Spring reading list

Is there anything more delightful than getting a big box of books delivered to your doorstep?

Well, there are a few things, but since we’re all ardent readers and writers here, book deliveries rank pretty high on the list. I know fellow InskperKav lives for the days when the postman delivers multiple packages of books, and I can’t say I blame her. Say what you will about the convenience of e-readers, but there’s just something so satisfying about getting a physical book in the mail, versus an e-book delivered to your Kindle or Nook.

I am expecting a large delivery of books this week, thanks to the wonder of Amazon Prime and a gift card that had been burning a hole in my pocket. I was able to order eight books all for myself, all for the low, low price of $6 out of pocket (thank you, Christmas gift cards!). Since spring is just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of the books on my spring reading list, and books that I can hopefully recommend in just a few months. Enjoy!

A Note Yet UnsungA Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.
 
Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream?

You can’t go wrong with anything by Tamera Alexander, whose stories are immersive, her research impeccable, and her writing sweeping. And since this story revolves around music and an orchestra? I can’t pass this one up! (Side note- isn’t that cover gorgeous? I’d pick this book up for the cover alone!)

DelugeDeluge by Lisa T. Bergren

It’s one thing to battle for life… WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN DEATH ITSELF COMES HUNTING? The Bettarinis and Forellis have found rich fulfillment, together in medieval Italia. But after fighting off countless enemies, they now must face the worst foe of all. As the Black Death closes in upon them, threatening everything and everyone they hold dear, Lia and Gabi–and the knights they love–must dig deep within to decide how they might remain safe…and if they need to risk it all in order to truly live as they’re called. DELUGE, the finale in the best-selling, award-winning River of Time Series: #1 WATERFALL #2 CASCADE #3 TORRENT #4 BOURNE & TRIBUTARY #5 DELUGE.

Yes, I know it’s weird to recommend Book Five in a series, but man, oh, man are these books addictive! The River of Time follows two sisters, Gabi and Lia, who fall back in time to the middle ages, fall in love with knights, and must decide whether to stay out of their own time. These YA books are fast-paced adventures, and I can’t wait to read what happens in the final book!

FirstbornFirstborn by Tosca Lee

Face-to-face with her past, Audra Ellison now knows the secret she gave up everything—including her memory—to protect. A secret made vulnerable by her rediscovery, and so powerful neither the Historian nor the traitor Prince Nikola will ever let her live to keep it.

With Luka in the Historian’s custody and the clock ticking down on his life, Audra only has one impossible chance: find and kill the Historian and end the centuries old war between the Progeny and Scions at last—all while running from the law and struggling to control her growing powers. Love, action, and stunning revelation reign in this thrilling conclusion to The Progeny.

The Progeny was another fast-paced thriller I couldn’t put down. Full of twists and turns and unforgettable characters, it tells the story of Audra, a girl with no memory of her past, who is being hunted by unknown forces as she scrambles to figure out why they want her dead. It ended on a cliffhanger, and Firstborn, out May 2, will conclude Audra’s story.

Caramel CrushCaramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay (A Cupcake Bakery Mystery)

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.
 
When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…

Book 9 in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, these books are a lot of fun, with great characters, witty dialogue, intriguing mysteries, and cupcakes! This book comes out April 4.

So, what’s on your spring reading list?

Summer Update

Doesn’t it feel like summer is flying by? Here it is, mid-July, and school will be starting before you know it!

Not that a school calendar means that much to me, since I am not a teacher, and I don’t have kids yet. But in my world of working for a symphony orchestra, our schedule is just as cyclical as the school calendar: our symphony season starts in mid-September, and runs through early June. That doesn’t mean I get summers off, but our office is much more relaxed during June, July and August. One of the perks of my job is getting eight Fridays off in those summer months while our musicians and conductors are away playing in different music festivals, vacationing, or maybe just relaxing at home.

So, what I have I been doing with myself during this summer?

Swim trialsOlympic Swim Trials! My husband and I attended the opening session of the Olympic swim trials a few weeks ago, which were held in my hometown, Omaha, Neb. It was a dream come true to see these world-class athletes competing in my city for the third straight Olympic trials. #WeDontCoastOmaha

Seeing friends and family! For my first official Friday off, I took my grandma to lunch. I treated her to Mexican food, and she returned the favor by treating me to ice cream. We chatted about my various cousins, aunts, and uncles, and then some about her long marriage to my grandpa, who passed away six years ago. If it were a movie or a book, my grandmother would have passed on sage wisdom or advice, or told me a secret about my family that would have changed everything. But instead, I made a pleasant memory of just spending time with someone I care about. I’ve also gotten to spend time with cousins and other family members at a recent bridal shower and family reunion.

WritingReading! That’s a given, right?

Writing! I usually try to write during my lunch hour at work, and since I have a lot less meetings in the summer time, I can get nearly a solid hour of writing time in, seated in my office’s window seat.

Gardening! I’ve trimmed bushes, pulled weeds, and planted a small flower garden in the backyard that I hope to expand next summer.

Singing! I joined my church’s praise team this spring, and have had the pleasure of helping lead others in worship. For a special July 4 service, we sang patriotic songs, including all of the military anthems (the Air Force theme went over especially well here in Bellevue, home of Offutt Air Force Base!) and it was a special time to recognize our veterans and reflect on our freedoms.

EmmetMeeting new people! I had the pleasure of attending a concert by Irish tenor Emmet Cahill last week, and he was phenomenal! Emmet’s team is hoping he can come sing with the Omaha Symphony someday, and brought him to my attention. After hearing him perform, I am definitely recommending him for future seasons. In addition to his beautiful voice, he had a charming persona both onstage and off, and his dimples are adorable!

Relaxing with the TV! Yes, I’m a Netflix junkie, because I love finding new shows. The last few months, I’ve been watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a show about a lady detective in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. Phryne Fisher is a modern woman who loves sparring with detective inspector Jack Robinson. With only three seasons, I’ve been parceling the episodes out for months, but I’m going to miss Phyrne when I’m done. Any other show suggestions?

Snuggle bugsSnuggling babies! Well, really just one. Last Friday, I was able to visit one of my best friends, and her nine-day old newborn, Ivy. I got to snuggle that little muffin to my heart’s content while I visited with her mama and daddy all day. Bazinga was incredibly jealous that I spent my day away from her (she usually “helps” me when I write or garden, or cuddles next to me when we watch Miss Fisher), so she had to get some snuggle time in too!

I’m looking forward to the rest of my summer! What are you doing to while away the heat?

 

 

My Top Ten Must Reads (Part 1)

You know those people in your life that recommend a book to you because they absolutely loved it, and you tell them politely that you’ll think about reading their pick, while secretly thinking, “there is no way on earth I’m going to read that book?”

Hopefully I’m not one of those people!

In the past, us Inkspers have written blogs on books we’re looking forward to reading in the coming months, but this time, I’m going to change it up. I want to tell you about my Top Ten Must Read books that I’ve encountered over the past 12 months. I actually keep a list of every book I read between July 1 and June 30 of each year, so these are books I’ve read since then that I highly recommend. Since I read a lot of cozy mystery series, I am only going to recommend the series that I began reading this year, instead of perhaps book 6 in an established series, to keep it simple. Also, I don’t often read brand new books, so some of these might be several years old already.

I selected a variety of genres, since I try to read widely, and I’m only listing the first five this week (in no particular order), so come back in two weeks to find out my next five! (Click on the titles for more info about each book.)

Top Ten (Five) Must Reads

Progeny

The Progeny by Tosca Lee. She’s the descendent of a serial killer. Now she’s the hunted.

I just finished this book last week, and this is one of the few books I can say truthfully that I couldn’t put down! I literally had to leave it at home one day because I knew if I took it to work to read over my lunch break, my lunch break would end up being three hours. A heart-racing thriller full of twists and turns, an intriguing mystery, and a cliff-hanger ending that left me eagerly anticipating the sequel next February.

To Whisper Her Name

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander. A love story of hope and healing between a Confederate widow and a southerner who fought for the North set at Tennessee’s Belle Meade Plantation. 

I read To Whisper Her Name on vacation last year, and though I was sitting in a log cabin in Oregon, every time I opened the pages I was transported to Belle Meade Plantation. Alexander perfectly captured the Reconstruction era, and her love story evolved so naturally over the course of the story that I’m in awe of her skill. I admit, I fell a little bit in love with her hero, Ridley Adam Cooper! I’ve loved all of her books I’ve read, but this one in particular stood out.

Technologists

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl. A series of mysterious attacks in Boston, 1868, send four brave students at the newly established Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a race against the clock to save their city, and their fledgling school. 

I picked this one up on a whim from Portland’s Powell’s City of Books (an amazing bookstore I highly recommend!) while on the same vacation I mentioned above. The twisty plot kept me turning the pages, and I really enjoyed learning about the early history of MIT, and people’s distrust of scientific principals that we take for granted today that Pearl’s fictional “terrorist” used to his advantage. Pearl likes to take real historical incidents and write his fictional stories around them.

State of Onion

State of the Onion by Julie Hazy. First in the White House Chef Mysteries, Ollie Paras is gunning for the Executive Chef position when she unwittingly stops a would-be assassin with her frying pan, but soon finds herself in the cross-hairs of a killer. 

I read a lot of cozy mystery series, and this one stood out to me for it’s exceptional writing, tight plot, great characters, interesting setting, and a mystery that kept me guessing. I just finished the second book, and will definitely keep reading this well-done series.

THere You'll Find Me

There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones. Finley Sinclair heads to Ireland to make peace with her brother’s death, and winds up meeting Beckett Rush, teen heartthrob and Hollywood bad boy. As her grief begins to wear her down, she wonders when God is going to show up for her in this Emerald paradise. 

This one was a re-read this year. I love Jones’ writing style, her humor, and her great characters. The book was funny, and yet dealt with real problems of grief, forgiveness, and healing. One of only three books I read this year that I literally broke down in tears while reading because I was so moved. I loved how the story didn’t end with everything wrapped up in a neat bow, but on a hopeful note.

Come back next Tuesday, July 5 for the rest of my list!

 

***BONUS GIVEAWAY!***

I’ve told you my top ten reads of the year, so what are some of yours? I start my reading list over on July 1, so I’d love to hear what your favorite books are! Leave a comment on either Part 1 or Part 2 (or both!) to win a copy of any of the 10 books on my list. I’ll pull one winner on Friday, July 8.

Curl Up and Read This Fall

Fall is here and soon the leaves will change their glorious colors.  Though we’re not quite to that stage here yet, it’s never too early to curl up with a good book.

My fall pick is A Light in the Wilderness by Jane Kirkpatrick. It sounds like a fabulous read, perfect for a cool autumn day.

The publisher’s blurb reads:

Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read — as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband that she knows she will follow him anywhere — even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, suspicion turns to friendship, and fear turns to courage, three spirited women will discover what it means to be truly free in a land that makes promises it cannot fulfill.

Summer Fridays

One of the coolest things about my job is that I get Fridays off in the summertime. That’s right, you heard me: Summer. Fridays. Off.

The reason being because at my job with the Omaha Symphony, we work a lot of nights and weekends doing concert duty. So, since our season runs from September through June, our summers are fairly light. We do a lot of planning for the upcoming season, but there’s nothing pressing that needs to get done right away (at least, not in my position). Somewhere down the line, the powers-that-be decided that the administrative staff deserved some time off in the off-season. So for eight blessed weeks, I get eight three-day weekends in a row. I can’t complain.

Purple shamrocksSo what do I do on my summer Fridays off?

Nothing.

OK, there are a lot of things I do: sleep in a bit, catch up on my reading, and do errands that I otherwise would have done on the weekend. Really, I do nothing major with my day off, which is kind of the point- to relax.

One thing I try to do on my Fridays off is have lunch with someone special, like my mom, grandma, or friends that I don’t normally get to have lunch with during the work week. It’s a great time to catch up.

Since this is the first summer we’ve had a house, I’ve done a lot of yard work on my days off. I’ve trimmed the bushes on the side of the house. I’ve planted bulbs and flowers in the former rock garden (see my previous post here, and check out what it looks like now in the picture below!) and nurtured them to grow. I’ve tended my pots on the deck and seen my purple shamrocks flourish.

Flower gardenOne Friday, I spent almost the entire day reading and cross stitching. I think I read three cozy murder mysteries in a weekend once. I’ve watched movies that I know my husband has no desire to see.

Every summer, I tell myself I’m going to get more writing done on my Fridays off, and every summer, I do a lot less than I think I’m going to do. This summer, I ran into a snag in my story and just couldn’t motivate myself to move past it. Thankfully, I decided to read Cheryl St. John’s Writing with Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, which not only has many amazing insights and tips about writing, it helped me to recognize the problem and write through it. Now I’m back on track and writing away again!

My summer hasn’t been all about relaxing. My husband and I will be taking a major vacation later this summer, something we haven’t done since 2010. We’re very excited, and I promise to share more when I get back!

Whatchya Readin’?

Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by Judith P. Abrahamsen
Photo Credit: www.freeimages.com by Judith P. Abrahamsen

As I think about the books in my TBR pile, I am overwhelmed. So many books, so little time!! I enjoy an array of books. Everything from romance to self help. Some of the books I really am looking forward to reading are not new releases, but books that are in my TBP (to be purchased) pile as I have not purchased a fiction book in a really long time. I think I’m going through withdrawal! So here’s my TBP and TBR list:

 

A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah Ladd -TBP

The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah Ladd -TBP

Mark of the Lion Series (3) by Francine Rivers -TBR

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers -TBP

Song of Acadia Series (5) by Janette Oke -TBR

Jaded by Varina Denman -TBP

Justified by Varina Denman -TBP

It’s not long but certainly gives me enough to get me through the rest of the summer! As you can see I’ve got a total of about 12 books and that’s just scratching the surface!

 

Question: What are you reading this summer?

I love to write, which means I love to read. I write inspirational books, and I read a handful of them as well. I believe it’s important to feed your soul and that’s just what these books do for me. But when it comes to fiction I love anything from fantasy to romance and I read Christian fiction and secular works. While some of the books I have chosen to read this year are not new releases, they are ones I’ve had in my TBR pile I’m finally getting to!

2015 Books 01-15-15

1. Restless by Jennie Allen: I can’t wait to dive into this one! This book encompasses all of my talents, gifts, struggles, passions and shows me how to turn them into purpose. I love a great book of encouragement when it comes to doing what God has called me to do. You can purchase it on amazon here.

2015 Books 01-15

2. Children of the Day by Beth Moore: Our Wednesday night Ladies Bible class is delving into this series. It’s a study of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians and how God used disagreements among friends to break up comfort zones so those spreading the word could be more effective. You can purchase this one at Amazon here.

2015 Books

3. The Whispers on the Moors Collection by Sarah Ladd: I love, love, LOVE Sarah Ladd’s regency series. These are three books. The Heiress of Winterwood, The Headmistress of Rosemere, and A Lady at Willowgrove Hall. When I read the Heiress of Winterwood, I finished it in two days. If you love a traditional Downton Abbey hierarchy in English society, these books are right up your alley. Regency all the way mixed with danger and adventure. Can’t wait to start Headmistress and Lady this year. You can find the collection on amazon here.

Question: What books are you reading this year?

Running Amuck

This may be the most scattered post I’ve ever written. But my brain is a bit scattered right now. I’ve gotten up at 5 stupid o’clock on a Saturday to drive two hours to watch my son in Cross Country Track. Which really isn’t much of a spectator sport. You watch them start, then you wait and wait and wait, until they finish. I’ve also been to almost Missouri three times for track meets. Track ended last Tuesday and basketball started on Thursday. He plays basketball too.

St. LouisI did actually make it to Missouri to the ACFW Conference. Since I have two cousins who live there, the only way I could spend time with them was to only attend the conference one day. I felt like I missed a lot of the conference and seeing friends, but I had fun with my cousins. I told my roommate that my cousin and I were going to run amuck. My cousin said, as long as we’re in by 8:00. We went to the top of the Arch and ate Italian, but we were in by 8:00. The picture was taken from the top of the Arch.

I struggled with a book all summer and finally when school started, the piece of the puzzle clicked into place and the words flew from my fingertips. I’m finishing my final read through today and turning it in by my deadline tomorrow. Two down, four to go for my current contract.

I lost eighteen pounds, but lately I’ve been to a lot of appreciation dinners and political meet and greets, so I’m stuck on my diet. And I haven’t gotten back in gear with my daily treadmill for at least 15 minutes since I got back from the conference. But I’m going to. Once I get this book turned in, oh the things I’ll do.

That’s been my mantra lately—once I get this book turned in, I’ll. . . The main thing I’m looking forward to is reading.

I met Jennifer Slattery at an ACFW Conference a few years back, so when I heard she got a contract, I wasJennifer Slattery thrilled and couldn’t wait to read her book—Beyond I Do. I love the title, since so many brides don’t think past the extravagant wedding and I love the sweet cover.

Since then, Jennifer’s publisher asked for my endorsement on her second book—When Dawn Breaks. It came during crunch time—I was about to leave for ACFW and I had a deadline. I had one free night at the conference, so I decided I’d start the book. If I liked it, I’d make time to read it. If I didn’t, I’d tell Jennifer’s publisher I had a deadline.

I loved it and finished it after I got home, when my brain was still too travel rattled to do anything but read. I ordered Beyond I Do this week. It will get here Thursday. Perfect timing. Next time I see Jennifer, I’m going to have someone get a new not orange picture of us.

Jennifer Slattery coverWill seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

November is National Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to writers to write a book in a month. By the time I heard of it, I was already published and it’s never fallen right in my contracts for me to participate. But this time, it does. I’m planning to write my next contracted book in November. It’s not due until March. In December and January, I’m going to write a book I’ve wanted to write for a long time.

In February, I want to read Denise Hunter’s new book. It releases in December and I may not be able to wait. In fact, I’ll probably make time to read The Wishing Season as soon as I get it.

Living side-by-side, a fledgling chef and a big-hearted contractor find a delicious attraction.The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
Trouble is, their chemistry could spoil their dreams.

Spirited PJ McKinley has the touch when it comes to food. Her dream of opening her own restaurant is just one building short of reality. So when a Chapel Springs resident offers her beloved ancestral home to the applicant with the best plan for the house, PJ believes it’s a contest she was meant to win.

Contractor Cole Evans is confident, professional, and swoon-worthy—but this former foster kid knows his life could have turned out very differently. When Cole discovers the contest, he believes his home for foster kids in transition has found its saving grace. All he has to do is convince the owner that an out-of-towner with a not-for-profit enterprise is good for the community.

But when the eccentric philanthropist sees PJ and Cole’s proposals, she makes an unexpected decision: the pair will share the house for a year to show what their ideas are made of. Now, with Cole and the foster kids upstairs and PJ and the restaurant below, day-to-day life has turned into out-and-out competition—with some seriously flirtatious hallway encounters on the side. Turns out in this competition, it’s not just the house on the line, it’s their hearts.

Sigh. Can’t wait.

One of Our Own

Summer is on the downhill swing and I must admit that I’ve had little time for reading. (I’m so ashamed.) Now that the majority of my garden is tucked away in the freezer, hopefully I can find a little more time to get back to reading. My latest read is by our very own Inksper Brenda Anderson. I’m in the middle of Chain of Mercy and loving every minute of it. Brenda does a phenomenal job of portraying real life people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

“They forgave him for the accident that killed their son, but he will never forgive himself.

