in and out of the story but it's written in such a way that readers new to River's Edge should not be confused or feel as if they are missing something. Jump in here and enjoy the ride.