GINGERBREAD KISSES by Minette Lauren – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

GINGERBREAD KISSES
Hot in Magnolia Book 4
By Minette Lauren


Publication Date: April 30th, 2021
Pages: 275
Categories: Sexy Romance

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Hollywood actress Ginger Lynn Harding is broke, unemployed, and stuck in the glaring spotlight of a sex-tape scandal thanks to her lousy ex-boyfriend. Changing her coveted ginger-colored hair to brown, Ginger heads to small-town Magnolia, Texas, where she plans to hide out and wait tables at the Cupcake Diner and Dive.

As a Magnolia constable and possible candidate for mayor, Roland Karr prides himself on protecting the community. When he nabs a Lauren Bacall look-alike for speeding, Roland is surprised that he lets the sassy beauty off the hook, but he can’t help it. She looks like she could use a break.

As Ginger settles into life in Magnolia, she can’t stop thinking about the handsome and debonair cop, but can she risk losing her heart when she’s lost everything else?

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With its double serving of swoony love stories, small-town quirks, adorable pets, and fascinating characters readers would want to get to know more, Gingerbread Kisses is an early holiday treat for Romance lovers everywhere. Its fun and light tone makes it an easy and enjoyable read and its steamy sexytimes live up to the series title of Hot In Magnolia. Funny, low-angst, and hot. Exactly how I like my Romance.
This is my first book by Minette Lauren, my first visit to Magnolia, and I’m happy to go back for more. I usually don’t seek out stories with actors and actresses as lead characters because I find so little in common with them, but Ms. Lauren made Ginger Lynn sympathetic to me and I give her kudos for that.
I admire Ginger’s determination to get back on her feet after her humiliating fall from grace, her willingness to work two jobs that she considered beneath her in the past, and her gradual warming up to the people of Magnolia. I understood her loss of confidence and cheered for her when she realized what’s important. I also liked the characterization of Roland as a by-the-book constable whose life is upended when Ginger came into town. I really like his patience with her and his respect for her wishes despite her sometimes hot-and-cold behavior. I especially like the ending where they both reached out to the other and decided to be together even to the point of giving up what’s familiar.
I have an equal appreciation for the second-chance romance between Lexi and Noah. I’m always soft for heroes who fall fast and fall hard for the object of his love and Noah ticks that box for me. There’s a “Seize the Day” quality to their getting together that is totally my jam.
Ms. Lauren’s vivid descriptions gave this book a great sense of place. I can picture in my head where the scene locations are as if they’re real. Magnolia seems to be a quintessential Texas small town with a higher proportion of hot men and women than most places in the state (or country). Herein lies my major cavil about this book–the lack of diversity. There’s not much indication of multiculturalism or unconventional lifestyles. Everyone seems to be fit, white, and straight. Not truly reflective of the society we live in today.
Overall, an engaging read and a book I’d recommend to the followers of this blog. It put me in a holiday spirit, inspiring me to bake gingerbread kiss cookies. I’m not sure if it’s Ginger’s grandma’s recipe, but it sure made the house smell like Christmas. Thanks to Ms. Lauren for the inspiration and for providing me with a complimentary copy to review through Lone Star Lit.
4 out of 5 stars

Minette Lauren is an award-winning author who loves animals and writes humorous romance in a small Texas town.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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First place: Signed copies
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Second place: Signed copies of all four books in the series
Third place: Signed copy of Gingerbread Kisses

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DREAMS REKINDLED by Amanda Cabot – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 2, 2021
Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 

Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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ALFIE CARTER by BJ Mayo – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

BNR Alfie Carter

ALFIE CARTER

by

BJ Mayo

Published by Skyhorse Publishing
Pages: 288
Published: January 19th, 2021
Categories: Southern Fiction / Rural Fiction / Mystery
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Cover Alfie Carter med res

The seemingly never-ending Cabinda War (1975—) has left multitudes dead in its wake and thousands of children homeless and orphaned.

