Category: Romance Fiction

An #INSPY Audiobook Review | Jorie was smitten by the cheeky Contemporary INSPY humour of Bethany Turner within the pages of “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish”! [Started during #CFSRS20]

Posted Monday, 21 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I have been participating in the Christian Fiction & Clean Reads Reading Safari readathon for the past three years now. I have found the readathon to be personally enriching as it is a wonderful month of respite for book bloggers who want to focus on reading outside their blog schedules and tuck into the gentler side of fiction which is Inspirational Fiction (ie. INSPY). A portion of INSPY is Christian Fiction however, INSPY overall encompasses all faiths and religious backgrounds as it is faith-inspired literature. As a participant of the readathon – each reader moves through the event at their own pacing – seeking stories to read, authors to get to know socially online and reading the stories which interest them throughout the readathon. As you participate there is a chance you can win a book or several throughout the month. This year I am reading a mixture of stories I’ve won during past CFSRS readathons, stories I’ve won through bookaways with Christian Fiction authors or bloggers as well as stories on my shelf from my personal library as well as borrowing INSPY stories in print and audio from my local libraries.

In May 2020, I was hosting a few promotional tours and social blitzes for JustRead Publicity Tours – one of those tours was the ‘Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish’ Takeover Tour – wherein I received a complimentary print copy of the novel in exchange for posting promotional content on social media featuring my own book photography. Whilst the audiobook edition for “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” was included in my Scribd membership which I use to regularly listen to audiobooks. However, I finished listening to the audiobook via CloudLibrary which is a service through my library for listening to audiobooks. I was not obligated to post a review on behalf of this novel and have elected to do so for my own edification as well as continuing to share my bookish and readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read this story:

You’d have to understand my affection and addiction to watching *celebrity chefs!* first and foremost – as I entered into my years of cooking a bit late in the game compared to most women. In fact, I took after Julia Child and I was wickedly overjoyed knowing that she didn’t get invested into cooking or the cookery arts until well into her thirties – wherein I happily beat her by a few years myself when I started to find that I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, too!

Prior to those years of my late twenties, I was resolved that perhaps when it came to cooking my real gift was for baking – as I just did not catch onto the buzz round using fresh farmer market ingredients and sorting out which vegetarian and/or vegan dish I wanted to create by using different cookbooks and/or vegan/veg blogger recipes online until after assisting Mum as her sous chef – I started to notice I was enjoying ‘going off the recipes’ and sorting things out on my own. It was a personal reckoning of joy and I was thrilled to bits about this new adventure I was undertaking.

This also lead us to requesting copious amounts of cookbooks & baking books at our local library and happily kept the Acquisitions Library well supplied with titles for vegans and vegetarians alike! Over the years we had to take a break from focusing on vegetarian foods and are more omnivores at the moment who are anxious to return back to living through the seasons with vegetables and grains. At the same time, I was no longer finding Food Network & the Cooking Network to be on the boring side of the ledger as half the time I felt a lot of that stuff flew over my head quite a bit.

I’m all-in now – from having personal favourite celebrity chefs to having series on Food Network I am wicked thrilled over seeing new episodes for whenever I’m able to see them to realising that it could take another lifetime to *bake!* like they do on the Great British Bake-Off! I even love a murder mystery series via Hallmark Movies & Mysteries called: “Morning Show Mysteries”. The title is elusive as she runs a restaurant and has a cooking segment on a tv show.

Thus, when I read the premise for “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” I thought how wicked wonderful one of today’s INSPY Contemporary novelists’ is taking a personal hobby following the lives of celebrity chefs and spinning it into a compellingly realistic story!

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Graphic created in Canva by Jorie. Hadley Beckett's Next Dish novel Photography Credit: © jorielovesastory.com.

Hadley Beckett's Next Dish
by Bethany Turner
Source: Borrowed from local library's CloudLibrary, Direct from Publisher, Scribd | Audiobook Subscription
Narrator: Aimee Lilly

Get ready for a heaping helping of humor, romance, and second chances

Celebrity chef Maxwell Cavanagh is known for many things: his multiple Michelin stars, his top-rated Culinary Channel show, To the Max, and most of all his horrible temper. Hadley Beckett, host of the Culinary Channel's other top-rated show, At Home with Hadley, is beloved for her Southern charm and for making her viewers feel like family.

