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A Stranger’s Game–from the boardroom to a boardgame

A Stranger’s Game

by Colleen Coble

Torie Berg introduces herself at Jekyll Island Club Resort as their new IT specialist. In reality, as the daughter of the owner of a huge resort chain, she spent her early childhood there. After eighteen years she has returned to find out what happened to her best friend Lisbeth who recently died while tracking down leads on Torie’s mother’s death.

Someone recognizes Torie and wants her to abandon her investigation. Who knows how far this creepy person will go in intimidating her and what their motive might be. Is it personal or does it have anything to do with the war games the Navy is conducting? Is Torie getting too close to the truth or does this involve the many important visitors the hotel is expecting for a major financial meeting?

Joe Abbott trains dolphins to intercept saboteurs and lives at the resort with his eight year old daughter Hailey in exchange for providing security. He is caught up in issues with the Navy when Simon, a dolphin he is training, catches a diver planting a bomb. As Torie’s neighbor on Jekyll Island, Joe becomes involved in protecting her from a mysterious stalker. He has not been interested in dating in the three years since his wife died, but he is attracted to Torie and she is drawn to his daughter Hailey as they share a sense of loss that both experienced in losing their mothers as children.

A Stranger’s Game is a fast-paced mystery that includes some psychological creepiness and suspense, but not enough for me to classify it as a thriller. It has a touch of clean romance, but the emphasis is on the plot. The Jekyll Island Club Resort setting is critical to the story. The characters are allowed to develop as the story progresses. The novel contains adventure and three major plot lines along with cross threads that give the book both color and cohesion. I did not guess the identity of the criminals behind the detailed plotting of various crimes or those who executed the plans. Well done! Colleen Coble has created a standalone that will send you looking for more of her books.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, Christian Fiction, Romantic Suspense

Notes: Standalone

Publication: January 4, 2022—Thomas Nelson Fiction

Memorable Lines:

“It’s hard to understand even for adults. But evil things happen to all of us, honey. Hard things, bad things. We don’t understand and a lot of the time, we can’t understand because we aren’t God. When those times come—and they come to everyone—all we can do is trust that God loves us.”

“By its very nature, life involves loss. If we stop taking chances, stop living our lives, we might as well crawl in the grave and let someone kick the dirt over us. Real life is worth the risk.”

The reserve she’d donned all her life had made ruts through her soul, tracks she followed like a mule plodding a well-worn trail.

Pianos and Flowers–stories birthed from photos

Pianos and Flowers

by Alexander McCall Smith

It is not uncommon for teachers to present students with a photograph and ask them to write about it. The result is usually nonfiction and descriptive of what is seen in the picture. The Sunday Times asked Alexander McCall Smith, the Scottish writer famous for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series set in Botswana, to select photographs from their archives of everyday people in everyday settings. He then created short stories, one for each picture, which fictionalized what was happening to the people in the picture as well as their background. The result is a collection of unrelated stories that bring these people to life. Naturally some appealed to me more than others. “Sphinx” is a gentle romance set in the 1930’s. “Pianos and Flowers” is about Brits working and living in China and how it affected their families. “Architect” had interesting observations about family relationships and culminated in a surprise ending. “Urchins” contained sad stories about the plight of the pictured street urchins and what the future held for them. I smile as I recall “St. John’s Wort,” the story of a retired man who was worried about everything. A friend of the wife gave her some timely advice. As you can see, each story in Pianos and Flowers is unique. There was only one story of the fourteen that I actually noted as not liking.

I read these at the rate of one or two stories a night at bedtime. They were a nice way to end the day on a calm and gentle note.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Knopf Doubleday (Pantheon) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Short Stories

Publication: January 19, 2021— Knopf Doubleday (Pantheon)

Notes: The subtitle is Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind, but I found that to be a misnomer. The stories are fictionalized snippets of life so there is some romance, but not very much.

Memorable Lines:

Parents are inexplicably embarrassing to sixteen-year-olds—they always have been.

We belittle the things we secretly want ourselves.

“A metaphor must be strange—it must make us sit up and take notice in a way in which a literal expression does not.”

