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Montana Match–overcoming family history

Montana Match

by Carol Ross

Fiona, the youngest of the Harrison sisters, is somewhat of a free spirit. She gets along with everyone, likes to move around, and excels at her jobs as a professional waitress. She also makes bad relationship choices due to her kind heartedness—a nice way of saying she dates losers. Fiona is convinced by Rudy Harrison, the man she always thought of as her dad, and Big E Blackwell, her biological grandfather, to come to Falcon Creek to change her ways by finding a “suitable” man and profession.

In the middle of online dating efforts, she meets Simon who is currently helping out his cousin Ned in his bar. Simon and Fiona both discover the advantages of being truthful to oneself and to others. A heartwarming book with a beautiful setting and characters you’ll want to meet, Montana Match has a plot with just the right amount of entanglements. Fiona wants so badly to do everything right from helping out at the ranch’s petting zoo to making Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that “pigs and eggnog,” even separately, can be problematic. Both Simon and Fiona love antiques and golf, but will that be enough to bring them together? Carol Ross has woven a wonderful tale that will leave you wanting more of The Blackwell Sisters.

I would like to extend my thanks to Carol Ross and to Harlequin Heartwarming for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Contemporary Romance

Notes: #4 in The Blackwell Sisters series. This is a clean and heartwarming romance. Plenty of background support is included by the author to make it enjoyable as a standalone, but I think you’ll find yourself wanting to read the others in the series of 5 books with the last to be published in December.

Publication:   November 1, 2020—Harlequin Heartwarming

Memorable Lines:

But the good memories were tightly bound with the painful ones. Like trying to untangle fine silk that’s been woven with razor wire, it was impossible to separate the two and come out unscathed.

Uncertainty swept through her with the force of an ocean wave, knocking her off balance and leaving her head swimming.

“A bit of trouble?” Luke repeated the words while his mouth curled slowly at the corners. “You could call it that. Be sort of like calling a hurricane a bit of a storm, though.” He chuckled and shook his head.

I Owe You One–the power of guilt

I Owe You One

by Sophie Kinsella

I Owe You OneI have read and enjoyed a number of books by Sophie Kinsella who is perhaps most famous for her Shopaholic series. Then I read one that just didn’t have the same zing and humor, so I entered I Owe You One with some trepidation. I am pleased to report that Kinsella’s latest book lives up to her standards and my expectations. At first I was a little concerned there would be too much predictability. The main character’s name is Fixie, derived from her penchant for fixing things ranging from the placement of objects to personal relationships. OCD is definitely in play as she struggles not to rearrange things or declare her every thought. As Fixie’s high school heartthrob reenters her life, the reader is watching a foreseeable train wreck: “No, Fixie, don’t do it!”

The plot leaves the anticipated pathway soon after with lots of surprises in store. It does not focus solely on Fixie’s love life. Fixie also struggles with family relationships which are closely tied with the family business. You will like Fixie if for no other reason than she tries so hard in everything she does. She feels like a failure, is loaded with unwarranted guilt, and carries the torch for making everything turn out right and keeping everyone happy—a big burden for one person.

There are many other interesting major and minor characters you will meet, but not all of them are likable, of course. The setting is West London where the denizens range from scruffy to posh. The book flows nicely with lots of humor and is a fast and enjoyable read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Dial Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Publication:   February 19, 2019—Dial Press

Memorable Lines:

When I think how I believed his version of everything, how I rationalized everything he said and did, I feel warm with stupidity. But he was so convincing.

Ryan’s pathological, I’ve realized. He says anything to anyone to get out of whatever situation he’s in. Truth doesn’t count, integrity doesn’t count, love doesn’t even figure. Yelling at him would be like yelling at a rock. It’s never going to change.

I learned that failing doesn’t mean you are a failure; it just means you’re a human being.

A Toast to Murder–mystery set in a bar

A Toast to Murder

by Allyson K. Abbott

A Toast to MurderThere are suspects galore. The wannabe detective actually gets unwanted official recognition. The setting is interesting—a bar whose owner caters to the Capone Club, an informal crime solving group, by providing a room in the bar for their gatherings. There is a lot to like about this book.

You know what’s coming up next…a medium sized “but.” Yes, I liked the book, but it was not an “I just can’t put this down” mystery despite the fact that lives were hanging in the balance. This is not a case of book bashing because a serial book does not work well as a standalone: A Toast to Murder can stand on its own. The author actually does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed, but it is a constant process and becomes slightly intrusive. Because this mystery seems to occur over several books, it just doesn’t have a comfortable cohesiveness. Another problem I have with the book is that many of the suspects are not fleshed out enough for the reader to invest interest in the probability of their being the criminal. There are two love interests for bar owner Mack, but I had a hard time caring about her relationship with either of them. Perhaps that would be different if I had read previous books in the series.

On the positive side, the main character, Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton, has an interesting neurological disorder called synesthesia. In Mack’s words, “It causes one’s senses to get mixed up or cross-wired so that any sense I experience—smell, for instance—is manifested through a second sense at the same time. For instance, I not only hear people’s voices, I often taste them.” Although this disorder can be stressful for Mack, she has learned to use it to her advantage in solving crimes. The author deserves kudos for her creativity in constructing a plot that would focus on Mack’s skills in this area.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #5 in Mack’s Bar Mystery Series

  2. Bonus section with mixed drink recipes

Publication:   July 25, 2017—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

They hung around for an hour or two, chatting about the letter writer, speculating about motive, comparing whoever was behind it to Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis, Professor Moriarty. By inference, it meant they were comparing me to Sherlock Holmes, and I had to admit that I found the analogy a little flattering.

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