The Heart of Splendid Lake

Author: Amy Clipston
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Thomas Nelson ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Bestselling author Amy Clipston transports readers to a picturesque lakeside town in this heartwarming contemporary romance.

Brianna is the youngest of the three Porter sisters and the only one who chose to stay in the small town of Splendid Lake, North Carolina. She followed in her father’s footsteps and became an expert boat mechanic, helping him run their small resort with cabin rentals, a convenience store, and a marina. 

When Brianna’s father unexpectedly dies, Brianna is steeped in grief and guilt—then left alone to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, a constant stream of real estate brokers begins marching through her property, offering to buy the family land. In particular, she keeps running into handsome real estate mogul Scott Gibson. 

As Brianna struggles to keep it all together, Scott finds his way into her heart. And as the two fight against their feelings, they just might find themselves forging a surprising and exciting new love at Splendid Lake.

Ope’s Opinion: I really enjoy Christian fiction, so I wanted to love this book ( a new author for me ), but I only liked it.

The small town setting was enjoyable and I could picture the lake resort – some place I would like to visit! I like stories with characters that pull themselves out of difficult situations.

The struggles for Brianna stretched on too long. I was ready for the story to take an upbeat path sooner than it did. Although Brianna had wonderful friends, I was disappointed her sisters were not more supportive and available to her.

I liked the slow romance. There did not really seemed to be a connection between Brianna and Taylor. It took Scott coming along for her to realize it.

The Inn at Summer Island

Author: Rachel Magee
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Genre: Romance
Source: Entangled ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Millie Leclair is a mess, complete with a dead-end career and a flat-lining love life. So when she inherits her great aunt’s oceanfront B&B in a resort town in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, she doesn’t hesitate to pack up her car and set off on a new adventure. It’ll be fun.

Of course, life seldom goes according to plan. The B&B is barely habitable for one person, let alone ready to open for business. With dwindling funds, Millie has no choice but to roll up her sleeves and tackle the repairs by herself. Yeah, so much fun.

Ex-pro golfer Braxton Channing thought being a full-time single parent kept him on his toes. That was before he spotted his new neighbor teetering on her rooftop—which is only the beginning of her long list of renovations for the old house—and he added keeping her safe to his to-do list.

But Millie is determined to dive headfirst into repairs regardless of the risk, and suddenly, battling with his daughter over brushing her teeth seems easier than winning an argument with Millie. She’s exasperating. And oddly delightful. And most definitely shouldn’t be let anywhere near a tall ladder.

For a guy who’s sworn off romantic relationships, why does he suddenly want to be the one who gets the privilege of watching Millie conquer not just the B&B but his heart as well? 

Ope’s Opinion: This is a good, very predictable romance. The characters are fun to read about. It is set at the beach ( my favorite place ) and involves a renovation of an old house – something else that I also enjoy! It’s a sweet romance – all about falling in love. The whole community was involved in this story.

I wouldn’t mind reading a book about the other people in this community. This is my first read of Rachel Magee – I will look at her other books and look forward to her next new one.

When We’re Thirty

Author: Casey Dembowski
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Genre: Romance
Source: Red Adept Publishing ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Two friends. One pact. The performance of their lives.

Hannah Abbott is stuck in a dead-end relationship and at a job she loves but that barely pays the bills. The four walls of her tiny New York City apartment have never seemed so small. She’s barely toasted her thirtieth birthday when her old college friend Will knocks on her door with an unexpected proposal.

Will Thorne never forgot the marriage pact he made with Hannah, but he also never imagined he’d be the one to initiate it. One ex-fiancée and an almost-career-ending mistake later, however, he finds himself outside Hannah’s door, on bended knee, to collect on their graduation-night pinky promise.

With both of their futures at stake, Hannah and Will take a leap of faith.

Now, all they have to do is convince their friends and family that they’re madly in love. As long as they follow the list of rules they’ve drafted, everything should go smoothly. Except Will has never been good with rules, and Hannah can’t stop overthinking the sleeping arrangements. Turning thirty has never been so promising.

Ope’s Opinion: When I started reading I thought this was going to be a light, fluffy romance
( partly because of the cover ).

OH, this book was so much more! I did not want it to end. I fell in love with the characters. I did see the turns just before they happened – they were amazing. I really enjoy characters that have a past. I would have given five chairs, except I prefer the closed door romances.

This was a heart warming story that felt real to me. I want to read Casey’s next book.

The Inn at Tansy Falls

Author: Cate Woods
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Fiction
Source: Bookouture ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone…

You’re my best friend in the world, and as my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…

If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.

Ope’s Opinion: This was such a wonderfully, sweet, predictable story. As soon as you start reading this you know where it is going to end, but the journey was worth each page turned. The characters were down to earth, small town people.

