#Harlequin #SuperRomance Book Review | “Nights Under the Tennessee Stars” (part of a duology) by Joanne Rock

Posted Sunday, 8 April, 2018 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I was a host for Lola’s Blog Tours back in [2015] – enjoying working with Lola to showcase the authors who were using her services with their stories until my personal life tipped the scales a bit in regards to what I could handle doing back then and what I needed to realise was a sign I needed to withdraw from a few newer commitments to seek better balance in the future. It was a two year journey – of being mindful and conscious of pulling back on requesting too many books – which at the time I hadn’t thought I was doing – opting instead for a reduced blog schedule which yielded better personal health. It was also prior to recognising my chronic migraines were not going to ‘go away’ on their own and I had to take steps to curb their re-appearances; hence why in [2016] I started to seek out audiobooks in earnest as a break from reading books in print.

Originally, I was meant to post my reviews of both novels “Promises Under The Peach Tree” and “Nights Under the Tennessee Stars” within the same week of each other. I did receive them with an open-ended deadline – meaning, they were received without an obligation to post an immediate honest review and could be read in my leisure. Thus, as [2017] took it’s final countdown to greet [2018] I found I could finally re-focus on the stories awaiting me on my backlogue.

I received a complimentary copy of “Nights Under the Tennessee Stars” direct from the author Joanne Rock in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

What I enjoyed about the first half of this duology:

I don’t believe I’ve read a more intensely emotional opening sequence of a novel than this one! At least, not for quite a long time. Nina is beyond distraught over her emotional angst stemming from a past relationship she’s never allowed herself to heal from or recover out of – as noted by how her impulsive emotional triggers are responding to things never spoken aloud. Mack on the other hand is trying to find a way to tread through his return to Heartache – a call from his brother was insisting he was needed; his brother had a marriage drifting towards divorce, their mother was having a bad spell with her mental health struggles and meeting up with his teenage love Nina was pushing him a bit over the edge. To be honest, neither of them were ready to see each other, much less try to fill the gap of the years they had been apart with idle conversation now.

Nina’s emotional health was shouldered on the surface of her being – she didn’t hold back and she didn’t wait long enough to think through what she wanted to say either. She simply spoke her mind – whatever she was feeling at that moment and ran with it. This sort of brokered trouble because she misread most of the conversation – especially in regards to the motives behind Mack’s return to their hometown. His intentions were to help his family, she only believed he wanted to goad his success over her own failures – the sad truth really is they both were emotionally shattered by how their relationship ended. Ironically or not, they each had a different point-of-view on their exit from their romance affected them long-term – of how theirs was a relationship which should have lasted but only left them with remorse, regret and uncertainty of what really went wrong.

Heartache is well named – the residents have a hard time expressing their emotions – some leave their emotions bottled inside them, others shout to release them and a few have no understanding about how to even approach expressing themselves until they find the harsh words they say in haste isn’t the right way round to fix the issue at hand. The characters, young and old are struggling to find resolution in their lives – the teens are emotionally anguished by their families choices and the adults, are either still trying to heal their own teenage lives (as a lot happened with affected the whole town when one teen died tragically premature) or they have difficulties in their relationships. Some have commitment issues, others struggle to accept they can parent children without the worrying concerns over inherited health issues whilst a few are just trying to find stability in their lives as a measure of growth past their adversities.

I admit, I was a bit more wrapped inside Ally’s struggle to find truth and understanding about her mental health issues than I was as held by Nina and Mack’s hard-fought restitution for past hurts. There were a lot of back and forth narrative choices which muddled Nina and Mack’s growth from the past but also, at one point, I was finding myself not as interested in if they resolved their issues or if they parted company. Their story-line I didn’t feel was the strongest one in the novel – it was Ally, her friends at school and the break-down of her parents marriage which I felt held far more traction of interest.

-quoted from my review of Promises Under the Peach Tree

As I had mentioned previously, it was my intention to read both stories in this duology back-to-back, however, I had a difficult month for health and wellness in March, 2018 which threw off most of my reading life. I enjoyed the stories I was able to tuck inside but overall, I yearned to read more of the stories I felt were calling to me to be read as Spring started to come into sight. We had a small shift in our weather patterns this year – where Spring came quite unexpectedly ‘later’ than usual! For my family and I, this was quite the blessing – as the idyllic glimpse Ms Rock gives in her Author’s Note about why she *loves!* slipping back into Heartache, Tennessee in Nights Under the Tennessee Stars is reminiscent of what I long to find myself – a slower pace of living hugged close to the natural world, where you not only can see the stars but you can feel the joys of the Seasons as they enter and exit your life.

