Mini Review: “Is It Any Wonder” by Courtney Walsh

Is It Any Wonder is Courtney Walsh’s second “Nantucket Love Story” romance novel! I really enjoyed the audiobook version recently. This is one of those novels I needed to have in ebook AND paperback format 🙂 those are rare gems!

I loved returning to Walsh’s Nantucket for the setting of this romance! Deeply emotional themes of forgiveness and possibility intertwine with the reconciliation of Cody and Lou as they navigate a second chance at friendship and romance. While the history of Cody and Lou’s complicated past is revealed, their relationship goes from surprising rescue to tentative truce to a realistic connection of the heart. Secondary characters add vivid dimension and provide surprises to the story, strengthening the lessons of forgiveness and moving on from bitterness the protagonists learn. I loved the genuineness and drive of Louisa’s character and the sometimes-grumpy, reluctant heroism of Cody. Their chemistry (!!!! all the sparks) unfolds again the backdrop of a coastal Nantucket setting that epitomizes a “beach read” romance. ❤

Find out more about IS IT ANY WONDER on Goodreads | Review of Book 1: If For Any Reason

Review: “Let It Be Me” by Becky Wade

Book Selfie
I couldn’t resist a selfie with this one!

Today I’m reviewing author Becky Wade’s latest contemporary romance novel, Let It Be Me. This is the second in her Misty River Romance series set in the mountains of Georgia.

Book 1: Stay With Me

About the Book

Having graduated college at 18, Sebastian Grant has continued to leverage his intelligence and determination to become a pediatric heart surgeon. The more accolades he receives, the more he’s driven to pursue. Then he meets high school math teacher Leah Montgomery, and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop.

Solving advanced math equations by the age of five, Leah has always wanted to pursue a PhD in mathematics. She willingly put that dream on hold to raise her brother. Now that he is of age, she’s set on avoiding any obstacles to her goal–including romance.

When Leah receives surprising news in the process of taking a test for tracking her ancestry, she asks Sebastian to help her comb through aged hospital records to learn more. Soon his presence isn’t so easily ignored. But when Sebastian learns his best friend also has feelings for Leah, he begins to question his resolve to win her. Attaining their deepest desires may require more sacrifices than they ever imagined.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Let It Be Me is going straight to my favorites list! This contemporary romance has everything I love about the genre, as well as the powerful storytelling of Becky Wade to recommend it!

Becky Wade’s characters are portrayed in a way that makes them deeply relatable. Their identities are fleshed out through personality, sense of humor, career, dreams, memories, and even a physical sense of how they move through a room to make them feel so REAL and realistic. The reader learns their POV and perspective when all this combines to see life, faith, decisions, and emotions through their individuality. This stirs empathy even when the reader experiences life in a completely different way.

Let It Be Me Quote

Sebastian and Leah’s dynamic is simply magnetic. Any time they are on the page together, their sparks and passion are palpable, even in a scene as innocuous as a conversation at a school fundraiser booth, it’s present (their banter! it sparkles!). While his attraction to her is instant, he recognizes and falls for her intelligence and compassion quickly. I love romance when the hero falls first and it takes a bit for the heroine to catch up. Challenges to their situation, though, allow for the story to develop at the perfect pace and for the reader to be rooting for them 1,000% by the time things turn more serious.

I have a few more things to say about the romance. No spoilers here, but they have plenty to work through with the Sebastian, Leah, and Ben situation. (note of relief: it is NOT a love triangle). But whew, when things do start happening of a more romantic nature, Sebastian’s determination and Leah’s I-don’t-do-romance mantra practically combust. I will just reiterate what I said about book 1 in this series: it’s a “prime example of how the inspirational romance genre CAN have heat and convey a real, respectful sense of desire without crossing any inappropriate lines.”

Both Sebastian and Leah have personal arcs outside of their changing romantic relationship that center on identity. For Leah, she grapples with surprises related to her heritage. And, she is fiercely independent. Sebastian upends her stability, which causes some friction and challenges her mindset in more than one way. For Sebastian, he carries baggage from living his own heartbreaking past. His arc, too, has to do with his determination, need of acceptance, and perfectionist tendencies. Her presence just might break through his barriers and cause him to reconsider his fears and emotional detachment, seeing all areas of his life with more of his heart. Sebastian’s relationship with the Colemans is an important part of his life, too. I really like his relationship with Ben Coleman and how it exemplifies true friendship in wanting the very best for one another.

