Small town lovin’ | Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne

Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne

Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne was published by HQN Books (Harlequin) on June 30, 2015. 384 pages.

If this beautiful cover doesn’t inspire you to check out Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne, here are 5 reasons you should try it out the next time you’re in the mood for some small town romance:

1. You will fall in love with the town as much as you will fall in love with this couple. Sure, small towns rule the romance genre but Haven Point has water, gelato, boat races, and people who are willing to bet a $1000 on homemade cookies for charity. If this place was real, I would be booking a summer vacation there pronto.

2. McKenzie Shaw is mayor of Haven Point, and determined to prove to her old crush/ now billionaire, Ben Kilpatrick, that this town is worth investing in (especially after some rough economic times for its citizens). McKenzie is kick ass because she cares so much for the town and its people (as a good mayor should) and she goes above and beyond to cheerlead for them. I absolutely loved her for her independence and loyalty. (Plus her background story is so different compared to a lot of the romance I’ve read.)

3. A dog friendship. Need I say more?

4. McKenzie and Haven Point aren’t the one ones dealing with a lot of curveballs this summer. Ben is not happy to be back in his childhood home and he’s not exactly filling up his free time with plans to see his mom and his family. Thayne is not easy on Ben (just like most of the Haven Point-ers) but she gives him this well-done character arc, and I was so glad to see him accept his past and gain so much more in these pagesmaking Redemption Bay a nicely balanced story.

5. I love two characters with a history. When McKenzie was young, she was best friend’s with Ben’s little sister and totally in love with Ben. He never noticed her, and because of certain events, McKenzie’s love for the guy turns to extreme hatred. Until she sees him again. This push & pull developed into one of the nicest slow burn romances I’ve experienced in awhile. You could tell the author put a lot of time and care into the details of her story, and wasn’t rushing to throw our couple together. Thayne also made fishing seem incredibly sexy. Who knew?

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The wonderful folks at Little Bird Publicity are offering up a copy of Redemption Bay by RaeAnne Thayne and a bonus gift to one lucky winner in the United States. Enter below to win! Good luck and happy summer romance! xoxo

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An early copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Thanks!

One Wish by Robyn Carr • Why in 5 & Giveaway

One Wish by Robyn CarrOne Wish by Robyn Carr  ( web | tweet )
Part of Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, overcoming the path, family conflict, secrets
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)
Previously: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

Summary: Grace owns Thunder Point’s flower shop, she has a great best friend, and she’s truly settling into this small community. When her friend (and top crush) Troy suggests she doesn’t have enough fun, he recruits himself as her “fun” coach. Grace gives in, despite her feelings and the secrets she has been keeping.

I’m a huge fan of the Thunder Point series because, unlike a lot of the other romances I read, Robyn Carr builds her stories beyond the couple, trickling in more personalities from the community and making it feel like you are truly a fly on the wall of the gorgeous (I really want to visit) Pacific Northwest town of Thunder Point. Here are five reasons to check out her latest, ONE WISH, and where I, again, remind you it’s okay to read these out of order:

1. A flower shop. As much as chemistry and love is important in a romance novel, I love great background stories and I thought it was so adorable that Grace owned her own flower shop. She took pride in her work and her business, and was so so great with her customers.

2. Non-drama relationship. It was refreshing that a majority of the “drama” in ONE WISH came from places other than Grace and Troy’s relationship. Sure, the whole thing started as nothing more of a friendship (from Troy’s perspective anyway) but it escalated in this sweet, natural, no hassle way. Sure there were some kinks but for the most part the “push and pull” was never a huge, melodramatic issue.

3. Ginger. Someone new is always moving to Thunder Point, and I’m praying that Ginger is a bigger character in one of the upcoming books. She’s dealing with depressing, and moves to TP to live with her grandmother and hopefully move out of her funk once and for all. I love how TP is such a healing place for so many  and Ginger’s story (her husband leaving her; her young son dying) is one that I want to hear more about. (Great news: we get more hangout time with Ginger in A New Hope!)

