#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “Always the One” (Meet Me At The Altar series, Book Four) by Tara Randel

Posted Thursday, 13 February, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

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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. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “Always the One” direct from the author Tara Randel in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I appreciate reading

the Meet Me At the Altar series by Tara Randel:

Serena’s store Blue Ridge Cottage is the kind of eclectic papery shoppe I’d love to find IRL! Especially as it brings me back to the joyful past of being an ardent letter writer who loved sending letters through the post office! Stationery stores and typewriter repair shoppes are a bit harder to come by these days as much as a solidly outfitted scrapbooking and/or rubberstamp shoppe for those of us who love paper crafting, mixed media collage and the art of creating handmade greeting cards. You can get lost inside a store like Serena’s inasmuch as you could a book shoppe! The choices, the designs and the curiously clever way she used vintage furnishings to display her wares was enticing enough but it was the soul sister vibe she carried off by endearing herself to fellow typospherians which made it seem sweeter somehow!

Mrs M is quite the stitch and a half! She is the kind of landlord who has a grandmotherly attitude which lands her into a bit of a tricky spot when she wants to earnestly offer her grandson to a winning match such as Serena! She can’t help herself really, if you observe her as she tries to encourage a love match between two singleton’s who aren’t entirely ready for the prospect of a relationship! Matching is a fun activity for the person whose doing the pairings but for those on the opposite end of the match? I could see why Serena was hesitating to acknowledge the cunning smiles and the curious way Mrs M attempted to stall in the shoppe long enough for Logan to collect her for their day out.

Logan enjoys his job a bit too much if you ask me! He gets too much pleasure out of uncovering a person’s secrets and of finding out what they wish to hide from the world. Not that that is always a bad thing mind you, but in his eyes? He seems to place himself above reproach and just because there was a bad apple incident who affected his grandmother’s life years ago; he’s now embolden to believe others will follow suit. Others like Serena who just want to carve out an honest business and make it as an independent shoppe owner in an era of chains and box stores. You had to feel for him a bit – for his misguided sense of duty as it is one thing to honour your grandmother and protect her interests but it is another to marginalise everyone just because you can’t believe that someone would be honourable and trustworthy. Even Mrs M called him on that!

Serena loved being involved in the local activities Golden provided but sometimes the cost of participation was more than she was willing to yield. You could almost see the mistake in judgement on her face when Logan started to grill her again for information. He thinks he’s this suave bloke who could charm the daisies off any woman but in reality, he’s hard-edged and if your intuitive, you can see what he’s doing even before he finishes his enquiry.

My three favourite characters ended up being Serena’s father, Jasmine (the new love of his life) and Mrs M; mostly as the three of them are the crafty parental figures who knew how to get forward motion churning in the lives of Serena and Logan. They needed a lot of pushes and nudges to work through their feelings, re-think what they felt they knew of each other and of course, like most relationships that have a rocky foundation they needed help finding common ground. All of this is put together through the vision Randel had in showcasing how ordinary life can be messy but its the hours betwixt and between which count the most.

The person I felt the most sorry for was Logan and Reid’s father – I think he never truly gave himself permission to feel the losses he experienced nor had the capacity to find a way to heal through self-forgiveness for his own past sins. Logan’s father was a proud man but what he needed most was his sons to accept his faults, understand his frailties and still find a reason to accept him as a father who loved his sons most of all. This is why the series feels rooted in a family drama set in a small close-knit mountain community. Everyone is in a different stage of progress towards resolving something of their lives or of their past; no one is unaffected by the secrets but it is those secrets which cause more harm than good.

What pulls me back into the plotting of Meet Me At the Altar series is the thickening plot points – there is an overlapping arc of narrative threading between the novels which is leading into a revelation period. There is one underscoring mystery involving Serena’s own past, her family and especially the goings on with her father which stem from the investigative instincts of detectives both private and publicly employed. It is within this scope that Randel encourages your curiosity because each new installment of the series hugs you closer to the truth but also pulls away from it quite a bit in order to lengthen the reveal.

I am hoping there are a few more stories yet to come in this series – I’d love to see what becomes of Reid, but also the supporting characters of Heidi and Carrie. There are more characters whose lives are entwined with the leads and I would love to see how their lives begin to work out as well!

What gives you the best joy of course is watching how Ms Randel knits her characters closer together at moments where they’d prefer to remain isolated, alone and single. She doesn’t let them root there in their own self-pity, but rather attempts to push them towards the people who have unconditional love to share and friendship which will last longer than a rumour. This is a series that is about working through your problems, trusting in yourself to have the chance to repair the past and finding a place as calm as Golden to renew your spirit as you redefine your path.

-quoted from my review of Trusting Her Heart
(Meet Me At the Altar series, Book Three)

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#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “Always the One” (Meet Me At The Altar series, Book Four) by Tara RandelAlways the One
Subtitle: Meet Me At The Altar
by Tara Randel
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

She’s the love of his life… but is he still hers?

FBI agent Derrick Matthews has finally found his childhood sweetheart and the love of his life—but she isn’t exactly happy about it! Years ago, Hannah Rawlings disappeared overnight when her family went on the run, and she blames Derrick. She tells him she’s moved on and he should, too, but Derrick fears Hannah’s still in danger. He vows to protect her—even if that means betraying her trust…again.

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

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1-335-88957-7

Also by this author: His One and Only Bride, His Honor, Her Family, Trusting Her Heart, (#25PagePreview) of Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart, Stealing Her Best Friend's Heart, Her Christmastime Family

Also in this series: His Honor, Her Family, Trusting Her Heart

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 4th February, 2020

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 385

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming

Converse via: #Contemporary + #Romance and #HarlequinHeartwarming

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Meet Me At The Altar series:

The Lawman's Secret Vow by Tara RandelHis Honor, Her Family by Tara RandelTrusting Her Heart by Tara RandelAlways the One by Tara Randel

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how this series began within the pages of : The Lawman’s Secret Vow

To have and to hold — until the case is solved?

When an undercover assignment pairs laid-back Florida detective Dante Matthews with by-the-book cop Eloise Archer, he knows it won’t be easy. And not just because they’re competing for the same promotion. Now they’re living together under the same roof, and it’s getting harder to ignore his deepening feelings for his “wife.” Can he convince Eloise to partner up—for life?

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As an aside – when it comes to the redesign for Harlequin Heartwarming – I am on board with it as far as the front covers are concerned with one note of criticism from a reader who loves her serial fiction. The series names have been moved to the back cover and that is most distressing as it is harder to sort out which books are meant to be read in which sequence per series. I noticed that they are not routing through the series names either online except thankfully on Fantastic Fiction. That is the only mark of criticism I have though as I liked the triangle graphic on the upper left but I wish the series names were still on the front covers.

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About Tara Randel

Tara Randel

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

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per the author’s note:

I have to admit – travelling is one of my favourite blessings as throughout different time periods of my life I’ve been able to travel throughout the country. I’ve only left once when I explored Mayan Ruins in Mexico however, similar to Ms Randel – I am most at home where there is an abundance of the natural world! When it comes to the setting within this novel Always the One, I am thankful to say I had the best introduction to Lake Tahoe when I read Sandra Leesmith’s Love’s Promises.

I’ve been wanting to re-visit Tahoe ever since and it is wonderfully grand I get to make the return trip now! This is one reason I have loved reading the different authors who are creating the stories within the Heartwarming line – they take us on a lovely road trip throughout the United States. To places we have dreamt of going ourselves and/or re-taken us to places we’ve already experienced. The beauty of course is what Ms Randel was lamenting about herself – how it isn’t just enough to tell the story through the perspective of the characters but to own the setting and the locale! To give the reader something to remember about where they’ve been and why going there was such a special treat because it could be a place they couldn’t travel to otherwise.

I am also thankful I can continue to read this series by hosting the tours as they alight through PRISM. It has become one of the series I am enjoying getting to read and one day I’ll have to get a used copy of the first novel as it remains elusively just ‘out of reach’.

My review of always the one:

I had to think for a moment where I am in this series – with everything weighing on my mind recently, I admit, when I first read the Matthews brothers were returning, I nearly paused in thought because I couldn’t quite remember who they were when I first began reading this story! It was when Randel related some of the previously disclosed facts of the series a lightbulb went off in my mind and I was once again re-connecting with the series! Sometimes I wonder how I manage to remember all the series I am reading due to the time lapses between reading installments! This one though – I did immediately remember because of how hard the brothers are attempting to derail their Mum from marrying a bloke they feel isn’t in her best interest to wed!

That had a lot of good folly in previous installments and especially because similar to the animosity I had found in the Rocky Mountain Cowboy series (by Karen Rock) so, too, did I find it lit aflame in this one because the Matthews brothers are definitely as protective of their mother as Rock’s cowboys are of theirs! The interesting bit though is how in both instances, it is the wisdom of the mother’s who wins out in the end and I am hopeful that perhaps that shall keep pace within this series as well – how sometimes children have to be told that despite their best intentions, you truly have to let your parents live their lives! After all, they let them live theirs!

Thus, this is where we are alighting next – Derrick is the one who isn’t attached to anyone yet and he’s the one holding the candle out for the one girl he wishes he could have been with all along (Hannah). These are the kind of men who don’t despair easily and who once they have a goal in their minds, their determined to follow through – that much I can say I love about them but it is how they are sometimes a bit too mule-headed for their own good which causes the most friction!

The more you learnt of Derrick’s unresolved past with Hannah the more you question if something else was happening he wasn’t exactly aware of himself? When Randel re-shifts the story to Hannah some of those questions start getting answered; not all, but enough to realise a few things outside of Derrick’s purview and understandably why both of them have more emotional baggage than people should! Hannah for her part was working as a teacher but it was the shroud of uncertain dangers which she felt were lurking round her in the shadows which put me on high alert! When Randel started to round out the suspense surrounding Hannah from Derrick’s point-of-view, part of me questioned if perhaps there was a forced relocation for her family because of how Derrick had so little to go on and his motivation to find her was thinning each time he found himself puzzled by the lack of leads. I think it has to do with the fact I watched the entire series of Sue Thomas: FB Eye – and others like it, because my mind gets hyper aware of circumstances like these and starts to noodle out the reasons ‘why’.

You had to laugh – I mean, seriously Hannah and Derrick are caught up in a sea of chaos that neither of them could have foreseen when they were in high school. Her anger wasn’t really directed at him though I am sure he felt her wrath was boring holes straight through him as she spoke – it was the kind of anger you could respect because of the situations she had to process and transition through – they weren’t the easiest paths to walk in life. Yet, Derrick was still seeing this a bit more narrowly through his own memories and through his own broken heart. He hadn’t yet transitioned round to seeing the situation from Hannah’s POV and that was hindering his chances at staying in the same room as her because her tolerance for him was waning at best.

I was not a bit surprised Derrick decided to plant himself in Hannah’s life – I mean, he doesn’t exactly have the kind of personality where he’d back down simply because he was asked! He has this way about him where he wants to protect, defend and rescue those he cares about and in many ways, he saw his actions doing just that for Hannah. She on the other hand had a different reaction to his stubbornness and that was quite fitting, too! You can see how they used to get along – if you look hard enough because they are quite at odds right now! Which of course brought back memories of watching the film Did You Hear What Happened to the Morgans? Such a wicked good contemporary film about how life has a way of interceding on your plans and how sometimes being elsewhere is good for the soul!

Hannah has been one against the world for so long it is hard for her to see when someone take stock and care in her well-being. Though those round her started to notice what she was refusing to see herself – from her best friend to her Mum; they noticed the attention Derrick was giving her and how despite everything else, the bloke cared. He didn’t even stay out of some sense of obligation or duty to a long ago version of herself – it was the fact that he had it in his bones to help and that is what he wanted to do most now; help Hannah and right a few wrongs from the past in the process.

Similar to his brothers, Derrick never let his mind rest idle if he knew he was closing in on a case – especially one like this where if he could prove what he suspected it would change lives for the better. Yet, like his brothers – the proof was always the most elusive to find and without it, how could he convince Hannah to start to trust again? I felt Randel did a great job at showing the changes in Hannah’s personality and how this new version of herself was not matching with the memory Derrick had of her – not that that was bad but for him, he had to remind himself that there were seventeen years between them and not all of them had been kind. I felt there was a strong balance of emotional drama combined with realistic suspense – especially in regards to what was moving the pieces forward and keeping everyone a bit in the dark about who knew what and why all of this was happening now.

On the Contemporary writing style of tara randel:

Randel gave Derrick one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when it comes to love which is ambiguous loss! Rather than having a clean break with a past romance, he was left wondering about the information he never received. He had a huge gap in his awareness of what had happened to his lost love and over the years, as he had matured and lived his life until his thirty-fifth year, he hadn’t taken another chance on love much less considered romance! He was caught between his memories, the past as he lived it with the girl he thought he’d marry and the future, which seemed to have snuck up on him. Randel gives you clear reasons to understand why Derrick had such a hard time moving forward and why even now, he is still curious to know what became of Hannah.

Randel gives such a plausible reason for Hannah’s sudden disappearance from Derrick’s life – it is a curious wonder why Derrick hadn’t recovered a bit faster from hearing it. Especially considering his field of work and how the two still share a lot in common even if the feelings are now more one-sided. What I appreciated was the quickening pace – how Randel started things off a bit slower but then gained a lot of momentum as she was disclosing how to connect Derrick with Hannah and vice versa. For Hannah’s section of revealling what the ensuing years had been like for her, I felt Randel had dug into the realistic edgy vibe you were able to pick up in Hannah simply by showing to readers who difficult this kind of life would be on someone and how much it drains out of them. Hannah is weary and downtrodden when we first find her in the timeline of the story – she doesn’t suffer fools and she’s much for sentiment either. She’s had to adapt and that is where Randel truly shined because she was showcasing how emotionally distraught Hannah had become and how self-reliant she needed to be because she didn’t have a lot of back-up to help her out.

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This blog tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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Always the One blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

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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!

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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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{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Lawman’s Secret Vow” “His Honor, Her Family”, “Trusting Her Heart and “Always the One” as well as the book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of Tara Randel, 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 and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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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 Thursday, 13 February, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA

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2 responses to “#HarlequinHeartwarming Blog Book Tour | “Always the One” (Meet Me At The Altar series, Book Four) by Tara Randel

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Randel,

      It would seem like the whole of 2020 swallowed me up in its tides of adversity and chaos – I haven’t been responding to comments very regularly this year; I apologise you’ve waited so long to hear back from me! I wanted to say, I’m thankful you saw my notes and thoughts about “Always the One”. I’ve been appreciating my journey of discovery into Harlequin Heartwarming series and stories – each of you are writing the kind of Contemporary Romance I love to be reading!! This is a series I’ve enjoyed and I was delighted by what I found in this fourth novel. It was my pleasure to feature you and I look forward to following your career. I hope the year has been kinder to you than me. Thanks for writing uplifting romances and giving us all a lovely read wherever we pick up one of your novels.

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