From friendships to identity, forgiveness and honesty, many aspects combine to make this much more than a romance. It’s a meaningful story of growth for the hero and heroine. I can’t wait to get Luke’s story next year 🙂

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Hope Between the Pages” by Pepper Basham

Today’s feature is HOPE BETWEEN THE PAGES by Pepper Basham, a new novel in a historical split-time series by multiple authors set at American landmarks. The setting of Biltmore and Asheville lets author Pepper Basham’s love of the Blue Ridge and Biltmore to shine through (any of her social media followers KNOW she’s a frequent visitor in all seasons!).

lilacs and book cover
About the Book

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Stories held power and everyone told one, whether the characters within the story knew it or not.

Hope Between the Pages, chapter one

Hope Between the Pages is a beautiful story of love, longing, identity, and story– both fictional stories and the story of a legacy one life can leave. A split time format means this novel has TWO romances with two intelligent and wonderfully complementary couples. Basham’s portrayal of how fiction informs and influences real life is an integral part of this story of hope.

book quote

The characters and their journeys are at the center of the brilliance of this novel. As Clara searches for the history and truth of her grandmother Sadie’s life, she learns of a heroic man named Oliver and, eventually, finds a sweet hero of her own in the shy-but-absolutely-charming Max. Threaded through it all are themes of bravery and courage and the truths found in story. Treasured letters found by Clara, and shared through the historic POV of Sadie, add to the whimsy of the story, and the deepening romance between Sadie and Oliver — two unlikely friends who recognize kindred spirits and identity reach beyond social or familial definitions.

Now to talk about the heroes of the story <3. Oliver is SO KIND and good! I love how he really sees Sadie’s beauty and recognizes her sweet spirit. Their romance is fairytale-esque at times and bittersweetly realistic at others. MAX is the perfect friend to Clara, understanding her heart quickly and encouraging her in tiny ways. He’s a contemporary hero with an old soul, complete with bow ties, suspenders, gardening AND kitchen skills, and the best banter with Clara!

Hope Between the Pages had me crying and laughing in the span of pages. It was emotionally resonating for me, as I relate to Clara in several ways (especially in her close relationship with her parents!). Lovers of books, family history, or Appalachian and charming English settings will enjoy this latest whimsical and deeply emotional story from author Pepper Basham.

P.S. I hope Clara’s cousin, Robbie, gets his own happily-ever-after someday!

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

More quotes I love:

“…it’s okay for your dreams to be different than what you thought they were going to be.” He winked. “That’s called growing up.” -Robbie

Don’t you realize, we’re two halves of the same whole. We understand one another at the heart level. No amount of money or prestige can deny such kinship as this.

…she’d come to England to save her bookshop, not engage in awkward dialogue with a clearly reticent Englishman.

No fairy tale in all the world painted love as beautifully as this. No novel touched my heart with such an odd combination of visceral weightiness and sheer joy. Only in the pages of Scripture had I found anything so beautiful, showcasing what it meant to be so loved for exactly who I was.

Review: “This Life” by Jennifer Rodewald

Happy almost book birthday to author Jennifer Rodewald for her latest “Murphy Brothers Romance” novel: THIS LIFE! (It releases tomorrow, y’all!) I’m reviewing it here on the blog today. It’s a blend of contemporary women’s fiction and romance 🙂 ; the fourth in a series yet each of them stand alone and focus on a different sibling.

Check out my thoughts on the previous books in the series: Always You | In Spite of Ourselves | Everything Behind Us

About the Book

They’ve been stripped of everything but a refurbished bus and each other. And it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

Jacob Murphy always felt like the invisible brother…until he fell in love with and married the woman who dated his younger brother. Then he became the despised brother. Driven to prove himself worthy of respect, he gambled everything on becoming the successful brother, but with his property speculation business falling apart, he’s ready to admit defeat. He’s lost nearly every worldly good he’s acquired, and after years of disappointments and heartache, it looks like his marriage is about to go the same way.

