This #RomanceTuesdays feat. #HarlequinHeartwarming | “The Single Dad’s Holiday Match” (Book One of the Smoky Mountain First Responders: a mini-series set in Hollydale) by Tanya Agler

Posted Tuesday, 12 October, 2021 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#RomanceTuesdays badge created by Jorie in Canva.

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 enquired 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 “The Single Dad’s Holiday Match” direct from the author Tanya Agler in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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*waves!* Hallo, Hallo dear hearts,

I wanted to preface my review this #RomanceTuesdays with an apology to the author (Ms Agler) about the lateness in which this review is arriving on my blog, Jorie Loves A Story. I was struck down last week with a beast of a migraine – which did blindside me as I have been quite blessed this year with a reduction in frequencies of my migraines as compared to past years (especially the 2018/19 seasons) however, in September, 2021 I had a clustering attack of migraines and this past week, I was unfortunately offline due to another migraine which just wrecked my hours with its presence. I get the kind of migraines where screens (ie. online spaces), lights and even text (ie. reading books) can affect me quite dearly. I hadn’t even realised I had missed my tour stop this past week as I was so consumed with my migraine, you could say it blighted it out of my memory. For that, I apologise.

Generally, I can get on top of things a bit faster or rebound back a bit quicker – as I had planned to read this lovely ahead of the weekend (on Friday and Saturday) whilst posting this on Saturday afternoon, however, my weekend didn’t quite get off the ground as I had planned it would and I apparently needed a bit of extra time to transition back into reading as well. As luck would have it – blessedly, the tour is running through Wednesday the 13th, which is why I scheduled this to run during my #RomanceTuesdays as a final hoorah for the tour itself and as a way of shining a happy light at the end of the tour on a series and author I’ve continued to enjoy reading and discovering!

As you know, I LOVE Heartwarming series and this one is a unique situation where you have a trilogy of stories interlinked into Hollydale and now, there is a lovely new mini-series attached to Hollydale which begins with this novel: The Single Dad’s Holiday Match

Now without further adieu,… let’s get back to the blog tour today!

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If you caught sight of my #BestBooksOf2020 you know “A Ranger for the Twins” was a winner of my Cuppa Book Love Awards – which you can read about HERE!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comOn where I last left my adventures in Hollydale:

Happily read through my Harlequin Heartwarming archives!

As Agler had written one of my favourite Romance novels from 2020 – I was truly delighted to be caught inside this novel for 2021! She was touching on all the elements I love in a Contemporary Romance – a small towne setting, two bull-headed adults who want the best for someone but might not know how to communicate with each other towards that end and of course, at the heart of it all – a slow brewing romance which is about to upset the plans for the lead characters! I loved the quirkiness of how the story began – from the perspective of how Aidan’s first impression of Natalie was the wrong one because he was reading more into her words than what were there to be heard. Whereas with Natalie she’s on the defensive due to how much it aches her to even consider a life and world without Danny; the young boy she was given guardianship over since his Mum died.

The part of the opening chapters which held my eye the most was when Agler had her heroine of this story overhear what defines family from her Mum to the child she shares guardianship with an Uncle stationed overseas. There is deep rooted tragedy in the origins of this story but at the bedrock of the characters’ lives is a wealth of hope and a light of promise filtering through their lives, too. I loved how Agler focused on where they were in their lives a few months after the tragedy as it showed how much Natalie wants things to change for Danny and how much she aches to learn if she is able to stay in his life once his Uncle Aidan returns home from overseas. It is one of those uniquely non-conventional families which I was loving to see develop as it isn’t oft non-conventional families are showcased in Contemporary Romance. Blessedly I’ve noticed an uptick of inclusion within the Harlequin Heartwarming line of romances and I was thankful to read this one by Agler after having felt charmed by A Ranger for the Twins.

If I hadn’t watched the entire series of Army Wives over the last year, I might not have picked up on the subtle reasons why Aidan was being such a difficult person to deal with as he realised his chances of taking Danny out of state were dwindling now that he knew how hard Natalie would fight for custody. The irony of course is his misunderstanding about her remarks when they first met and that reminded me a lot of Frank from Army Wives – as he tended to see things more literally rather than figuratively – which caused a lot of grief in his marriage. However, back to the story at hand – what was interesting to me were the layers Agler was building to the drama behind the premise of the novel.

I loved how she didn’t waste time getting Aidan and Natalie in front of a lawyer and how quickly she wanted to make the case for both Aidan and Natalie to show why they equally had a motive in wanting to keep custody of Danny. It was an interesting premise from the jump start as this is a case involving co-guardianship of a young boy whom both guardians are not the biological custodial parent but rather, Aidan is the boy’s biological Uncle (though the mother was his half sibling) and Natalie was the mother’s best friend. This is one of those more complicated adoption cases where a person’s will and final intentions before death are being brought to life and court.

