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Review – When The Rogue Returns – Sabrina Jeffries

when the rogue returnsWhen the Rogue Returns
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Series: #2 in the Duke’s Men series

Review Copy Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss

Description:
Victor Cale never imagined that his sweet, shy bride, Isabella, would use her talents for creating exquisite imitation jewels criminally. But there’s no denying that her handiwork was used in the theft of the Dutch royal diamonds– right after Isa disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, Victor is sent to Edinburgh to investigate a wealthy baron’s mysterious bride-to-be… who turns out to be Isa, masquerading as an alluring widow. No longer the meek girl he once knew, Isa boldly asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her, after he helped steal the royal diamonds!

Piecing together the truth of the past reawakens their volatile passions, which burns hotter than ever. But with a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other to bring the real thieves to justice– without getting burned themselves.

Review:
I’ll readily admit that Sabrina Jeffries is a comfort read for me, I know exactly what I am getting when I pick up her books. A pretty decent historical romance, normally with a light mystery element (either within the specific book, or through-out the series). In this installment, I was treated not only to the mystery, but a second chance romance story (which I will readily admit that I am a sucker for). In this case, it had been ten years from when Victor and Isa had seen each other last. And thankfully, their separation wasn’t due to “the big misunderstanding” which i hate, but rather the manipulation of a different party.

It was interesting seeing how the author worked in the idea of a missing relative (which was the mystery from the first book) into the main characters for the second book in the series. Although, I felt like I never really got to know Victor as a character. I just felt really detached from him in this book – I felt like I learned more about him in the first book in the series, than this one – which was weird and shouldn’t have been the case. It was due to that, that ultimately, I only gave this book three stars. While it featured a romance trope I enjoy (second chance), mixed with one that i’m not really a fan of (secret baby/child), it just didn’t work for me.

I will say, however, that while I wasn’t quite a fan of this installment in the series, I do continue to like Jeffries writing style and I will continue to read her books in the future.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Book Review

 

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Review – Wedding Cake and Big Mistakes – Nancy Naigel

wedding cakesWedding Cake and Big Mistakes
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #3 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided by Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
For years, Carolanne Baxter dreamed of a life beyond Adams Grove. Being the daughter of the town drunk was no picnic, so when college offered her a chance for escape, she took it. Now Carolanne has returned home, finally ready to make amends with her father, Ben, and to celebrate the wedding of her best friends Jill and Garrett. Of course, the fact that Connor Buckham, her sexy new law partner and Garrett’s best man, happens to be the same guy the town matchmaker named as Carolanne’s perfect match…well! That’s just icing on the cake.

But Carolanne’s hopes for a fresh start are dashed when a dead body surfaces during Jill and Garrett’s wedding reception…and Ben Baxter becomes the prime suspect. The murder throws the town into uproar, threatening to destroy the tentative peace between father and daughter–and to derail the budding romance between Carolanne and Connor. Has the matchmaker’s perfect streak come to end? Or will the truth finally bring Carolanne the happy ending she’s dreamed of for so long?

Review:
Its weird – I both liked this book in the series more than the previous ones and yet was disappointed with it. Weird, I know. I loved being back in Adam’s Grove and meeting up with the people from Sweet Tea and Secrets again – especially since the wedding between Jill and Garrett from the first book in the series was a key event in this one. And you got to meet Carolanne, the MC, who is a good friend of Jill and her law partner Conner. I think my biggest disappoint was that the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to be more romance, or more mystery.

From the description off the back, I was expecting more from Carolanne’s relationship/estangement from her father – but it was kind of a fizzle…i wanted more conflict/angst – because that is kind of what I was expecting based on the description, and the storyline of Ben being suspected of murder just seemed like a minor tack-on. While there was a mystery, it kind of felt under-developed. Whereas, in the previous 2 books in the series, the murder (or other mystery) took place early on in the story, in this case, nothing happened until almost 2/3 of the way through the book, and then was solved equally as quick.

But that being said, the story was well-written and engaging – I finished it in just over 2 metro rides (so about 2.5 hours) – but i was sucked into the story. I definately like visiting Adams Grove, even if the mystery in this case, didn’t really work for me. Overall, I gave the book 3 stars.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – The Wisdom of Hair – Kim Boykin

the wisdom of hairThe Wisdom of Hair
Author: Kim Boykin

Review Copy Donated By Author via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Life can be beautiful, but it takes a little work…
“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”

In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.

