Tag: HQN

Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

Posted October 29, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn RossReviewer: Holly
Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2) by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #2
Also in this series: Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane is book two in the Honeymoon Harbor series. Jolene was the character from the previous book I was most looking forward to learning more about.

Jolene grew up dirt poor with a wonderful mother but an alcoholic father in a small town. As soon as she could she left town and made a life for herself as a makeup artist in California. After an Emmy nomination, things are going very well for her in her career, but after the mother of all bad days – she finds out her boyfriend is engaged to someone else and her apartment burns down – she learns her mother may be sick. She’s been wanting to develop a line of organic beauty products, so she heads back home to Honeymoon Harbor to work on that and be with her mom.

Aiden Mannion was a hellion as a teen, but after a stint in the Marines and several years working undercover with the LAPD, he’s settled down. After his partner was killed in an op gone bad, he’s back in Honeymoon Harbor to lick his wounds and heal. The town needs an interim Sheriff and he reluctantly accepts the job on a temporary basis. He and Jolene have history, and he’s quick to renew their friendship – and more – once she returns to town. But things are never simple in a small town, especially when he’s starting to think he never wants to leave and Jolene has a life several states away.

The small-town of Honeymoon Harbor came to life and I felt a real connection to those who live there. It was clear Jolene and Aiden had a true, deep foundation once they got past their initial awkwardness over their separation. They dated in high school, but broke up right before Aiden left for the Marines. He always regretted not telling Jolene how much he cared for her, and he’s glad to have the opportunity to renew their friendship…and possibly have more. It was lovely how quick he was to recognize Jolene as the only person he wanted in his life. Their romance set off sparks, but was also very heartwarming.

I did struggle a bit with the pacing. Parts seemed to drag on, especially in the middle. The book had a paranormal element I wasn’t expecting that seemed out of place given this is a contemporary romance.

View Spoiler »

Still, I can’t deny I enjoyed those parts, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

Overall I liked the story, though not quite as much as the first book, Herons Landing. JoAnn Ross always writes sweet, lovely stories. This small-town romance delivers in a big way.

3.25 out of 5

Honeymoon Harbor

three-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn Ross

Posted October 28, 2018 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

I have a weakness for small-town contemporary romance, and JoAnn Ross does it particularly well. This new series, set in Honeymoon Harbor, is lovely. I’m excited to share an excerpt with you today.

Sunday Spotlight: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane by JoAnn RossSnowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2) by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #2
Also in this series: Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1), Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 432
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

Lose yourself in the magic, charm and romance of Christmas in the Pacific Northwest as imagined in JoAnn Ross’s heartwarming Honeymoon Harbor series.

Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, Jolene Harper is forever indebted to the mother who encouraged her to fly—all the way to sunny LA and a world away from Honeymoon Harbor. Although Jolene vowed never to look back, returning home isn’t even a question when her mom faces a cancer scare. Which means running into Aiden Mannion all over town, the first boy she ever loved—and lost—and whom she can barely look in the eye.

Aiden’s black-sheep reputation may have diminished when he joined the marines, but everything he’s endured since has left him haunted. Back in Honeymoon Harbor to heal, he’s talked into the interim role of police chief, and the irony isn’t lost on the locals, least of all Aiden. But seeing Jolene after all these years is the unexpected breath of fresh air he’s been missing. He’s never forgotten her through all his tours, but he’s not sure anymore that he’s the man she deserves.

Despite the secret they left between them all those years ago, snow is starting to fall on their picturesque little town, making anything seem possible…maybe even a second chance at first love.

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

November, Los Angeles

For a woman born literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Honeymoon Harbor, Washington, Jolene Wells was living her dream life. Not only did she live in the Beverly Hills Triangle—it might be a rental apartment in the flats, aka “South of the Tracks” from when the old Pacific Electric streetcar traversed Beverly Hills—but her famed 90210 zip code was the same as where Jason Priestly and Luke Perry had hung out.

Maybe their characters were fictional, but still. And, as the leasing agent had pointed out, she was steps from Rodeo Drive. Which, while way too pricey for her budget, offered some wonderful window shopping. It was also pet friendly, not that her lifestyle allowed for as much as a goldfish. But that didn’t stop her from watching ABC7’s Eyewitness News “Pet of the Week” adoption segment and thinking maybe, someday.

She’d also, with a lot of hard work and some Tinseltown luck that could’ve come right out of an old MGM musical script, almost won an Emmy as part of the makeup team for a six-part miniseries set in 1950s Ireland. Although, as the cliché went, it had been an honor to have been nominated, privately she still thought it sucked losing out to yet another Tudor series. How many versions of Henry VIII did the world need, after all?