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder–Sam and “the girls” invade Britain

A Tourist’s Guide to Murder

by V.M. Burns

Samantha Washington (Sam) is the owner of a mystery bookshop in North Harbor and has just landed a three book deal with a publishing house. She will spend the next week in England doing research for the British historic cozy mystery she is writing. She is slated for a mystery tour accompanied by her Nana Jo and Nana’s three best friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village. Of the four senior citizens, not a one meets the stereotype of frail, little old ladies. They have a reputation for helping Sam solve mysteries that come her way through interviews, eavesdropping, feminine wiles, deduction, and the occasional use of martial arts as two of them have blackbelts. They keep the plot moving and the reader laughing.

There are complications just in reaching London with jet lag and no luggage, but that’s only the beginning of their troubles. The owner of the tour company is murdered, but the police, oddly, are not investigating. Unfortunately, there is another murder, and one of the assigned detectives is “as bright as a burned-out light bulb” and “a few sandwiches short of a picnic.” It’s time for Sam, Nana Jo, and “the girls” to join forces to discover the truth.

In order to free up her conscious mind when stymied in her investigations, Sam spends time when she can’t sleep or between tour stops writing her own mystery. Although the book she is writing takes place in 1939, Sam is able to use elements in the murders she is currently investigating and apply the principles to her own mystery with great success. When the flow of the contemporary mystery was first interrupted with this secondary story, I was a little miffed because I wanted the action to continue in the primary story. By the time I reached the next transition to 1939, however, I was anxious to read about the progress made in Sam’s own whodunit. The character Sam’s writing seems a little stilted at first, compared to the rest of the book, but that is perhaps due to the titles of “Lord” and “Lady” still being used along with formalities involved with a household of servants and adherence to etiquette rules. It is quite a contrast to our contemporary society.

I enjoyed Sam’s eagerness in visiting The Grand Hotel in Torquay where Agatha Christie honeymooned in 1914 and the Torquay Museum that displays the famous author’s memorabilia and items from movies based on her books. Next they went to Greenway, Christie’s home in Devon where she wrote many of her books. Sam “fangirled” on the tour of the house taking many pictures and drooling over first editions. Because of the two murders, the itinerary for the trip had to be revised several times, but most of the highlights are still included, and the group is able to visit several places that were alleged to be the settings or inspiration of mysteries by authors like Dorothy L. Sayers and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

If you like cozy mysteries, you can’t get any more “bookish” than V.M. Burns’ A Tourist’s Guide to Murder. It has two plots within the same book, a tour of significant literary locations, a writer-sleuth, and a mystery bookstore. It’s not heaven, but it’s pretty close. The tour intentionally lays on some misdirection, and there are red herrings in both plots to keep you guessing. The retirement home group is anything but retiring: they bring to minds phrases like “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and “herding cats.” I want to read more from this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #6 in the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. This was my first book in this series and I had no problem reading it as a standalone.
2. There are many reasons to read this book, but one of them should not be the two cute toy poodles on the cover. They belong to Sam, but she doesn’t take them with her to England, so they are only briefly mentioned in the book.

Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Lady Clara’s cheeks flamed and her eyes flashed. After a split second, she gave the captain a smile and then stomped down hard on his foot. “Oooph.” Captain Jessup bent over in pain. “Dear me, was that your foot?” Lady Clara said in a voice that oozed sweetness.

Nana Jo glanced at Hannah. “I don’t know about your national health care system, but in the United States, the pharmaceutical companies are running the whole country, and they’ve got a pill for everything.”

“Let’s face it, Stinky Pitt couldn’t find a killer who was standing naked in the middle of the street with a neon sign over his head.” Nana Jo and the girls nodded. Hannah looked confused. “Stinky Pitt?” Ruby Mae looks up from her knitting. “He’s the local detective in North Harbor, Michigan.” “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer?” “I’ve got sharper spoons.”

