Linda reads : All He Ever Dreamed by Shannon Stacey

The Kowalski family has owned and operated the Northern Star Lodge in Whitford, Maine for four generations.  The current generation includes five siblings.  Josh is the youngest and only one left living at the Lodge.  All his siblings have found other interests and occupations that do not include the running, upkeep, maintenance and all the work that it takes to run the Lodge.  Josh feels he is being forced to give up his own dreams of exploring a life outside of Maine and the Lodge.  When the family discovers just how upset he is with being stuck at the Lodge, they try to find a way that Josh will be able to leave and fulfill his dreams – even if it means selling the Lodge.

Katie Davis is the daughter of the Lodge’s live-in housekeeper, Rose.  Katie grew up with the family and feels like she’s another sibling to them.  She owns a barber shop in town.  Secretly, she has always been in love with Josh, but he thinks of her as a sister – until late one night when she walks into the kitchen in her pajamas.  Suddenly, Josh is not seeing a “sister”.

Everyone in the family and in town can see that Josh and Katie are meant to be together, but Josh can’t see what’s right in front of him.  It was fun to watch Josh stumble along when he realizes he’s in love with his “best friend”.  Suddenly Josh’s vision of leaving Maine becomes clouded by his feelings for Katie.  She is committed to staying in Whitford and has no desire to leave.  Josh feels guilty about leaving her and the Lodge and you can really feel his dilemma.  The author does an excellent job of keeping the reader guessing what’s going to happen.

There’s a sweet side story between the housekeeper, Rose and her late husband’s best friend Andy.  The other Kowalski siblings’ stories are also entertaining and the various townspeople of Whitford, Maine add another layer of interest.

Shannon Stacey has the winning formula for contemporary romances.  Her stories are witty, charming, filled with emotion and fun to read!

This is book 6 of The Kowalski Family series.  The books do not have to be read in order. Learn about the rest of the Kowalski clan in the previous 5 books:

1.  Exclusively Yours

2.  Undeniably Yours

3.  Yours to Keep

4.  All He Ever Needed

5.  All He Ever Desired

BOOK REVIEW: What She Wants by Sheila Roberts

This is book three of the Life in Icicle Falls series.  I didn’t read the other two and do not feel like I needed to.  This book took me completely by surprise.  Most romances center around the angst of women trying to find true love.  This book centers around men!  It was very refreshing to read a story from the man’s perspective.

Jonathan Templar and his poker buddies are single, married, separated, height challenged, balding, overweight and geeky.  Not your typical romance heroes!  But they all have good hearts and no knowledge on how to get the love of their lives, or keep the loves of their lives.

The main character of this book is Jonathan who has been in love with his childhood neighbor his whole life.  She only sees him as her “good friend”.  Their 15 year high school reunion is coming up and he is determined to change from geeky, skinny, computer nerd, to stud-muffin he-man.  He’s also determined to learn how to talk to women and learn what they want.  His poker buddies also have their women challenges from Adam who thinks he’s in love with someone at work, to Kyle whose wife kicks him out for taking her for granted, to Vance who has known love and lost love and has quite the surprise!   Ms. Roberts deftly weaves their stories and other secondary characters around Jonathan’s.  Jonathan’s sister starts planting the seed of reading romance novels to learn about women.  They attend their local library’s book sale and Jonathan ends up buying a ton of romance novels.  He approaches reading them as if they were textbooks, highlighting passages and taking notes.  He ends up actually enjoying them!  His poker buddies accidentally come upon his new hobby and he hooks them into reading the romance novels too.  It is quite interesting, humorous and thoroughly engaging to watch these men transform.

This book will make you laugh, cry, and cheer for the underdog.  It is very well written, with great character development and scene setting.  You’ll fall in love with the Town of Icicle Falls and all its characters!

BOOK REVIEW: Currant Creek Valley by RaeAnne Thayne

raeanne thayneRaeAnne Thayne is a relative newcomer to the small-town romance genre, but she certainly has a winner with her series Hope Crossings.  Currant Creek Valley is the fourth book in the series.  The first three books of the series center around the town uniting to boost each other up after a terrible tragedy.  The titles in order are:

  1.  Sweet Laurel Falls
  2. Woodrose Mountain
  3. Blackberry Summer

Currant Creek Valley, and the next two books, center around how the town comes together to help those outside their community.

Alex McKnight is a chef in the process of opening her very own restaurant.  She has a quick wit and casual approach to life that masks a terrible secret from her past.

Contractor Sam Delgado is looking to start over in a new town with his 6 year old son after the death of his wife.  Alex hires him to put the finishing touches on her restaurant’s kitchen.

They are instantly attracted to each other – much to their dismay!  Neither one is interested in any kind of relationship because they have so much to deal with from their pasts.  The author tells their story with gritty emotion and humor.  There are wonderful descriptions of this picturesque town and the wonderful food Alex creates.

You don’t have to read the original three books first, but it might help you understand the enchanting secondary characters and their backgrounds.  You’ll have time to read them before book five – Willowleaf Lane (July) and book six – Snowflake Canyon (October) are published.

Author Profile: Robyn Carr

robyn carrRobyn Carr published her first book in 1978, but it took her 30 years to make the New York Times Best Seller List.  She is a pioneer of the small-town romance genre.

She married her high school sweetheart during the peak of the Vietnam War.  She studied nursing in college, but couldn’t practice because of their constant moving between military bases.  To occupy her time, she took up reading and fell in love with romances.  She feels romances are important because people need a safe place to deal with emotions they’re stuck with, and a book is a safe place to do that.  After much trial and error, she settled upon writing contemporary romances.  Her novels deal with real issues in a realistic manner.  She is strongly drawn to issues and causes that honor men and women who serve our country.  Her stories are about strong, capable women who have issues that every woman faces at some point in her life.

She is the author of the very popular Virgin River series.  It is a blend of romance and women’s fiction that entertains as well as addresses sensitive issues, such as domestic violence, health issues, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It takes place in a fictional town in the Redwood forests of California.  The series centers around men of honor and the women they love.  The first book of the series, Virgin River, was published in 2007.  There are 20 books in the series.  They are:

  1. Virgin River
  2. Shelter Mountain
  3. Whispering Rock
  4. A Virgin River Christmas
  5. Second Chance Pass
  6. Temptation Ridge
  7. Paradise Valley
  8. Under the Christmas Tree (novella)(not available)
  9. Forbidden Falls
  10. Angel’s Peak
  11. Moonlight Road
  12. Midnight Confessions (novella)(not available)
  13. Promise Canyon
  14. Wild Man Creek
  15. Harvest Moon
  16. Bring Me Home for Christmas
  17. Hidden Summit
  18. Redwood Bend
  19. Sunrise Point
  20. My Kind of Christmas

Ms. Carr has spent most of 2012 writing a brand new series, Thunder Point.  It is set in a picturesque coastal community on the Oregon coast.  Like her Virgin River series, this series will make you laugh, sigh, and fall in love with a small town filled with people you’ll never forget.  Book one – The Wanderer is out now.  It will be followed by The Newcomer in July and The Hero in September.