Still, the amount of press the series had received wouldn’t hurt her fledgling business, which she was getting closer to getting off the ground. She’d been making her own organic skin care and makeup going back to her early days at the salon where she’d been discovered and nearly every actress—and quite a few actors—she’d worked with, had asked to buy it.

Unfortunately, her life had been so busy that she’d kept putting off the actual business part of the idea. But while the indoor scenes at been filmed at the same Wicklow County studio as Braveheart, the location shoots had been done in the west. During those long, winding bus drives being shuttled back and forth between the Kerry and Clare coasts, she’d had plenty of time to think. And plan. Now, she just had to figure out a doable way to implement that plan. And if heaven would send down an angel investor, that’d be the icing on the cupcake.

Although the press gained by her nomination had caused a burst of even more lucrative film and TV offers coming in, she’d been seriously considering a change. All those movie stars had shaken Hollywood up when they’d come out with stories of abuse, but the brightness of their movie star status had overwhelmed so many of those working unnoticed in the trenches—makeup artists, hair and food stylists, wardrobe mistresses, grips, animal and child wranglers, fixers, and all the other jobs that films couldn’t reach the screen without.

She hadn’t minded that making a movie involved hard work and long hours. She’d learned a strong work ethic from her mother. What she hadn’t expected was that the moment she walked onto a location, she’d be seen by many as new prey.

That was why, right before leaving Ireland, she’d signed her name to a lengthy online list of women and not a few men, who’d decided to go public about the harassment behind the scenes. Behind Hollywood’s bright lights. Even knowing that might hurt her future employment opportunities, she’d decided to leverage whatever little bit of influence she had received from her Emmy nomination to speak out. Besides, who really cared about people who the guys at the top of the food chain considered easily replaceable?

So, needing a break from those long hours an overseas location entailed, she’d decided to spend the rare downtime until the new year looking for an investor and mentor who could help her grow her start-up and get her products out into the cosmetics and day-spa marketplace. So far, the producers of Shark Tank had turned her down twice, but she’d sent in a new audition video, mentioning her Emmy nomination, so hey, maybe the third time would be the charm. It could happen, right?

Honeymoon Harbor

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About the Author

JoAnn Ross

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS

When New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross was seven-years-old, she had no doubt whatsoever that she’d grow up to play center field for the New York Yankees. Writing would be her backup occupation, something she planned to do after retiring from baseball. Those were, in her mind, her only options. While waiting for the Yankees management to call, she wrote her first novella — a tragic romance about two star-crossed mallard ducks — for a second grade writing assignment.

The paper earned a gold star. And JoAnn kept writing.

She’s now written over one hundred novels and has been published in twenty-six countries. Two of her titles have been excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine and her books have also been published by the Doubleday, Rhapsody, Literary Guild, and Mystery Guild book clubs. A member of the Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll of best-selling authors, she’s won several awards, including RT Reviews’ Career Achievement Awards in both category romance and contemporary single title. In addition, she received RWA’s national service award and was named RWA Pro-Mentor of the Year.

Although the Yankees have yet to call her to New York to platoon center field, JoAnn figures making one out of two life goals isn’t bad.

Currently writing her Honeymoon Harbor series (set on Washington State’s Olympic peninsula) for HQN, JoAnn lives with her high school sweetheart, whom she married twice, in her beloved Pacific Northwest.


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Joint Review: Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter

Posted October 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Joint Review: Shadow and Ice by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Casee, Holly, Rowena
Shadow and Ice (Gods of War, #1) by Gena Showalter
Series: Gods of War #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 496
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Knox of Iviland, the most ruthless warrior in All War history, has spent his life fighting others to the death, winning new realms for his king. Now the stakes are higher than ever. If he prevails in the battle for Earth, his slave bands will be removed. Victory is his sole focus…until he meets her.

On an arctic getaway with her foster sister, street tough but vulnerable Vale London is shocked to stumble upon a cave filled with ancient gods waging epic combat. When she is inadvertently drawn into their war, she is forced to team up with an unlikely ally—the sexy god who makes her burn with desire.

Though Vale is his enemy, Knox is consumed with lust and a fierce need to protect her. But only one combatant can triumph, and he will have to choose: live for freedom, or die for love.

An evil Council made up of leaders from several warring planets finds new lands and stages an All War, wherein one chosen warrior from their homeland competes to win the new land for his or her ruler. Knox of Iviland has won 4 All Wars to date. His ruler has promised if he wins 5 his slave bands will be removed and he’ll be free. Knox is skeptical that his ruler will truly go through with removing the bands – when he’s wearing them he can’t refuse a direct order from his King – but he has to try so he can exact revenge for the loss of his greatest love.