The Magician’s Nephew–another C.S. Lewis masterpiece

The Magician’s Nephew

by C.S. Lewis

I entered The Magician’s Nephew not really knowing what to expect. It was written by C.S. Lewis the year prior to the publication of the last book in the series, The Last Battle, which I have not read yet. At the suggestion of a member of our book club who was actually rereading the series, we inserted The Magician’s Nephew immediately before The Last Battle—not because it belongs there chronologically, but because it could perhaps be appreciated better at that point in our reading. I don’t think you could go wrong with any sequence of these books! C.S. Lewis intended it to be read first in his Chronicles of Narnia, but by the time it was first published, many of his readers would have already greedily devoured the first five books. It is indeed a prequel to the delightful The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, but for those who have already read that first classic tale, you will enjoy the “ah ha” moments that arise as Lewis gives you a backstory that renders both subtle and obvious connections. It never has the feel of a book written at the instigation of a publisher who just wants to squeeze more out of a popular series. It seems that it is Lewis’ desire to bring the pictures he has painted in his novels together with cohesion and forward looking vision.

In The Magician’s Nephew, a story which begins in London, you will learn of the creation of the world Narnia, meet Aslan the Lion, and witness the awakening of the Witch. There are many connections to the creation of Earth and its population as found in the Bible; but of course it is Narnia and in this fictional realm we learn how the animals came to talk and see the never changing character of Aslan who reigns with power and love, who grieves for the things that grieve us, and gives us hope during times of devastation.

This book has sad and fearful moments as well as happy and triumphant ones. The humor as the animals plant and water Uncle Andrew in hopes that the poor “plant” will revive is more refreshing to the reader than to Uncle Andrew! The pure evil of Jadis the Witch is the stuff of ancient fairy tales as is the conflict of good and evil. The characters are ones you can feel strongly about. The setting, as always with C.S. Lewis, is so vividly and well described that you can visualize both the “real” world of London and fictional worlds to which the children (main characters Digory and Polly) can transport themselves. As to plot, it constantly throws in surprises, but events are always connected. It becomes a quick read, not because it is short or light reading, but because it is so much fun to read. As with all the books in the series, it can be read as a child enjoys fiction or as an adult looking for deeper meaning. I suggest you read it both ways at once. Come to the story for entertainment and leave with the enrichment of a well-told tale imbued with rich symbolism.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Fiction, Christian

Notes: #1 in The Chronicles of Narnia series, but can be read at any time in the reading of the series. Warning: If this book is your first experience with this series, you will probably want to read more!
This series is often listed as Children’s Fiction, but is really appropriate for all ages with adults reading it on a different level from children. It is perfect for a read-aloud.

Publication: 1955—Harper Collins

Memorable Lines:

For what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.

She has won her heart’s desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want; they do not always like it.

For the rest of that day, whenever he looked at the things about him, and saw how ordinary and unmagical they were, he hardly dared to hope; but when he remembered the face of Aslan he did hope.

Murder in a Teacup–who had the opportunity to murder?

Murder in a Teacup

by Vicki Delany

The Locality: Cape Cod Bay in North Augusta, Massachusetts
The Setting: Victoria-on-Sea, a B&B owned by the elderly Rose Campbell
Tea by the Sea, a tearoom on the B&B property operated by Rose’s granddaughter Lily Roberts
Friends: Bernie, AKA the Princess Warrior, a frustrated writer
Simon McCracken, horticulturalist from England hired as a temporary gardener
Pets: Rose’s cat Robbie
Lily’s Labradoodle, Éclair

Vicki Delany’s Murder in a Teacup centers around a family reunion with events at both businesses. The organizer is Heather, a very wealthy, young, New York widow who is paying all expenses for the trip for her grandmother and her estranged, greedy family—her father, mother, brother and his wife and their two teenagers—all from Idaho. Also included in the fun are Heather’s brother-in-law and his wife. No one seems to know that the other side of the family is invited. If you look up “dysfunctional” in the dictionary, you will probably find this family listed as an example.

There is a death that is possibly attributable to something served at one of the establishments. That is bad news for both businesses when the police shut down the tearoom. Not only are cancellations necessary, but social media is going to have a field day. Lily cooks for both facilities. Rose and Lily desperately need to be open as they depend on summer tourist income to get them through the winter. The further complication is that the murderer must still be at the B&B and is probably part of the family.

