Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: The End Begins by Sara Davison

Title: The End Begins
Author: Sara Davison
Publisher: Ashberry Lane
Published: September 2015
Series: The Seven Trilogy, Book 1
Genre: Christian Fiction, Speculative, Romance

About the Book: (from the back of the book)

When your beliefs are at war, does love stand a chance?

Bookstore owner Meryn O’Reilly and Army Captain Jesse Christensen are on opposite sides of a battle. After a series of terrorist attacks in 2053, martial law has been declared in Canada and the military has taken over. When a radical Christian group claims responsibility, Jesse and his platoon are sent to Meryn’s city to keep an eye on the Christians and ensure they are not stepping outside the confines of the law.

Fiery and quick-tempered, Meryn chafes under the curfew and other restrictions to her freedom. Jesse is equally amused, intrigued, and terrified by her spirit. She could find herself in prison if she shows defiance to the wrong soldier, namely Lieutenant Gallagher.

Jesse watches out for Meryn when possible, although she wants nothing to do with him. His worst fears are realized when she commits a crime he cannot protect her from. Now they both face an uncertain future and the very real threat of losing everything, including their lives. With time running out, Jesse works feverishly to convince the authorities to show leniency to Meryn. And to convince her that love can overcome any barrier that lies between them.

My Thoughts:

The End Begins is first in Sara Davison’s The Seven Trilogy, and it’s one of those stories that doesn’t really fit neatly into any one category. It has elements of romance, suspense, and political thriller, but it also has significant speculative elements, and is set in a dystopian future (2053) Canada. The storyline raises some very interesting religious and ethical questions, and makes the reader pause to think about what could happen in real life, given certain political pressures and government responses.

On the romance front, there’s a fair amount of coincidence (or God’s nudges?) involved early on in repeated meetings, and at first I didn’t fully get why they were so drawn to each other, given how little they seemed to have in common. As the story progressed however, and Jesse and Meryn opened up to each other, the emotional aspects totally clicked and I felt the pull. You know that emotional connection to the characters that makes you need to finish the story and see how it ends? That’s how I felt about this one.

There is one place at the end of Chapter 29 where the hero does something in an emotional moment that I really wish the author had left out of the story. It does a great job showing his emotional reaction to what he’s going through, but I think it also weakens his character and makes him less of a hero, and I felt it wasn’t really necessary to the plot or his character development. So, yeah, I went on to enjoy the rest of the story by ripping that page out (okay, not literally; I am a librarian) and pretending it never happened.

On a side note, I loved Meryn’s book store and enjoyed the idea of a resurgence of print books due to continuing technological changes and challenges. Very clever.

Fans of Amanda G Stevens’ Haven Seekers series (see my review of Seek and Hide) will likely take a particular interest in this series. The two series feature similar political situations resulting in persecution of Christians, though the characters and direction each series takes differ.

This book includes some really thought-provoking discussion questions in the back, and I think its content would lend itself to a fabulous book group discussion.

I received a free copy of this book, without any expectation that I would write a review. However, since I make a habit of blogging reviews, I decided to write one anyway. :)

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Title: Land of Silence
Author: Tessa Afshar
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Published: May 2016
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Length: 10 hours, 56 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Before Christ called her daughter . . .

Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment . . .

Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father’s textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy places Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.

No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body . . . and soul?

My Thoughts on the Book:

Land of Silence is a beautifully written and emotionally gripping story, told from the perspective of the only woman Jesus called “daughter” in the New Testament. Since few details are known about this woman, besides the health condition from which she was healed, the story Tessa Afshar shares is, of necessity, fictionalized. But what a story! I cried with Elianna over her losses and disappointments, and I longed for her to find peace and healing, both physically and emotionally. Her backstory and motivations were fleshed out in a way that I related to on a deeply emotional level and that fit perfectly with what is known of her true story. Vividly specific cultural and historical details were the icing on the cake, putting me right back there in Biblical times to imagine the joy of one woman’s life-changing encounter with Jesus. I would highly recommend this story in general, but particularly to fans of Biblical fiction.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

Suzy Jackson’s portrayal of Elianna beautifully captures this young woman’s essence – her longing, her disappointments, and her hope. The full array of character voices are well done, including Ethan’s and those of secondary characters, but it’s the emotional connection with Elianna this reading fosters that will leave a lasting impression.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Audiobook | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

Title: The Undoing of Saint Silvanus
Author: Beth Moore
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Published: September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Mystery. Christian fiction.
Length: 12 hours, 24 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Only God knew why Jillian Slater agreed to return to New Orleans on the news that her father had finally drunk himself to death. It’s not like they were close. She hadn’t seen him—or her grandmother, the ice queen—in almost 20 years. But when Adella Atwater, the manager of her grandmother’s apartment house, called and said Jillian’s expenses would be paid if she’d fly in for the burial, a free trip to New Orleans was too intriguing to resist.

What Adella didn’t tell her was that the apartment house wasn’t a house at all and, whatever it was, bore the dead weight of a long and painful history. As soon as Jillian meets the odd assortment of renters and realizes that her grandmother had no idea she was coming, she hatches a plan to escape. But the investigation into her father’s death quickly unfolds and Jillian is drawn into the lives of the colorful collection of saints and sinners who pass through Saint Silvanus. She soon discovers there is more at stake than she ever imagined. Who is behind the baffling messages and the strange relics left on the steps? Is it possible that her family is actually cursed? Or is it just this crazy old house that holds them all under its spell?

Jillian walks into a web of spiritual and personal danger borne out of her family’s broken history, and despite Adella’s wiliest efforts, only God himself can orchestrate the undoing of all that is going on at Saint Silvanus.

My Thoughts on the Book:

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus made my Top Ten List for 2016, with its fascinating local flavor, colorful similes, entertaining characters, and thought provoking themes. It’s a mystery, complete with murder investigation, but it reads more like a work of general fiction, being so much more focused on the characters and their relationships. There’s some romance in the mix as well, though that aspect takes a backseat to other relationships in the story.

The overall book has a gritty and real feel to it, grappling as it does with some challenging situations, and presenting complex and misunderstood characters and relationships. Some of the main characters weren’t so much likeable at first as sympathetic. In fact, I thought Olivia and Jillian were downright prickly at the outset. But they drew me into the story, because of all they were going through, and because of my curiosity to see where the story was headed. And yes, they grew on me quickly, as I got to know them better.

The secondary characters, especially Adella, kept things interesting with their quirky personalities and witty sayings. In fact, some of my favorite parts of this story were the surprising turns of phrase, unexpected comparisons, and vividly idiosyncratic descriptions used in the story, most frequently from Adella’s viewpoint. Here’s just one quick example from Chapter 5: “Over the next solid hour, Olivia spilled more beans than Adella could have shoveled back into a ten-gallon can.”

This novel would make a great choice for book discussion groups. It made me laugh. It made me tear up. And it made me stop and think about brokenness, relationships, and grace.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The narrator, Shannon McManus, did a great job with this audiobook. Sometimes matter of fact, sometimes wry, the reading has character to match that of the text. From male to female voices, young to old, each character was portrayed with uniquely distinctive variations in voice well suited to their personalities and other characteristics. I highly recommend the audio edition to those who enjoy listening to their books.

I borrowed an electronic copy of this audiobook from my local library and received a free print copy from the publisher as part of a Goodreads giveaway. What a pleasant surprise! I was not expected to write a review, but I wanted to share my thoughts.

Quick Links: About the Book | Audio Sample | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site

Audiobook Review: Without Warning by Lynette Eason

Title: Without Warning
Author: Lynette Eason
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Rachel Dulude
Published: August 2016
Series: Elite Guardians, Book 2
Genre: Christian Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary.
Length: 8 hours, 52 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity. The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

My Thoughts on the Book:

I recently enjoyed listening to Lynette Eason’s novel Always Watching so much that I was quick to track down a copy of the second book in this series – also in audiobook format. Without Warning did a great job maintaining the tone and style of its predecessor, while keeping the story fresh, engaging, and suspenseful. I said it in my last review, but I’ll say it again. I love the premise of this series, based around a group of female bodyguards. It was great to get to know Katie better. She’s a strong and capable woman, yet she’s okay with relying on the people around her when she needs to. And her struggle with making peace with her past and her family situation had me rooting for her all the way through the story. Daniel made a great hero too, plenty capable himself, yet comfortable enough in his own skin to not be bothered by his niece wanting to hire a bodyguard for him. Speaking of the niece, she’s quite mature for her age, kind of the opposite of the teenage character found in Book 1. In fact, maybe a little too precocious at times? Or maybe not…? I kept going back and forth on that. Either way, both she and Katie are forced to face their fears before this book is over, and it was great to see how they handled that. Overall, this is quite a suspenseful and action-packed novel, with elements of mystery and sweet romance. Once again, I guessed part of the outcome, but not all of it. I’m hopeful that by Book 3 I may be able to figure it all out ahead of the characters… or maybe the author will keep me guessing. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what these elite bodyguards will be up to next in Moving Target. :)

Specific to the Audio Edition:

This audiobook was read by Rachel Dulude, the same narrator as for the prior title in the series. Hooray! (I say that both because the narrator is good in general, and because I appreciate it when character voices are consistent through the series.) Once again, there’s a good variation in voices to help the listener keep straight who’s talking when, and a couple of the more challenging voices (a teenager and a character with an accent) are handled particularly well. Audiobook listeners who enjoy a suspenseful faith-based tale will want to track down the audio editions from this series.

I borrowed a copy of this audiobook from my local public library. I was not expected to write a review.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site | Publisher’s Site

Audiobook Review: Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig

Title: Raptor 6
Author: Ronie Kendig
Narrator: Adam Verner
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Series: Quiet Professionals, Book 1
Genre(s): Military Thriller, Contemporary Romance
Published: 2014

 Book Description (from publisher, Shiloh Run Press):

Captain Dean Watters keeps his mission and his team in the forefront of his laser-like focus. So when these two things are threatened by hackers, Dean’s Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Failing to stop the hackers from stealing national security secrets from the military’s secure computers and networks isn’t an option. Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. And a target. When Zahrah is captured because of her expertise in quantum cryptology, endangering the US national security, Dean is forced to crack the lockbox around his heart—a move that might come at the highest cost.

My Thoughts:

This may be the first of its type (military fiction) that I’ve read so far, certainly my first by this author, and I have to say I’m impressed.  Even though this is a little bit outside my normal reading habits, I read so many positive reviews of Ronie Kendig’s novels by bloggers whose opinions I respect, I had to give this a try.  Especially when I found a good deal on the audio version.

Here’s a glimpse of what I loved about Raptor 6.  The action and suspense kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what might be coming next.  The characters were engaging and felt realistic, with flaws and a history.  I really enjoyed seeing the camaraderie among the Raptor team members, and I loved how Zahrah stood by her beliefs even when things got difficult.  And yeah, “difficult” is probably the understatement of the year.  This book definitely puts the hero and heroine through the ringer, which makes for some intense reading, and plays a big part in the development of their relationship.  I also found the first person viewpoint of one of the bad guys a pretty fascinating complement to the rest of the story.

Recommended to those who enjoy an action and suspense oriented story with romance on the side.  Raptor 6 is first in the Quiet Professionals series, which includes Hawk (November 2014) and Falcon (May 2015), each telling the story of another of the Raptor team members introduced in this book.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

I haven’t come across very many Christian fiction audiobooks read by male narrators yet, so Adam Verner’s performance made for a nice change.  He did a good job differentiating the characters’ voices and making even the female voices sound natural.  I also thought his narration included just the right amount of character and emotion to give depth and added interest to the listening experience.  I think audiobook fans will find this one worth listening to.

