#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “A Family for Jason” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book One) by Virginia McCullough

Posted Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquiried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.

I received a complimentary copy of “A Family for Jason” direct from the author Virginia McCullough in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was eager to read my first Virginia McCullough
Harlequin Heartwarming novel:

I know I’ve crossed paths in the book blogosphere with this author at some point over the past six years if not a bit before I started blogging. I’m unsure exactly when I first saw her name or in which capacity I saw her but I’ve had her name on my list of authors to seek out to read. When I saw the blog tour announced, I was thankful I was able to start reading one of her stories at the beginning of a new series whilst at the same time, the title of the series held a lot of promise for me!

I’ve happily read Return of the Blackwell Brothers this year, and therefore, any title which refers to ‘returning’ to a particular place or a particular set of characters who are going through a reunion of sorts are the kind of stories which are interesting me this year. I believe this is the author’s second Heartwarming series but as I was reading about Bluestone River on her author’s website, it felt like the kind of setting you can get lost inside reading – letting her be your guide as you navigate this new community and see their transitions as this is a towne who has been forced to undergo a bit of a Renaissance as most small townes need to embrace in today’s economy.

How they were vibrant in the past isn’t necessarily going to sustain them in the present and those are the kind of stories I am attracted to as well. Where communities come together, find a way to thrive and move forward into a future they built together. Overall, my anticipation for soaking into this story was quite high and as always, it was refreshing as a reader who loves the imprint to get the chance to ‘meet’ a #newtomeauthor as a series is just beginning to unfold!

As a side note, I love when authors tuck in bookmarks with their stories – the Heartwarming authors do this quite regularly and I have become a bit spoilt on those small little random acts of kindness as it makes reading their stories extra personal. Especially in the cases where their bookmarks are either about the series in-progress and/or about other series or one-offs they’ve written as it helps me expand my knowledge of what is in their backlist as much as their frontlist! In this case, I received a Two Moon Bay series bookmark and it is wicked lovely! I loved the curved edges, too!

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#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “A Family for Jason” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book One) by Virginia McCulloughA Family for Jason
Subtitle: Back to Bluestone River
by Virginia McCullough
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

She’s not home for keeps

Unless he proves first love is forever

Bluestone River is a minefield of memories for Mike Abbot—all involving Ruby Driscoll. Twenty years after scandal divided them, they’re both back in their hometown. Ruby’s visit is strictly temporary. But as she uses her trauma expertise to help his vulnerable son, Mike faces what his heart has always known. Ruby’s still his one and only. This time, can he convince her to stay?

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335510792

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


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 6th August, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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Back to Bluestone River series:

A Family for Jason (book one) : Ruby & Mike’s story

The Christmas Kiss (book two) : Emma & Parker’s story
← forthcoming 3rd December, 2019!

I love how the sequel involves Emma! She’s Ruby’s best friend & she helped Ruby become re-established back into Bluestone River. I thought it was fitting she’d get her own story after finding out how tied-in she is to the community & Ruby’s life!

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About Virginia McCullough

Virginia McCullough

Born and raised in Chicago, Virginia McCullough has been lucky enough to develop her writing career in many locations, including the coast of Maine, the mountains of North Carolina, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and currently, Northeast Wisconsin. She started her career in nonfiction, first writing articles and then books as a ghostwriter and coauthor. She’s written more than 100 books for physicians, business owners, professional speakers and many others with information to share or a story to tell.

Virginia’s books feature characters who could be your neighbors and friends. They come in all ages and struggle with everyday life issues in small-town environments that almost always include water—oceans, lakes, or rivers. The mother of two grown children, you’ll find Virginia with her nose a book, walking on trails or her neighborhood street, or she may be packing her bag to take off for her next adventure. And she’s always working on another story about hope, healing, and second chances.