When Max experiences a very public temper tantrum and is sent packing, his only chance to get back on TV and in the public's good graces is to work alongside Hadley. As these polar-opposite celeb chefs begin to peel away the layers of public persona and reputation, they will not only discover the key ingredients for getting along but also learn the secret recipe for unexpected forgiveness . . . and maybe even love.

In the meantime, hide the knives.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Southern Lit, Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780800735234

ASIN: B087JZQCC3

Published by Revell

on 5th May, 2020

Format: Audiobook | Digital, Trade Paperback

Pages: 352

Length: 8 hours and 40 minutes (unabridged)

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The novels of Bethany Turner:

The Secret Life of Sarah HollenbeckWooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany TurnerHadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck (2017)

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey (2019)

Hadley Becket’s Next Dish (2020)

Published by: Revell (@RevellBooks)

an imprint of Baker Publishing Group

Audiobook Published by: Oasis Audio (@oasisaudio)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook (Digital & CD) and Ebook

Converse via: #Contemporary #ChristianFiction, #INSPYRomance, #INSPYbooks,
as well as #HadleyBeckettsNextDish and #HadBeck

About Bethany Turner

Bethany Turner

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn't matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she's chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

Photo Credit: Photo by: Emilie Hendryx © EA Creative Photography

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #CFSRS20
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Posted Monday, 21 September, 2020 by jorielov in #CFSRS20, #INSPYSundays, 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Chefs and Sous Chefs, Christianity, Contemporary Romance, Cookery, Foodie Fiction, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Jorie Loves A Story Features, Library Catalogues & Databases, Library Find, Love Books Tours, Modern Day, Nashville, New York City, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Reading Challenges, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Sociological Behavior, Sweet Romance, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Women's Fiction

#SaturdaysAreBookish Audiobook Review | “Jesse’s Girl” by Tara September, narrated by Verla Bond

Posted Saturday, 19 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

#SaturdaysAreBookish banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: Starting in August 2020, I started hosting for Random Things Tours as a new book blogger working with them to either review and/or host guest author features on behalf of their authors. I was thankful to join their book blogger team and look forward to joining the tours which are highlighting the stories I actively enjoy reading and discovering. I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Jesse’s Girl” from Random Things Tours in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On why “Jesse’s Girl” felt like a good fit for a Contemporary Romance:

I love second chance romances and stories of redemption – I have a preference for slow burning romances and getting the chance to have a new relationship repair the angst of a past relationship which seemed to be the case with ‘Jesse’s Girl’ as Gwen was finding her life completely erased from the life she had with Jesse once Jesse left her and his daughter for a fling with a colleague.

What appealled to me the most was the shortness of the story itself – as this was an audiobook under five hours and I felt that was a good length for me at this time to listen too. The shorter audiobooks are fast becoming my new ‘favourites’ and when it comes to Contemporary Romances, I am still navigating the genre to root out who my new favourite voices are for this genre. Having said all that, as you will see on my review, I reached a point in the narration where I could not move forward and what I had hoped to have found in the story was not quite the experience I was given. Despite that, I have some strong observations to relate to my readers who can hopefully discern if this is a romance better fitted to them and their readerly habits.

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#SaturdaysAreBookish Audiobook Review | “Jesse’s Girl” by Tara September, narrated by Verla BondJesse's Girl
by Tara September
Source: Direct from Author via Random Things Tours
Narrator: Verla Bond

“I wish that I had Jesse’s Girl”

Successful Texas lawyer, Reade Walker, curses that damn song every time it plays, all too aware of the irony of its lyrics. After all, he has been secretly and painfully enamored with Jesse’s girl, Gwen, for nearly a decade. It was love at first sight for him, but sadly she’s not his girl. She belongs to the one man who betrayed him and knows Reade’s hidden family secret. Yet Reade can’t seem to love anyone except the one woman he can't have. Or can he make her mine?