Kate Murphy lied her way out of life in a trailer park—a life she felt both trapped in and ashamed of. Only Jacob knows the truth about her background. But keeping up appearances has slowly strangled her life and relationships, and even her marriage has become strained at best. In desperation, she makes a plan to escape from it all—ironically, in a skoolie. But there’s still a tender place in her heart for the man she married, and in a moment of compassion, she offers to take Jacob with her.

Stripped of pride and pretension and struggling to adjust to their new 160 square-foot mobile lifestyle, Jacob and Kate are forced to confront the deception, hurt, and loneliness that have plagued them both. Will their strained circumstances be the death knell for their marriage, or will they allow humility to usher in the healing they need to rebuild?

This Life is a tender love story of second chances in marriage, of romance and redemption

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

With This Life, author Jennifer Rodewald has tackled another story with married protagonists (shoutout to her novel Finding Evergreen!), and it is well done! The characters’ journey through brokenness toward a place of renewal and hope is relatable and poignant.

Jacob and Kate’s story finally reveals the truth behind a rift hinted at in the previous books — with some classic Murphy family humor and wisdom, of course! As a reader, I’m always drawn into Rodewald’s stories through her emotive style. One of the ways her style compliments the story of Jacob and Kate is through their natural progression of anger, guilt, renewal, forgiveness, and the honesty commitment requires. I was happy seeing how their history and friendship would transition into something fashioned of trials and influenced by faith. I rooted for them in the moments one of them stood up for the other, or shared a moment of pain or contentment.

This story brings the Murphys full circle through a circuitous route of travel and new friendships. (the idea of living in a skoolie reminds me of my childhood RV adventures.) I LOVE Bryce and the Salazars, influential new friends of Jacob and Kate who demonstrate selfless love and grace. They reinforce the thought that happiness is a choice — a fact that Jacob and Kate have to learn on their own, but find even more joy in when they figure out how to navigate life and happiness together.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Everything Behind Us” by Jennifer Rodewald

I’m sharing a review today of Jennifer Rodewald’s latest book in the “Murphy Brothers” series (also a part of The Potter’s House collection), Everything Behind Us. It is quick read that balances a bit of women’s fiction and contemporary romance well.

About the Book

Neither wants to relive the past, but they need each other to face the future.

Connor Murphy lives by a code of honor and service. Dignified, duty-bound, and responsible, he’s spent the past eight years as a single enlisted airman, determined never to mess up another person’s life the way he did Sadie’s. As long as he follows orders, does his job well, and avoids romantic entanglements, he’ll do just fine. Of course, that last part was easier before Sadie rolled back into town.

Sadie Allen never intended to return to Sugar Pine—her hometown hosts too much regret—but she can’t face her health crisis alone. Not with a four-year-old depending on her. Even so, Connor Murphy’s proposal of a marriage of convenience wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. She can’t fault his reasoning—her prognosis is grim and her son could use a father—but her heart aches at the thought of a marriage without romance. Especially to the one man she’s never gotten over.

The day-to-day challenges of Sadie’s illness are enough to strain the strongest relationships, let alone one hastily conceived in the shadow of past mistakes. Will the pressure be too much for their marriage to withstand, or will they allow God to forge something beautiful through their pain?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Everything Behind Us celebrates the normal and challenging sides of life (and marriage). With Rodewald’s typical depth, this story has emotional themes balanced with joy and purpose. I was happy to get another Murphy brother story! I am always delighted at their family’s dynamics and practical jokes, along with the balance of wisdom their parents offer in various situations.

I really appreciate the lesson Connor learns in this story, one that is gleaned from reading between the lines: that it’s ok to admit need and depend on God’s provision, yet it is admirable all the same to choose honor and provide for those in your care. Sadie, too, faces some unexplainable challenges and learns to embrace the joy provided each day.

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Christmas in Three Quarter Time” by Rachel McMillan

Last week, author Rachel McMillan released a surprise Christmas novella: Christmas in Three Quarter Time! It’s no secret I have LOVED her previous two “Three Quarter Time” novellas set in Vienna. This one explores the city AND the Viennese countryside at the most wonderful time of year.

