My evening reading has slowed a bit, because I’m trying to finish writing a book I started last November. I have lots of words, but no cohesive story, and it’s driving me insane – which makes it difficult to concentrate when I read other people’s books – unless the story is well-written and engaging. Fortunately, I found these six delightful titles to take my mind off my writing woes.
New Beginnings on Whisling Island by Julia Clemens
Whisling Island Series, Book Two
In book one (read and reviewed in February), four women encounter trouble in their marriages. Three of them decide to end their marriages, but one is saved. Book Two picks up where the first one left off. The three divorcees begin their lives as single moms in different ways. Bess becomes a successful business woman, Deb tries online dating and meets someone special, and Olivia finds a good friend who wants to be more. Gen, who has patched things up with her husband and welcomes her husband’s child, becomes pregnant, and somehow things become strained again. I enjoyed reading these next chapters in each woman’s life, although it seems Olivia is less willing to accept change than the others.
Sisters and Sunrises by Julia Clemens
Whisling Island Series, Book Three
Bess, Gen, Olivia, and Deb continue their emotional growth. Bess’s ex-husband suddenly returns, adamant that he wants a second chance to make things work between them, and Bess has to make some difficult choices. Deb marries Luke and opens an art gallery while becoming step-mother to Luke’s daughters. Gen gives birth to baby Cami and deals with becoming mother to two little girls. Olivia realizes she has strong feelings for her landlord Dean, but by the time she’s ready to admit it to him, he’s started to date someone else. We’re also introduced to Lily, who has a loving husband and beautiful baby, until a car accident changes everything. As usual, I enjoyed the intersecting story lines, but this book seemed to lack the quality of editing I usually find in Clemens’ books. I also had to wonder at the assumption that Lily’s husband could find a teaching job anywhere, as that wouldn’t be true around here.
I Do? by Idabelle Aylor
Blue Collar Series, Book Two
Idabelle was my guest here at the blog a few months ago with her sweet romance Folded Corners. In that book we met Ford Dailey, a firefighter who writes romance novels. He wasn’t the right hero for Sofey, but he wasn’t all that heartbroken – because his heart belonged to an heiress named Opal. As luck would have it, his father and Opal’s dad played poker together, and Opal’s dad wanted to get her away from an unsuitable young man. So he wagers – and wins – Ford as his son-in-law! Fortunately, the pair are allowed time to get to know each other, and they discover that they have a lot in common despite their difference in upbringing. I liked their adventures together and the way the romance (for her) progressed gradually. The story contained an abundance of run-on sentences and several punctuation errors, but otherwise it was a fun read.
Swamp Santa by Jana DeLeon
Miss Fortune Mystery, Book Sixteen
Fortune spends her first Christmas as a civilian, but it’s far from the peaceful scenes depicted on holiday cards and Hallmark movies. At the annual town celebration, Santa Claus is found dead in his chair, and the Swamp Team 3 is eager to find answers. But their hands are tied until the local mafia hires them to get to the bottom of things, causing a lot of strain between Fortune and her boyfriend, Deputy Carter. Like the first fifteen books, this story provided lots of red herrings, as well as laugh-out-loud moments, and I ignored my family, chores, and sleep until I got to the end.
Bullets and Beads by Jana DeLeon
Miss Fortune Mystery, Book Seventeen
It seems the residents of Sinful, Louisiana can’t have a celebration without something going wrong. This time, it’s Mardi Gras, and Sinful’s festivities take place take place a few days before the big parade in New Orleans. When a visitor to the local celebration is killed, Fortune’s investigation takes her to the Big Easy – right in the middle of the biggest party of all. It’s compounded by another concern: Fortune’s “long dead” father has been spotted, and suddenly she has to avoid a growing number of foreign operatives who want to get to him. There’s never a dull moment in these stories, and I’m bummed that there aren’t any more. I’m holding out hope that there’s a book #18 in the works, especially since Ida Belle and Walter haven’t yet tied the knot. In the meantime, I’m going to check out one of DeLeon’s other series, so you’ll probably continue to see her name in my review posts.
Beyond My Words by Chandler R. Williamson
I don’t normally read YA stories, but this one has two things that I enjoy – a mystery and a handsome, charming hero. The heroine is a writer with serious self-esteem issues brought on by a dad who disappeared and an abusive ex-boyfriend. She escapes life’s difficulties by writing about the mystical world of Tyral and the handsome prince who becomes a dragon at night. When fantasy becomes reality, Ellie is not only reluctant to get involved with Prince Erick, but she can’t let herself do the one thing that would save him. I found it difficult to like her. The story arc has been separated into three parts, and I’m hoping she redeems herself in the second and third parts of this story! The book is well edited, and descriptions of character and setting are well done.