But her biggest problem? Corban Nash. He’s frustrating. Infuriating. And deliciously adorable, but that’s neither here nor there. He claims to have cracked the code to falling in love, and Hazel is determined to prove him wrong.
Home is where the heart is …
Alice Dorothy Matthews is sensible. Whilst her best friend Kathy is living it up in Portugal and her insufferable ex Adam is travelling the world, Alice is working hard to pay for the beloved London house she has put her heart and soul into renovating.
But then a postcard from Buenos Aires turns Alice’s life upside down. One very unsensible decision later and she is in Cascais, Portugal, and so begins her lesson in ‘going with the flow’; a lesson that sees her cat-sitting, paddle boarding, dancing on top of bars and rediscovering her artistic talents. But perhaps the most important part of the lesson for Alice is that you don’t always need a house to be at home.
In the wake of her boyfriend’s “disappearance,” Alice Matthews has devoted her time and energy to two things, her work and her home renovations. In the time her boyfriend has been traipsing around the world – the jerk sends postcards! – Alice has invested time, energy, funds, and more than a little love into the home they once shared. Alice’s home is her sanctuary and now her rat bastard of an ex wants to sell the house so he can invest in his new girlfriend and their new business venture.
To Alice’s way of thinking, her rotten ex owns precisely one toilet in the entirety of “their” house! To Alice’s way of thinking, if her ex wants to sell “their” house out from under her, he’s going to have to do it on her terms and her terms include jetting off to Portugal to be both off the grid and off his greedy radar. Portugal is just the thing Alice needs and with a dear friend already in country, Alice is sure to find the solution to all her problems. Yes, in Portugal, Alice will figure out how to deal with her ex, what to do about his stupid house-selling proposal, and where she sees herself in both the near and distant future.
Portugal . . . .
Cascais, Portugal is a haven, a true paradise just off the beaten path. From the moment she sets foot in Cascais, Alice feels somewhat relieved; at least her ex will never think to look for her here. With determination in her blood, Alice sets out to enjoy paradise, to relax, and know that the universe is going to magically solve all her problems and bring her a sense of balance and serenity she has not known in years. There’s only one LARGE problem with Alice’s grand plan, Alice Matthews just isn’t built that way and no matter how much she wants to ignore her real life and her problems, they don’t just go away because you’re in paradise.
For weeks, Alice vacillates between burgeoning relaxation and stark fear over the future. Alice finds moments of solace and even peace when she begins to reboot and remember who she was before her dirty, rotten ex and the house, and before it was her sole financial responsibility. In those moments, Alice is creative and crafty and happy. In those moments, Alice allows herself to be free, to experience new friendships, to have new adventures, and to open herself up once again to the possibility of love. In those moments, Alice can almost picture a future in which she is truly happy and that is worth all the worry, all the heartache, and all the considerable drama.
The Bottom Line: I both read and listened to this book, and both times I found it to be a wonderful little diversion of a story. Alice Matthews is one of those characters you just can’t help but like. Alice is trying to do the right thing, but circumstances and life have thrown her so many curve balls that her only option is to run away. While this may seem silly and immature, Alice is also a grown and mature woman who knows, ultimately, running away isn’t the answer to anything, but the time away may help her find some answers. Aside from truly liking Alice, I also found the setting to be wonderfully welcoming and suitable for Alice’s little adventure. From the small-town environment to the lush gardens, water views, and quirky characters, Cascais, Portugal is exactly what Alice needed to unravel the tangle of her life. I found the combination of characters and setting to be quite perfect and perfectly appropriate. My only complaint – and it’s not much of a complaint at all, really – is that I would have liked a bit more of a firm ending by way of a proper epilogue. Oh, we know Alice is on her way to a well-deserved HEA, but I wanted a bit more as far as tying up the last few loose ends. If I’m being perfectly honest, I really, really, really wanted to know that Alice was able to stick it to her rat bastard ex and his pretentious new girlfriend 😊 In all, a fine read from Chris Penhall in both written and audio format!
Widowed for ten years, now running the family ranch, Adam Miller is no longer the fun-loving guy who married his high school sweetheart the moment they graduated. His bitterness in the aftermath of her death even alienated his closest link to her—Lizzie Taylor, her best friend. But when Adam comes across Lizzie in a dire situation, he’s compelled to help—and finds himself with an unusual opportunity to make amends . . .
A struggling single mom, Lizzie’s extremely wealthy ex ran out on her when she got pregnant. But now he and his family have decided to fight for custody of her young son. When Adam shocks her by offering to pose as her partner, awkward as it may feel, it’s Lizzie’s best chance to hold onto her child. And as they strive to present a united front, their old friendship rekindles, sparking an unexpected attraction—along with past hurts and secrets. Soon they realize they’ll have to find a way to forgive if they want to move forward—especially with each other . . .