When Gwen Clark’s senator husband runs off with his intern and all their money, the ensuing scandal turns her life upside down. Deserted, penniless and desperate to provide for her six-year-old daughter, Gwen has no one to turn to but Reade Walker. The one man her heart desperately wants, but her pride dreads having to ask for help. Despite welcoming them into his home, it seems like Reade can barely stand being in the same room with her anymore, let alone under the same roof—in the same bedroom. But Gwen is determined to get her life back on track. It is past time to rediscover her own dreams…if only she can keep her aching heart from breaking all over again.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy (Rom Com), Short Story or Novella


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Heat Factor for Romance
three-flames

ISBN: 9781093176131

ASIN: B07XBWTWNJ

Published by Plus It Up

on 6th September, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 3 hours and 37 minutes (unabridged)

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Published by: Plus It Up

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #RomCom or #Romance and #JessesGirl
as well as #audioreads, #audiobook or #loveaudiobooks

About Tara September

Blogger and former PR executive for The Walt Disney Company, Tara holds a Master’s degree in journalism & communications from New York University. She also spent a semester abroad during her undergrad at Queen Mary University in London. For over a decade before publishing, Tara has penned a popular lifestyle, travel and parenting blog at TaraMetBlog.com.

Always an avid romance reader, she has been daydreaming about being an author since school. Dozens of bad dates, four cities and adventures later, she still finds it impossible that she met her husband on a New York City subway. They now live in sunny Florida with identical twin boys and four cats underfoot/on her laptop/everywhere. Fueled by an IV of green tea and sometimes Champagne, she's finally writing the happily ever after tales she's been dreaming about.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Saturday, 19 September, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Audiobook, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Romance, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Life Shift, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Random Things Tours, Romance Fiction, Romantic Comedy, Vulgarity in Literature

#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen Shoop

Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

#HistoricalMondays blog banner created by Jorie in Canva.

In [2019] I launched a new weekly featured concentration of book reviews on Jorie Loves A Story which celebrates my love and passion for the historical past! For those of whom are regular readers and visitors to my blog, you’ll denote a dedicated passion for reading Historical Fiction (and all the lovely segues of thematic therein) – I am a time traveller of the historical past every chance I get to disappear into a new era and/or century of exploration. There isn’t a time period I haven’t enjoyed ruminating over since [2013] and there are a heap of lovely timescapes I’ve yet to encounter.

This feature was inspired by the stories I’ve read, the stories I’ve yet to experience and the beauty of feeling interconnected to History through the representation of the past through the narratives being writ by today’s Historical Fiction authors. It is to those authors I owe a debt of gratitude for enlightening my bookish mind and my readerly heart with realistic characters, illuminating portals of living history and a purposeful intent on giving each of us a strong representation of ‘life’ which should never become dismissed, forgotten or erased.

I began this feature with the sequel to a beloved historical novel I first read in [2013] – it was one of the first ARCs I received and it was the first year I was a book blogger though it was through a connection outside my life as a blogger. I celebrated K.B. Laugheed’s literature to kick-off this feature and hopefully will inspire my followers to take this new weekly journey with me into the stories which are beckoning to read their narrative depths and find the words in which to express the thoughts I experienced as I read.

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! HFVBTs is one of the very first touring companies I started working with as a 1st Year Book Blogger – uniting my love and passion with Historical Fiction and the lovely sub-genres inside which I love devouring. It has been a wicked fantastical journey into the heart of the historic past, wherein I’ve been blessed truly by discovering new timescapes, new living realities of the persons who once lived (ie. Biographical Historical Fiction) inasmuch as itched my healthy appetite for Cosy Historical Mysteries! If there is a #HistRom out there it is generally a beloved favourite and I love soaking into a wicked wonderful work of Historical Fiction where you feel the beauty of the historic world, the depth of the characters and the joyfulness in which the historical novelists brought everything to light in such a lovingly diverse palette of portraiture of the eras we become time travellers through their stories.

