Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: Anchor of Hope by Kiah Stephens


Anchor of Hope by Kiah Stephens
February 24, 2015

27 year old Ashley Harper has it all – a secure job in the city, a cozy apartment in a great neighbourhood, and a high-profile boyfriend who is on his way to becoming one of New York's top business attorneys. She is successful and has it all. . . or so she thought. After fleeing from Sweet Home eight years ago following the devastating death of her father, Ashley vowed she would never return. But when her mother decides to get married there, Ashley is forced to return to the sleepy, little town she once called home in country Oregon. 

Having to spend an entire week in the very place she fought so hard to escape she expects to find nothing but anger, resentment, and hostility but instead finds forgiveness, love - and her ex-boyfriend, Jay. Things are not what she expected in Sweet Home. Once again, Ashley finds herself at a crossroads. Faced with an impossible decision – should she trust her head and return to her life in the city and live the life of luxury she has worked so hard to achieve, or should she trust Gods' gentle guiding and follow her heart back home.

Kiah Stephens is a new author and this is her debut novel. Anchor of Hope is set in Oregon and it follows the story of Ashley Harper as she returns to Sweet Home for her mother's wedding and lands smack in the middle of her past, with ex-boyfriend Jay being a key player. We watch as Ashley sorts out what truly matters to her and where her heart really lies.

The majority of the book is a nice, and at times, an engaging read. Ms. Stephens has a nice writing style that lends itself to readers well. The story generally clips along at a fairly nice pace for most of the novel, but there were times in the middle where events seemed quite slow and I was eager for the pace to pick up again.

Ashley is a conflicted character. I found her hard to understand, as her actions and words were often inconsistent. Ashley has redefined herself after the loss of her father and as a result aspects of her character changed too. For me, the change was not clearly presented or defined enough for me to get a real understanding of who this person is and what she really wants from herself. This made it hard to like her and relate to her. Jay's interactions with Ashley helped me to understand Ashley better, but she still remained inconsistent throughout most of the book.

Jay is a more solidly written and defined character. It is clear that he knows who he is and what he wants, which made him more likeable. Watching Jay and Ashley together was fun. It is really clear they know each other well and enjoyed their time together and that their attraction is still there. Watching Jay try and bring Ashley some direction in her life through his faith was fairly well handed, though it was out of the blue.

Unfortunately there were a few typos and errors in the text and this detracted from the enjoyment of the story.

I was in the end wanting Jay and Ashley to sort out their relationship and whilst the journey was often inconsistent, it was still the happy ending the reader is looking for.

A nice, happy read. Could have been even better with more consistent and defined characters, and a bit of polishing.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
Bethany House Publishers
3rd February, 2015

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKeena
Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat
Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska's arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra's uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank's daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl's life--but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen. 


This is the fifth and final book in the Alaskan Courage Series. I liked the book but felt it was a little hit and miss, like much of the series for me has been. The stand out in the series is Shattered by far and the others fall into the category of good, but perhaps a little rushed at times.

Kirra and Reef are thrown together from the start and the action keeps going, without a lot of rest. After finishing Silenced, I was curious to see how Kirra and Reef's romance played out. I liked Kirra and really thought Ms. Pettrey handled the stuff from her past really well and used it to great effect throughout the novel. I hurt for Kirra and wanted her to heal from the pain of the past. Reef is likeable, but he didn't stand out for me. He was the reformed play boy and thrill seeker, who wants to prove to Kirra that he's not the guy she's always known since kindergarten. Together they made a good couple- maybe not memorable, but solid.

Their romance seemed rushed at the end and it didn't have the satisfaction that I was really wanting. It seemed to me that the author was trying to wrap everything up in this final book to make sure her readers were reminded that every sibling in the McKenna clan was still having their happily ever after.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.





Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Review: Can't Let You Go by Jenny B. Jones


Can't Let You Go by Jenny B. Jones
Sweet Pea Productions 19 September 2014

An old love whose kisses make her weak, but whose secrets threaten to destroy all she holds dear...

Fresh out of college, Katie Parker had it all—a charming romance, a role in a famous stage production, and an idyllic life in London. Until she found her boyfriend cheating and got herself fired from the play. Leaving everything behind, Katie hops a plane home, only to run into her first love, Charlie Benson. As the couple returns to In Between, Katie questions everything she ever thought she wanted—including a renewed romance with her high school flame.

While she attempts to rebuild her life, Katie's plan to manage the family’s theater meets a devastating obstacle, dragging her into a legal battle that will rock her small town. And the boy who once broke her heart seems to have the power to do it again. As Charlie’s secrets unravel, Katie must make a choice. Can she overcome her past and trust Charlie with her heart again? 


It's been a little while since Jenny B. Jones released a new book, and I'm so glad she did.

Can't Let You Go is officially the fourth book of the Katie Parker series, but it's the first in which Katie is an adult.  Regardless, you can read it as a standalone novel (which I did, as I haven't read the previous books).

In typical Jenny B. Jones fashion, this novel is witty and sassy, and I love that! You can't help but be drawn in with Katie and her drama, her hilariously crazy grannie ... and that hunk of an ex boyfriend, Charlie, who's back in her life again.  The chemistry between Katie and Charlie is fantastic.

I'm always in awe of Jenny's dry, frank humour ... she has an amazing and individual way of expressing things. She definitely has a unique voice and that brings such freshness and individuality to her stories.

The characters in Can't Let You Go are Christian so naturally they talk about God and go to church, but it's done in such a way it's like background information.  There's no preaching here, no great moment of spiritual enlightenment - which I know will please some, but not others. I loved it. But it's worth noting that some of the humour may be a little irreverent for some readers.

Can't Let You Go is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also has great emotional depth. There's a bit of intrigue and a wonderfully satisfying ending. I fell in love with Katie, her town, her family and her friends.  Always look forward to more from Jenny!



Helen is a freelance editor, specialising in fiction.  For more information on her editing services, please visit her website.

As a reader, Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book Review: Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg


Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg
Bethany House Publishers, 29 April 2014


After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he'll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he's stunned at not only a warm welcome from his hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events...

If there's one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it's Whisper Shore. For years, she's been stuck running her family's inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn's the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade--she'll help with the Festival and he'll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who's done running away joins forces with the girl who can't wait to leave.


Here to Stay is my first foray into Melissa Tagg's writing. It can be quite hard for me to find contemporary romance fiction that I like, so it's quite exciting when I do.

Autumn and Blake had me hooked from the first page.  This became a 'can't-put-it-down' read for me very quickly.  There was just something about Autumn and Blake that I loved.  They were real, fresh and irresistible, and had fantastic chemistry.  Blake was very appealing - good looking, strong and capable, likes to have fun.  Couple that with the fact he was dealing with a deep emotional pain ... and well, that's a very sexy recipe! Autumn needed his help - but she wasn't a 'needy' character and she happily accepted his help, which is a refreshing change.

The story is compelling, dealing with a tragedy that both Autumn and Blake were associated with a few years prior.  The town of Whisper Shore was delightful and its characters engaging.  We join not only Autumn and Blake in their journey to emotional healing, but the whole town as well.

I also love Melissa Tagg's writing style and voice, and found it witty and entertaining.

My only reservation is that the ending wasn't quite as satisfying as I would have liked.  I think the grand gesture you expect at the end of a romance didn't feel quite as big as it could be.

But besides from that, I happily recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an engaging, heartwarming and put-a-smile-on-your-dial kind of contemporary romance. I look forward to what Melissa Tagg releases next!


Helen is a freelance editor, specialising in fiction. For more information on her editing services, please visit her website.

As a reader, Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: Shaken by Kariss Lynch

Shaken by Kariss Lynch
Realms, February 4, 2014

When her world is shaken, will her foundation survive?
Idealistic and sheltered with a passion to change the world, Kaylan Richards leaves her comfortable life in Alabama to serve in poverty-stricken Haiti. Despite her inexperience and the opposition of a voodoo priest, Kaylan develops a love for the country and the Haitian people. But something deadly is about to strike.

It is the worst earthquake the country has ever seen, and in its aftermath bodies, buildings, and broken lives litter the streets. People she cares about are dead, and Kaylan is caught in the middle of the destruction, questioning a God who said He was good.

Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael never planned to find a girl he loved more than his country. Now she is a world away, trapped in a deadly situation nothing could have prepared her for. Can Nick’s love help Kaylan heal and show her the God who never abandoned her, or will tragedy shake even the most rooted faith?


Another new author I stumbled across while browsing the fiction section. Lynch has given her readers a solid and emotional read, filled with characters you give your hearts to. The book focuses on Kaylan and her journey to Haiti with her childhood best friend to work for six months. Her plans are disrupted with  the arrival of her ex-boyfriend, Navy Seal Nick Carmichael. Nick wants another chance. She wants to give him one but she won't sacrifice Haiti for him. So they write letters. When the earthquake hits, Kaylan's life is in ruins. The only person who understands the pain she is going through is Nick. Can he help her back to a safe place emotionally and spiritually?

I liked Nick, he is a solid character, one who is seen to have made mistakes but wants to change and he's determined to prove he can be trusted again. Lynch does a good job in my opinion of showing PTSD for soldiers. Though I'm sure it can be much for than depicted here. But his experiences help Kaylan when she finally opens up to him and her family.

Kaylan is a little confusing as a character. The only thing I was sure of about her was that she wanted to use her dieticians degree to teach people in developing nations about good food choices and how to do that cheaply. When she is in Haiti she has much to learn about cultural differences between the western world and the third world and that it's really not that easy to give them some tips on healthy food and job is done. Thankfully she learns a little more by the end of the book. For the most part though, Kaylan spent more time thinking than doing and her interactions with the Haiti people came across as cliched to me. So she was a little hard for me to like because I felt I didn't get to really know her.

The Haiti earthquake was well done. I don't remember the details of when and the damage etc, but I recall the fall out when on for years. How to rebuild in such a place is heartbreaking. The pain of the people is brought into the story. The repercussions of this earthquake are far reaching and Kaylan, her family and friends refuse to sit by and doing nothing at the story concludes. They have been touched by this tragedy and felt the need to give back - to help with the healing in any way they could.

A lot of questions are flung at God by Kaylan, who understandably asks "Why, God, why?" a lot. I felt her faith was quite shallow at the start of the story though and I didn't see it really grow until right near the end when she finally just tells God how she feels. This act of sharing starts to heal and unburden her.

Overall I enjoyed this book. It made me cry in several places and I was immersed in the story. A recommended read to get a glimpse into a great tragedy and to see that God's love does indeed shine in the darkness.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.