Christmas in Harmony Harbor (Harmony Harbor: Book 9) by Debbie Mason

Christmas in Harmony Harbor: Includes a bonus story by [Mason, Debbie]

4 Stars

Publisher: Forever (Grand Central Publishing), Forever

Date of publication: October 1st 2019

Genre: Romance

Series: Harmony Harbor

Mistletoe Cottage—Book 1

Christmas with an Angel—Book 1.5

Starlight Bridge-–Book 2

Primrose Lane—Book 3

Sugarplum Way—Book 4

Driftwood Cove—Book 5

Sandpiper Shore—Book 6

The Corner of Holly and Ivy-–Book 7 (review here)

Barefoot Beach—Book 8

Christmas in Harmony Harbor—Book 9

Where you can find Christmas in Harmony Harbor: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | BookBub

Book Synopsis:

Evangeline Christmas will do anything to save her year-round Christmas store, Holiday House, when high-powered real-estate developer Caine Elliot uses his money and influence to push through his competing property next door. When her last desperate attempt to stop him fails, she gambles everything on a proposition she prays the handsome, blue-eyed player can’t refuse.

Caine agrees to Evie’s bargain because how hard can it be to fulfill three wishes on the Angel Tree at Holiday House? The wishes have him reliving the Christmases of his past and taking part in the holiday festivities of Christmas present. But just when he begins to believe Evie might be his Christmas future, dark secrets from his past are revealed.

Will the last wish on the Angel Tree be enough to give Caine and Evie the happy ending they deserve?


First Line:

A power outage on Black Friday was the last thing Evangeline Christmas needed.

Christmas in Harmony Harbor by Debbie Mason

My Review:

I haven’t read a Christmas based romance that I didn’t like. Reading about two people falling in love during the most magical time of the year always gets me misty-eyed. So, when I saw that Debbie Mason had written another book in her Harmony Harbor series, I couldn’t wait to read it!!

I loved the plotline of Christmas in Harmony Harbor. It was fast-paced and well written. There was a spot in the book where it lagged. But the author was able to get the book back on track.

The storyline of Christmas in Harmony Harbor was interesting. It was a mixture of A Christmas Carol and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It reminded me of A Christmas Carol because of the journey that Caine took during the time he was with Evie. Each task he had to complete had him reflecting on his past, present, and future. It reminded me of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas because Caine’s heart grew three sizes too large towards the end of the book.

I was surprised to find out that Christmas in Harmony Harbor was going to be the last book in the Harmony Harbor series. That upset me because I didn’t want the series to end. Hopefully, the author will start a new series that features a least some of the unattached characters (thinking Clio here). That way, I can catch up on what the characters in this series have been doing.

Christmas in Harmony Harbor can be read as a standalone book. But, considering the intertwining storylines, I would read the previous books. I wish I did because some plotlines were mentioned that had me going, “Huh?

I loved Evie, but she was a hot mess. She was trying to save her family business and disrupt Caine’s plans for her house. But, she did make me laugh during the book. I thought her idea to win Caine over by using the Angel Tree was perfect. I also liked how she saw the best in everyone/thing. Like her shop. It was a rat, and mice-infested mess, yet she loved it.

I didn’t like Caine for the first half of the book. He was hellbent on getting revenge on the Gallaghers on behalf of his grandmother. But then he met Evie, and he started to thaw. He agreed to 3 wishes from the Angel Tree. It was after that scene that I began to like him. But, I wish that he stood up to his grandmother sooner.

Caine and Evie’s romance was cute. They weren’t expecting to develop feelings for each other. Caine viewed Evie as a PITA, and Evie thought Caine was the second coming of Satan. But I saw that spark. The minute that Caine went into the basement and faced down rats, I knew it. I loved it, even though it was Instalove.

I thought that the secondary characters made this book. Caine’s grandmother, GG, Seamus, Evie’s mother, and all of the characters from the previous book added depth to the story. My favorite was Seamus. I had this mental picture of this barrel-chested, handsome Irishman helping his nephew. My least favorite was Caine’s grandmother. Up until the end, she insisted on doing things that harmed everyone. I also couldn’t get past what she told and do to Caine. I did a mental “WTF” when that came out.

The end of Christmas in Harmony Harbor was bittersweet. I liked it because I got to see Caine and Evie’s HEA. But I was sad because the author is ending the series.