Book Review: Close to You by Kara Isaac

Title: Close to You
Author: Kara Isaac
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: April 2016
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.

Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. She finally finds a use for her English degree by guiding tours through the famous sites featured in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. By living life on the road and traveling New Zealand as a luxury tour guide, Allison manages to outrun the pain of her past she can’t face.

Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then suddenly his girlfriend left him—for his biggest business competitor—and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories. The one thing that stands between him and his goal is a know-it-all tour guide who can’t stand him and pegged him as a fake the moment he walked off the plane.

When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?

My Thoughts:

Fans of romantic comedies will love this debut novel. Such a fun read! Its situational comedy, quirky supporting characters, and witty banter had me grinning and chuckling, even as I got to know and empathize with the lead characters in their struggles and disappointments.

The unique backdrop of a Lord of the Rings themed tour in New Zealand sets this book apart from the start, and makes it quite memorable. There are some fabulous descriptions and details throughout the book, the kind that make me want to go on exactly this sort of tour.  Though I think I’d want to brush up on my LOTR trivia first….

But it’s the characters, their hurts, and their goals that carry the story. Both characters are likeable – Allison from the beginning, and Jackson as we get to know him better – and they each have some unfortunate emotional baggage to work through, and some growing to do. I enjoyed cheering them on along the way toward a charmingly romantic ending. Perfect for those readers of clean contemporary romance looking for a good chuckle along the way to happily ever after.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary electronic copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Priceless by Joel and Luke Smallbone

Title: Priceless
Author: Joel Smallbone & Luke Smallbone
Print Publisher: Worthy Publishing
Audio Publisher: christianaudio.com
Narrator: David Atlas & Nora Hunter
Published: September 2016
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary, Novelization
Length: 8 hours, 5 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

She’s Worth Fighting For

This novelization of a major motion picture (Fall 2016) by Joel and Luke Smallbone of GRAMMY Award-winning band For KING & COUNTRY is a powerfully compelling, suspense-filled love story that reminds us that no matter who we are, what we’ve done, or even how far we’ve gone astray, we are of infinite worth in God’s eyes.

The powerfully compelling novelization of the major motion picture by Joel and Luke Smallbone of the band for King & Country. James Stevens was, at one time, a good man with a great life. After the tragic death of his wife and losing custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Angry, desperate, and unable to hold down a steady job, he agrees to drive a box truck on a shady, one-time trip cross country for cash—no questions asked. When he discovers what he is delivering is actually a who, the questions in his mind begin haunting him mercilessly. James becomes an unlikely hero who must fight to save the lives of two young women and finds himself falling in love with one of them. Can love, strength, and faith redefine his past and change the course of his future?

My Thoughts on the Book:

This book is quite an eye-opener on the subject of human trafficking in the United States. It tells the heartbreaking story of two young sisters trapped in a situation they never would have chosen, and the lengths to which an unlikely hero will go to help them escape. It also offers a powerful reminder that we are each priceless in God’s eyes.

The story itself was well told from multiple perspectives that draw readers emotionally into the story and help us to see the kind of thing that could be going on closer to home than we might think. While the subject matter can be difficult to face, I thought the authors dealt with it in a tasteful way, raising awareness without becoming overly graphic or explicit.

Suspense builds throughout the story as characters and readers become aware of what’s going on and as the stakes continue to rise, right up to an adrenaline-powered climax. The story ends with what I felt was an emotionally satisfying conclusion.