Manhattan businessman Richard Brooks was at the top of the world, drunk with success, wealth, and women. Until one disastrous evening, when his world came crashing down.

Richard flees to Minneapolis where he repairs ancient boilers instead of solving corporate problems, and he’s determined to live the solitary life he now deserves.

But Executive Sheila Peterson has other plans for the handsome custodian. Richard appears to be the perfect match for the no-strings-attached romance she’s after, but she soon discovers that he’s hiding more than the designer suits in his closet.”

Chain of Mercy by Brenda S. Anderson Tell us what you’re reading this summer.

Discovering New Authors

For the next two weeks, the Inkspers will be sharing what we’re reading. I have my favorite go to authors. When I’m between deadlines, I like the longer length novels. And if you’ve hung around here for long, you know my favorite is Denise Hunter. When I have deadlines, I go for the shorter reads and love Lenora Worth. But Denise and Lenora can’t write fast enough to keep me in books.

I’ve been on a search for new authors for the last year or so. I’ve tried a few and liked the first book, but was disappointed with the second. Or the books are a bit more women’s fiction than romance. I like women’s fiction if it has a happy ending, but I love the straight romance where the point of view is strictly hero and heroine and the story centers on the couple.

Luckily, I’ve found two authors who don’t disappoint – Becky Wade and Melissa Tagg. And luckily, Denise had a new release this spring. So here’s what I’ve read lately:

I’d read the first book in the series last year and was looking forward to Jade’s story. I always fall in love with Denise’s heroes and Daniel didn’t disappoint. So sweet, so supportive, such a good kisser. I love stories where the hero has silently loved the heroine for years. And I officially crowned Denise Queen of the Kissing Scene after reading:

Dancing with Fireflies

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

I loved Meant to Be Mine. Loved the characters, the conflict, and the banter. A lot of the times cute banter between the hero and heroine is too cute and gets on my nerves. But the banter between Ty and Celia was funny, sparkling, and electric. The chemistry between these two sizzled. And I loved the hero’s character arc. It was fascinating to watch him turn into the man Celia deserved. Definitely a keeper. And I’m looking forward to the next Becky Wade title. Meant to Be Mine

Meant to Be Mine

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school–irresistible. When their paths cross again after college–still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia’s ready to be Ty’s wife, but Ty’s not ready to be her husband. He’s a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he’s long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he’s known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia’s buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty’s achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn’t forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia’s trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

After I read Becky’s 2nd title, Undeniable Yours last year, I found her debut My Stubborn Heart and loved it to. The achingly hurting hero tugged at my heartstrings. And the patient heroine drawing him out, then watching him go back insideMy Stubborn Heart himself, but determined to stick with him. So sweet, so tender. My favorite line: His gaze sought out Kate first, locking on her for a split second that caused her nerves to sizzle. Wow, I wish I’d written that. And once again, there was great banter. I officially crown Becky Wade the Queen of Banter.

My Stubborn Heart

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate’s grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house. Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded — hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Kate can’t help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light… whether he likes it or not.

I fell in love with Blake in the first book of Melissa Tagg’s series, Made to Last, even though he wasn’t the hero. I’ve long been waiting for his story and thoroughly enjoyed Here to Stay. I loved Autumn and she was a worthy heroine for him. My favorite part – the bathtub – funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. The book perfectly explained Blake’s nomad lifestyle and what sent him there. I guess I’m a sucker for wounded heroes. I haven’t crowned Melissa yet, but I’m looking forward to her next book. By the third title, I’ll probably have her crown figured out.

Here to Stay

After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he’ll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he’s stunned at not only a warm welcome from Here to Stayhis hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events. . .

If there’s one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it’s Whisper Shore. For years, she’s been stuck running her family’s inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn’s the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade–she’ll help with the Festival and he’ll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who’s done running away joins forces with the girl who can’t wait to leave.

Have you read any of these titles? Have you discovered a new author lately? Any contemporary romance authors you love? I’d love to find some more new authors to love.