My path first crossed with Kathleen Shoop in [2015] whilst I was participating in a summer reading challenge by BookSparks. I was also a reviewer and blog tour hostess with the  publicity firm whilst I was joining the SRC reading challenge they were quite infamous of hosting for the very first time. My experiences that summer were less than gratifying as I lost traction with the challenge itself and only posted a few reviews out of the ones I was meant to be posting. Ms Shoop and I crossed paths that year due to her latest Letter series release “The Road Home” which was part of the SRC challenge for [2015]. During that summer I also received a #bookmail parcel from the author which include a variety of her stories for me to start reading. They were not for review consideration but if I was inspired to blog about them after I read them that was up to my own discretion and choice. I had a feeling I might be leaning in that direction as just by browsing through the stories and where they could be taking me, I felt they would be the #nextreads I would most enjoy experiencing.

Life and health afflictions (especially my chronic migraines) conflicted with my start/stop attempts to read the books themselves until I felt re-inspired to re-attempt to read one of the novels – “After the Fog” [Spring 2019] which I had no idea was being anchoured to a sequel “The Strongman and the Mermaid” which was also going to be featured on a blog tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours [Spring 2019]. Thereby, it felt like the timing was aligning properly for me to start to read her canon of stories and with my newfound inspiration I couldn’t wait to begin my journey into her collective works.

A bit over a year lateron, I am still struggling to get focused onto the stories on my backlogue due to various reasons where my IRL adversities in health and the health crises of my parents (we’ve been in the ER 6x times since November 2019; the last of which was this past Saturday!) to where I’ve effectively experience a lot of start/stops in my progress to read the stories on my shelves. When I saw this blog tour adverted I thought, there’s a novella prequel to the Letter series? Hmm. I took that as a sign of entrance into a series I have wanted to be reading for so many years now.

I received a complimentary copy of “The River Jewel” direct from the author Kathleen Shoop in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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My reactions to reading Kathleen Shoop:

You can hardly draw a breath as you enter into Rose’s life as a nurse in a small industrial towne which barely has enough medical practitioners that it needs to be medically sound in a place where emergencies were commonplace. In this instance, Shoop begins on a sombering note – of a mother and child who both exited the world the same night as the child’s arrival. It was difficult on Rose – a nurse who grieved for her patients as readily as the doctor she served, but what was one nurse to do with a patient whose birth went sideways as soon as it began? The house she was birthing inside was less than ideal – the light was missing but the effects of the hard birth were not lost on Rose. In many ways, this Rose reminded me of the Rose from Charton Minster (the historical series I loved reading by Margaret James) as both are nurses who go above and beyond their calls of duty.

We also get a firm overview of the towne – of how Donora is co-dependent on her industries and how those industries are co-dependent on each other. Situated below Pittsburgh, its location is on the opposite end of the state than I am familiar though I have passed through the Amish area north of Pittsburgh; it is one city I never had the proper chance to visit. The fact this story is rooted in the steel industry was not a surprise – though like most industrial stories, I found this one refreshing as I haven’t learnt as much about the Industrial Revolution as I ought to have before I graduated. Interestingly enough, no one was ever interested in talking about History after the Civil War or outside of the war eras of the early 20th Century. You have to rally together the missing pieces of history on your own and through reading Historical Fiction these past six years I’ve filled in the gaps far easier than all the years I was in school (which is telling in of its own).

Shoop writes with historical realism – the descriptive details you’d nearly expect out of a Historical narrative but also with a grittiness you might not be fully prepared for reading. Rather than gloss over certain aspects of the novel’s period history, Shoop delves into the gritty depictions of what this kind of life can lead to observing as you live through the era in which it is written about – from the visuals of what Rose must endure as a nurse to the ways in which the lives within the novel are spoken about or referenced. This is a historical novel that tucks you close to the edges – where you can peer at these people’s lives with a rawness as if they were going about their hours without realising someone was taking notes about how they were living, what they were doing or how they occupied their hours. It is an examination on a sociological layer of insight but it is also a gut-punch reality of how people lived through a particular jarring era in history where personal health and the environmental toxicity in their air was assaulting their lungs – “After the Fog” – is a cautionary story about how a disaster in the past can be a foreshadow to the future.

