Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Splash! 9 Refreshing Romances Filled with Faith

Authors: Valerie Comer, Narelle Atkins, Autumn Macarthur, Heidi McCahan, Leslie Ann McDaniel, Carol Moncado, Lynette Sowell, Jan Thompson and Marion Ueckermann
Publisher: Read Inside the Box
June 2015
Genre: contemporary romance novella collection

Nine beloved authors of contemporary Christian romance have banded together to offer this limited-time collection of all-new romance novellas perfect for your summer vacation reading pleasure. Come visit Scotland, Zambia, Australia, Canada, and several American states, including Alaska, in these inspirational romance novellas. You'll love each refreshing contemporary romance as the characters enjoy the water on hot summer days, whether it be in a river, lake, ocean... or a swimming pool!

His Perfect Catch 
by Narelle Atkins, author of the Snowgum Creek series
A holiday romance isn’t part of the plan when Mia Radcliffe temporarily moves to Sapphire Bay and lives next door to Pete McCall, her secret crush from years ago. Pete prefers the simple life. Can Mia leave behind her big-city dreams and settle with Pete in the seaside town? 

My thoughts: I found His Perfect Catch somewhat predictable. The conversation was stilted and the character’s flat. Mia is hiding from her ex-fiancé because he told her to while he lives the high-life. But yet she has no shortage of job offers while she’s in “hiding” and he has no problem finding her when he wants to. By then she and Pete had established a friendship and she’s dreaming of him moving to Sydney with her when she goes. Pete has no plans to return. How can they work this out? Read His Perfect Catch to find out. 3 stars.

Sweet Serenade 
by Valerie Comer, author of the Farm Fresh Romance series
Carly and Reed thrive on the rush of running rapids in a canoe until they capsize in both river and romance. Will secrets from the past drown their future, or can this idyllic summer romance lead to a lifetime of sweet serenades? 

My thoughts: I absolutely love Ms. Comer’s books! She promotes values (both Christian and natural) that I totally embrace. She is also a stellar storyteller, creating characters that I can completely identify with. I loved Reed… he is such a man’s man and a committed Christian as well. Carly is much more outgoing than he is, and more physical, but even so she is willing to let him set the pace. I loved Sweet Serenade and give it 5 stars.

More than Friends by Autumn Macarthur, author of the Love in Store series
When nurse Catriona asks for help with her Vacation Bible School for disabled children, she never imagines how much could go wrong on a simple seaside day out — or that the colleague she's secretly loved for years might come to see her as more than his best friend's little sister. 

My thoughts: I mostly enjoyed this book. I loved the way Cat and Ally worked with the disabled children, they were so patient and kind with them. The ending kind of ruined the book for me with the misunderstandings and a novels worth of baggage coming to light in the final eighth of the book. I loved the way Cat and Ally worked with Olivia and Zach. A very touching camp/Bible school story. 4 stars.

Love Flies In by Heidi McCahan, author of the Emerald Cove series
He’s a seaplane pilot determined to honor his convictions. She’s a kayak guide who mocked his faith for sport. One small lakeside cabin in Alaska can’t house them both.  

My thoughts: Sweet. I loved the way this one ended.  I didn’t like that both characters had bad relationships with their parents. 4 stars.

Testing the Waters 
by Lesley Ann McDaniel, author of the Madison Falls series
After breaking up with her ultra-critical boyfriend, Teresa decides to reinvent herself. She meets a nice guy named Curt on the beach in Crescent Cove, Oregon, and tells him she’s Terése from Paris. Pretending to be someone else is fun until the unthinkable happens — she starts to fall for him. 

My thoughts: I didn’t like the way Teresa lied to Curt all the way through the book. The story, however, was very well written and engaging. The characters were realistic. If it weren’t for the lying, it would’ve been practically perfect. I have to admire Curt the way he handled it, not at all the way I would’ve. The book was also very clean, sexually, with the first kiss happening after marriage. If it weren’t for the lying, this would easily be five stars. I’m giving it 4.5. I would read more by this author.

The Lifeguards, the Swim Team, and Frozen Custard 
by Carol Moncado, author of the CANDID Romance series Lifeguard Alivia Collins looks forward to another summer on the guard stand at the Serenity Landing Aquatic Center. This year, she’s going to have to keep herself from falling for the cute, new guard - or realize it’s time to give love another chance. 

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved this book. I’ve never read any of Carol Moncado’s books before, but I might have to look up some. Alivia and CJ were great, lifeguards, and CJ was just a straight-out awesome guy. The story was well told and interesting and held my interest the whole way through. 5 stars.

Time and Tide 
by Lynette Sowell, author of the Lone Star Hearts series
When out-of-work fashion journalist Karyn Lewis uses the summer to regroup on the coast of Virginia, she plans to lie low at Pine Breezes campground. She doesn't plan for her heart to be on a collision course with old friend Brodie Reed. They must decide if the past that looms between them will be too much for them to have a future together.  

My thoughts: I’ve read several others of Ms. Sowell’s traditionally published books, and I think, without even knowing who the author of this novella was, I would recognize her voice. I enjoyed getting to know Karyn and Brodie and seeing how their life interacted past and present. Brodie’s daughter has a strong love of horses/ponies like most young girls. I wasn’t clear whether she had a learning disability or not, Brodie’s girlfriend thought she did, as well as her teacher, but it was indicated it might be a personality difference instead. A minor string, but left untied. 4 stars.

Draw You Near 
by Jan Thompson, author of the Savannah Sweethearts series
Savannah artist Abilene Dupree keeps her personal life out of her commercial paintings except one. That one painting has now brought Londoner Lars Cargill back to the coastal town and into her art world. Can she hold him at bay before he invades her personal space and her heart? 

My thoughts: This story is told, not shown, serving to keep the reader distant from the characters. Also, Abiline is rather unkind and downright rude at times. As an artist, surely she would recognize the need to be nice to fans—as Lars clearly was.  Lars has an unbridled tongue—rather amusing at times, but a stick-his-foot in his mouth scenario mostly. I enjoyed the paint-fight scene. I liked the faith message, too. 3.5 stars

Hearts by Marion Ueckermann, author of the Heart of Africa series
His faith buried with his wife,  Simon devotes himself to raising his daughter and orphan elephants. Lady Abigail postpones an arranged marriage, leaving England to teach the children of Africa. Will his past—or her future—keep their hearts orphaned? 

My thoughts: I have never read anything by Ms. Ueckermann before. And so far, the books I’ve read set in Africa I haven’t cared much for. This book, involving a caretaker for orphaned elephants and a teacher for orphaned humans was too cute. Simon is still very much married to his five-years-dead wife when Abigail lands, but the attraction is instantaneous. Abigail is set to marry a Viscount—and is herself on the royal ladder as the daughter of an Earl, but she quickly falls for Simon and Chloe, too. There is something... I skimmed a lot. I’m not sure if I was tired of reading by then, or if it was in the writing, but the story was still good. For more conservative readers, there is beer and wine drinking.  4.5 stars.

Grab a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea and dip your toes into a cool pool of water on a hot summer's day while you enjoy the never-before-released Christian romance novellas in SPLASH! Snag your copy today.

Overall thoughts: Great nine book collection. It introduced me to new to me readers, in addition to the one I was already familiar with and loved her stories. I will look for more by some of these authors. If you don’t want to buy a big 900 page book (even if it is kindle) or just want an individual author’s books, then they are (or will soon be) available individually. Some are already available for preorder.

4.6 stars. Available in ebook. 895 pages.

I obtained this book from the author(s) in exchange for my honest review. 

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