I kept changing my mind as to who the murderer is: an easy thing to do with so many unlikable characters. Pulling together possible motives is easier than pinpointing opportunity once the method of murder is discovered. The identity reveal comes as a shock to the characters and to the reader.

There are subplots that add interest. Lily’s life has an intense pace as she puts in 12-14 hour days seven days a week struggling to make both businesses succeed. Bernie gave up her Manhattan job as a forensic accountant to become a writer but is having trouble settling into her new profession. There are the barest beginnings of a romance for both young ladies. The pets are ever-present but don’t participate much in the action. I enjoyed watching the conflict between the two detectives on the case play out. One is lazy and fumbling. His counterpart is sharp and cares. Both are limited in what information they can share with Lily and the others making it more difficult for Lily, Rose, and Bernie in their informal investigations, but they persist anyway.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #2 in the Tea by the Sea Mystery Series, but is excellent as a standalone as the author provides all needed background information while diving into the current story.
2. Recipes at the end of the book include Chocolate Chip Cookies for children’s tea, Shortbread Cookies, and Curried Egg Salad Sandwiches.

Publication: July 21, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

Plump orange and raisin scones in the middle, perfectly cut sandwiches on the bottom, delicious sweets on the top: a carefully controlled explosion of color, shape, and flavor.

Matt was a true-crime writer, successful enough to have been able to buy his family property when his father wanted to sell it, but not successful enough to be able to pay for all the renovations it needed.

“Stay!” Her ears dropped, her face crumbled, her tail drooped. Slowly, ever so slowly, she crawled under the table and sat down. She let out a mighty sigh and stared at me through enormous liquid brown eyes. “Drama queen,” I said as I bent over and reached under the table to give her an affectionate pat.

Death by the Finish Line–bikers can be nice guys

Death by the Finish Line

by Alexis Morgan

Abby has an unlikely partner, Gil, as she chairs the committee that is organizing Snowberry Creek’s Founder’s Day charity run. Gil is a die-hard biker who runs a motorcycle maintenance shop with his brother Gary. Gil, a veteran, has a rough exterior, but Abby discovers in him excellent organizational skills developed during his time in the military and a surprisingly soft side.

Abby and Gil plan the run down to the last detail and recruit a group of capable volunteers. What they didn’t count on was a murder along the way and charges filed against Gary. This is not the first murder Abby is too close to since she moved to Snowberry Creek. With urgings from her boyfriend Tripp and the police chief Gage, Abby tries hard to stay out of the investigation, but Gary needs help and clues keep coming her way.

The plot of Death by the Finish Line is complex with lots of complications. Abby is a likable main character. She and Tripp are trying to work out just what their relationship is and if the “L” word should be a part of it. The romance, however, is only a sideline and does not cloud the mystery aspects. Abby’s lovable mastiff mix Zeke plays a big role in the story and in Abby’s life.

For most of the book, it would be hard to predict who the criminal is, but as the plot churns quickly towards a denouement, the reader becomes aware of the perpetrator, but not the motive. Abby is somewhat naive as she focuses on helping people, and the reader will surely be screaming “No, Abby, don’t do it! Watch out.” Finally beginning to sense danger, Abby makes a smart move as the plot reaches its climax. In the aftermath, Abby is surprised with a personal, non-romantic, decision that will leave you smiling. For the cozy mystery reader, Death at the Finish Line is another satisfying trip to Snowberry Creek where life should be slow-paced and uneventful, but rarely is.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: # 5 in the Abby McCree Mystery Series, but can be read as a standalone.

Publication: December 28, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“The mayor’s assistant is a lovely woman, so warm and friendly. At the same time, she has an absolutely terrifying ability to convince someone that they want nothing more in life than to help organize a charity run.”

She’d barely been able to dress herself at this hour, but Tripp was clean shaven, his dark hair neatly combed, and his dark eyes sparkled with good humor. He looked irritatingly chirpy, but then he was a morning person. Lucky for him, he had other redeeming characteristics to make up for that one serious shortcoming.

