Acquired 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.
I received a complimentary copy of “Sweet On You” direct from the publisher Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
On the joy of re-visiting an INSPY Contemporary novelist I love reading,
within the Bradford Sisters Romance series – which reminds me dearly of a new series I am loving to watch via #HMNow which is “Chesapeake Shores” inspired by the book series from Sherryl Woods (an author I knew from the *Sweet Magnolias* series)…
You could say I have shared quite a heap about this series when I first hosted the blog tour for the second novel in the series – I simply took to the series quite immediately and I came to *love!* the ways in which Ms Wade was crafting the journey her characters were taking within the fuller breadth of where the Bradford Sisters were taking us all as we tucked close to their lives. The interesting bit is during May of 2019 I was able to finally see the first & second season of Chesapeake Shores (a tv series on Hallmark Channel) – wherein, I realised that the series on tv and this book series have a heap in common!
I have the tendency to seek out similar stories which are both familiar and dynamically drawn to give you a full glimpse into the life of a family. Whether the dynamic is made of three sisters like the Bradford’s or have a five sibling unit like the O’ Brien’s – one thing is for certain, if you look at my more recent readings of the Rocky Mountain Cowboys & Blackwell Brothers – you’ll notice how much I love soaking into sibling series! The same can be said of the Seasons of Alaska series, too! When it comes to family, small townes and siblings – I simply cannot get enough of the writers who are giving us heartwarming characters to fall in love with reading about – I am blessed I could continue where I left off with the Bradford’s as I was dearly curious what was going to happen with Britt!!
I’m unsure how I would have reacted if the roles had been reversed – faux hostage situations to help those who needed to know how to handle these situations at the ready was not exactly something I’d see myself signing on to tackle. Then, again – if truth be told, I seriously doubt Nora would have fashioned herself a willing player in this game either if it hadn’t been for Britt. As we re-enter the Bradford family, we are finding the girls are well into their twenties, not the young girls of the novella Then Came You. The interesting thing to note is the order of the stories – Nora is the middle sister, Britt the youngest and Willow is the eldest – yet we were happily sorting out Nora’s story first!
She’s a girl after my own heart – she loves being enraptured by the written word, jaunting through time, travelling into history and aligning her mind and heart with the characters’ she’s reading about with every story she picks up to read. She’s also passionately invested into genealogical research (as she’s a historian and genealogist) but where she falls a bit short is handling faux extreme stress presentations! One thing is for sure, you never quite know what to expect when your beginning a Becky Wade novel – which is quite refreshing, as her Contemporary stories are clued into a reality we can all recognise with stories which seek to find the truth of our own world and intermix life lessons, strong characters and a captivating narrative to draw our attention into the messages her stories are attempting to convey to us. I was honestly hooked as soon as I started the first chapter – how can you not get caught up in the drama unfolding between the two sisters – one wants to take flight and ‘win’ the game whilst the other is thinking of every which way to Sunday her day could have gone if she had only made better plans with her hours!
Mind you, I haven’t seen someone this loss for words since I first watched All of my Heart: Inn Love this past Mother’s Day weekend! (FYI: there is a blogger in the film who is researching B&B’s and it’s her insta-attraction to the General Store owner who provides a lot of comedic relief!) In this instance, Nora was taken for a loop when John Lawson decided to carry her out of the building and thus ending her tenure in this particular exercise – a spontaneous act which rendered her without the ability to articulate anything other than a brief conversation once she was reunited with her sister, Britt.
When Nora is around her sisters, you get to see their different dynamics come into play – especially as I remember how this family began through the origin story Then Came You. Britt has a beau-in-the-wings named Zander who happily took me by surprise, as generally speaking men with tattoo sleeves (on their arms) are not known for their inclusivity to INSPY Romance (although they ought to be – some of the most artistic and kind gentleman wear tatt’s!). This was another nod towards my heart growing aflutter in appreciation for Ms Wade’s writing style – she is part of the changing tides of realistic characterisations and story-lines for the INSPY market; for which, she has my hat of gratitude. By the time we reside inside Britt’s story (next in line), I do hope we get to see a larger portion of Zander’s past and current life explored; not to mention, seeing these two find themselves falling in love rather than Zander consistently being the one who knows the will of his heart.
Seeing the sisters’ admiration and affection towards Valentina (their housekeeping nanny from years ago) was heart-warming, as it proved their father (Garner) knew exactly what he was doing in hiring her to watch over his darling girls; though in theory, he at first only meant to give Willow a chance at having a bit more normalcy in her life. These are the kind of details where you can easily see the flow of continuity within the series – even from the prequel novella – as you tuck closer to the girls’ and follow where their footsteps lead.
I can dearly relate to Nora – my soul was literally crushed in half when Matthew died (ie. Downton Abbey and never fully recovered; I left the series after Anna was brutally attacked) – I definitely know her anguish over cross-comparing Rochester’s as I have a penchant for Little Women, A Christmas Carol and other classical adaptations where you do find yourself talking about which actor or actress best brought the character forward! I haven’t seen too many adaptations of Jane Eyre – as my favourite is the first one I found (1996) whilst knowing full well Keira Knightley’s Pride and Prejudice was my celebration film for finally finishing reading the novel – it will be (most likely!) Colin Firth’s adaptation which will feel organically tied to Austen’s vision (methinks!). I even love the Bollywood version of Pride which is Bride and Prejudice. *le sigh* Yes, I can dearly relate to Nora,… what grieved me dearly, dear hearts, is realising ‘Northamptonshire’ is not rooted in our reality but is a fictional tv series in Nora’s world. I seriously would have requested it at my library!
Being this story was published in 2017, it is interesting how current it is written as I am hoping one day we can look back on this decade and realise we’ve come a long way from it – as a society and as a country. The work John does for emergency training shouldn’t have to be in such high demand in other words but the way in which he has hardened a bit through life – due to the many unknowns in his origin story, prove how hard it is for adopted children to understand who they are if they have too little to fall back in regards to personal memory (especially if like John, they were adopted as infants or young children). I appreciated the candor of the story-line delving into the hurdles adoptees face as it is an important part of their journey; finding peace from the past but also, finding ways to move forward in the present.
I believe what I loved most about True to You, were the conveyances of how it was articulated through the slow narrative wisely chosen by Ms Wade to draw out the rounded edges of two people on the brink of finding each other. The kind of narrative where you don’t have to forsake not understanding what happens between conversations because the details are pulled forward, knitting together an image of where Nora and John find comfortable consistency in their hours. The pattern of this story reminded me a lot of a Jane Austen novel – for it tucks into those hidden moments very well whilst eclipsing a character’s journey through all the different pieces of her experience – leaving everything open to be seen, examined and understood. You can breathe into a rhythm following Ms Wade’s muse – so much so, you have to brace yourself for the ending, as it truly becomes such a comfortable world in which to reside.
There is a point towards the end, where your heart and your emotions start to spill over – where all the anguish this family has gone through over the years hits you stock and centre. It is a very well- conceived plot, to the point where your not even sure if your prepared for what is coming next – I know I wasn’t, as it could go so many different ways to Sunday, how to do you brace yourself for what is now being revealled!? Charlotte bless her, was the one who inspired everyone to take action but sometimes, between action and restitution for what is once lost is a fine line to walk – where the soul and the heart have a longer path towards reconciliation and healing. I give full credit to Ms Wade for curating such an incredibly layered suspenseful plot thickening in the background whilst addressing the relationships of the Bradford sisters.
I missed seeing the progression of Nora and John’s relationship in the back-folds of the narrative – as there were serious things happening in their lives which I felt begged to be explored in Falling for You. I am unsure if those threads will be re-explored in Britt’s novel or if there will be a conclusionary novella after the third novel releases – but this is one error in the continuity I’ve loved so dearly for remaining inclusively intact with the characters.
Despite my grievances with the leading beau for Willow, there is so much heart writ into the tapestry of this series, the emotions simply pull you forward, eager to see how the sisters’ lives will continue to evolve, to feel what their feeling in the moments of their lives where destiny and conviction interconnect. I am blessed to have started this journey into their stories – I am itching to read the next stories, to gleam more of what is yet to come and to feel as if I’ve travelled miles of hours beside them until the very last story is published. It’s hard to ‘let go’ of series you feel so dearly attached too – this one definitely touched a special place in my heart and will not ‘let go’ anytime soon! I hope, my words will inspire my readers to pick up one of the stories in this series – if only to meet Nora, Britt and Willow for themselves! Even if I am rather partial to Garner, without whom the sisters would not be here!
By the time I concluded reading Falling for You, I understood the reasons why the novel was written the way in which it was but on a personal level of honesty, I just didn’t feel connected to Corbin. I believed he had a lot of personal growth which was showcased in this novel to prove change is possible even in the most stubborn of individuals but in regards to feeling an attachment to his person? I honestly never felt it. For me, this story was a happy thread of insight into the sisters’ lives with an incredible slice of suspense in the back-threads – giving us an exhilarating read and a heap of emotions to shift through to boot!
I *love!* how realistically real this series feels to our own world – it’s a wonderful composite both in setting and tone whilst it hones in our contemporary awareness of technology and certain socially conscience recognition’s which seek to either make us smile or laugh! For instance, Ms Wade has definitely taken a leaf out of my own journal for how to knit out a laugh from an analogy of a contemporary New Age car (ie. Tesla) and make it cross-relate to how relationships can be short-lasting! (as observed in True to You) She fuses wit with humour in such a layered approach as to make you nearly forget this isn’t a story based on real persons who lived but rather it’s a fictional series created in such a way to grant you the illusion her characters *could!* live if only they could step straight through the threshold of their fictional existence. This is also why I sent out that tweet of joy celebrating the #booklove of the authors I am finding in Contemporary INSPY Romance to be of the variety I love most to be #amreading: Dee Henderson (see also Review); Brenda S. Anderson (see also Archive) and Kellie Coates Gilbert (see also Review).
I especially enjoy watching characters have true growth during our time spent with them – or even, to observe them in full confidence within their chosen fields, but still have a few things they need to work through – where everything isn’t quite ‘neat and tidy’. I love this aspect of character development because it eludes to how evolving all our lives become – it is also a benefit to grounding a story in the realism of real-life and the ways in which despite our best intentions, we cannot always foresee everything which will come onto our path. This is a gift Ms Wade share swith the other authors I’ve mentioned – she digs in deep into the human condition, into the ways in which relating to another person isn’t just about romantic overtures – but of listening, in-tuning what is being said against what is inferred (including through body language) and of finding a middle ground. In essence, my favourite stories are full of flawed characters doing their best to embetter their lives for the good.
Ms Wade has eloquent overtures of living histories ebbing into her narrative – such as how Bradfordwood was properly shipped in pieces from its origins in England and reassembled into what is now known as the estate of the Bradford family (200 acres strong). She gives you this sense of familial pride, of the hard work behind the legacies still in evidence today in the lives of the sisters’ and humbles the family through their good deeds, their personal growth exploits and how having a strong sense of business mindfulness can continue to lead for generations (as their assets are diversified).
felt Ms Wade’s styling within True to You was classically eloquent (foresaid) and her entire Bradford Sisters Romance series is refreshingly lovely to have discovered – for she’s another Contemporary INSPY author who is providing me with the kind of Contemporaries I am most appreciative of reading! So much so, it is another confirmation the number of Contemporaries which will be winning over my heart outside of INSPY are quite limited (at least for now) – as I have a select number of authors I am enjoying reading now. I used to love Contemporaries as much as I loved Historical Romance – what I never linked together though is the reason I had such a paradigm shift in my reading habits is due to innate frustration stemming out of what I was finding inclusive to mainstream Contemporaries vs INSPY. Clearly, sometimes being a book blogger has it’s advantages as whilst your journalling your reading life, you understand yourself better as a reader!
Her continued appreciation for inserting popular cultural references takes an all-star glimpse into social media life today – as if I hadn’t been a joyful tweeter, I’d never have known I already know the *name!* of a highly beloved K-Pop band: BTS! This is important to know a) if you love discovering new music and b) if you want to better understand Charlotte in Falling for You. I love when writers go a bit further than necessary to make their novels relevant to our times – they have a way of knitting out the best of what is ‘happening in the moment’, adding those bits to their stories and re-grounding us in a quasi-reality such a strong composite to our own – we nearly have to pinch ourselves as reminders we’re reading a fictional story! I love how this is achieved!
Yet, what truly captured my heart about Ms Wade’s Contemporary style is the authentic nature of her style – you can tell she has had experience outside of INSPY, as her style feels mainstream but has an INSPY core of heart. I think this is why I like the authors I am finding lately for Contemporary INSPY – their writing the cutting edge INSPY Contemporaries I am hungry for as a reader with enough of the content I’m seeking out of the mainstream but cannot find. For this, I feel truly blessed I was given the opportunity to start reading her stories!
Secondly, what warmed my bookish heart is her instinctive nature of threading continuity into her stories – from novella to novel, her intentional connections between her characters and her story-lines are some of the best I’ve come across – irregardless of which genre I am writing! Continuity sometimes is overlooked in serial fiction (by some) but it is something I hail as being the mark of a superhero writer, because to knit into an on-going series the organic inclusions of previous stories, is rather impressive! If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know the authors I’ve mentioned previously who ‘wow’ me over with this technique but if your a new visitor or reader, the short-list includes Julie E. Czerneda (for Science Fiction, I am just now reading her Fantasy), Brenda S. Anderson, Julie Lessman (will be blogging about her stories!), Anna Lee Huber, L.M. Montgomery, Jennifer Lamont Leo, Jackie Gamber, Larry D. Sweazy, Susan Spann, Sue Hallgarth, Margaret James, Lucinda Riley, Linda Mitchelmore, AshleyRose Sullivan, Renee Patrick and Rachel Amphlett.
-quoted from my reviews and ruminative thoughts on behalf of the following stories
within this series “Then Came You”, “True to You” and “Falling For You”
Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.
Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who's spent the past 18 months traveling the world. He's achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him--Britt's heart.
When Zander's uncle dies of mysterious causes, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. But while Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.
As they work together to uncover his uncle's tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also, finally, come to light?
Places to find the book:
Published by Bethany House Publishers
on 30th April, 2019
Format: Trade Paperback
an imprint of Baker Publishing Group
Formats Available: Ebook and Paperback
The Bradford Sisters Romance series:
Then Came You (prequel novella)
True to You (Book One)
Falling for You (Book Two)
you can read my thoughts on these previous stories
Sweet on You (Book Three)
The Christmas Heirloom : Because of You
(holiday novella)*the one I didn’t get to read yet
Converse via: #Contemporary #INSPYRomance +
#INSPY or #INSPYBooks and #BradfordSistersRomance
The only difficulty I had in reading this novel – a year later from my last readings of the series is I found the font to be set at a level of size a bit lower than my eyes can tolerate. I didn’t strain to read the novel but I had to take extra care to focus on the words because I swear the font felt ten times smaller than I remember the last two novels in print had read.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: