Review: A May Bride by Meg Moseley

She’s prepared for her wedding all her life.…but she forgot a few things.

 Ellie Martin, a country girl in Atlanta, has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life; a wedding like the one her younger sister is planning back in their hometown. Their single mom will pay for Alexa’s wedding, but Ellie started her own wedding fund years ago. She only needs to find a groom.

She bumps into a man who’s a guest at a wedding on the church grounds and they embark on a whirlwind romance, but her mother doesn’t trust freewheeling men like him. Standing up to Mom leads Ellie to stick up for Alexa too. When Ellie risks her own plans for her sister’s sake, Gray feels betrayed. Will he always play second fiddle?

 Will Ellie and Gray reconcile their differences so her dream wedding can come true, or will the romance they’ve begun come crashing down?May Bride

 There were many elements of this novella that I liked: Ellie and Gray are both warm and likeable, yet both have their flaws which I felt made the whole story both more realistic. Their romance seems unnaturally hasty, with Ellie obsessing about wedding details with a mildly alarming rapidity. The whirlwind nature of their romance is counterbalanced neatly by handing the couples a few hurdles to overcome which prevented the plot from becoming too mundane and predictable.

 Ellie’s mother had a shotgun wedding with a smooth-talking city boy who later left her to raise 2 children single-handedly, and as a result she has become an extremely bitter woman who is both controlling and judgemental, projecting her own issues onto her children. Her (highly unpleasant!) character seemed contradictory to the Christian values pervading the story, but she and the issues from which Ellie subsequently suffers added necessary depth to the novella. Ellie’s inability to stand up for herself and cut the apron strings, and Gray’s sulky response to her behaviour were somewhat irritating and did make it a little more difficult to root for the couple, but overall the story is a pleasant rainy day read.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an eARC by NetGalley but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: An April Bride – Lenora Worth

War changes everything . . . even their love.

Bride-to-be Stella Carson can’t wait to marry her childhood sweetheart Marshall Henderson. But Marshall has been away serving his country and after suffering a head wound and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, he has distanced himself from Stella by asking her not to visit him in a Washington, D.C. hospital.

Marshall returns to Louisiana just four weeks before the wedding, but as the big day draws near, Stella wonders if the man she’s loved for most of her life still wants to marry her.april bride

For the first time since beginning to review books on Goodreads and my blog, I’ve hit upon a novella that I really can’t make up my mind about! The subject matter cannot help but tug at the heartstrings, and whilst this is primarily a romance, it does turn one’s thoughts to the devastating effect of war and PTSD, not only on our fighting forces, but their nearest and dearest, and in some cases even the community as a whole.

Whilst my heart went out to Marshall as he struggled with memory issues, his actions seemed wholly unnatural (even given his PTSD). Stella’s behaviour seemed even more incomprehensible: The wedding seems far more important to her than her fiancé’s health and she came across as selfish and self-involved which meant I really couldn’t get invested in her plight.

The story is exceptionally religious, with all characters understandably relying heavily on their faith throughout, but this was repetitive to the point of tedium, and the dialogue seemed stilted at times. The point of view switches from Stella’s to Marshall’s, and whilst in most novels I find it jarring, in this case it was well done, and definitely added to the story.

For the first ¾ of the novella I was quite disenchanted with it, however at the eleventh hour it did come to life and I was happy with the ending.

 Disclaimer: I was provided with an ecopy of An April Bride by NetGalley for the purposes of this review, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.

Posted in General | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: Dancing with Fireflies by Denise Hunter

Jade always felt out of place growing up in Chapel Springs, and when she left nursing a broken heart, she didn’t plan on giving the place a backward glance.  Now, pregnant, broke and alone, she has no choice but to return.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the Mayor, Daniel Dawson, who she’d always viewed more as a big brother.  Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

Dancing with FirefliesI reviewed Denise Hunter’s  A December Bride (A Year of Weddings Novella) and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I jumped at the chance to get my paws on an ARC of Dancing with Fireflies (A Chapel Springs Romance), her latest novel which is published today.  A prologue has the story diving straight into the action, recounting a particularly traumatic event in Jade’s past.  The event is somewhat glossed over, which felt a little strange.  It is such a major event, that it didn’t seem right for it to be skated over quite so quickly.  That being said, as it is a distressing event, I didn’t particularly want it drawn out in full detail either, so, odd though it felt, perhaps it was the correct decision.  This same event is touched upon at a few later points in the novel, but almost in passing, with more focus given to a different tragedy in Jade’s past.  Given that both events changed her life quite dramatically, this just didn’t seem natural.

After the tumultuous beginning in the prologue, the story felt quite slow-paced, and I was a good 1/3 of the way through before I felt drawn into the story.  Dancing with Fireflies is the second in the Chapel Springs romance series, and whilst I have not read the first, some of the same characters were present in A December Bride, and it was pleasant to be amongst familiar characters.  I had one or two niggly problems with the formatting: when text messages were related, it was not very clear who had sent which, although this may be due to having an advance copy.

I didn’t quite warm to the characters as much as I have previously with this author, but this is made up for by the strong morals behind the story: dealing with pressure within the family, strength in the face of trauma, being true to oneself, faith, and reaping the consequences of other’s sins.  On the whole, I liked the novel and it is a good choice for a reading group, and includes a list of questions for a group to consider at the end of the novel.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an eARC by NetGalley, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: A March Bride by Rachel Hauck

Susanna has found her very literal Prince Charming, and in just three weeks she will join royalty as she marries King Nathaniel II of Brighton Kingdom.  Having been jilted in the past, she’s wary of Nathaniel changing his mind when suddenly he drops a different kind of bombshell: the government have insisted that she renounce her American citizenship before they can marry.  When Susanna flees home to America for some soul-searching, neither she nor Nathaniel is sure whether the wedding will even take place.