I would give Christmas in Harmony Harbor an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is very mild violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Christmas in Harmony Harbor. I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

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The Christmas Star (Christmas Hope: Book 9) by Donna VanLiere

The Christmas Star (Christmas Hope #9)

3 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: October 16th, 2018

Genre: General Fiction, Christian

Series: Christmas Hope

The Christmas Shoes—Book 1

The Christmas Blessing—Book 2

The Christmas Hope—Book 3

The Christmas Promise—Book 4

The Christmas Secret—Book 5

The Christmas Note—Book 6

The Christmas Light—Book 7

The Christmas Town—Book 8

The Christmas Star—Book 9

Where you can find The Christmas Star: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Christmas Hope series comes another heartwarming, inspirational story for the holidays.

Thirty-two-year-old Amy Denison volunteers at Glory’s Place, an after school program where she meets seven-year-old Maddie, a precocious young girl who has spent her childhood in foster care. Unbeknownst to Amy, Maddie is a mini-matchmaker, with her eye on just the right man for Amy at Grandon Elementary School, where she is a student. Amy is hesitant – she’s been hurt before, and isn’t sure she’s ready to lose her heart again – but an unexpected surprise makes her reconsider her lonely lifestyle.

As Christmas nears and the town is blanketed in snow and beautiful decorations, Maddie and the charming staff at Glory’s Place help Amy to see that romance can be more than heartache and broken promises.

In The Christmas Star, Donna VanLiere delivers yet another sweet, joyous story that is sure to capture readers’ hearts.


My review:

It seems like I am reading and reviewing a lot of Christmas books lately. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays and I like reading books that put me in the holiday mood. Especially when it is the middle of October, in the mid to high 80’s and as humid as it is in mid-August. So, yes, I enjoyed reading The Christmas Star.

The Christmas Star is a cute second chance romance, even though it isn’t billed as one. Amy is volunteering at an after-school program called Glory’s Place. It is there that she meets Maddie, an adorable 7-year-old who has spent her entire life in foster care. Gabriel is a custodian at a local elementary school. He knows Maddie from school and has become fast friends with her. Maddie is not so subtle about them meeting. And when they do, surprise doesn’t even cover what they both felt. See, Amy and Gabriel were married and had gotten divorced. They try to stay apart but life keeps throwing them together. What will happen to them? Will they rekindle their romance? Or will they go their separate ways?


What I Liked About The Christmas Star:

What did I like about The Christmas Star? Hmmm, let me think for a minute. I liked reading this book and finding myself smiling during certain scenes. Mainly the ones with Maddie in them. I loved that little girl. I liked most of the characters. I liked that it was set during Christmas (duh…lol). I also liked that it was a second chance romance, even though it wasn’t billed as one. But, what I liked the most, is that there was no sex in this book at all. It was 100% a clean book. I also liked that this book was a Christian book. I liked that Christianity was discussed but not pushed down my throat.

To Recap:

  1. Certain scenes made me smile
  2. Most of the characters
  3. It was set during Christmas
  4. A second chance romance
  5. Zero sex. Not even kissing!!
  6. A Christian book but didn’t overwhelm me as I read it.

What I Disliked About The Christmas Star:

There were things that I didn’t like about this book. I was confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended. There were two explanations. One was dumbed down to a 7-year-old (I wasn’t a good husband). The other one was when Gabriel was thinking about the past (I was a bad husband and I drank too much). I figured Gabriel drank too much but what else happened? I also didn’t like that Lauren and Travis’s story took over the book. That is something I cannot stand when I am reading a series of books. Those characters and that storyline should have been regulated to the background. I also didn’t like how happy Amy’s parents were about certain things that happened at the end of the book. Even though Gabe talked to them for 5 hours, it still struck a chord on my BS meter. And the last thing: The adoption. I know people who have adopted out of foster care before and it took months (even uncontested). There were so many hurdles that they had to jump through it wasn’t even funny. So to have one go through in under a month didn’t ring true to me.

To Recap:

  1. Confused about why Amy and Gabriel’s relationship ended
  2. Lauren and Travis’s relationship being one of the main storylines
  3. How happy Amy’s parents were about what happened at the end of the book
  4. The adoption. Not a realistic situation

What I rated the book and why:

I gave The Christmas Star a 3-star rating. I enjoyed reading the book and thought it was a sweet story. I loved that it was set around Christmas. I also liked this book was 100% clean. There was no sex. Don’t get me wrong, I loved me some sex but in this case, the book didn’t need it. But there were some things that I didn’t like about this book. The main thing, which affected the rating, was the adoption at the end of the book. It was not realistic. My other reasons were what I felt personally about certain things in the book and listed above.