Agler has a way of knitting you into the heart of their lives – digging deep and expounding on the emotional side of trying to resolve a custody battle between two guardians who aren’t the best at communicating with each other nor understanding where the others is coming from in regards to why their each fighting so hard towards the same end goal. I was definitely hooked quite immediately after Aidan showed up in the park and throughout the passages in the book where he’s trying to assert himself as the predominant reason why the court should lean in his favour but he has a few misguided reasons behind that train of logic which I was looking forward to seeing Agler explore in more detail. Especially about his concept about how love is co-dependent on biology and how custody should only concern those with biological connections.

What I loved most is the ways in which Agler took us on this journey with her characters – to show how life doesn’t have to be deadlocked into one singular plan nor be scheduled within an inch of insanity for missing out on the smaller moments which give life fuller meaning. Agler has a gift for curating a natural rhythm of pacing within a slow burning romance wherein you feel for the characters and for the adversities their facing because of how authentically true their lives have been told by Agler. I definitely will be seeking out more stories from her in future but I also want to get a copy of the first novel The Sheriff’s Second Chance and re-read this trilogy start to finish!

-quoted from my review for The Soldier’s Unexpected Family

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kindly let me know if we’re reading the same authors and/or if you think I need to add someone to my TBR to be read as soon as I can get my hands on their books!!

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Where my journey into Hollydale began:

The Sheriff's Second Chance by Tanya AglerA Ranger for the Twins by Tanya AglerThe Soldier's Unexpected Family by Tanya Agler

The Hollydale series:

The Sheriff’s Second Chance (book one) – Mike and Georgie’s story *need to acquire a copy!

A Ranger for the Twins (book two) – Caleb and Lucie’s story (see also Review)

The Soldier’s Unexpected Family (book three) Aidan and Natalie’s story (see also Review)

*Please note: I noticed there is a connection with all of these stories being set inside the small towne of Hollydale and have chosen to collect them into a ‘series’ as they are a series by setting – however, I am not sure if they have been officially named as either a collection and/or a series or continuity with Harlequin Heartwarming as there isn’t a series name on the books nor on their informational pages online. I collected them together for my own frame of reference and for other readers and visitors to my blog Jorie Loves A Story who likes to read series in order and/or meet stories in order of how they were first disclosed.

Finally sorted: This was a trilogy and the series is officially called: Heroines of Hollydale!!

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Where my journey into Hollydale continues:

the Smoky Mountain First Responders mini-series:

The Single Dad's Holiday Match by Tanya Agler

The Single Dad's Holiday Match
Subtitle: Smoky Mountain First Responders
by Tanya Agler
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

'Tis the season…
For unexpected love!

Officer Jonathan Maxwell is just as devoted to his job as he is to his two young daughters, leaving zero time for a social life. Until he meets Brooke Novak. The newly hired community center director is a single parent, too, and also part of his latest investigation. Jonathan needs Brooke’s help if he's going to close his case by Thanksgiving…but she might be the biggest distraction from keeping his mind on his job.

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

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335426437

Also by this author: A Ranger for the Twins, The Soldier's Unexpected Family

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 28th September, 2021

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

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The Single Dad’s Holiday Match (book one) – Jonathan and Brooke’s story

The Paramedic’s Forever Family (book two) – *forthcoming in 2022!

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Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin Books

Formats Available: Paperback* and Ebook

*Harlequin has the luxury of offering Regular, Large & Larger Print editions which I personally can attest are lovely to be reading! Especially after a migraine or when my eyes are fatigued.

Converse via: #TanyaAgler and #HarlequinHeartwarming

About Tanya Agler

Tanya Agler

An award-winning author,Tanya Agler moved often during her childhood and settled in Georgia where she writes sweet contemporary romance novels, which feature small towns, family and pets, and themes of second chances and hope.

Her debut, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January of 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release. The sequel, A Ranger for the Twins, will be released in Oct. 2020. A graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and law, she lives with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable Basset, who really rules the roost. Represented by Dawn Dowdle and the Blue Ridge Literary Agency, she’s currently at work on the sequels to her debut. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies, walking, and a good cup of tea.

