Friday, May 23, 2014

Clammed Up by Barbara Ross


A Maine Clambake Mystery
Book 1 in a new series!

Julia Snowden returned to her hometown of Busman’s Harbor, Maine to rescue her family’s struggling clambake business—not to solve crimes. But that was before a catered wedding on picturesque Morrow Island turned into a reception for murder. When the best man’s corpse is found hanging from the grand staircase in the Snowden family mansion, Julia must put the chowder pot on the back burner and join the search for the killer. And with suspicion falling on her old crush, Chris Durand, the recipe for saving her business and salvaging her love life might be one and the same.

Author: Barbara Ross
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2013

My Review
First of all, I love this cover! It captures the best of coastal Maine, a place I've been obsessed with since a vacation there in 2011. This book is a "cozy mystery," a genre I don't normally read, but thoroughly enjoyed. Barbara Ross has a great author voice, and I enjoyed the short, fast-paced chapters. Plus, there's great Maine recipes at the end of the book, which I will attempt to recreate. 

Julia Snowden returns home from New York to help save her family's clambake business on their privately owned Morrow Island after her sister's frantic phone call. After presenting the bank with a financial plan and convincing the board that the Snowden's can repay their debt, Julia heads forth to be the rock her family needs. The financial plan allows for five closed business days in case of hurricanes and other natural disasters. What Julia hadn't planned for was murder. 

This book pulled me into the town of Busman's Harbor. With great secondary characters and an ending I didn't expect, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery. Will I be reading the next book in this series? Definitely. 

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars!


Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries from Kensington Publishing. Boiled Over, the most recent book, was published in May 2014. The first book in the series, Clammed Up, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel as well as the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer's Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

Blake Hunziker has played nomad for five years and landed in his fair share of trouble too. But now he's finally returning to his hometown--the Lake Michigan tourist town of Whisper Shore. Counting on a not-so-warm welcome, he's surprised at not only a positive reception but also a job offer. Determined to settle down and prove himself responsible, he agrees to the catch that comes with the job offer--coordinating the annual Christmas festival--even though he has no idea how he'll pull it off. 

Autumn Kingsley, inn owner and experienced organizer of the Christmas festival, has always dreamed of traveling the world. Now she has a job opportunity in Paris and a surprise potential investor coming to town who just might take on her family's inn and finally leave her free to go. The only problem is that she has just two weeks to whip the inn into shape.

Their families have a long history of not getting along, but when Blake comes to Autumn for help with the festival, she actually exchange for his help with the repairs to her inn. They may have struck a simple deal, but complications are quick to pile on when the guy who's had enough of running away and the woman who can't wait to leave join forces.

Author: Melissa Tagg
Publisher: Bethany House, 2014
Cover Design: Jennifer Parker

My Review
Have you ever sat in a movie theater after watching a great love story and stared at the credits as they rolled up the big screen, sighing, unable to move because even though the ending was satisfying, you didn't want the story to end--it was just that good? That's what this book was for me. 

Here to Stay is Blake Hunziker's story, a hilarious character from Melissa's debut novel Made to Last. He returns home to Whisper Shore for a fresh start but can't shake the guilt of his brother's death from five years earlier. The townsfolk can't forget his recent marriage ruse to a big-name celebrity. And Autumn Kingsley has never forgotten Blake. 

Witty dialogue, haphazard events, and the charming setting on Michigan's shoreline propel the story. The romance has a pure, classic movie-feel that will have you smiling as you close the back cover. 

I look forward to reading more from Melissa. I gave this book 5 stars!


Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Unforgettable Heroes with Becky Wade

Today, I'm talking cowboys and unforgettable heroes with author Becky Wade.

Becky, the all-American cowboy--rancher, horse trainer, bull rider--has been drawing romance readers for years and continues to do so. What do you think it is about men like Bo Porter (Undeniably Yours) and Ty Porter (Meant to Be Mine) that readers can't get enough of? 