I would give The Christmas Star an Older Teen rating. There is no sex or sexual situations. There is no language. There is no violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread The Christmas Star. I am also on the fence if I would recommend this book to family and friends


Other stuff:

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Christmas Star.

All opinions stated in this review of The Christmas Star are mine.

I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


Have you read The Christmas Star?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Blog Tour: A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides: Book 9) by Valerie Bowman

A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides, #9)

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: May 1st, 2018

Genre: Historical romance, romance

Series: Playful Brides

The Unexpected Duchess – Book 1

The Accidental Countess – Book 2

The Unlikely Lady – Book 3

The Irresistible Rouge – Book 4

The Unforgettable Hero – Book 4.5

The Untamed Earl – Book 5

The Legendary Lord – Book 6

Never Trust a Pirate – Book 7

The Right Kind of Rogue – Book 8

A Duke Like No Other – Book 9

Kiss Me at Christmas – Book 10 (expected publication date: October 30th, 2018)

Where you can find A Duke Like No Other: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

General Mark Grimaldi is devoted to his service for the Crown, risking his life and giving up everything for his career. The political promotion he’s always wanted is now within his reach, but he needs to convince his estranged wife to return to England and play the role of happy bride in order for him to get the position.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent the past ten years in France, not having seen her husband since she left England. But now he’s on her doorstep, asking her to return with him, and Nicole sees the opportunity to get something out of this deal. So she agrees, on one condition: she wants a baby.

A Duke Like No Other is a Regency spy caper with Valerie Bowman at her best as husband and wife match wits and may just fall in love in the process.

My review:

I love a good second chance romance. There is nothing like seeing two people separated by circumstances reuniting. So when I was approached to review A Duke Like No Other and I read the blurb, I accepted.

I enjoyed reading this book. I am a huge fan of Regency Era romances. Something about that period calls to me. I like that the women can be smart but get the man. I also like that the men were willing to do anything to prove that they loved their women. I loved that allure of the ton and the endless balls/functions that the Lords and Ladies attended. I loved the titles (I mean, hello Duke!!!) and the description of life back then. While I know it wasn’t at all easy, I enjoyed reading about that upper-class. My guilty pleasure.

I haven’t read any of the other books in this series. But if they are anything like A Duke Like No Other, I will be happy with them. I liked that while this book is in a series, you can read it as a stand-alone. I have a couple of pet peeves when I read books out-of-order from the series. I can’t stand it when I get a book that is like 254th in a series and it is taken over by the previous characters antics. Or when the author relies too much on the plotlines from the other books and leaves me going “What the heck is going on“. Fortunately for this book, none of what I mentioned happened. While the previous characters are mentioned and featured, they do not take over the plot.

I did like the main characters but I wish that the author came clean with why they broke up sooner. Instead, she let it leak, slowly, throughout the book. Seeing that I read these books on my Kindle, I can’t skip to the end. So reading the flashbacks drove me nuts. I was done with that part of the plot before it began.

I thought that Mark and Nicole needed a lesson in communication. While I agreed with why Mark being so upset with Nicole, it didn’t deserve a break-up. I also think that Nicole might have overreacted a bit when she moved to France. All they needed to do was talk and Mark would have gotten the entire story from Nicole instead of reading it in a letter from her mother.

I thought Mark had a huge chip on his shoulder. HUGE. It was his unwillingness to bend when it came to his mother’s family that left a bad taste in his mouth. He refused to acknowledge anyone. He was going to decline something that he shouldn’t have because of that chip. It wasn’t until the letters that he started to bend. But I did think it was going to be too late to make amends with his uncle and cousins.

I liked Nicole but like I mentioned above, I thought that it was silly that she ran to France to lick her wounds. I also thought that her condition to Mark’s request was a little odd. It wasn’t commonplace at that time for a woman, married or not, to raise a child on her own. And in France of all places. I also found her choice of profession a bit odd and at ends for the era. Not saying that it could have happened but it was very unlikely.

The chemistry and heat between Nicole and Mark were there. Oh, boy was it there. And the sex was hot. It was kind of dirty too. I liked that. I liked that Nicole knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to let Mark know. I liked that Mark didn’t forget what turned Nicole on after 10 years. Like I said, the chemistry and heat between them were hot. I was surprised that my Kindle didn’t fog up.