As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately… forgiveness

Review:
I’ll admit that the quirky-ness of the cover is what drew me to this book when I saw it posted in my Goodreads group. And then reading the quote about the one thing in life you need is a good hairdresser (which I am of course paraphrasing) – I really wanted to read it. However, while I enjoyed it, I think I was a bit disappointed with how it played out.

I was really hoping for more interaction with customers, being the keeper of secrets and the dispenser of advice – like many of hair dressers I know, however, it turned out to be more of a coming of age type story with Zora finding herself and her place in the world. I will admit that as a character I found Zora very uninspiring, she just didn’t do anything for me – I thought for a 19 year old that she was rather naive, especially since it was portrayed that her life hadn’t been all that easy prior to the start of the book…

I’m not saying the book was bad, it just wasn’t quite what I expected – which is why I ultimately gave it 3 stars. But i am interested to see what the author writes in the future, because she will def. be an author to watch.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Heart Like Mine – Amy Hatvany

heart like mineHeart Like Mine
Author: Amy Hatvany

Review Copy Provided By The Author Via Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

Description:
Thirty-six-year-old Grace McAllister never longed for children. But when she meets Victor Hansen, a handsome, charismatic divorced restaurateur who is father to Max and Ava, Grace decides that, for the right man, she could learn to be an excellent part-time stepmom. After all, the kids live with their mother, Kelli. How hard could it be?

At thirteen, Ava Hansen is mature beyond her years. Since her parents’ divorce, she has been the one taking care of her emotionally unstable mother and her little brother—she pays the bills, does the laundry, and never complains because she loves her mama more than anyone. And while her father’s new girlfriend is nice enough, Ava still holds out hope that her parents will get back together and that they’ll be a family again.

But only days after Victor and Grace get engaged, Kelli dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances—and soon, Grace and Ava discover there was much more to Kelli’s life than either ever knew.

Review:
I don’t know if its because this is the third book I’ve read by this author in a short period of time, or something else, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much as previous books. Maybe it was because I didn’t like how the story was approached, or just didn’t really connect with the main character…Don’t get me wrong – the writing itself was good and the story intriguing, it just didn’t work for me.

Like her previous books, in Heart Like Mine, Amy Havanty tackles a topic that shows up in social media, the desire to be childless. In fact, just this week, I realized that the most recent issue of TIME published in the US (although, not the other versions around the world) were discussing this issue (specifically, does that make people selfish, but that is a whole ‘nother story). But what happens when that desire is turned completely on its head when your significant others (in this instance, her fiancee’s) ex-wife dies and their kids end up living with you. Would you stay in the relationship? Would you decide that you can’t do it, no matter how much you love your SO? These are all questions that were faced by Grace during the course of the book.

While I think Amy did a good job exploring Kelli’s life (her fiancee’s ex-wife) prior to her death, I also felt that it was overdone. I wanted to know more about Grace and her decisions – which were key to the main storyline. Yes, it was mentioned through-out the book, but being told from her current POV, rather than the flash-back style that was used for Kelli’s story. I think that might have added to it – maybe duel chapters with both of their POV’s or something – maybe that was my biggest issue…

Overall, I’d give Heart Like Mine 3 stars – it was well-written and moving, it just didn’t quite work for me.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Out of Focus – Nancy Naigel

out of focusOut of Focus
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #2 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
Kasey Phillips thought her biggest problem was deciding whether to photograph Cody Tuggle’s honky-tonkin’ tour, until an accident on Route 58 claims the life of her husband. Hurricane Ernesto threatens the region. In a desperate race against time they search for Kasey’s three-year-old son who is missing from the wreckage. The community and friends rally to help, but someone knows more than they are telling.

Review:
I have to admit that I wasn’t sure going into reading this book what i was going to think. I was rather ambivalent after reading the first book because while it was decently written, I wasn’t blown away by it. But I had the second book on the pile and decided to give it a shot. I’m glad to say that it was an improvement on the first book, but there were still some bits and pieces that irked me.

I found that I had to suspend reality even more so in this one than in the previous one, but I found the mystery to be stronger. One of my biggest gripes I think was that I felt kind of mis-lead by the description on the book jacket – when it mentioned Hurricane Ernesto – I was kind of expecting more from it – that Kasey was going to be battling the wind and rain to find her son and that just didn’t happen.

