Where the Lost Wander

nr5What a powerful story! Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon had all the emotions, so if you want light and fluffy, run from this one fast. Yoke your oxen up and skedaddle. It’s a heart-yanker. You feel all the love, all the deep-seeded, unending pain, the heartache, the laughs, the awe…the victory and triumph. But all the sadness and heartwrenching agony are SO worth it in the end. I think the joy and awe you feel at the end are even magnified because of what you go through with these characters—John Lowry and Naomi May.

It’s set in the 1850s in the pioneering days of U.S. history, when buffalo still roamed the prairies and Indians were trying to make their stand against white man’s intrusion. It’s a love story—one of the best. Chief Washake of the Shoshone is a side character that especially spoke to me. I loved how the author respectfully wrote about their history and all the tiny gems of wisdom she wove into the story. I felt like I was right there with Naomi and John as they made their way across the country toward California.

I loved everything about this book. Nothing was lacking, in my opinion. It was a story I will reread again and recommend to others with full confidence that they will enjoy it. Harmon is one of my all-time favorite storytellers and I read everything she puts out because she doesn’t just write to market to make money, she writes with her whole heart and soul and I am always a better person after reading what she shares.

Favorite Quotes

The pain. It’s worth it. The more you love, the more it hurts. But it’s worth it. It’s the only thing that is.” – Jennie  

~~~

Hating never fixed anything. It seems simple, but most things are. We just complicate them. We spend our lives complicating what we would do better to accept. Because in acceptance, we put our energy into transcendence.”

“Transcendence?”

“That’s right.”

“You’ll have to explain that one to me, Ma. I don’t know what transcendence means.”

“That’s where your mind goes when your hands are drawing,” Ma explains. “It’s a world, a place, beyond this one. It’s what could be.”

I nod. That much I understand. When I draw, it does feel like I go somewhere else. I escape. It’s the reason I’ll never stop, even when it seems like a waste of precious time.

“Put your energy into rising above the things you can’t change, Naomi. Keep your mind right. And everything will work out for the best.”

“Even if there’s a lot of pain along the way?”

“Especially if there’s pain along the way,” Mama says firmly.

 ~~~

Harmon Wisdom

This book was so beyond incredible, but then I read the author’s notes at the end, and they even touched me. Especially now with the world in so much commotion, confusion, and contention, this piece of wisdom from Amy is very timely and wise.

I hope the reader will experience the story in the spirit it was written, recognizing that who WE ARE is not who THEY WERE, and judging historical people by today’s standards prevents us from learning from them, from their mistakes and their triumphs. These people helped build the framework that we now stand on. We should be careful about burning it down.

That is something we need to remember. When we forget, we only hurt ourselves. 

Anyway, I hope you get a chance to read this book. It’s on sale until the 10th for only $1.99, which is a great deal, so grab it. I think it’s the one I’m choosing for the next time I’m in charge of the book group choice. Lots to discuss, lots to think about, lots of painful, beautiful, and overwhelming emotions.

Happy reading!

Charissa (4)

Love Redesigned

bookDon’t miss this new release by Jenny Proctor. I think it might be her best work so far. The story has a super fun setting in New York and the South, fantastic characters who do a lot of growing, and clean sizzle.

My Review

This is a cute contemporary romance. Dani works as an assistant to Sasha, a designer at LeFranc, a name-brand clothing brand in NYC. When she runs into her ex, Alex, at a coffee shop, her heart dies a little. She’d loved Alex, up until the day he walked out of her life a year ago and ghosted her. But now he is back, and she learns he’s working for her twin brother, Isaac, in their hometown of Charlotte.

Alex is dumbfounded when he sees Dani again. He’d thought he was over her, but one look is all it takes to realize he isn’t. But since she works for and is loyal to the evil woman who is marrying his step-father soon, he doesn’t dare act on his feelings. Leaving her was for the best, or so he thinks.

When Dani’s life upends and sends her running back home to live with her twin brother, she also must live in the same vicinity as her ex. As Dani tries to figure out her life, Alex questions his own. They both still have feelings for each other, but do they have too different hopes and dreams to make things work between them? The first time ended badly. Do they dare risk a second chance at love?