While the book’s description calls it a love story, the romantic element seemed to me to come a bit out of left field in the last chapter. The romantic in me would’ve liked to see that relationship develop a bit more on the page rather than between the chapters. But I can’t really complain, as the romance in this story really is secondary to the other plot elements and to the overall theme.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but would be curious to see how this story plays out on the big screen.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

The audiobook features not one, but two narrators, which I think is a fabulous idea and works particularly well for this story. David Atlas reads the scenes told from James Stevens’ perspective, while Nora Hunter reads the scenes featuring Antonia and Maria. Each narrator did a great job of drawing me into the perspective of his or her viewpoint characters. The emotion of the story comes through in their voices, and the reading pace felt just right.

I was pleased to find this audiobook available electronically from my local library via Hoopla.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Movie | Author’s Site

Book Review: The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry

Title: The Promise of Jesse Woods
Author: Chris Fabry
Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: July 2016
Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Coming of Age, Book Club Fiction

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

The summer of 1972 was the most pivotal of Matt Plumley’s childhood. While his beloved Pirates battle for back-to-back World Series titles, Matt’s family moves from Pittsburgh to Dogwood, West Virginia, where his father steps into the pulpit of a church under the thumb of town leader Basil Blackwood. A fish out of water, Matt is relieved to forge a fast bond with two unlikely friends: Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy, and Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl with a sister on her hip and no dad in sight.

As the trio traipses the hills and hollers, Matt begins to fall for Jesse, and their promises to each other draw him deeper into her terrifying reality. One night, the wrath of the Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse’s family collide, and Matt joins Jesse in a rescue that saves one life and ends another . . . and severs the bond of their friendship.

Years later, Matt is pulled back to Dogwood and to memories of that momentous summer by news of Jesse’s upcoming wedding. He could never shake the feeling that there was more to the story of that fateful night, and he’s determined to learn the truth behind the only promise Jesse Woods ever broke.

My Thoughts:

This thought-provoking coming of age novel is told from the point of view of Matt Plumley, who is a 14-year-old boy in one timeline, and a young adult in the other. Over the course of the novel, the reader is right there with adolescent Matt in the 1972 portions of the book, experiencing a life-changing summer along with him. But we’re also accompanying an older Matt in 1984 as he returns to his childhood home on a journey back to understand what happened that summer and whether he can fix it. The two timelines merge well to create the perfect blend of immediacy and hindsight, as the timelines build on each other on their way to the story’s pivotal moment.

Populated by quirky and memorable characters, and featuring an emotionally poignant storyline, realistic dialog and beautiful prose, this story is a keeper. Book clubs in particular will appreciate this book for the wealth of discussable topics it addresses and the excellent discussion questions included in the back of the book. But it’s the little unexpected and vivid details scattered throughout the book in dialog, description, and characters’ observations that really drew me in to the time and place and made the book stand out for me.

This is the second book I’ve read by this author (see my review of the audio edition of Not in the Heart). I have to say I’ve been impressed by both books, and plan to seek out more of his work.

Thank you to Tyndale House for providing a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | Author’s Site

Book Review: Far and Near by Amanda G Stevens

Title: Far and Near
Author: Amanda G Stevens
Publisher: David C Cook
Published: February 2016
Series: Haven Seekers, Book 4
Genre: Christian fiction, Speculative

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Marcus, Lee, Austin, and Violet are starting over. Texas is supposed to be their sanctuary. But the Constabulary isn’t ready to relinquish their worst offenders, legal jurisdiction or not. They’ve sent agents in undercover, and Marcus is the assigned target of one who has personal reasons to bring him back dead or alive.

Marcus and Lee are ready to be whole again, to secure a home here—together. But wholeness and home might not mean what they thought. Stopping the Constabulary hunters will require more than Marcus knows how to give, and God is about to use him again in a way he doesn’t expect.

Enemies, emotions, the past, the future—everything must be faced in the quest for a true haven.

My Thoughts:

I’ve loved this series from the start, so it’s somewhat bittersweet to reach the end of this final book. I’ll miss Marcus, Lee, Violet, and Austen, and yet I’m happy to see them find some resolution and healing, even as a few things are left realistically open-ended.