Christmas in Three Quarter Time cover
About the Book

“Felix Huber told me that the only thing wrong with my love story was that it was in the wrong time signature. That if I didn’t find the rhythm and meter aligning with the romance I deserved, I merely needed to allot a tempo change.”

Christmas in Three Quarter Time Cover

Freelance reporter Johanna Murphy declared war on charming Felix Huber the moment he stole an exclusive interview that cost her a vital promotion. Now, with time ticking to turn her temporary work visa into a permanent one, she needs a scoop that will capture the magic of Vienna at Christmas to entice international press syndication.

Inspired by the delicious lore of Vienna’s famed Sachertorte, she is determined to chase it before any rival reporter. But, the return of an unexpected and unwanted blast from her past drains her determination like a decaf espresso mélange. When Felix proposes they forge an unlikely alliance against this common enemy—for the span of Christmas only—Johanna has no choice but to follow him on a road trip across Austria culminating in the picture-perfect Tyrolean Alps where a buried hurt from Felix’s past is the secret ingredient to the bittersweet truth they find about the torte’s presence in his family history.

As Christmas approaches with the deadline of their temporary truce, Johanna learns to slow the world down and open her heart to a country, its traditions and the last man on earth she ever imagined under the mistletoe.

Amazon | Goodreads

Review

Christmas in Three Quarter Time is an enchanting escape to Vienna at Christmas! Traditions and torte, coffee and the countryside, Christmas markets and carvings all entwine two rival reporters as they navigate connection and explore romance. Rachel McMillan conveys the romance of the setting, too, as the Tyrol region and streets of Vienna find Johanna and Felix stepping in each other’s path toward the next byline.

The pacing of this story is perfection! The first few chapters see Johanna and Felix have a *moment* and near friendship, then time passes quickly as their relationship grows taut. The romance to come is more apparent as the story progresses toward Christmas. ❤ This almost-enemies-to-friends-and-romance spin is new for Rachel McMillan, a trope she applies well with plenty of verbal sparring (I’ve missed her dialog and banter like with Merinda Herringford and Jasper!).

While Christmas in Three Quarter Time has its sparkling moments and an idyllic setting, it is very much propelled by two unique and relatable characters. Johanna experiences personal growth, further lending to the depth of the story. The way she interacts with the world shifts because of her time with Felix. I LOVE how he sees her, calls her out on the emotional walls she’s built, then gives her the space to be herself. (And aren’t those the best kinds of friendships?!) The result is a maturity to the romance I appreciate. The warm fuzzies, Viennese traditions, bunny rescue, and Sachertorte baking are all present, but Johanna’s discovery, the theme of belonging, and the revealing of Felix’s heart are the most impactful.

Speaking of Felix, he is such a romantic. And a beta hero. I love how it’s not initially apparent because the story is in first person POV from Johanna’s perspective (or Murphy, as he always calls her). Instead, he comes off as confident until Johanna peeks behind the curtain and glimpses his vulnerability. *swoon* Now I need to go reread my favorite bunny, niece, and woodshed scenes!

I believe readers of this novella will end it with a new appreciation for family traditions, Austrian confections, European Christmas markets, and a wish to visit Vienna at Christmas. Fans of Rachel’s previous Viennese novellas will be happy to see tiny cameos familiar characters, too!

My thoughts on the previous novellas in this series: Love in Three Quarter Time | Rose in Three Quarter Time

Review: “Now and Then and Always” by Melissa Tagg

First off, I need to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to author Melissa Tagg for winning the Christy Award in the Contemporary Romance category for this novel, Now and Then and Always! (To see a whole list of the finalists and winners in each category, click here).

My review for this story needs to further introduction 😉

About the Book

2020 Christy Award Winner and HOLT Medallion Finalist

“It was just a house. Just a weathered old house in a hidden grove, shuttered and still . . . “

Last year, after traumatic circumstances forced her from her job as a nanny, Mara Bristol finally found a place to belong-the winsome Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa. For months, she’s helped its owner, Lenora, maintain the ramshackle property despite their shortage of guests. But when Lenora fails to return from a month-long trip and the bank threatens foreclosure, Mara worries she’s once again alone . . . abandoned . . . about to lose the only true home she’s ever known.

