Borrowed Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.
This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this March to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a novel within the Seasons of Alaska series by Carol Ross. I had previously read a novel by Ms Ross when I was attached to the five-book series “Return of the Blackwell Brothers” review tour wherein I read the entire series as a hostess for Prism Book Tours.
This time round – I borrowed most of the “Seasons of Alaska” book series through my local libraries – either through ILL (inter-library loan) and/or local borrowing opportunities as one of my libraries had more of the books in their local catalogue than the others. My readings of this series will be spilt into review showcases of two books in sequence leading into my review for the review tour of “In the Doctor’s Arms” which is the latest release for this Harlequin Heartwarming series.
We had a lot of flexibility with this review tour – we were not required to read the entire series, however, being a serial fiction reader who likes to read more of a series than less – I elected to seek out the series in full to be read before “In the Doctor’s Arms”. The author herself was kind enough to send me a copy of the one novel I couldn’t borrow through my library which is “Bachelor Remedy”. The scheduling of my readings and my review postings for this review tour are as follows: “Mountains Apart” and “A Case for Forgiveness” (post one); “If Not for a Bee” and “A Family Like Hannah’s” (post two) and “Bachelor Remedy” and “In the Doctor’s Arms” (post three) – the third of which will be featured on my 6th Blogoversary the 31st of March, 2019.
I decided to read all the stories in this series ‘blind’ – meaning, I didn’t read each of the synopsis’s before setting into the stories as I was reading them. I knew I could trust where Ms Ross would take me as I loved her instincts for Return of the Blackwell Brothers – therefore, it became a bit of a lovely adventure seeing how her characters within this new series would develop, strengthen and grow!
I received a complimentary copy of “Bachelor Remedy” and “In the Doctor’s Arms” direct from the author Carol Ross in exchange for an honest review.. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What I have been enjoying about reading the #SeasonsOfAlaska series:
I was so caught inside the evolution of Emily and Bering’s romance, I somehow missed seeing or even acknowledging Emily’s brother Aidan! This clearly was a character I ought to have taken a few notes about though as he’s making a return appearance whilst he also is not winning over Janie with his nonchalant attitude over a spoilt cake! I could almost see his reasoning about the bee which led to the cake fiasco but it how he was dismissing the obvious emotional reactions out of Janie and her son which felt like he was a bit clueless round the edges. Either that or he was just misconstruing the whole situation which wasn’t any kinder to the other parties involved.
Something told me this might have been a special cake for Gareth, Reagan and Janie – considering their father had died I was thinking this might have been a cake in his honour or it was for celebrating one of their birthdays or perhaps even, their twin siblings? Either way – the disappointment over what befell the cake’s demise was dearly felt by everyone except for Aidan, of course, who thought everything could simply be re-purchased or re-made. Clearly he hasn’t lived within set perimeters and the limits of food allergies to recognise how futile his attempts were at rectifying this particular upset.
Your heart simply goes out to Janie and her four sons; this cake meant something special to them and after you find out what the cake was representing you can re-feel the sense of emotions this young family has been struggling through over the years. Finding out Aidan is in Alaska because he’s an expert on bees shouldn’t have surprised me even though it had as being that bees are his field of experience, I would have thought he would have understood people’s hesitations about being too close to them? As a lot of people are seriously allergic to bee stings?
I never would have realised he was Emily’s brother – part of his personality is quite opposite of her own it didn’t quite seem like they were related! They both are seriously focused on their careers which they shared in common with one another and that single-mindedness was definitely a sibling trait of theirs as well.
I must admit, I’d love to take a table and experience the Cozy Caribu myself – though, mind, I’m not entirely sure if their menu includes some lovelies of the vegetarian kind but it is the ambiance Ross etched into this #musteat restaurant of Rankins which makes your mouth water whenever your making a return trip into this cosy small towne! It is the kind of haunt the locals love to be caught inside and it has the essence of a wicked good restaurant you can’t wait to experience for yourself! I could see why Aidan was immediately attracted to the place and why he felt like his foodie self had finally landed in a place where his palette would be treated to a lot of savoury delights!
Laughs with mirth! Immediately connecting with the antidote of Ms Ross’s life – as she shared how her family sees the positive even if life turnt into lemons and gave you a heck of a ride for adversity! Her example led me to remember when our car broke down in the Everglades (whilst we were on holiday with a short time window to appreciate our visit) – there is a spot down there where you can literally be stranded for hours due to how infrequent it is travelled at certain times of the day or night. It was before the golden twilight hours – in the heat of a humid Summer, where the mosquitoes and other lovelies were starting to emerge but the blessing for us like her, the storms of intensity were at bay and a kind Samaritan came to our rescue. We decided that perhaps our stay-over needed a small extension? And/or – perhaps our arrival to where we were heading needed a short delay? Whichever way you look at it – we were being watched over as later we learnt that stranded motorist on that stretch were notoriously having issues with people who had nefarious intentions. Blessedly we left that patch of road unscathed.
