#RomanceTuesdays feat. Harlequin Heartwarming | “Her Island Homecoming” (Hawaiian Reunions series, Book One) by Anna J. Stewart

Posted Tuesday, 18 July, 2023 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: Whilst speaking with Ms Stewart about being a guest on @SatBookChat in the New Year of 2021 (as our conversation was in late 2020) – I realised there was a whole collection of stories by her I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading! The first series which charmed my heart was Butterfly Harbour – which we happily discussed during #SatBookChat in January, 2021 and it is the series I am continuing to read throughout 2023. At the time, she mentioned to me she also writes for Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense and I was quite curious about those stories as I regularly read their Love Inspired Suspense novels. The key difference between the two is Love Inspired is their faith-based imprint and the Romantic Suspense stories are Contemporary and mainstream. I tend to be a hybrid reader of both mainstream and faith-based markets which is why I was keen on reading her Romantic Suspense releases. 

I am a member of her Review Team (as you will see the badge I created at the bottom of this review) and I am thankful I have the opportunity to be clued into her new releases and series, as they become published and available to read. I will be continuing to read her Heartwarming and Contemporary Suspense releases via Harlequin as a Review Team member, too.

I received a complimentary copy of “Her Island Homecoming” direct from the author Anna J. Stewart in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: All the Press Materials for this series (Hawaiian Reunions) were provided by the author, Ms Stewart for use on my blog. Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

You might recognise the author I am reading (ie. Anna J. Stewart) as I first became introduced to her style of storycrafting whilst reading the #BlackwellBrothers series via Harlequin Heartwarming! Whilst continuing to get to know her further through her guest appearances on @SatBookChat (the Saturday chat I’ve hosted since 2014 celebrating Romance, Women’s Fiction & Feminist Lit). You’ll find me reading selections from her Romantic Suspense stories for Harlequin as well as her wicked lovely series ‘Butterfly Harbour’ which is a celebration of family, community and new beginnings!

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In recent years, you will have found reviews of the following novels
featured on Jorie Loves A Story:

Undercover Heat and Colton on the Run

Gone in the Night, Guarding His Midnight Witness and Recipe for Redemption

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And, this Summer, I am returning to her novels as I re-establish where I am within the Honour Bound series and Butterfly Harbour whilst beginning my journey into this NEW series: Hawaiian Reunions. I am also going to be dipping back into the Blackwell stories as well as there are more than one series of the Blackwells available, and I haven’t had the chance to properly finish the last two series about them. I am overjoyed their stories continue to enter our lives as I was so dearly attached to the first one (ie. Return of the Blackwell Brothers) and look forward to new memories and reactions as I continue to proceed inside the series which follow suit.

Betwixt the angst of life’s uncertainties, an unplanned relocation and a new job – you could say, I’ve been a bit whisper quiet on Jorie Loves A Story for the last several months! I had been attempting to read this novel for several weeks, especially at the latter half of June when I thought I was going to have a bit more balance in my work life. However, with my new job came a lot of training hours and sometimes, those hours were a bit more intensive than I perceived them to be originally. In essence, it was a lot of commuting and exhaustive hours to where unwinding into a book I wanted to read was pushed aside for much needed rest. As I was still juggling my night job whilst training for my new ‘day’ job. The only good news on that front at least, is the new company I’m working for is paying for mileage for my last two weeks of commuting. I wish it had been retroactive from the beginning but at this point, a little return on the commute is a blessing.

Shifting into July, I had inked out some downtime for myself over the Fourth, only to be greeted by lightning storms and internet outages. Not the best timing for a girl who ached to soak into a novel! It took a bit more time to get another day off in order to continue reading “Her Island Homecoming” and I was especially grateful the day arrived sooner than later! As my training schedules were getting a bit more complicated with delays and re-scheduled transitions, etc. I am hopeful by the close of July my training will conclude, and I will no longer have a long commute as I will be working locally at long last. For now, the joy of being in Nalani rejuvenated my readerly spirit but also, gave me a bit of a ‘holiday’ away from work and the stresses of life. I truly loved being set in this world!

This also marks my return to reading and blogging. I’ve had a lot of unbalances in my life since February and even, further back since last October, 2022. A lot of life has been lived between those months and although, things are starting to get better for my family – it simply has been a long haul to get to this point. I’m grateful to have regular hours at work starting after I shift to working locally as I will know my schedule for day and night shifts and which days, I’ll have off vs the pattern of insanity I’ve been going through with training at my new (day) job. The night job has always remained consistent but it’s the day job I replaced with a new one which has caused the recent strife in my hours.

Settling into a Heartwarming novel felt like the right choice for me. Whenever I pick up one of these lovelies, I feel as if I can just soak into a story, relax into the lives of the characters and settle the chaos for a bit. We all need those moments to ourselves where we can just find ways to decompress and find what can relax us outside of work and life’s commitments. If you’ve been waiting for me to showcase new content, I appreciate your patience. And, if you’ve had a hard-won year this 2023, I hope you’ll find some peace soon in a story that lets you take a step out of your everyday and just soak into something uplifting and renewing like this novel has been doing for me.

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#RomanceTuesdays feat. Harlequin Heartwarming | “Her Island Homecoming” (Hawaiian Reunions series, Book One) by Anna J. StewartHer Island Homecoming
Subtitle: Hawaiian Reunions : Book One
by Ms Anna J. Stewart
Source: Author Review Team

Will he stay too?

From sand in his shoes to a gecko eating his dinner, Theo Fairfax is way outside his comfort zone in Hawai'i. Sent to convince pilot Sydney Calvert to sell the tour company she just inherited, he finds himself being won over by the tight-knit community, the natural wonders and Sydney’s free-spirited beauty. Could exploring their growing feelings lead to a future as magical as a tropical sunset?

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

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1335584984

Also by this author: Undercover Heat, Colton on the Run, Gone in the Night, Recipe for Redemption, Guarding His Midnight Witness

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 23rd May, 2023

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 384

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

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The Hawaiian Reunions series:

Her Island Homecoming (book one)

Their Surprise Island Wedding (book two) : coming September, 2023!

*features Keane, the surfer who returned to Nalani in book one!

A Surprise Second Chance (book three) *

← *forthcoming release: March, 2024!

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View the list and keep tabs on this series via Fantastic Fiction!

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance and #HawaiianReunionSeries
as well as #HarlequinHeartwarming

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a note about the author’s note:

I love the personal history Ms Stewart shared with us in her note, this time round. As it not only gave me a more personal reason behind the story itself (and the series it begins) but it anchoured us into her writerly inspiration, too! I love finding out what inspires a writer to write the stories we’re reading as readers. Oft-times, we might not ever learn what inspires the stories themselves but every so often we get to peek behind-the-book and find out a bit of trivia we might not otherwise have known. These moments are wicked gems for me and I hope they are the same for you in return.

I grew up with memories of Hawaii myself but without the first-hand experience. My Mum travelled to the islands with our Cousin and their adventures over there have had quite the lasting effect! Mum always wanted to take Dad and I with her back to Hawaii but that never did pan out to where we could take that kind of a trip. Not just for the distance but the time involved to travel there and return. My Dad worked in an unforgiving industry his whole work life and he wasn’t afforded a lot of vacation time to travel long distances which is why we took shorter trips and vacations throughout my growing years. I never minded – they were a lot of fun and we have great memories from those journeys but I oft wondered what it might have been like to have reached Hawaii.

I’d still like to go with Mum if possible because I think after having known the stories she shared about her time there and combined with our love of the new Magnum, P.I. (which sadly is being cancelled after it renewed!) — the island is definitely calling me! Hence why I was overjoyed truly when I found out her new series is set there. As she asked in her author’s note if the series could sustain all of us until we can get to Hawaii ourselves, I was quite hopeful that it could as I entered into the story!

my review of her island homecoming:

Not every homecoming is without the pain of loss or the transitional moments we all face in life when certain moments erupt in our lives which force us to reconcile our emotions with our past. They can also give us the courage to sort out the present by how we lived our lives and how those who are important to us lived theirs as well. Stewart begins this new series on a somber note, as there is a death of a loved one in the opening bridge of the novel. It is all off-page and has already happened by the time we join the storyline, but it has an overlaying effect on the characters we’re greeting as sorrow and loss are two of the hardest transitions to overtake as humans. Our emotional connections to each other makes it gutting to come to terms with the losses we face but also, to find renewal and hope in the legacies of their memories.

I appreciated how Stewart showed two different perspectives on the same loss – from the heart of the sister and the tragedy of the girlfriend who never had a chance to become a wife. Those are two uniquely similar and different attachments to the deceased and I appreciated both of their points-of-view as it provided a very humbling entrance into Sydney’s life. it also gave us a way to see Nalani in a way we might not have expected to undertake but one that gave us a measure of grace of how a towne and a location can have a healing effect after devastation.

In the wake of Remy’s sudden death, the ripples of uncertainty and change were surrounding his girlfriend Tehani and his sister, Sydney in waves of angst and anguish. Each of them had to force themselves to find a path forward into the future and it was a mutual future of unease which affected them both on deeper levels of grief. I felt for them both – especially for Tehani as her future was hinged to the plans Remy and her had set aside for starting their lives together; plans which fell short of a wedding and fell hard on tragedy. Sydney on the other hand was a woman caught betxit emotion and obligation; to where her own heart was shattered about the choices she wanted to make for herself and the reasons why she felt obliged to fulfil the dreams of her brother – even if that meant, changing her own path to accomplish them.

The setting and backdrop for this story is impressively spectualar, too. You get to feel the island vibe and the calmness of being surrounded by the purity of beauty which Hawaii affords to anyone who visits the islands. I had a distinct vision of my own based on my Mum’s travels, which kept me rooted in the storyline as I merged those memories into Stewart’s descriptive narrative. Her ability to transport us to those natural environs was a blessing because you could feel yourself there as much as you wished you could experience those places with your own heart, eyes and feet.

By contrast Theo Fairfax was the kind of man who never saw himself past his own goals and the career he was building for himself. He was a very ‘neat and tidy’ kind of bloke where he enjoyed having a very predictable and organised life. He didn’t diviate from what was expected, and he even had the kind of mindset that he could do without if it meant he could continue to suceed in his own personal life goals. I wasn’t a bit surprised Sydney found him wound too tight for her own personal taste but I also, felt perhaps he hasn’t been in the right kind of environment or situation which would push him further than he might allow himself back home. He seemed like the kind of bloke who was used to being in control all the time where nothing ever went wrong or took a different course than the one he planned. Hawaii for Theo meant life was now very unpredictable and set to its own accord of time.

The unexpected clues left behind by Sydney’s brother were the most intriguing because Stewart found a way to have his voice resurrect itself back into the present. And, I felt that was especially needed given the circumstances of his death and the timing of his passing; as it related to the current issues Sydney was facing right now in regards to the choices she needed to make on his behalf in respects to his business. Those little nudges of his own words were crafted quite cleverly to be found by Sydney and the ways in which Stewart brought him back into her life and ours as we read alongside her own discoveries therein felt charmingly kismet.

The more you get to see Theo embracing Nalani, the more you started to see him expanding past the man who landed in Hawaii. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with him necessarily, but there was a harder core to him on arrival and the more time he spent exploring the town and interacting with the people who lived there – the more you could observe him softening to a different pace of life. I think he was so used to one way of living he never considered another. That perhaps left him short-sighted over the years, as it never allowed for any changes to his routines but being in Nalani was proving that sometimes the routines, we set ourselves up for in life are the very reasons why we have to remind ourselves how to relax and unwind.

One of the more humbling moments of seeing the growth of a character, is how Theo learnt to embrace the presence of Noodles (the gecko) and how the after effects of being around Sydney was now affecting his personal relationships with both his sister and her wife. Theo was emerging out of a cocoon I am not even sure if he realised he was settled inside until he went to Nalani. His whole spirit was expanding and the best surprise was watching the self-growth continue to strengthen his own resolve towards having a better tomorrow. I loved how Stewart guided him forward but also, allowed for some surprises along the way for the reader as we endeavoured to take that journey with him.

Stewart gave us such a wicked anchouring of Nalani in the background, too. She had characters who felt like people we could meet ourselves as readily as if we were walking through towne on our way to the beach. These were the kind of persons you wanted to meet as well, because they had quirky and interesting personalities as well as unique perspectives on life or how best to live in a place such as Nalani. I loved seeing them peppered throughout the story and overall they gave a solid foothold into the community for us as we continued to move in and out of the daily life cycle of this beautiful small towne.

Captialising on Sydney’s passion for flight was another delight for me as a reader. As Stewart gave us a bit of a learning lesson about flying helios when it came time to introduce Theo to them. In a lot of respects, it allowed me to understand heliocopters better myself as I have admired them from afar for years but I never truly understood how they operated. Mostly as you see them or your watch them in flight but you don’t necessarily understand the components of what makes them stable in the air or how they are able to achieve the lift needed to balance as they fly, too. It was a lovely bit of insight.

Of course, it is the unexpected moments which test us all – from our resolve to our core of strength. I loved how two pertinent challenges presented themselves which were cleverly island centric and how wickedly it was to see how Theo and Sydney would react having to divert themselves from their prior arrangements. It also gave us keener insight into Theo – how transformative this experience was for him as a person and how happily surprised Sydney was for not having seen some of those changes herself sooner. Not to spoilt it – but it was also a lovely segue of seeing their budding romance blossom. You’ll have to wait for it – because I loved how it was written. It was very old school and such a natural transition for both of the characters – they quite literally surprised themselves. And, both of those challenges allowed us to see the fuller transformations of the characters we had come to love falling in step alongside.

This is why I love reading slow-burning romances – the moments we wait to see happen are just as wicked brilliant as the reveals! Plus, so much of Nalani becomes interwoven into your own heart as you get to jettison into a towne whose pulse of heart relies on the connections of its people. They care so deeply about each other in such a lovingly supportive way, that it speaks to the heart of what community is all about. Their connections to each other and the supportive nature of their towne is also a huge blessing of how this story was told. By the time you reach the conclusion, you want to re-slip back inside Nalani, spending more time with its inhabitants and take a bit of a respite away from your own life once more — which is the blessing of a series like Hawaiian Reunions!

And, can I just say I was over the moon smitten with the gecko! Laughs.

on the contemporary romantic styling of anna j. stewart:

Stewart writes a very openly honest accounting of how one man’s death has caused an insurrection of change in everyone close to him. How his passing has opened new changes of passage for the towne he loved and how his legacy was fiercely strong amongst those who knew him best. His life was lived with both passion and vision and it was how Stewart was etching out those legacies of his into the context of the story which left you rooting for a happier ending for her characters. Each of them were at a transitional point now – as they pieced together their lives but also, reconsidered their options of what their futures could look like as well.

I appreciated how she took the time to showcase the after effects of grief and the difficulties of finding balance out of heartache. She had a fusion of real emotional angst with the hopefulness of a future which was not yet written in stone. It was a very clear portrait of how people can choose to deviate from their own goals and put others ahead of themselves if it meant doing the right thing as well. None of which is an easy transition in the wake of loss but what held your eye on the story is how Stewart chose to showcase their journey.

One of my favourite additions to the story was of Theo Fairfax – I think if Stewart hadn’t placed him on a path to meet Sydney, the story might have turned out differently for me. I personally loved the ‘fish out of water’ sequencing of his own character’s journey. It was a lovely respite to the journey Sydney was on herself – as she was going through her own self-reckoning whilst for Theo, it was almost as if he was given the chance to truly ‘live in the moment’ for the first time and see if a life unscripted was something he could finally embrace. Sometimes it is those kinds of stories which sit well with you because of how authentically real they become as you read them. It is great to rally behind characters who don’t have all the answers and you can walk beside them as they work out the harder questions life can give us all.

Stewart also endeared us with some ‘off the beaten path’ escapades in Nalani which suited me perfectly! I love finding out ‘hidden treasures’ of insight and exploration whenever I am travelling myself – even if I’m more localised rather than faraway as you just never know when you’ll stumble across a hidden gem of a place to seek out for the first time! Those moments tucked into the folds of the novel were brilliant, as they showcased another side of the island but also, gave us more keen insight into Hawaii as mainlanders (if those of us who are reading this story are stateside rather than on the islands themselves). There is so much to unpack about this setting and the state itself, I can see how Stewart wickedly had a delight in crafting the background of the series as it shifts forward. I will equally find myself happy to consume the next installments of Hawaiian Reunions!

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Whilst blogging about my love of Heartwarming novels and series during #TheSundayPost (on the 13th, February 2022) I mentioned the following:

Plus, one reason I love Heartwarming stories are the realistic ways in which characters are presented — they have hurdles and challenges to overcome, sometimes their on a path of personal growth and other times, their looking for a second chapter or a second chance to resume their lives. That’s the beauty of Heartwarming for me. Real life in Fiction.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the books or were thinking you might be inclined to read them.
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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This review will be cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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Review Team badge for Anna J. Stewart made by Jorie in Canva.This lovely badge I’ve created to reflect the fact I am part of the Review Team for Anna J. Stewart. As such, per my usual disclosures when I have a connection to an author – I approach each story I read by an author with fresh eyes and give my honest impressions of how a story sits with me as a reader. I treat each book as a ‘new experience’, whether I personally know the author OR whether I am reading a book by them for the first time or continuing to read their releases as they are available. In regards to being on an author’s review or street team – each story is uniquely told in of its own and my opinions and thoughts upon those stories are reflective of each experience I have with reading the stories I am given an opportunity to read.

About Ms Anna J. Stewart

Anna J. Stewart

USA Today and national bestselling author Anna J. Stewart writes sweet to sexy romance for Harlequin's Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense lines as well as ARC Manor. Early obsessions with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Wonder Woman set her on the path to creating fun, funny, and family-centric romances with happily ever afters for her independent heroines and the men who love them.

A former RWA Golden Heart nominee, Anna’s books have finaled in the Daphne DuMaurier and National Reader’s Choice awards. Her sweet romance RECIPE FOR REDEMPTION was recently turned into a holiday movie for UPtv (A CHRISTMAS RECIPE FOR ROMANCE) which aired during the 2019 holiday season.

Since her first novella with Harlequin in 2014, Anna has written and published more than forty romances in multiple sub-genres. Anna lives in Northern California where she deals with a serious Supernatural and Jason Momoa addiction and two slightly nutty cats named Rosie and Sherlock. When she's not writing, you can find her cooking and baking, binge-watching classic TV and cooking shows, attending fan conventions, or heading to the movies.

You can read more about Anna, her books, and the writing workshops she offers on her website linked in this biography.

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{SOURCES: Cover art for “Her Island Homecoming”, book synopsis, as well as the author’s photograph and biography were all provided by Anna J. Stewart and are used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. LibraryThing banner provided by librarything.com and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #RomanceTuesdays banner, Anna J. Stewart Review Team badge and the comment box badge.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2023.

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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, 18 July, 2023 by jorielov in #RomanceTuesdays, 21st Century, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Geographically Specific, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Life Shift, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA

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