I also didn’t necessarily find her actions to be consistent with a woman who has had her son kidnapped – but since i’m not an expert in the field, maybe I’m wrong. It just didn’t feel right…I also had an inkling of the who done it early on – although, I do think that this one was slightly less obvious than the one in book 1, in that, at one stage, I think I had identified 2-3 people who were possibles, but the revelation wasn’t all that surprising…

I gave Out of Focus 3 stars, but it is on the lower end of that range.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Drawing Free – Elena Aitken

drawing freeDrawing Free
Author: Elena Aitken

Review Copy Provided by the Author

Description:
“What would happen if I just kept driving?”

Moms aren’t supposed to have a life of their own, at least that’s what Becca Thompson believes. Between dealing with her youngest’s never ending tantrums, her teenager’s attitude and her ailing father’s rapidly failing memory, Becca doesn’t have time to worry about who she used to be.

Deep down, Becca knows she wants more than the daily chaos and the quick fixes her self-help books have to offer, but when her husband starts demanding more, the pressure proves to be too much. On the way to pick up her daughter, she makes the split second decision to take a different exit off the freeway and drives towards the mountains leaving her crumbling life in the rear-view mirror.

Fleeing to a remote mountain town, Becca knows she must rediscover her spirit, even if reconnecting with herself comes at the expense of everything she left behind.

Review:
“I was so stuck on being what I thought I should be, that I couldn’t be who I needed to be. ~ Becca

This quote that appeared at the end of one of the final chapters really sums up what I thought about the book. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about it, because in all honestly, I didn’t have a lot in common with Becca, I don’t have kids, I’m not married, I’m relatively secure in where I am in my life (or at least I think I am). But it really made me think. Not just about her situation, but about life in general. How often do we make choices/decisions based on what we think we should, because of how society dictates we act, vice, how we want to act/want to do. And then there is the abundance of so-called “self-help” books that give you advice on how to make these decisions. But as it was explored in Drawing Free, sometimes they provide conflicting information, they often don’t take into account specific circumstances, and as with many things, one size (piece of advice) does not suit all.

There were a lot of life lessons that could be described as being in the story, primarily the reminder to live every day as if it were your last (or in the infamous words of Tim McGraw, live like you were dying). But also to remember that there is nothing wrong with trying to reach for your dreams, don’t fore-go them – but keep trying. I will say however, that I HATED the kids in the book – they drove me mental. I can safely say, that if I had ever behaved that way in public, or talked to my parents that way that I would have had my mouth washed out with soap and likely would have had my butt wholloped…but then, I grew up in the 1980’s when it was still kosher for kids to be spanked at times (but that is a story for another day).

However, Drawing Free did have a hot button topic for me which I kind of wish had been disclosed somewhere in the description – because there are people who find certain topics are no go’s – in this case it was cheating. I HATED what Becca did, in fact, up to that point, I liked her journey and the cheating just ruined her character for me…I didn’t feel like she regretted her actions, or even took responsibility for them. It also seemed like there was no resolution between Becca and her husband about what happened…the ending in general, sucked!! I was disappointed with how it all turned out…

It was primarily the ending that made me give it 3 stars. It there had been more of a resolution, it probably would have gotten 4 stars from me. But that being said, I hope that EA writes more books in the future – because I am curious to see what else she comes up with.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Sweet Tea and Secrets – Nancy Naigel

sweet tea and secretsSweet Tea and Secrets
Author: Nancy Naigel
Series: #1 in the Adams Grove series

Review Copy Provided By Author

Description:
Adams Grove is mourning the loss of Pearl Clemmons, known for her award-winning chocolate pecan pie and the best unsolicited advice in the county.
When Jill returns to settle her grandmother’s estate, she’s greeted by a Clydesdale-sized guardian dog who doesn’t seem to be earning his stripes (although he drools on them pretty well), and Garrett Malloy, the ex-fiance she left behind a year ago.
Jill insists on staying at Pearl’s amidst a string of break-ins that have sleepy Adams Grove wide awake and locking its doors. Jill’s past with Garrett becomes the least of her worries when she learns that their lives are in danger. She is the only person standing between a desperate conman and a secret from Pearl’s past.
Will Pearl’s past kill any chance of Jill and Garrett’s future together?

Review:
Sometimes you just see the title of a book and want to read it – for me Sweet Tea and Secrets was one of those books. Although, I’ll readily admit that I’m not a iced tea drinker (whoops, I mean Tea drinker), either sweet or unsweet…I prefer my tea hot, a la British style. But the description of the book sounded intriguing – I love the going back to your roots kind of story and it was set in Virgina where I lived for several years (during college, and then for another four years after that).

