Fantastic story by Courtney Walsh!

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I absolutely love Courtney Walsh’s new book, Hometown Girl.  I did not want the story to end.  The author has a distinctive way of dealing with very difficult topics in loving ways.  She does not sugar coat the issue, try to hide it or gloss over it.  Her characters deal with the situations head on and learn about themselves and their Creator in the process.

The characters in Hometown Girl are easy to relate to and you quickly come to care about them and what happens to them in the story.  There is a depth to them that makes them feel real.  When they are happy, you are happy too; when they are sad, you are sad.  These are the kinds of characters that you find yourself praying for and then laughing when you realize what you’re doing.

Ms. Walsh tackles some really difficult topics in this story…topics that not only cause you to feel for the characters, but also cause you to stop and evaluate your life and where God is calling you to have courage and make some changes.  She does an amazing job of weaving in some lighthearted, funny scenes that have you laughing out loud and enjoying the characters.

If you enjoy contemporary romance stories that are authentic and real, this story is for you.  I’m already looking forward to her next book.  And I’m really hoping that this heroine’s sister and brother get stories of their own in the future!

Enjoy!

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To Have and to Hold

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To Have and to Hold

By Betsy St. Amant, Katie Ganshert and Becky Wade

To Have and to Hold was a joy to read.  Three sweet stories of finding love while planning (or spying on) a wedding.  The heroines were easy to identify with.  The men were swoon worthy (even the “other” guys in each story).  And I enjoyed the anticipation of how each author would bring about the happily-ever-after.  Speaking of authors, I read this book because I absolutely LOVE everything Becky Wade writes!  Besty St. Amant and Katie Ganshert were new to me though.  I love finding new authors and I think novellas are a great way to “meet” them.

Betsy St. Amant’s story, Love Takes the Cake was first up.  With a bakery and a friend’s wedding as a backdrop, how could you not be enchanted?  Charlotte tugged at my heart with her sweet countenance and great love for her daughter.  I love Will’s loyalty to his friend and how God uses a scary situation to help him realize the truth.  This story was a pleasure to read.   I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Next up was The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed, after reading the first paragraph, to realize this story was written in first person narrative.  I generally struggle to engage in first person stories, so I tend to avoid them.  This is a short story, written by a writer friend of Becky Wade AND it has a flower shop in a small town as the setting, I decided I NEEDED to read it.  I am SO glad that I did.  It was a delightful story that gripped me from the get-go.  I was expecting to have to push my way through, but surprisingly found myself pulled along instead.  I couldn’t read it fast enough.  Amelia’s fun and quirky personality was so much fun to read and the email exchanges that launched the events of the story were perfect.  I was pleasantly surprised to get to the end and realize through most of the story I’d forgotten that I was reading first person narrative AND I didn’t want it to end!  Well done Katie Ganshert!  I loved it!!

Finally, the last story in this collection, Love in the Details by Becky Wade.  I knew I would love this story before I ever started reading it because, as I said above, I LOVE everything Becky Wade writes.  Josh and Holly’s story grips you by the heart from the very opening lines.  I love the way this story shows that God is in control always, in the good times and in the hard times.  I love that this story is real-to-life, following God isn’t easy.  He is there to walk with us through the difficult things, and we can have a peace that we are following His guidance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t still be heartbreaking and painful, even in years to come.  I loved to see how this story was brought full circle.  I loved Josh’s devoition and Holly’s generous spirit.  Spring can’t get here soon enough for me!  I’m ready to read the new Becky Wade novel now!!

To sum it up, this is a great collection to purchase.  Whether you know and love all three authors or are going to be meeting them for the first time, you won’t be disappointed.  The stories are beautifully written and leave you wanting more.  Although I read this book via e-reader, it will definitely be one I’ll purchase in hard copy for my bookshelf!

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never Before

Like Never Before – Walker Family Series by Melissa Tagg

Have you been to Maple Valley, Iowa??  It’s one of my favorite towns to visit. You too can visit this amazing town and get to know the wonderful people who live there by reading Melissa Tagg’s Walker Family Series.

Okay, okay…so it’s a fictional town and we can’t really go there for a visit.  But I sure wish we could.  I fell in love with this little town and its heartwarming and relatable characters in the prequel novella, Three Little Words (which you can get FREE on Amazon).  My heart was touched by the first book in the series, From the Start.  I loved the story and did not want to leave Maple Valley.  Thankfully, Melissa seemed to know that we were going to miss Maple Valley and would have to wait for book two in the Walker Family Series, so she surprised us with a fabulous novella, One Enchanted Christmas to tie us over.  Although not a Walker Family book, it was set in Maple Valley and it was such a joy to read.

I have liked Melissa’s author page on Facebook and I LOVE how she shares about her writing and her characters and what God is teaching her through them.  Logan’s book, Like Never Before – the second in the Walker Family Series – has been highly anticipated both by her and by all of us who love the Walkers and Maple Valley!  I was so excited to get my influencer copy in the mail.  I wanted to devour it and yet, I didn’t.  I really wanted to read it nonstop until I finished, but I also wanted to savor it.  It almost sounds silly to me, but I wanted to be able to focus solely on the book, not having anything else around to distract me when I was reading.  So, I forced myself to read it slowly and I’m so glad I did.

There was a lot of hype about Logan Walker before the book even came out.  Melissa just couldn’t say enough good stuff about him…she practically fell in love with him (ask her…she’ll tell you).  And I must say, after reading the book I can see why…Logan makes falling for him easy and from what I’ve seen in other reviews, she’s not the only one!   Logan has some tough issues to deal with in this book.  I love his heart, his true desire to do what is right, his devotion to his family and his romantic nature.

Amelia Bentley is a fun quirky character that we met in From the Start and she is the perfect match for Logan.  I love her passion and determination.  Her heart for seemingly unlovable people challenges me to love people where they are, knowing there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

This book allowed us to walk through a lot of hard memories and difficult decisions, determination and life altering situations, gentle reminders and soul-searching moments as Logan and Amelia face life together as their paths cross in Maple Valley.

We are also privileged to witness the great love between father and daughter, estranged sisters, caring siblings, father to grown son, two souls finding each other and most importantly God and His children.  This book speaks to the importance of the relationships in our lives and reminds us not to take them for granted.

This book is one for the re-read shelf.  It is heartwarming and challenging at the same time.  And there’s a fun mystery woven in too!

Are you ready to visit Maple Valley and meet these wonderful people?  Don’t delay.  I’m certain they will make you feel right at home.

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

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It’s so much fun to discover a fun new author…even more fun when that discovery comes by winning a contest! I had been looking at My Stubborn Heart on the bookstore bookshelf for quite a while, but with so many other books by authors I knew that I wanted to purchase, and not knowing this author, it ended up on the back burner. Of course, now all of Becky’s books are on my Must-Buy/Must-Read list.

I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly Becky captured my attention in this book. I immediately fell in love with the characters. I live with my 85-year-old grandmother, so the cute relationship between Kate and her grandma (and Grandma’s menagerie of friends) was familiar and enjoyable.

The setting was enchanting, an old family estate in need of restoration. Of course, with an estate to restore, we need a handyman. I always enjoy a story with a handyman. I have no idea why, but I don’t think I’ve read a handyman story yet that I didn’t like. Silly, but true!

Our handyman in this book, Matt, was really hurting and far from God. He is in need of restoration himself. When Kate, Grandma and friends arrive on the scene God meets them right in the middle of all the crazy fun and heart-bearing moments.

I enjoyed the realistic manner in which the characters interacted. Our experiences shape the way we see and react to things and how we therefore expect others to react. In the same way, our characters were shaped by what they had experienced. They had expectations of each other and God that stemmed from their experiences and their perceptions of them. It was also refreshing that our characters were not perfect. Even the characters who were following God closely sometimes acted on their own and didn’t do things as God would have guided. These aspects made for a story that can not only be enjoyed but related to and the lessons applied to our own lives too.

Becky is a wonderful writer who knows just how to grab your heart and pull you into the story. She throws in just enough humor and fun to keep you laughing while you learn with the characters to trust God to see you through. I am now really looking forward to Undeniably Yours!