Tripp insisted that Zeke’s loyalty could be bought with two treats and a pat on the head, but that wasn’t always true. While there weren’t many people the big dog didn’t like, the few exceptions had all turned out to be bad news.

Death by Intermission–cozy mystery with a mastiff mix

Death by Intermission

by Alexis Morgan

I had been looking forward to reading another book in the Abby McCree Mystery Series and was not disappointed in Alexis Morgan’s Death by Intermission. Abby, a relative newcomer to Snowberry Creek, already has a reputation as a “murder magnet.” She doesn’t go looking for trouble when she and her tenant/boyfriend Tripp attend the local movie-in-the-park event, but she discovers more than trash during the clean up session after the movie.

There are new interesting characters involved in the excitement in this plot. Abby’s mother, Phoebe, is staying with her for an extended visit, and the two clash in ways they never had before as they find a need to establish boundaries with each other. After all, when is flashing the porch light on a couple saying goodnight appropriate when everyone involved is an adult over age thirty?

Owen is another newcomer to town. He has opened a barbecue restaurant. Owen is dating Phoebe, and she explodes in his defense when Gage, the local police chief, holds him for suspicion of murder. A knife from his restaurant was the murder weapon.

We are also introduced to Jada, a college student working for Owen. Jada finds herself in the middle of the murder investigation. Has she lied to the police? Why is her godfather taking a sudden interest in her? Why was she fired from her former job at the insurance agency that had been managed by her father, and why did the new agent refuse to give her father’s personal possessions to her?

I must mention Abby’s mastiff mix Zeke. Weighing in at almost one hundred pounds, he is her companion and protector, and he is a good judge of character. He adds much fun and interest to the book.

There are so many tangled threads in this plot. Abby, Phoebe, and Jada find themselves in physical danger, and Tripp, Owen, and Gage, who share a common military background, are called upon to defend them. The complications don’t unravel themselves; it takes action from the group to discover and overwhelm the criminal.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #4 in the Abby McCree Mystery Series, but excellent as a standalone.

Publication: January 26, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“So bottom line, you’re willing to put up with two testy women and a slobbery dog because you’re hungry and haven’t made it to the store recently.” “Pretty much.”

“Come on, everyone, let’s head inside.” With his uncanny sense of who needed him the most, Zeke remained right by Jada’s side all the way into the kitchen and then parked himself right at her feet with his big head taking up most of her lap.

On the surface, it seemed simple. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

A Portrait of Emily Price–forgiveness

A Portrait of Emily Price

by Katherine Reay

There is depth to Katherine Reay’s A Portrait of Emily Price. A story of painful pasts, the approaching death of a patriarch, and the love of family, it is a novel that draws the reader in with characters who seem straight forward at first, but are actually struggling to find their ways through life. It is the tale of people who, like all of us, have events in their pasts that affect their relationships and their futures.

Emily Price is a restorer and an artist. She has a talent for fixing thing. Ben is a handsome Italian chef who comes to Atlanta to reconnect with his brother Joseph after 18 years of separation, but quickly falls in love with Emily. In Italy she finds herself in a situation where she is unwanted; no matter what she does, she ruffles feathers.

Ben’s family has experienced great trauma, but no one is willing to bring the source out in the open so the distance between Joseph and his mother grows and their hearts harden. The author only gradually reveals the core of the difficulties as Emily confronts them. The tale is spun organically at just the right speed. We learn about Emily’s family’s troubles and Ben’s family’s problems as part of the pair’s character development and in such a way that, like Emily, we want to be able to fix them.

Life is not always easy and hurts do not always go away quickly. Giving and accepting forgiveness can be difficult. In the process of negotiating problems and overcoming pain, we learn more about ourselves and others. We grow through those trials. This book records a portion of the journey Emily experiences as she becomes part of a noisy, messy, Italian family.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to HarperCollins Christian Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: Ends with questions for discussion or thought.

Publication: November 1, 2016—HarperCollins Christian Publishers

Memorable Lines:

It almost made me wonder if I’d gotten it all wrong. Perhaps fixing things wasn’t about the end product—it was, oftentimes, about the process.