5This book was great. I practically inhaled it and loved every word. The main and side characters are great and added lots of magic to the book. The relationship between the twins was a fulfilling side arc. The settings in New York and Charlotte are fun to visit with the characters, and the romance was sizzling but clean. Really loved this book. It was an enjoyable ride and I was a little sad to come to the end.

It gets 5 star ratings all across the board. If you need a great read, grab a copy of Love Redesigned. You won’t regret it.

Stay tuned for more great books I’ve read over the last month. I’ll post about them soon. And join my Stuck on Love FB page for book giveaways, birthday drawings, and more.

Happy Reading.

Charissa (4)

A Note of Change

noteSorry, April and half of May have seemed to disappear from my life and I haven’t been able to find them. I have lots of catching up to do now, because although those months have been lost to me, I still managed to read a bunch of awesome books since my last post in March. Reading always happens…even if time stops.

Today I wanted to talk about a new anthology of three stories by three different authors–A Note of Change. Isn’t is a beautiful cover? And the stories were excellent. I loved-loved every story and author in this one, which rarely happens. I highly recommend it. Here’s a quick summary of what I thought about each book.

Waiting for the Post by Esther Hatch

This was a cute story about Harrison (Harry) and Christine. For six years, Harrison has tried to put Christine out of his mind. He was the poor steward’s son on her father’s manor house and took off without a goodbye, hoping to work hard to become a man worthy of her hand. But now, six years later, he wonders if he even wants anything to happen between them. He has grown up and is fighting the laws that hold Christine’s family in power. But when his house servant sends a letter he wrote years ago to Christine in Dorset accidentally, he leaves London in a hurry to try to intercept that letter before he is made to look the fool. Loved this story. It was fun, with great characters in a friends to lovers scenario. Super sweet

A Ring of Gold by Nichole Van

Oh my! Van is the master at weaving her stories and characters into my heart uber-fast. This one is about the famous woman author, Viola Brodure, who all of England and Scotland wants to get together with the famous Scottish poet, Ethan Penn-Leith…to have a romance of their own. When her father pulls strings to get them invited to Scotland to actually meet her literary hero, she is dismayed to realize her heart feels a huge disconnect from him, but not for his farmer brother. So much emotion and sweet angsty romance in this one. Probably my favorite of this whole set—although it’s a great set of stories…so I hate to pick favorites. This one didn’t disappoint me on any level though. Excellent story, characters, and romance.

A Rose by Any Other Name by Annette Lyon

Heart-tugging story about Rose, an orphan foundling who meets and falls in love with Oliver when she is hired occasionally to work at his parent’s fancy home for parties. Oliver wishes to marry her, but when he tells his parents, they threaten to cut him off and he would have no way to take care of Rose. Then his parents go to devious means to keep the two apart and you think it’s going to be awful…and for a while it is. A forbidden romance with class warfare that definitely will keep you turning pages until you’re done. Good thing it’s short.

~~~

If you need a great read, check this one out. I picked it because I read all of Nichole Van’s books, but loved the other two author’s stories as well. Highly recommend.

Happy Reading!

Charissa (4)

Simply Starstruck

simplyI’ve just recently found this author – Aspen Hadley – and I have really enjoyed her books so far. I already reviewed another book by her–Blind Dates, Bridesmaids, and Other Disasters. Today’s review is on a second one by her. Simply Starstruck.

This super cute celebrity romance was thoroughly enjoyable. The heroine is determined NOT to fall for Mr. Gorgeous Heartthrob, who has moved in next door to her. She has an eight-year-old son and is content with her life. Men can only complicate it and cause her more grief and loss. Her heart can’t deal with that again.

But Kate keeps running into Jess Sullivan, and not ever at her best moments. He’s seen her in stained sweats and with messy hair. He’s seen her with mud on her face, for goodness sake. He’s seen her temper at high flare and he’s seen her break down and lose it. No way would he ever want a nutcase like her, who’s slightly overweight when he has thin, stunning models always by his side.

But what we imagine about ourselves is not always the truth, and Kate grows to learn her value and worth over time as she slowly becomes friends with Jess and lets him into her heart.

This book was great – a solid 5 on the rating scale. Characters were great. Plot was fun. Romance was a slow-burn build up, but super awesome when the sparks finally ignited. Overall, it was a great read that I highly recommend.

Fun Quote

Every woman knows that when you are deliberating over something as troubling as relationships, you don’t up and start a new hobby. That adds frustration to doubts, which whips up a nice batch of angry. Then throw in needles, or crochet hooks, or whatever they are called, and you are brewing up a disaster. Painting it was.

~~~

Here’s the Amazon link if you want to check it out. Happy reading!

Charissa (4)

Romancing the Rake

02A71A26-6631-4FA0-BD00-7742F79B0CF5How are you doing during this unique time of social distancing? Are you finding it difficult to stay at home? We are definitely having to be exercise more creativity to do things differently than we’re used to. What has been your favorite/least favorite thing about this time?

One of my favorite things is all the awesome books that have come out. This latest book by Nichole Van made my heart so happy. I absolutely loved-loved this book. It’s even better than the first in the series.

Romancing the Rake is a stellar forbidden romance, with lots of heart-tugging, tear-jerking, and nail-biting action involved as you journey along with the characters. Sophie feels invisible and overlooked. She has a scientific brain in an era that girls are looked down upon for that quality and called bluestockings. She has labeled Lord Rafe a Rakus Licentious (or something to that affect) because of his rakish ways with the ladies. She has watched him from behind the curtain at several balls and is intrigued by his instinctual habits to charm every female in the vicinity.

When he surprises her by joining her behind the curtain, she is aghast to find that she, too, is smitten by his charms—even knowing that it’s all an act. Her heart races, her body warms, and all that good stuff. But Rafe’s ducal father, Kendall, forbids his son from seeing Sophie again when he spies them spending time together at a later ball and realizes his son is falling for her. For some reason, he despises Sophie and threatens his son with his mother going to an insane asylum if he ever speaks to Sophie again.

I won’t spoil anything, but years go by and Rafe has let his dad hold him on a tight leash to keep his mother safe, giving up the woman he loves most—the only woman he’s ever loved. You’ll have to read it to see how and if they get together and what barriers stand in their way, but I will say that this book kidnapped me quite literally and I couldn’t get anything else done until I finished it. It has tenderness, heartbreak, laughter, and oh-my moments. It’s clean, yet sizzles with that tension of the heart that keeps you on the edge of your seat. SO. DANG. GOOD!!! Going on my favorites list.

Awesome Quotes

Perhaps. But at the very least, consider harnessing all your rage and molding the energy into determination for good. Otherwise, I fear the power of it will destroy your soul. You will burn on the pyre of your hatred.” Sophie to Rafe 

~~~

Love did not need similarity of thought or interest. Love required only attention and care, thoughtfulness and generosity of soul.

~~~

This was a great one. If you have extra time to read, consider adding this one to your list. You won’t regret it.

Stay safe and be healthy,

Charissa (4)

Blind Dates…& Disasters

feb1Another fun surprise from my February reading. I wasn’t expecting much from this one when I grabbed it off of Kindle Unlimited. The cover didn’t really mesmerize me or anything like that, but after reading it, I fell in love. Blind Dates, Bridesmaids & Other Disasters by Aspen Hadley was a super awesome piece of chick lit. A book I would definitely read again in the future.

Rachel has been out of the dating loop for years. After she broke off her engagement to James 7 years ago, she hasn’t had any heart left to put into finding someone else. James was perfect, but she’d been a scared 20-year-old who had run when her doubts got the better of her. But now, just as she agrees to go on 6 blind dates before her roommate (James’s sister) get married, James moves back into town. But Rachel knows there is no hope there, after slamming the door on his heart all those years ago.

As Rachel goes on her blind dates, disaster after disaster happens. It’s quite hilarious all the lame dates she endures (and the funniest is that they’re all based on real dates readers wrote in about to the author. Yikes!).  Rachel figures she deserves the disasters happening to her after breaking James’s heart all those years ago.

But things aren’t always as they seem, and maybe, just maybe, a happily ever after awaits Rachel…if she just keeps putting her heart out there.

I don’t want to give anything away, but this story was a gem. I couldn’t put it down once I started it. I loved every character, the main and the side ones. It made me laugh. It made me swoon. It made me cry. I highly recommend this story if you’re longing for a great romance to make your heart feel happy.

Charissa gray heart (1)

27 Ways to Find a Boyfriend

feb3Here’s another February read. I vacationed in Northern California last week and finished several books when we relaxed each evening in our hotel room.

27 Ways to Find a Boyfriend was a super cute chick lit. Addison and Carter are the MCs and they are adorable. Carter works for Addison’s dad as a mechanic of classic cars. Addison works there too and has had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But her dad’s rule for all the guys who work for him is to leave his daughter alone…or they’re gone.

Carter has the chance of a life time to work on a celebrity’s fancy car restoration, but his growing feelings for Addison as she starts working on her list to get a guy threatens all his dreams. Yet, he can’t stand to sit by and watch her attract the wrong guys to her as she tries to act helpless.

This was a fun forbidden romance with lots of sizzle and witty dialogue that kept me turning the pages to get to the ending. It’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited, so check it out if you need a good read.

Also, if you haven’t already joined, check out the giveaways on my Stuck on Love FB page. Most weeks I do a giveaway and there is a birthday drawing each month. Also, I’ll be hosting characters from my books on MCMondays on my FB author page. Get to know them a little better outside the pages of the books. See you there.

Charissa gray heart (1)

 

The Dear Wife

dear wifeHere’s a book (or series) that everyone should read. Seriously. It’s amazing and I can’t say enough good about this book. It delves into a deep, hard subject–pornography and how it tears apart a marriage. Yet, it’s one of the best romances I’ve ever read. That’s talent!

The Dear Wife is the last in the More Than A Wife series by Jennifer Peel. It was a beautifully told tale of true love and what it takes to hold onto that precious gift. Avery and James have been side characters in the other 2 books, but this is their story. We’ve known they lost their ten-year-old daughter four years ago, and knew something was up between this wonderful couple…but we never knew what their issue was.

The poop hits the fan in this book though when Avery discovers texts on her husband’s phone to the bookkeeper at his business—intimate texts that should be to her, not another woman. She’s devastated, but determines not to keep her silence any longer about his pornography problem that has led to this ultimate betrayal.

They separate while she tries to find herself again, and James spirals into drinking and self-destruction. She loves the man she married, but doesn’t know where he’s gone. This tragically heartbreaking love story was a skillfully woven tale of betrayal, deepest love, hard work and sacrifice to become one again and earn trust back when it’s been shattered. I couldn’t put the book down once I started. I loved these characters so much and am in awe of what this author created…a masterpiece of the heart.

Get yours today HERE.

Did you have a great weekend? I just returned from a fabulous trip to Monterrey bay area in California. It was fantastic. First time to Northern CA, and I’m now a super-fan. 🙂 Saw some redwoods (had one even fall down about a minute up the trail from us–whew–that was slightly terrifying), saw sea lions, otters, and magnificent ocean and cypress trees. I’m in love with that rocky coastline. Hope your weekend was awesome as well.

Charissa gray heart (1)

 

 

 

Too cute!

my fairAh! This set of  2 shorter novels was a gem. I like this author, but didn’t know if I’d like this set, since I’m not a fan of novellas. But I was drawn in and wowed by Rallison’s writing and this turned out to be one of my favorites…enough so that I am excited to blog about it.

The first story, My Fair Lacey, is a contemporary twist on the My Fair Lady story, with the educated man teaching the uneducated heroine to speak right so she can get a loan from the bank…and if he successfully achieves his goal, he will have his doctoral thesis done as well.

Characters are Garrett and Lacey. And they were super adorable. The author did a super good job, even though it’s a shorter novel, at pulling me in to love them both and enjoy every single page of this romance. Though I knew how it would end, I had fun all the way through and totally loved it. Bravo! Continue reading

Just a BOYfriend

nr5Sariah Wilson always writes super fun romances. Her latest, Just a BOYfriend, is no exception. Lots of twisty-twists and deep-seeded demons for the characters to overcome, a forbidden romance that drives the heart crazy, and awesome characters you can’t help but love.

In this book, Bash (Ian Sebastian) returns to town. His family is excited. Everyone that is except for Ember…who unfortunately became his step-sister when their parents eloped to Vegas after dating for a month.

What Ember and Bash never told anyone was that they were once-upon-a-time secret girlfriend/boyfriend in high school…before their parents met and caught them all up in their whirlwind. But Bash moved away after Ember told him she loved him, and she hasn’t seen him for three long years. Continue reading