Unfortunately, while I enjoyed it (and I gave it a 3 star rating), I didn’t love it like I hoped that I would. but I can’t really pinpoint why…I know that I had no issues with putting it down and taking a break (even for several days), but when I picked it up, I was back in the routine…its weird…maybe it was because I never really felt a connection between Jill and Garrett. Their romance, and second chance romance is a favorite trope of mine, just didn’t feel like it worked…I didn’t feel a connection and at least to me, the mystery was obvious. I knew who had done the deeds early on, while I didn’t necessarily know why/how, I knew who…which I think added to my lack of enjoyment. oh and one other thing, and its minor, when the characters did a drive by of Virginia Tech, I was REALLY hoping that some places I had haunted while a student there would be mentioned, but none were – in fact, the place that was mentioned, I don’t even recall, and I spent 4 of the best years of my life in Blacksburg…

But that being said, it was a easy read – not hard, nothing that really makes you think/scratch your head. I am intrigued by the recipes that are in the back and might have to try some of them out – i’m always a sucker for traditional home-cooking. Overall, I gave ST&S 3 stars.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Pandora’s Bottle – Joanne Sydney Lessner

Layout 1Pandora’s Bottle
Author: Joanne Sydney Lessner

Review Copy Provided by Author

Description:
When financier Sy Hampton purchases this legendary bottle—which, through a quirk of preservation, may yet be drinkable—he shocks the wine community by choosing to uncork it privately with a female companion, rather than share it at a special public event. Sy intends the evening to be a quiet reassertion of his virility in the throes of middle age, but for ambitious restaurateur Annette Lecocq, the event offers an irresistible opportunity for much-needed publicity. Their competing agendas are not the only things to collide on the fateful night. Caught in the crossfire are Tripp Macgregor, a waiter on the verge of his long-awaited Broadway debut, and Valentina D’Ambrosio, the beautiful but unworldly working girl from Brooklyn Sy hopes to impress.

Review:
For me, this book could easily be divided into 2 parts, before the wine and after the wine…and the second part was more interesting than the first. I will say up front that I’m not a huge wine drinker and when I do, I go for the cheap sweet wines – I’ve never been to a tasting class or anything like that. So some of the intricacies of it went over my head. I do think that someone who enjoys wine would probably enjoy the first part more than I did. But secondly, it seemed that the characters in the first part weren’t real – they seemed too stiff, too perfect – even while they were struggling, i had a hard time relating to them. That did, however, change in what I call P.W. (post-wine).

I found the second half of the book to be much more enjoyable than the first – I think because it was almost like the characters had come to life. Whereas before they were stiff and ehhh…they seemed more alive – I felt like I was getting to know them more, rather than just sitting and watching them from the sidelines. The story also got more intriguing in this half. Weird, I know. I will admit that about 1/3 of the way through, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue, because I wasn’t sure if it was worth it. But I am glad that I did. Overall, I would give the first part of the book 2 stars, and the second half 4 stars, so an average of 3 overall.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – Untraceable – Laura Griffin

untraceableUntraceable
Author: Laura Griffin
Series: #1 in the Tracer’s series

Description:
ALEX LOVELL MAKES PEOPLE DISAPPEAR. TURNS OUT, SHE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE.

Private investigator Alexandra Lovell uses computer skills and cunning to help clients drop off the radar and begin new lives in safety. Melanie Bess, desperate to escape her abusive cop husband, was one of those clients. But when Melanie vanishes for real, Alex fears the worst, and sets out to discover what happened. Using every resource she can get her hands on — including an elite team of forensic scientists known as the Tracers, and a jaded, sexy Austin PD detective — Alex embarks on a mission to uncover the truth.

As far as homicide cop Nathan Deveraux is concerned, no body means no case. But as much as he wants to believe that Alex’s hunch about Melanie’s murder is wrong, his instincts — and their visceral attraction — won’t let him walk away. As a grim picture of what really happened begins to emerge, Nathan realizes this investigation runs deeper than they could ever have guessed. And each step nearer the truth puts Alex in danger of being the next to disappear….

