The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase. – from author’s website


I liked the story set in the past better than the one in the present. The one in present day didn’t interest me much. The romance between Tenley and Jonas didn’t seem as genuine to me. Tenley was almost a little too eccentric for me. The only way I related to her was the writing aspect and her doubts about her writing ability. I enjoyed Birdie and Eli’s story – how they loved each other, yet because of their families, they weren’t allowed to let it go anywhere. I also liked how Birdie wanted to be a writer despite all the obstacles in her way relevant to the time period she lived in. I really liked how Eli supported and encouraged her from the beginning.
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Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter

When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.

Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.

Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.

But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.

As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah? – from author’s website


I think this was probably my favorite Denise Hunter book. I loved the story of redemption and forgiveness in a broken marriage. The brokenness of the two characters and how different their pasts were brought a depth to the story that tugged at my heart strings. I thought the difficult subject was presented in a beautifully broken way that was both delicate but not skimping over the tough parts. Through flashbacks, you experience how they first fell in love and how critical points in Josephine’s life affected her. Through the present, you experience the brokenness that came from their choices that resulted in a failed marriage and their story of redemption.

Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter

cv_justakiss

Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan.

Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.

But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.

Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it.

As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in? – from Goodreads


Denise Hunter pushes the boundary of what is acceptable in Christian fiction in romance. This book is no different. An unmarried man stays with an unmarried woman and doesn’t raise many questions from the characters except from the unmarried man because he is in love with the woman he is forced to stay with and doesn’t want her to know. There are also numerous make-out sessions that made the romance more steamy. The scene with Paige’s mom seemed forced and that it was included and orchestrated solely to move the story along. It felt contrived and left me disappointed in how Riley left. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book, though, was how real Riley’s struggle dealing with the loss of his leg felt. The ups and downs he went through before he came to acceptance with the loss of his leg and allowing people to help him felt genuine.

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never Before

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But her new life as a newspaper editor is shaken when the small-town paper is in danger of closing. Her one hope: A lead on an intriguing story that just might impress the new publisher…if only she knew who he was.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker now has the chance of a lifetime—a spot on a presidential campaign. But his plans are interrupted when he finds out he’s inherited his hometown newspaper. He travels home intent on selling the paper and spending some much-needed time with his young daughter before making the leap into national politics.

But instead of a quick sale and peaceful break from his hectic career, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. They may butt heads more than expected, but a series of leads on Maple Valley’s quirky unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts. – from author’s website


First off, I received a free galley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As this was an advanced version, there were some grammar and spelling errors that were hopefully fixed before the final publish.

I found that the scenes were a little short and time moved from one day to the next or to the next week quite often, so the time moved fairly fast and faster than most books I read. As an avid reader, as well as someone who works in libraries, I loved that Logan took Amelia on a date to the library. I personally would have liked to see more interaction between Charlie, Logan’s daughter, and Amelia. The historical aspect of the book added an extra intrigue to the story and gave the book a little mystery. I had high expectations for this book because of what I had heard about it before reading the book and it didn’t quite meet my expectations, but nevertheless it was a quirky, intriguing romance.

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter

Goodbye Bride

Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.

Zac was just beginning to get his life back on track after Lucy left him with no explanation. And now she’s back—vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. Has he been given a second chance with the only woman who stirs his passion and haunts his dreams?

Lucy knows she must unlock those missing months and discover why she threw everything away. And Zac knows that if he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life—but if Lucy’s memory returns, his would-be bride will say good-bye forever. – from author’s website


This is the second book in Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, however, it can be read as a stand-alone. This series follows the Callahan brothers and I enjoyed the banter and relationship between the three of them. I found Zac and Lucy to be very relatable and I was torn between wanting Zac and Lucy to get back together, but also wanting Lucy to get her memories back. In the Christian romance genre, I find that Denise Hunter tries to push the envelope, and includes more make-out scenes than most that I’ve read in the genre. That is no different in this book. The romance between Zac and Lucy is full of passion in multiple ways – through the make-out sessions, but also, when they fight and aren’t getting along. Nonetheless, this book is a nice clean romance with a little fire.

Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Hope HarborTracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life—and love—altered her plans. Now she’s home again—with a floundering farm to run…a tragic secret…and a wounded heart. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter’s. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets and devastating regrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help with a project that is close to her heart, winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives—including their own.

Hope Harbor is one of Irene Hannon’s contemporary romance novels, so it focuses on relationships between characters instead of the plot. Hannon writes in such a way that I get invested in the characters almost right away. Their lives and what happened mattered to me. I was almost more invested in Anna’s story with her estranged son than in Michael and Tracy’s love story, which was the focus of the book. Anna’s story moved me and I teared up a little at the end of her story. Between the two clergymen from different churches, Charley’s taco stand, and other characters, I fell in love with the community of Hope Harbor and look forward to the next book located in Hope Harbor.