4. A true community. I touched on this a little bit in #3 but something about TP always makes me miss living in the suburbs. These neighbors are always around to catch the other, and help out in someway and it’s so so so heartwarming and wonderful. I love these strangers find new connections and find themselves bonding for life with people they never thought they would. (Plus, the views. I want to hear the ocean.)

5. A Valentine’s Day dance. Did your school have one of these? I am pretty sure we didn’t but Troy teaches at the high school and he’s chaperoning one. I couldn’t help but laugh at how his students are in love with him, and just how popular Grace was with the young kids. This was such a fun detail!

It’s time for one of you to read ONE WISH. The lovely people at Little Bird Publicity have provided me with one copy for a U.S. winner. Please enter to win below & good good luck!

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Estelle: The Promise by Robyn Carr

The Promise by Robyn CarrThe Promise by Robin Carr ( web | tweet )
Part of the Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 363
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, medical practices, single parents with children, big families
Format read: ARC paperback from Little Bird Publicity. (Thanks!)
We last reviewed: The Chance by Robyn Carr

Summary: Peyton hopes to find a little reprieve in Thunder Point, after feeling dejected and unappreciated by the man she thought she loved for the past 3 years. She takes on a short-term job at a clinic with a widowed doctor, Scott, who goes above and beyond his call of duty in this small town. Peyton has sworn off guys for awhile, and Scott hasn’t seen anyone seriously since his wife died. Is there something between the two?

Remind me to visit the Pacific Northwest soon, okay?

Thunder Point books always get me revved up about small towns near the water, cute bars to catch the sunset, paddleboarding, nature, and some of Carrie’s fine foods. (Okay, I know this part is just fictional but I can assume there’s an adorable locally-owned food spot there in real life, right?)

Robyn Carr skillfully welcomes readers back to Thunder Point while comfortably ushering in the new ones in the tale of Scott Grant, widowed father of two and town doctor. If you’ve read a few of the books in the series before this one, you might know him a bit already. Since his entry into this beloved community, he’s popped up here and there — never digging deep enough into his story. So I was happy to finally get a chance to know the guy, and, my gosh, is he a total saint or what? He singlehandedly cares for the all the people in town, even if this means not making a ton of money. You see, Scott’s not concerned about that. He came to Thunder Point to give his children a safe, happy life and he doesn’t mind giving back.

You can’t blame him either. The town is a family within itself. You see it in how everyone cares for the other, and how easily they welcome brand new Peyton into the fold. (Okay, sure, they are a little gossipy but it’s charming! None of it is out of malice.) I think Peyton is a little taken aback by this altruistic little town and who could blame her? She spent the past three years being treated like a permanent maid to her boyfriend and his ungrateful children.

It takes some time and a very funny misunderstanding for Scott and Peyton to wake up to how perfect they might be together. As always Carr balances out the sweet romance with some fantastic side stories — truly rounding out how just lovely this town is. Lovely and constantly changing. Some of my favorite parts of this book were meeting Peyton’s huge family who run a super successful farm and treasure hard work and each other so much, and an absolutely adorable campfire scene. Best of all, Carr makes Thunder Point feel like a real place with every book in the series; I liked how this one touched on how dedicated the townspeople were, working two jobs to make ends meet.

So if you are looking to take a trip to the West Coast this summer where the people are always ready to lend a hand and share a smile, I suggest you jump on the Thunder Point train as soon as possible. As Peyton says at one point in the book: “This is a nice place to fit into.” She couldn’t be more right about that!

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Estelle: Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins (Blog Tour)

Waiting on You by Kristan HIgginsWaiting on You by Kristan Higgins ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 464
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: first love, matchmaking, small towns
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Colleen is part owner and bartender at O’Rourke’s, one of the busiest restaurants/bars in town. She loves her clientele, adores meddling in their love lives, and is basically renowned as one of the friendliest people in town. But her matchmaking skills haven’t quite landed her her own guy. Instead, as hard as she tries, she’s still fixated on her first love, Lucas. With his uncle in terrible shape, Lucas is suddenly back in town and back in her life. Feelings that never went away are consuming her even more, and it seems like she can’t make one move without Lucas being in the vicinity. For Lucas, even with all the distractions in his life (getting his uncle’s affairs in order; straightening out his cousin, Bryce), he’s still drawn to Colleen. But is there too much between them to warrant them a second chance?

