Excited about Reading: London Tides by Carla Laureano

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The Cover Story: 
Irish photojournalist Grace Brennan travels the world’s war zones documenting the helpless and forgotten. After the death of her friend and colleague, Grace is shaken.

She returns to London hoping to rekindle the spark with the only man she ever loved—Scottish businessman Ian MacDonald. But he gave up his championship rowing career and dreams of Olympic gold years ago for Grace … only for her to choose career over him. Will life’s tides bring them back together … or tear them apart for good this time?

My Takeaway:
I read Five Days in Skye, and LOVED it. You can read that review here. It’s not necessary to read Skye first although London Tides revisits Skye for a joyous celebration, so I’d recommend it. 🙂

“She shouldn’t be here.” London Tides pulled me in with the first line. It didn’t take long for Ian and Grace to reconnect after a ten year separation, and, oh, what a sweet romance for a few pages! Always a but, though, right? This is one of those books where I knew the bottom was going to drop out any minute and that my heart would be ripped into shreds. Yes. That’s exactly what this book did.

“You can’t see all the suffering and violence and hatred without wondering if there’s still good in the world. Most of my colleagues see evil as proof that God couldn’t exist. But despite all the bad, there are still people who help others when their safety, their very lives are at risk. When I see that, I know without a doubt he has to exist. I think without God, the good that remains couldn’t survive.” ~Grace

I was so invested in the characters. Grace because she was hurting, suffering from PTSD after living through the horrors of war zones and, since her identity had always been wrapped up in her job, wondering who she was now. Ian because he never gave up loving Grace, not after ten years apart and not even when a close friend and his well-intentioned mother tried to convince him otherwise. But at a crucial spot in the book, I wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream at Grace, “What are you doing? Just tell him how you really feel!”

For me the ending was a bit too abrupt. After ravaging my emotions, I wanted a little more happily-ever-after, a bit more “ahhh” factor when I flipped to the last page. But don’t let that stop you from scooping up this sweet romance! With a subtle faith thread weaved throughout and a plot that’ll keep you guessing whether Ian and Grace will actually enjoy a happily-ever-after, London Tides will appeal to contemporary romance readers across genres.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from NetGalley and David C. Cook Publisher for the purpose of sharing my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

Excited about Reading: A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade

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The Cover Story~
Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.

When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run.

Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

My Takeaway~
Since reading Meant to be Mine, I couldn’t wait to read Jake’s story in A Love Like Ours. If you’d like to read about Ty and Celia’s story in Meant to be Mine, you can read my review here. How did I miss Undeniably Yours, book #1 in the Porter Family series? Will have to remedy that!

A Love Like Ours is one of those books that leaves you thinking about it long after you’re finished reading. The cover is cute, but it doesn’t give you a real inkling to the depth of this story. Jake struggles with PTSD. He lost his faith in Iraq along with his buddies, and horrific nightmares and survivor’s guilt chains him to a solitary lifestyle. Lyndie’s determined to help her childhood best friend heal, but along the way, she starts to view him differently…not so much as her childhood friend anymore.

“I think that God empowered him with the ability to run…for your sake.”
“Why would God do that?”
“Because it’s one of the only avenues of communication He has left with you. You’ve shut Him out, but I think He wanted to show you that He hasn’t shut you out.”

There were so many aspects of this book to savor and chew on. The strong faith thread with a “God is good” mantra even through hardships. Lyndie’s perseverance and determination to save Mr. Tall Dark and Brooding when most women would’ve given up. Her creative spirit, not only illustrating and writing whimsical fairy stories, but also building and decorating a “hero” house with her neighbor’s son. Cheering for Silver Leaf to win his race because their healing was so entwined. The powerful theme of hope and restoration woven throughout. What’s not to love about A Love Like Ours?

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing A Love Like Ours and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

On My Kindle ~ His Most Suitable Bride by Renee Ryan

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About the book~
No one in Denver knows how close Callie Mitchell once came to ruin. Dowdy dresses and severe hairstyles hide evidence of the pretty, trusting girl she used to be. Now her matchmaking employer wants Callie to help find a wife for the one man who sees through her careful facade. 

For his business’s sake, Reese Bennett Jr. plans on making a sensible marriage. Preferably one without the unpredictable emotions that spring to life around Callie. Yet no matter how many candidates she presents to Reese, none compare with the vibrant, intelligent woman who is right under his nose—and quickly invading his heart. 

Sharing my thoughts~
When attorney Reese Bennett Jr.’s client and perpetual matchmaker points out that his law firm would suffer from his continued bachelor status and offers to help find him a suitable bride, he decides to allow her. But when Mrs. Singletary suddenly claims she’s too busy and turns that task over to her companion, Callie Mitchell, his ex-fiance’s sister, he debates withdrawing his permission. 

Docile one moment, bold the next. Plain one day, jaw-droppingly beautiful the next. Boring. Then exciting. Demure and shy. Then confident and determined. Who is Callie Mitchell and why is she hiding under dull shapeless clothes? Intrigued, Reece determines to find out, and accepts Callie’s offer to help him with his bride search.

Callie Mitchell refuses to forgive her past indiscretion over a man and believes that if she dresses plainly, no man will show interest and therefore she couldn’t repeat the mistake. But when gentle, handsome Reece looks past the dowdy dresses and begins to unravel the real Callie, her facade cracks. Her past did not have to define her future. She was a child of God, forgiven and loved…She could either spend the rest of her life feeling shame over her lapse in good judgment, or accept the Lord’s mercy. The past was the past. The future, hers for the taking.

While His Most Suitable Bride was an enjoyable read, I really appreciated the underlying theme of letting go of our past. I struggle with this myself, so I could relate to both Callie and Reese, and understood how their attitudes affected their decisions and relationships. Little gems like this were sprinkled throughout the book:

“Today is a new day, meant to be lived under grace.” ~Pastor Beau

“One must never focus on the ending when the story has yet to fully begin.” ~Mrs. Singletary

Whether you’re looking for a book to curl up with for a long evening, during a carpool line, or to take on vacation, you’ll want to include His Most Suitable Bride!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Harlequin Love Inspired Historical and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing His Most Suitable Bride and for the free copy I received in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.