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My review of a family for jason:

Ruby is the kind of woman who likes to see the potential in life rather than the sour lemons that can upset your plans. She wouldn’t be the first to admit that losing a job she believed in struck her in the heart and was effectively difficult to re-group after due to how much of herself she put into the belief her job was one that had mattered. Instead, she put on the kind of brave face you hope will soak through you the longer you wear it and decides to re-settle into her hometowne of Bluestone River! This coming off the suggestions of her bestie Emma kept nudging her with photos of the open prairie grasses, the calming scenes of wildlife and the potential of what Ruby might find once she arrived. I think the key word there is how Ruby might find something she hadn’t planned to find and thereby, finding a new way forward when life felt like it was falling apart. That’s a sentiment I think most can relate too when things go south and you have to rebuild your life.

Counter to Ruby’s woes are Emma’s concerns for her own health – as she has a serious condition that requires not just surgery but loads of patience as the recovery isn’t an easy one. These are two woman at cornerstones of their lives seeking comfort and shelter together if only to weather the storms and find a way to come through them a bit less affected than if they were to ride them out alone. Although the same could be said for Mike and his young son Jason; as they were two warriors riding into their own storm as well. Mike was the kind of father who was not just committed to his son but he was an encourager of random joy. He liked to keep the legacy of how he was raised in the growing years of his son Jason, even if his own childhood and his son’s held a few stark differences between them. For instance, when Mike was growing up he wasn’t struggling with PTSD like his son but there was solace in being back in Bluestone River. The area held a calmness over it – where the natural world in of itself had the best calming effect on the residents and perhaps, a healing effect as well.

I liked how McCullough took her time in allowing Jason to come round to others; how he interacted with his father, his teacher and even new persons he was just starting to meet like Ruby and Peach (the dog). His behaviour matched what you would expect from a young child who was struggling with the issues he had and yet, each time he was in-scene, it felt organic, honest and real. Nothing felt forced and I appreciated the realism and the extra touches of honesty threading into how Jason was portrayed.

In my mind, I felt Ruby should pitch herself to the local school district, especially after that first meeting with Jason’s teacher. It felt like a natural path for her to take as her skills and her instincts would be better suited to helping these children here rather than for seeking to find a future elsewhere. Although, that was part of her own circle of growth and healing – but McCullough plants the seed of this future early-on and lets you ride through that foreshadow with the hopefulness that it provides. Meanwhile, Mike is caught between the past and the present; sorting out his own feelings about fatherhood inasmuch as how he lost Ruby to the sands of time. His road towards a future with less strife and re-hashing of the past felt it might take longer because he didn’t have someone like Emma to use as a sounding board. In many ways, Mike was more alone than Ruby or Emma, struggling to put the pieces of his life together and maintain his calm exterior for Jason; a feat which would be difficult for most parents in his circumstances.

One of the more complicated plots I’ve read in a Contemporary Romance is entangled inside A Family for Jason – as it isn’t just a story about infidelity and tragedy; its about how the actions of others can wreck the futures of people who are secondary victims of the trauma. McCullough threads us through the past as readily as she does the present; owning to the complications of their mutual back-histories, Ruby and Mike are at different exit points to where their past re-aligns with their present. They each have their own spin on the events, the revelations and the after effects of how their lives were driven apart. The sad bit there is that neither of them are on the same page in regards to the emotional upheaval that the tragedy caused because they never had the proper chance to shift through that cascading turbulence of angst.

And, of course what didn’t help matters for them is how some members of the community have memories like elephants and without the benefit of letting the past lie where it rests. Some people like to stir up trouble for the sake of it and others apparently like to keep you rooted where you were in the past. I noticed that for all the good it was giving Ruby and Mike a chance to resolve their complicated past between them, there were others who wished to keep the divide and even tried to encourage the issues which once led them apart. In essence, some people can heal from the past and others refuse to move forward which makes healing hindered when your at the centre of what happened to drive the original wedge between different community members.

What is very true to life is how McCullough has her characters walking through their anguish – both known and unknown, as whenever trauma is involved the layers are not as easily to identify once time grabs hold of the person whose trying to overcome the loss(es). She banks the current time-line with the past, re-directing you backwards in order to understand the current sequencing of events and even, questioning a few things along the way. As to what could have been changed in the past to effect the future that we are now seeing unfold whilst keeping true to the timeline of how sometimes even the best of people make the wrong choices at the worst of times. No one can truly judge themselves to the degree Mike and Ruby are attempting to do to themselves because at the time of the trauma they mutually shared, they weren’t ready to tackle those dimensional repercussions.

On the Contemporary writing style of Virginia Mccullough:

Whilst reading more about Ms Mcullough via her website but also in the Author’s Note attached to this novel, I learnt she hails from the same city as my Mum! Whilst she went exploring their mutually loved state and Iowa, I had stories of other Midwest states and cities which my Mum’s family frequented. It never fails to make me smile realising on alike families are who come from the Windy City and how many similar stories of joy can be learnt! Or, in Mum’s case, she is never very far from meeting up with someone who is from there and they can talk til the cows come home quite easily! They just share a special bond as I think growing up there gives you a bit of an advantage as Midwesterners are not just a friendly lot, their adventurous and they love meeting new people whilst they remain adaptive and excited about where life takes them.

McCullough tackles childhood PTSD and what causes a child to be mute rather than to speak through their emotions and their crises; giving new empathy for how PTSD affects children but also, how sometimes children find the hardest part of their recovery and healing process is resuming the art of speaking. Words have a lot of hidden meanings but they also hold a lot of truths that can be hard to speak; which I felt is partially why Jason might have stopped speaking as his reality had become shattered in such a tragic and traumatic way, it was easy to see why his voice might have become silent for awhile.

There is an ease of awareness and of setting here – you can tell McCullough has taken her time to develop this series, of giving us a well-rounded and well-thought out plotting to where the foundation of the series can build out of this first installment. It is a place that isn’t entirely without its prickles of angst but it has a heart-centred feel to it which gives you the hope of what could happen if people allow themselves to forgive the past and to seek a future without allowing the past to dictate how your life is meant to be lived.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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A Family for Jason blog tour via Prism Book Tours

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End of the Blog Tour badged provided by Prism Book ToursBy clicking this badge you can find out about the giveaway associated with the tour;
my particular tour stop doesn’t host the giveaway as I’m a review stop, however,
you’ll find many other bloggers who are hosting the information!

This book review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this story counted towards my 2019 reading challenges, specifically:

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “A Family for Jason”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Virginia McCullough, blog tour banner and the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by 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, 2019.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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 Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Contemporary Romance, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Mute | Medical Loss of Voice, Prism Book Tours, PTSD, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Single Fathers, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Special Needs Children




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2 responses to “#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “A Family for Jason” (Back to Bluestone River series, Book One) by Virginia McCullough

  1. Thanks so much for your thoughts on A FAMILY FOR JASON, and Bluestone River. I so enjoy creating a rich setting–it’s part of the fun of writing stories. I enjoyed your analysis of the kind of book it is and such. I’ll be sure to follow your bookish thoughts, as one library girl to another. I often post about libraries around the world–or some quirky thing about them.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms McCullough,

      I appreciate your patience – I had to forego responding to my lovely comments this Summer until now. It was a combination of life, strife and of this past week feeling a bit under the weather! :( However, when I first saw your beautiful note arrive on my review for your novel, I must admit, it gave me a huge smile! I love when the writers I am reading are able to visit with us on our blogs – see what we’ve shared about their stories and to see how we might have connected to what they left us to find inside them.

      I have had a good few years discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming line of stories / series, which is what made this tour a bit sweeter for me, as it marked a new author I hadn’t yet read and a new series just starting off! Always something wicked to be celebrating!

      I could definitely tell how much you *loved!* creating the setting in which Bluestone River resides – you gave it a lot of lovely visuals and I thank you for it as I love feeling transported to a place where the characters are living their lives. I need to start visiting your blog and website; those of us who are champions for libraries need to stick together! Thank you for following Jorie Loves A Story – I hope you’ll find my content interesting to read as I move thorugh genres, styles of narrative, mainstream & INSPY markets as well as select Non-Fiction topics and subjects.

      Many blessings returnt to you, Ms McCullough!!

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