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my review of the single dad’s holiday match:

I was one of those kids who loved changing schools every so often to where I was never settled into one block of years in one particular school or district. For me, it was freeing because most kids grew up and attended the same school start to finish. I think I would have quit early-on if that had been my fate because switching schools was the best part of my childhood. The only regret is that I spent three years at the same high school which felt like one year too many. Which is one reason why I struggle to relate to kids who don’t want to leave their schools for a new city or state, or even switch schools if their parents have a chance to move somewhere new and different. For me, that’s a golden opportunity but I suppose for others it might feel more scary or disruptive. Uniquely the best part of attending different schools is you get to see a different cross-section of society and you get to be introduced to a lovely arc of multiculturism too.

This is what I was thinking about when I first started reading The Single Dad’s Holiday Match as Brooke is newly relocated to Hollydale and her son is struggling to sort out how to re-adapt into his new school environment and the local community. My favourite stand-out character in the beginning is Aunt Mitzi and I was hopeful she would be a mainstay in the plot in the background. Generally speaking, Aunts or grandparents are delightful secondary characters and sometimes, you get treated to having them present for most of the story, too.

It was just a small scene but within it, Agler drew you into the anguish of Jonathan’s memory about how his wife had died and the ways in which he found out about what caused her death. There was such an emotional depth to that sequence and of course, you cannot help but want to reach out and give Jonathan a hug for that kind of loss. It was heart-breaking and soul wrenching all at once because there was singularly nothing he could have done to prevent her passing and yet, the circumstances of how she died were just too gutting to process in the moment of it happening too. You could definitely see why Jonathan wanted to change his location and to give his daughters a better chance of finding a path forward and a place where they could heal through their grief.

Despite the fact Jonathan doesn’t share a lot about himself – as he’s a bit more reserved, I immediately started to take a shine on him. He put his children ahead of his career (as best he could) and he had a positive mindset despite losing his wife far too soon. He looked to the future and he had a keen eye on how to improve his present with a new job opportunity in his field but what made him relatable is how he strived to see the positives even if life kept trying to showcase the negatives. That’s a life lesson everyone can relate too and it gave him such a humbling layer of relatability.

Brooke found her rhythm in Hollydale, easing between making community connections and excelling at her job despite the attentions Jonathan was giving her about the supposed incidents using the community centre as a point of origin for a new sideline of crime. I think that is what rubbed her wrong the most – how she just was starting to get her bearings in this new job whilst finding that she loved it when she had to shoulder dealing with the enquiries of the local police and trying not to lose her resolve. She had a wonderful personality and I had a feeling Jonathan had misread her as he was presuming she was big city when in reality, I think their both small towne kind of folks! It is one thing to enjoy the benefits of a city but sometimes, your heart leads you to a smaller community close to a larger metropolis and of course, the same could be said of Jonathan as that was hinted about by his own boss who felt he might have chosen to hastily to move to Hollydale himself. Laughs.

This is one of those slow-brewed romances I like to read because you get to take a seat in the lives of the characters and slowly watch the attraction they feel for each other grow into love. Jonathan had a lot to prove both to himself and to his daughters; he had some baggage from the past which needed to be released and also dealt with in a way that would allow him to move forward with his job as it is hard to keep those kinds of emotions and memories bottled together all the time. Whilst he was also re-adjusting to the growth his daughters were experiencing – from finding their voices to wanting to do things independently from him as well. Whilst Brooke was trying to balance being a mother and launching a new career in Hollydale which was a bit conflicted by the owner of the business trying to needle into her authority and not giving her the due she deserved in regards to what she was already accomplishing.

You felt for them both in equal measures because they both had a lot of pressure placed on them and they both wanted to do the best they could under the situations. Yet, as their paths continued to draw together, you saw the lighter side of their personalities and Agler gave us a lovely romance to follow and see how two people could find a second chance at the kind of happiness they both deserved.

on the contemporary romantic styling of tanya agler:

Agler kept their first meeting very official to where you couldn’t quite peer forward to see if Brooke and Jonathan might have a future together. For her side of it, Brooke was intrigued but from Jonathan’s perspective, he was a bit more elusive to read. Uniquely, I enjoyed the topic of fake IDs and the issues teens have with navigating their high school years. It isn’t a topic that is actively explored – and I felt having this centred round Brooke’s job at the community centre was a smart move on Agler’s part as it showed how easily a place of goodwill and community spirit could be used for the negative if people had inclinations to walk down the wrong path. It also showed how easily things can be manufactured in places which otherwise might be seen as ordinary meeting places without the resources to produce anything nefarious at all.

Agler continues to give us a reason to get settled into Hollydale and find a mountain towne a pleasant place to reside as the pace of life is slower whilst the people are accepting of new residents. It is the kind of community that adapts to changes and provides a better quality of life by the ways in which they accept newcomers and allow everyone a chance to find their own path in their towne. I love how Agler keeps expanding our view of Hollydale and how each new installment of the continuing stories associated with the towne itself gives us fresh perspectives on both returning residents and newfound characters who charm us as soon as we meet them. It is a series I look forward to continuing to read as long as new stories are published.