Detective Marshall Hawkins is no closer to whole today than he was two years ago . . . the day his daughter died. Between his divorce, debilitating migraines, and a dependence on medication, his life is falling apart. And when a reckless decision on the job propels him into administrative leave, he has no other plan but to get in his truck and drive. A one-night stay at the Everwood was supposed to be just that. But there’s something about the old house-or maybe its intriguing caretaker-that pulls him in.

Together, Mara and Marshall set out to save the Everwood. But its secrets run deeper than they could’ve imagined. As they renovate the house and search for its missing owner, they’ll each confront the pain that brought them to the Everwood in the first place . . . and just maybe discover a faith and love to help them carry on.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

As always, I love this Melissa Tagg novel to pieces. With her signature humor and the beloved Maple Valley setting, Tagg delivers another masterpiece of a story with Now and Then and Always.

There’s something *winsome* about Melissa Tagg’s storytelling. The romance between Mara and Marshall, especially, is delightful and natural at the same time. An intriguing mystery and a great cast of characters add more charm to the friendships in the story — along with the quirky townspeople of Maple Valley! Fans of her previous series set in the same town will be happy to see some familiar faces.

My favorite part of this novel is how it handles themes of faith and grief — not always what you expect in a romcom. In the middle of humorous situations and the excitement of the mystery, more serious moments are gently woven in.

I switched between reading and listening to the audiobook of this story which was brought to life by the narrator.

Now and Then and Always is a must-read recommendation for fans of contemporary romance and romcoms alike! I personally can’t wait to read the next novel in this series, Some Bright Someday, which recently released!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. I purchased my audio copy. This is my honest review.

Mini Review: “You Belong With Me” by Tari Faris

I’m sharing my thoughts today on a contemporary romance novel, You Belong With Me by Tari Faris. See the synopsis of the novel and more about the series on the Goodreads page.

you belong with me book cover

I love the setting and characters! You Belong With Me is “small town charming” with realistically flawed characters and problems, growth, a sparking romance (plus a sweet secondary romance), and a happily ever after. The romantic conflict, though, is centered around a typical “misunderstanding” and situation where both parties keep secrets from each other – not my favorite device. It feels a little forced when honesty could resolve a lot. I do love the way things end up, and a few of the surprises along the way. The themes of grace, belonging/true heritage, and family are organic to the story.

Thank you to the publisher for the copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “In Spite of Ourselves” by Jennifer Rodewald

I’m sharing a review today of a compelling contemporary romance I highly recommend! In Spite of Ourselves is on the short-ish side, so I read it in a couple days. It is the second of Jennifer Rodewald’s “Murphy Brothers” stories, though it reads as a standalone. I also enjoyed the first book, Always You.

About the Book

Who could build a life on such a monumental mistake?

Jackson Murphy: family prankster, class clown… and now, smack in the middle of a Vegas-sized mess. All he’d wanted was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. After failing that goal, he slipped into a deep, sulking valley, only to emerge from it with a much bigger problem. He’s married. To a complete stranger! Forget making a world-class marathon so that his family will believe that (1) he’s capable of being grown up and serious on occasion and (2) he doesn’t need the ongoing pity about his brother and a certain ex-girlfriend.

Now? Now he has no idea what to do.

Mackenzie Murphy: independent woman and excellent student—but not a med student. Because those pesky MCATs were H-A-R-D. She doesn’t particularly mind that much, seeing as she’s never really wanted to be a doctor, but her mother will be…uh, displeased. Exceptionally. That’s nothing, however, compared to how Mother will respond if she finds out what else happened in Vegas.

Mackenzie wants out. Jackson wants a chance. Neither of them is prepared for what’s coming. Caught in the middle of a disaster that keeps getting bigger, they hardly dare ask: Can God take their monumental mistake and turn it into a beautiful life?

In Spite of Ourselves, Book 13 in The Potter’s House Books Series Two, is an uplifting and inspiring story of hope, redemption and second chances. It is also book Two in Jennifer Rodewald’s Murphy Brother Stories (book One is Always You). Grab your copy and be encouraged today. 

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

In Spite of Ourselves is another shining contemporary romance from Jennifer Rodewald! It spins a marriage of convenience trope with a hint of a fake relationship situation to be a sometimes light and humorous, sometimes deep and heart-stirring story of what real love looks like.