Jackaleena N’denga, a young Angolan girl, has become the sole survivor of one specifically brutal village massacre carried out by a band of guerrilla boy-soldiers.

Jackaleena’s resilience leads her to an orphanage on the west coast of Africa, known as Benguela by the Sea, where she and other children are taken in and protected. Her brilliant mind and endless questions capture the heart of her mentor, Margaret, who ensures her that her survival thus far—especially being the survivor from her village—must mean she has big things ahead of her. When the opportunity arises, she must find her purpose.

Not without a plan, Jackaleena stows away on a mercy ship that has made its yearly visit to the orphanage and is now preparing to return to America. Her journey takes her across the ocean, into the arms of New York City’s customs officials, and finally into placement in a temporary foster home in Texas.

Enter Alfie Carter—a workaholic, small-town detective who is also battling memories of his past. His life is forever changed when he meets a young African girl looking for her higher purpose.

Review_preview
20210223_231202946_iOSAlfie Carter is an affecting story of finding faith and of losing and rediscovering deeply-held beliefs. With its characters examining the state of their spiritual life, it’s a timely read for this holy season of Lent. It is also a tale of harrowing cruelty, extraordinary bravery, careless disregard for others, incredible kindness, and unbelievable acts of forgiveness..
Despite the singular name in the title, this book recounts the lives of two people in places thousands of miles apart–Jackaleena N’Denga in Angola and Alfie Carter in Texas.
Jackaleena’s remarkable story is tough to read in the beginning because of the gruesome massacre she witnessed and the extreme difficulties of her desperate run for survival. Things improved after she’s led to Benguela by the Sea where she learns a different way of living and is taught about another higher being to trust. This is also where she develops her search for her purpose in life.
Alfie’s situation is not as shocking but he has his own losses to contend with, particularly the death of his child. It lead him to distance himself from his wife and turn his back on the unfair God who wasn’t there for him at many points in his life. It was interesting that it was also death that caused him to reevaluate his thinking and return to his wife and to believe again.
Mr. Mayo’s writing shone in the Texas scenes, in Alfie’s musings, in his investigation of the case he was working on, and in the spirit and strength he imbued into Jackaleena’s character. His own faith leaped off the pages of the book through various characters like Margaret, Rufus, and Cotton.
God gives us all a chance to believe in Him and serve Him or not. He does not force you to go down that path … You can simply walk away. All of us are free to do what we want individually. There ain’t nobody a-draggin you to God … His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
The book has some flaws. Some scenes about Alfie’s early life could have been cut short or deleted altogether in favor of expanding the parts where he and his adopted daughter interacted. It was a curious choice to have Jackaleena’s story narrated in the third person and Alfie’s in the first when the book started and ended with Jackie telling her background to the judge. I preferred it in the reverse. Finally, the book requires suspension of disbelief in many instances in the story, especially with regard to the result of the case that Alfie was working on. That or, have extreme faith in the goodness of man.
Overall, it’s an involving story that has uplifting messages. Thanks to Lone Star Lit and Skyhorse Publishing for providing a free copy to review.
Three-half-stars

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author pic Mayo

BJ Mayo was born in an oil field town in Texas. He spent the first few years of his life living in a company field camp twenty-five miles from the closest town. His career in the energy industry took him to various points in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Louisiana, Bangladesh, Australia, and Angola West Africa. He and his wife were high school sweethearts and have been married for forty-six years with two grown children. They live on a working farm near San Angelo, Texas.
Visit BJ Mayo at his website: https://bjmayo.com/

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Carpe Diem Chronicles

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That’s What She’s Reading

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The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

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Forgotten Winds

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THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME by Melissa Lenhardt – Book Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway

TSOYAM tour graphic

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance
Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

 

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Synopsis

TSOYAM book cover

True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future.

Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it.

But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.

PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME:

“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly

“A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.”
Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love

“At turns sweet, sexy, and always respectful of these characters and their journeys to their most authentic selves, Lenhardt’s wonderful book is highly recommended for all fiction collections.” —Booklist

 

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There was a question in one of my Facebook groups about which book I’d want to see made into a movie and I responded with a favorite title. Now, I have an additional candidate — The Secret of You and Me. The story of Nora and Sophie’s passionate second-chance journey to their happy-ever-after despite small town prejudices and past hurts lends itself highly adaptable to film. All the elements are there: fully fleshed-out characters, complicated relationships, well-described small town setting, timely subjects, and involving storytelling.

I loved how Ms. Lenhardt developed the characters of Nora and Sophie. Both are imperfect, broken people who, through the course of the story, have to learn things about themselves that they needed to address separately in order to forge a future together.

While Nora was able to live her truth elsewhere, Sophie has a more difficult time accepting her real identity within the narrow confines of her conservative town. A bigoted mother, a husband with political ambitions, and a teenage daughter she doesn’t want to lose if she came out all contribute to Sophie’s  quandary in making a choice. Similarly, Nora has her own internal conflicts to resolve with a family responsibility, a sick aunt, and a life in DC that’s hard for her to walk away from.

I also appreciate the balance of both opposing and supportive characters. For Nora’s always-complaining sister Mary there’s a mothering Emmadean. For Sophie’s heinous mother Brenda there’s her stalwart sponsor Todd.

Some serious topics are discussed in this book. Homosexuality, bisexuality, homophobia, PTSD, and alcoholism being the most prominent ones. For the most part, they’re treated with sensitivity and provide a positive representation of the LGBTQ community.

My main gripe is the overabundance of cheating. Sophie and Nora picking up where they left off eighteen years ago is an essential plot point but puts a tawdry element to their affair that can’t be erased by their true love for one another. Fidelity is an important issue (for me) in romance and the lack of it here gives me a little pause in an otherwise engaging story.

Overall, an entertaining read that highlights the message that love is universal.

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

TSOYAM Author photo

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West”. The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020.

 When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.

Facebook  Instagram ║ Website
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TSOYAM giveaway

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8/11/20 Review Tangled in Text
8/12/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
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8/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
8/14/20 Top Six List Texas Book Lover
8/14/20 Review Bibliotica
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8/17/20 Review Rainy Days with Amanda
8/18/20 Audio Spotlight Book Bustle
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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Review and Giveaway

BATHCC bbt cover

BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ

A Honey Creek Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages

 

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Synopsis

BATHCC cover embellishedFrom Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .

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This was a hoot, a zany, funny light read that’s sure to entertain readers who like romantic fiction that’s set in a small town and that contains a little mystery to liven things up.

Breakfast at Honey Creek Café tells the intertwined stories of three couples – Piper and Colby, Sam and Anna, and Pecos and Kerrie. All different, all romantic in their own way.

Piper is the mayor of Honey Creek whose rumored boyfriend went missing and is now under suspicion of foul play. Colby is a trooper who was sent by her Texas Ranger brother to investigate the case and also to protect her. The cover story they came up with has Colby posing as an old suitor so that he can get the townspeople to talk to him. Both have bad experiences with relationships in the past that made them wary about their attraction to each other. With the entire town looking on, their pretend courtship soon turns oh-so real.

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Sam is a former firefighter and former soldier who takes up the position of temporary preacher originally meant for his deceased father. After the death of his girlfriend, he found himself drifting along without any real purpose until he came to Honey Creek. There, he realizes that preaching isn’t for him, but Anna, the feisty world-saver definitely is. Their snappy banter made me laugh out loud.

The third story–told from the point of view of Pecos, the graduating high school student who wants to leave town to be somebody–is the one that touched me the most. Pecos has the most tremendous growth of all the POV characters. He made me tear up with this line: “That living through any storms with her was better than facing the world alone.”

Jodi Thomas described a setting that’s quirky enough to be fictional, but also familiar enough to be realistic. There’s a lot of named characters necessary to paint a complete picture of a community. My favorite is the generous Mr. Winston.

This book is a different style from what I’ve read of Ms. Thomas’s work before. It’s more comedic and less angsty. It’s still her usual heartwarming story and I love that. My only critique is in the inconsistency of the tone. It started really serious with the mystery of the missing boyfriend but as the book went on, the graveness was abandoned in favor of attempts to elicit laughter from the reader. Also, the ending was a tad rushed, with the villain’s motivations not fully fleshed out. But all of that is minor compared to my overall enjoyment of the book. How could I not when this quote from Anna expresses my carpe diem motto exactly?

“We don’t know what the future holds, but we want to step into it together. It’ll take some work, but we’ll fit each other in our lives.”

4 out of 5 stars

 

AboutTheAuthor

Jodi Thomas 2With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
║ Instagram ║  Amazon  ║ BookBub ║
║ Pinterest  ║ Goodreads ║

 

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5/13/20 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
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5/15/20 Review Momma on the Rocks
5/16/20 Author Interview Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/17/20 Scrapbook Page That’s What She’s Reading
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5/20/20 Review Reading by Moonlight
5/21/20 Review StoreyBook Reviews

 

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BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ By Jodi Thomas: Pre-Order Preview

BATHCC tour cover

BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ

A Honey Creek Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages

BATHCC main graphic

VISIT JODITHOMAS.COM FOR ALL JODI’S BOOKS BY SERIES

Synopsis

From Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He’s not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .

CLICK TO PRE-ORDER NOW:

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AboutTheAuthor

Jodi Thomas 2With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter  ║
║ Instagram ║  Amazon  ║ BookBub ║
║ Pinterest  ║ Goodreads ║

 

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MORNINGS ON MAIN By Jodi Thomas Book Review

BNR Mornings on Main JPG

MORNINGS ON MAIN:

A Small-Town Texas Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Mainstream Romance

Publisher: HQN

Number of Pages: 320 pages

AVAILABLE APRIL 10, 2018!

 

Review_preview

MORNINGS ON MAIN by Jodi Thomas is a lovely read. It’s the perfect way to spend a cold spring day: curled up on your favorite reading nook with a cup of tea in one hand and a delightful book in another. Incredibly well-written, this book took me to a small town, introduced me to the people living there, and made me like them and care about them. There are plenty of characters, but the book always centered on Jillian, Connor, and Sunnie — the three whose points-of-view we rely on to tell the story. These are normal, real people with every day problems that everyone can relate to — growing up, growing old, leaving, staying, and taking risks to fall in love or continue drifting.

I appreciate Jillian and Connor’s sweet slow-burn fall into love. You can see how it developed throughout the length of the book. I also enjoyed Gram and Joe, the quilts, and the town’s coming-to-life side stories. MNotable Quotable 1 Mornings on Mainy favorite part of the book, though, is Sunnie. Her growth as a character from the sullen, resentful child in the beginning to the warm, lovable, funny teenager at the end brought a smile to my face.

I’m rating Mornings on Main four stars. Jillian’s storyline with her parents remained unresolved. I’d have liked for her to find a more definitive closure than what she got. Other than that, I found this book heartwarming and I’d recommend it to everyone who likes small town reads with a sweet romance.

 

Synopsis

Cover high res Mornings on Main

Jillian James has never had a place to call home. Desperate to make some quick cash before moving on again, she agrees to help an elderly woman close her beloved quilt shop. Connor Larady’s grandmother has owned the shop all her life, but lately she has struggled with Alzheimer’s. Connor’s seventeen-year-old daughter has spent her whole life in Laurel Springs, Texas, and she feels restless. When Jillian moves to town, she represents travel, adventure and excitement. Weaving together the story of three generations of women looking for a place to belong, Mornings on Main asks us to consider how we make our memories—what we remember, what we forget, what becomes part of our story—and remind us that it’s not where we live, but how we live that counts.

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AboutTheAuthor

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas Author Pic Thomasis both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 45 novels and 14 short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas enjoys interacting with students at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on their grown sons and four grandchildren.

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