Spring is generally a difficult season for me (pollen allergies) however, I had a small reprieve from fighting them whilst finding my heart uplifted due to the cooler weather patterns, the overcast skies and the joyfulness of watching the seasonal birds hearken from above as they found new places to nest in the boughs of the trees they call home this time of the year. When you hear the songbirds singing and feel the last bits of cold nipping in the air, you know Spring is coming soon. I thrive in colder weather, make no mistake and although, I shudder to think about how abominable Summer’s wrath will be – it’s nice to read about settings and locales like Heartache where you feel the climate doesn’t suffocate you nearly as much and where you can relax into the community.

As I feel a renewal in focus in my readings this April, it is nice to have my ‘send-off’ to Heartache to be at the start of the month, just as Spring is starting to bloom in front of me. And, let’s pray the pollen levels are not as increased as they have been in years past,… honestly that is not something I wish to repeat!

In regards to the hopeful message about love and the inspiring joy of reading Romances where you know despite the adversity or anguish – a happier ending is coming round for the characters – I had to smile as I read the author’s words in this vein of thought! This is what first attracted me to reading Romances all those years ago as a young girl – I loved being caught up in the moments, between the first meeting and the joyfulness of finding love take root in the heart’s of the characters I was growing attached to watching come together as each chapter ended. Romances are the heart-blood of our living realities – as it is the celebration of part of the goodness in our lives, the moments where we seek out of love and find it warmly reciprocated. It is wonderful to find other authors who feel the same way as we do (the readers) as it makes it a happy celebration of the stories we all love most to find!

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#Harlequin #SuperRomance Book Review | “Nights Under the Tennessee Stars” (part of a duology) by Joanne RockNights under the Tennessee Stars
by Joanne Rock
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

Heartache—the best place to heal

Erin Finley heads home to Heartache, Tennessee, after the perfect guy turns out to be anything but. She throws herself into running a vintage store with her sister and surrounding herself with the comforts of her small town. Then one rainy night, TV producer Remy Weldon shows up and almost sweeps her off her feet!

Remy sees more in Erin than she sees in herself. Quirky, beautiful and capable, he needs her for his antiques show—and for himself. Because Erin is the first star Remy’s found in the very dark night that has become his life. And she might just be able to lead him into the dawn…

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780373609079

Also by this author: Promises Under the Peach Tree

Also in this series: Promises Under the Peach Tree


Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romance Fiction


Published by Harlequin Super Romance

on 7th April, 2015

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published By: Harlequin Books (@HarlequinBooks)
via their imprint Harlequin Super Romance

A Harlequin Super Romance duology:

Promises Under the Peach Tree by Joanne RockNights Under the Tennessee Stars by Joanne Rock

Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #HarlequinBooks + #HarlequinSuperRomance; #Contemporary #Romance

four-flames

I’ve started adding ‘flames’ when I’m reading Romances where the descriptions inside were a bit more than I was thinking they would be – in other words, I am definitely a reader who finds ‘less is more’ and where a lot of what makes a Romance work for me doesn’t necessary have to be spent on the page. This Romance is a bit tamer than a few I’ve read recently but it still merits the flames as it doesn’t leave that much to your imagination.

About Joanne Rock

Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock never met a romance subgenre she didn't enjoy. The author of over sixty romances from contemporary to medieval historical, Joanne dreams of one day penning a book for every Harlequin series. A former Golden Heart recipient, she has won numerous awards for her stories. Learn more about Joanne's imaginative Muse by visiting her at the sites below.

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my review of nights under Tennessee stars:

The situation erupting into Erin’s life is one you hope never happens to you – where the boyfriend you have placed your trust inside rips out your heart when you realise he’s a lying, cheating cad! The kind who doesn’t even have the decency to tell you himself he has a life outside your relationship but leaves this moment of reckoning to his wife who finds your number on his cell. Can you imagine!? Your heart goes out to Erin immediately as you can gather from how she’s talking about her connection to her boyfriend, she’s an old fashioned kind of gal – not a cheating mistress – not the kind of woman who would break-up a family. No, she’s the one who was duped into thinking her boyfriend had spoken the truth to her but there is one hard lesson about business trips – not everyone is on the up and up when they are away from home. It is too easy to slip out of your ordinary life and the commitments therein when your away on business – best to re-affirm who someone is outside a trip before chasing after them, like Erin. Though, truth be told, she trusted her heart and that’s never wrong – the part which makes you grieve her loss is the unfairness of it all.

I love the fact Erin and her sister Heather own a wholly unique antique store! This is one reason I loved watching Garage Sale Mysteries on Hallmark Channel! For the wickedness of seeing all the lovelies you can find second-hand which help you pull together an individually unique style for your home but also for your closet! Shopping in alternative shoppes like antique emporiums and thrift stores gives you a better chance at securing harder to find items, independent labels and most of all – you won’t catch yourself walking beside you whilst your out nearly as much! Plus, I just love the history of what an antique can tell you – about life, the previous owners sense of taste and the homage to the lost appreciation for artisan trades.

You have to love how Remy ended up on the doorstep of Erin’s shoppe at midnight, no less, in a downpour which would give credit to the monsoons elsewhere in the South Pacific! Between getting drowned as soon as he left his car to the no nonsense manner in which Erin greeted him at the door, he barely had time to reconsider his own difficulties in resolving his guilt for being away from his daughter, Sarah when he was presented with such a paradox of a woman before him! It was the best way of seeing two people catching each other off-guard and not realising the significance of that encounter except that it was random.

Remy of course, was trying to locate Erin’s business as he’s a producer for a fledgling tv series – but his heartache at home erases the joy he used to have for business. No one could blame him – the kind of loss he had in his life was beyond wrecking and tragic; it was senseless and hard to put right in one’s soul. His wife was taken from him in such a horrid way, you could see why he would have after-effects bordering on PTSD if not fully disclosed therein. You have to give the guy credit for trying to resume his life, care for Sarah and find a measure of normalcy even if nothing ever felt ‘right’ since his wife had passed.

Whilst Remy was having trouble of finding traction in the here and now, his daughter Sarah – although adopted as she had a biological father – Remy felt such a strong bond with her, neither he or her felt there was any separation of DNA in their love for each other as father and daughter. The hard truth though is the connection between her biological father and how her mother died. Sarah was a rebel without having a firm cause for what to do with her life – she was racing against an hourglass she hadn’t known the extent of the time left in it to burn. She dared herself to do things that scared her or at least, would scare most other teens – she hated school and she hated the way her life had changed. She missed the ways things were as much as Remy did but neither of them were communicating very well towards that end. One thing which surprised me though is how she craved to be near Remy even at a point in his life he didn’t know what was best for either of them.

The sub-focus in the plot for helping women in need have clothes for job interviews was a nice addition – I’ve known about the events myself but they never seem to be anywhere near me when their hosted. I oft felt that was a proper shame – as a lot of times, the people who need the same help as those in bigger areas are in overlooked. Community is only as strong as the outreach and sometimes, I think communities who are once active in organising outreach fall short as the years tack on hours and the patience to find grace in the work wans. At least, by my observation. It would be great to be a part of an organisation who helped people of all walks of life in whichever need they needed assistance one day.

As Remy and Sarah settle into Heartache for a spell – as he’s still working on his casting and production duties for the antique stores in and around the towne; we start to see the layers of their relationship pull apart. Remy is still coming to terms with his past whilst Sarah is going off in the opposite direction – seeking fast solutions to long-term problems without realising her choices could have longer effects than the short-term relief she’s seeking out. I think what truly hit home most though is her misunderstandings on behalf of Remy’s behaviour patterns – you want to see this father and daughter patch things up but at the same time, you know it’s going to take a small miracle for them both to turn towards each other rather than try to run away.

I appreciated finding Ally befriended Sarah – they had an instant friendship but it made sense the more you understood the complicated lives they were living. In full effect, Ally had more to relate to Sarah than Sarah’s best friend at her former school. Sometimes it helps to be friends’ with someone who knows about the mile your walking and can sympathetically get you without having to justify what your going through – in that regards, it felt fitting Ally and Sarah would meet and become fast friends.

This is a story of healing and growth as this is what the series is founded upon – where those who reside in Heartache find their lives able to renew and allow new chapters to become explored after they circumvent or travel through the adversities besieging them at the time we cross their paths! However, strictly from a foodie perspective, I wish the recipe for the lemon-berry cupcakes had been included! Honestly – I love making lemon curd cupcakes and I make a wicked good lemon bar – but these cupcakes?! They seem to raise the bar somehow on how you can make lemon soar!

On the Contemporary Romance styling of Joanne Rock:

Ms Rock pulls you into the whirlwind of change Erin purposefully created for herself, as she needed time to re-set her heart, re-balance her thoughts and most of all – fall out of love with the bloke she thought she was going to be marrying! Sometimes the best place to retreat from the world is to go back home, to a community and your family – where you can begin again with the supportive arm of those who care about you close at hand. This is how Ms Rock set the tone for the opening of Nights Under the Tennessee Stars – to give us the frame of mind Erin was in but also, in how she still had a frayed sense of hope for her future. She hadn’t given up on love, despite the unease about what happened in her last relationship – Rock left the door slightly ajar on whom might enter afterwards.

One thing I appreciate about how Ms Rock approaches her characters’ is she finds a way to show their vulnerable sides before she shows how their lives can become rebuilt from the inside out. She let’s you get clued into what bothers them the most up front, then she takes the long road back through the recovery of their minds, hearts and spirits. In this way, she grounds you in an emotional connection to what plagues them most and gives you a champion spirit to stand in rallying joy behind them as they inch their way towards a better tomorrow. It’s the kind of set-up in a Romance you love to find because it makes the endings sweeter somehow to take this kind of journey with the characters.

She also has wonderful turns of phrase and of alighting you in the moment of a scene or sequence, simply by how she describes what is happening within it. As you will soon note, I could do without the stronger words running concurrently in the narrative itself – but when she’s not using them, she pulls you into the context of what she’s trying to leave behind for you to find with homespun truths and a championing spirit of second chances.

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Fly in the Ointment: Vulgarity in Lit

Hmm. Per what I was talking about recently whilst celebrating my 5th Blogoversary – I’m growing more confounded by the frequency of strong language in Contemporary Romance & Contemporary Women’s Fiction – especially in instances where if you pause for a second and re-look at the sentence in question, it works solidly without the expletive. It is almost like publishers think readers are expecting the language to be inclusive rather than taking stock of the fact most stories of this nature in mainstream markets were not always peppered with so many stronger words. At least, not in the reading history of my own reading life – I just find it rather odd to find them constantly sprinkled when in theory the passages can hold their salt without them. I mean, it’s almost as if they’re being placed rather than organically befitting the context of the scene.

This nudges towards the fact when it comes to Harlequin – I’m leaning towards seeking out less of their Contemporary offerings in their regular imprints, as the stories I remember from those in the past decades of focus were blessedly absent of the language choices of this decade – moving back into their Love Inspired imprint. They have two active imprints right now – Contemporary INSPY and Suspense as the Historical line unfortunately is ending but is still available second-hand.

One credit to Prism Book Tours (see also Archive of Prism Tour Reviews) – if I hadn’t started hosting for them, I wouldn’t have noticed this newer trend as soon as I had. I’m just growing tired with all the unnecessary language. Especially as I know of other Contemporary writers within mainstream outlets who are not using them nearly as heavily and still give me a rivetingly brilliant read. Aside from this disclosure, I did enjoy the novel for what it is – as it is a continuation of the previous novel in the duology, but the angst for me was the language which blighted out a bit of the joy to be honest. The main blessing is the language in this novel tempered and evened out to where it started to fade from view nearly half-way through to where I could enjoy the author’s own expressions a heap more.

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This book review was courtesy of Lola’s Book Tours with an open-ended deadline. I hadn’t foreseen at the time it would extend into a two year gap between receiving the novels and posting my reviews; however, sometimes life does take you by surprise! I postponed the reviews (as well as those within my backlogue) to give them the proper attention they deserved before I shared my thoughts on their behalf. I was thankful for the patience in Lola, herself for giving me time to re-connect with the stories but also, from being on an extended hiatus from being one of her tour hosts. I’ve happily kept in the loop via her newsletters.

I look forward to hosting more blog tours & guest authors features via:

Lola's Blog ToursAs I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. Now, as a 4th Year Book Blogger on the fringes of celebrating my 5th Year (come March, 2018) I’ve decided I’ve reached a point where I can have better flexibility with scheduling guest features and reviews on my blog without feeling I’m stretched too thin between the commitments I’m making to feature the stories and authors I am blessed with thanksgiving to discover as I blog my readerly life.

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “Promises Under the Peach Tree” and “Nights Under the Tennessee Stars”, author biography for Joanne Rock and the author photograph for Joanne Rock as well as the badge for Lola’s Blog Tours were provided by Lola’s Blog Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 8 April, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Child out of Wedlock, Coming-Of Age, Contemporary Romance, Cutting, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Fly in the Ointment, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Lola's Blog Tours, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Prejudicial Bullying & Non-Tolerance, Psychological Abuse, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne USA, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Health




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