-quoted from my review of After the Fog

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A grandfather in his nineties takes a moment to sit with his granddaughter and his great-grandson to tell them about the fabled Strongman and Mermaid – at least this is our reckoning, as the story of who they had been has nearly become lost in time itself had he not held strong to the book which started to unravel his hidden memories of the past. For her sake, you could tell the strain was affecting her – she simply wanted to do right by her grandfather, where his mind was not allowing himself to remain independent and how the effects of his condition were not just growing worse but they were allowing her to think about the issues which would soon arise if she didn’t force the issue of his relocation. Anyone whose had elder relations knows the position she was in and knows it well; for circumventing problems before they arise in families is one of the hardest obstacles you can transition through outside of resolving the grief which stems from the loss of the relatives who’ve gone on into the next life.

It was here – in a kitchen, you find his voice is still viable enough to piece together the words which compose the story – of how someone’s parents were the better part of a story long since told and that is how we find ourselves time shifting back into 1910 – leaving 2019 with a fresh perspective about Donora about to flicker through our mind as we re-shift back into this sooty dusty mill towne which has a grip of a grasp on everyone whose once lived there.

Mary is a girl ahead of her years – in charge of rallying her siblings to rights before she heads off to work – they were bound for school but she needed to put in a day’s wage and help her family earn the keep which would enable them to stay afloat. You could see her industrious nature in how she attended to the fuel her family needed – not one to shy away from hard work or the arduous litany of chores most girls’ her age might not be as willing to do – you gathered Mary was a forward-thinking kind of girl which was a refreshing change out of her generation. She didn’t see herself limited by means nor in ownership of her future based on her present circumstances; she chose to look towards something positive rather than give into the fact her life could be a repetitious pattern of the hours she currently spent. You felt for Mary – for her courage but also her willingness to see the lighter side to life – where joy and happiness reside.

You immediately get lost inside The Strongman and the Mermaid – not just because the story is part legend and lore; of the personalities and personas people believe in despite the appearances of their composites in reality but because of how Shoop crafted the story. We find our vehicle in the presence of Patryk – a grandfather who simply wants to re-live the olden days if only to give the next generation pause to think about how their ancestors carved out the future they are currently enjoying to live. Part of his joy also stemmed from a deeply felt sense of honour and admiration for Mary and Lukasz – for their story was what had given him the most hope for his own situation. If he could hold onto the stories – keeping the memories close in mind as much as in heart, I believed Patryk felt he wasn’t going to completely remove himself from his own past. He was still a part of the stories being passed down and those living histories meant everything to him.

The more you disappear into the lives of Mary and Lukasz, the more you realise how hard they both were struggling against their own conventions. Their towne had a society of obligation about it – where old school philosophies hadn’t quite become exchanged for the new world mentality where a man and a woman could afford their own choices in their lives. Mary was expected to do the bidding of her parents – irregardless of what she personally wanted for herself, she was needed to work in order to provide whatever they needed based off her pay. This proved to be an exhausting commitment but also a sad one, too as she truly enjoyed her time spent with Mrs Dunn. Dunn was the kind of woman who appreciated Mary’s assistance but knew she couldn’t provide everything she needed – in many ways Dunn was the surrogate mother Mary needed in her life – guiding her with inspiration, encouraging her to think outside the required box her parents wished for her to feel security inside and giving her a chance to breathe a dream of her own choosing.

I truly liked how the story was paced – how you feel emotionally connected to both lead characters and how the towne itself feels a bit more alive somehow – it has its own pace of delivering its presence, not just due to the way work is scheduled but how the people live there. It is a fitting testament to this towne’s history but also as a nod towards the people who forged a life out of an area that was a hard-won place to carve out a living. All of this created the best atmosphere in which to soak inside the historical backdrop Shoop gave us and fittingly, it felt like a better place to begin the series rather than as a sophomore installment.

-quoted from my review of The Strongman and the Mermaid

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#HistoricalMondays Book Review | [prequel novella] “The River Jewel” [The Letter series] by Kathleen ShoopThe River Jewel
by Kathleen Shoop
Source: Author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

For everyone who hopes to find the perfect match…

1875 Des Moines, Iowa

The novella, The River Jewel, takes readers of the bestselling Letter Series novels back in time, before there was a last letter, before the Arthurs lost everything, before they knew a girl named Pearl.

Meet Tilly Rabel, a proud oyster-woman, and Landon Lockwood, the troubled son of one of the wealthiest men in America. The two could not be less suited for love. But when an old legend draws Landon to a hidden river cove, Tilly and he find each other, are lured by growing attraction, and repelled by competing desires to control Tilly’s waters. The hidden pool is replete with valuable mussel beds and the source of everything that makes Tilly who she is. Landon sees the illustrious treasure as the path to proving to his parents he is worth their love and worthy of the Lockwood name. Can Tilly trust Landon with her heart, with her beloved mussel beds? Can Landon trust that he has truly changed and doesn’t need his parents approval to live the life he wants?

Heartbreak, triumph, and a very special baby weave a tale sure to please readers who’ve read the entire Letter Series and those who are just starting the journey.

Genres: Feminist Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Women's Fiction


Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1708629236

Also by this author: The Strongman and the Mermaid

Published by Self Published

on 3rd December, 2019

Format: POD | Print On Demand Paperback

Pages: 172

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The Letter series:

The River Jewel by Kathleen ShoopThe Last Letter by Kathleen ShoopThe Road Home by Kathleen ShoopThe Kitchen Mistress by Kathleen Shoop

The River Jewel & The River Promise (series novellas) (prequel duology)

The Last Letter (book one)

The Road Home (book two)

The Kitchen Mistress (book three)

The Thief’s Heart (book four)

Formats Available: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and ebook

About Kathleen Shoop

Kathleen Shoop

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. She lives in Oakmont, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 7 September, 2020 by jorielov in #HistoricalMondays, 18th Century, Blog Tour Host, Content Note, Fly in the Ointment, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Iowa, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Multiple POV, Self-Published Author, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

A #HarlequinHeartwarming #RomanceTuesdays | “After the Rodeo” (Book Two of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series) by Claire McEwen

Posted Tuesday, 1 September, 2020 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#RomanceTuesdays badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I’ve come to know this series [Heroes of Shelter Creek] through hosting the blog tours celebrating releases within the series with Prism Book Tours. However, this September in lieu of an organised blog tour Ms McEwen was seeking book bloggers who were interested in her series and wanted to read the fourth novel in the series “Rescuing the Rancher”. Whilst I was conferring with the author about receiving this for review, I asked if I could receive the second novel in the series “After the Rodeo” as I never had the chance to read Jace and Vivian’s story! I was thankful that Ms McEwen was also available to be a featured guest during my @SatBookChat wherein I celebrate Romance, Women’s Fiction, strong female characters across genres and Feminist Lit on Saturdays each month.

I decided to read and feature “After the Rodeo” ahead of her #SatBookChat appearance and run my review during my #RomanceTuesdays feature wherein I love to showcase Harlequin Heartwarming and Love Inspired authors as they are writing the kinds of Romances I am appreciating most to be reading right now.

I received a complimentary copy of “After the Rodeo” direct from the author Claire McEwen in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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This is one of my top favourite #CowboyRomances by Harlequin Heartwarming:

When I was checking my feeds on Twitter a short while ago, I stumbled on an announcement by Ms McEwen who was seeking book bloggers to read and review her latest release of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series – wherein I was most excited seeing the notice posted as this is one of the Western & Cowboy Romance series I love reading the most published by Harlequin Heartwarming!

I wasn’t sure if I would be in time to request the book for review, but I immediately emailed the author and the rest knitted together out of that conversation! I am so thankful I contacted her when I had as it lead me to being reading this second of the series I had missed between books one and three as much as I have been wanting to host more of the authors I love via Harlequin Heartwarming and/or Love Inspired Suspense – having the Blackwell Brothers / Sisters authors booked during @SatBookChat in October, it was a lovely surprise to have Ms McEwen booked for early September!

If you’re a ready reader of Westerns and Western Romances, I hope this showcase might inspire you to give Harlequin Heartwarming a chance at winning over your love of Westerns because the authors who are writing these stories are writing wicked brilliant characters with stories which lift your spirits as you’re reading them! Plus, the settings alone are awe-inspiring and give you the kind of Western experience you are hoping for in a Western Rom!

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One interesting turn at the beginning of the novel was learning about the changing tides of the cattle industry – how traditional cattlemen and ranchers wanted to turn towards a greener and healthier way of producing their product and why that was an important resurgency in how they could maintain their ranches. Not that all ranchers were open to innovative changes which McEwen happily discloses within Liam’s own family as his brothers are spilt on the issue whilst their father is keenly invested in learning more – hence, how we find Liam is the chosen one to visit with Jace in Shelter Creek!

I, for one love all sorts of Western Romances however it is a bit rarer when within a Contemporary Western we get to talk about how ranching is trying to change its habits and become a more sustainable industry. Across the board farmers and ranchers are having to diversify their yields yearly due to different issues in climate and how to sustain themselves during leaner years wherein I felt broaching the topic of how they approach ranching their land and their cattle is also a valid point because there is a stark difference between big industry and keeping family ranchers in business by modifying their practices to reach a more educated consumer about the differences in those practices. To say I was wholly intrigued by how this novel began is putting it mildly!

Liam is at a cornerstone of his life – where he has to choose to step forward into his future rather than constantly think he cannot handle what life has to offer. This is an intriguing story about redemption – how a man can redeem his own image and identity of himself post trauma and addiction and redirect his own life back onto a purposeful path which renews his own spirit. The foundation of how McEwen laid that down for us to find was lovely because there was a moment where I felt Jace could inspire Liam simply by someone who had gone before him and had to re-alter his own opinion about what life could involve for a man who had a determined view of his own path. Even though I hadn’t had the chance to read After the Rodeo, McEwen gave some lovely hints toward Jace’s own story where I felt I could intuit why she wanted Liam closer to Jace during this transitional period of his own life.

Trisha has such a unique job at the wildlife center – I remember visiting those whilst growing up and wondering about the people who worked there. As I was fascinated how close the handlers could get to the wild animals and how much trust was between the handler and/or trainer and the animal themselves – this is one reason why I love watching shows and series like Crikey! It’s the Irwins because you get to see inside this hidden world of where animals and humans have united together for their own protection and conservation. Trisha has a heart of gold though – even though her life’s story is unconventional – it just suits her personality because she adapts to whatever is happening in her life in the moment. I liked her instantly where we find her in Her Surprise Cowboy because of how earnest she is about finding what Jace and Vivian share between them and how confident she is in her own abilities to give back to the center.

It was humbling coming into Jace and Vivian’s life a bit second-handed to get to know them in such an interpersonal way – because a lot of what anchoured Liam and Trisha together was through the fusion of friendship with Jace and Vivian. They really stepped up to the plate to help out their friends whilst they also offered a lot of heartfelt mentoring. Jace especially gave a lot back to Liam – as I had a feeling they would relate to one another as I was first starting to read this story – both lived the same kind of life in their prior lives and I believed that gave them each a unique perspective on the other. Liam and Trisha needed friends like them because they each were muddling through their own struggles where having a kind friend to lean on would go the extra mile towards finding resolution to what troubled them. Now more than ever I can’t wait to settle into the story of what drew Jace and Vivian together – as there are pieces of their romance peppered inside Her Surprise Cowboy but one day I’ll appreciate reading start to finish!

There is a certain layer of joy in reading a story about second chance romance, new beginnings and the redemption quality of forgiveness. Not just the kind of forgiveness others can give to you themselves but the kind of forgiveness that comes from within the person. A lot of the story is hinged on whether or not Liam and Trisha can find solace from their past and find a way to give themselves the leverage of understanding who they were in the past is not an indication of whom they could become in the future. That’s the rub about the human condition in us all – in not allowing ourselves the wallowing periods of never seeing past mistakes or wrong turns on our path and to continue to seek out the future with an optimistic impression of what we can achieve. By following the footsteps of Liam and Trisha you’re set to find out how forgiveness of one self can lead to a greater freedom than either Liam or Trisha could have envisioned for each other.

McEwen has conceived of a realistic Contemporary Western Romance series wherein each of her characters are struggling through and/or are transitioning through a difficult period of their lives. The realism is brilliantly layered as despite their obstacles and the hurdles they have to overcome there is a defining thread of individual courage and moxie uniting them. McEwen writes soul lifting Contemporary Romance which gives you what you want out of a modern Western Rom whilst grounding you in realistic lives which you can identify with due to how her characters are self-transitioning through the challenges which arise in all of our lives. The circumstances might differ between us and them but its their resolve to fight through to tomorrow which connects us.

-quoted from my book review of Her Surprise Cowboy

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A #HarlequinHeartwarming #RomanceTuesdays | “After the Rodeo” (Book Two of the Heroes of Shelter Creek series) by Claire McEwenAfter the Rodeo
Subtitle: Heroes of Shelter Creek
by Claire McEwen, Ms Claire McEwen
Source: Direct from Author

Her passion for her job...
could cost him everything...

Former rodeo champion Jace Hendricks has six weeks to turn his run-down ranch around or he could lose custody of his nieces and nephews. But biologist Vivian Reed has to survey his land first - and she won't be rushed. Vivian's optimism and wonder start to win over the kids... and even Jace. But with all that's at stake, can he risk getting any more involved with Vivian?

Genres: Adoption & Foster Care, Biological Diversity, Children At Risk, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, Ecology, Men's Fiction, Motherhood | Parenthood, Ranches & Cowboys, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Western Fiction, Western Romance


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781335510815

Also by this author: Reunited with the Cowboy, Her Surprise Cowboy

Also in this series: Reunited with the Cowboy, Her Surprise Cowboy


Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 3rd September, 2019

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 376

The Heroes of Shelter Creek series:

Reunited with the Cowboy by Claire McEwenAfter the Rodeo by Claire McEwenHer Surprise Cowboy by Claire McEwenRescuing the Rancher by Claire McEwen

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Reunited with the Cowboy (book one) – Caleb & Maya’s story (see also Review)

After the Rodeo (book two) – Jace & Vivian’s story

Her Surprise Cowboy (book three) – Liam & Trisha’s story (see also Review)

Rescuing the Rancher – Aidan & Jade’s story (book four)

Second Chance Cowboy – (book five) – featuring ?? → forthcoming April, 2021!

I’ll admit – I was a bit worried this was ending as a quartet until I spied the release for 2021 via FantasticFiction which is my main resource for sourcing advance notice about series I am reading when new installments of those series will be revealled in forthcoming months.

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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: #CowboyRomance, #WesternRomance & #ContemporaryRomance
as well as #HarlequinHeartwarming with #HeroesOfShelterCreek

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Posted Tuesday, 1 September, 2020 by jorielov in #RomanceTuesdays, 21st Century, A Father's Heart, Addictions and Afflictions, Adoption, Blog Tour Host, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Brothers and Sisters, California, Conservation, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Western Fiction, Cowboys & Ranches, Debilitating Diagnosis & Illness, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Ecology, Environmental Activism, Environmental Advocacy, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Environmental Solutions, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Foster Care, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Life of Thirty-Somethings, Life Shift, Men's Fiction, Mental Health, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Nature & Wildlife, Non-traditional characters, Preservation, Prism Book Tours, Realistic Fiction, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Siblings, Single Fathers, Sisterhood friendships, Small Towne Fiction, Small Towne USA, Social Services, Sudden Absence of Parent, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, Sweet Romance, The Natural World, Walking & Hiking Trails, Western Fiction, Western Romance, Widows & Widowers, Women of a Certain Age, Women's Fiction, Women's Health