In regards to this being the first novel set round the first responders in Hollydale – I felt Agler pivoted well to showcase how Jonathan was dealing with being the first officer on the scene. Most of the time this was focused on how he would handle a car accident as he had an interpersonal experience involving accidents but it also was showing how he dealt with his emotions and his conscience whilst trying to give his best to his community where he was serving as a police officer. It was a bit layered in that regard as it was written to give the perspective on how first responders have to shoulder both their personal lives and their jobs and how sometimes those can become a bit blurry in the line of duty.

A few flies in the ointment:

I have to admit, certain smells are turn-offs for me and one of my allergies are industrial cleaners and solvents – which is why when it was mentioned Jonathan’s work environment at the police station smelt of ‘bleach and stale coffee’ it nearly turnt my stomach. The two are just bad smells for my nose as bleach isn’t something I use in my life and I always regret whenever a business uses it to such a degree that you can either a) smell it immediately on arrival or b) have it used so heavily it nearly burns your lungs outright. Plus, being a coffee drinker, once coffee turns past the point of return its just not good to anybody – whether your drinking it or whether its ordour is still vibrantly noticeable in the air. Honestly – as soon as I read this description I knew that is one place I’d never want to visit because it was just too off-putting from a sensory perspective.

About the cover art:

I was a bit curious why the cover art only showed one daughter when Jonathan has two daughters and Brooke has a teenaged son? I think it might have been better to only focus on the adult characters or perhaps have a festive photo which showed all three children or at least the two daughters as it gives the impression that there is only one child involved in the story. One of the issues I have with cover art lately are the misleading impressions about a story or how you can love the layout of a cover but its just not giving an accurate depiction of the story you’re reading. This one fell a bit short for me on that angle – even though I liked the colour and hues of how they aligned the festive nature of Autumn and the holidays of the season, it just felt a bit wrong to only include one of Jonathan’s daughters and not the other one.

Small note about Trunk or Treat: This October I’ve been wickedly fascinated by all the lovely Harvest and Halloween decorations in my city. It was an unusual site as generally speaking this area prefers Harvest over Halloween and they celebrate mostly with ‘trunk or treat’ which I didn’t go up with myself as we always observed Halloween – its a bit of a misnomer you cannot have a lovely Halloween party if your a Protestant but sometimes people think you’d opt for ‘trunk or treat’ instead whereas for me personally it never felt like Halloween unless it was a traditional celebration. Which is why I have always boycotted trunk and treats. Uniquely, this story opened with Brooke talking about organising one of those events and I half cringed because it just has a bad cognition for me but I decided to wait to see how things played out in the storyline. In regards to the festive house decorations this year – I am in LOVE. I have missed seeing those as I grew up with neighbourhooods who really went out of their way to embrace the holidays – from Halloween to Christmas. Felt like a return to normalcy in that regard this year and it is wonderful to see it happening.

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I’d like take a moment and thank the author for her kindness in enclosing some lovely surprises for me – including the bookmarks & the pen; it is such an unexpected joy just to be reading the stories themselves whenever they come along to us as book bloggers – but to find small little extras enclosed with the books is a special surprise which I have always been thankful to receive. I loved reading this with the bookmark and it was such a joy to one which says “It’s the best time to get cozy and read a book. Happy Holidays.” With the mug and graphics on this green bookmark it just felt wickedly fitting to receive this during the kick-start of the holiday seasons!! Receiving #bookmail from this author is always a lovely delight of joy.

Many blessings back to you, Ms Agler!

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This blog tour was courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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The Single Dad's Holiday Match blog tour banner provided by Prism Book Tours and is used with permission.

Kindly click the banner to route yourself to the full schedule for this lovely blog tour and to see more readerly reactions to the story. As well as find out about the giveaway associated with the tour!

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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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LibraryThing banner provided by and used with permission.

This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Covers art of “The Sheriff’s Second Chance”, “A Ranger for the Twins”, “The Soldier’s Unexpected Family” and “The Single Dad’s Holiday Match” as well as the synopsis,  photo and biography of the author Tanya Agler along with the 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. LibringThing banner was provided by and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #RomanceTuesdays banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2021.

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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 Tuesday, 12 October, 2021 by jorielov in #RomanceTuesdays, 21st Century, Adoption, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Equality In Literature, Family Drama, Family Life, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Life Shift, Mental Health, Military Fiction, Modern Day, Mother-Son Relationships, Motherhood | Parenthood, North Carolina, Orphans & Guardians, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Single Fathers, Single Mothers, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Services

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