If you haven’t been following this series, you really do need to read it in order, so check out my reviews of Books 1, 2, and 3. And suffice it to say that this series really is worth the time investment to read it. Seriously. What are you waiting for? You’ve got some catching up to do! 😉

This installment rejoins our characters in the newly sovereign state of Texas, trying to build a new life for themselves in relative safety, away from the constabulary. Except that the constabulary may not be as far away as our heroes and heroines would like. And wow, have they got a lot of issues to work through. But can you blame them after all they’ve faced up to this point?

Our (already beloved) characters take center stage in this book, as they continue to grow and mature in their faith. And in the process, they have to confront their worst fears and do things they never thought they could, before they can reach the happy ending they so desperately want. There’s more romance in this book than in the earlier ones, but it’s subtle and understated, in just the way you’d expect from Marcus and Lee if you’ve been following this series and getting to know them. Sigh. Let’s just say that the ending is all I could have hoped for them, and leave it at that for now, shall we?

Book clubs will find a lot to discuss here on issues like religious freedom, trust, and building relationships. And readers who enjoy a meaty story with thought-provoking what if scenarios, and relatably flawed characters need to read this series. It’s easily among my favorites.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a complimentary electronic copy of the book for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

Audiobook Review: Sea Rose Lane by Irene Hannon

Title: Sea Rose Lane
Author: Irene Hannon
Print Publisher: Revell
Audio Publisher: Recorded Books
Narrator: Therese Plummer
Published: June 2016
Series: Hope Harbor, Book 2
Genre: Christian fiction, Contemporary Romance
Length: 10 hours, 20 minutes. Unabridged.

About the Book: (from the publisher’s Web site)

Two people starting over . . . in a town known for second chances

After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to Hope Harbor–only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he’s constantly distracted by noise, chaos–and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect who’s invaded the house with her motley crew. As for BJ, her client’s son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn’t high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to help Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

Come home to Hope Harbor–where hearts heal . . . and love blooms

My Thoughts on the Book:

Fans of Irene Hannon’s Hope Harbor (see my review of the first book in this series) will be delighted to return to this small seaside town for another fun contemporary romance with emotional and spiritual depth. The romance between Eric and BJ is sweet, with some whimsical interruptions by local wildlife – namely harbor seal Casper and seagulls Floyd and Gladys. The lead characters are sympathetic and relatable, as they work through past hurts and challenging decisions. And I appreciate the roles faith and community play in both the main plot and several subplots.

Sea Rose Lane could easily be read as a stand-alone, but those who have read Hope Harbor will enjoy spotting a number of striking parallels in plot and theme between the two stories, as well as familiar people and locations. The lead characters (and seagulls) from the last book make cameo appearances in this one. And Charley, with his seaside taco stand and incredible intuition, takes on an even bigger role than last time.

Speaking of which, after reading Hope Harbor, I made a point of trying fish tacos the next time I found the opportunity, and discovered I really like them! Reading this book brought them back to mind, so writing this review is making me hungry. LOL! Too bad Charley’s taco stand isn’t right around the corner, or I know what I’d be doing for lunch.

This book touches on some thought-provoking issues in a gentle manner that could make for a natural conversation starter. So if anyone’s looking for a book for their discussion group, this one could be a great pick. There’s even a pre-made discussion guide available on the publisher’s Web site.

Specific to the Audio Edition:

After listening to two full-length audiobooks read by Therese Plummer, her vocal inflections are becoming very familiar. I have a feeling that even if I read the upcoming Book 3 (Sandpiper Cove) in print format, I’d still “hear” it in her voice… but I plan to seek out the audiobook edition anyway. Her voice feels very natural to the series. Perhaps it’s the laid-back, casual quality that fits the small-town vibe of the book? Either way, the emotion and the characterization reflected in her reading results in a satisfying listening experience – one I would highly recommend.

Thank you to Recorded Books for providing a complimentary copy of the audiobook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Audiobook | About the Series | Author’s Site | Narrator’s Site | Publisher’s Site