Home. That word again. In my life, it had always been transient, replaceable with each stepfather or with Mom’s next job. But there was nothing transient about this place. Lucio had said eight generations. This was the dream—stones warmed from above and roots that gripped deep below.

…while I might not know much about his family, I understood pressure, fear, the need to fix things, and the black hole that opened within you when you realized nothing could fix all that was broken.

Killer Comfort Food–family you choose

Killer Comfort Food

by Lynn Cahoon

There are lots of threads in Lynn Cahoon’s Killer Comfort Food. Angie Turner is a chef who owns the County Seat restaurant in River Vista along with her friend Felicia, a pastry chef who also excels in front end management of the restaurant. Angie’s initial problem is that a developer wants to buy her beloved home for a soybean plant. Complications arise as Barb, owner of the Red Eye bar, needs her help in finding her missing daughter Susan from whom she is also estranged. Susan had every reason to not just disappear, but an argument with her husband causes suspicions to lie heavily on his shoulders.

There are many other threads in this complex plot, but through them all are two shining themes. Frequently in her books, Cahoon stresses the importance of family, especially the kind of family created by people who have bonded together as a work unit or as a community. She also mentions family heritage a lot in this book, including recipes, relationships, the land worked by a family, and the memories forged there. The other theme is generosity as Angie and her friends go out of their way to support each other and extend that same kindness to people they don’t know.

Lynn Cahoon is one of my go-to authors for cozy mysteries You can even start one of her series in progress as she excels at providing background information. I recommend both this book and this series.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #5 in the Farm-to-Fork Mystery Series, but great as a standalone.
2. Cahoon reached back through the memories of her childhood and included the recipe for Quick Cookies, a cookie that requires a few minutes on the stovetop, but no baking.

Publication: January 5, 2021—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“No worrying. Not yet. Save your worry for tomorrow.”

“Hate’s a strong word. I just want Todd sent to live on the surface of the sun so I don’t have to think about him ever again.”

…she was surrounded by people who cooked when they were nervous and who also knew that food made everything just a little more bearable.

Dream a Little Dream–humorous, clean romance

Dream a Little Dream

by Melinda Curtis

After some mysteries and nonfiction, I knew needed to cleanse my reading palate and what better way to do it than with a light, clean, humorous romance by Melinda Curtis. It was a no-brainer to take a trip to Sunshine Valley where the board of the Widows Club is ready to decide on the couple they thought should be romantically linked and provide what they called “nudges.” The diverse group of friends are known for their meddling, and their antics and dialogue are the fun part of Dream a Little Dream.

Romance comes in the form of three-time world champion bull rider Jason whose friendship with Darcy goes way back and developed years ago into a romance. Darcy’s family has a history of falling on the wrong side of the law, but Darcy’s goal is to become a lawyer and leave her family’s reputation behind her as she moves out of town. Her long-time mentor Judge George Harper has other plans for Darcy, but when he dies, he leaves a mess of personal and professional issues for Darcy and his family to sort out. Meanwhile, Jason has been recuperating from a rodeo calamity and wants to restore his relationship with Darcy.

There are problems on all sides. Darcy doesn’t think she is capable of jumping into a judgeship and isn’t sure she can trust Jason. Jason needs to make decisions about what he really wants in the future and what his body can withstand. Both have loyal friends and some opposers in the town. Jason’s final effort to win Darcy comes down to the Widows Club Bachelor Auction for charity. I’m sure you can guess the outcome, but I enjoyed the journey. It was a fun and relaxing read, and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Sunshine Valley.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Romance

Notes: #3 in the Sunshine Valley Series, but is great as a standalone.

Publication: February 23, 2021—Forever (Grand Central Publishing)

Memorable Lines:

Pearl’s voice shook the way a person’s did when they were holding all the smashed inside parts together. It felt like Pearl was one tear shy of a complete collapse.

Darcy smiled at her stepsons. She smiled the way generations of Joneses had when threatened—like she held a royal flush. No one need know it was more like a pair of twos.

“Does he sit at home and watch sports? Don’t laugh. He’s a grown man. It’s not like he goes to bed right after dinner. And he’s too cranky to be bingeing movies every night on the Hallmark Channel.”

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