Although it starts out with Megan’s death ( Nell’s best friend ), this is not a sad book. It does deal with Nell’s grief, but in such a positive way. Cate Woods didn’t gloss over the hardship when you loose someone – she showed how to work through it and how to honor someone.

This was a very positive book with the ending you want and expect. I will read another Care Woods book. She made me smile.

Coming Soon…

…. On a Bookshelf near you!

In September I hope to read….

Publication Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Goodreads: Bestselling author Amy Clipston transports readers to a picturesque lakeside town in this heartwarming contemporary romance.

Brianna is the youngest of the three Porter sisters and the only one who chose to stay in the small town of Splendid Lake, North Carolina. She followed in her father’s footsteps and became an expert boat mechanic, helping him run their small resort with cabin rentals, a convenience store, and a marina. 

When Brianna’s father unexpectedly dies, Brianna is steeped in grief and guilt—then left alone to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, a constant stream of real estate brokers begins marching through her property, offering to buy the family land. In particular, she keeps running into handsome real estate mogul Scott Gibson. 

As Brianna struggles to keep it all together, Scott finds his way into her heart. And as the two fight against their feelings, they just might find themselves forging a surprising and exciting new love at Splendid Lake.

What is coming soon …. to a bookshelf near you?

Let me know – I am always looking for a good read!

The Secret Staircase

Author: Sheila Connolly
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Mystery
Source: St. Martin’s Press ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase.

Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together.

Kate’s first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it’s been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she’s planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate’s luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body.

After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there?

Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past…

Ope’s Opinion: This cozy mystery is the third in a series. This is the first one of this series I have read. The first few chapters felt like it was catching people like me caught up on what had previously happened in the other books.

I know this is a mystery, not a romance, but I felt like the relationship with Ryan didn’t move forward. They both ( Kate and Ryan ) don’t seem to care if they spent time together or not. I also felt like renovations didn’t make much progress.

The mystery was easy and fun to follow with a lot of history add in. I enjoyed it.

Three Weddings and a Proposal

Author: Sheila O’Flanagan
Publisher: Mobius Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Mobius Books ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: At the first wedding, there’s a shock

The second wedding is unexpected

By the third, Delphie thinks nothing could surprise her. But she’s wrong . . .

Delphie is enjoying her brother’s wedding. Her surprise last-minute Plus One has stunned her family – and it’s also stopped any of them asking again why she’s still single. But when she sees all the missed calls that evening, she knows it can’t be good news. And she’s right.

Delphie has been living her best life, loving her job, her friends, her no-strings relationships and her dream house by the sea. Now she has to question everything she believed about who she is and what she wants. Is her mum right – is it time to settle down? Or does she want to keep on trying to have it all?

Each wedding of a glorious summer brings a new surprise. And as everything Delphie thought she had is threatened, she has the chance to reshape her future . . .

Ope’s Opinion: This is a slow moving story with details that are some times distracting from the story. The middle of the story stalled a little – keep reading.

I was invested in Delphie, as a strong, independent woman who has relationships ( male and female ) that are important to her, but don’t change who she is. She has a family that is very involved in her life.

I absolutely loved how Sheila decided to end the story. I would love to see her write another book about Delphie’s friends.

When We Were Sisters

Author: Cynthia Ellingsen
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Fiction
Source: Bookouture ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

Ope’s Opinion: Sisters, beach, and home renovations – all in one book is amazing! This book was easy to get into, the characters are relatable, and the renovations were written in a way that you could see it.

This emotional sister story took you on a journey through their childhood that brought them to present day. Their separation affected them each differently. Coming together made them each learn to see the other sisters perspective.

There was a romance going on in the background. I enjoy that relationship, but I really liked that the sisters relationship was the center of the book. The ending was good and wrapped everything up.

The Family Across the Street

Author: Nicole Trope
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller
Source: Bookouture ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Sometimes, the most perfect families are hiding the most terrible secrets. How well do you know the people next door…?

Everybody wants to live on Hogarth Street, the pretty, tree-lined avenue with its white houses. The new family, The Wests, are a perfect fit. Katherine and Josh seem so in love and their gorgeous five-year-old twins race screeching around their beautiful emerald-green lawn.

But soon people start to notice: why don’t they join backyard barbecues? Why do they brush away offers to babysit? Why, when you knock at the door, do they shut you out, rather than inviting you in?

Every family has secrets, and on the hottest day of the year, the truth is about to come out. As a tragedy unfolds behind closed doors, the dawn chorus is split by the wail of sirens. And one by one the families who tried so hard to welcome the Wests begin to realise: Hogarth Street will never be the same again.

Ope’s Opinion: This book is very intense. I liked how Nicole Trope gave us back ground on the characters. It made the story move slowly at times. I did not enjoy that children were part of this story, that was really hard to read.

The twist toward the end of the book was really interesting. I didn’t see it coming, which made it even better.