Review:
I’m conflicted over how to rate this book for a main reason, so I’m going to try and explain that before I get into the review itself…I originally picked up this book about a week and a half ago, knowing that it was #1 in a series, and not being able to find a noted prequel, figured I would be good to go. However, I quickly realized that I was missing something in the interaction between Alex and Nathan – you could tell that there was some kind of history, unfortunately, I didn’t know what. A quick tweet to the author and I discovered that they had met in a previous book in a different series (Whisper of Warning), and since I needed to make sense of their relationship before I could continue, I grabbed it. Which is where my conflict lies – once I factored in Whisper of Warning, I actually really enjoyed Untraceable and would probably give it 3.5-4 out of 5 stars. However, since I had to read another series (because I ended up reading both Whisper of Warning and the preceding book), I have to drop my rating to a 3. If i had known about the linkage ahead of time, it might not have been as big of a deal, so this is more frustration on my part. So I am saying very blatantly, I highly recommend you read the Glass sisters books (Thread of Fear and Whisper of Warning) before trying this series.

Now moving on, having gone through a variety of romance/suspense books (although leaning more towards the romance side), recently, i have to say that Alex was an improvement on many of the heroines. Yes, she had her dumb moments and there were a few times where I was like, seriously…but thankfully she didn’t exhibit the TSTL traits that many seem to have had recently…and then there is Nathan – overall I liked him as a character – he wasn’t the complete Alpha male than shows up so often in rom/sus, and seemed a bit more believable – I also liked that he was a bit older (late 30’s, vice early 30’s) – that gave him an air of experience that I find is often missing in books. Or rather, a more believable air of experience…sometimes I find it hard to believe the stuff that 28-30 years old have gone through in their lives prior to their book (maybe that is a bit jaded of me…).

The mystery aspect of it was ok – for the most part, you knew who did it prior to the reveal since it was discussed early in the book – but there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming. The ending did get all tied in a pretty bow a bit too quickly for me however – I would have liked to see some carry over into another book in the series (although, who knows, maybe this will be the case)…

Overall, 3 stars because of the issue discussed in the first paragraph – but I’ll def. be checking out the rest of the series (especially since I have books #6 and #7 to review as ARC’s…)

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Book Review

 

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Review – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries

twas the night after christmas‘Twas the Night After Christmas
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Series: #6 in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series (can be read stand-alone)

Review Copy Provided by Galley Books via Edelweiss

Description:
Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters.

Review:
Ok, so this is one of the reviews where I admit that I have too many series in progress and that I am an idiot…when I was browsing Edelweiss and came across this book (being as it is book 6 in a series), I could have sworn that I had read the previous books – so my finger got click-itis (I wonder if i can get that as an actual medical diagnosis) and I got it on my kindle…to realize that I hadn’t even started the series…I did have book 1 somewhere in the archives of my kindle, but I hadn’t read it, or the 4 that followed…and being a tad OCD like I am, I couldn’t read it out of order (even though I was told by friends that i could)…so this review is a bit delayed, which I read the other ones in the series, but I am now all caught up… (no laughing from the peanut galley over my antics…its the old adage, too many books, too little time)

Anyways, after that digression (aren’t you glad you read it) – here is my review…I had really enjoyed reading the previous books in the series. i am a sucker for those that feature a family or a close-knit group of friends (a la Lisa Kleypas, or Stephanie Laurens as alternative authors), so seeing how the mystery emerged and was solved was great. However, this book, which loosely linked (Pierce, the main character, was a secondary character in #4 – To Wed A Wild Lord – didn’t really fit into what I was expecting – it was much more of a stand-alone traditional historical romance (not that that is bad, just wasn’t quite what I expected). Although, my favorite character from the series, Jackson, the Bow Street Runner made an appearance.

I did enjoy how the author was able to work in the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem into the story. I grew up with it but honestly didn’t realize that it was around in the early 1800’s – although then called “A Visit From Saint Nicholas.” so it was interesting seeing how some Christmas traditions that still exist today were carried out nearly two centuries again (in about 10 years time…).

I think that my biggest issue with the story was the feud/disagreement/mystery (whatever you want to call it) between Pierce and his mother. While it was a significant part of the story, it was just underwhelming to me. I felt like it, while it could have been center stage, kind of took a backseat to the romance (not that that is bad, I just wanted more). Overall I would give this book a solid 3 stars – it was for me, a comfort read…since I rarely re-read, I can’t say that I would see myself reading it again, but at the same time, it is the type of book that I seek out when I just want to spend the day bumming around doing nothing.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Book Review

 

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