Vale and her sister are on an Arctic Adventure when they stumble up on a cave filled with life-like statues frozen in ice. Fascinated, they started exploring until the ice unexpectedly melted and the statues came to life.

Casee: I hate to say it because I love Gena Showalter, but I was not a huge fan of this book. I had an extraordinarily hard time getting into it. It only took me a day and a half to read it, but I had to force myself to continue it. It was just a disappointment because I love GS and because this is the start to a new series.

What did you two think?

Holly: Like you, I had a really hard time getting into it. It took me almost 3 days to read. The pacing during the first half of the book was really slow. I liked the premise a lot. The prologue really drew me in. But the next 15 or so chapters were bogged down with a lot of nothing.

Rowena: I was really bored with this one. For too long, I was waiting for something to happen and because I could not connect with any of the characters, even when things started to happen, I was kind of over it and just reading it to finish. I think because it took over half of the book to pick up, and it took me about three days to get to the part where things got interesting, I was a lost cause.

Casee: I really liked the premise too. I found it to be very interesting. Then I realized that it was very similar to Kresley Cole’s Immortal After Dark series where immortals are fighting to the death. After that, I skimmed until something interesting started happening.

What did you think of the characters?

Holly: Vale drove me crazy. Right from the beginning she made all the questionable decisions and acted in a way I didn’t understand. As the book went on I thought she got better, but in the beginning I really struggled with her. I liked Knox a lot more. He was ruthless and cold, but I understood why he had to be that way. I’m curious about some of the secondary characters, but the majority of the book was focused on Vale and Knox, so I’m not as interested as I could have been, if that makes sense.

Rowena: This is the first book that I read by Showalter and at first Knox’s cold attitude turned me off but as the book continued, my feelings toward him changed. I liked the growth we saw in his character and my heart for what his life had become. For all that he lost.

Like Holly, Vale was annoying to me too. Oy.

Casee: I really liked Vale at first. It was after that thing happened that she really became almost unbearable to me.

I agree with Rowena about Knox’s cold attitude. It was hard to deal with. In my mind I kept comparing it to her Lords of the Underworld series and it just fell short. One character that interested me was Erik the Viking.

I feel bad that it was your first time reading Gena Showalter. If it was mine, I doubt I would try another one of her books.

Holly: I think she was unbearable right from the start. Well, from the second she found the ice cave anyway.

I didn’t read the Lords of the Underworld series, so I can’t speak to how it compares, but his attitude was hard to take in the beginning. I warmed up to him, though.

I’m mildly curious about Erik, but he seems like a villain rather than a good guy. I wish we’d gotten more information about the other warriors. The bits and pieces weren’t enough to make me excited for the rest of the series.

Casee: Bottom line, the book was boring af. I really don’t intend to read the rest of the series as it comes out but you know me.

Holly: Thinking about the book the past couple days, I am kind of interested in seeing what happens in the next book. I want to know what’s going on between Vale’s sister and the two other guys, and I want to know what’s going to happen with the All War. But I might let one of you read it first.

I’m giving this a 3 out of 5.

Casee: I forgot about her sister. That is a book that I would read.

I am giving it a 3 out of 5.

Rowena: I’m curious about her sister and why she ended up with the one guy and not the original guy that took her. But aside from that story, I’m just not moved to read anything else. shrugs

For me, this was a 2.5 out of 5. I did enjoy the second half of the book more than the first half and I did sympathize with Knox and want him to find a way to be free but outside of that, I thought the romance was lacking, the world was too gloom and doom without being tough, I just felt that all of those warriors were silly. I do enjoy these kinds of books but this one just missed me with a lot of stuff.

Final Grades

Casee: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5

Gods of War

three-stars


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Guest Review: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 11, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Mistletoe Miracles by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
Mistletoe Miracles (Ransom Canyon #7) by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #7
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing, A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found and family always brings you back home

Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it's a money pit. He'd sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch--just in time for Christmas.

Jaxon O'Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.

Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she's single, she's happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she's baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he's her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging and plenty of Christmas spirit.

Griffin Holloway is desperate to find a wife.  Not that he thinks he’s ready to get married but because he needs a rich wife to pay the mortgage on the ranch that has been in his family for 10 years. He goes to the two old ladies who run the local B & B for advice and they match him up with Sunlan Krown.  She’s the daughter of a rancher in Texas and very rich.  She agrees to marry Griff but with many stipulations.

Army Captain Wyatt Johnson is taking some time off between assignments.  His girlfriend (who he wasn’t really attached to) got engaged while he was away and his parents were living their own lives.  He just wants some place to call home to rest his weary body for a while.  When he collapses from lack of sleep the local ranger takes him to Mrs. Johnson’s house.  The ranger said that Mrs. Johnson had said that her husband wasn’t around much so him being in the Army would explain a lot.  They put Wyatt into Jamie’s house and leave him there.  Imagine Jamie’s surprise when she comes home after a weekend away with her drama students and finds a strange man in her place.