I think readers can't get enough of the cowboy's masculinity.  These guys are MEN.  They're independent, strong, capable, brave.  The cowboy makes a great hero type for a romance novel, in particular, because the idea of a rugged man developing a soft spot as big as Texas for one particular woman makes all of us sigh.

Agreed. Cowboy romances are my favorite. 
What captivated me most about Meant to Be Mine--and everyone else according to the reviews--is how charming and lovable Ty was even though his actions were irredeemable. How did you create this balance to make him an unforgettable hero?

Excellent question.  I'll confess that finding the right balance between Ty's flaws and virtues was tricky.  I knew before I even started writing Meant to Be Mine that I wanted forgiveness to be the novel's theme.  Thus, right at the beginning of the story, I had Ty make a big mistake. 

When I first turned in the manuscript to my agent and editors, they all let me know that I hadn't made Ty's mistake grave enough in that initial version of the book.  He'd seemed too kind and reasonable to them.  Thus, Celia had become unlikable because my editors couldn't relate to her inability to forgive him. 

So... I actually made Ty even MORE irredeemable at the beginning. 

I truly did worry that some readers might read the first two chapters, hate my hero, and throw the book against the wall.  (There may well be some readers who are doing exactly that as I type.) 

But again, this is a story about forgiveness.  If Ty's actions had been easy to forgive my conflict would have been weak and God's message of grace would have been lessened.  In the final version of the book, Ty's actions give Celia valid reasons not to forgive him and they give God room to work in a mighty way. 
How did I make Ty charming and lovable despite his flaws?  
1) He was sorry for what he'd done.  As the book unfolds, we (and Celia) gradually learn just how sorry.  Most of us are tender-hearted enough to feel compassion toward someone who's hounded by regret.  
2) I gave him several wonderful qualities.  He's funny, he loves his child, he's over-the-top generous.  
3) Just like all my heroes, he really, truly deeply loves his heroine.  
4) I gave him a genuine desire to be a better man. 

Thanks for talking with me today, Becky!

Becky is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas. For more information on Becky and her books, please visit her website at

If you're not familiar with Meant to Be Mine, see my book review by clicking here!

Meant to Be Mine can be purchased through AmazonBarnes & Noble, and your local Christian bookstore. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake up to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?

Author Becky Wade, Bethany House Publishers, 2014

My Review
First of all, you can judge this book by its great cover. Kudos to cover designer Jennifer Parker and photographer Mike Habermann. Secondly, I can't say enough about this book. The story begins right in the middle of the action at a Las Vegas casino where Ty convinces Celia to get married. The next chapter rips your heart out when Ty changes his mind and they go their separate ways. Then the plot twists even further when Ty returns five years later to apologize to Celia and discovers a daughter he never knew he had. I don't want to reveal too much, but the rest of the story is their journey of working together for the good of their daughter.

What amazed me most about this story is how Becky took a guy with irredeemable actions and made him so irresistible (Celia's not the only one who feels that way) that I melted into a puddle of goo every time Ty graced the page. I loved Celia's strong character. She's a lover, but she's a fighter too. Especially when it comes to her daughter. Ty and Celia's banter and bickering had me laughing out loud. And I love the quirky secondary characters that Becky always puts into her stories.

If this book isn't on your "to read" list, PUT IT THERE! You won't be disappointed. I read and review several books a year, and I've been an avid reader of romance for years now. I can safely say that Meant to Be Mine is my favorite Christian romance novel EVER. I read this book over a week ago, and it's still with me. Meant to Be Mine will hold a permanent spot on my bookshelf so I can read it over and over again.

If you're a writer, you need to read this book to see how beautifully Becky transitioned these characters from beginning to end.

Becky is currently working on Jake Porter's story (the wounded war veteran). I can't wait to see what she brings her readers next.


Meant to Be Mine can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local Christian bookstore.

For more Porter family fun, don't miss the first book in the Porter family series Undeniably Yours.

Becky is a graduate of Baylor University. As a newlywed, she lived for three years in a home overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, as well as in Australia, before returning to the States. A mom of three young children, Becky and her family now live in Dallas, Texas. For more information on Becky and her books, please visit her website at