There are other instances of where I can relate to what she’s talking about, too. Where we choose how we set our attitude to get through our harder days, we immediately rejoice when life brings a spirit of joyfulness into our lives as well. We’re generally known as the positive-minded family or the ones with the cheerful spirits. Ironically, we do not oft hear this said of others – as wherever you are in life, your either going to have a wicked run of good days, a spurt of adverse days or perhaps somewhere betwixt the two – without the rougher patches, the sweetness of joy isn’t as appreciated as you learn through your experiences; good, bad or indifferent, life has a well of circumstances to take something away from,… which is why I felt I was identifying with what Ms Ross was sharing in her lovely author’s note. This might also point towards why reading this particular series is now in my top 3rd position of bookish love for Harlequin Heartwarming!
Ross has continued to etch out the families in Rankins to where you feel like you get an inside edge into knowing the major families who call this community their home. The James family (ie. Bering and Janie) have a stronghold in the towne but it is how their extended family, friends and their neighbours play such a distinctive role in their lives which makes returning here such a pleasant experience each time I settle into a new novel within the series! This time round it is due to how familiar I feel inside the series – being my third reading of the Seasons of Alaska series, I feel like Ross has carved out a place I have come to know quite well.
She has a keen sense of what makes the most interesting stories to knit into a Contemporary Romance but also does it with an uplifting insight of hope to encourage you forward into the series itself. Each time you soak into one of these stories, you feel your heart charged with the beauty of the setting but also the beauty of the people – they really are down to earth people who love their families and their community members. It is lovely to celebrate fiction like this and the other series I’ve become fond of within Harlequin Heartwarming who give me this same kind of takeaway – as these are the kinds of stories you can relax inside and know you’re going to be treated to a wickedly brilliant story within a larger arc of narrative that lets you root a bit in one particular place until the last of its story is told.
I love her instincts for rounding out her characters – for instance, within If Not for a Bee – one of the main interests of Janie is knitting. This is something I could insta-relate too being a knitter myself – from the calming influence of the patterns to the curious ways in which the tacticle benefits enrich your joy as your knitting with different fibres. I loved this portion of Janie’s life and I liked seeing how it developed throughout the story.
As you can see, I have a special announcement to share with those of whom enjoy visiting with me as I’m sharing my readerly life here on Jorie Loves A Story! Today [the 31st of March] marks the beginning of my 6th Year as a Book Blogger! I created Jorie Loves A Story in 2013 at the tail-end of March where it was only a whisper of a thought of what it *could become!* as I spent the next several months tweaking it, creating content and sorting out how I wanted to approach my own niche of a space in the book blogosphere.
It became quite the daring adventure – there was no blueprint to follow and I sorted out my writerly voice, the style of how I wanted to articulate my thoughts and ruminations inasmuch as I sorted out how I wanted the aesthetic of this space to ‘look’ – which is why I didn’t release this lovely blog of mine to the world until the 6th of August, 2013! However, for me both days are of keen importance – it was the 31st of March where I quite literally took the plunge, created [jorielovesastory.com] and began the journey. All bloggers have a beginning and this particular day marked my own. Hence why I celebrate both my blogoversary (31st of March) and my blog’s birthday (6th of August) each year. I’ve had parties thrown in their honour by my family and each year I get a lovely surprise – either bookish or lifestyle inclined from my fam as well! It is a special treat – this journey of mine, not just for the memories – the stories, the writers, the characters and the worlds – but the conversations online & off, the celebrations and milestones along the way and the beauty of taking a risk to sort out how to have a quasi-public life in-line with having a private one offline. It is a balance I’ve sought and feel I have claimed in the years since I first started walking down this path.
At the root and heart of what I love sharing is my readerly wanderings in literature – I’ve striven for better balance between what I request to review and what I personally want to read off my shelves – or borrow from my local libraries; something I still feel I am working ‘towards’ achieving rather than saying I’ve mastered the art of this bookish balance in my life! Laughs. One day, surely I’ll find that golden blissitude of joy knowing I’ve sorted it out! Til then, I love settling into stories which are both heartfelt and soul lifting – outside of my historical and suspenseful wanderings, I find a hearty joy in Speculative Fiction but in the background of my literary interests are Contemporaries and Classical wanderings. These two are the ones I’ve struggled with finding enroads with over the years but have thankfully made strides towards sorting out which Contemporary Romance & Women’s Fiction authors I can follow as they continue to write the stories I am most keen to be reading!
Last year, during my 5th Blogoversary, I focused on the joyful discovery of Kellie Coates Gilbert and shared my affection for INSPY Literature. This year, I am also highlighting a Contemporary novelist whilst I want to ring a bell of delight for the Harlequin Heartwarming writers who have given me such a burst of happiness in my readerly life these past few years! Specifically the authors behind the following series: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, Karen Rock of the Rocky Mountain Cowboys series, Ms Ross with Seasons of Alaska and Catherine Lanigan with her series Shores of Indian Lake. The next series I will be reading in earnest is Ms Lanigan’s as I am participating in the next novel in sequence’s blog tour. I want to back-read as many of the stories as I can as I’ve read the last two releases out of step with the fuller arc of her series.
Similar to what attracted me to the Contemporary Romances by ChocLitUK – the novelists behind Harlequin Heartwarming are writing the kinds of relationship-based romances my heart swoons to find! I also like the fact that unlike with ChocLit novels, there is one small difference which makes me feel a bit at ease seeking out the Heartwarming line a bit more frequently – the absence of strong language! There were a few Heartwarming stories where the language went strong but it is nothing compared to having to blink out a lot of language which are more inclusive to ChocLit novels. I’m just not that kind of girl – I’d much prefer to read a wicked awesomesauce romance without strong language than to have it peppered to death! I still have my favourite ChocLit authors who’ve touched my heart with their stories, their characters and their series – blessedly over the years, they know how fond I am of their writing styles – however, overall, I noticed a distinctive change in the direction of the ChocLit line of Romance.
Most of the Heartwarming stories are also set in small townes rather than large cities – this brings me to my second favourite bit of seeking them out – and let’s face it, there are so many lovely series in this Harlequin imprint, I could be seeking them out for the rest of my life just to read through them all and finding my top favourites! The small towne effect is something close to my bookish heart because instead of reading a one-off, you get the pleasure of joy of ‘staying with the characters’ as the stories not only evolve forward through the natural progressive evolution of their lives but such as you observe in Rankins with Ms Ross’s Seasons of Alaska – the towne and community grows behind them, too!
This 6th Year as a Book Blogger, I am overjoyed and grateful to being a blogger and reader working with Prism Book Tours as my time as a hostess for them has given me a renewed appreciation for Harlequin as previously I used to read their imprint Mira and other imprints of theirs which are now discontinued. I knew I was a solid appreciator of their #LoveINSPIRED Suspense novels – as this is a passion of joy I share with my Mum as we tag-team reading those all the time! In fact, Mum encouraged me to read those for ‘pleasure’ rather than for blogging purposes, which is why last July during a readathon for INSPY / Christian Fiction, I read quite a heap in that regard! I’m still a bit behind in the stories Mum’s read herself but our pursuit of those stories and series is a Mum and daughter scavenger hunt of joy!
Now I get to return the favour and am nudging Mum to read the Harlequin Heartwarming stories I’m enjoying myself! As initially I encouraged her to read #LoveINSPIRED Suspense as a method of decompressing her intensive work weeks as a caregiver for seniors – nowadays, we’re finding our readerly habits are a united front when it comes to Harlequin – both on the traditional side of the ledger and on the INSPY side! Since I first started reading Seasons of Alaska, she’s now finished Mountains Apart and we’ve been enjoying discussing both Rankins and the characters together!! The hardest bit though is being hush-hush about the details *til!* one of us gets to the end of all these stories we’re co-reading in tandem! Laughs. What a great challenge to have, eh?
Therefore – this 6th Year of mine is still a progressive journey towards readerly balance but also a renewal of celebration for seeking out Contemporaries which give my heart a burst of joy and a keen sense of readerly satisfaction knowing I’m finding the writers who make my heart swoon and give me that wicked good uplift for having read their romances! Here’s to a wonderful new year of romance and small towne fiction! I am overjoyed to have found this new imprint of bookish joy from Harlequin and I hope my showcases on my blog help encourage other readers seeking the same relationship-based romances I am to take a chance on these authors!
Seasons of Alaska series by Carol Ross
Mountains Apart (book one)
A Case for Forgiveness (book two)
If Not for a Bee (book three)
A Family Like Hannah’s (book four)
Bachelor’s Remedy (book five)
In the Doctor’s Arms (book six)
Places to find the book:
Published by Harlequin Heartwarming
on 3rd April, 2018
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin
Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: