#BookReview: The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle

Awkwardly Titled Slow Burn Hallmarkie Romance. This is one of those romances where it feels like Naigle was leaning perhaps a bit too hard into her Hallmark stories – as this one is dang near a cross between a Hallmark movie and something similar to Great American Country’s Heartland. If you like small towns and saying your prayers and going to church… yeah, this story is going to be right up your alley. If you’re opposed to any of the above, and particularly if you’re strongly/ vitriolically opposed to the above… maybe just skip this one and save yourself some time and spare the author a bad review over something that was never going to be a good fit for you to begin with.

But for those who *do* enjoy this type of story – and clearly, there is a large enough segment of the population to make a comfortable career within this space across several different mediums of art – this is a pretty solid story that goes down pretty well how you expect. A lot of small town interaction, some ranch riding, some will they/ won’t they (even though this is a romance and you *know* they eventually will), and being that this is of the “good Christian story” type, you know there isn’t going to be anything beyond a light kiss or so.

No, the biggest real criticism of the book is, as some others have mentioned, the titular venue only plays a minor role – which could be explained away more if this were Book 2 in a series, as it often feels that it is. And yet, from everything I’ve been able to see on Goodreads and elsewhere, this is truly a standalone book. Though *technically*, I suppose, the “Ranch” includes more than just the venue… including much of where this story takes place. So in a larger sense, it may actually work in the end. This still doesn’t excuse such *deep* backstory that seriously, this could have even been a Book 3, with Book 1 and 2 focusing on the creation of the venue and Book 2 focusing on some aspect of the friends in Raleigh. (Obviously perhaps not Lori herself, but the male friend – who features prominently in the couple here initially getting together and then again in the end of this tale – would make for a good center piece for one of these theoretical earlier book.)

Overall this is still a strong tale of its type, and well told. Very much recommended.

This review of The Wedding Ranch by Nancy Naigle was originally written on November 18, 2022.

#BlogTour: Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at the second book in a series of Hallmark Christmas Romance-type tales that feels like it was only tangentially related to its first book, The Christmas Wedding Guest. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmarkie Christmas Tale. This was a solid Christmas tale with a pair of romances in small town Washington State that features a *lot* of meddling by a mother/ “adoptive” mother who wants grandkids. You’ve got the expected small town charm, the native-who-left-and-came-back part of the couple (for one of the two romances), the out-of-towner (for the other), the successful businessman, the “normal” guy with a major (yet amazing) secret… basically, everything any Hallmark Christmas Romance movie enthusiast expects to see in their stories. And Mallery, as usual, does a solid job of using her 400 ish pages to fully flesh out this story without ever feeling overly long in the process. Truly a solid story well told, and a worthy addition to this series and Mallery’s overall catalog. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery”

#BlogTour: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts

For this blog tour we’re looking at a somewhat innovative “shotgun road trip” approach to a somewhat standard-type Hallmark Christmas tale. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmarkie If Hallmark Did Road Trips. This is one of those almost 80s-cartoon feeling… “interesting”… blends of road trip tale and Hallmark Christmas tale. There are three separate road trips going on here – grandparents, parents, and siblings – all going their own routes and having their own adventures along the way to joining up with youngest sister and her husband and newborn for Christmas. There’s some hilarity, some heart strings being pulled, some solid road trip fun, some solid Christmas fun, a lot of small town charm – in multiple small towns, also in departure from pure Hallmark format – and a healthy dose of moralizing/ preaching about the joys of family and the sacrifices we sometimes make for them. (Which is where the “almost 80s-cartoon feeling” comes in.) Ultimately a solid blend of a few different popular formats, and the “shotgun” approach also works quite well and is fairly innovative. Ultimately this is a solid tale well told, and is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts”