So. The important stuff.

I really appreciation that Kristan Higgins took the time to create an impressive microbrew list for O’Rourkes. Empire Cream Ale is one of absolutely favorites and I was happy to see it make an appearance. The author did her homework and I was giddy with excitement (and quite parched while reading — for multiple reasons!). Bravo!

In addition to the main character’s dedication to a varied beer list at her bar, Colleen is known for her matchmaking skills, her flirting, her affection for her half-sister, Savannah, and her warm and welcoming personality. I can’t forget to say she is hilarious. I was literally snorting / laughing out loud while reading about the crazy antics she got herself into. (With or without Lucas involved.)

This is what I appreciate about Higgins’ romance novels: this balance between the sexy stuff and the funny moments in life, while still maintaining the “will they / won’t they” tension. This style makes her novels and her characters feel much more well-developed and down to earth. Can’t complain about either of those things.

Waiting on You is all about first love. When Colleen and Lucas were in high school, they fell for each other so hard and even college couldn’t get between them. (These flashbacks were integrated so well.) But one moment changed everything, and their relationship fell apart. Lucas gets married, and Colleen stays in her hometown. Even though 10 years pass, they don’t ever forget each other. So with Lucas back in town, Colleen is determined to keep her heart safe from Lucas. She can’t risk letting him break it again.


We all know where this is going.

In addition to all of these feelings, Lucas is going through a tough time. His uncle (who took him in when he was a kid) is dying and needs his help getting his affairs in order. Part of which includes getting his cousin, Bryce, on a track to be more independent. (Shockingly Bryce and Lucas are the same age but since Bryce has been babied by his mom his entire life… he hasn’t exactly amounted to much. Sidenote: he’s a REALLY nice guy, even if he is naive.)

I have to applaud Lucas and Colleen for holding out on me for so long. I don’t think I would have been able to handle it if I were the two of them because I was practically drooling over my Nook, waiting and waiting for the big moment. They are the kind of couple you root for because not only are they super nice but they have this major history and it makes so much sense for them to be together in the present.

Higgins incorporates great side stories too, really giving us a full picture of this town and the people who live there — Colleen’s mother (who was super menopausal… this was very funny) who is having issues getting over her first husband (Colleen’s dad, and a total cheater), the sweet relationship Colleen and Connor have with their half-sister (who is a total tomboy),  the complicated friendship between Paulie and Colleen, and the well-developed relationship Lucas has with his ex-in laws.

I got such a kick out of Waiting on You! It felt so good to laugh so hard and feel so much for the main characters. With each book of hers I read, Higgins is creeping up into my slot for #1 romance writer.

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Estelle: Let Me Be the One by Bella Andre

Let Me Be The One by Bella AndreLet Me Be the One by Bella Andre ( web | tweet )
Book 6 of the Sullivan series.
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 368
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: romance, sports, art, high school friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: It’s been 15 years since Ryan has seen his high school best friend, Vicki. When she texts him in a panic that she needs him, he’s at her side in lightning speed and suddenly, pretending to be half of a happy couple in order to get her out of a jam. With old feelings returning at record speed for both of them, Ryan and Vicki are left to wonder if this is the second chance they both needed.

I have a soft spot for a reunion between old friends with old feelings.

In high school, Ryan and Vicki were part of separate crowds. He was the jock and she was the artist but one random day everything changes when Vicki blocks Ryan from getting hit by a car on campus. After that moment, Ryan promises to be there for her whenever she needs it and they embark a very devoted friendship. Cut to 15 years later, Vicki and Ryan have kept in touch but haven’t seen each other at all. She’s a promising sculptor, recently divorced and Ryan is a professional baseball player who has yet to find the one.

So when Ryan has the opportunity to “save” Vicky from a grabby “gentlemen” on an art fellowship board and pretend they are a couple, he takes this role very seriously and insists that she moves in with him for the time being. Over Chinese food and a view of the Pacific ocean, their friendship picks up right where they left it but neither of them can ignore the SPARKS (even though they do).

Bella Andre is pure evil this time around, folks. It was absolute torture waiting for either Ryan or Vicki to finally break down and make something happen. But seriously, all the torture was worth it because Andre has written one of the best paced romance novels I’ve read in a long, long time. Vicki and Ryan both get significant time in the limelight, as they struggle with wanting their friendship to make the leap to romance and navigating their own professional lives.

I loved Vicki and Ryan’s banter, the kindness and encouragement they had for one another, and oh my gosh, their chemistry was unbelievable. When they finally broke down each other’s barriers, it was off the charts sexy and sizzling and perfect. I don’t think I’ve read a scene quite like this in a long time. (Let me just say “taxi cab” & that was just pre-gaming for the big event.)

The best part of Let Me Be the One is that Ryan and Vicki aren’t magically together after that night. She’s still avoiding her feelings while he is ready to run wild with this thing, and there’s still a lot of question marks when it comes to her fellowship and the future of his career. Would this week in their lives jeopardize their entire friendship? Was it worth it to take the risk?

Bella Andre is at her best in Let Me Be the One. She proves simplicity and two great characters make for the best romances. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

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Blog Tour: The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

The Perfect Match by Kristan HigginsThe Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins ( web | tweet )
Part of the Blue Heron series.
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 448
Target audience: Adult/romance
Keywords: winery, marriage of convenience, family
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Other books by Kristan reviewed on RBR: Somebody to Love

Summary: On her 35th birthday, Honor decides she is ready to propose marriage to her best friend/friend with benefits. When he turns her down and her desire to have a family grows, Honor is ready for anything. Even marrying Tom, a cute British guy she just met who needs a visa to stay in the States and care for his unofficial stepson.

You know what’s great? Reading a romance novel and feeling just as excited for the funny times as the sexy ones.

Kristan Higgins is awesome at injecting humor into The Perfect Match, the story of Honor who feels jolted by her 35th birthday and the knowledge that her eggs are getting on the old side. She wants to get married! She wants to have kids! And she decides to ask her best friend from forever turned occasional lover to finally make their romance public and walk down the aisle with her. When he says no, she’s totally devastated and decides to appease her grandmother (what a cute lady) and meet a guy who needs to get married to stay in the country.

So she goes.

And the first meeting is pretty terrible. Like possibly one of the worst first meetings ever.

But you know how these stories go. A few things changes, and the key players end up together. Tom is a teacher. He has a British accent and tattoos. He likes to box. He also likes whiskey. He honestly has no idea what he did in his lifetime to have someone as nice and willing as Honor to sacrifice so much to agree to marry him. When they barely know each other. Just so he can stay. And why does he want to do that? His deceased ex-fiance’s son (that’s a mouthful) is the apple of his eye, and he wants to be around to stay in Charlie’s life because he has very little support.

Isn’t that terribly noble?

If only Tom wasn’t so hard to get to know. If only Honor felt like she could be honest with him about how she feels as this charade continues. A marriage of convenience affects so many more than just the two getting married, and Higgins does a great job of expressing the confusion that Honor’s family feels and the pressure that the two could be found out. It’s a lot! And the counterbalance provided by Honor’s family (they own a vineyard) is so welcoming.

While I loved Tom and Honor together and I couldn’t wait to find out just how they would make things work, it was really Tom’s devotion to Charlie that made me warm up to him. Charlie is this typical teenager, totally traumatized from his mother’s sudden death and the fact that he feels so out of place everywhere. Their relationship really grew throughout The Perfect Match and that journey was as touching to follow as Honor and Tom’s. (There’s also an adorable dog!)

Another top read from Kristan Higgins! I could not put it down.

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The lovely folks at Little Bird Publicity have a copy of THE PERFECT MATCH waiting for a lucky winner! Be sure to enter!

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