For all intents and purposes, Adam Miller died ten years ago, the day he buried his beloved wife. In just his early twenties when his wife succumbed to cancer, Adam has spent the past ten years living in the past and refusing to come out of the anger, sadness, and deep depression left behind when his wife died.
For the better part of a decade, Adam’s family has been there to support and love him, but they have never been able to bring him out of his self-imposed prison. Each day, Adam’s brothers, his father, and his sister watch him work their family ranch from sunup to sundown, eat dinner, sleep, and repeat. There is no variety in Adam’s life, no real happiness, and certainly no need for looking towards a bright and fulfilling future. As far as everyone, including Adam is concerned, his life is what it is always going to be, an endless cycle of work that he endures alone.
Lizzie Taylor’s life has one bright, shining spot, her tow-headed little boy whose presence is nothing but pure joy! As a single mother, Lizzie works hard to provide for her son, especially with his biological father so very, very absent. Though she has friends in town, Lizzie’s life would be far easier if her one-time best-friend, Adam Miller would stop ignoring her and come back into her life. To be completely fair, Lizzie would love more than friendship from Adam, but given his history, she would be satisfied with just having him back as her friend.
As both Adam and Lizzie are well aware, life can often be cruel and devastatingly difficult. As if they haven’t both suffered enough, each has now found themselves drawn together over the imminent loss of an old, dear friend. As their friend’s life is coming to a close, both Lizzie and Adam are forced to revisit their own pasts, deal with the issues wrought by the past, and try to work through their current issues to manage some sort of future that is both happy and fulfilling. With so much hurt, uncertainty, and despair between them, it is going to take a miracle to overcome the past and move towards the future.
The Bottom Line: Aaaaaaand, Kate Pearce is BACK!! This is exactly the type of book I have come to expect from both Kate Pearce and the Morgan Valley series. The Rancher’s Redemption is everything I have come to love about the original series and was hoping to find again in this spin off series. Lizzie and Adam are both such sympathetic characters and I wanted nothing but the best for them. Each has such difficulty and sadness in their past that it has hampered their present and future and it seems the only way to get through the mess is to do it together, something they haven’t been in ten years. This book is something of an emotional roller coaster and I enjoyed every peak and valley. It doesn’t hurt that there are a few surprises along the way and frequent visits from old friends and family in the area. This book and this spin-off series are exactly why I love to read series, some characters and some places are just too good to let go!
There’s a reason Jackson Lymond left the Air Force, but he’s not telling a soul. He’d rather keep things simple, while trying to start a new life helping his older brother on their northern California ranch. At least Morgantown’s flirty local bartender can keep his mind off the past–that is, until he runs into Daisy Miller . . .
Daisy doesn’t really expect Jackson to remember her. Back in school she did her best to blend in–and pretend she didn’t have five brothers who’d hogtie any boy who even looked at her. These days though, she and Jackson might have more in common than just their ranching relatives. After all, they both left home only to return. Trouble is, under the watch of her fiercely protective family, Daisy is longing for some privacy. Letting Jackson into her life could make that even more difficult–or it might be the second chance they’re both looking for . . .
Since leaving the Air Force, Jackson Lymond just hasn’t been able to settle into his own skin. He thought he would retire from the Air Force, but his plans changed he left early, and now he’s back home on a ranch he doesn’t own working with his older brother and trying to find his next path in life.
Jackson is no stranger to hard work and that’s a damn good thing since his recently deceased father left the family farm in quite a state. The buildings are falling apart, the fields are a mess, and there is little to no livestock to be found. If it weren’t for the solid investment by his older (and very wealthy!) brother and the extra work offered by the neighboring Morgan family, the Lymond ranch would be nothing but a total loss. With nothing but time on his hands, Jackson jumps into the work and hopes some clarity will come with the long days.
Daisy Miller is running herself ragged; with two full-time jobs and a whopper of a secret, she’s about as worn out as a girl can get. In the life everyone knows about, Daisy is the proprietor of the local flower shop and in the life no one knows about, Daisy works with her Silicon Valley contacts on a project that nearly destroyed her several years ago. When Daisy returned home broken and defeated, she promised her family she would never go back to the madness that nearly destroyed her. Unfortunately, some projects are to near and dear to give up and Daisy has secretly been working with her old group to finish their once very promising work. With so much on her plate and so much she can’t reveal to anyone, Daisy has little enough time for herself, let alone a boyfriend.
But, what about a hot rancher with no strings attached????
Daisy’s ultimate plan with Jackson Lymond is to have her fun with him and be done, to hit it and quit. She has no use for a boyfriend – the last one ended very badly – and with no strings attached, no one can possibly get hurt. To Daisy’s credit, she is honest with Jackson from the beginning, but he is also honest with her. Jackson likes Daisy and just wants a fair shot with her at a real relationship. Make no mistake, the sex is fantastic, but Jackson is at a place in his life where it’s time to consider the future and exactly who he wants to spend that future with. Daisy is everything he wants in a partner, including stubborn as can be and somewhat difficult. Convincing Daisy to spend her life with him isn’t going to be easy, but Jackson has fought harder fights in his life, and none have had a prize as great as Daisy Miller.
The Bottom Line: Before this book, I would have had to look long and hard through my reviews for a Kate Pearce book I didn’t simply adore and totally gush about in my review. I struggled with this book for one reason and one reason alone, Daisy Miller! While I wanted to like Daisy and understand her situation – past and present – I couldn’t get past her bad attitude and overall mean spirit. On top of simply being mean to Jackson – and I do mean, mean not just brutally honest! – she often sent terrible mixed signals. Daisy is aware from the beginning of Jackson’s feelings and intentions and because she can’t drum up the will and courage to sort out her own life and mess, she takes it out on Jackson. With the negative out of the way, let’s look at the positives: Jackson and Morgan Valley. Jackson is a dream of a man and I so appreciated his character, especially is awkwardness which I found quite endearing. It’s also so lovely to be back in Morgan Valley and seeing this idyllic location being used to expand the series into this spin off. I have every confidence this series is going to be, overall, just as fine as its parent and I look forward to the future of the Miller’s of Morgan Valley.
When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she discovers this will be her last birthday. The cancer she thought she’d beaten three years ago is back, only this time it’s terminal: and she’s not going to waste any of the time she has left. There’s one thing she’s been dreaming of since she was a small girl: her wedding. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t have a groom.
Her friends and family rally around her and decide they will help her throw the wedding of her dreams, just without the actual vows. A mammoth organisation begins. As word spreads, people offer help. In an uncertain time, the whole country seizes the story of a woman whose dying dream is simple, and they unite to give her a wedding to remember. But when a photographer called Lucas Gable volunteers to help document the whole event, it becomes painfully clear that it’s never too late to discover the love of your life.
At just twenty-eight years old, Ava Green has been given a death sentence. Her cancer has returned, it has returned with a vengeance, and there is nothing that can be done to help her. At twenty-eight years old, Ava Green knows she will not see another year, so she had better start living. Topping her list of living, getting married!
Though Ava’s friends and family initially believe she has lost her mind – she doesn’t even have a boyfriend! – they soon realize that what Ava means by a wedding is really a celebration of her life, on her terms before she dies. Since she was a child, Ava has dreamt of her wedding day, she has planned for it, imagined it, and, above all else, longed for it. Ava doesn’t care that she doesn’t have a groom, all she needs on her big day is to be surrounded by her friends and family. Once her friends and family fully understand and appreciate Ava’s intentions, they not only rally around her, but begin planning and plotting, full steam ahead.
Though Ava has every intention of keeping her end of life celebration private, her friends and family want it to be the spectacular event she has always dreamt of. To that end, Ava’s best friend shares the new on social media and before any of them can blink, Ava’s story has gone viral and the messages of love, support, and pledges of help roll in. What’s more, the media has caught wind of Ava’s story and want to document her journey. Though Ava is initially very resistant to the idea, she comes to believe that if her story can help just one person then sharing her discomfort, her journey will have been worth it.
As a part of the media coverage comes photographs and a lovely young man, James. Ava is instantly drawn to James, yet her situation negates any sort of real relationship. As the days and weeks go by, both Ava and James feel compelled to acknowledge the attraction between them as it is like nothing either has ever known. Once the acknowledgement in made, Ava lays out all the facts for James, the ugliness that is come, her very short life expectancy, and the pain they are both going to experience as a result of her illness and death. With bravery, courage, and love in their hearts and minds, Ava and James commit to one another until the bitter end no matter the cost. Unfortunately, as Ava has already learned in the harshest way possible, life isn’t always fair, and things don’t always go according to plan.
The Bottom Line: Bloody hell! I intentionally put off reading this book until I had a time where I could afford to ugly cry and then be able to sleep it off the next day. I needed every minute of that sleep because this book tore me up! This is in no way a happy or uplifting book, but one rooted firmly in reality. While Ava is certainly brave and tremendously courageous, she is also a realist; from the moment she receives her diagnosis, Ava approaches her remaining days with clarity and a hard truth that often threatens to bring her to her knees. I think this aspect of Ava’s character is the part of this book I most “enjoyed.” With literally nothing left to lose, Ava chooses to live her life out loud with a brutal honesty that is meant to not only prepare herself for the end, but to prepare her loved ones as well. Make no mistake, Ava has her low moments and there is as much truth and honesty in those moments as there are in the better moments. Ava’s reality is unfortunate, tragic, inevitable, but she makes every minute, every second count. I found Ava to be heroic and wonderful, desperate and deliriously happy, funny and sarcastic even in the face of her own end. To the end, Ava lives her life as she sees fit, as she desires, and as she deserves. In truth, this book is not going to be for every reader as it will most certainly conjure terrible memories and feelings of loss for those who have lost loved ones to cancer. I am, blessedly, not among that group and was able to sink into this book and appreciate it from a wholly different perspective. The subject matter is devastating and I ugly cried my way through the last quarter of this book, but it was worth every tear and every awful emotion.
The Winter Carnival always brings holiday cheer, Christmas joy—and tourists with cash—to picturesque Shady Creek, Vermont. At the center of the glittering decorations and twinkling lights is booklover and pub owner Sadie Coleman, creating original cocktails, hosting a literary trivia evening, and cheering on her loyal employee Melanie “Mel” Costas as she competes in the ice carving competition.
But holiday cheer can’t compete with former resident and renowned chef Freddy Mancini, who arrives with his nose in the air, showing off his ice-sculpting skills like a modern-day Michelangelo. During the artists’ break in the night-long contest, Mel’s tools disappear . . . and Freddy is found dead with her missing pick in his chest.
Although the police turn their attention to Mel, it seems everyone in town had a grudge against Freddy, including his assistant, his mentor, his former flame, and even his half-brother.
Faster than she can fling a Huckleberry Gin, Sadie finds herself racing to make sure the police don’t arrest the wrong suspect—all while sharing a flirtation with local brewery owner Grayson Blake. Their chemistry leads to a heated rivalry at the hockey rink—and to the hot pursuit of a killer.
I knew the second I started this book, I was going to like it, and I did! In fact, this was a one sitting read for me and I regret nothing 😊
Shady Creek, Vermont has its winter spirit on and is celebrating with one of the town’s most beloved events, the Winter Carnival. The weather is cooperating, and the town is excited to host a variety of events for locals and tourists alike. The most anticipated event of the carnival is undoubtedly the ice sculpting competition and one of the Inkwell’s own is favorited to win the event.
Mel Costas is a talented artist and she’s won the ice sculpting competition a handful of times already. Though she’s favorited among the locals to take the prize, she has stiff competition this year. Returning home after many years away, the utterly disagreeable and completely unlikeable Freddy Mancini is set to give Mel a run for her money. No one is happy to see Freddy back in town, not even his family. Since he left the town to make his way as a chef in Boston, Freddy has developed a large ego, a bad attitude, and tendency to run off at the mouth without a care in the world for other’s feelings. Clearly, as his competition, Mel is on his radar and he makes so secret of the fact he thoroughly dislikes her and finds her, and everyone else in Shady Creek to be beneath him.
Not surprisingly, Freddy Mancini ends up dead! While no one is mourning the loss of the colossal jerk, his untimely demise has caused quite a stir. Mel’s ice pick is the murder weapon and while she seems like a good candidate for having done the deed, she certainly isn’t the only one in town with cause to whack the jerk. As both and employee of the Inkwell and Sadies’s friend, Mel has help from a lot of people. Sadie is bound and determined to prove Mel’s innocence, but it is going to take a lot a talking, even more questions, and a ton of patience to wade through the long list of possible suspects. Seriously, no one liked Freddy Mancini 😊
Interestingly, Sadie finds that her quest to clear her friend’s name overlaps with the interests of the utterly enticing yet totally frustrating Grayson Blake. As the owner of a small yet killer brewery, Grayson and his business were slated to appear on a national television show right up until the news of the murder broke. With a vested interest in solving the crime, and perhaps getting to know Sadie a bit better, Grayson steps in to help Sadie which leads to some interesting backstory about Grayson and the discovery of a second body. Just as things seem to be getting worse, Sadie pulls it altogether helping her friend and Grayson all while exposing a killer.
The Bottom Line: I am absolutely in love with this cozy mystery series!! From the setting to the characters to the plot, I enjoyed every minute of this single sitting read. In the time between books one and two, Sadie has grown and improved the Inkwell, become even more embedded in the community, and truly come to appreciate all that small-town life has to offer. Outside of the odd murder, Sadie has embraced her new life and Shady Creek has certainly embraced her. As with the first book, much of the plot unfolds in Sadie’s delightful literary-themed pub, the Inkwell. Between serving customers, developing a savory and sweet menu, and hosting events, Sadie is always busy, but never so busy that she can’t help her friends and neighbors. Mel Costas is Sadie’s friend and through clever detective work and good old-fashioned stubbornness and a refusal to give up, Sadie roots out the killer and saves the day. As she does so, Sadie also deepens her burgeoning relationship with Grayson. Every aspect of this book greatly appealed to me and I was absorbed in the story and the community from page one. This is what cozy mysteries are meant to be and I am sincerely hoping 2020 will bring at least one new installment of this series.
Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…
The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.
At seventy-nine years old, Missy Carmichael has a load of regrets that weigh on her daily. She spends her days puttering around her big old house, cleaning that which is already sparkling, lamenting the mistakes of her life, and, quite frankly, wondering how much longer she will have to endure the loneliness.
And then, one day, Missy goes to see a load of fish get shocked in pond.
Of all the things in the world that could have happened the day Missy Carmichael went to see the shocking of the fish she never would have expected what did happen. One, the fish really did get shocked and two, Missy passed out. Though neither of those events were particularly nice or enjoyable, they did lead to some interesting new introductions, most notably the effervescent Sylvie and the utterly brash, Angela and her young son, Otis. Though Missy wasn’t particularly looking for any new friends, or friends at all, both Sylvie and Angela work their way into her life and as she eventually finds, it is for the better.
For much of her life, Missy Carmichael has felt utterly alone. Even in the days of her grand marriage and motherhood, Missy has always felt separate from those around her. She is utterly convinced she spent her entire life loving her husband far more than he loved her, and her children were responsibilities she now wishes she had viewed as joys rather than simply responsibilities. If her current relationship with her children is any indication, they felt the separateness too. Sylvie and Angela have no idea of Missy’s past and while they would like to know more about her, they both understand that she is going to be a tough nut to crack and it will take patience and time to gain her trust and friendship. Thankfully, both women are more than willing to wait and put forth the effort.
In the days and weeks that follow, a strange sort of feeling comes over Missy. She still spends far too much time in the past, but in light of her new friendships, she is beginning to see her past in a somewhat less harsh light. Not only are Angela, Otis, and Sylvie constants in her life, but so is a most unlikely creature, Bob the dog. While Missy has never been an animal lover per say, she isn’t actually opposed to them either and since taking Bob in is meant to be temporary, Missy agrees to the arrangement. Just like her friendships with Angela, Otis, and Sylvie, Missy takes her time with Bob. Adjusting to life with a dog isn’t easy for Missy, but she finds, once the training wheels come off that she rather likes the beast and she (yes, Bob is a girl!) opens up a whole new world of friendships in the form of the dog park people.
With each new day and each new experience, Missy begins to see life differently, and she begins to reassess her past and forgive herself for some of her many perceived flaws and failures. As her walk through the past coincides with her walk in the present, Missy learns to appreciate the people in her life and opens herself up to new experiences. She becomes a true friend in every sense of the word and rather enjoys the freedom from the loneliness that had been her constant companion for so many decades. For the better part of year, Missy embraces life as she never has before and just as she’s getting truly comfortable with her new reality, Life rears its ugly head and pulls the rug right out from under Missy. What she finds in the wake of tragedy is that friendship is a two-way street and what she has experienced over the last year has earned her the friendship, kindness, and caring of a large number of people, friends who are more than willing to come to her aid.
The Bottom Line: What a truly tremendous read this was for me! Based on the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be far lighter than it is, but I found that I appreciated the heaviness of the read and the themes it explored. Missy Carmichael is a survivor and for much of her life, that is all she has been. It isn’t until her husband is lost to her and her children are virtual strangers that Missy really begins to live. Through a series of strange events and thanks to the persistence of two wonderfully different women, one small boy, and dog, Missy learns to trust, to open herself up, to participate in life, and to be present. As she is learning all these new and liberating lessons, Missy is also applying the lessons to her past and learning to forgive and to let go, to say the things she means and fully participate in the world around her. Through her strength and courage, Missy finds she is not only worth liking, but worth loving and caring for. She finds friendship for the first time in her life and when the rug is pulled out from beneath her, it is that friendship that sees her through the darkness. I so appreciated this book, the steps back into the past to help frame and better understand the present and the unwavering relationships that come to Missy so late in life. Missy Carmichael’s story is one that will resonate with readers as it is, ultimately a story of life, love, connection, and friendship. In all, an excellent read.