Jaxon is a man who is hurting on the inside.  He was also physically hurt two years earlier but now he’s just emotionally scarred.  He lives alone on a piece of land his family owns and likes the peace and solitude it provides.  He is out walking one day when he witnesses a car accident.  He runs to help but he’s pretty far away.  By the time he’s gotten there the woman who was driving is being loaded into an ambulance.  He starts to leave and hears a whimper.  It’s a dog and he takes it and nurses it back to health.  When he discovers that the dog belongs to the driver, and that she’s hiding from an abusive boyfriend, Jaxson volunteers to nurse her back to health as well, while hiding her from further danger.

Once again Jodi Thomas has given us a book with three stories that are all so good.  Each one would have made a great novella but adding them together, and alternating chapters made it that much better.  Two of the stories ended up being intertwined and that was a bonus as well.

I liked all three of these stories equally.  I like Thomas’s books because for the most part there isn’t a ton of angst and I appreciate that.  This book was like that and I really enjoyed reading it.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Ransom Canyon

three-half-stars


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Review: Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross

Posted October 2, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Herons Landing by JoAnn RossReviewer: Holly
Herons Landing (Honeymoon Harbor, #1) by JoAnn Ross
Series: Honeymoon Harbor #1
Also in this series: Snowfall on Lighthouse Lane (Honeymoon Harbor, #2)
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 496
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

There’s no place to fall in love like the place you left your heart

Welcome to Honeymoon Harbor, the brand-new, long-awaited series by beloved New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross, where unforgettable characters come face-to-face with the kind of love that grabs your heart and never lets go.

Working as a Las Vegas concierge, Brianna Mannion is an expert at making other people’s wishes come true. It’s satisfying work, but a visit home to scenic Honeymoon Harbor turns into a permanent stay when she’s reminded of everything she’s missing: the idyllic small-town charm; the old Victorian house she’d always coveted; and Seth Harper, her best friend’s widower and the neighborhood boy she once crushed on—hard. After years spent serving others, maybe Brianna’s finally ready to chase dreams of her own.

Since losing his wife, Seth has kept busy running the Harper family’s renovation business and flying way under the social radar. But when Brianna hires him to convert her aging dream home into a romantic B and B, working together presents a heart-stopping temptation Seth never saw coming. With guilt and grief his only companions for so long, he’ll have to step out of the past long enough to recognize the beautiful life Brianna and he could build together.

Herons Landing by JoAnn Ross is the first book in her Honeymoon Harbor series. I took a break from small-town contemps for a while, but Ross is a favorite and this new series appealed to me. I ended up really enjoying it, though the beginning was somewhat problematic for me.

Brianna grew up in Honeymoon Harbor in the Pacific Northwest. For years she’s been working her way up the ladder at high-end hotels as a concierge. Her current assignment in Las Vegas is a challenge, but when Herons Landing, an old Victorian in her hometown she’s always coveted, comes on the market, she realizes she hasn’t been happy in her work in a long time. An incident at work the same day pushes her to make some changes in her life so she can finally realize her dream of owning her own B&B. The only contractor she wants to work with just happens to be her former crush – and her best friend’s widower.

Seth married Zoe right out of high school. They’d been together since they were 13 years old. She was his best friend and his soul mate. Losing her really devastated him. While he’s able to function, go to work, even spend time with friends.. he’s drowning inside. When Bri comes back to town, he’s not in a good place to spend time with her. But the more they’re forced to work together, the more he heals. It isn’t long before he realizes Bri is just what he needs…but he’s determined to protect his heart from ever suffering that way again.

I really loved the town and citizens of Honeymoon Harbor. Bri’s family, their friends and the entire town really came to life. There were several times I cracked up at their antics, or got a little nostalgic for my own hometown. I also really loved Bri herself. She was feisty, level-headed and not afraid to go after what she wanted. She really made the whole book for me. From the beginning I just wanted to see where Bri was headed.

My heart hurt for Seth. Despite his wife being gone for over two years, he still hasn’t been able to process his grief and begin healing. His anger and guilt over surviving came across very well, and really touched me. Conversely, it also frustrated me in the beginning. The first 6 or so chapters were dedicated a lot to Zoe, which made me question how well the romance would work. Thankfully, 1) Bri and Seth talked about things like adults, and 2) once they started getting physical things turned in his mind and he wasn’t always thinking about Zoe or feeling guilty over it.

Overall this was a quick, fun read. I really enjoyed the town of Honeymoon Harbor and the romance.

3.5 out of 5

Honeymoon Harbor

three-half-stars


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