One thing I always enjoy about Jen’s stories is her near-conversational tone of writing. With tiny hints for the perceptive reader, this story unfolds to be much more that what it is seen on the surface. When it deepens, and Jackson and Mackenzie’s background and motivations are clearer, it’s like an “aha” moment of understanding the complexity of the “iceburg” underneath.

Both Jackson and Mackenzie begin at a place of brokenness and misconception, but because of their mistakes they have opportunity to extend grace and accept the truth of God’s ability to transform a mess into a masterpiece. The beauty of this story lies in how God can take an imperfect vessel, Jackson, and use him to live out Love in a relationship with Mackenzie.

Amidst the seriousness of this plot, plenty of moments of fun, humor, and family make for joyful moments. I LOVED the times when Jackson was interacting with his brothers — their playful side, and their complex relationships. His whole family is fun! Smoothies and a winter coat have a special role in the story, too, as well as a hilarious “questionable” spare bedroom at Jackson’s parents’ house, the iconic Bob Ross, and an “I Love Lucy” reference that had me LOL-ing.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Of Literature and Lattes” by Katherine Reay

My review today features a book full of COFFEE and LITERATURE — two of my favorite things! Author Katherine Reay is one my list of must-read authors, and this new novel, Of Literature and Lattes, shares the location and a slight overlap in cast with her last release, The Printed Letter Bookshop. Both read as standalone stories, though fans of the Printed Letter will be happy with a return to the picturesque town of Winsome and some familiar characters!

About the Book

Katherine Reay returns to the cozy and delightful town of Winsome where two people discover the grace of letting go and the joy found in unexpected change.

of literature and lattes cover

After fleeing her hometown three years earlier, Alyssa Harrison never planned to return. Then the Silicon Valley start-up she worked for collapsed and turned her world upside down. She is broke, under FBI investigation, and without a place to go. Having exhausted every option, she comes home to Winsome, Illinois, to regroup then move on as quickly as possible. Yet, as friends and family welcome her back, Alyssa begins to see a place for herself in this small Midwestern community.

Jeremy Mitchell moved from Seattle to Winsome to be near his daughter and to open the coffee shop he’s been dreaming of for years. Problem is, the business is bleeding money—and he’s not quite sure why. When he meets Alyssa, he senses an immediate connection, but what he needs most is someone to help him save his floundering business. After asking for her help, he wonders if something might grow between them—but forces beyond their control soon complicate their already complex lives, and the future they both hoped for is not at all what they anticipated.

With the help of Winsome’s small-town charm and quirky residents, Alyssa and Jeremy discover the beauty and romance of second chances.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub

Review

With Of Literature and Lattes, Katherine Reay has penned another contemporary blend of romance and women’s fiction in her picturesque Illinois town of Winsome. Nods to literature abound within this story of returning and working toward a worthy goal, with deeper themes of reconciliation and a bright secondary cast. Readers who enjoyed The Printed Letter Bookshop will be delighted with glimpses of familiar characters and perspective (once again!) from Janet, Alyssa’s mother.

To borrow a concept from Janet’s character, this story is very much about moving through forgiveness after one has let go of the past. While the friendship and romance between Alyssa and Jeremy is a major part of the story, another significant portion of it includes perspective on parenting, both with Janet and with Jeremy’s own experiences and his precious daughter, Becca. I appreciate the way this draws attention to concepts of people’s complexity, motives, relationships, and the way parents should intentionally be supportive for the hard and the good things in life.

The point of view changes employed in this novel echo a clever device used in The Printed Letter Bookshop, with multiple POV and tense shifts. But here, secondary characters sometimes have the narration. This device works and adds dimension, but sometimes I feel that it is abrupt and detracts from page time with the main few characters and deepening their connection with the reader. Maybe I just need a few more pages and time with these characters to feel the ending more fully “settled” with me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this return to Winsome and the themes these characters wrestle with. The Happy Ending is there, with all the bookish talk! I particularly liked the way children’s books are discussed and recognized as an important influence on childhood. I wouldn’t mind a future novel set in Winsome, especially if it has more of Chris and his brother’s conversations (Printed Letter favs!), or Jeremy’s daughter, Becca!

Thank you the the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy. This is my honest review.