#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan

For this blog tour we’re looking at Sarah Morgan’s seeming annual Christmas story, this time a Hallmarkie type tale set primarily in Scotland. For this blog tour we’re looking at Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmark Scottish Christmas. Let’s be real here, this book is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie set in Scotland. How you feel about the entire tale will likely be pretty close to how you feel about the sentence prior to this one in this review. There are three different romance tales at play here, between each of three siblings – Ross being the sacrificial lamb with a made up girlfriend to distract his parents from his sisters’ issues but who becomes all too real, Alice with an all too real fiancee, and Clemmie with plans of her own… who then has her own story from there. Along the way we also get to see the conflict between Ross and his dad, both of them successful businessmen who love to talk about anything *other* than business with each other. Ultimately, Morgan weaves her magic and makes all of this work quite well – if pretty much exactly within the Hallmarkie mold. Still, this is yet another solid hit for Morgan, and exactly how good of a hit really depends on exactly what the reader themselves feel about this type of story – Morgan’s bread and butter. I happened to think it worked quite well, and it is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan”

Featured New Release Of The Week: Only A Country Doctor Can Save This City Rose by Sophia Quinn

This week we’re looking at a solid third entrant into what will hopefully be a seven book series that breathes new possibility that this could well happen. This week we’re looking at Only A Country Doctor Can Save This City Rose by Sophia Quinn.

Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

Solid Entry That Breathes New Life Into Series. Coming out of Book 2 of this series (Gucci Girls Don’t Date Cowboys), we knew we were coming directly into Rose’s tale (though it is a bit spoilery to note *how* we knew). What was less clear at that time was just how the series would continue beyond that, as we had now dealt with the two primary sisters from the beginning of the series and had a semi-obvious plant for a male lead for a third book, but not too much obvious beyond that. With this entry, we get a solid romance that can stand mostly on its own (though seriously, read Books 1 (Pretend To Be My Cowboy) and 2 first) – but we also get a solid sense of how this series can continue at least through the next main subset of the O’Sullivan Sisters, with one obvious tale coming out of this one and at least a couple of possibilities for the male lead in the book beyond that one, dealing with the final sister of this subset (supposedly, I have no inside information here :D). As this tale is indicative of the generally strong, Hallmarkie type small town romance genre that this series very much plays into, this is a very good thing that we’re apparently going to get at least two more books into it, and this reader in particular is still hoping that we eventually get all seven. Very much recommended.

#BookReview: Alaska Dreams by Jennifer Snow

When Dreams Turn To Nightmares, Create Your Own Reality. This was another solid entry into the Wild River series, one that can be read as standalone if you don’t mind knowing that other couples from previous romance books wound up together. While the focus is on our primary couple here and their struggles both personally and as a couple, most of the rest of couples from previous books make appearances, with some of them playing key support roles. Overall an excellent depiction of this side of Snow’s writing, this one is great for the Hallmarkie type crowd that needs at least some elements of drama without going *too* deep, but which also likes several laughs along the way. Another fun book that manages to showcase Alaska – but also Seattle and Los Angeles. Very much recommended.

This review of Alaska Dreams by Jennifer Snow was originally written on January 27, 2022.

#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a warm gingerbread cookie of a Christmas romance tale that someone thought needed some cilantro on it. For this blog tale, we’re looking at Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone.

Christmas Romance With A Touch Of Preachy Politics. This is *mostly* a Hallmarkie Christmas Romance that would *mostly* fit right in with a typical Hallmark Christmas Movie. So for fans of that kind of story, you’re going to love this one. That noted, it does have a moment or two of getting particularly preachy about the author’s politics here – enough that when reading through that section (an extended one early and a few other comments here and there) there was debate within my head about a star deduction. But ultimately even the preachiness was more spice than actual substance here – kind of a cilantro. Some will LOVE it. Others will HATE it. No matter which side you’re on here, know that it truly doesn’t form the actual meat of the tale here, and the rest of the tale really is a solid story of the type described above. This is marketed as Book 2 in a series, and honestly with the various backstories provided it almost seems like it could be even deeper than that – and yet the story here still works as a standalone by itself. Ultimately a solid Christmas Romance, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media links, and buy links.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone”

#BookReview: Christmas In Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Interesting Blend Of Gilmore Girls, Home Alone, Hurricane Survival, and Hallmark Christmas. I’m pretty sure this has one of the more interesting premises of any Hallmark Christmas type tale I’ve ever seen, one that blends elements of Home Alone with a tale of a post-Thanksgiving major hurricane along the Georgia coast before transitioning into a more “traditional” / “typical” Hallmark Christmas type tale. For those that don’t mind coming into an existing world, you’ll be able to follow everything perfectly fine here. For those others that can absolutely never have any prior book’s events revealed before reading that book… well… this is actively marketed as Book Number 4. ๐Ÿ˜€ A solid if standard-ish tale of its type (re: Hallmark Christmas), this one is told from five female perspectives – a grandmother, her three daughters, and one of those daughters’ own teenage daughter – and even the various guys involved here are given solid characterizations and never belittled, which can at times be a problem with other authors. (This is my first book from Harvey.) Indeed, it is actually with the involvement of one of the guys in particular where the Gilmore Girls elements *really* come to play, with some recurring hilarity. Overall a truly solid book within its type, and a good break for those looking to break away from their own situations during the holidays. Very much recommended.

This review of Christmas In Peachtree Bluff by Kristy Woodson Harvey was originally written on October 3, 2021.

#BookReview: The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

Book Version of Hallmark Christmas Movie. The title is basically all you need to know here. If you like the Hallmark Christmas Movie craze, you’re going to love this book. If that isn’t really your thing… you should still try this book out, since it *is* funny and includes a compelling small-town mystery of long-lost family. This is an excellently written story that fits well within the space intended, and thus is another sure-fire winner for an author who seems to be in that “groove” now. All the feels, a touch of humor, a dash of Christmas magic, and no true anxiety/ fear inducing drama. Truly, all you can really ask for in a story of this type. Oh, and this one is a short and easy read too – perfect for a quick bite to get you in the Christmas spirit or to kick off your three months of Christmas. Or for when your family is over for Christmas and you need a break! ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

This review of The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews was originally written on August 19, 2021.

#BookReview: A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow

A Lot Going On – And Yet It All Works. This turned out to be one of two romance novels I was reading at the same time, that release about a week apart, that both featured single dads and their only children. So that was interesting as far as my own reading went, but not overly relevant to what you, the reader of my review, want to know about. ๐Ÿ˜€

Here, Snow packs quite a bit into a fairly Hallmarkie romance. Which as I’ve noted before, there is a *massive* market for, so I totally get why she went this particular route. (Particularly when given her other creative outlets such as her satirical Housewife Chronicles books and her *dark* alter-ego J.M. Winchester.) We get a female coder – more common than some might have you believe, but still accurately portrayed both in real life and in this text as a male dominated field. We get an overbearing boss – which happens at all levels of coding, from the small companies our female lead works for here to the biggest companies on the planet. (I happen to currently work for a Forbes 50 company in the tech field, though to be honest my bosses are quite awesome here. :D) We get a tween girl whose dad doesn’t fully understand her, who wants to do one thing – in this case, write code – and yet whose dad is pushing her to more “typical” activities. We get the small town businessman dad whose business is struggling and who has many issues of his own, both from being a former NFL star and from having his wife die several years prior to the events here. We even get a hint of a long-ago romance and long-lost love via another side story. And we get the classic Hallmarkie former high school frenemy who shows up again… and may not be all that is remembered or presented. So like I said, a LOT going on, particularly for a 300 ish page book.

And yet, in classic Hallmarkie/ Snow style, it really does all work. It is (mostly) pretty damn realistic, despite what a few other reviewers claim, including several messy moments. It hits all the notes that any romance reader will want to see, yes, including a few sex scenes – oral (both ways) and full penetration – and the requisite-for-the-genre happy ending.

A truly excellent tale and a fine way to pass some time sitting in the shade or on a lounger whiling the summer away. Very much recommended.

This review of A Lot Like Love by Jennifer Snow was originally written on June 17, 2021.