I liked the mystery angle that was introduced halfway through the book. It made the plot more interesting and added some extra depth to the plot. I do have to laugh at Mark being jealous of Oakleaf. I giggled at that.

The end of the book was perfect. I was very surprised at who the murderer ended up being. It was the last person I thought it was. The author did a great job at casting red herrings all over the place to distract the reader. Of course, the part where Mark and Nicole get back together was the clincher of the book. I had tears in my eyes while reading it. And the epilogue. I couldn’t get over it!!

What I liked about A Duke Like No Other:

A) Regency England

B) Mark and Nicole’s romance

C) Second chance romance

What I disliked about A Duke Like No Other:

A) Took too long to disclose why Mark and Nicole broke up

B) Zero communication between Mark and Nicole

C) Mark’s huge chip on his shoulder

I would give A Duke Like No Other an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is mild violence. There is not any language. I would suggest that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

There are no trigger warnings for A Duke Like No Other.

I would recommend this book to family and friends. I would also reread this book.

Author Bio:

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

Summary:

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the other way around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.


Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides novels are:

“Wholly satisfying.”—USA Today

“Smart and sensual…readers will be captivated.”—RT Book Reviews

“Smoldering.” —Booklist

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Books – A- Million

Indie Bound

Powells

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter

Facebook

Pinterest

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperback, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review A Duke Like No Other.

All opinions stated in this review of A Duke Like No Other are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

Catch Me (The Donovan Family: Book 9) by Margaret Watson

Catch Me (The Donovan Family Book 9)

Title: Catch Me

Author: Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: March 31st, 2017

Genre: Romance

Number of pages: 342

POV: 3rd person

Series: The Donovan Family

Love Me – Book 1

Watch Me – Book 2

Find Me – Book 3

Trust Me – Book 4

Cover Me – Book 5 (review here)

Protect Me – Book 6 (review here)

Save Me – Book 7

See Me – Book 8

Catch Me – Book 9

Where you can find Catch Me – Amazon

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

When Chicago Bearcats baseball player Sam Marini witnesses a brutal confrontation outside a bar, he can’t help the victim. So he does the next best thing – shoots a video of the attack.

He assumes he’ll hand it over and be done with the case. But when the investigating detective is Julia Carleton, a woman he’d met at his sister’s wedding, he can’t walk away. Julia, however, hides dark secrets, and can’t get involved with Sam.

As they work together to ensure justice, their simmering attraction heats to combustion. But the father of the attacker is a wealthy, powerful man who doesn’t like to lose. When Dean Kirby grows more and more desperate to protect his son, the threats against Sam and Julia escalate.

Julia vows to protect Sam, but can she keep her heart safe? Choosing him means risking the job that means everything to her.

My review:

Catch Me is Sam and Julia’s story. Sam, if you remember from the past novels in The Donovan Series, is Priscilla younger brother and Julia is a cop on the force with the Donovan siblings/Priscilla. Both Sam and Julia have made appearances in the past books, so I was waiting for them to have their own story. I was a bit surprised that it was with each other.

I loved the storyline. Sam, a professional ballplayer with the Bearcats, was walking home from the game when he witnesses a crime. Having caught the crime on his phone, he is the star witness in the case….which was just assault and battery. Julia is the first detective on the scene and takes the scene over from an overbearing, woman-hating cop who was trying to intimidate Sam into giving his phone to him. When Sam’s name is released in a police blog, he becomes a number one target for the bad guys. When that doesn’t work, they move onto his mother. Which was a mistake.

The chemistry between Same and Julia sizzled. That is one thing that I look for in a romance novel when I read it. Chemistry that comes off the pages in waves and oh boy, did they have it. Poor Julia tried to keep it under control, tried to stifle it and well, let’s just say that it made for a pretty memorable first sex scene. Talk about needing a fan.

I thought the bad guys were pretty stupid in this book and not very bright. One was a roid head and the other one thought he could use his wealth to bully people around. Not going to go much into them but they got what they deserved in the end….all of them did.

The ending was very fitting for this book and I loved that everyone was at the hospital waiting for Priscilla to have the baby. I also liked that they were taking bets. I kinda laughed at that one because I had something similar happen with my youngest. Except no one won because she was in a hurry to be born (I had her 10 mins after being admitted to L&D).

How many stars will I give Catch Me: 4

Why: A well-written romance with a great plotline and characters that had some sizzling chemistry.

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Adult

Why: Sex, language, and violence

**I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it**