March BrideA March Bride (A Year of Weddings Novella)is the third instalment in a year’s worth of novellas from twelve different romance authors, and I’m sorry to say it is also the first that I didn’t enjoy.  At the outset it was somewhat confusing as to where and when the story was set.  It explains later in the story that Brighton is an island in Europe, but mentions of the British Royal family and the fact that Brighton is actually a town in the UK made the initial chapters confusing.

Faith is at the heart of the novella, but so much so that it not only overpowered the romance, but left me feeling like I was being preached at from a pulpit.  Nathaniel is an incorrigible romantic, but lacked a certain je ne sais quoi that made him wholly winning as the male lead.  When Nathaniel drops the bombshell there is lengthy dialogue, and perhaps a more indepth insight into how the two characters were feeling during that scene would help the reader warm to them more.  The story itself is incredibly romantic, but not for you unless you’re comfortable with heavy Christian overtones.

 Disclaimer: I was provided with an ecopy of A March Bride by NetGalley for the purposes of this review, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Power

I have a confession: I actually wanted to read ABCs of Yoga for Kids for myself!  I have always fancied trying yoga, but had fought shy of it on account of chronic knee problems in the past.  I thought this book would be simply explained for those who’ve not experienced yoga before, quite fun, and fairly gentle on my poor joints.  I was right on all counts!

ABCs

This book is delightful.  There are 56 different poses in total, at least one for each letter of the alphabet, and the description of each is in a rhyming poetry form which is really quite charming for children.  Additionally there is a lovely pastel coloured illustration to accompany nearly every pose which made it extremely easy to understand and perform each one.  I worked my way through the entire book, which took a little while, so parents would want to break this down into smaller sessions, which would also have the advantage of giving more variety and interest.  I found the process quite calming, and felt it would be excellent for slightly over-excited children, for increasing a child’s awareness of their own body, and particularly for sporty children or young dancers.

ABCs2Illustration of the Butterfly Pose

If I had one criticism it would be that the formatting could have been improved slightly as the illustration of a pose was frequently not on the same page as the description, necessitating some flicking back and forth.  This may be better in a hard copy rather than an eBook read on an ipad however.  I did also wish that a little more advice/detail were given on how to control one’s breathing during a pose, as it does mention that this should be done, but does not give anymore detail than that.  A delightful introduction to yoga, and perhaps a nice teaching aid in the classroom.

Disclaimer: I was provided with an eARC of the ABCs of Yoga for Kids by NetGalley, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: What the Bride Didn’t Know by Kelly Hunter

Special ops expert Trig Sinclair knows the rules of the bro code: no matter how dynamite Lena West is, as his best friend’s younger sister, she’s strictly off-limits.  That’s been made perfectly clear.  When a secret trip to Istanbul sees Lena and Trig pretending to be married and sharing a bed, Trig finds himself in a whole new world of sweet torture.  If Trig thinks playing the honour-bound hero is tough, it’s got nothing on how Lena feels when she discovers the secret her “groom” is hiding…

What the Bride didn't know

I was very excited by the synopsis of What the Bride Didn’t Know, as it promised key ingredients that I thoroughly enjoy: romance, intrigue, and secret agents…what’s not to like?  In actual fact the secret agent angle is pretty much relegated to the background which, surprisingly, didn’t disappoint me in the least because the plot and characters were so engrossing even without it.

Novellas sometimes struggle to develop character sufficiently and that is definitely not the case here.  Lena is a fantastic female lead.  She has some deep-rooted insecurities, yet is feisty and independent with incredible spirit, and is written with great credibility.  It’s almost impossible not to fall for Trig:  strong, loving, romantic, with a resolute moral code, he is the perfect hero without detracting from Lena’s strength of character.  The depiction of Trig’s tortured emotions throughout had me turning pages until I’d finished the novella in one sitting.  I was engrossed from start to finish, and I will definitely be looking out for more of this author’s work.

 Disclaimer: I was supplied with an ecopy of What the Bride didn’t know by NetGalley, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Review: A February Bride by Betsy St Amant

With her wedding mere minutes away, Allie should be thinking about the future.  Instead she’s stuck in the past, rueing the inheritance of her family: the wedding dress she’s wearing has been handed down by generations of women…who’ve all jilted their grooms at the altar.  Her mother, grandmother and even great grandmother before her have all been serial brides, moving from one groom to the other, and leaving a trail of broken hearts in their wake.  Can Allie really fight against that legacy, and can she really put Marcus through all that?  In a fit of panic, Allie runs from the love of her life.  Some four months later, Allie’s best friend, who is also Marcus’ sister, still wants Allie to be maid of honour at her own wedding….which means Allie has no choice but to face up to Marcus and the consequences of her actions.

February Bride

A February Bride (A Year of Weddings Novella) is the second instalment in a year’s worth of novellas from twelve different romance authors.  Whilst Allie’s actions seem somewhat daft to me, the way in which her thoughts and feelings are described lends credibility, and the description of the emotions of the two lead characters is gripping.  We are treated to both Allie and Marcus’ point of view during the novella, and the way the two neatly dovetail is cleverly done.

I was slightly disappointed with the cheesiness of the ending, however the general plot was enjoyable, and given extra layers by over-arching themes of family and friendship, whether one is doomed to make the same mistakes as one’s predecessors, and whether it’s always possible to remodel, or whether some things are broken beyond repair.

 Disclaimer: I was provided with an ecopy of A February Bride by NetGalley for the purposes of this review, but all opinions given are, as always, entirely my own.
Posted in Reviews | Tagged , | Leave a comment